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Comments from Webmaster Steve Butler ■ Email contact


photographer and collection unknown - forwarded by Gal Shaine,Israel.

This sobering photograph brings home the cost of war. Members of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment begin the grisly job of burying their mates who fell in the action at Ayun Kara, Turkish Palestine, 14th November 1917. Some fifty New Zealanders were killed in this heavy battle. Brilliant tactical movements by the NZMR Brigade finally outwitted and outflanked the numerically superior Turkish force and resulted in a rout of this dug-in defensive line.
Looking at this image over ninety years after the event we can't help but wonder how many of these surviving troopers would die in the following year. Soon would follow the Turkish counter-attack at the bridgehead at the Auja River, followed by the defeat of a large German-Tuko force at Abu Tellus. Then the capture of Jericho, the crossing of the Jordan, the first attack on Amman then Es Salt and the final attack and capture of Amman. Between these major actions there was always the hundreds of deep penetration patrols and surgical like Railroad raids to keep the enemy busy - all this still to come the day these men buried their mates.


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.









photograph Fred Foote Collection - circa 1917
Curious members of the NZMR look on and discuss the latest developments of modern warfare. After thousands of years of superiority of horse mounted scouting, the internal combustion engine takes warfare into the skies to seek and strike the enemy.

This is a further photograph from Fred Foote's collection and has written "Fighter-bomber" on the obverse of the image.
One of our Forum members comments:
"The aeroplane is a BE2e. This was used by No.'s 14 and 11 Squadrons, Royal Flying Corps and 67 Squadron Royal Flying Corps/1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps until about November 1917. I suspect your fellow took his snap sometime in October 1917 before the push to Beersheba and beyond..."
UPDATE: Waler from ALHSC says:

An unidentified soldier standing next to a B.E.2e aircraft, Serial 6781, of No 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, which dropped 2 cwt of bombs on Gaza during the night raids.
(image from the AWM # A02060)

Looks like the plane in your picture Steve.

A Woman ahead of her time:
Ettie Annie Rout (1877–1936): Safe sex campaigner

Memo for General Richardson, General Officer Commanding for NZ

29 January 1918

(1) Will you authorize me to distribute (free) V.D. Prevention outfits to women whom I have reason to believe are infecting our soldiers?

(2) Will you purchase for me say £100 worth of such women’s outfits, made in accordance with directions already submitted to you as samples which will be available from B.W. and Co. next week? (I will see women privately, of course).

Ettie Rout

In July 1915, during the Gallipoli campaign, Ettie Rout set up the New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood and invited women between the ages of 30 and 50 to go to Egypt to care for New Zealand soldiers. In spite of government opposition, she sent the first batch of 12 volunteers to Cairo that October.

Ettie Rout arrived in Egypt in February 1916 and immediately noticed the soldiers' high venereal disease rate. She saw this as a medical and not a moral problem, and one that should be approached like any other disease – with all available preventive measures. She recommended the issue of prophylactic kits and the establishment of inspected brothels, and she tried to persuade the New Zealand Medical Corps officers to this view, with no success.
Believing that the army was not looking after the men well enough, she opened the Tel El Kebir Soldiers' Club, and later a canteen at El Qantara, to provide better rest and recreation facilities and better food. For this work she was mentioned in dispatches and in the Australian official war history.
In June 1917 the venereal disease problem was still very bad, so she went to London to push the New Zealand Medical Corps into adopting prophylactic measures. She combined the work of several researchers to produce her own prophylactic kit, containing calomel ointment, condoms and Condy's crystals (potassium permanganate). She sold these at the New Zealand Medical Soldiers Club, which she set up at Hornchurch near the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital.
At the end of 1917 the New Zealand Expeditionary Force adopted her kit and made it a free and compulsory distribution to soldiers going on leave. Ettie Rout received no credit for her role in the kit's development and adoption, and for the duration of the war the Cabinet banned her from New Zealand newspapers under the War Regulations. Mention of her brought a potential £100 fine after one of her letters, suggesting kits and hygienic brothels, had been published in the New Zealand Times. Ironically, this letter had been instrumental in the decision of the minister of defence, James Allen, to approve the issue of the kit. Others, particularly women's groups, accused her of trying to make vice safe. Lady Stout led a deputation of women to ask the prime minister, William Massey, to put an end to Rout's Hornchurch club.
Item reproduced above from Archives New Zealand Reference: WA 10/3/2, ZMR 1/1/40

Later, in April 1918 Ettie followed New Zealand troops to Europe and based in Paris she met troop trains arriving from the Front. Standing greeting soldiers with her trademark kiss on the cheek she handed out cards recommending the brothel of Madame Yvonne, who had agreed to run her "House" on hygienic lines. The brothel was regularly inspected by Ettie.
Ettie Rout was decorated by the French when they presented her with the Reconnaissance Française Medal for her services in Paris and in the township of Villers Brettoneu on the Somme where she ran a Red Cross Depot from 1919 -1920.

Ettie published a number of books, and was always considered controversial. Her 1922 book: "Safe Marriage" [available free from Gutenburg] created a storm of outrage in New Zealand and was banned, but was published in both Australia and Britain and became a best seller. However, in the House of Lords, a bishop called her 'the wickedest woman in Britain".
Other titles included - "Maori Face Tattooing"; "Health Culture For Women - the sane way to slim"; and "Stand UP and Slim Down."
Ettie married but later divorced and eventually lived her later years in the Cook Islands where she died by her own hand "with a self administered over-dose of Quinine". She lies in the Avarua Church Cemetery.


New Zealander, just in from trek, passing, pipe in mouth, by a young officer just out.

Officer (stopping New Zealander): "Do you know who I am?"

N.Z. (removing pipe): "No."

Officer: "I am an officer!"

N.Z.: "Oh."

Officer: "I—am—an—officer!"

N.Z.: "Well, take an old soldier's advice and don't get drunk and lose your commission."

Officer: "D—— you. Don't you salute an officer when you see one?"

N.Z. (very calmly): "D—— and dot you! It's seldom we salute our own officers, so it isn't likely we'd salute you."

Officer: "Confound it. If you couldn't stand discipline, what did you come out here for?"

N.Z.: "To fight."

Officer (moving on): "I suppose you are one of those damned Colonials."
Above: English Yeoman, Corporal P.T. Ross' anecdote on Colonial views of English Officers, written in 1901, is now joined here by the 2010 cartoon artwork of New Zealand illustrator and newspaper editorial cartoonist Malcolm Evans.
Malcolm's impression links Corporal Ross' tale with such witty clarity that it proves humour transcends time and generations.
The cartoon above is by way of introducing two important research tools for all our students of history.
The first is this book written by Sussex Yeoman, Corporal P.T. Ross and first published in 1901, titled; "A Yeoman's Letters".
To understand our NZMR history it is important to read the views of others, and this book is a rare insight into a war as seen by a common soldier facing day to day hardships with more than a little "Cockney" insight. This is mainly an Englishman's view of his war in South Africa and is best described by a critic of the day:
STANDARD. [English Press] —'In "A Yeoman's Letters," Mr. P. T. Ross has written the liveliest book about the War which has yet appeared. Whatever amusement can be extracted from a tragic theme will be found in his vivacious "Letters." He seems one of those high-spirited and versatile young men who notice the humorous side of everything, and can add to the jollity of a company by a story, a song, an "impromptu" poem, or a pencilled caricature.'
The second important research tool is the internet location of where you can download this book FREE.
PROJECT GUTENBERG is a massive resource available to everyone who has the internet - and without charge. This large volunteer based organisation is transcribing, cataloging and making available all books which have reached the end of their copyright life. Obviously books and articles written about the Boer War in South Africa, the Great War of 1914 - 18 and indeed many books from the Second World War are now long out of copyright.
Go to the ONLINE BOOK CATALOG and enter "A Yeoman's Letters" (no speech marks"")in the "Title Words" and start your eBook collection. Once the selected book page arrives on your screen you are offered many different formats - in selecting "HTML" the book will be downloaded to read in your Browser (Explorer, Firefox etc), however there are usually options for PDF and other hand-held reading devices. If these books are downloaded in PDF Format, a number of "Reading Software" packages are now available free of charge - including Adobe Reader - these software programmes can be set to read aloud the book to those who are blind or vision impaired.
Or if you would like to try something else related to the Middle East Campaigns, download "With the Turks in Palestine" go directly to this Project Gutenberg link HERE. There are thousands of books to choose from this site.


Photograph: Cathy Giddens private collection.

Number 3 Troop, 9th W.M.R. Hotchkiss Team. date: 24th March 1918.
Jack Monckton, (Gisborne); J.P. McMaster, (Martinborough); Mick White, (Australia).
Front: Stan Nicol, (Hawkes Bay); P.A. Mussen (Waikato).

As always, it is a pleasant surprise opening emails that keep arriving from the general public on almost a daily basis. The amount of material that arrives means that it can be a number of days and sometimes weeks before it is possible to process your generous contributions - The Association appreciates your efforts and your family's part in our Brigade history will be posted here - your keepsakes are our history.

This photograph sent in by Cathy Giddens is typical of the great photographs of the men that are still hiding away in that old family suitcase, and often the images broaden our knowledge of the NZMR in surprising ways. Cathy's mail reveals more of the background information regarding the history of "Bess" (email edited in part) :-


I've just come across a photo in some old papers of my mum's, that I thought you may be interested in it for your terrific website. It is of my grandfather, a trooper in the 9th WMR, and 4 other men, all named, all in uniform. On back, it says No 3 Troop, 9th WMR, Hotchkiss team, 24/3/18. Names are; Jack Monckton, Gisborne; Mick White, Australian; Stan Nicol, Hawkes Bay; P A Mussen, Waikato; and my grandfather, J P McMaster, Martinborough.

My grandfather was the youngest brother of the A D McMaster who bred the horse "Bess", that Lt Col Powles rode.

I've got my grandfather's military record, is any of that of use to you. His full name was John Paratene McMaster, trooper , 36094. It shows he was wounded in action on 3 April 1918, so a week or so after the photo taken. Place given as 'the field', but other places mentioned in his movements to and fro hospital are Kantara, Abbassia, Heliopolis, Moascar, Ismailia. He returned to NZ on the Ulimaroa, in August/Sep 1919.

regards, Cathy

Thanks Cathy I will be in touch in a few days!
As a further aside: I wonder if Stan Nicol , shown above, is any relation to either Captain Ken Nicol Killed in Action while with "Dunsterforce" (see article two items below) or to Sergeant C.G. Nicol the author of the book on the official history of the Auckland Mounted Rifles, "The Story of Two Campaigns"?

Full Name: Corporal Roderick McCandlish
Rank Last Held: Corporal
Serial No.: 11/92
Date of Birth: 2 May 1892
Place of Birth: Kaiapoi, New Zealand
Religion: Protestant
First Known Rank: Trooper
Occupation before Enlistment: Farmer
Next of Kin: Mrs M.A. McCandlish (mother),
Wangaehu, New Zealand
Marital Status: Single
Enlistment Address: Wangaehu, New Zealand
Military District: Auckland
Body on Embarkation: Main Body
Embarkation Unit: Wellington Mounted Rifles
Embarkation Date: 16 October 1914
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Vessel: Orari or Arawa
Destination: Suez, Egypt
Page on Nominal Roll: 435
Last Unit Served: Wellington Mounted Rifles
Place of Death: Gallipoli, Turkey
Date of Death: 9 August 1915
Age at Death: 23
Cause of Death: Killed in action
Roderick McCandlish 6th Manawtu Mounted Rifles killed in action.
Roderick McCandlish - computer colourised from original 1914 photograph.

11/92 Corporal Roderick McCandlish of the 6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles was Killed In Action on the heights of Chunuk Bair. He was one of 173 men that made the mad dash to expel the Turks from the key position on the Gallipoli Peninsular in August 1915. Only 73 men survived the ordeal.

Just before ANZAC DAY last year we were presented with the Diary of Trooper Gary Clunie of 6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles. It was a great gift from his grandson and the Diary remains permanently on our website HERE.
A Year later and again we have another special gift from a grand nephew who has compiled a fascinating tale of the year of the life and death of Corporal Roderick McCandlish, also a member of the 6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles.
Alas, unlike Gary Clunie, Roderick was to fall in that fateful action when the British High Command took the gamble to rush the heavily fortified entrenchments of the Turkish highlands. The attack that began of the 7th August was to be New Zealand and Australia's blackest days of WW1 in the Middle East. The death toll was horrendous.

Beginning today are the diary entries and letters written home by a New Zealand hero, a young man who gave his life before his time. We thank Ross for his diligent effort in transcribing his Great Uncle's letters, and accurately filling in historical events between the messages home. Roderick's pages on Gallipoli start HERE.


Dear Sir
·         Largely due to the efforts of the Assyrian Levies Association,  memorial plaques are to be dedicated in the chapel of Trentham Barracks on Sunday 18th April 2010.

·         Last October their Association dedicated an Assyrian/ANZAC memorial in the Park of Honour, Fairfield, Sydney.  Their moving light, a remarkable man called Gaby Kiwarkis, had successfully located me through a message on the web and invited me to participate in the ceremony.

·          I am the only survivor in my generation of the children of Ethel Marion Grigg (nee Nicol) who was the elder of Captain Nicol’s two sisters.  In 1939, 21 years after her brother being reported Missing in Action, believed killed she was told of General Stanley Savige and his book Stalky’s Forlorn Hope.  There we found five pages detailing how her brother had died.  She subsequently met Savige, who assured her that Ken Nicol had been killed instantly.  From infancy I had been brought up to know all she could tell me of “Uncle Ken,” who embarked from Trentham, served in Gallipoli, then in France until the end of 1917.  (His brother Sgt. Harold Nicol, late of Nelson, also fought in France).   The fierce fight in 1917, for which he was awarded the MC, marked his courage and his ability to think clearly under fire.  His comrades wrote to my grandparents to tell them that he had actually been recommended for the VC, but that General Godley refused to confirm this award for any officer.  I have never been able to obtain access to his original recommendation from his field commander.  However, his attitude was clear.  He never wrote home about his action or his award.  After his investiture by King George V he advised his parents “I’ve been up to the Palace to meet George, and he shook my dook.”

·         It is no surprise that he was selected for transfer to Dunsterforce.  At the end of July 1918 he was in a detachment of three Captains and six Sergeants (one of them Brophy of NZEF) sent to provide a rearguard for a column of over 50,000 Armenian and Assyrian Christian refugees. These were the remnant of some 80,000 or so who were surrounded by the Turks after the Russian surrender in 1917, but who ultimately broke out of the cordon around Urmiah, just west of Lake Urmiah in NW Persia, and had, despite constant harassment by Ottoman troops and Kurdish tribesmen, by this time retreated some 800 miles in their attempt to reach safety.  On August 4th the detachment had spent the night in a village which was attacked at daybreak by Turkish and Kurdish fighters, of the order 0f 300 to 500 in number.  The exit from the village consisted of a flat valley flanked on either side by ridges along which the enemy was advancing.   Captain Savige withdrew about 1,000 yards, commanding a Lewis gun on the right flank whilst Nicol had a second Lewis gun on the left flank.  This was because they dared not be outflanked, as the valley narrowed into a gorge through which the refugees and troops had to pass.  Three sergeants, including Murphy with a Lewis gun and supplies, had been left to extricate the pack animals (with ammunition and other supplies), but they were being fiercely attacked from their rear in the village and also from both flanks.  Building up the picture from Savige’s account and from the evidence of the men at the subsequent Court of Enquiry, it seems that Nicol had appreciated that these men had no effective support from the Lewis guns on the ridges.  Being 700 to 1,000 yards away they were at their range and accuracy limits.  It is a mark of his courage that he chose deliberately to leave his gun, take his sergeant’s rifle and go forward on foot to give covering fire for his three men.  They ultimately reached cover, at which time he turned to follow them, and it is at this moment that he was hit and fell to the ground motionless.  The sergeants made three  valiant attempts to recover him but were beaten off by the concentrated enemy fire and they had to abandon him.  All were convinced that he had  been killed instantly.  A little aside on the matter of communication with relatives.  Although all the circumstances were fully assessed and recorded by the Court of Enquiry in August 1918, this information was never passed on to his parents and family.  His father and mother lived until 1937 and 1946, respectively but only knew that he was MIA believed killed.  It was not until 1939 that my mother learned that he was killed instantly, but her mother was by then so frail she felt it better not to pass the fresh information on.

·         For 70 years I have known the story as recorded by Savige, but to my shame I had never given thought to the subsequent fate of the Assyrian refugees.  In fact many of them fought bravely for Britain during WW2 and subsequent wars, and many of them enlisted from Australia and New Zealand.
What I discovered last October was that ,for 90 years, these people had revered the New Zealand Captain who had died for them and, like many of their own defenders, lay unburied on the battlefield.  For all this time he has been numbered amongst their saints who fell protecting them.  It was only about 10 years ago that they actually learned his name, and actually received a photo of him, in NZEF dress uniform, from my late cousin, Jack Nicol of Nelson, which they revere.   Mr. Kiwakis assures me that there is scarcely an Assyrian household around the world, specially Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which does not have a copy of that photo hanging on a wall of their house.

               This brings me to the event on 18th April. The Assyrian community have received approval from NZ Defence to mount and dedicate a memorial plaque specifically as a tribute to Captain Nicol, choosing Trentham as the site because that was where he embarked, ultimately to die for them.  Thrilled at discovering a  living next-generation relative they sought permission for a second memorial plaque to be presented by the family, of which I am now the patriarch.  So I shall be present that day to unveil our family memorial.  It is being presented on behalf of descendants and relatives in Australia and New Zealand,  but it is 25 years since I was in Wellington and I have no idea who might still be around.  I am looking for relatives of William Nicol and Eva Nicol (nee Petherick), formerly of Island Bay and Melling, both to renew contact and to invite them to the ceremony.  And, of course, we’d love to see any descendants of NZ members of Dunsterforce.   I should appreciate any help you may be able to offer.

My personal details are:  Dr. Lindsay Grigg FRCS FRACS, retired surgeon, born in Auckland 1927 but moved to Melbourne with my parents in 1939.
By the way, officially my uncle was a trench mortar man.
Thank you in anticipation.
Lindsay Grigg

[Dr Lindsay Grigg's Canberra address, phone number and email address held by the NZMRA - contact may be made through our FORUM HERE.]