The New Zealand Mounted Rifles


Following the trail:
Collecting the memorabilia for future generations.
An old New Zealand fifty cent coin shows the size of the tiny diary carried by
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Mackesy. The lettering "Endeavour" on the coin not much
different in size to that written in the diary.


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Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Mackesy

 

 


Photograph of the actual diary
Click to read.

Steve Butler transcribes the 1919 diary .

A year ago I was fortunate to obtain the last, and the only personal surviving diary, of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mackesy from his grandson Richard who lives with his wife Marnie in Havelock North in New Zealand's North Island.

Richard was keen that I transcribe the 1919 diary for the NZMR and post it here on our site. I began transcription by first scanning the small pages into a high definition 1200 dpi scanner so that the type could be enlarged enough to hopefully decipher the tiny cramped script. The first five batches of approximately twenty pages each were converted to PDF format files and posted here on this page. Then over the months we invited members and members of the public to help transcribe each daily entry. (NOTE: a sample of the PDF files of the Colonel's actual script are still available lower down this page.)

Finally the job has now been completed and the transcribed diary is available here to read - by clicking on the "Diary Icon" in the left hand column you may go to the relative section that you wish to read. (The pages are viewable in three month sections.) We hope you enjoy the read - as of July 2007, 11,402 people have read the diary through the forum entry alone - I suspect it is more than three times that figure have taken the opportunity as people enter through the NZMR site proper.

In some aspects it is a shame that the diary was not one kept during the actual war itself (1914 -18) however that was not to be - but the diary covers the first year in a new world order and new "World Peace". The interesting aspects are the attitudes of early 20th century thought - We New Zealanders consider ourselves an open minded lot, living in a society of minimal hierarchy and no class system. With the Colonels writings we see that although we may have been developing into such a society, it was not the case in 1919 - many instances of supposed "Officer Class" superiority and privilege is apparent. I was very interested in Charles' views and focus on his lectures, his thrill of new fangled items like motor-cars, train trips, voyages down the Nile, the Red Sea, post war Europe and his return to Germany where he been educated before emigrating to the U.S.A. His innocence of the changes that were to come as he traveled Ireland the home of his greater family, also too the visits to other family members as he waited in England before his return home to his farm at Parahaki - Whangarei.
I was especially interested in his comments about Americans being in Germany after the armistice, the troops were about to depart back to the United States and he comments:
Yesterday Coblenz celebrated the 4th [of July U.S. Independence Day]. - Had I known about it sooner I should respectfully had him up and taken part in the nights historical event.
It will probably never happen again that U.S. soldiers as a garrison in Germany will celebrate their national day.


Oh how the world was still to change!

The diary spans from January 1st 1919 and it is from a very small pocket diary only 60mm x 95mm in size. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Mackesy D.S.O., C.M.G, C.B.E. commander of the Auckland Mounted Rifles made a full page entry every day until he arrived home on the 25th November 1919.

What do we know about this diary?
Since the Colonels death on 20th November 1925 it has been in the hands of two people, his son Major Charles Mackesy N.A.M.R. and afterwards his grandson Richard Mackesy. The diary has never been transcribed, and not even his grandson knew exactly what was written within its small pages until this recent transcription. The Colonel had been associated with many names during this first year after the armistice in October 1918.- General Chaytor, General Allenby, Prime Minister Massey are among the names written with a fine nibbed ink fountain pen.
It is obvious that the cramped and often abbreviated writing style was written for Charles to use as a reference source at a later time. Unfortunately no other personal documents relating to the Colonels time with the NZMR have been found.

Perhaps I have missed something - You think I have misread a word or sentence! This is were your Sherlock Holmes eye for detail and your uncanny deduction comes in! - and here is the challenge.
Unlock the secrets scribbled in this diary - if any - of our past history.

Below are available the hand-written pages from January through to April 20th 1919.

diary_pages one to ten
diarypages1-20th Jan
diary_pages one to ten
21st Jan - 9th Feb
diary_pages one to ten
10th Feb - 1st Mar
diary_pages one to ten
2nd Mar - 21st Mar
diary_pages one to ten
22nd Mar - 20 Apr

You may click on the above icons to get the first few batches of pages covering approximately twenty entries per download. Each download is just over two megabytes in size in the PDF format - download speeds depend on your service provider. Please Note: This PDF file is a compressed "version 5" format, if you are unable to read this file you will need to Download the new reader here from Adobe.com.

It is nice to know we have some great sleuths out there. Since posting Mackesy's 1919 Diary one of our members has had a great find. "Old Joe" the Colonels walking cane has been part of a Northland Museum collection for many years, but now 2007 has brought to light one of the Colonels Hats. What a surprise for Donna Nobilo (NZMR member) when she flipped this hat to find clearly inscribed "C.E.R. Mackesy" in the crown next to the makers agent in Port Said. Great to see these two items joined together once again, and both in immaculate condition.

What do we know about this man?
He was a strict officer who kept the welfare of his troops to the forefront at all times. A family man with a typical New Zealand pioneering spirit of the nineteenth century. He was deeply religious, with a keen interest in the British-Israelism movement and lectured extensively on the subject. He was a farmer, a gold prospector, a land agent and land developer.



Above: The first paragraph has been increased much greater than its original size- Looks easy and flowing enough, but what does it say exactly? Perhaps it translates to something like the italics paragraph below:-
Note: (Words coloured RED are a guess.) (Words coloured VIOLET have been added to make more sense of a sentence)
.

"1st January 1919, Wednesday. (The) Continental (Hotel) Cairo.
New Years day broke nice and clear. At 1100 (hours) (Mr. Riely) our New Zealand Y.M.C.A. secretary called for me in (the or his) (side) car of (Mr. Locke) (and took me) up the Swiss Club to get what information we could (re) making a Skittle Alley for the Training Camp. I took him to lunch..."

Already we see some problems. If this section relates to an interesting aspect of the diary as it unfolds we would need to clarify if there was a Mr Riley of the YMCA in Egypt at this time. Perhaps his name was 'Riele', in the meantime we can move on past this name. Was there a 'Continental Hotel' in Cairo 1919. Does the sentence go on to say Mr. Locke or something else completely different.

A new find arrives at NZMR.
The Colonel's grandson Richard has sent in two surprises for us all to see. They are separate Christmas cards saved from the Middle East over ninety years ago. The image left is the cover of the folded Christmas card of 1917. Below is an enlargement of the ANZAC mounteds badge that incorporates both the traditional A.I.F. badge and the Silver Ferns of New Zealand.

On opening the card we see a printed drawing of an Australian Light Horseman and his Kiwi counterpart. Points of interest are the Emu plume and strapped leather leggings of the Australian and the Putties of the NZMRifleman.
The horsemen have "Fray Bentos -Corned Beef" and "H&P Biscuits" sandwich boards around their respective necks. Reference probably of the xmas fare served in Palestine.

Note: H&P Biscuits would refer to Huntly and Palmer's Biscuit Company. (cards arrived NZMRA aug 2006)

The Mackesy Christmas card issued 1915.
Images of the three units make up the central crest.

Want to know more about the Mackesy Family - Click Here