NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED RIFLES

Comments from Steve Butler ■ Email contact
NAMES ON A MAP

ENLARGED PDF MAP DOWNLOAD here.
This map taken from the 1921 publication, "The Desert Mounted Corps: an account of Cavalry operations in Palestine and Syria 1917-1918." by Lieutenant Colonel R.M.P. Preston.

Since the 1920's various political factions have tugged and pulled at the map of the Middle East.
Israeli, Armenian, Turkish and various Arab tribes have sought claim by naming and renaming various points on the landscape to reflect their ownership.
In the process the place names of battles and strategic points of the Great War have been re-spelt to reflect one tribes ownership over another, or the introduction of new names over a vanquished Turkish enemy or names resurrected from centuries before.
For people interested in discovering the movements of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles and others of the Desert Mounted Corps of WW1 finding a map with place names relevant to the operations is hard to find.
Reproduced at left is a 1918 map of the Northern Levant covering territory from Jerusalem to Amman and the depression of the Jordan Valley carrying the River Jordan into the Dead Sea.

The shades of orange denotes the height of the topography above sea level - and of course, as every school boy knows, the lack of colour represents the large area of the Jordan Valley that is below sea level. Easily spotted to the East of Jericho is the bridge crossing on the river at Ghoraniveh at -1230 feet below sea level where the Auckland Mounted Rifles built their pontoon bridge and crossed with the Jewish Legion and the British West Indies Regiments in support.
The map comes alive with the various old names from the War Diaries and books - next to Ghoraniveh the Wadi Nimrin and the plain where the Aucklanders charged down the Turkish Cavalry in a sweeping chase of madly galloping horses. Further East and on the heights of Es Salt (El Salt) the township where the NZMR where first received as liberators then shot at in the back by the Arab villagers during the first attack on Amman.
At Ain el Sir, the steep rocky ground became a deathtrap for the Camels that slipped and fell spread-eagled with the loads during the heavy rain that drenched the advance to Amman. The twisting railway track outside Amman that was ripped up by a daring NZMR raid before the Amman battle to stop the arrival of enemy troops and supplies. At the top right, Wadi Hamasam, where the New Zealanders raced after the fall of Amman to secure the wells and deny the enemy any chance of counter-attack.
But not all of interest on this map is East of the Jordan - coming home after victory the Brigade made camp at Jericho to rest the seriously wounded, but quickly the hospitals became over crowded with men dying from Malaria. The Brigade struggled to decamp and move to Talaat el Dumm in its effort to climb out of the depression of the Valley that had temperatures soaring to 110 degrees F in the shade.
Above Jericho, at Abu Tellul with their backs to the Wadi el Auja, the Australian Light Horse perimeter had dug in a series of defensive trenches. An all out German Turko attack was begun to take out this defensive line in a plan to retake Jericho and Jerusalem. However the massive advance was stopped in its tracks when the Wellington Mounted Rifles Squadron raced out in a mounted left hook that encircled the enemy and closed the door like a spring trap. The enemy had no chance, the survivors surrendered in their hundreds and effectively ended the last real attempt by the Central Powers to hold onto the Levant.



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.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 



THE LAST WALK FROM HOME

The imposing "Hokianga Arch of Remembrance" is perhaps the most striking monument in all of New Zealand, certainly placed in one of the nations most beautiful settings. This photograph taken on the 22nd May with the aid of late morning Autumn light reflected off the glass like Hokianga Harbour water.
The significance of the placement of this memorial is not lost to the casual observer - it was over this grass verge and along this wooden jetty that the men of Kohukohu settlement walked with their kitbags as they departed the Hokianga for Auckland and the convoys of troopships that awaited them in 1914 and again in 1939.
For many this was their last walk from their land, and the names of the fallen are now etched forever on the memorial.

Although my trip North was a personal one, I took this opportunity to break my journey and stay overnight at Kohukohu to investigate the sad demise of a New Zealand Mounted Rifleman and a hero of Chunuk Bair of August 1915.
Trooper Edwin (Jack) Shepherd was a Main Body man who departed with the initial convoy in October 1914, and for some unknown reason, that defies belief, he lies here in the local Kohukohu cemetery in an unmarked grave.
How could it come to pass that a man who served his country so well lies in a barren plot, unrecognised, a man who under great duress reached the highest point on Gallipoli, one of the few, and who was to become an even a rarer statistic - one of only 73 men to come back alive from this hell.
In 2008 Jack's daughter Margaret Shepherd approached the Association with an offer to publish her father's Gallipoli Diary. This we were very pleased to do and we transcribed and posted Trooper Shepherd's Gallipoli Diary is HERE.
Jack wrote of the fateful August attack:

"Sunday 8 August
Daylight broke as we reached the top of a high ridge a short way from the firing line. After forming up in lines of 8 we charged across about 100 yards of open ground swept by machine guns and a good many of our chaps fell shot in the rush. After crossing the hill top we came to a small hollow where we lay in the scrub at the mercy of the snipers and shrapnel. Men were continually getting hit. Shrapnel killed a good many. Major Chapman got hit and died shortly afterwards. After lying in the scrub all day without water and the sun scorching us. In the afternoon we crossed to the firing line where most of our troops were either shot or wounded. There were no trenches to go into. We had to stand up in the open and were mown down by machine guns and shrapnel.  What was left of the AMR retired from the firing line about midnight. None of our officers were left and only a few men were alive."


Jack was invalided out to England and to Hornchurch Hospital to recuperate from the trials of Gallipoli. And, like many NZMR who found themselves in England, he was not returned to the Brigade in Egypt but was sent on to bolster the ever falling numbers of the Auckland Infantry Regiment in Europe. This is where Jack served the remainder of the War.
Unfortunately Jack was to face troubled times at wars end on returning home. The wife he left behind to depart for the Great War he found was no longer compatible, and although he had a young daughter Jack left the family home and set about building his life and future by logging in the Kohukohu region. By 1926 he had found a new partner that he intended to marry and with a fellow logger had worked for months on contract without payment to build a nest egg for the future. His debits had mounted but the contract was finally completed - However the contractor and the money had disappeared when the partners went to collect.
The situation broke the man's spirit, and after writing his last letter, Jack hung himself in a boarding house shed.
His daughter Margaret was only an infant at the time and was not to learn of her fathers fate for many years. She had moved off shore and did not return to New Zealand until much later in life. She was appalled to finally learn that her father lay unrecognised and unknown in the Far North.
Some years ago she approach the Crown about the fact her serving father 's grave was unknown and unmarked and surely as an ex-serviceman the Crown was obligated to mark the site. Many requests, promises and changes of governments has led to nothing.

My quest at the weekend was to locate Jack's grave. This was greatly helped by Kohukohu local identity Nola Hansen, who welcomed my wife and I to her home. Nola is a true wealth of information and among her copious files, letters and photographs of the Hokianga was the plot map to the settlements "Old" Cemetery. There listed on the town plan in section "D" row and reference "D47" was written - "Edwin Shepherd 1926".
Nola led us from her house to the old cemetery, and It was a beautiful walk up the hill with the chorus of Bell-birds and Tui in our ears - The cemetery is a beautiful and tranquil place. Nola set out the grid, and using the named headstones near by, pinpointed the plot section in the row. Only wild grass covered the area, the center ground of the plot slightly raised, otherwise devoid of even a wooden marker post that must have rotted away many decades ago.
Then as if by magic, a cloud above rolled back and a powerful beam of sunlight penetrated through the Manuka canopy and outlined the plot exactly - I couldn't believe my luck, and raising my camera I was able to capture the last restring place of Jack Shepherd, New Zealander and Chunuk Bair Hero.


How do we get the autorities to recognise the passing of a New Zealander who fought for his country - or should we care - are there more important things to worry about - I would like your comments HERE.

SOUTH CANTERBURY SQUADRON WATER ENROUTE TO DEPARTURE 1914

photograph: "THE PRESS" Christchurch 1914 - Duotone treatment NZMRA 2011
Wearing their hats "slouch" style these men of the 8th South Canterbury Squadron, Canterbury Mounted Rifles, water their mounts in the Avon River by the Carlton Bridge, Christchurch.
This image is part of a fortuitous find made by a Christchurch "The Press" staff member searching old archives last year. The collection of glass plates of the men from Canterbury departing New Zealand for the Great War in October 1914 are of great quality and historic value. I have been told that the Newspaper intends to make all the images available to the public by way of a book in the near future.
From the 12th to 16th August 1914, mere days after war was declared in Europe, Mounted Territorials from the Canterbury District entered Camp for training - September arrived and on the 6th the CMR was moved to the Plumpton Park Trotting Club Course at Sockburn; the ground here, being of a shingly formation, was more suitable for a camp and did not cut up with the continual traffic. The long hard training days passed and October came:-
"During this period there had been daily expectation of departure, but now, a month after entering camp, it seemed farther off than ever. Day after day the old routine was gone through, and then suddenly the news came that the transports were in Lyttelton Harbour. All was now orderly confusion. Kits were packed and re-packed. It was marvellous the amount that could be crammed into a kit bag. Finally the baggage was got rid of and forwarded by train to the transports.
Early in the morning of September 23rd the Regiment rode out of camp for the last time, taking the road through Sumner to the ships at Lyttelton, and embarked immediately on arrival—Headquarters and the 1st Squadron on H.M.N.Z. Transport No. 4, Tahiti; the 8th and 10th Squadrons on H.M.N.Z. Transport No. 11, Athenic. Owing to there being insufficient accommodation on the transport Tahiti, about forty men and horses were sent to Dunedin to embark with the Otago Mounted Rifles. These forty men were drafted from each squadron and Captain H. H. Hammond of the 8th (South Canterbury M.R.) was placed in charge. The horses took to their confined quarters quietly. Some were on deck but the majority were down in the holds.
The ships sailed in the evening, and after a quiet trip arrived in Wellington the following afternoon, where it was learnt, to the general disappointment, that all troops were to disembark. No reason was given at the time, for this hitch in the arrangements. Afterwards it was learnt that it was due to the presence of German cruisers in the South Pacific.
On the 25th the Tahiti men went into camp at Lyall Bay, and those from the Athenic to Trentham, there to await the arrival of an escort capable of protecting the fleet of transports.
The time was fully occupied in looking after the horses, in some tactical training and in speculating on the probable date of departure. On October 14th the escort arrived—H.M.S.Minotaur and the Japanese warship Ibuki. By 3 p.m. the Regiment was again on board the ships, which immediately pulled out into the stream to await departure the following morning.
The fleet weighed anchor at 6 o'clock, the Minotaur leading, closely followed by the Ibuki..."

excerpt from "The History of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles" - C.G. Powles 1920

IN A DISTANT FIELD
Rank Last Held: Trooper
Forename(s): Walter Victor
Surname: Pulman
Serial No.: 13/1084
First Known Rank: Trooper
Next of Kin: George Pulman (father), Buckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Marital Status: Single
Enlistment Address: Akaaka, Pukekohe, New Zealand
Military District: Auckland
Body on Embarkation: 5th Reinforcements
Embarkation Unit: Auckland Mounted Rifles
Embarkation Date: 13 June 1915
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Vessel: Maunganui or Tahiti or Aparima
Destination: Suez, Egypt (24 July - 6 August 1915)
Nominal Roll: 596
Place of Death: Palestine
Date of Death: 17 November 1917
Age at Death: 21
Year of Death: 1917
Cause of Death: Died of wounds
Cemetery Name: Ramleh War Cemetery, Israel
Grave Reference: M.17.

photograph: Gal Shaine - Israel. CWGC Ramleh -2009

Captain Walter Haeata wrote in part in the Auckland Mounted Rifles WAR DIARY for 14th November 1917:-

“... Our casualties for the day were Lieut. J.D. Stewart and 14 O/R killed.
Wounded: Lieutenant-Colonel McCarroll J.N.
Captain Twistleton MC F.M.
Lieut. K.J. Tait MC
2/Lieut.  S.C. Reid
2/Lieut. G.L. King
2/Lieut. C.G.R. Jackson
2/Lieut. E.A.H. Bisley
AND 67 Other Ranks Wounded.
Enemy casualties were, when counted next morning in our immediate front within a radius of 400 yards, was found to be 64 dead and 22 badly wounded.  Several enemy wounded were heard proceeding Northward during the night.  We had 35 horses killed and 27 wounded.

[Note: Many of these wounded men were to succumb to their injuries over the next days, including Captain Twistleton, and of course Trooper Walter Pulman one of the 67 Other Ranks.]

Only 21 years old when he Died of Wounds after the heroic action by the New Zealand Mounted Rifles at Ayun Kara, Walter Pulman's gravesite and headstone is maintained to the highest standard in the Commonwealth War Grave at Ramleh in modern day Israel.
"Trooper Walter V. Pulman, who died of wounds in Palestine, on November 17, was the third son of Mr. G. Pulman, of Buckland. He was born in the Waikato, and prior to his departure was farming at Pukekohe. He left with the fifth reinforcements, and served for nearly three years with the forces in Egypt. His youngest brother, Lance-Corporal Pulman, is a member of the thirty-third reinforcements."
Auckland Weekly News, 27 December 1917, p. 21

FREEMASONS AT THE MOSQUE OF OMAR

Lieutenat Colonel James McCarroll sits on
the right front row in this slice section of
the formal photograph.
A new look at an old photograph taken at the "Dome of the Rock" in Jerusalem, on the 6th April 1918.
Available to download PDF COPY "Masonic Meeting" 1918 (size 566Kbs) of this famous meeting held by the Masonic Freemason at the site of the more commonly known "Mosque of Omar". This site has always been of great historical significance, over time it has been the site of Jewish Temples, Christian Crusaders Churches and Islamic Mosques.
When the New Zealand Mounted Rifles entered the city after the Ottoman Turkish Forces had surrendered it was decided to hold a historic meeting of the "District Grand Lodge of English Freemasons" at the Dome. Lieutenant Colonel James McCarroll acted as senior warden at the meeting.
The newspaper clipping at right is from "The Auckland Star" published 5th September 1918.
The Association would like to hear from anybody who can recognise any of the individual men in the photograph - we have the attendance names, but wish to match the men to the image.
photograph copy supplied by Gordon Slyvester - Duotone treatment by the NZMRA 2011.

NZMR MASONIC MEETING - JERUSALEM 1918

Westcoaster Gordon Sylvester has been kind enough to post through a famous photograph that I have only seen tattered and distorted versions of before. Large PDF download link as above.
This smaller version makes it very difficult to ascertain who is who, and hopefully with the large format members will be able to help.
Gordon writes in part:

"As promised here is a copy of the photo of the "Dome on the Rock" Masonic Meeting... James McCarroll is 4th from left sitting on the ground. Next to him sitting with his elbows on his knees is my man William Meldrum. Back row right side is I believe Captain Reverend Wilson. I would like to identify the rest."

GO TO: SPREADSHEET of Masonic Lodge Members who served with the NZMR - by Gordon Slyvester
Also from Lieutenant James McCarrolls diary and a Newspaper cutting we know that this photograph above was taken at the Mosque of Omar, Jerusalem, on the 6th April 1918.