The New Zealand Mounted Rifles

Lieutenant-Colonel James McCarroll A.M.R.

Lieutenant-Colonel James Neil McCarroll and Crusader Castle ruins of old Turkish Palestine.


A man is dwarfed standing next to a giant Kauri tree. Felling these trees and milling them was the occupation of James McCarroll in the North Auckland bush.

Awards and medals for service and valour remain forever family keepsakes of James McCarroll's family.


Steve Butler Discovers the man from the Northland Bush .

To read the Diaries now being transcribed click on the four links below.






In civilian life James began his working career as a Kauri Bushman of the giant native New Zealand Kauri tree found only in the dense rain forests of the North Auckland region. These trees grow to monstrous sizes in both height and girth, some specimens measure over 4 metres (14 feet) in girth and grow 13 metres (40 Feet) high. Later he became involved with Saw Milling and as a Timber Merchant.
His mill was located at Mareretu, Northland. He married school teacher Sarah Jane Hueston in 1906. The marriage produced two daughters - Audrey and Gwendolyn.
James maintained a deep interest in the Mounted Rifles all of his life and was also an ardent member of the Masonic Lodge of Freemasons. After WWI he became a Director of the Whangarei Dairy Company and the Northern Kaipara and Whangarei A&P Association and Chairman of the Whangarei Hospital Board.

Above: James' 1916 leather covered Diary that he recorded events during the Sinai Campaign. An English 1912 Penny gives a comparison of how small the this actual diary is. The pages are mainly jotted with notes probably while he was on the move and afterwards he became a little more generous with wording as he continued to write out events in pencil on letter sized pages, (seen here in the background). Alas many pages have mildew and yellowing age damage over the last ninety odd years, but thankfully still readable.

Colonel James Neil McCarroll, C.M.G., D.S.O. and Bar, V.M.
13th May 1873 - 26th May 1951 (aged 78 years).

Military Career
Joined Otamatea Mounted Rifles Volunteers, 24th November 1900 - Regimental number 71
Promoted Corporal 21st February 1903, confirmed 17th April 1903.
Appointed acting Lieutenant, Marsden Mounted Rifles, 11th December 1906, with effect from 8th September.
Commissioned 23rd August 1907, with effect from 26th June. Passed Captains exam 31st July 1908, confirmed 23rd July 1909, with effect 7th November 1908.
Promoted Major 1913 11th North Auckland Mounted Rifles. In command of NAMR at Gallipoli.
Promoted Lieutenant Colonel, April 1917; Officer Commanding Auckland Mounted Rifles in Egypt and Palestine. (Officer Commanding North Auckland Mounted Rifles 1920 - 1925).
Promoted Colonel; Officer Commanding New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade 1925 - 1930.
Appointed Honorary Aide de Camp to Governor General Lord Bledisloe 1930 - 1935.

James McCarroll maintained a lifetime link with the Free Masons.
This Roll of Honour board that now hangs at the Kauri Museum carries the names of local men of the Franklin Lodge who served in the Great War. James heads the list with future New Zealand Prime Minister J.G. (Gordon) Coates among those who fought the "War to end all wars".

A long way from the parade ground.
The casual dress belies the power of the ANZAC soldiers in the Middle East. Here a section of the Auckland Mounted Rifles ready for patrol in the Sinai. Note the leather buckets around the horse's necks. These buckets had to be put on the animal's noses to stop them from sucking the salt from the sand while they stood on the horse lines.

McCARROLL, Lieutenant Colonel James Neil, who has been awarded the Distinguished Service Order, left with the Main Body as major in command of the 11th, North Auckland, Mounted Rifles. He took part in the Gallipoli campaign, including the evacuation operations and has been on active service in Egypt ever since. He was wounded on Gallipoli in May 1915 and after a short furlough in England and France returned to active service. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and has been in command of the Auckland Mounted Rifles for some time. He was again wounded in the recent fighting in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem and, according to recent cable service, is now convalescent. [Auckland Weekly News10.01.1918]

A newspaper clipping kept in the pages of one of the diaries underlines a occasion when NZMR men formed a Lodge in the Holy Land and held a special meeting in Jerusalem. (The Auckland Star dated 5th September 1918 recording the Freemason's historic meeting.)

At wars end in 1918, Lieutenant James McCarroll and two others were the last
remaining officers of the original AMR compliment to leave New Zealand with the Main Body in 1914. Here James sits with Major Walter Haeata (left with puppy) and Lieutenant W.Stewart.
Photographed in Palestine and included in the 1920 publication.
"The Story of Two Campaigns"
Download the first eight chapters from our book section.

Secrets Revealed Of The McCarroll Diaries - Ninety Years On.

Fortunately for history James McCarroll used a unique process to make sure his diaries survived the war. He initially wrote notes in pencil daily in a pocket diary that he carried with him at all times - then at periods of safety and relative inactivity he transcribed his notes and broader ideas to the numbered pages of a retail business order book. These large pages were also duplicate pen-carbon, the top copies written in pencil (to carry a ink fountain pen into action or on desert patrols was an impossible task) were removed in batches and sent home to his wife, while the indelible inked carbon remained with his belongings in the hostile environment of trench and desert warfare. The result was that two identical diaries remain today, plus one of the pocket diaries.

Woman At Work:
It is not surprising to learn that the Collections Manager at the Kauri Museum, Betty Nelley is herself a daughter of a North Auckland Mounted Rifleman. Her efforts to expand the awareness of the 11th North Auckland Squadron in the Northland area is a credit to herself and her dedicated staff. (Top) Betty holds three of the ink-carboned books used by McCarroll ninety odd years ago. Also kept secure in the museum vault are photographs that are all individually cellophaned wrapped. (left) Close up view of the crossed silver rifles that support the AMR shooting trophy displayed at the museum.