NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED RIFLES

Comments from Steve Butler ■ Email contact
GALLIPOLI HEIGHTS

photographs from Weltkriegbuild publication - 1916
Photographs from a World War One German photographic journal gives a glimpse from the other side of the Gallipoli theater in 1915.
On the left, and titled: "Turkish Soldiers at Gallipoli" a Turkish Officer can be seen marching reinforcement troops through a village towards the trenches on the Front Line. On the right, and titled: "Remnants of the old fort on the Gallipoli peninsula" the damage caused by the failed Churchill inspired British Naval attack can be seen - one of the forts greatly damaged but not destroyed - the Royal Navy and the French Navy were forced to retreat after a Turkish Minelayer caused havoc to the fleet in the Dardanelles. The follow up decision by Churchill to land troops to destroy the forts proved equally disastrous. The trench warfare that followed became a deadly intensive game of feint and attrition. Below an excerpt from the official NZMR Headquarters WAR DIARY - dated 12th August 1915.

Transcribed from scan at left:
N.Z.Mtd. Bde. 22nd (contd). 23.00 A Peculiar incident happened at the time.. A large party of Turks approached the left of the N.Z. trench and that held by the 14th Sikhs ( i.a.) connecting the left of the N.Z. with the 5th C.R. in the SUKKEN ROAD.
These men came up to the trench holding up their hands, and shouting out.
Thinking they were wishful to surrender, they were allowed to approach quite close. It was seen that they still had their rifles and were told to put them down, but did not do so. A rifle then went off, and a Sikh was hit, and fire was immediately opened on them, whereupon those not shot made off, and it was seen that each man carried his 2 bombs on his belt.
It is considered this was a ruse, and that the enemy intended to get to close quarters, and to rush the trenches.

SITE MAP








21st Anniversary issue
penny and half-penny
stamps 1936.



50th Anniversary issue
4 penny and 5 penny
stamps 1965.


2008 stamp
90th Anniversary of
Anzac 2008.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 



LONG HAUL LAMB CHOPS

photograph Lieutenant Colonel Powles NZMR - 1916 - duotone treatment 2010

The logistics of keeping an army in the field is a daunting task, and requires many more men in support than actual combatants engaged on the front line. Even more of an effort is required to support a Mounted Division crossing a hostile desert. The skill of the English Engineers and the Egyptian Labour Force was a magnificent achievement in building a standard 3' 6" gauge railway line and an associated 12" fresh water pipe from the Suez Canal at Kantara across the Sinai into Turkish Palestine. But as the Anzac and British attack lengthened it also gained momentum, and it was a with a welcome sigh of relief for the Army Service Corps when the Anzac Division broke out of the desert and reached the Mediterranean Coast at El Arish. Now shipping that had been unloading supplies from New Zealand to Alexandria could now sail directly to the men in the field and ease the strain on the railway link.

Lieutenant Colonel Powles from Headquarters NZMR was on hand to photograph the first event, and he later commented in his book "The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine" as the first shipment of frozen mutton arrived from home.

"...About this time our first store ship arrived at El Arish. Native boatmen with their boats from Alexandria were brought over to do the unloading; and it was hoped that our much overworked railway would be greatly eased by these sea-borne rations. But the Egyptian boatmen did not take kindly to the work. This work consisted of rowing their great double ended surf-boats out to the store ship, where she lay at anchor a mile from the shore; loading up their boats with rations and bringing them ashore —the boat being met in the surf by a large party of natives stripped to the waist and carrying a long rope. This rope was attached to the boat as she came through the surf and the team of men then ran away with her up on to the beach. The rate of unloading became so slow that it was seriously considered whether it would be advisable to give up landing stores on the beach, when a happy thought struck someone that the New Zealanders had just received a detachment of Rarotongans, who as Pacific Islanders were no doubt expert boatmen. Enquiries were made and it was found that they were all at home in the water, and they eagerly took on the job of manning two surf boats. These two boats put up wonderful records in unloading stores, shaming the Gyppies into greater effort, and building up a school of competition by which the boat making the greater number of trips in the day, received a flag mounted on a pole which was placed in the bows of the boat and carried throughout the following day.
Our Rarotongans were then withdrawn as there was more important work for them to do. But their example remained for the rest of the campaign, and the victorious flag was carried by the winning boat right up the length of the coast, until Jaffa was reached."

Free download of the book: "The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine" HERE.

AFTER THE FIGHT

photograph Trooper Jack Currie 6th Manawatu - circa 1916 - duotone treatment 2010
Trooper Jack (John) Currie sits against the rump of his horse "Jock", a sturdy steed that carried him through the whole Sinai Palestine Campaign. A horse he always referred to in his letters back home as his "Best Mate". A fellow trooper sleeps at an awkward angle with his head nestled into Jock's shoulder.
Jack sends this photo home to his family with the inscription written on the obverse:
"After the fight H. Reed resting after a hot time. It was snapped while he was asleep.
- John."
Previously I had searched in vain for a Trooper H. Reed, alas there was none to be found who had served with the NZMR. Even searching files with the surname "Reid" gave no results, and why I had not thought of a third spelling -"Read" until this last week is beyond me, however with the name H. Read it all fits together.
Jack Currie and Henry Read not only served in the Wellington Mounted Rifles together but also in the 6th Manawatu Squadron. The catchment area for the Squadron was from the lower West Coast of the North Island, and you can see by their enlistment details they could have known each other before the War. Both men carry the prefix number "11" that denotes the Manawatu area.
Full Name: John Currie
Forename(s): John
Surname: Currie
Serial No.: 11/988
First Known Rank: Trooper
Next of Kin: John Currie, sen. (father), Engine-driver, New Zealand Railways, Levin, New Zealand
Enlistment Address: Post-office, Sanson, Rangitikei, New Zealand
Body on Embarkation: 3rd Reinforcements
Embarkation Unit: Wellington Mounted Rifles
Embarkation Date: 14 February 1915
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Vessel: Maunganui or Tahiti or Aparima
Destination: Suez, Egypt
Full Name: Henry George Read
Forename(s): Henry George
Surname: Read
Serial No.: 11/2370
First Known Rank: Trooper
Occupation before Enlistment: Cheesemaker
Next of Kin: Robert Read (father), Pembroke Road, Stratford, New Zealand
Body on Embarkation: New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Embarkation Unit: Wellington Mounted Rifles, B Squadron
Embarkation Date: 4 March 1916
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Vessel: Willochra or Tofua
Destination: Suez, Egypt

ORCHARD AT RICHON LE ZION
After the action at Ayun Kara on November 14th 1917 the NZMR passed through the settlement of Richon Le Zion the following morning. The people and the settlement was to have a strong influence on the New Zealanders. The Jewish village was the first taste of something closer to the environment of home.
Since crossing the arid Sinai Desert and its confrontation with a hostile Turkish enemy and, more often than not, a treacherous contact with Arab Bedu tribesmen - The Auckland Mounted Rifles agreed it was a joy to meet a people who had just been freed from Turkish tyranny. It was a land worked into agriculture and planted with fruit trees and vineyards. Not only were the men taken with the settlement conditions, the horses too were impressed and ate heartedly of green feed, and enjoyed the soil firm under foot.
A few weeks later the Regiment remembered the village, the official history "Two Campaigns" reported:
"On January 12, the brigade moved north to Richon le Zion, the Jewish village near to Ayun Kara, and there tents were provided, and training and football again became the normal life. Soon after the shift, Lieutenant-Colonel McCarroll returned from hospital and resumed command of the Regiment. Major Whitehorn became second in command. During this period no fighting of any importance took place. The Turks had established a line running round the north of Jaffa to the north of Jerusalem, Philistia and the greater part of Judea had been occupied, but before a further advance could be made the army had to be reorganised."

During this period of re-arming and supply, the men were able to take breaks from Camp and training. Besides the Brigade entertaining the locals with the Brass Band performing for the townspeople outside the Synagogue, there were Rugby matches and sports days, and the prized visits to the towns vineyards and orchards.
Photos at right and below are from the camera of Trooper Fred Foote as he and a mate ride out for fresh fruit in a local orchard. The horses show top condition and the rest will serve them well. Within weeks the Brigade is in action at Abu Tellus, Jericho, El Salt and Amman.

photographs Trooper Fred Foote Collection - 1918 - Richon Le Zion.
Victory was finally gained by the Anzac and British Forces over the Ottoman Turkish Empire when their armies collapsed at Amman and Aleppo, and an armistice was declared on the 31st October 1918. The Turks had occupied and ruled this vast territory of the Levant of Palestine, Assyria, Mesopotamia and the Deserts of the greater Arabian Peninsular for nearly 600 years. A rein that was now ended. The NZMR Brigade returned to Richon le Zion to celebrate the victory.
The Auckland Mounted Rifles official history, "The Story of Two Campaigns" recorded:

"A couple of days later the New Zealanders attended a function arranged by the Jews of Richon to celebrate the victory and the declaration of the British Government that Palestine would be given to the Jewish nation. The delight of the people, who had suffered the cruel tyranny of the Infidel, was unbounded, and the festivities will never be forgotten by the representatives of “the youngest people in the world.”...
On November 14, [1918] the anniversary of the battle of Ayun Kara, the Jewish population formally took over the care of the New Zealand cemetery. The New Zealand Brigade was represented by 50 officers and 150 men, with a firing party."


BITTER ACTION AT PLUGGES PLATEAU

Trooper Leslie Luxton was a member of the Waikato 4th Squadron, Auckland Mounted Rifles when he departed with the Main Body of the NZEF on October 14th 1914.
The NZMR Brigade arrived on Gallipoli to support the Infantry in May after disasterous results to the Dardenells Campaign that started 18 days before on April 25th 1915. The Mounteds were thrown into action as soon as they arrived. A Turkish all out attack on May 19th was repelled by the Brigade at Walker's Ridge. Thousands of men were killed in the melee of machine gun fire and trench warfare.
A few days later the Auckland Mounted Rifles found themselves in the trenches at Plugges Plateau. Each day however the Regiment kept taking its share of casualties.
On May 30th, less than two weeks after arriving at Gallipoli, Leslie Luxton was among six Aucklanders wounded during that days fighting.
His wounding was serious and he was returned to New Zealand to convalese. By April 1917 he had recovered and was accepted again for active service, and this time departed with the 24th Reinforcements, NZMR.

Leslie survived the Great War, so too his brother, 13/2841 Lance Corporal Norman Luxton, of the 9th Reinforcements AMR. The men hailed from Hawera in the Taranaki.

Right: photograph Schmidt Studios circa 1914 - computer colourised 2010.

The Auckland Mounted Rifles WAR DIARY for MAY - JUNE 1915 (document number AWM4-35-2-3) signed by the Adjudant, Captain F.A. Wood. Excerpt for 30th May reads:-
30th May            Plugges Plateau.  Sunday, Fine. Quiet – 13/428 Lieut. F.J. WEIR and No. 13/765 L/Cpl M. Innes-Jones is wounded by spent bullet and Shrapnel respectively. No. 13/426 Tpr. W.H. T. Parkes is also wounded by spent bullet. 13/662 Tpr. C. Basley is also wounded.  13/209 Tpr. A.D. McLeod wounded, also 13/381 Tpr. L.W. Luxton.
Full Name: Leslie William Luxton
Surname: Luxton
Serial No.: 13/381
First Known Rank:
  • Trooper
  • Trooper
Next of Kin:
  • Mrs C.J. Luxton, Hawera, New Zealand
  • C.J. Luxton (father), Fantham Street, Hawera, New Zealand
Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Unknown marital status
Enlistment Address:
  • Otarere, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
  • Unknown address
Military District:
  • Auckland
  • Unknown military district
Body on Embarkation:
  • Main Body
  • New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Embarkation Unit:
  • Auckland Mounted Rifles MAIN BODY
  • 24th Reinforcements, Mounted Rifles
Embarkation Date:
  • 16 October 1914
  • 19 April 1917
Place of Embarkation:
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Wellington, New Zealand
Vessel:
  • Star of India or Waimana
  • Moeraki
Destination:
  • Suez, Egypt
  • Suez, Egypt
Nominal Roll Footnotes: Ex Main Body.
Nominal Roll Number:
  • Vol1
  • 58
Page on Nominal Roll:
  • 430
  • 4
Information table available from the Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database

WAGGING SCHOOL

Photograph Trooper Albert Anderson Collection, NAMR - circa 1917. Duotone treatment 2010.
A Personal View by Steve Butler:
Initially my signals training in the New Zealand Army consisted of attending "Morse Code Classes" day and night - on and on they went, with tests and more tests every few days to get each man in the class over the 12 w.p.m. mark. Finally we got there and with great relief we moved on to radio operation in the field. During the time in class I remember our instructors taking us through elementary Aldus Lamp and Semaphore usage. Most troops from my time had some experience through Boy Scouts or Military Parade days at Secondary School and understood the process of creating messages using two large flags (a process that I tell the younger members of my family - "Texting without electronics") - our Instructors said the Army would never need to use Semaphore again - for that reason I never thought anymore about Semaphore signals until I began reading references to "Wagging" in WW1 Troopers Diaries. At first I thought "Wagging" and "Wagging Flags" was just a colloquial slang the troopers had invented to describe the Semaphore code. But the number of times I read "Wagging" made me suspect I was missing something - and Signaller Corporal Albert Anderson's class photograph above confirmed my suspicions. Wagging is carried out by using only ONE flag to create a message, and here to prove the point the men sit with just a single flag each. (Class somewhere in Turkish Palestine 1917 -18)

Wagging or perhaps more correctly "Wigwag" was the invention of a U.S. Army Major, and Surgeon, Albert Myer in the 1850's.
Myer began working in the office of the New York State Telegraph Company while a medical student and after obtaining his degree developed a sign language for the deaf that involved tapping out vibrations on a persons hand, cheek or on a table top.
Joining the Army in 1854 he was sent to a Fort Duncan in Texas where he converted his sign language into the single flag wigwag system. Using Morse Code rather than Semaphore clock shapes. Wagging could be used at night by changing to a single light. The movement of the light was carried out over a stationary reference light known as a "foot-torch".
Albert Myer became the U.S.Army's first Signals Officer in 1860.

Wagging was first used for military communication during hostilities by Confederate Lieutenant Edward Porter at the "First Battle of Bull Run" in 1861.
The book "Getting the Message Through", (available online) covers US signals history in depth and also makes clear the morse code usage during sending a message with a flag signal.

Trooper Rowland Smith's Diary entries:
Friday 27th

A very wet morning so all the signallers spent the morn in the YMCA concert hall on reading and wagging practice.

August 7th Tuesday
Flag wagging in the morning, but threw the job in in the afternoon and turned into bed.


Source: David L. Woods, A History of Tactical Communication Techniques (Orlando, Fla.: Martin-Marietta Corp., 1965), plate V-6.


EXPERIENCE A NEW WAY OF READING A BOOK ONLINE
With the advent of the new generation movie blockbusters in 3D, such as "Avatar", the world of books needed to fight back. And fight back they have - After all the pen, or in this case, the printed word is mightier than the sword!
PDF books have been available as downloads off the Internet for a number of years now - our own library has a large selection and continues to have many downloads.
For a new on-line reading experience, with 3D effects, here is the next generation of digital flip-books.
We are pleased to present "The Desert Column" one of the great books written about the Australian and New Zealand mounted troops of the Great War - and it is here on our site.

Trooper Ion Idriess served in both Campaigns, and was wounded both at Gallipoli and later in Palestine. This work is based on his own diaries that he wrote and sent home to his sister in Australia as the war progressed.
The book became an instant best seller when it was first published immediately after the war ended, and went on to numerous reprints.
"The Desert Column" launched Idriess into a career of book writing that spanned the rest of his life. A prolific author his works included such best sellers as "Lassieter's Last Ride", "Forty Fathoms Deep" and "Madman's Island".

CLICK ON THE BOOKCOVER TO BEGIN
( turn the pages with your own pointer )

Note: New iPhone and iPad computers have not incorporated the flash reading technology and will not be able to read this book.
However the new generation "Andriod Tablet" computers available from December will continue with flash technology.

OR Download a PDF copy

At Regimental H.Q. at Fukhari before the attack, Lieutenant Colonel James McCarroll makes sure his Squadron commanders are fully informed and aware of what he expects to be carried out in the next few days as plans come together to attack Beersheba.
Order number 50, typed up and signed under the hand of the Regiments new Adjudant, Lieutenant, now Acting Captain Walter Haeata.
The detail of intended movements not left to chance - of special interest is the order for "Squadron Markers will report mounted to R.S.M. at 1630 tomorrow."- These men will be left in no doubt as to their positions they will take up as the sections and squadrons assemble on them for the desert march.

This image taken from the actual document attached to A.M.R. War Diary AWM#35/2/29 Oct 1917.

Read this document now added to our BEERSHEBA PAGE