photograph Captain H.S. White, Somerset RHA, circa Sinai 1916
Two members of the CTC (Camel Transport Corps) pose with their charge loaded with a "Multiple- seat" portable Latrine.
Obviously, photographer Captain H.S. White of the Somerset Royal Horse Artillery couln't let such an opportune moment pass by without recording a photograph that would create a great talking point.
"In July 1917, The Camel Transport Corps (C.T.C.) consisted of sixteen companies and two depots, the total strength of burden camels being 32,712. Eleven of those companies (2,000 camels per company) were heavy burden camels and were attached to East Force. Five light burden companies (2,000 camels per company) were employed on lines of communication with detachments on the western front at Matruth, Sollum and Baharia.
During the months of August and September, the companies of the Corps were allocated to the army formations as follows:-
XXth Army Corps
1st line transport
XXIst Army Corps
1st line transport
Desert Mounted Corps
"...During the months from October to December all companies were very hard worked. The troops were operating in areas in advance of railheads and long convoys were necessary to maintain them in water, rations and ammunition.
In the Beersheba area large convoys marched out daily from the railhead, but the tracks were suitable for camels and the weather remained mild and open, camel wastage was very low.
In early December severe weather set in. Heavy rainstorms made the going difficult and the piercing cold had a telling effect both on animals and personnel.
"...Desert Mounted Corps convoys were working from the railhead at Deir Seneid, Esdud, and Sukereir to Ramleh. The intervening contryside consisted of tilled land across which were no permanent roads. The heavy rains soon reduced the whole area to one vast spongy quagmire, crossed here and there by broad wadies, which were difficult to navigate.
In places camels sank up to the girth in mud and many had to be abandoned."
From: "The Advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force" - General Sir Edmund Allenby - compiled from Official Sources"
"All drinking water had to be carried on camels from the wells at Belah to the firing line; and the courage and resource shown by the Camel Transport Corps was magnificent." Lt-Col Guy Powles - The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine
21st Anniversary issue
penny and half-penny
50th Anniversary issue
4 penny and 5 penny
90th Anniversary of
H.M.S. Colne was instrumental in the success of the Auckland Mounted Rifles breakout attack at the beginning of the British offensive to take the Gallipoli Heights, August 1915.
Colne was a River Class Destroyer, commissioned 21st May 1905 and was on station in the Dardenelles from the landings of Anzac Day, 25th April 1915. When the NZMR arrived off Archi Baba in May for their landing at Anzac Cove, it was the Colne that took the men from the "Grantully Castle" to the landing barges close to shore.
in August, her planned and precision timed nightly salvos lured the Turkish defenders of "Old Outpost number 3" into letting down their guard for the Aucklanders to attack with bayonets and unloaded rifles.
Colne was sold 1919, and broken up for scrap by Dover Industries Ltd in England 1920. The 615 Tons destroyer carried a crew of 70.
Field Report of General Sir Ian Hamilton commenting on the August offensive, Gallipoli 1915:
"The whole of this big attack was placed under the command of Major-General Sir A. J. Godley, General Officer Commanding New Zealand and Australian Division.
Among other stratagems the Anzac troops, assisted by H. M. S. Colne, had long and carefully been educating the Turks how they should lose Old No. 3 Post, which could hardly have been rushed by simple force of arms. Every night, exactly at 9 p. m., H.M.S. Colne threw the beams of her searchlight onto the redoubt, and opened fire upon it for exactly ten minutes. Then, after a ten-minute interval, came a second illumination and bombardment, commencing always at 9.20 and ending precisely at 9.30 p. m.
The idea was that, after successive nights of such practice, the enemy would get into the habit of taking the searchlight as a hint to clear out until the shelling was at an end. But on the eventful night of the 6th, the sound of their footsteps drowned by the loud cannonade, unseen as they crept along in that darkest shadow which fringes the searchlight's beam -- came the right covering column. At 9.30 the light switched off and instantly our men poured out of the scrub jungle and into the empty redoubt. By 11 p. m. the whole series of surrounding entrenchments were ours..."
The Official History of the AMR recorded after the attack:
"...Very soon the whole position was cleared, and the troopers then set to work to fill the sandbags they had brought, and with them built barriers at various places in the trenches, from which the bombers effectively held off the Turkish counter-attacks during the night. By morning the place was consolidated. The action was a smart, finished piece of work, and the Regiment is very much indebted to the destroyer Colne for its effective cooperation. The Regiment had only 20 casualties this night, while the Turks left 100 dead in the trenches and near vicinity. Unfortunately, among the killed was Lieutenant Harry Mackesy, the Colonel’s son, a gallant soldier, who had been commissioned from the ranks and was the brigade’s bombing officer.,,"
Original 1914 B&W photograph by Herman John Schmidt, portrait photographer 1872 - 1959. (image computer colourised 2011 by NZMRA)
First Known Rank:
Occupation before Enlistment:
Next of Kin:
Mrs R.A. Holt, Highcroft, Lancaster, England
Mrs W.L. Holt (mother), Highcroft, Lancaster, England
Unknown marital status
Whakatane, New Zealand
Body on Embarkation:
New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Auckland Mounted Rifles
19th Reinforcements New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade
16 October 1914
5 December 1916
Place of Embarkation:
Auckland, New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand
Star of India or Waimana
13/364 Trooper Horace Holt was a Main Body man, a member of the 4th Waikato Squadron, Auckland Mounted Rifles and departed New Zealand October 1914. His name appears within a few diaries and photographs from other members of 4th Troop 4th Waikatos and there is another image of Horace along with Greville Garland (mentioned in the article immediately below) shown on Trooper Jack Shepherds Diary page HERE.
The Waikato Squadron was to take many casualties at Gallipoli, especially at Chunuk Bair - the highest point on the peninsular that British Forces were able to attain during the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915.
The read-out from the Auckland War Memorial Museum reprinted above carries two different references in the right hand column. This shows that Trooper Holt first departed NZ with the Main Body, but later returned to New Zealand during the conflict - later on the 5th December 1916, and now promoted to Sergeant, Holt returned to active service with the 19th Reinforcements NZMR on board the S.S. Waihora.
The photograph right is reproduced from page 65 of Major Wilkie's "The Official History of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment" that was first published in 1920's after the Great War.
The title of the photograph states: "W.M.R. trooper firing a periscope rifle at Gallipoli".
However all these years later we can say the caption is both right - but also wrong - This is indeed a member of the Mounted Rifles, but he is Corporal Greville Garland - not from Wellington but from the Waikato Mounted Rifles Squadron - somewhere along the way the books compositor has read W.M.R. as meaning the soldier was a Wellington man. An easy enough mistake, and in the design of things not that important to note, but interesting all the same.
When the original of the photograph was sent to me by the Garland family I had the feeling I had seen the image before, and revisiting Wilkie's book the other day I was surprised to see Corporal Garland represented in the Wellingtons history.
First Known Rank:
Next of Kin:
F.H. Garland, McMurray Road, Epsom, Auckland
Matamata, New Zealand
Body on Embarkation:
Auckland Mounted Rifles
16 October 1914
Place of Embarkation:
Auckland, New Zealand
Star of India or Waimana
Page on Nominal Roll:
13/338 Corporal Grev Garland lines up his periscope cradle behind the relative safety of the trench sandbags somewhere on Gallipoli 1915.
Photographs top and left: The Blake Wedding Party
29th August 1915.
Photographs Auckland Weekly News 1915, Camera: Frank Wade.
Left: The groom, Thomas Blake sits next to his bride, 5th from the left front row.
Also present, second row, Lieutenant Colonel Mackesy NAMR, back from his tour on Gallipoli.
Not often do serving officers get married in a theatre of War during a conflict. However on the 29th August 1915, NZMR Veterinarian officer, Captain Blake married his sweetheart Mabel Constance Dean at the New Zealand Military Camp at Zietoun near Cairo.
13/637 Captain Thomas Arnold Blake was a member of the NZMR Veterinary Corps and departed with the Main Body on the 16th October 1914. Prior to his military service Thomas had been employed by the Department of Agriculture, Wellington.
Members of the bridal party appear to be from New Zealand and British Forces and a number of women present wear the uniforms of the Nursing Corps. Whether Mable was a member of the nursing profession is not clear, but her nationality is listed as English. Perhaps then this was not a whirlwind romance but the result of a distant long term courtship by mail, as Thomas lists his Next of Kin, his mother, Mrs Blake, at the address: The Deverells, Nailsworth, England. This could lead the casual observer to speculate that Thomas himself was probably English born and knew Miss Dean before he came to New Zealand.
The presence of senior aged women dressed in civilian refinery and scattered throughout the photograph suggests this was not a hastily arranged event. These women would have needed to travel from the British Isles - and perhaps it is Mrs Blake that sits in the chair next to her son.
Military records show Thomas Blake survived the Great War.
A LETTER OF GALLIPOLI - 1915
An extraordinary account sent home by 11/689 Trooper Harry Browne from his hospital bed in Hornchurch to his family in New Zealand. Harry was one of the very few who survived the bloody heights of Chunuk Bair.
This letter remains unfinished, but the accounts of his and of the 6th Manawatu's actions at Table Top, Walker's Ridge and the final push to Chunuk Bair is frightening in its simplicity and aggression. The enemy Turk he described as "an able fellow". That he also records that he and three others remained the last at Chunuk Bair, "Where once a Squadron stood", tells a tale in a few stark words.
This letter is the Associations presentation for Anzac Day 2011 - the letter begins below and will be finished as it is transcribed this week.
Remember the Men of the NZMR this Anzac Day.
New Zealand Base Camp Hornchurch Essex, England. (By Trooper Browne)
I will start off with an introduction dealing briefly with Walkers Ridge and the few days preceding the battle.
Down from Walker's Ridge, we the Wellington Mounted (or as we often remarked - dismounted) Rifles, trudge with our packs, we hear that there is going to be a big advance to the left, and that the NZ Mounted Brigade is going to open it up. We are glad to leave that ridge, where with Auckland Mounteds we have been working fortnight about with the Australian Light Horse, to the total and tender care of the latter. Apart from a few occasions it has been comparatively unexciting and monotonous with that settled kind of trench warfare, but we have tender thoughts as we leave the precipitous hill which the Australian landing party took in seventeen minutes and on the far side of which many an Australian and New Zealander lay in the sun, until the armistice late in May enabled us to bury what was left of them.
Along a certain bank is a rough little wooden cross it is inscribed “Sacred to the Memory of an Unknown Member of the NZ Expedition Force." I will not go in to details as to why he should be unknown, but he was one of our infantry who landed on that first day, nineteen days ahead of us. It is very important to always wear the identification disc around the neck, for the sake of those at home and that is not always infallible.
On Walker's Ridge one night, Auckland bore the brunt of a fierce attack, and had many casualties. Auckland has graves there and Wellington has graves on the hill from which you gaze seaward on a most beautiful view. Behind the Isle of Samothrace the sun gloriously sets each night. Peace on that side - inland war. Peace to the seaward and yet from Walker’s Ridge we watched that grand fighting ship the “Triumph” heel over and sink in the calm waters, while angry destroyers rushed in every direction eager for revenge. Also there could be heard intermittently by day or night, the grumbling of warships at Cape Hellas, an occasional visit and bombardment by one in our neighbourhood. The booming of Monitors in the offing and the bark of the destroyers.
Wellington and Auckland Mounteds were mostly on Walker’s. Canterbury and Otago Mounteds generally occupying important posts on the left flank. It was here that we had secret saps loading out, constructed by much nightly toil and the next time Enver Pasha sent his men to push us into the sea, the Turks fill in, in more ways than one. They came to stay, many of them bringing provisions and overcoats and their welcome was so warm that a great number of them did stay near by, as we were forcibly reminded later on when the wind blew our way.
By Korry! We use to sneak out at night and drag in the nearest ones and bury them.
Whatever else, the Turk is a brave foe.
Yes, there are many memories that cluster around Walker’s Ridge and always the feeling if every Turk in Turkey were to come, it must never fall after the way it was taken on the first day. It was the spirit of the great dead of that day. We couldn’t go back on them. Looking to the future I can see Walker’s Ridge as one of the places of interest to the tourist on Gallipoli Peninsula and where would finer place be for a monument to the men of Anzac, than the crest of that Ridge, which takes its name from an Australian Colonel?
We had been working hard on Walker’s Ridge. When not in the firing trenches, or sapping, we were on fatigue duty, so a few days rest were very welcome and necessary before the big fight. The Regiment camped on lower slopes, the 6th Squadron being just above the beaches where we had excellent bathing, snipers permitting. As far as we were concerned the sea was the only way of washing ourselves or our clothes.
During these few days we were given a few extras in the food line and our duties were light. In fact we had a good time there.
Speaking for myself, I was I think in good hard fighting trim.
Coming events cast their shadows before. Then on Thursday night the 5th August we fell in, in fighting order, packs and tunics left behind, valises alone being carried. To No 1 Outpost, which was held by the Maori Contingent, we went and slept the night with the Maoris. On the corner where you turned from the main trench to approach their position, they had done some typical Maori Carving into the bank.
First thing next morning we had risen from the ground [trench], a Maori was standing by some of his machine gun ammunition talking to us. High overhead a Taube [German Aircraft] sailed and suddenly the Maori flopped to the ground grabbing at his boot. A dart had pierced his ankle and disappeared into the ground. He shed tears of disappointment at missing the fight, but he had need to be glad. What a near thing for his head, and what a strange way to be wounded. Not many get it thus. What a strange war this is. Quietly the day slipped by. We made ourselves some nice curry with bully beef and onions and had a last good feed before changing our circumstances. In saying “we” I am sometimes referring to the squadron, sometimes the regiment, sometimes the troops, and sometimes the section. I will leave to judge which by the context.
At present it was the section, which was composed of Jack Gutzell, section leader, Don McCaskill (who used to go round on our carts as a boy) H.E.B. and Jimmy Prosser, who was replacing Paddy Burke, the latter being away with a bad knee. (Excuse me I can hear a little dog barking in the neighbourhood, that sounds just like our Biddy, and I had to remark to someone about it.) Poor Jimmy Prosser didn't get to see the light of another day.
Trooper H. (Jimmy) Prosser
He was killed that night on Table Top. But I must not race ahead. We were taken up into the firing trench and the object for the right was pointed out to us by Lieut. Mayo who fell next day on Table Top. At 9 o’clock sharp the Mounteds and the Maoris were to charge. (There goes Biddy again.) Some of the Maoris were to act in conjunction with the Auckland Mounteds in the attack on old No 3 Outpost. As the sun was setting on Friday the 6th August they gathered around their native chaplain in fighting array, and a brief service was held in their own tongue. To me it was a historic scene. After a few words the hymn “Jesus Lover of My Soul” was sung in Maori, to a tune of their own. The parts blended beautifully. The Contingent had 25 tenors in its chorus. The chaplain in a splendid voice sang the solo, the rest supplying the obligatio. Is there any language beautiful as that of our Natives, when it is set to music? My squadron stood around silent listening intently.
There was something pathetic about the tune and the scene that brought tears to the eyes, and yet as we listened we felt that they and we could go through anything with that beautiful influence behind us.
The hymn ceased. There was a silence that could be felt and then Maori and Pakeha heads were bowed while the native prayers and benediction were pronounced. A brief message was read to the Contingent, and they dispersed. We all remarking that they could not go wrong after that grand singing. Later on we heard the fierce "Kamate” from the same throats resounding from the hill they had captured. That war cry mingled with the cheers of the Aucklanders.
THE BATTLE BEGINS
At quarter to nine, out filed the 6th [Manawatu Mounted Rifles Squadron] from the No 1 post, back into the big trench, the main artery of Anzac. On reaching a certain point we debouched into the gully between Nos 1 and 2 posts and waited for the word on the threshold of danger. We were to open the attack in that quarter by seizing in two parties, a big communication trench and an outpost ridge.
Orders had previously gone round for empty magazines, silence and the bayonet. Sharply at 9 p.m. in single file we started up and into the darkness of the narrow watercourse. Further up our walk broke into a double, and then the enemy opened fired. A machine gun was sweeping the watercourse and passing a certain spot the bullets were striking fire on the stones. Here the first casualty lay moaning. After that several were hit. Fred Wilson and Hughie Reid who were in the section ahead of us were both hit there, and a little further up Claude Meads was killed.
Hughie Reid has since lost his foot, I hear. Fred Wilson with several wounds walked all the way back to No. 3 Outpost and then fainted. Eric Fowler was shot through the lung and Dick Stewart in the hand. Dick picked him up and carried him back. The position soon fell to us. Jumping into the trench I nearly landed on a wounded man and looking closer I saw he was a Turk
Some scrub near by had caught fire and was showing us up, but Auckland and the Maoris were attacking fiercely and things were going well with us. To the left of Auckland, Otago and Canterbury were busy. For a time we manned a little ridge in the gully expecting a counter attack. Near me lay Joe Chamberlain in agony and calling for morphia pills, and we did not have any. In the darkness and necessary open order he had run into a cluster of four, bayoneted two but the others had shot him in the stomach. He did not die until the next morning. Lying near Joe in his pain I was filled with unreasonable rage of war and swore to avenge him. I certainly did later on.
As soon as we seized the first positions our 2nd and 9th. Squadrons passed over us and on up to seize Big Table Top, we following them up. Meantime the cheers of the Aucklanders and the war cries of the Maoris proclaimed that they had taken the very strongly held old No. 3 Outpost. (Called old No. 3 because it had been in our possession for two days.) Table Top lay further in, and many of the enemy, completely surprised and terrified by the weird war cries, retired on Table Top to find it in our possession. We took 150 prisoners there and the dead lay around in plenty. 11p.m. saw Table Top and old No. 3 Outpost in our hands and the N.Z. Infantry opening up on Rhododendron Spur, and other new ground.
Left: Trooper 11/23 Robert (Joe) Chamberlain - "Called out for Morphia - he did not die till next morning".
Killed in Action, 6th August, aged 25.
Thus the battle opened up most promisingly and very strong positions were taken at very small cost. Major Dick who was wounded in the hand went back to have it dressed. Returning later with Quarter-master Lodge they heard some Turks yabbering in the darkness. Giving orders to imaginary men, they called out to the Turks to surrender, which they did an officer and five men. We laughed when we heard how the wounded Major and the Quarter-master had surrounded the enemy. In our attack we also had Twistleton and G.H. Williams killed. Soon after arriving on Table Top poor Jimmy Prosser was killed. I may mention this more fully another time.
Before going into action we had arranged with one another regarding pocket sundries, so from Jim’s body we took some films of snapshots taken on Walker’s Ridge. Jimmy and us were in some of the snaps. McCaskiff took charge of them, and I hope he has forwarded them to Jimmy’s people.
The prisoner’s taken that night were a sturdy crowd, though there were some old ones among them. In one case there were three generations represented by two young fellows, their father and his father. The latter a grey-haired patriot, whose hand the son took wherever we shifted them. They offered me a drink from their water bottles, I think the water was quite good but I wasn’t taking any risks that night.
Talking of prisoners reminds me of one we took before reaching Table Top. Most of the enemy were big men, but this one wasn’t, and the poor little beggar was scared out of his life. In darkness nearby he called out ”Tesleem’ and a fool behind me up with his rifle and nearly blew my ear off. It did brought several “Tesleems’ from the strange voice, to which many replied with "Taala Hina” Arabic for “Come Here” but from a past conversation with our interpreter, I knew this did not correspond with the Turkish tongue, so it was a case of mutual ignorance. I had a language book with me but you could not strike matches there so as we couldn’t make him understand, Stu McFarlane and I went and brought him in. There he stood, his rifle and equipment thrown on the ground, frightened to come nearer and frightened to run away, lost in his own ground. The poor beggar seemed in a cold perspiration and hung back until he has impressed upon us the “Tesleem” business so we said “Alright - Tesleem.” Even then he was trying to follow the one in front and watch the bayonet of the one behind. A fairly common saying among them is “Turkey Finish,” but he evidently did not know this. Next morning I looked up “Tesleem” and found it means “Surrender.”
Special thanks to the Browne Family, Kathy Furlong, Mrs Blincoe and Johnathan Winter.