Comments from Webmaster Steve Butler

A few months back with the help of Marty Fitchett, grandson of Mounted Rifleman Wilfred Fitchett, the Association posted Wilfred's Diary in our "Troopers Stories" section. Among the material supplied by Wilfred's family was a post WWII Mounted Rifles Reunion photograph taken outside the Auckland War Memorial Museum (thumbnail lower right).
Because there was a large reunion in 1965 our thoughts were that perhaps this photo was taken on that date. However Wilfred also died in that year so it was debatable if the date of the photograph was indeed 1965.
This week I received an update e-mail from Marty who had just returned from visiting his uncle in the South Island, and had rummaged through his uncles mementos to discover material he still possed of his elder brothers records.
Marty writes:
"...So further to the photo previously supplied of the reunion of the 13th reinforcements AMR seen in front of the Auckland War Museum and posted on your website, I found the attached document which is a reunion invite for the 1st NZEF main body dated October 1954 and mentions a ceremony at the cenotaph and visit to the museum etc.
I think this dates the two photographs better as Wilfred died in 1965 and had been in poor health leading up to his death so don't think he would be in Auckland at that time.
Your thoughts..?
Regards Marty Fitchett

Click on image for larger version.
I am sure most of you enjoy trying to find out the actual dates of when photographs taken. It is quite rewarding and I decided further investigation was required to see if we could get a closer fix on the year. Sure we know that Wilfred died in 1965, but if this photograph was taken on say Anzac Day 1965 there is quite a number of months left in the year, so it is possible that 1965 was still the year - Now with this email from Marty we have a likely lower year date of 1954 - can we get any closer?
196 ford anglia parked at the Auckland Museum

Turning again for a closer scrutiny of the photograph.
There must be something? - and there it is!
I am positive this is a English Ford Anglia (left) that we can see parked on the verge outside the Museum. The backwards slanting rear window of the Anglia is unique in its design. My mother had one and in my teenage years, this model car was my escapism into the nineteen sixties. I wonder how many lawns did I have to mow to get the keys of this model car of my mothers on a Saturday night?
I suspect that the Ford Anglia became the most popular car on New Zealand Roads for many years, and the odd one or two have eluded the scrap dealers even today.
A quick google and we discover these shape models of the Ford Anglia were manufactured from 1959 to 1967. And considering the time frame it took in those years to import cars from England, even if this was the very first model, I would say this photo is set between 1960-1965.

Now that was a lot of fun playing detective! - anybody else have some input?




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.

Otamatea Mounted Rifles assembled either prior to or during the Boer War

Last year we displayed a number of photographs relating to the men of the Mounted Rifles from files held at the Kauri Museum in Northland. Many photographs came to hand with very little information as to who, where or when - and so it was with this image, the thought was that this group of nameless horse-soldiers was taken post Boer War.
The Association has now been contacted by the McKenzie family who state that they are the owners of the original photograph, and supply some very interesting information.
The photograph is of the Otamatea Mounted Rifles, and the men are pictured here in Northland either prior to the Boer War or during the war itself. Family records show that three men pictured here went to South Africa during the conflict, with only one man returning home. The two brothers (circled in yellow), Roderick La Brosse and Tyrell La Brosse both died of sickness. The units other foreign serving soldier was serial number 5436 Lieutenant Douglas Cromwell Sneling (circled in purple). The fourth person of special interest is a young 2nd Lieutenant J Gordon Coates (circled in red), who went on to become the nation's first New Zealand born Prime Minister.
I have updated the full photgraph with all the men's names that are known to the family - the image is available in the slideshow HERE.
Many thanks to Don McKenzie for the information. (contact information held on record).
Updated 25th Jan 09

Again the power of this updates page has proved its worth - the Association very much appreciates the interactivity of the general public in allowing us to further our combined knowledge of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles. Yesterday I received this e-mail from Phil Beattie who is madly at work creating a new site relating solely to the actions and soldiers of New Zealand's involvement in the South African War of 1899-1902 (Boer War).
Phil states he is not quite in the position he wants to "Go Public" with his site until a few more items are completed - However I can assure members they are in for a treat, I have visited the prelimanry pages posted, and a lot of work has already been done - Phil is creating a very professional site that will complement our own pages and greatly enhance the knowledge base relating to our forefathers.
I will post a link to Phils site as soon as he gives me the go ahead (hopefully in the near future).
Phil writes in part about the photgraph above:-

I have a couple of points to raise about it -
firstly, I can't find any record of BOTH De Labrosse brothers serving
and dying in South Africa, only one - T L De Labrosse - appears in the
NZ Roll and is there is no other De Labrosse listed in the complete
casualty roll for South Africa (In Memoriam by Steve Watt).

Secondly I would date the photograph as late 1901 possibly early 1902 as
Lt Snelling didn't receive his commission until September 1901 and
obviously T L De Labrosse is still alive!

I feel this will set the detetives amonst our ranks to work - I have started a link HERE for you to comment and perhaps solve this matter of the De Labrosse brothers.
A large full frame PDF rendition of the above photograph can be downloaded HERE

Wounded Gallipoli Veteran Falls at Rafa
Full Name: Corporal Charles Manfred Rope
Rank Last Held: Corporal
Serial No.: 13/432
First Known Rank: Trooper
Next of Kin: E.M. Rope, Te Kopuru, Northern Wairoa, New Zealand
Marital Status: Single
Enlistment Address: Pukeatua, New Zealand
Military District: Auckland
Body on Embarkation: Main Body
Embarkation Unit: Auckland Mounted Rifles
Embarkation Date: 16 October 1914
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Vessel: Star of India or Waimana
Destination: Suez,Egypt (3 December 1914)
Page on Nominal Roll: 629
Place of Death: Egypt
Date of Death: 9 January 1917
Cause of Death: Died of wounds
Cemetery Name: Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt
Grave Reference: F. 47
Corporal Charles Rope Waikato Mounted Rifles NZMR
13/432 Corporal Charles Manfred Rope, Died of Wounds.
computer colourised image.
On January 9th 1917, Waikato Mounted Rifleman Corporal Charles Rope was seriously wounded during the attack on the Turkish outpost of Rafa. He succumbed to his wounds later that day. Originally buried at El Arish, Charles along with the other men who fell at Rafa were later officially interned in the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery south of Cairo, Egypt.
Seventeen months earlier on Gallipoli, Charles had been wounded during the Anzac charge across no-mans-land to take the heights of Chunuk Bair on the 8th August 1915.

Letter to James McCarroll

In the letter above, NZMR General Edward Chaytor drops a friendly note to his subordinate, Lieutenant Colonel James McCarroll. Originally containing two photographs taken while the men were visiting an early Christian citadel in the biblical "Wilderness" of the Jordan Valley in 1918.
With permission of the McCarroll family I was able to scan the photograph, letter and envelope when I was processing the Colonel's diaries to publish here on our site early last year.
The photograph shows James McCarroll pointing down into the distance from the opening of the old cliff-faced monastery high above the Jordan Valley.
I need to do further research as to why the letter by the General has been postmarked with a New Zealand stamp, and franked "Trentham Military Camp" - and dated 1918. The letter itself dated 28th April 1918.
Surely both these men were still in the Middle East until wars end. Although Mc Carroll was wounded at Ayun Kara, November 1917 the Brigade entered the Jordan valley and attacked Jericho on the 21st February. With McCarroll in this picture it would have to be at least March 1918, (although recovering from wounds) he would have not been back in New Zealand at the time this letter was posted - and Edward Chaytor himself was still in the Middle East until the end of hostilities in October and beyond.
It would be interesting to know if the Military sold stamps and franked its own mail in the Middle East prior to loading the mail on returning Troopships?

Auckland Mounted Rifles Military Band circa 1912-14
The 3rd Auckland Mounted Rifles Band was incorporated with the Regiment right from the start, and members attended the first camp held at Avondale Racecourse in 1912. The AMR was the only one of the expeditionary mounted regiments that had a band. Six of the men seen here served during the entire war - each serving a total of five years and nineteen days. This photograph taken from the book "The Story of Two Campaigns" - seated center front is Colonel Mackesy.
Although possible that this image could have been taken at the Avondale Racecourse, it is more probable that the photograph was taken in the Auckland Domain prior to the Main Body departing for Egypt in 1914.
Click to download
Canvas City: the 3rd (Auckland) Mounted Rifles at Avondale
pdf logo
Copyright held by author
Historian Lisa Truttman has a passion for history and Auckland history in particular. Her recent paper on the advent of the first Auckland Mounted Rifles Camp held under canvas on the Avondale Racecourse in 1912 has been fully researched and published on her blog last month (December 08).
We have pleasure in posting a PDF download of her work here. This referenced piece will entertain, and certainly fill in a number of gaps for the Mounted Rifles researcher.
Further articles on local history and New Zealand transport by Lisa may be read here at Timespanner

Puhoi Pub Northland
A cold beer or two under an old NZMR Troopers Saddle - see green arrow.

For many New Zealanders it is time for Summer holidays and an opportunity to take time to travel about our nation.
The big travel surprises are the number of items that turn up of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles - even though these items have been out of service eighty odd years.
In the case of the Puhoi Hotel, North of Orewa, to find a relic of NZMR history is perhaps not as big a surprise as one might first think.
Puhoi has a great history. Settlement in this green valley was made by hard working Bohemians, who traveled from old Yugoslavia in the mid 1800's to start a new life here. They fought their way up the twisting Puhoi river and then hacked and burnt their way into the dense rain forest to create some of the worlds' highest productive farm land. Puhoi cheese is a delicacy that all Kiwis know.
When these men and women came here the country was covered with massive Kauri trees, and with the help of teams of bullocks, Horses, hand held pit saws, cross-cut teams and Drovers these people supplied the timber for New Zealand settlers to build their new homes - and supply paint manufactures with Kauri Gum to make varnishes for the world's market.
This area today is still very much a farming community, however many artisans and potters have joined the cheese makers to create a stimulating setting. The old hotel that stands central to the area has not forgotten its past and a visit is well worth the effort.

Puhoi Hotel New Zealand

The whole interior of the pub has every wall covered with items from the past, even the massive horns from the bullock teams hold place of honour. A treasure trove of settler memorabilia - Scythes, reapers, axes, cross-saws, copper, leather steel and iron - and among the items on the wall above our seat a (circa) 1912 UP NZMR Troopers Saddle - perhaps returned from the Middle East, but certainly a survivor of many thousands of smoked filled nights attached to the bar room wall.
The Puhoi Pub was famous in the 20th century for being open well into the night, while licensing laws restricted most other hoteliers to the 6 O'clock "swill". Residents in the Puhoi Valley had an excellent early warning system that enabled locals and visitors alike to "Scappa" well before the constabulary from Auckland arrived to catch after hours trading revellers. (Some say the early warning system was provided by telephone from the police - who would on occasion be off-duty and bar patrons themselves).
An interesting aside of these photographs are the hundreds of foreign banknotes that have been pinned to the walls by overseas tourists who have found their way down this quiet and beautiful backwater.
Puhoi sent many of her sons to war - a number with the Mounted Rifles, including 13/1103 John Turnwald who left with the Auckland Mounted Rifles but later died of wounds in Palestine while serving with the Cameliers - 6th June 1917 - aged 23 years.
Visit the Puhoi Historical Society Website

burrowes' photo of Rafa races 1916 hillside gallery rafa
Left: Trooper Stanley Burrowes of the WMR took this picture of members of the English Yeomanry, the Australian Light Horse and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles competing at an arranged horse racing event after capturing the border outpost settlement of Rafa.
Obviously a hat brim or a misplaced finger has obscured a lot of the frame, but it holds an interesting piece of Brigade history.
Above: Many of the men would have taken photos this day, few remain, but this image of the gallery on the hill viewing the event (click on thumbnail to see image enlarged) was taken by a professional glass plate camera.
It is possible that the soldier sitting in the front row is NZMR General Chaytor.
Below: excerpt rom "The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine" - Chapter IV, the Brigade has left behind the Sinai Desert and entered Turkish Palestine, capturing Rafa January 1916:

"By the middle of March the railway had reached Rafa and preparations were made for the capture of Gaza. In the meantime a long looked for event came off, the Rafa Races, held on March 21st, on the old battlefield. The course was excellent going; and with natural grassy slopes for lawn and grandstand, the spectators were happily provided for. The “fields” were good and races keenly contested among the Yeomanry, Australians and New Zealanders. Our D.A.D.M.S. earned undying fame and a win for New Zealand by pulling off the “Promised Land Stakes” with a little horse called “Maori King” (alias “The Rat” from Canterbury.)"