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Although no units of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade where involved in the capture of Damascus on September 30th 1918 (The NZMR were engaged in the advance on Amman to the East) the story is an intriguing one because of the subsequent political events relating to claims by Englishman, Colonel T.E. Lawrence, that he and his newly formed "Northern Arab Army" were the liberators of Damascus.
In his book "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" first published in 1926, and destined later to become a best seller, Lawrence, now known as "Lawrence of Arabia", declared that his Arab Army was the first to enter and liberate Damascus on the 1st October 1918. A blatant "error" that can be easily rectified here with one of Allenby's own HQ maps showing events of the day before on the 30th September.
Various Australian Light Horse field diaries also confirm that the 10th Australian Light Horse (Troopers from Perth W.A.) were the first combatants to enter the city on the 30th as they followed up their attack, closely followed by the 3rd, 4th and 5th Brigades of the ALH.
Interestingly enough, Lawrence's own personal "field diary" placed him as sleeping at Kiswe (see map) on the night of the 30th - some 20 miles from the attack.
Further omissions such as not acknowledging the inclusion of the many Druse volunteers who bolstered up the numbers of the Arab Army meant that the Christian Druse population were overlooked when the new ethnic homelands were carved up from the old Ottoman Empire.
With all the twists and turns surrounding the stories of Lawrence, there is no doubt that he was an exceptional man. A little known fact was that besides his endeavours to promote a Arab homeland he also ardently promoted the rights too for an Armenian State. This vision to allow the many diverse peoples of the Levant their own autonomous homelands was ignored.

(Green unit markers denote Turkish forces in retreat - Remnants of the IV Turkish Army are being harried by the English 11th Cavalry Brigade, 4th Cavalry Division from the south, not shown on this restricted map view.)



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 Trenches 3-6-'15
Dear Mr Dickinson,
You have my sympathy in the loss of your gallant brother. He was one of a little band of heroes who held an outpost in the face of overwhelming odds for 28 hours.
He and others perished in the attempt before the post was relieved, the marvel being that any returned.
The affair will be an obscure incident in a great war, but nevertheless it might easily have been another "Rouke's Drift".
Our wounded were bought out with incredible difficulty, and your brother died on the journey to the dressing station. We buried him there, on the spur of Walker's Ridge, rising steeply from the sea and commanding and exquisite view of sea and land, with Islands in the near distance; the place being known as "Fisherman's Hut", towards midnight on Sunday the 30th May, after repulsing an attack of the enemy, in which four more were wounded.
You may well be proud in your sorrow, that your brother died at the post of duty, like a good soldier, giving his life with so many more for the liberties of the world. That God our Father may comfort and succour you and all who loved him, is the prayer of -
Yours in sincerest sympathy,
William Grant, C.F.

[ Letter written by 11/86 William Grant, Chaplin of the Forces, Major. MiD.
Later Killed in Action Gallipoli
28th August 1915 ]

11/417 Trooper Alfred Dickinson
From circa 1914 photograph - computer colourised

The photograph at right is such a powerful image, that we instinctively know there is more of a story here than just an isolated grave on a barren landscape. There is a feeling here of something more than loss of life.
There is a bond of friendship and comradeship that jumps across nearly a century of time to us today.
Here beneath this patiently carved slab lies the body of Alf Dickinson. The carver has worked the letters deep into the rock to make sure that rain and wind would not destroy the marker of his resting place, and we will surely remember him, and where and why he fell.

Alfred's military record shows he signed up while working at Gibon's Limited, a small company in the equally small township of Hawera in the Taranaki, North Island.
The link between three men starts here.
The photograph taken of the grave site at Gallipoli is by fellow Trooper James Read, who had listed his next of kin address as Thomas Read, of Denbigh Road, Hawera.
Further confirmation of an association stretching back to the small town is the letter reprinted below, written by another of Alf's comrades. He was Archie Cameron and was with Alf in action when he fell. This trooper also gives his enlistment address as Hawera.
All three men boarded the Troopship Arawa, leaving Wellington on the 16th October 1914 with the Main Body with the Wellingtons.
It is obvious that a great bond existed between these men.

Photograph taken by 11/606 Trooper James Cornelius Read -1915
image held at the Alexander Turnbull Library Reference: 1/4-058171

Alf Dickinson a.k.a. Dickenson departed New Zealand with the Main Body with number 4 Troop, A Squadron, Wellington Mounted Rifles.
A letter from Trooper Archie Cameron (Epsom, Surrey, England 20 October 1915) to Alfred's sister

" ... I was so pleased you received my message. You can't imagine how hard it was for me to write. As I know the bond of love between brother and sister could not be greater. Poor Alf, he was always speaking of you as his favourite sister. I felt his death more than my own poor brother who was killed on April 25 on landing at the Dardanelles. I shall never forget May 30th. We came into contact with the Turks about 2 o'clock on Sunday morning.
At dawn the Turkish snipers got busy they got a number of our brave boys, so poor Major Elmslie who got killed in August called five of us to locate them Alf and myself were chosen for the mission. We crawled through the rough scrub we came within about thirty yards from the Turks there was about 20 of them hidden behind some thick scrub on our right flank. We took up position unnoticed by the enemy, we accounted for almost the lot. Poor Alf he said to me 'well Archie if we don't get out of this alive we have done good work'. About 10 minutes later the poor boy got shot, the shot went through the front of my tunic and entered his side. I caught him in my arms he put his arms around my neck he only smiled and asked me to send you a message and also Miss Rands, we buried him at the number 2 post. We engraved a larged stone for his grave. And there I left my best mate and faitfull friend. He died for a just cause freedom, [and] Christianity and I am sure our good God will reward all who died for the same cause. I am leaving for the front shortly I am now on furlough I extend to you my deepest sympathy. And many thanks for your kind wishes.
I remain sincerely yours
Archie Cameron

[ Troopers 11/418 Archibald Cameron, and 11/606 James Read of the WMR, both survived the Great War. ]


Trooper Ernest Powell departed New Zealand with the 9th Reinforcements and arrived in the Middle East before the Sinai Campaign began.
Ernest's granddaughter Lynne made a recent discovery of the three photographs shown above - they were glued into the pages of an old address book kept by her grandmother during the Great War.
Ernest is noted in the address book at different times on different pages, suggesting he may have been transferred about the Brigade or even attached to the artillery during his service.
The first page of entries give Ernest's addresses as; No.2 Troop, A Squadron - Tauherenikau. Then No.2 Troop A Squadron Trentham, followed by; A Squadron 9th Reinforcements NZEF - GPO Wellington. Two pages later are two further changes of address. The entries are; Trooper E Powell No. 4 Section, Divisional Ammunition Column, NZFA (New Zealand Field Artillery). Followed by a update; 5th Battery, NZFA, 9th Reinforcements.
Again we have another instance of a Mounted Rifleman wearing his hat in the "Lemon-Squeezer" shape - also obvious in theses photos are the animals, they appear to be team mules and donkeys used in logistical support roles for the Brigade.
In the photograph top left Ernest is joined by a fellow member of the NZMR dutifully polishing team harness tack. The second photo has Ernest leaning against a wall, the caption written under this images is: "Barracks"- The third photo In the address book shows two troopers and a mule team, and has the caption: -
"Cairo - Railway Station, Getting Mail - March 10th 1916"

Full Name: Ernest Powell
Serial No.: 13/2894
First Known Rank: Trooper
Occupation before Enlistment: Storekeeper
Next of Kin: Mrs Beatrice Saunders (sister), Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand
Body on Embarkation: New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Embarkation Unit: 9th Reinforcements Auckland Mounted Rifles, A Squadron
Embarkation Date: 8 January 1916
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Transport: HMNZT 37
Vessel: Maunganui
Destination: Suez, Egypt

This photograph sent in by "Peter" is interesting on a number of points.
Not only are the QAMR (Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles) collar badges plainly visible on the jackets, and therefore endorsing that these men are members of the 2nd Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment. But confusingly the men are seen wearing "Lemon Squeezer" style Infantry hats - and not the Mounted Rifleman's center creased hat. The bandoliers also show the men wearing the early issue pattern worn by the men who departed New Zealand with the Main Body in 1914.
I find the wearing of the Lemon-squeezer hats intriguing, and the question that comes to mind is this:
Did the Wellington Mounted Rifles initially wear the pointed "Mount Taranaki" styled headwear because Lieutenant Colonel Malone of Wellington invented the hat style to honour the mountain, and therefore these fellow Wellingtonians took the design onboard?
Certainly the WMR troopers wore the traditional Mounted Rifles hat in the Middle East like the rest of the Brigade.
Interesting also that there are no badges on the hat bands - however Sergeant Paterson, kneeling left front wears both the NZMR brass shoulder title and the brass number "2" on his epaulette, again confirming they are members of the WMR.
Peter would like to know who these other men are, (me too), and he assures me that this is Sergeant Paterson, later promoted Lieutenant,( I would like to be able to cross reference this as there is a lot of material on David Paterson) - part of his record is listed below - the reason that some items are duplicated or change slightly is that David returned to New Zealand during the war after first leaving with the Main Body - later he again departed to the front as a Lieutenant with the 34th Reinforcements NZMR on the "Tofua".

Can we identify anyone else in this picture of riflemen from the 2nd Wellington Mounted Rifles?
Sergeant (later Lieutenant) David Paterson kneels front left. David's name is referred to on military records either as Paterson or Patterson within various sources. David's heroism at Wadi Es Sir is recorded in the "Official History of the Wellington Mounted Rifles":
...Major Sommerville, with others, had been wounded in the Wadi, and lay on
the ground, exposed to the fire of the enemy around him, and a gallant act was
performed by Lieutenant Patterson, who lost his own life in endeavouring to rescue

Your Comments HERE please.
Full Name: Second Lieutenant David Paterson

Click on the image above to read the beautiful hand etched "Illumination" presented by the grateful citizens of Tarata, Taranaki to David Paterson before he departed for his return to the war front.
(pdf size 293kbs)
Serial No.: 11/596
Date of Birth: 21 May 1891
Place of Birth: Inglewood, Taranaki, New Zealand
Religion: Presbyterian
First Known Rank:
  • Sergeant
  • Second Lieutenant
Occupation before Enlistment: Farmer
Next of Kin:
  • Robert Paterson, Sen. (father), Tarata, via Inglewood, New Zealand
  • Robert Paterson, sen. (father), Tarata, New Plymouth, New Zealand
Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Unknown marital status
Enlistment Address:
  • Tarata, New Zealand
  • Unknown address
Physical Description:
  • Height: 5 feet 6 1/4 inches
  • Weight: 145 1/2 pounds
  • Complexion: Dark
  • Eye colour: Brown
  • Hair colour: Dark Brown
Enlistment Date: 12 August 1914
Age on Enlistment: 23
Body on Embarkation:
  • Main Body
  • New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Embarkation Unit:
  • Wellington Mounted Rifles
  • 34th Reinforcements Mounted Rifles Brigade
Embarkation Date:
  • 16 October 1914
  • 13 November 1917
Place of Embarkation:
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Orari or Arawa
  • Tofua
  • Gallipoli
  • Palestine
Place of Death: Palestine
Date of Death: 1 April 1918
Age at Death: 26
Cause of Death: Killed in action
Memorial Name: Jerusalem Memorial, Jerusalem War Cemetery, Israel
Biographical Notes:
  • David was the first person to enlist in Tarata. He served in Gallipoli and then returned to NZ. He went back to war, leaving for France with the 34th Mounted Reinforcements. Brothers Willie and Dugald also served overseas.
  • A stained glass window was erected in the Tarata Presbyterian Church in memory of David.
Description of Image: Portrait, Auckland Weekly News 1918
Further References:
  • Taranaki Budget, 23.10.15 : Has a letter from Sgt David Paterson on active service.
  • 'Kiwi Trooper : The story of Queen Alexandra's Own' by Ted Andrews has details of his death on P.172.
  • "Official History of the Wellington Mounted Rifles' mentions him on p. 206.

Above: The obligatory group photograph taken in front of the Sphinx was one of the few leave highlights offered to the men away from the Zietoun Camp. Arriving in Egypt in December 1914 the NZMR set about training hard in preparation. Preparation for what, no one knew. Perhaps they were destined only to be stationed in a backwater of the war guarding the Suez Canal from a non existent enemy.

This photo has "Christmas Day 1914" written on the back. For these men of the Wellington Mounted Rifles, the future was about to dramatically change. In a few short months they had landed in support of the Infantry on the Gallipoli Peninsular at Anzac Cove.
Second from right, is 11/207 Sergeant Charles Hawksworth Brown of the 9th East Coast Mounted Rifles. Charles was Killed in Action on the 27th August 1915 and is buried at the New Zealand Cemetery at Hill 60 - Gallipoli, Turkey

(Thanks Peter for the two photographs above. You suggest that David Paterson is also in this sphinx photograph- Being able to look close up to the two photographs (not shown here due to size limitations) I think that David Paterson is the soldier second from the left. Although face shape is hard to compare the man second from left also is the only one wearing sergeant stripes and he left NZ with those stripes) .

Commanders of the Desert Mounted Corps

CLICK HERE for a newly created list posted on the site of the Desert Mounted Corps Commanders.
Harry Chauvel became the first Australian to be promoted to the rank of acting Lieutenant General, and the first to command a corps. He was called on to lead the Desert Mounted Corps when it was formed in 1917 after the Second Battle of Gaza.
Photograph above was taken of the General in the grounds of the new government house, the Kaiser's former show piece the "Augusta Victoria", in Jerusalem circa 1918.
Top right: collar badge of the 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment. The 4th holds special place in the history of the Desert Mounted Corps as they, along with the 12th ALH, took Beersheba with a fontal cavalry charge with bayonets drawn under orders from "Harry".

On one hand it is nice to know that such a fine collection of photographs and letters are being so well preserved in the private sector of "Our Brig", aka Brigadier-General Clement Lesley Smith V.C., M.C., founder and leader of the Imperial Camel Corps during the Great War.
On the other hand who had a "Loose" $4,310.85 Kiwi dollars to knockdown this collection at an English auction house held on the 26th March this year? I know a number of collectors and researchers of Camelier history (steve in Oz and Byrd down the Wanganui ) who may have trembled a bit as they considered whipping out the the cash tucked away in the jam jar in the top kitchen cupboard!!
At least we can congratulate the anonymous buyer who purchased the collection. Let's hope the collection stays combined, and one would hardly expect that these papers will end up in a cardboard box at the back of the garage.
The hammer price ensures that this collection will be well preserved. (with 60 photos...that's er... um... $71.85 per photo -but there are included personal letters from Allenby, Chetwode and others, and his original mentioned in despatches certificates - that could drop the individual prices on the photos a bit!.)
The full size picture of the items at the auction run at DNW (Dix Noonan Webb ltd) may be viewed HERE
Also attached is a full explanation of the items, and a short history of the great leader himself. However on this item , let the last words be those of the officer commanding British Forces in the Middle East.
My dear Smith,
Now that the Imperial Camel Brigade is ceasing to exist in its present form, I must convey to you and to those under your command, my warm appreciation of their services.
Many calls have been made on them, and to every call they have given a ready response. The deserts of Sinai, the plains of Philistia, the hills of Judea, the mountains of Moab, the wadis of the Jordan have been their battleground; and on all they have acquitted themselves nobly.
I congratulate and thank them. In the future, under changed conditions, their work will, I know, be equally good.
I wish you, their commander, and the Brigade, the good future which you deserve, and which will not fail you.
Yours sincerely,
Edward Allenby