comments from webmaster Steve Butler

Dressing gown tied up against the Autumn night a little girl is mesmerized by the sight of giant soldiers marching across the face of the Auckland War Memorial Museum. She may not understand the significance of ANZAC Day yet but along with parents and grandparents thousands of youngsters are turning out each night leading up to ANZAC Day to view a special movie by "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson who was commissioned by the Australian War Memorial to restore and edit footage filmed by British Journalist Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett. The reels of film had been laying in museum vaults unseen since 1938. The twenty minute film is being run each night from 7.30 until 10.00.
Last night two giant projectors were working showing the film on both sides to the entrance to the Museum. Doors are open to the ground floor where seating is provided to watch one large screen and a number of hi-definition screens. Cues stretched to the doorway as thousands lined up to sign a book of remembrance.
Above: Picture left, Rebecca Coutts holds onto Mum's hand while bathed in the reflection of Museum lights. Picture right: Red floodlights highlight the massive columns into the Museum foyer, while ANZACS five stories high flicker across a wing of the museum wall. (23rd April 08)



21st Anniversary issue
penny and half-penny
stamps 1936.

50th Anniversary issue
4 penny and 5 penny
stamps 1965.

NZMR 24th
Reinforcements Badge.

Thanks to David a NZMR member and serving New Zealand Army Officer stationed in Canberra we have had forwarded these amazing colour photographs from legend cameraman Frank Hurely that are now on display at the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra.
this photograph titled: "An Australian Light Horseman collecting anemones near Belah in Palestine". Picture: Frank Hurley, 1918"

Frank Hurely became famous through his amazing film footage of Shackleton's dramatic voyage to Antarctica. His photographs of Australians at war are classical pieces of art rather than photo journalism.
I have arranged a display HERE This page may take a little time to download if you are on dial-up 1.4megs

In Isolation No-More
Seemingly out of place in the middle of modern urban sprawl, the forlorn and dilapidated Beersheba Railway Station sits encircled by security fencing next to nonexistent railway tracks. A far cry from the importance that this railway terminus building had over ninety years ago.
Photographed last month by New Zealand Army Serviceman and current RSM Kevin Foster, while on a visit to modern day Beersheeva. Kevin is currently serving with MFO Sinai.
Kevin comments:
..."I visited Mt Scopius two weeks ago and was quite touched about it. I also met several of the groundsmen who tend the graves, one gentlemen Mohamed spoke very highly of the Kiwis, however he had not seen that many visit. I will be there on ANZAC Day and I will place a poppy on every NZ grave, I will do the same at Beersheva".
You may read Kevin's latest e-mail HERE
Beersheba 1917. This photograph shows the extent of settlement by the Turks prior to the Anzac attack on the town October 1917. Top right, Turkish forces under canvas on the outskirts of the town.

Buried on friendly shores

For the millions of soldiers who died in combat during the Great War there was a far greater number who died from heat stoke, freezing conditions, accidents, and the perils of infections and disease.
In this 21st century we tend to forget that the miracle drugs such as Penicillin were not available until the second war in the 1940's.
When we remember the bravery of our men who landed at Anzac on the 25th April 1915, let us spare also a thought for the other men who committed to serve and who instead died of Cholera or Malaria from living in the arid deserts of the Sinai. Men who succumbed to diseases like Black water fever, Yellow Fever, Flux, Tetanus, whooping-cough and a hundred conditions that are readily controlled today by inoculations.
When Trooper Gordon Blair embarked with the 41st Reinforcements for the Middle East he was not to know that the war would be over in one months time and that he would be dead in two months.
What a tragedy for his wife to learn that her husband had been hospitalised in Perth, on the transports stopover in Western Australia, and died one month later after wars' end on the 17th December 1918.
From what sickness or condition Gordon Blair died, frustratingly I can't tell you, as the New Zealand Governments records site in Wellington will only allow inquiries in person at their office - we are indeed a southern country mile behind our Australian cousins in our ability to make records of our forefathers available.

Left: The Headstone marks the grave of NZMR Trooper Blair, who lies forever in a well tendered grave at the Perth War Cemetery.

Full Name: Trooper Gordon Blair
Serial No.: 74903
Occupation before Enlistment: Mechanic
Next of Kin: Mrs G. Blair (wife), Ngaere, Taranaki, New Zealand
Embarkation Unit: 41st Reinforcements Mounted Rifles Brigade
Embarkation Date: 10 October 1918
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Vessel: Moeraki
Destination: Suez, Egypt
Nominal Roll Footnotes: Failed to re-embark, Fremantle, 14th November, 1918.
Nominal Roll Number: 91
Page on Nominal Roll: 4
Last Unit Served: New Zealand Mounted Rifles
Place of Death: Australia
Date of Death: 17 December 1918
Year of Death: 1918
Cause of Death: Died of disease
Further References: Search for information about this person's Military Personnel File.

"Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant-Major!"

Every new recruits nightmare - Regimental Sergeant-Major Henry (Harry) Robertson looks every bit the professional mounted soldier that indeed he was.
Harry served thirty-two years in the fledgling New Zealand military. He along with his brother-in-law Jim Campbell sailed from Wellington, onboard the SS Gulf of Taranto, on the 6th April 1901 with the 7th Contingent New Zealand Mounted Rifles for the Boer War.
At the time having risen in rank to Squadron Sergeant Major he saw action against Smut's Commando in the Orange Free State and pursued General Bortha's forces across the Transvaal. Later he was also involved in the bloodiest actions when British forces encircled de Wet south of Vrede - there at the Frankfort line, at Langverwachtde, de Wet's troops attacked the "Seventh" in a desperate attempt to break out.
This resulted in bitter fighting on 23rd and 24th February 1902 during which the New Zealanders suffered 65 casualties - 24 killed and 41 wounded.

(although the popular "drinking song" 'Kiss me Goodnight Sergeant-Major' was not written until world war two - I thought it appropriate to align this humorous ditty to this bolt upright persona of Harry Robertson - one wonders if actor Winsor Davies did not see this image before he created his character "Sarn'-major Williams" in the TV 1970's comedy "It aint half hot mum"
All joking aside - On such men as RSM Harry Robertson did the British and Commonwealth Armies survive, and continue to survive today.)

RSM Henry Robertson, with Queens South Africa and Long Service Medals. at GHQ School Trentham August 1920.

Twenty one years had passed since the Great World War of 1914 - 18 had finished. Little did these troopers realise that a second World War was about to be declared in five months time.

Left to Right: Corporal J. Reeves. K.Little. D.Moore. McDill. N.Robertson. Gairn Robertson. Teed.
second: F.Walker. H.Headley. G.May. M.Ward. R.Croucher. N.Ward.

This week (25th March 08) another intriguing package of mail arrived after a phone call from Kevin Robertson. Kevin is justifiably proud that four members of his family were Mounted Riflemen serving during three wars - The South African Boer War , and during both World Wars.
The package that arrived contained a written report and a CD of images, military and written files - Kevin, thank you and I most certainly will compile a page of the "Fighting" Robertsons - Of especial interest is the history of Henry (Harry) Robertson, whose military association started with the Newton Rifles on 23rd March 1892 and through to his departure and service with the Seventh Contingent NZMR in Africa.

Harry Robertson rose to the rank of Sergeant Major - his eldest son, also named Henry, but called Sonny within the family, joined initially with the Waikato Mounted Rifles, transferred to the Auckland Regiment 2nd Battalion and was wounded on the Somme 15th September 1916.

Three more Reinforcement badges from Iain's collection have been prepared for the dedicated page - copy needs also to be added - However it is nice to see the variables that were made for the different drafts of Mounted Riflemen over the years 1915-19. and I have taken the opportunity to post them here on our updates page first.