(5th May08) 13/453 Trooper Edwin (Jack) Shepherd 4th Waikato Mounted Rifles.
Horses from the Auckland Mounted Rifles of number one troop cross the Barrage Delta during training, Egypt April 1915.
I am continually being surprised by the material that is offered to the Association almost on a weekly basis. However the quality and amount of material supplied yesterday has left me speechless. Margaret Shepherd has kept everything her father sent back from the Great War, and the wealth of information within letters, postcards and diaries is quite frankly - amazing.
It will take me some time to scan the 57 separate photographs. Most of which arrived in New Zealand as postcards, and contain written messages on the reverse of each one. Further letters number about twenty - but the Gallipoli Diary is a full catalog of events worthy of national record.
What I have noticed over the years, is that letters and tales from soldiers who fought at Anzac come from men who were previously wounded, or sick, and hospitalised prior to August 7th 1915. Unfortunately those who were fit and in the trenches on that night of the 7th were destined to take part on the breakout attack on Chunuk Bair. As we are all aware this was a disaster and the men involved died in their thousands. For the Auckland Mounted Rifles there was a huge cost of men. There are hardly any first hand accounts from soldiers who took part in that attack. Too many tombstones on Galliploi have the inscription "August 8th 1915". Jack Shepherd was one of the very few to climb the heights and come back to tell the tale.
He writes in his diary:
"...We had to stand up in the open and were mown down by machine guns and shrapnel. What was left of the AMR retired from the firing line about midnight. None of our officers were left and only a few men were alive..."
Above: The colourised photo of Jack was taken while convalescing in England, November 1915. The photo postcard on the right he sent home early in the year, and has written on the back:
"Another view of operations at Barrage Delta. Horses being swam by means of an endless rope. Number one Troop horses at present in the water. One of these horses very nearly got drowned owing to his getting tangled up in the rope. We stayed at Barrage three days and I don't think one will find a prettier place than it. - I remain Yours Affect Bro - C.W. Shepherd - Zeitoun 7/4/15"
Click HERE for Jack on his horse.
The following month they were in bitter fighting on Gallipoli.