Peter White met his death in a hail of machine gun and small arms fire as he and the 11th North Auckland Mounted Rifles stormed the heights of Tel El Saba on the 31st October 1917.
This ancient City Tel (mound) was overlooking and protecting the heavily defended positions of the garrison town of Beersheba.
The Australian Light Horse and the New Zealanfd Mounted Rifles had surprised the Turkish defence by attacking from an unexpected direction, coming out of the Sinai Desert at Kalhasha to the South. Before the key fortress Town of Beersheba could be taken, the protective artillery and machine gun positions of Tel El Saba had to be removed. The attack by the NZMR took more hours than expected, but finally there was sucess at 1500 hours.
Once conquered the Light Horse where able to charge the garrison positions in one of the last famous mounted cavallery attacks of modern warfare.
Trooper 12887 Peter George White enlisted on the 13th January 1916 and was the son of George and Margaret White of Masterton. He was employed as an accountant before enlisting. He obtained the rank of Lance Corporal in the 19th Reinforcements Mounted Rifles Signal section before departing New Zealand for Suez on HMNZT 70, the SS Waihora on the 5th December 1916, and arrived in Egypt 13th January 1917.
Peter was reduced in rank back to Trooper on arrival, a normal occurance for New Zealand appointed NCO's arriving from training into a War Zone. On the 1st of May Peter was transfered "In the Field" to the 11th North Auckland Mounted Rifles.
The 11th led the attack to take Tel El Saba. It was to be a long hard day, in open rocky country with little cover for the advance. His Service Record shows below that Trooper Peter White fell in action and his original grave site was listed as: 125 degrees from Tel El Saba; 317 degrees from Hill 1180. (Further military reference map Beersheba 1/20,000 Military Graves at point 0.4.B.2.2.Grave 18) - Later reburied in the CWWGC Beersheba War Cemetery, Israel, D.6.
Left: 1916 photograph computer colourised by the NZMRA May 2016
Service form shows Trooper White was posted "In the Field" to the 11th North Auckland Mounted Rifles on the 1st May 1917.
Partial photoscan of page seven Auckland Mounted Rifles WAR DIARY of October 1917
21st Anniversary issue
penny and half-penny
50th Anniversary issue
4 penny and 5 penny
90th Anniversary of
REINFORCEMENTS TO EGYPT
photograph: Robson collection, 29th MR Reinforcements 1917, marks repair, resolution and grading computer corrected by NZMRA September 2015
Members of the NZMR Reinforcements sit for photographer J.J. Cameron at Featherston Camp before departing to the Middle East on board HMNZT 98 "Tofua" 13th November 1917.
This lovely clear photograph has been submitted by Nigel Robson, the grandson of Sergeant Alfred Ernest Kemp. (seated middle row 3rd in from the right -Corporal stripes).
The Tofua finally reaching Suez on the 21st December 1917.
Because of the clarity of this image we have the opportunity to identify more of these men. It would be nice to submit images of named men to the Cenotaph Database as many files held on Auckland Museum's Data Base have no photos of the men who served. this is a good opportunity to add to and preserve our history. The larger uncropped photo has been preserved by Nigel Robson at 600 dpi and and the reduced sized full image can be seen at the bottom of this article. 47281 Sergeant Kemp can be seen highlighted by the green arrow.
There is confusion as to the names of the other 23 men, although this image is described on the front as " Number 4 Troop. 29th Mounted Rifles. 1917" departure records show that Reinforcement intakes at this time of the War were smaller in number, and individual men were frequently reallocated to different Reinforcement units during the course of basic training. In this case Reinforcement intakes 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd and 34th all departed together on the sailing of the Tofua.
We know that
"Corporal" Kemp seen here was promoted Sergeant before departure and is listed in the "Tofua" ship's magazine published en route to Egypt, as being with the 31st Mounted Rifles. He is also listed as being in the 31st NZMR on the Cenotaph Database. Further information to hand (thank you Ivan) now confirms that the officer seated center is Lieutenant John Masterman, also transferred from the 29th and departed with the 33rd NZMR.
There are many hints here to help us identify these men. They came from all parts of New Zealand. Hat and collar badges from 5th and 12th Otago,11th North Auckland, 2nd and 9th Wellington, 1st Canterbury and various shoulder patches of Farriers and marksmen.
Original B&W photograph by Herman John Schmidt, portrait photographer 1872 - 1959.
(image computer colourised by the NZMRA 2010)
Left and below: Two photographs of Lieutenant John Masterman. Photo left was colourised and along with his service record posted to our site in 2010.
The image below was cut and cropped from the 29th Reinforcements photo shown above.
Any help in identifying other men in these photos would be appreciated.
UPDATE Sep2015 : Below:
A further photograph submitted by Nigel Robson showing the 29th NZMR Reinforcements. Many of the men in the top photo can be seen here but others added others missing. Corporal Alfred Kemp can be seen leaning against the barrack room doorway. The trooper holding the "Hudsons" biscuit tin appears to be be the soldier sitting middle row first left in the first photograph, although the expressions are quite different both images show the Nelson Mounted Rifles hat badge. Also a soldier of interest is the corporal standing 3rd in left below, although he wears a Reinforcement hat badge he also wears campaign ribbons that possibly suggests that he is a Camp Instructor, returned from active duty to train reinforcements.
photograph: Robson collection, 29th MR Reinforcements 1917, computer corrected and Duotone colouring by NZMR September 2017
Here are the lists of the men who departed as per printed in the Tofua's Ship's Magazine December 1917 - "The Horse Marines".
Left:The original photo was damaged with a heavy-crease that has been digitally removed, I have cropped the image and also removed age spots and marks, to allow for a larger image to be shown on screen. This also required me to remove the sepia colouring to post a smaller file size. The larger sepia image will be posted on its own page shortly. The green arrow points to Alfred Kemp.
REMEMBERING LIVES LOST 27th AUGUST 1915
Inset photograph: Auckland Weekly News 1915, 13/691 Trooper Edward Hewitt - one of 20 men "Missing" on the 27th August 1915
This year on the 25th April New Zealand and Australia will remember again the landing of our troops at Gallipoli in 1915. This year is the one hundredth anniversary of that attack and commemorative events will take place in both our countries as well as in the United Kingdom and Turkey to honour those men who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War - "The War to end all Wars".
We should not be misled into thinking that these gatherings for the centenary are celebrations. The attack orchestrated by Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the British War Cabinet to invade the Ottoman Empire by way of the Dardenelles and the Sea of Marmara was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish.
The naval war ships sent to destroy the Turkish fortified defenses were old, obsolete and inadequate. The follow up plan to land troops on the Gallipoli Peninsular was a further miscalculation. Australian and New Zealand troops stationed in Egypt were to be joined by British troops from the United Kingdom. These UK troops in the main were young recruits and of insufficient numbers, meanwhile the pre-war trained and professional soldiers were to be kept for the Western Front.
Perhaps the the most telling failure of English military blunders surrounding the Gallipoli landings was the involvement of HMS Queen Elizabeth. This mighty battleship of the Royal Navy was nearly 200m long (640 feet long with a beam of 90 feet), launched in October 1913, she had the biggest naval guns afloat - massive 15" (fifteen inch) guns fore and aft, as well as other heavy armament. This colossus could have, and should have, made the difference on the first day. At the onset of the landings this flagship of the fleet pounded the ridges of the Anzac heights. Tons of earth, men and guns of the Turkish artillery positions were blown into the air as news-reel footage of the day showed. However after firing just 86 rounds of high explosive the great ship was ordered to retire. Unbelievably the Navy didn't want too many rounds depleted from her magazines, and they were also worried the guns may begin to wear.
Aug 27th Today we prepare for the attack on HILL 60. KAIAJIK – AGHALA. We send up 50 men with Capt. A.S. Wilkinson to hold trenches, and 65 men under Major C.R.E. Mackesy, as our portion of the Mounted Brigades quota for the attack. At 1700, after an hours bombardment by the artillery, the attack was launched, which was fairly successful. During the attack our regiment captured a Turkish machine gun and ammunition, which we used with great success when the enemy counter-attacked in the evening. At night the Turkish counter-attack several times, using a great quantity of bombs. We repulsed these attacks easily, good work being done by our machine guns.
Poor military decisions continued to be made. Lessons appeared not to be learnt. Months later in August the British High Command decided on one last effort to break out of the beach heads of Gallipoli. On the evening of the 7th August 1915 the Auckland Mounted Rifles opened the attack to gain Chunik Bair on the Gallipoli Heights. Over the next few days the battlefield became a blood bath for the Anzacs, the British and the Turk.
The result at the end of this bloody few days was that everybody was back where they had started - modern machine guns and artillery had done their work and killed thousands.
Hardly rested, and with many men ill with infections and flu, and others within the ranks considered to be walking wounded, the Generals surveyed the scene and decided on yet another useless attack. At Left: The WAR DIARY of the Auckland Mounted Rifles for August 27th.
Auckland Mounted Rifles
1915 WAR DIARY Gallipoli Peninsular 27-8-15
Lieut. Kittle W J
Trp Jones R.R.
Major King G.A.
Tpr Blackie A.S.
Sgt. Rollett C.R.
Trp Downs A.O.
Major Mackesy C.R.E.
Tpr Farreley L.B.
Tpr Tebbutt A.R.
Trp Patterson A
Capt. Wilkinson A.E.
Tpr Warren A
Tpr Lamb E.
Trp Godfrey S.A.
Lieut. Moore D.G.
Cpl. Rose J.W.
Trp Harman W.J.R.
Lieut. Palmer W.J.
Tpr Acklom H.R.N.
Tpr Hunter R.
Tpr McGee J.A.
Tpr Finlayson M.
Tpr King J.
Tpr Clarke F.
Tpr Brimsley G.F.
Tpr Stichbury T
Tpr Boyd A.W.
Tpr Black L.
Tpr Brigman P.C.
Tpr Vanstone A.
Tpr Wright A.
Tpr Gleeson R.L.
Tpr Coates G.P.
Tpr Blaza E.W.
Tpr Jolly J.W.
Tpr Hewitt E
Tpr Dawson J.W.
Tpr Stichbury C.G.
Tpr Milling C.C.
Tpr Grey A.E.
Tpr St Clair J.P.
Tpr Harrison R.
Tpr Hercus A.F.
Tpr Sigvertson C
Tpr Fotheringham J.
Tpr Herbert H.S.
Tpr O’Sullivan J.W.
L/cpl Gibson A.B.
Tpr Llewell A.S.
Tpr White A.
Tpr Wheatley S.
Tpr Lyes H.S.
Tpr Walker B.H.
Tpr Dawes C.L.
Tpr Lennard G.B.
Tpr Glass E.
Tpr Harney J.A.
L/cpl Morison M.
Tpr Neilson P.
Tpr Pearson H
Tpr Hunter B
Sergt Otter G.W.W.
Tpr Page R.H.
Tpr Lewis A.W.
Tpr Oakden P.V.
Sgt. Seaward C
Tpr Picot E.H.
Tpr Wilson J
Tpr Risk T.T.
Tpr Mooney J.K.
Tpr Blackburn S.
Tpr Partridge A.E.
Tpr Le Noch
Tpr Pearce A.
Tpr Bayliffe R.E.
Tpr Appleton S.
Tpr Goodwin W.P.
Tpr Hall E.S.
Tpr Richards N
Tpr Cormen A.E.
Tpr Muldrock W.H.
Tpr Scott J
Tpr Martin W.
The horror of the Auckland Mounted WAR DIARY above is realised when the short report is related to the casualty list attached. 50 men under Captain Wilkinson and 65 under Major Mackesy relates to 117 men in total.
Ten men are Killed in Action (K.I.A) this day. However the full disaster is in the "Missing" and "Wounded" figures.
Of the 20 Missing - most of these men's bodies were never recovered. In a number of cases the information as to where and when a comrade fell went unreported as the witnesses of an action also did not survive to tell the tale. Most of the Missing, like Trooper Edward Hewitt pictured above, are only recorded in the Official History of the AMR (page 247) as:- 13/691 Hewitt E. Trooper, Anzac, 28.8.15, Deceased (Courts of Enquiry). Of the 58 wounded men, a number would not survive the long haul to the first aid tent or to a hospital ship. Their fight for life ending a day or two later, or perhaps a month or a year later. 13/221 Muldrock W. H. Trooper, Anzac, 29.8.15 Died of Wounds
13/22 Bayliffe, R.E. Trooper, Ship "Devanha" 29.8.15, Died of Wounds.
Another man, 13/941 Trooper M Poole is noted in the Official History as Killed in Action on this day with the AMR but is not listed in the days events.
Of 117 men of the Auckland Mounted Rifles who went into action only 29 survived unscathed.
We will remember them.
REMEMBERING THE MEN OF THE 8TH CANTERBURY MOUNTED RIFLES
A plaque at the Birch Hill Station Cemetery: "In Memory of the Horses of the 8th Regiment NZMR that died in the Great War 1914 - 1918"
Birch Hill Station Cemetery, Glentui, is situated North East of Christchurch and has a strong link to the NZMR as the sheep station supplied men and horses for the New Zealand Mounted Rifles during the South African (Boer) War and World War One.
The submission period for the proposed entry of the Birch Hill Station Cemetery on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero commences on 22 January 2015 – which is when it will appear in the public notices in the Press and Northern Outlook, and also is online on our own website (www.heritage.org.nz). The closing date for submissions is19th February 2015.
There seems to be a lot of interest in the cemetery and the history, especially the link with World War One, so we are expecting responses (potentially with further information/corrections).
Auckland Weekly News 1915
Left: Trooper 13/291 Richard Bluettwearing the cap badge and collar dogs of the 4th Waikato Mounted Rifles Squadron of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment.
Richard joined the Waikato Mounteds at Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty and departed New Zealand with the Main Body, October 1914.
On the 9th of May 1915 Richard embarked with the NZMR Brigade from Egypt and landed at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsular to support the Infantry attack that had begun on the 25th April
From the beginning the Auckland Mounteds were heavily engaged with the Turkish enemy and spent only limited time in rest areas during the campaign.
Early in July the AMR had taken front line trench positions on Walker's Ridge and were constantly under bombardment and sniper attack. On July 12th Captain Wood notes in the Regiments WAR DIARY:
Auckland Mounted Rifles Gallipolli Peninsular
- WAR DIARY –
July 1915 (in part)
July 12th – Walkers Ridge.
Enemy shell our position very heavily in reply to our demonstrations. Number 13/548 Trooper Henry Haywood Harrison 11th Squadron killed by shrapnel. The following were wounded: 13/42 Sgt C.G. Nicol 3rd, 13/40 Farrier Sgt E.J. Cullen 3rd, 13/716 Trooper Robert McKinney 3rd, 13/291 Trooper Richard Bluett 4th. Lieutenant J.M. Roberts leaves for hospital through illness.
Richard is stretched from Walkers down to Anzac Cove and his official Casualty Form records he had received shrapnel wounds to his head and is listed as "seriously ill". He is shipped from the beach by lighter to the Hospital Ship "H.M.H.S. Gascon" and with other wounded is transported to hospital on the Island of Malta where he is admitted on the 18th July.
On arrival he is still listed as "Seriously ill". After a month his condition improved and was then considered fit enough to travel on to England for specialist attention. Richard boarded the "H.M.H.S. Galeka" on the 25th August, arriving at the "Connaught Hospital" Aldershot on the 3rd of September 1915.
Like most members of the NZMR who arrived in England with wounds and sickness Richard was detailed to a new unit to fight on the Western Front, and once recovered he was sent as a replacement to the 8th Battery to serve out the remainder of the Great War. However again on the 17th June 1917 Richard was wounded in action (W.I.A.) with a gunshot wound to the left thigh and spent more time in hospital in England. But England was also to be an eventful and happy place for the 27 year old soldier as he married Gertrude Annie Priest 14th January 1919 at the Registry Office, Wokingham, Reading.
Gertrude as 'a soldiers wife' arrived in New Zealand 26th.June.1919, she is listed as with infant, and the couple settle at Ohope beach and Richard returns to the land as a farmer. They raise six children.
Unfortunately, on the 22nd March 1960, while fishing with his second to youngest daughter Richard is killed in an accident. He was 68 years old.
CHAYTOR ACCEPTS TURKISH SURRENDER
Photograph: Duncan McPherson 29th September 1918. cropped and duotone NZMR November 2014 -AWM B00088
Above: Major General Chaytor, who commanded the Anzac Mounted Division, with Ali Bey Wahaby, the commander of the 4th Turkish Army, who was captured by the Anzacs "Chaytor Force".
Below: Events relating to the photograph. Text taken from "The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine" published 1922.
So fell Amman, on September 25th, 1918, the Rabbath Ammon whose stout resistance made its siege and fall the crowning act of David’s conquests.
Since the attack made by the Division in March the enemy had greatly strengthened his defences. He had built a series of redoubts in which were numerous machine guns. And the natural difficulties of the broken country made Amman a very hard nut to crack. But the systematic method of our men combined with quick outflanking of the machine gun nests overcame every obstacle. The ground was hard and favoured rapid movement on horseback whereas in the previous attack in March all work had to be done on foot
There remained now the remnants of the IV Army to be dealt with. These consisted of some 10,000 men including the garrison of Maan and some Arabs and Circassians.
Showing the original dimension layout of Photographer Duncan McPherson's black and white glass plate. I have cropped the image to allow a close up view of the men's faces. I have also added a duotone to lift the image visually. The original photograph is held in the Australian War Memorial Museum, Canberra - referece number B00088
The movements of this force were doubtful. There was the probability that it would try to get down to the Jordan valley. But the difficulties in the way made this improbable; and there remained the Darb el Haj. the great route running north to Damascus and passing east of Amman. General Chaytor, therefore, sent the 2nd L.H. Brigade south to destroy the railway, as it was to our advantage to make the march of the enemy as long as possible and to increase his water difficulties.
If he chose the Darb ci Haj, the nearest water to Kastal (where his advanced guard was reported to be), was (excluding Amman) at the Wadi el Hammam some 10 miles north of Amman. Kastal is 15 miles south of Amman so the Turks would have a 25 mile march before them.
The 1st L.H. Brigade were sent early on the 26th to the Wadi el Hammam and captured there 105 prisoners and on the following day another 300.
On the 27th the 2nd L.H. Brigade captured prisoners at Leban station 12 miles south of Amman, who confirmed the intelligence as to the enemy's position, and at daybreak on the 28th the Turks were located near Kastal with three trains in the station. A message was dropped upon the Turkish Headquarters by aeroplane, summoning the Commander to surrender and pointing out to him that all possible water north of him was held by us.
No answer was received to this and arrangements for the attack were made; but at 11.45 the Turkish Commander opened negotiations with the Commander of the 5th L.H. Regiment, sending to him a Staff Officer.
The situation was very difficult owing to large numbers of Arabs who surrounded the Turkish position intent upon looting. Any sign of a white flag was likely to precipitate matters, and the 2nd L.H. Brigade were despatched to Kastal. While they were coming up the Turkish Staff Officer formally agreed to a surrender of the whole force to General Chaytor; and Captain A. B. T. Rhodes, M.C., the Divisional Commander’s A.D.C. pluckily penetrated the Turkish lines in a motor car and brought out the Turkish General, Kaimakam Ali Bey Whahaby, as a hostage.
Upon its arrival the 2nd L.H. Brigade put a cordon round the Turks; and the Arabs were told that any attempt to rush in on the Turks would be met by force. Even after our troops were in position the Arabs attempted to get at the hospital and had to be driven off.
This little episode presented an extraordinary spectacle, a British force guarding the enemy with whom it had been fighting for years, from the depredations
of one of Britain’s Allies. Next day the New Zealand Brigade arrived to relieve the 2nd L.H. and found the Turkish trenches manned by Light Horsemen and Turks with their guns jointly trained upon the Arabs.
Above: The Anzac Division's emblem - incorporating New Zealand's Silver Fern and Australia's Boomerang.