Photograph Trooper Reginald Filleul - Destruction of Viaduct Bridge at Auja, 8th May 1917 - Duotone treatment NZMRA 2011
Of all the photographs taken of the destruction of the railway viaduct at Auja in Turkish Palestine, this image by Camelier Reginald Filleul would be the most spectacular. He must have been poised exactly right to catch the flash of the ignition, click the shutter , then dive for cover as the percussion wave raced out across the desert towards him at 600 miles per hour.
This photo has never been offered for publication before, and again we are in debt to the Claire Fletcher collection.
Reginald writes on the obverse of the photograph he sends home:
"Blowing up the viaduct on the Turkish line at El Auja.
Taken on stunt - May 8th 1917 "
Another Camelier, Oliver Houge, recorded the events of the day in his book "The Cameliers":
"... Meanwhile the Cameliers, without haste, without pause, had trekked southwards to El Auja.
They travelled all night, and at dawn reached the Wadi Abiad, where they breakfasted. A long
line of skirmishers then moved southwards over the Hue, scattered several Turkish patrols,
and settled down ready for any attack, while the demolition party coming behind played havoc
with the railway. For over an hour there sounded a continuous roar of detonations. Big railway
bridges with solid stone and concrete pillars and arches all crashed and crumbled to ruin.
Such is the waste and destruction incidental to the prosecution of war.
In the afternoon we drew off, and moved back to the Wadi Abiad to bivouac. Our aeroplane,
which had kept us advised of Abduls movements, landed near the old police posts of El Auja,
but striking a bit of rough ground had the bad luck to bend the axle and breaksome minor
parts. The pilot was unable to effect repairs without a forge and wires and special tools. It
looked as if the machine would have to be destroyed to prevent it falling into the hands of the
enemy. When the airman had about come to this decision, a couple of Cameliers sauntered
up, had a look at the wreck, and reckoned they could patch it up somehow. The pilot was
incredulous, but he said, 'Go ahead.' So they made a fire, heated and straightened the axle —
using lumps of railway line for an anvil.
They commandeered some telegraph wire, and soon had the aeroplane in working order
The airman was delighted. So he got aboard again, waved a ‘cheerio,’ and flew back to Rafa."
footnote: Much has been made of the effort of 'Lawrence of Arabia' - English Colonel T.E. Lawrence and his Arab Army, and their attacks on the Turkish Railway. Many have suggested, including Colonel Lawrence, that his attacks against the Turkish Railway paved the way for victory in the Middle East.
While it is true Lawrence and his band did attack the Turkish Railway, his first attack did not take place until July 1917 - this timing was 7 months after the Anzac Mounteds and other British forces had finally pushed the German Turco Armies out of the Sinai Desert and into Turkish Palestine in January 1917. Unfortunately after a few attacks Lawrence's Arab Army decided to leave the field of action over the winter months - by January 1918 Lawrence returned with thirty thousand pounds sterling to induce his charges back into the field, but the money quickly vanished and he tendered his resignation from his post. It is not until August after returning from meetings in Cairo could Lawrence get his "followers" back into the field with any due diligence - it was obvious at this time that the War was going very well, and soon the spoils would be distributed to the victors.
By far the majority of attacks and destruction against the Turkish railway was carried out by the Australian Light Horse, The NZMR, The Cameliers of the I.C.C. and the Royal Engineers - but as any school boy knows, Lawrence wrote a great book, a story that found its way into English Folklore and accepted by a war weary British public that had lost much on Flanders Fields.
21st Anniversary issue
penny and half-penny
50th Anniversary issue
4 penny and 5 penny
90th Anniversary of
Photo Roger Shephard Collection - NZMRA computer colourised 2011
The 4th (Waikato) Mounted Rifles Squadron was formed on March 17, 1911, and was part of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment (AMR), and along with the 11th (North Auckland) and 3rd (Auckland) Squadrons (that also included a Headquarters Staff and a Machine Gun Section) departed with the NZEF in October 1914.
These men became part of the 17,723* Mounted Riflemen who served with the Brigade during the Great War - and here on the left, is another image of a Trooper from that great number of men that we would like to trace - perhaps the chance to put a name to a face has gone after all these years - but then ...
Like many photos I get to see, most have no identification, no notation on the back, and many have been separated from family letters and keepsakes over time - However, the hat badge and collar dogs are definitely those of the Waikatos, and one still hopes someone will recognise a grandfather from nearly a century ago - perhaps a family likeness will strike a chord, or an old "Weekly News" item that carries a name and photo in someone's collection.
But... there again the Waikato was such a large catchment area for the squadron, Besides Hamilton city, the boundaries stretched from Huntly and down both East and West coasts, Raglan, Thames, Tauranga, Opotiki, Kawhia and inland areas of Te Kuiti and Cambridge to name a few.
...and then someone has written "Peart ?" in pencil on the card holding this photo ...could it be?...
There is a 13/2360 Alfred Cuthbert Peart from Raglan who served with the AMR - 7th Reinforcements. Sadly this man was killed in France serving as a corporal with the Auckland Infantry on the 15th September 1916 - alas if the pencil marking is true there would be no grandchildren to remember this man...but then... perhaps you can help?
(*17,723 source: Lieutenant Colonel Guy Powles - "New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine.")
Postcard, Roger Shephard Collection. Unknown photographer, card unwritten. circa 1914
North of Wellington, situated between Upper and Lower Hutt and close to the Hutt River, Trentham Camp.
"When war was declared by Great Britain against Germany, on August 4, 1914, there was no New Zealand Army, in the strict sense of the word. The outline of one existed, and the country had been fortunate in securing the services of some capable Imperial Officers and n.c.o.'s for the training of her citizen army on a territorial basis. the possibility of the Dominion ever finding it necessary to send an army overseas to fight had been dreamed of by a few far-sighted military experts, but officially it had never been contemplated seriously. In spite of this, the military authorities faced, undismayed the problem of mobilising and dispatching seven thousand Men without the loss of time, and of training and sending reinforcements at regular intervals. And it was interesting to record that the first tents to be occupied by this army were pitched by civilians. Within a week of the declaration of war, camps were established at Awapuni--where the people of Palmerston North provided fatigue parties to pitch the tents--Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington. It was the beginning of a new phase of military work, a new era in the Dominion. But the early camps were only temporary ones. Trentham where the Dominion Rifle Association had it's fine rifle ranges, was in view all the time, and many of the mounted rifles of the main body completed their brief period of training at Trentham. thus it had been identified with every draft that had gone overseas, except the Artilitary, Mounted Rifles, Divisional Signalers, and A.S.C. drafts which mobilised after the new camp at Featherston had been built. Drafts of reinforcements for these branches of services are now wholly trained at Featherston. The Main Body and First Reinforcements sailed on October 14, 1914. On the same day, nearly three thousand recruits and huge quantities of camp equipment arrived at Trentham..."
Promo excerpt from Colonialcdbooks.com : "Historic Trentham 1914 - 17"
Rifle Ranges set against the Hills in the background
Photograph: Roger Shephard Collection, Auckland. - duotone treatment NZMRA 2011
The above image of Mena Camp will change every 8 seconds to show various enlargements from within the main photograph. Many points of interest - look out for the Y.M.C.A. entertainment Bivvy, Sentry Piquets, Ambulance carts, and work details to name a few.
Within a few short months of War Declaration, Australian and New Zealand troops where prepared for action. Departing first from New Zealand in October 1914 the convoy of troopships grew in size as it picked up Australians waiting in Perth. The convoy sailed from Albany, (Perth) by way of Colombo and Aden to arrive in Egypt December 1914. This first contingent of troops to sail were called the "Main Body" and although originally intended to land in Europe to face the "Hun", The Turkish Ottoman Empire had in the meantime entered the Great War on the side of the German foe.
Hurried changes of plan sent the Australian New Zealand force ( referred to as the AIF and the NZEF respectively - and yet to be named the ANZACS) onto Egypt and arrived in December to defend the Suez Canal from a possible attack by the Ottomans.
Two camps were prepared for the men. The New Zealanders were destined to occupy an area North East of the capital Cairo called "Zeitoun", and the Australians camp was established across the Nile and South West of Cairo at the Pyramids at "Mena".
(This photo and dozens of magazines, letters and other documents have been forwarded on loan from Roger Shepherd of Onehunga, Auckland - it will take me some time for me to address all the issues presented - thank you Roger, much appreciated -and the rest of us are all in for a treat!)
NEW ZEALAND CAMELIER
For countless thousands of men death would not come during the so called glory of battle, but instead creep slowly within the stifling confines of a desert canvas covered field hospital. Sweltering in daytime temperatures in excess of 100 degrees F, many soldiers of the Middle Eastern Desert Campaigns tossed and turned and finally succumbed to disease that a 21st century army would easily control. Malaria, Cholera, Entric Fever and TB ravaged all armies of WW1 - Penicillin was an invention twenty five years away in the future.
To die of disease was to be the fate of Owen Sanders of the 16th Reinforcements NZMR .
We are fortunate enough to have this striking image from the camera of friend and fellow "Camelier" Reginald Filleul.
When these two young men stood and faced each other for this photograph, I suspect they would have been surprised to learn that fate would have them die one day apart. Owen, from disease on the 6th, and Reginald from wounds received during action on the 7th November 1917.
Nominal Rolls of New Zealand Expeditionary Force Volume II. Wellington: 1917
Military and Freemasonry
Dome of the Rock
1st War NZEFMA
2nd World War NZEFMA
Not only is Gordon Sylvester working hard at transcribing the difficult to read, aged, and hand written New Zealand Mounted Rifles WAR DIARIES that are being progressively added to our files, he somehow finds the time to research and trace members of the NZMR who were members of the FREEMASONS during the Great War.
Gordon has been involved with the Lodge for many years, and all things "Masonic" remain a keen point of interest in his life. This latest article is a comprehensive piece of research that we have now added to our "Lists, Names, Maps and more Lists " section here on the site. Or go directly to the page HERE.
Gordon states below:
"The Shrine of the Dome of the Rock is the only known photograph taken of the one and only meeting ever held in the Moslem Shrine in Jerusalem. This in itself is an interesting paradox about how this happened. The city of Jerusalem had recently been liberated from the Turks and was under a military governor. Access into the city was by permission of the governor and the man in charge of the Shrine of the Rock. One man achieved both of these objectives as well as obtaining all of the Ford Cars allocated to the Army to get the group of men into town to hold the meeting. Brigadier General William Meldrum."