NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED RIFLES

Comments from Steve Butler ■ Email contact
SIGNALS AND CLERKS TAKE A BREAK

photograph titled: Signals and Clerks, Gallipoli - 1915, Alexander Turnbull Lib. - Duotone treatment NZMRA 2011
Soldiers of the NZEF pose for a photograph during the Gallipoli Campaign. Stone jars seem to indicate that this group are partaking of a little alcohol during a break in the action. The various hats show the men were signallers from both the Infantry and the Mounted Rifles.
The soldier left front has added a white cross to his image in the picture before he has sent the photograph home in the mail. The man's name is unknown.

WAR DIARY sketch NZMR Signal Troop August 1915 - AWM4-35-16_1
The NZMR Signal Troop records a sketch of field telephone communications of August 1915, the name next to the "T" telephone symbol on the right hand side of the sketch is hard to read on this sized image, but on the original it reads: "Reserve Regt." Other names written here are, "Communication Office Phone", "Headquarters No4 Section", "Simple Circuit", Headquarters Office Phone Outpost", "No3 Post redoubt", "No2 Post".
The officer reporting [name illegible] notes:
"...The mark III phone is still reliable but many Brigades are without them.
There is a difficulty in obtaining new technical stores and a great shortage of wires electric D.P. also D.5."


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.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 



PREPARING FOR THE LONG TRIP TO COME

Glass plate Photograph from "The Press" Collection, Departure 1914.

These few horses from the Canterbury Mounted Rifles could be considered the "Lucky Ones". The staff photographer from the "Christchurch Press" shows a group of newly housed mounts eagerly feeding in their deck horse boxes, 23rd September 1914.
Because the photograph is taken in sunlight we know that these particular horses have been housed on the deck of H.M.T.S. Athenic - and not housed in the more crowded and hot conditions below the decks that was the fate of most of the Regiments horses on the long trip from New Zealand via Tasmania, Perth, Colombo, Aden and finally on to Egypt.

Guy Powles wrote later in: "The History of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles 1914-1919"

"Early in the morning of September 23rd [1914] 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..."

"... Leaving here [Colombo] on the 17th, the Indian Ocean was traversed in beautiful weather advantage being taken to exercise the horses in many of the ships by leading them on the deck on cocoanut matting. Several large transports were passed loaded with Territorials from England, who were proceeding to India to complete their training and to replace British troops required elsewhere...'

"... On arrival at Alexandria on December 3rd the Regiment quickly disembarked, the horses walking down long gangways to the quay. Many were very groggy on their legs, but their relief at finding themselves on land again was plain to all; it was impossible to stop them from rolling in the sand, kicking up their heels, and even breaking loose in their delight at being on land again."


THE INDIANS OF THE CAMELIERS REMEMBERED
Work on the NZMR website took a back seat for a month as curiosity got the better of me and I ventured with my wife to the great sub-continent of India - the land of the Far Pavilions, the Taj Mahal and the spinning wheel of Gandhi. Beyond the tourist spots was my interest in the involvement of the Indian Army with the Imperial Camel Corps during the War in Sinai Palestine in 1916-1918.
The "India Gate" First World War Memorial in Delhi is an impressive structure, and the reverence shown by modern day Indians to these men past is proudly honoured. But my plan was to take the less beaten track to the town of Pushkar on the edge of the Rajasthan Desert inland from Ajmer. Here is where the largest camel auction takes place each year and was one of the training grounds for Indian camel troops of WW1.
Alas the auction takes place each October, but here was an opportunity too good to miss, to ride one of the Indian Camels that carried so many of their men into battle against the Turko-German Forces all those years ago. I was surprised at the height the camel's back lifts the rider above the desert floor - it is indeed a long way down, but the diameter of the hoof prints left by the camels ahead of me where immense, the size and shape to rival very large dinner plates.
Above left, my mount whom I dubbed "Homer", as the profile of his lips reminded me of the cartoon character Homer Simpson. A vicious silver spike pierces the animals nose and his attached to a single rein on the right.
Of course one must venture to the beautiful Taj Mahal for the obligatory photo - or one can forget about family negotiations about such journeys in the future!
And the photo right could only have been taken in India: On the outskirts of Pushkar the camel driver finds the closest item to tether a pack camel - in this case one of the countless bundled overhead power lines is pulled down and tied to the camel's neck!

Nearby in the city of Ajmer we were given a tour of the "Eton of India" the Mayo College . This was one of the most impressive places we visited. The school built during the Raj in the 1870's is set in grounds covering hundreds of acres. Besides numerous sports fields for soccer and hockey, the school boasts cricket ovals and polo grounds (with the schools own teams of polo ponies and full time employed strappers).
Perhaps pride of place is the schools museum that would put most city museums to shame - here among the antiquities of art, wars, exploration and Indian folklore are walls covered with photographs of the Officers of the Indian Mounted Regiments that fought in Sinai - the graduates of the polo fields outside these hallowed marble halls.

WAR DIARIES
A special project has been started by GORDON SYLVESTER, which I am happy to report is moving on very nicely. Gordon has been diligently transcribing the hand scrawled pen and pencil documents written in the "Field" all those decades ago.
Gordon's impressive transcription of the Wellington Mounted Rifles WAR DIARY for AUGUST 1915 is available HERE.
Below is a smaller file suitable for our updates page showing the Auckland Mounted Rifles WAR DIARY for December 1915 which along with progress files are being slowly added to our archive HERE. Read of the events the Brigades' Officers recorded as they happened.

If you feel that you would like to help in the transcription of the Brigades WAR DIARIES we would welcome your effort. There are many files to be worked on. By viewing the ARCHIVE PAGE you will see on the right hand column the PDF files that are stored at the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra. By downloading a file you can begin typing out our history for students of all ages to study in the days, months and decades to come.
If you do decide to transcribe a months section, please let us know as duplication of work in progress would be a disappointment - There is no work being done on the Canterbury or Otago Regiments at this time.

Auckland Mounted Rifles item number: 35/2/9 December 1915

 

[page one]

 

1915

Dec. 1st.         McCarroll’s Nest Anzac. 92Y5

                        Quiet day. 162 Bde move to Taylors Hollow

                        13/2028 Tpr. A. Couldrey shot in wrist, 13/2204 Tpr. A.W. Howie shot in foot.

 

(Original of above written on same sheet as entries for end of previous month & filed with volume for that month.)

 

[page two]

 

Auckland Mounted Rifles

WAR DIARY 1915

 

Dec 2nd.           McCarroll’s Nest Anzac. 92Y5

                          Quiet day men working on Regt. Duties

13/1119 Tpr. Clark W. [William George] Shot in the stomach. [Transcribers Note: Gunshot wounds to chest severe – invalided NZ per HS Maheno 6th March 1916 – discharged 10th May 1916 Medically Unfit.]

13/1034 Tpr. Greenwood J. Shot in Stomach. [Transcribers note: Gascoyne Cecil Greenwood of the 5th Reinforcements Died of Wounds later this day.]

Dec 3rd.            McCarroll’s Nest Anzac. 92Y5

2/Lieut. Cobourne went to hospital sick from WATERFALL GULLY.

[Transcribers Note: Later, former Sergeant and finally with the rank of Captain, 13/39 Clarence Taylor Cobourne is Killed in Action with the Auckland Infantry Regiment at Le Cateau, France, 1st October 1918] 

Trenches being fitted with small ammunition boxes also a communication trench is being cut from Post No.14 to HAMMOND’S POST.  A patrol of 1 n.c.o. and 3 men leave BARRICADE in AGHYL DERE every night at 1800 and patrol country in the direction of HACKNEY WICK, returning at 0600.

13/194 Corp. A. Ross 3rd Squadron is buried half-way between 92Y6 and 92Z1.

Dec 4th.           McCarroll’s Nest Anzac. 92Y5

HACKNEY WICK patrols had nothing to report last night.  Heavy bombardment today to the S of Anzac position.  Gen[eral] Sir Russell visited our trenches.

Dec 5th.           McCarroll’s Nest Anzac. 92Y5

                        Heavy bombardment by 75’s at 1200 today from the direction of 80 u

13/2275 Tpr. Appelbe [Willian James] and 13/1019 Tpr. Deveney J.M. [John Michel] slightly wounded.

Dec 6th.           McCarroll’s Nest Anzac. 92Y5

                        Generals Birdwood Godly & Russell visited trenches.

Dec 7th.           McCarroll’s Nest Anzac. 92Y5

Quiet day. 54 Div recall all machine-guns on loan to the M.R. Brigade.  Turks reported to have removed barbed wire entanglements from front of Farm.

Dec 8th.           McCarroll’s Nest Anzac. 92Y5

Our trenches from Barricade running SE shelled at 1030 from NNE and again at 1500. Three men wounded 13/868 Tpr. Walker C.H. 13/2208 Tpr. Johnson C.B.[Charles Benjamin], 13/2293 [correction: number is 13/2093 Lionel Swift Webster] Tpr. Webster L.S.

R.Q.M.S. Callaghan W. returns from hospital.  Feet not quite better from Frost Bite.

 

[page ends]

[page 3]

 

Auckland Mounted Rifles

WAR DIARY 1915

 

Dec 9th.            McCarroll’s Nest 92Y5 Anzac

Our trenches shelled again today by 75mm, no casualties.  One of our aeroplanes reported missing.  Major C. Powles N.Z.S. C. temporally appointed Commanding C.M.R.

Dec 10th.          McCarroll’s Nest 92Y5 Anzac

                        Quiet day no casualties.

Dec 11th.          McCarroll’s Nest 92Y5 Anzac

HACKNEY WICK shelled by our guns. Tpr. 13/897 Daws C.L. identity disc handed into orderly room by a man who states he removed it from deceased body at HILL 60.  Tpr. Daws was reported missing 28.8.15

Dec 12th.          McCarroll’s Nest 92Y5 Anzac

                        Quiet day except for a little shrapnel at the BARRIER.

Divine Service was held.  Orders tonight to give our trenches to 16th Batt A.I.F.

Dec 13th           WILLIAM’S PIER ANZAC

The Regiment left Camp at 2000 tonight to embark to IMBROS.  Regiment received advance of pay.

Dec 14th           The Regiment less 4 Officers (Capt. Smith, Lieuts. Finlayson A.C.M., Coates & Hindman) and 104 other ranks embarked on PRINCESS ENA at 0500.  Arrived at Lemnos at noon and transhipped to H.M.T.S. Knight of the Garter.

                        2/lieut. Mannis is assistant adj.  Insufficient room on lighter last night to take all of the Regiment.

Dec 15th           H.M.T.S. KNIGHT OF THE GARTER Mudros.

                        Ship coaling and loading up with mules.

                        Transport Officer states that the remainder of our Regt. With Brigade details landed here this morning.

 

[page ends]

[page 4]

 

Auckland Mounted Rifles

WAR DIARY 1915

 

Dec 16th           H.M.T.S. KNIGHT OF THE GARTER Mudros.

                        Remainder of the Regiment not joined us yet.

                        The following Officers and men were recommended to Bde. Hqrs. For recognition for good services rendered on the Gallipoli Peninsular.

                        Lieut. J. Herrold 3rd Squadron, 13/290 Trooper Frank Norman Birnard 4th Squadron.

Dec 17th           MUDROS EAST LEMNOS

                        Disembarked from H.M.T.S. Knight of the Garter for Mudros East at 1830 arrived at the Camp 2030 and found that part of the Regiment which we had left at Anzac were here. N.Z. Infantry lent us tents for the night.

                       

Dec 18th           MUDROS EAST LEMNOS

                        Pitched Camp.

Dec 19th           MUDROS EAST LEMNOS

                        Devine Service.  Portion of C.M.R. and W.M.R. arrived this morning.  Tonight the evacuation of Anzac will be completed.

Dec 20th           MUDROS EAST LEMNOS

                        The MR Brigade concentrated here today.

                        No casualties in the final evacuation of Anzac.  Lonesome Pine and The Neck were heavily shelled this morning.
Dec 21st           MUDROS EAST LEMNOS

                        Brigade concentrating.

Dec 22nd           H.M.T.S. HORORATA. MUDROS

                        The regiment embarked 16 Officers and 321 other ranks at 1200 this morning.

Dec 23rd           H.M.T.S. HORORATA. MUDROS

Dec 24th           H.M.T.S. HORORATA. At SEA.

                        Left Mudros at 0700 this morning.

                        Lieut. A.C.M. Finlayson appointed Temp. Capt. Vice Capt. Mahan dated 20/11/15

[end of page]

[page 5]

 

Auckland Mounted Rifles

WAR DIARY 1915

 

Dec 25th           H.M.T.S. HORORATA. At SEA.

                        Xmas Day.

Dec 26th           H.M.T.S. HORORATA. Alexandria

                        Arrived at Alexandria this morning.  5 A.M.R. officers proceeded to Helmich on first train leaving tonight.  4 Officers and 173 other ranks by second train.

Dec 27th           NZMR base Details Camp Zietoun.

                        The remainder of the Regiment arrived here today.  Total strength in Camp 16 Officers & 319 OR.

Dec 28th           NZMR CAMP ZIETOUN

                        All men returned from Anzac were put through a riding test, and those passing standard were picked to go away.

Dec 29th           Base Details 6-7-18 Reinforcements (taken?) over by Regiment from Revelle today.  Organising and equipping Squadrons.

Dec 30th           Reorganisation, and Troop Training.  Rations and horse feed being taken out

Dec 31st           All day Parade.  Horse feed & rations taken.

 

                        [signed:] L.Manners Lt

                        Adjudant.

[page ends – document ends.]

 

 

THE COOK THAT WASN'T
Above: The only photograph known to exist of Trooper Walter Eric Tomkins M.M. during his War service. The photograph and 1918 letter was sent recently to the NZMRA by his great grand-niece, Diane Thompson, August 2011.
Trooper Tomkins became one of only 16 recipients of the Military Medal awarded to the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment in World War One. The intriguing events that led a Regimental Cook to become involved in a daring raid to successfully derail Turkish Trains behind enemy lines is a story in itself. That a Cook was the direct instrument in bringing the important Hadjaz Railway to a stand still and prevent supplies and men reaching Amman to help defend the city from the "Chaytor Force" attack the next day is a piece of New Zealand history that should not be forgotten. Read Walter Tomkins' story HERE.

CANTERBURY TROOPER

Trooper Brainthwaite- photograph circa 1918 - computer colourised NZMRA Aug 2011
Forename(s): John William
Surname: Branthwaite
Serial No.: 70834
First Known Rank: Trooper
Occupation before Enlistment: Farmer
Next of Kin: Mrs Grace Branthwaite (mother),
Tai Tapu, Canterbury.
Embarkation Unit: 37th Reinforcements Mounted Rifles Brigade
Embarkation Date: 23 April 1918
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Transport: HMNZT 102
Vessel: Willochra