Comments from Webmaster Steve Butler


A newly transcribed Diary posted this week (28th March 2009).
For the duration of the Great War the Mounted Rifles continually trained and sent reinforcement troops to the Front. The long ordeal by Troopship across the oceans to war was the experience of every Anzac. The Association is pleased to present 30th Reinforcement Trooper Rowland Smith's 1917 Diary of his experiences. From Featherston Camp near Wellington to Moascar Egypt on board HMNZT Tofua.



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.

The Southland Museum and Art Gallery is hosting an Otago Mounted Rifles display from now until late May. This project was concieived and researched by the Otago Mounted Rifles Trust (Dr Don MacKay and Dr Aaron Fox) and contains a great selection of uniforms and equipment as well as a timeline of the main events and notable personalities within the unit.
Open Hours: Mon-Fri 8.30am - 5.00pm, Sat-Sun 10.00am - 5.00pm.
Location: Gala Street, Invercargill.

Australasian Rough Diary for 1917
New South Wales
Western Australia
South Australia
Nothern Territory
Federal Capital Territory
New Zealand
Maoris in New Zealand included in above figures

Population figures published in the preface of Trooper Rowland Smith's diary of 1917.
"Published for Letts's Diaries Company Limited by Cassell & Company Limited - Melbourne, London, New York, Toronto."

An unnamed 6th Manawatu Mounted Rifleman of the NZMR lies beside Dud Artillery rounds to show the enormity of firepower available to the armies opposing each other in World War One.
Although the size of these two heavy rounds shown are not stated by the photographer - (taken by Wellington machine gunner, Sergeant Martin Eccles of the 5th Reinforcements) - a range of heavy caliber weapons were used by German and Turkish forces in Palestine, where this photo appears to be taken.
The huge German Krupp 42cm howitzers (known as Big Berthas) and the massive rail gun of the French Schneider 520mm howitzer were the biggest firing guns developed during the war. The shells the Schneider fired were over 24 inches in diameter and weighed 3,100 pounds.
During the Gallipoli campaign between February 25th and May 14th, the Royal Navy Battleship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, lobbed gigantic 15 inch explosive shells into the Turkish trenches at Anzac. She fired a total of 86 x 15-inch shells and 71 x 6-inch shells. The short supply of 15-inch shells and a direct order from the Admiralty not to wear out her guns meant she had little effect for the Anzacs ashore. The Admiralty hurriedly retired the Queen Elizabeth when HMS Goliath was sunk by a Turkish torpedo boat on the 12th May 1915.
Later the Royal Navy ships Bombarded Gaza in 1917 with French support, but the ships involved had guns with only 9.5 and 6 inch capacity - much smaller than the monster shell shown here.


Trooper John Roberstson's life with the Imperial Camel Cops (I.C.C.) during the Great War.

Serving first with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, Trooper Robertson volunteered for the Cameliers after arriving in Egypt. It is here that troops were raised from the British Isles, India, Australia and New Zealand to form this unique fighting unit.
CLICK ON THE PDF ICON ABOVE to download this enthralling saga of the Cameliers - (size 374 kbs) - Please note: No Photographs or maps from the original publication are included in this E-BOOK as they were removed to make the text easily downloadable over the internet.

(15th March 09) Last week we posted the "The History of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles 1914-1919"(see next item below) and already I am able to report that 79 copies of that E-BOOK has been downloaded in the last few days. Also of special interest is the number of copies of General Chaytor's battle report of the attack of Turkish forces at Romani is regularly downloaded in large numbers each month by "War Gaming" clubs and groups around the world - in the first 15 days this month alone we have had 56 copies of the Romani attack downloaded. Other publications available and downloaded so far this month are 109 copies of Powles "The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine", and 21 copies of the large 6 megabyte download of Waites "New Zealanders at Gallipoli". Obviously a great many of you are enjoying the book material the Association makes available.
I am pleased to see other various groups that make use of the site including schools and those diligent hobbyists who make the beautifully crafted and accurate war-game figurines. - Welcome

Finally, and thanks to Jeff for the number of scans sent all those months ago - Here is the new download for the Association - "The History of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles 1914-1919" by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Guy Powles. Click on the PDF ICON above to download this great book. (460 kbs in size).
This e-book has no photographs or maps from the original publication - this is to make the file manageable as a small download over the Internet.

A Turkish Officer takes a refreshing drink at the watering station at El Arish (circa 1916). The importance of a water supply was paramount for troops in the Sinai Desert. A sentry stands at his post at all times to protect the source.
The photograph shows the method employed to water the animals as patrols and transport camel trains came in from the desert. During periods of inactivity soldiers would hand crank the well to pump the precious ground water to top-up the large cylindrical header tank (right). Once full a tap would regulate the flow into the animal drinking trough (extreme right) to be able to water a large group of animals in the shortest time possible.

Barrack Room Featherston Camp 1917
featherston camp 1917

Above: Cenotaph search shows this kit belongs to Bushman, Alan Edward Summers of Waimauku who went on to survive the Great War.

Some members of the 30th Reinforcements pose for a photograph in their barrack room at Featherston Camp 1917.
Inspection is over for the day and the troopers take time out before the next round of drills.
Two kit bags in the room show the stencil markings of the 30th Squadron. The kit on the left also shows the name: A.E. Summers 50430, which appears to belong to the man sitting second from left in the photo.

It seems our forefathers were not lacking in their approach to humour, as a careful look exposes where one wag has carved into a beam above the room and away from the line of sight:
"Drink Staples XXXX Ale".

From our position ninety years into the future, we can feel the satisfaction of the men of at least getting one back on their antagonist, the dreaded Sergeant Major, and his morning inspection. Troopers kit and surrounds diligently raked over for the slightest flaw. And there above his head, a joint barrack room punishable offence was missed each daily round. That would have given the men a chuckle at bettering for a moment the new authority that had over taken their lives.

Photograph Trooper Rowland Smith 1917