Auckland Mounted Rifles

"Be strong, be alert" exclaims the Maori wording in the scroll of the 3rd AMR badge. Left: A 1916 photograph of Trooper Leonard Owen, Reg No 13/2882, of the Auckland Mounted Rifles, - A Squadron, New Zealand Mounted Rifles, 9th Reinforcements.
Right: A post card home from Egypt and a three shilling canteen coupon for tuppeny drinks aboard the Troopship "Navua" on the way to Port Said. (image computer colourised)



Maori moko tatooing, Huia
feathers and greenstone Tiki
- A colonial British Bulldog
stands his ground in this patriotic
1914 postcard.

One of the 2,701
New Zealanders Killed
at Gallipoli.
13/354 George Allen Hill
August 8th 1915

The Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment was made up from three Territorial Force units from the Auckland Military District. The three squadrons were the 11th North Auckland Mounted Rifles, the 4th Waikato Mounted Rifles and the 3rd Auckland Mounted Rifles. The AMR regiment was ready for mobilisation as early as August 1914.
Embarkation: The AMR departed Auckland from Queen's Wharf on September 22nd 1914. The majority of the regiment boarded the "Waimana" along with the Auckland Infantry, with the remainder boarding the "Star of India" - the horses were divided between the two transports.
Because of a rumoured presence of German cruisers the ships returned to Auckland as they had insufficient naval escorts and were disembarked until finally the regiment sailed on October 10th 1914. The regiment met up in Wellington with other N.Z.E.F. members and sailed via Hobart, Albany (Perth), Colombo and Aden to arrive in Egypt - and disembark in Alexandria on 5th December 1914.

The regiment arrived in Zietoun a suburb of Cairo where the NZMR set up a military camp. After being cramped aboard the transports both men and horses were pleased to begin desert training. However early April 1915 rumours spread like wildfire that a big action was taking place and the NZ Infantry was involved. The action was in trouble and the NZMR was informed it would be assisting and fighting without their mounts.
The strength of the Regiment for embarkation was: 26 officers, 482 other ranks, and 71 horses, the horses being included in the hope that wheeled transport might soon be possible, but they were never landed. The Regiment, with the exception of a small party travelling on the Kingstonian with the horses, embarked on the Grantully Castle, on which was also the 3rd Australian Light Horse, who, like the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, were to fight dismounted. Before the ship sailed, four stow aways were found and sent back to Zeitoun.

Commanding Officer:
Charles Mackesy

These four, not quite so fortunate as some others who got to Anzac by stealth, and there were welcomed with joy to the strength of their units, reflected the general feelings of the farriers and reinforcement details left behind.
After a three day voyage the AMR arrived in their transport off ANZAC Cove

This excerpt from the regiments official record:
"...Soon the destroyer Colne came alongside, and the Regiment tumbled down the gangway on to her deck. Most of the men had acquired small bundles of firewood. These had been prepared by some details of the Royal Marine Light Infantry for their comrades ashore, who had taken the place of the New Zealand Infantry, now at Helles, for the Daisy Patch attack.
It was a veteran who suggested that the wood ought to be taken, and it was taken, and no one was much disturbed by the wrath of a R.M.L.I. Petty officer who had something to say about colonial thieves who would steal the gold out of a tooth. As the destroyer drew shoreward the real nature of the torn, tumbled country became evident, and everyone was prepared to echo the verdict of a tired sailor who said the men who stormed those heights had “ done a miracle.” Suddenly a few shells burst on the beach, the first evidence of war so far.
The next minute Trooper Taylor gained the distinction of being the first man in the Regiment to be wounded. When he was struck no one was aware that spent Turkish bullets, which had missed the trenches on the crest, had been dropping into the sea in the vicinity of the destroyer. Taylor did not know himself that he had been wounded. He thought that some energetic person had brought his rifle barrel into violent contact with his arm, and he turned round smartly to deal with the offender. His surprise at finding that a bullet had penetrated his arm was great. From the destroyer the men transferred a barge, which was towed to the beach by a man-o’-war pinnace, commanded by a midshipman who looked as if he should not yet be out of the nursery, but he was a very confident young gentleman. The A.M.R. poured ashore in high spirits. A few worn, bearded men, whose sunken eyes and deeply-lined faces told of the ordeal they had been through, drifted down to the beach, where the troopers were rejoicing as fresh troops usually do.
Their cheerful greetings to the men with the sunken eyes brought forth only mono-syllabic responses,and one of the weary men was heard to remark to a mate, “ You’d think it was our birthday.” Afterwards the troopers were to know how offensive the bounding, super abundant animal spirits of fresh troops can be to men who are tired beyond all telling.That night the Regiment bivouacked in the scrub on the steep face of one of the gullies that made a dead end in the cliff face, and all night long the rifle fire on the crest overhead rose and swelled and died away, only to break out afresh more vicious still. At last the Regiment was at war. The brink of the great adventure had been reached, and the peace of mind that comes of sacrifice and of striving in a great cause, the calm that comes in strife to all good soldiers and gives them the power to die cheerfully, began to steal upon them.

Right: Commander of the Auckland Mounted Rifles at Wars end. Lieutenant Colonel James Neil McCarroll.

James McCarroll, at wars end. Photographic sitting at Schmidt Studios Auckland - circa 1919 - computer colourised 2010

Next day the Regiment left the gully just before the Turks by means of shrapnel informed them that they had chosen the wrong side if they wanted to bivouac in safety, and relieved the Nelson and Deal Battalions of the Royal Marine Light Infantry in the trenches on Walker’s Ridge, the left section of the first crest, the R.M.L.I. leaving Anzac immediately to rejoin the Royal Naval Division at Cape Helles. The Regiment wound up the steep track leading to Walker’s Ridge, looking like a human baggage train. Walker’s Ridge, the right extension of which was afterwards named Russell’s Top, after Brigadier-General Russell, the commander of the Mounted Rifles Brigade, was the left section of the precipitous eminence that over-looked the beach. It gained its importance from the fact that it guarded the Nek where the Turkish line came nearest to the beach.It was, moreover, the one point on the left of the whole Anzac position where the Turks had only one line of trenches between them and the sea. Here the enemy, with one successful assault, could immediately breach the Anzac defensive system without being first or afterwards hampered by ravines. To the right of Russell’s Top lay Plugge’s Plateau, but this was no longer a front line position, the infantry having carried and held Pope’s Ridge and Quinn’s Post on the opposite side of Monash Gully, which was the extension of Shrapnel Gully, a ravine that ran in a northeast direction from Hell Spit, the southern end of the Landing Beach. The Nek was a narrow piece of ground, sloping slightly towards our line, which lay between the head of Monash Gully and the precipitous ravine which formed the left flank of the position, and which made it almost secure from serious attack from that direction. Beyond this ravine there was no definite trench system,but three outposts had been established on positions that commanded the deres, which ran down to the beach from the mass of tumbled, water-torn country on the north, and, hence, it was not necessary to hold the line running from the left of Walker’s Ridge to the sea..."

Men who volunteered came from far and wide in this sparsley populated land. At the turn of the twentieth century New Zealand had approximately one million people living in a land area greater than the United Kingdom, with the length of the nation being equivelent to that of California. This shows the distances of the network of the NZ mounted troops. An example was the make up of the North Auckland Mounted Rifles (NAMR) Squadron of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment that at the turn of the century was as follows:
- A Troop: Marsden Mounted Rifle Volunteers (Whangarei),
- B Troop: Otamatea Mounted Rifle Volunteers ( Paparoa),
- C Troop: Hokianga Mounted Rifle Volunteers (Waimaku),
- D Troop: Mangonui Mounted Rifle Volunteers (Kaitaia),
- E Troop: Northern Wairoa Mounted Rifle Volunteers (Aratapu),
- F Troop: Bay of Islands Mounted Rifle Volunteers (Ohaewai),
- G Troop: Scottish Horse Mounted Rifle Volunteers (Waipu),
- H Troop: Mangakahia Mounted Rifle Volunteers (Mangatapere).
Note: C and E Troop were disbanded in 1908. The Headquarters of this Squadron
was in Kawakawa and encompassed all of the above units

Right: Memorial Troopers forming a section abreast prior to parading down the Main Street at Cambridge, Waikato, on Armistice Day remembrance.
The attention to detail and turnout of horse, tack and uniform is a credit to these men from Hawkes Bay who keep the memory of the NZMR alive for future generations .

11th North Auckland Mounted Rifles
Squadron commander:
Major McCarroll.
4th Waikato Mounted Rifles
Squadron commander:
Major Tattersall.
3rd Auckland Mounted Rifles
Squadron commander:
Major Schofield.

Members of the Auckland Mounted Rifles sit for an impromptu photograph in the desert south of Beersheba.
Corporal Albert Anderson's comprehensive photo captures a relaxed and casual mood. A number of the men have taken the opportunity to have a smoko break.
The caption under the photograph reads:
"No 1 Troop 3rd AMR.  Day before action at Tel-el-Saba, Beersheba."

The AMR Regiment moved from Fukhari on the 24th October 1917 and joined with the Brigade and the Australian Light Horse to make a sweep deep into the desert to launch a surprise attack from an easterly direction on the Turkish Forces defending the garrison town of Beersheba.

The Auckland Mounted Rifles were ordered to open the attack by taking the high ground of Tel el Saba on the morning of October 31st. Therefore this photograph was taken on the designated rest day the day before, 30th October.
It is probable that some men here were casualties the next day as 6 Aucklanders were Killed in Action and 22 wounded. .
The full PDF image may be viewed HERE (237kb)

photograph: Corporal Albert Anderson - Turkish Palestine circa 1917


What a great challenge for all of us!
The Association would like to name as many of these Auckland Mounted Riflemen as possible. This photograph is of the 50th anniversary of the departure of the NZEF to the Great War. Surviving members of the AMR pose outside the Auckland War Memorial Museum in 1964 - it is possible that the ageing faces of these men in their 70's and 80's are more recognizable to grandchildren than the old sepia photographs of these young men about to go to war.
Join the Forum if you are able to identify anyone CLICK HERE
The photograph left is part of the Lieutenant Wilfred Fitchett Collection. Thanks to Warrant Officer Marty Fitchett RNZAF - (Grandson)

Above: A section of the 50th Anniversary photo - To date we have four men positively identified - thanks to the families of the men shown.
Also we can see two men are wearing the Military Cross, a prestigious award for valour - and as this medal was only awarded to seven members of the AMR - perhaps we can identify them further. The seven recipient names are:
Finlayson, Johnson, Mc Gregor, S.C. Reid, McCathie, Collins and Palmer.

auckland mounteds history of ww1
Now available to download the full text of the 1921 published volume. of the Auckland Mounted Rifles history during WWI. Please note this eBook has no photographs or maps that were included in the original book - this obmission is to make the eBook as small a download as possible.
Click on the cover image above to begin the download or visit our BOOKS PAGE to download this or the many other reference books covering the New Zealand Mounted Rifles in World War One.


A family comment by Steve Butler:
This photograph of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Camp was taken at the Avondale Racecourse, and is possibly the 1912 camp, certainly pre-World War One. Troopers can be seen grabbing a quick "Cuppa-Cha" at the canteen in the foreground. Bell tents and horse lines are arranged grid perfect.
Although I am unaware of who the photographer was, this image has special importance for my own family. My Grandfather, Frederick Ziegler, was a member of the AMR and he spoke a number of times in reference to this place. In the distant background I like to think (I am not sure if this is a mark on the image print or not) is a plume of smoke rising - if so, this is from the furnace chimney at the "Crum Brick & Tile" works in nearby New Lynn. My Grandfather worked there and indeed he told me, met his future wife, my Grandmother there.
I believe he also stabled his own horse at this course, I am not sure on that point, but he related how after work he would walk down to the track with a few of his mates and carry out mounted drills on the race courses central paddock. The area was to prove to be an ideal site for the Auckland Mounted Rifle Camps.

Ziegler Family Photograph circa 1912
Back Row Standing: George Yardley, Joe Denyer, Fred Ziegler, Jim Allen, Jim Serle, Tom Yearbury, Bert Denyer, Jim Freelander, Neil Matherson, Bill Prosser, W. Haskel, Fred Crum, Bert Briggs, Stan Meyers.
Front Row Sitting: Harry Pepkher, Bill Hill, Bob Proctor, Less Yearbury, Tom Taylor.

Above: My Grandfather had joined the AMR in 1910 and along with other members of the "Crum Brick & Tile" boys, decided to also form "The Eden Ramblers Rugby League Football Team". This team, I am told, was to prove very competitive, a number becoming Auckland representative players - one, George Yardley going on to become a New Zealand International player with the "Kiwis". Years later, one of Fred's own grandsons was also to become a "Kiwi" International.
The story of the Ramblers was to become a short one. The team played 1910-11-12-13-14, then however most departed for the Great War - Some departed with the AMR, others with the Auckland Battalion, many did not return or suffered terrible injuries.
The team never played again.

Right: The new recruit - Fred Ziegler wearing the older style slouch-hat as worn by the NZMR at the time. This photograph taken in 1910 when Fred was just 18 years old.
99 years later my Uncle still has the original collars, Lions-head hat clip and shoulder titles shown here.
Computer colourised image