NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED RIFLES

Uniforms and Kit.
various uniform variations of the NZMR kit

Troopers Gillespie and Crawford wear the different bandolier cut patterns described in the article below.
On the right in a 1916 photograph Trooper Peter McIntyre Crawford, Reg No 13/3144, of the Auckland Mounted Rifles, wears the collar badges of the 11th Reinforcements and the distinctive cut pattern of the larger pouched 03 bandolier.
On the left, in an earlier photograph taken in 1914, Robert Gillespie, Reg No 13/312, of the Main Body, 3rd Auckland Mounted Rifles, wears the older bandolier; the Mounted Rifles,Type 1, that was introduced by the 5th Otago Rifles in 1905 and in use at the time of the landings at Gallipoli. (The NZMR landing in support of the original attack on 12th May 1915)
Also shown: Lion's head slouch hat clip used up until 1914. From the time the Main Body arrived in Egypt late in 1914 the wearing of the felt hat with a turned up brim "slouch" style had been discontinued. The hat was worn with brim down and hat bowl creased front to back. (other units of the NZEF wore their hats peaked crown style known as the "Lemon-squeezer".)

Robert Gillespie rose to the rank of Lieutenant while on active service. He later died after discharge from the N.Z.E.F. from wounds inflicted or disease contracted while on active service, on 29 October 1920. He is buried at Purewa Cemetery, Auckland. 

SITE MAP


A Four Star tunic button
of the NZEF



Otago Mounted Rifleman
showing webbing, bayonet
frog and spurs.


13/303 Harry Bonnington
of the Main Body.
4th Waikato MR
date 1914.
Wounded on Gallipoli
6th August 1915.














BRENDAN O'CARROLL and PAUL FARMER
reconstruct the uniform and equipment of the NZMR.

The Mounted Rifles wore a New Zealand 'manufactured Pat. 02 khaki' serge service dress tunic, which included brass NZMR shoulder titles, sometimes worn in conjunction with unit numbers; regimental badges on the collars (although not always worn or required by regulation), and carried the general issue 'four star' NZ Forces buttons.

This was issued with khaki serge pantaloons and woollen puttees, which regulations stated should be fastened round the ankle. The boots were black and worn with spurs.

In 1914, headgear consisted of the khaki felt Slouch hat, worn with the Mounted Rifles puggaree of khaki-green-khaki. This hat could be worn either with the brim horizontal, or turned up on one side. In addition, the Pat.1905 forage cap was on issue, as an alternative to the slouch hat.
At this stage the wearing of collar badges was optional and not regulated. The NZ Defense Forces did not strictly enforce 'Dress Regs' as in the British Army. Photographs often reveal, groups of Mounteds wearing a variety of headdress on the same squadron, such as a squadron on parade wearing a mix of forage or slouch hats with brims horizontal or turned up. The tunics being worn with, or without badges or an incorrect badge; puttees wound contrary to 'regulations' etc.


Above: A 1910 computer colourised photograph shows Trooper Fred Ziegler, wearing his hat in the slouch style of the time. An extension of the chin strap loops round to hold the brim in place by attaching to the "Lions Head" clip that is set in the bowl of the hat. Also shown, the collars of the 3rd Auckland Mounted Rifles.

At Gallipoli, where the Mounteds fought as infantry, forage caps were generally worn, although Wolseley Pat. helmets and slouch hats were also used. In 1916, regulations were put in place in an attempt to standardize the wearing of headdress and badges. The forage cap being dispensed with, and the Mounteds were required to wear the slouch hat in the following form, 'brim, horizontal, crown, dented with a crease running from front to rear. The regimental flash was to be sewn on both sides of the puggaree.

In Egypt, as an alternative to the serge service dress, a tropical khaki drill tunic was also worn, although to a lesser extent. This was often accompanied by the Wolseley Pat. helmet. Overseas, the NZ tradition of a relaxed dress code became even more evident than at home. Group photographs taken on campaign often reveal an increasing mismatch of tunics, headdress and personal equipment some of it acquired from British or Australian mounted units.

To keep cool in the desert campaign during the heat of the day, especially in the Jordan Valley, the tunic was replaced by the undershirt, sometimes worn with a neckerchief to soak the sweat and protect the neck from the sun; this was topped off with an unusually weather-beaten slouch hat. When not in use the service dress tunic was folded with the greatcoat on the pommel, and at night, both garments were often worn to protect the trooper from the extreme cold.

About 1905 the NZMR devised their own distinctive leather bandolier equipment, designed to carry five round clips of .303 SAA, for use with their newly issued SMLE No I MKI and MKIII rifles. It was a harness type, locally manufactured and unique to NZ, designed to restrict excessive movement, to prevent possible loss of ammunition when riding or in action.

Constructed using the 1903 Pat. infantry waist belt with a five pocket bandolier (fifty rounds) running over the left shoulder and a strap running over the right, meeting in a brass ring, mid back, with two straps running from this, to 'D' buckles on the waist belt. Additional pouches could be fitted to the waist belt, which also carried a distinctive leather bayonet frog. The pouches were manufactured in two patens, one with a rounded cut, the other cut pointed as in the Pat. 03 bandolier, but this pouch being of a slightly larger size than the 03.

This complex system was difficult to take on and off, and was in stark contrast to the Pat. 1903 bandolier, in use by the British and Australian forces at the time, which was just slung across the shoulder, and if necessary made stable with its steadying strap looped through the belt.

The NZMR wore this equipment when they departed for Egypt in 1914. It was worn at the Gallipoli landings, where the mounterds fought in entrenched positions as infantry. However, for practical reasons the bandolier equipment was replaced in the field by the Pat. 08 infantry web. On their eventual return to Egypt the leather equipment was reissued, but as the desert campaign developed, conditions soon proved this equipment to be unsuitable. It was too restrictive and uncomfortable in the heat, difficult to remove or put on in a hurry, and carried insufficient ammunition for the long reconnaissance's.

trooper Reid AMR


Above: Uniform showing the QAMR collar dogs and the pre-1914 Lions head slouch hat clip.

Left: NZMR hero 13/129 Corporal Sinclair Chapman Reid - North Auckland Mounted Rifles. Wearing the light weight desert uniform.
First known rank corporal, rose to Lieutenant by wars end. During WWII held the rank of Major.
Recipient of the Military Cross.
Sinclair Reid had the distinction of being a combatant at both the attack on Chunuk Bair on the 8th August 1915 during the Gallipoli Campaign and the attack at Ayun Kara on the 14th November 1917 in Turkish Palestine. These actions were the most deadly engagements experienced by the NZMR during WWI.
(Original image computer colourised.)

As it became available, this equipment was gradually replaced by the Pat. 03 nine pouch (90 round) bandoliers, which also had the advantage of being easily slung over the horses neck as an additional ammunition supply. Extra pouches continued to be carried on the belt as was often a military pocket-knife. It was common to see Mounteds in the same squadron wearing either NZMR or 03 bandoliers, until the last year of the war when the older bandolier was eventually discarded.

The NZMR Bandolier equipment remained in use at home training camps throughout the war, and was even used by some Home Guard mounted rifle units in the early years of World War Two. The Mounteds, in addition to the bandoliers, also carried slung across the shoulder a water bottle in a leather carrier, a canvas haversack, and after 1917, a P.H. gas helmet in a cotton drill bag.

The khaki serge officers' service dress tunic was worn with a khaki shirt and tie. It carried '4 star' NZ Forces buttons, NZMR shoulder titles, and bronzed regimental badges. As with the other ranks in the early years of the war, officers did not always wear collar badges. Rank insignia was initially displayed on the cuffs. However due to the high attrition rate among company officers in the European war, the rank badges, to be less conspicuous, were moved to the shoulder straps although some officers in the desert campaign still continued to wear their rank on the cuffs throughout the war. (copy continues below graph).

NEW ZEALAND PUGGAREE 

The puggaree is the coloured cloth band worn on the felt hats, the colours identify the branch of service within the New Zealand Army.

ARTILLERY
dark blue
scarlet
dark blue
ARMY SERVICE CORPS
khaki
white
khaki
CYCLIST CORPS
khaki
green
khaki
CHAPLAINS DEPT
black
khaki
black
DENTAL CORPS
green
khaki
green
ENGINEERS ( included Signals)
khaki
dark blue
khaki
INFANTRY khaki red khaki
MEDICAL CORPS
khaki
dull cherry
khaki
MOUNTED RIFLES
khaki
green
khaki
ORDNANCE CORPS
red
dark blue
red
OFFICER CADETS
white
PERMANENT STAFF
scarlet
PAY CORPS
khaki
yellow
khaki
POSTAL CORPS
khaki
light blue
khaki
PROVOST CORPS
dark blue
VETERINARY CORPS
khaki
maroon
khaki
YMCA
black
white
black
Worn with the tunic were breeches of either khaki or buff twill, or sometimes 'Bedford cord'. For desert campaigning some officers preferred to wear the tropical khaki drill tunic and breeches, as this provided a cooler alternative to the serge. The rank was indicated on the shoulder straps. Officers wore a slouch hat made of a finer felt than that of the men, and in addition to the khaki-green-khaki puggaree, it was distinguished by having a fabric edge sewn around the brim. Alternatively officers' forage or Trench caps could be worn, some with flaps or curtains to protect the neck, or Wolseley Pat. helmets acquired from the British. Generally, the slouch hats, which gave better protection from the sun, were worn in the field, the caps were reserved for base camp or off duty.

Officers' footwear was brown boots and spurs worn with puttees, or 'stohwasser' leather gaiters; or high riding boors. Personal field equipment usually consisted of the Sam Browne belt, with revolver holster and ammunition pouch, and sword frog, (swords only carried on parade or special occasions). In addition were compass, binocular, and map cases; a P.H. gas helmet carrier, plus haversack and water bottle. Some of this equipment may have also been carried on the horse.

various uniforms and hats worn by the original Main Body troops
Troopers of the Wellington Mounted Rifles. Egypt 1914-15. All wearing NZMR Bandolier Equipment. Note variation of individual hat wear and lack of regimental badges. Trooper back row center wears the tropical drill tunic.

The NZMR were armed with the 303 SMLE N0 I MK III service rifle, which was carried slung across the shoulder. They had been advantaged by being fully equipped with the SMLE by the late 1900's whereas the NZ infantry had to contend with the obsolete MLE MK I 'Long Tom' till 1916 The rifles were originally issued with the Pat 1907 hooked quillion bayonet Though the quillion was of finally discontinued in 1913, the Mounteds carried these bayonets well into the desert war

The 1st and 2nd NZ Machine Gun Squadrons, who were equipped as per the Mounteds, and carried SMLEs, supported the, NZMR in all their tactical roles Their weapons were carried on packhorses, which meant they possessed the same mobility as the regiments. Initially Vickers heavy machine guns and Lewis guns were carried, but later in the campaign the lighter and more portable 303 MK I Hotchkiss air cooled machine gun became the mainstay Mounted Rifles support weapon

The principal role of the Mounted Rifles was to advance to an enemy position, dismount, and continue the action on foot. One man in four was left behind to hold the horses. During the desert campaign the NZers were particularly noted for their many aggressive and successful bayonet charges. A classic example of an NZMR operation was during the battle of Rafa in 1917, where the Wellington Mounted Rifles charged a Turkish redoubt on foot across open country firing as they ran. On reaching the position, Captain Herrick and Corporal Draper of the WMR, used a Lewis gun with deadly effect while one held the gun under his arm and directed it like a hose, the other worked it, spraying the Turks along the trenches with a stream of bullets. The redoubt was successfully taken at bayonet point

They also played a major role as cavalry taking many positions as a rush of a mounted charge. On one occasion, the Mounteds, along with the Australian Light Horse, charged the Turks at an oasis at Katia armed with fixed bayonets held like lances. Other duties included long reconnaissance's probing enemy positions, searching for water and preparing demolitions on bridges, viaducts and railways.

The horses taken overseas with the Mounted Rifles were New Zealand bred. Initially many volunteers who joined the NZMR supplied their own saddlery and horse. Providing both were up to standard, they would he bought by the government and the amount credited to the owner. Mounts accepted by the military were branded NZ on the rump. Experience soon taught that a remount must be of good stock to withstand the endurance of desert campaigning in a land of little water and sparse natural feed. The best hoses proved to be not too tall short backed and thick set; 14 to 15 hands being an ideal height

To carry out the many diverse duties, including long-range desert reconnaissance's the mounts could be heavily laden; a far cry from their parade ground presentation A typical load might consist of the Pat 1912 Universal military saddle; the front wallets containing clothing, iron rations and personal items; covering that, a blanket and greatcoat rolled inside a groundsheet spare horse shoes and nails in a leather carrier, the mounted pattern mess tin, tea billy; extra water bottles; feed bucket and forage sacks (double quantities for long marches); plus picks, shovels, arms and ammunition (a Pat. 03 bandolier around the horses neck). All this might weigh nine stone and estimating the weight of the rider at eleven stone the average weight carried by a horse was at least twenty stone.

Such burdens could only be effectively carried by careful attention to the horses often at the cost of a troopers much needed sleep and rest, for it was important that when on the march the regulation compulsory halt of ten minutes on the hour be maintained, to refresh the horses and adjust the loads.

A trooper s first duty was always to his horse such devotion resulted in very few mounts dying or becoming sick on the long voyage from NZ to Egypt. On their arrival the Mounted Brigade was established in a training camp at Zeitoun, at the edge of the desert near Cairo. Acclimatization problems among the horses included outbreaks of influenza and ringworm; over 80% of the horses were affected. Sick parades were held every morning for horses as well as for men.

Throughout the campaign, a major concern at desert camps was the spread of disease through dieses. This was accentuated by the difficult disposal of horse litter, which accumulated and caused sanitation problems. The prevalence of flies was the cause of sores developing in the corners of the horses eyes and mouths, and made any wound or cut difficult to heal. Often fringes had to be attached to the animals' heads to protect the eyes.

The greatest hardship for horses was the lack of water. While a man might get by with a litre a day, horses needed 22 litres to keep in good condition. They had to survive on often brackish water, pumped out into canvas troughs from the wells. Many mounts did stretches of 50 to 60 miles without water, which stressed, and sometimes caused loss of animals.

Combat also took its toll. Mounted columns were particularly vulnerable to air and artillery attack. In the second battle of Gaza, horses standing while the men fought on foot made easy targets for the machine guns and bombs of aircraft and the shells of the Turkish artillery. In that battle out of a total of about 2000 horses attached to the Brigade, over 100 were killed and 300 wounded.

After the war, on the NZMR return to NZ, their beloved mounts had to stay behind, resulting in many a sad parting between man and horse; comrades in the hard years of war. The animals were divided into three groups: those of no further use to be shot, those to be sold, and those to be retained by the army of occupation. Many troopers arranged to have their faithful mounts shot, rather than be sold to the Egyptians as workhorses.

KITTED UP AND READY TO GO!

The amount of equipment required to place the New Zealand Mounted Rifles into the field during World War One was immense. To transport the men and some 10,000 New Zealand horses from one side of the globe to the other was only the beginning of a logistic mountain.
Although items like ammunition and 303 Enfield rifles were manufactured either in the Lithgow Factory in New South Wales or the small arms factories of England most items for the troops were manufactured in New Zealand, or at least the bulk of them were.
Leather items from Sam Browne belts to Bandoliers, to saddles and horse tack such as bridles and horse team traces were in the most part locally produced. However many leather goods came from the "Leather Town" of Walsall in the English Midlands where thousands of hands manufactured for Regiments throughout the Empire.
The carpentry shops and peace time furniture makers re-tooled and supplied Carts, Drays, Waggon wheels, horse boxes and foot lockers.
Besides food to feed the "Mother Country" the farmers of New Zealand supplied half the wool for the Empires uniforms.
Badges were made by many companies in England, notably Gaunt and Co, but also made in Australia and New Zealand.
Metal couplings, Belt buckles, studs and domes were dropped forged, cast or lathed in factories across the country - and for a country of only 1 million people, and with 19.35% of her 580,000 male population serving abroad it was a fantastic achievement.

Looking at the photograph left we can get a better understanding of the kit required by one trooper on active service, and to understand the weight carried on the horses back.
Below is an extract from the book by R.J.G. Hall,
"The Australian Light Horse", Melbourne 1967, pp. 33 - 34.
(The ALH and NZMR operated under identical orders)

Photograph NZMRA -Memorial Trooper

Marching or Service Order Field Kit
(1) Articles worn or carried on the soldier

Articles
Field cap (with badge)
Frock
Breeches, cord
Braces
Flannel shirt
Flannel belt
Drawers
Socks
Ankle boots
Putties
Jack spurs
Field dressing and description card.
Haversack with balance of day's ration.
Water bottle (filled) with strap.
Clasp knife and lanyard.
Bandolier, waist-belt and attachment with 100 rounds
of .303 in ammunition. Rifle, with sling, pull through, clearing rod and full oil bottle.
Bayonet and scabbard.
Waist belt and frog.
Total carried by soldier - 39 lbs 8 ¼ ozs.


If mobilization takes place during the winter months, the jersey will be worn.
Wagonmen carry their rifles; batmen (riding spare horses) wear them slung.
In the case of Lancers the lance will be carried as a subsidiary
weapon, and with other corps a pistol.

(2) Articles worn or carried on the horse

Articles
Saddle, complete with headrope, bridle, and breast-plate
Shoe case, with 1 fore and 1 hind shoe
Nose- bag, with 6 lbs corn
Forage net
Picketing gear
Surcingle pad
Great Coat
Mess tin and strap
Wallets, packed

Total carried on horse – 76lbs 5¼ozs
Weight of rider - 140 lbs
Total on horse – 255 lbs 13½ ozs
(256 lbs convert to 116 Kilos)

(3) Articles packed in the wallets

Articles
Harness
Horse brush and curry comb
Horse rubber
Stable sponge
Emergency ration
Tin of grease
Socks (1 pair)
Flannel shirt
Holdall, with comb, knife, fork, spoon, shaving brush, razor and case
Worsted cap
Towel and soap
Boot laces (1 pair)
Wallets, empty, and straps

Total weight (included in total on horse - 9 lbs 5¾ ozs

(4) Articles packed in the valise

Articles
Breeches, cord (pair) - 1
Housewife, fitted - 1
Drawers (pair) - 1
Canvas shoes - 1
Cloth brush - 1
Small book - 1
Valise - 1

Total weight - 6 lbs 12½ ozs


If not in wear the jersey will be carried in the valise.
(5) Articles packed in the kit bag*

Articles
Frock - 1
+ Boots ankle (pair) - 1
Putties - 1

Sources:

The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine by Lt. Col. C. Guy Powles, 1922; The Story of Two Campaigns Official History of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regt. 1914-1919 by Sergt. C. G. Nicol, 1921; Official History of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regt. I91i 1919, by Major A. H. Wilkie; Redcoat to jungle Green NZs Army in peace and war, by Laurie Barber, 1984; Notes on British and Colonial Bandoliers 1882-1918 by Len King, from The Volunteers, journal of the NZ Military Historical Soc. Vol.II 1985; Regimental Badges of New Zealand by David Corbett, 1980; Regulations for the Military Forces of the Dominion of New Zealand 1927.


click shoulder title above to go to the "Badges of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles"