NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED RIFLES

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FIERY TED
Edward Walter Clervaux Chaytor was born at Motueka, in New Zealand's South Island, on 21st June 1868. Nicknamed "Fiery Ted" by his troops, as much for his crop of red hair as for his  inclination to personally confront dangerous issues, Chaytor was the first General to fly over an advancing enemy in order to gain field intelligence first hand.
After Australian Major General Harry Chauvel was promoted to command of the Desert Column in April 1917 Chaytor, promoted to Major General, replaced him as commander of the Anzac Mounted Division, making "Fiery Ted" the first, and only, New Zealander to command an Anzac force at divisional level.


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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.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 



A HORSE IS A HORSE! OF COURSE! OF COURSE!

Jill Mather's new book "War Horses - Hoof Prints in Time" is due for release this month (february) and I am sure it will live up to rival her previous work "Forgotten Heroes: The Australian Waler Horse". This book is sure to enhance the home library of the interested animal lover and historian in all of us.

New Zealand born, Jill now lives in Australia. She had two uncles that served with the Wellington Mounted Rifles, so it is expected she still has a soft spot for the Kiwi horse as well as her love affair with the famous "Waler" steed. (A name that was derived from the horse's home State of New South Wales.)

This book is written with the general public in mind, importantly much of the material included has been ferreted out by Jill from private collections and the odd dusty suitcase or two. This book contains a number of rare photographs not seen in print before.
Individual animals and their characteristics fill the pages, with "Bess","Sandy", "Paeroa" and "Taipo" to the fore - but who is the donkey called "Moses"?

Jill tells me the book will sell for approximately $30 - but here is your chance to contact her directly - think ahead - purchase for Father's Day.

Go straight to the horses mouth:
www.jillmather.thewriter.com.au


SHORT-BACK AND SIDES - DESERT STYLE
"Get your ears lowered, Sonny!" - Ninety-odd years after this photograph has been taken you can almost hear the Sergeant Major's voice shouting across the decades.

New NZMRA Member, Mike Brown of Torbay in Auckland, sent in a total of seven photographs. The above image of unidentified troopers queuing for the "Barber's detail" somewhere in Turkish Palestine, circa 1917.
Mike writes:
"I have some old photographs my Grandmother had, but not sure who this person was. I have a couple of postcards from a Trooper named Joe, who left Wellington on the 17th April on the "Knights Templar"
Thanks Mike, your material and your subscription enables us to keep this site alive and growing.

Below: At first look it appeared that this horse was dead and that a Trooper was in the process of burying the animal, however a further look leads me to believe that perhaps this man's horse has dropped haunch first into some kind of sink-hole. My reasoning is that a group of hardened soldiers would hardly take this much interest in the fate of a dead animal, and also noted is the horse still has on a bridle - hardly something left on a carcass about to be buried.
The actual plight of the horse is not known as no information was kept with this photograph.

Over eight million horses died in WW1. (source "Animals in War" and British War Office records)

LIFE IN THE RAW - NZMR MACHINE GUNNER'S WAR DIARIES

Again I must compliment the work of Gordon Slyvester as he churns out transcript after transcript of the NZMR WAR DIARIES.
The ability to be able to search through Gordon's electronic texts to find items that were originally scrawled in longhand all those years ago is a great asset for the Association.

Reading these pieces of New Zealand history is a privilege, and the content within draws us ever closer to understanding our forefathers and the hardships they endured during the Great War.
These sections of diaries, (further items still to be uploaded), cover the formation of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Machine gun Squadron and of the leadership of its charismatic leader Robin Harper.

7/517 Trooper Robert Paul Harper departed New Zealand with his brother 7/516 Trooper Gordon Gerald Harper of the Main Body of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles. The actions and fearlessness of the brothers led them to be recognised early during the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915 and both were detailed to the Machine Gun Section of the CMR.
Both brothers gained commissions, Both brothers wounded, however Gordon more seriously so during the attacks of (Kaiajik Aghala -aka - Hill 60) late August and required hospitalisation in England before he could return to the NZMR in Egypt 1916. Unfortunately he Died of Wounds (D.O.W.) received during the action at Romani in the Sinai, August 1916.

Robin (Robert) became the Commanding Officer of the Machine Gun Squadron from its inauguration, rising to the rank of Captain.
In the Second World War he served his country again, this time in the New Zealand Divisional Cavalry as Lieutenant Colonel.

On August 21st 1915 the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment was warned of an attack to be made on Hill 60, a small round hill of considerable tactical importance that lay at the eastern edge of the plain and overlooked the junction of the lines of the Anzac and Suvla Bay forces and also several important wells.

"An artillery bombardment had been promised, but at the last moment it was decided that the Anzac guns should assist the Suvla Bay attack.
Punctually on time, 3.30 p.m., the men jumped from the trenches and raced down the hill. Casualties were numerous till comparative shelter was reached in the bottom of the dere. Then came the climb up the other side, a moment to gather breath, and the rush for the enemy trench 200 yards to the front. It was simply a case of get there, and during the last part of this rush most of the causalities occurred. Major Hutton was wounded, and Major Hurst of the 1st Squadron took command.
The Turks in the trench were killed, and a machine gun was captured and immediately turned upon the Turks by the two Harper brothers of the Machine Gun Section. Though the Australians managed to cross the ravine, they could not reach the enemy trenches; and on our left, despite the fact that the New Army troops had seized the Kabak well with a splendid charge and captured the long trench on the eastern side of the hill in their first rush, they failed to hold the ground they had won.
The Canterbury Regiment with the Otagos were now holding about 120 yards of enemy trench with both flanks in the air, and with no means of communication across the exposed valley. Both regiments had lost over 60 per cent of their number in that the trenches gained were to be consolidated and held. At dusk the enemy fire slackened, and the Regiment was able to get into touch with the Indian Brigade who were holding the captured wells on the flat..."

The History of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles - Powels 1920


One year later as the attack against the Turks a Romani in the Sinai Desert took place on August the 9th 1916, The history of the Regiment further records:
"At 5.30 p.m. General Chauvel ordered a general withdrawal. It was recognised that this would be a difficult task, but. provided the horses could be reached, the heavy ground would save the regiments from a hand to hand encounter with superior forces of the enemy's fresh troops. As soon as the movement was perceived the Turks assaulted strongly, and such was the position of the N.Z.M.R. Brigade that General Chaytor decided that the better course was to hang on until dark.

Just at dusk after a very heavy attack which fell chiefly upon the Aucklanders, the latter withdrew with the 5th Light Horse Regiment and the Yeomanry, leaving the Canterbury Regiment as rear guard. A great fight had been put up by the machine guns, and under their cover the Regiment slowly withdrew. Lieutenant Gordon Harper, the gallant commander of the section of guns attached to the Regiment, was mortally wounded and brought out with great difficulty by his famous brother Captain Robin Harper, O.C. Machine Gun Squadron, who had all guns available playing on the advancing Turks, breaking up their attack when within 100 yards of the New Zealand position..."

The History of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles - Powels 1920

REMEMBRANCE IN THE HOLY LAND
The little township of Richon le Zion where the New Zealand Mounted Rifles found themselves camped after the ACTION of AYUN KARA on the 14th November 1917, has over the last century grown into the thriving city of Rishon Letzion. The memory of these grateful Jewish families who were rescued from the Ottoman Turkish yoke has not diminished over the years, and the stories of the men from the far off South Pacific Isles with their rather quaint wide-brimmed hats is kept alive by the city council and organisations like the Society for the Heritage of WW1. Among the most ardent of those local supporters is Gal Shaine who makes regular contact with the Association. He writes this week of intending developments for a memorial for the Ayun Kara battlefield.
His letter in part reads:

Our plan continues to proceed with the building on a site that will commemorate, and tell the story of the New Zealand Mounted Riflemen within the area of the Old Battlefield.
An actual portion of the battle field, still included in my home town municipal territory (often called "The Basin" in the battles descriptions) was developed and turned from a remote sandy area into a commercial area, linked to the city by a road, I've suggested that a certain high ground with an ancient Sycamore tree on top of it will be turned into an observation point into the battle field and will also carry the name of the NZ mounted soldier.

My suggestion was actually adopted by the people at city hall! As the NZMR is already commemorated in another location, we decided this location would be dedicated to the soldier and battle field. An ancient picturesque  tree completes the scene.
On top of the knoll a porch would be built with signs in Hebrew and English telling about the battle and the aftermath – as well as a picture of a NZ mounted soldier. Less official then the other memorial – more directed at the casual visitor and their families. As the area behind is a commercial area – with the famous IKEA store in it, we expect many casual visitors.

I am supposed to issue a proposal for the texts and stories to be put on the signs. I [have already] proposed putting a large plaque with a nice  picture  of the NZ trooper with a local girl on his horse.

I would like to ask if you, Greg and colleagues [of the NZMRA ] will assist or review my suggestions? I guess our local authority would approach official NZ people in your ministry of defense or embassy in Ankara , but at this time I have the liberty to offer suggestions. Therefore I would like to ask if you have any access to good quality photos of NZ mounted men in Rishon Letzion, specifically with locals OR with local landscape/building in the back round. Also the same goes for the pictures taken near the wooden obelisk etc., orange groves… Also if you ever came across any pictures of NZ soldiers of the 2nd WW taken here (and many NZ soldiers spent time in Surafend mega base during that war) it would be great. We will have to see about rights, but first I want to know what exists.
I see that Terry Kinloch hasn’t signed to the forum for a while. Is he still active in this field? I wish to also acknowledge him.

BTW – next year the Australians again plan of doing a mounted re enactment as done in 2007. This time a longer journey, which also includes Ayun Kara (2 of the leaders, which participated in the 2007 event, visited Israel a month ago and I guided them in my area and the Ayun Kara battlefield, which they wished to include in their tour! I was asked to see if any NZ people are interested in this re enactment?   I understand its already a "go"!

Hope to hear from you soon.
You can see the proposed location attached.

Regards Gal


proposed lookout monument site overlooking the Ayun Kara Battlefield - photograph Gal Shaine -2012

REVISITING MORNING ABLUTIONS
In May 2009 I posted the image above that had been sent in with a rather long and confusing hand written title. The notation on the reverse said: "soldiers Charley Fitton Bunkall and AF Buckland of 11th squadron Auckland Mounted Rifles shaving."
I suggested at the time that the men were probably - Left to right: 13/605 Lance Sergeant Charles Fitton, 13/583 Trooper Ernest Bunkall and 13/164 Trooper Alfred Francis Buckland. All three men departed New Zealand with the Main Body in October 1914 and were veterans of the Gallipoli Campaign. All were members of the 11th North Auckland Mounted Rifles, AMR.
However In March 2010 I received this note from Bob Haycock:
Charles Fitton is the soldier on the right. He was the brother of my Grandmother.
He was Charles Randal Fitton b. 1884

Then this week, (3rd Jan 2012) I received these comments and photograph from Aubrey Bairstow that seems to settle the argument of which of the three men is Charley Fitton:

Hi
I was going through the site and noticed the image of the three Auckland MR men shaving. it is stated that one is Charlie Fitton. My interest arose as I recently purchased his medals, memorial plaque, compass and grave image on Trade Me from the family. there is an image of Fitton in the Auckland Weekly News. I attach this. From this, despite what you have been told, it seems abundantly clear that Fitton is the center gentleman.

Kind regards
Aubrey Bairstow
www.nzmedals.com


Thank you Aubrey, this is great detective work and I am always amazed at the due diligence of all you history buffs out there.
Full Name: Charles Randal Fitton
Rank Last Held: Lance Sergeant
Serial No.: 13/605
First Known Rank: Trooper
Next of Kin: M. Fitton (father), Taihape, New Zealand
Marital Status: Single
Enlistment Address: Waimiha, New Zealand
Military District: Auckland
Body on Embarkation: Main Body
Embarkation Unit: Auckland Mounted Rifles
Embarkation Date: 16 October 1914
Place of Embarkation: Auckland, New Zealand
Vessel: Star of India or Waimana
Destination: Suez, Egypt
Page on Nominal Roll: 232
Last Unit Served: Auckland Mounted Rifles
Place of Death: Palestine
Date of Death: 2 April 1918
Year of Death: 1918
Cause of Death: Died of wounds
Cemetery Name: Jerusalem War Cemetery, Israel
Description of Image: Portrait, Auckland Weekly News 1918
But what of the action that took place at the time Charley Fitton was wounded? The Auckland Mounted Rifles was involved in multiple actions in the previous twenty to thirty days. He may have been wounded during the crossing the Jordan River or any of the subsequent skirmishes up to the first attack on Amman during the month of March, or perhaps during the retreat on the 1st April.
The AMR WAR DIARY for the first few days of April gives some insight into the retreat back from the first attack on Amman. Unfortunately the passing of Lance-Sergeant Fitton is only recorded in a very cursory military manner on the 2nd April : Below the first two entries for the month:-

Auckland Mounted Rifles WAR DIARY April 1918

SHUNET RIMRIN 1/4/18

At 0300 the Regiment moved back and rejoined the Brigade at AIN ES SIR. At 0400 the Regiment with the Brigade moved down the WADI ES SIR in the direction of SHUNIT NIMRIM. During the enemy attack on our rear-guard the Regiment took up a defensive position covering the retirement of the Camel Transport in the squares 127.v.6a.6c.12p. At 1200 the Regiment withdrew behind the Infantry lines. At 1300 the Regiment with the Brigade continued its march along the WADI JERIA and reached SHUNIT NIMRIM at 1200. The Regiment bivouaced at SHUNET MIMRIM for the night. Casualties -- 1 O/R missing - 3rd Squadron.

JORDAN VALLEY 2/4/18

At 0645 the Regiment with the Brigade moved back across the JORDAN and bivouaced in square 113.L.20d.
Captain W. Haeata is appointed temporary command 4th Squadron as from 30/3/18
Died of wounds and struck off strength:- 2 O/R
Marched in from Details Camp AYUN KARA:- 1 O/R
Rejoined from N.Z.T.U. & D Moascar:- 2 O/R.