War Diaries  NZMR

Pagination starts with cover page as No. 1 in each file

Australian Imperial Force unit war diary


Transcribed to text by Gordon Sylvester NZMRA - December 2011
Transcribers notes: entries of question marks (??) are undecipered




1st. Machine Gun Squadron
New Zealand Mounted Rifles

Aug 1916
                                                                                                    (page 2)
31st. To Aug 3rd.      Training.  Instructing new men and training new pack-horses.
                    Difficulty experienced in getting saddler, especially pack saddler. 
Had to construct hangers for guns, and ammunition panniers out of hoop ‘iron’. 
S. A. A. boxes, leather / leather &c., to be ready to take out as had only been issued
with G. S. Pack – saddles without gun hangers or ammunition panniers.  (GFY)

                                                  R. P. Harper.  Capt.
                                                  N.Z.M.R.M.G. Sqndn


The original of above appears on the same sheet as entries
for the previous month and will be found with the diary for that month.


Aug  4th.                                                                                                  (page 3)
                    Received orders to move out with Brigade at 0730.
                    Marched with Brigade towards Romani and took part in an attack on Mount
 Royston.  The squadron marched out  from Hill 70 with following strength:- Eight
Officers, 175 O/R’s and 247 Horses. A number of men and to be left owing to
shortage of saddlery.
                    New men and horses were left.  Those with experience and hardened horses
 being taken.
                    On the Brigade going into action one section was sent with the A. M. R. Regt.
 and supported them as they advanced across the open ground by keeping up a volume
of fire on the enemy in front.  This section accompanied the Regt.  to its foremost
position and was firing at 500 yards when the enemy on their spot surrendered.  Two
 sections were sent forward with the C. M. R. Regt.  The remaining three sections
being kept in reserve when the attack was first delivered.

Aug 4th.                                                                                                   (page 4)

                              The three sections in reserve moved forward with Bde.  H. Q.  On the a
 small sand hill on the reverse slope of which Bde H.Qrs. took up their position.  From
here a good view of the Turks trenches were obtained,  Distance 900 yards, and four
guns were put into action soon getting good fire effect.  Excellent cover for the guns
was provided by a sharp sand ridge and for the led horses by the hill itself.  Fire was
maintained by all Sections in action until the Enemy surrendered.  During this action a
 Maxim Gun (?fusu) spring was broken, but was quickly replaced by a spare one.
                              Withdrew with Bde and marched to Pelusium and bivouacked for
          the night after watering horses at the troughs at supply main. (GFY)

   5th.            Drew ammunition and filled belts and we marched with BDE to high ground 1
          mile south of Qatia.  Enemy reported to be holding Qatia oasis.

5th.                                                                                                         (page5)
          And plans made for the attack.
                    Before the Bde moved forward to the attack.  The Machine Gun Sections were
 detailed to accompany the Regiments, two sections (4 guns) with each Regiment.
                    During the action many good targets were found at different times, although
 usually at long ranges.
                    A great deal of assistance was given to the troops as they advanced across the
          flat towards the trees in which the enemy was concealed.  On the left, the guns with
          the Regiment there, were able to move forward at different times and were thus
          enabled to fire with good effect upon enemy troops seen massing in the palms  On the
          right only a short advance was made with.  The guns but the position was such that
          overhead covering fire was given to our troops as they advanced and again as they
          withdrew.  Led horses were not moved forward but were kept

                                                                                                              (page 6)
as much as possible under cover from shell fire.
          Returned to Bir ET Maler at night, watered and fed horses, drew
ammunition and bivouacked for remainder of night.    (GFY)

6th.               Left Bir ET Maler and marched to a point one mile SOUTH of Umm
 Ugba where we came under shell fire.  Brigade made demonstration against
enemy’s front while a flank attack was in progress.  With this object, one Section was
 sent into action and fired on enemy positions at 1800 yards. 
          Withdrew to Bir ER Rhaba and bivouacked for the night. (GFY)

7th.               Remained in same position as previous day but did not go into action.
 Received some shelling but suffered no casualties.  Bivouaced at Bir ER Rhaba.

8th.               Marched with Bde to Bir EL Dababis and bivouacked for night.  (GFY)
9th.                                                                                                         (page 7)
                    Left with Bde to attack enemy then holding Bie EL Abd.
          On the Bde going into the attack 4 sections (8 guns) were sent with the Regiments, 4
 guns with A.M.R. Regt.  2 with C.M. R. Regt. and 2 with 5th. A. L. H. Regt.
 Remaining  two Sections kept in Reserve with Bde.  H. Q.  Report received by G. O.
C. Bde  that left flank  (C. M. R. Regt.) needed support so sent one section with some
of 5th. A.L.H. Regt. to that flank.  On report being received that a gun was out of
action (temporary) sent remaining section to that flank (Right) on left of centre.  The
guns were able to move forward with the troops but led horses were not bought up
until the withdrawal.

                    Many good targets were found, enemy troops in close formation being fired on
on several occasion.  Good fire effect.  Sections on right were not able to advance
beyond first positions but were able to give to give effective fire from there. 
Ranges throughout day ranged from 1700 to 400 yards.  Good observation of fire
rendered such methods as “Combined Sights” unnecessary.

                                                                                                              (page 8)
9th.               During the withdrawal in the evening a great deal of fire was given to cover
 the retirement of the troops.  This was done by means of the guns taking up
successive covering positions to the rear.  This fire was very effective seriously
checking the enemy’s advance and in many cases enabling troops to withdraw with
 the heavy casualties which they otherwise must have suffered.  In three cases the M
. G. Sections had to withdraw under trying circumstances owing to lack of support
from the Regiments with which they were in action.  The ammunition supply was
maintained by means of camel convoy.  Regiments drawing supply for the guns with
 them with their own.  System of Ammunition Supply very satisfactory.
                    2/Lieut. G.  G. Harper wounded  (severe)
                    Withdrew with Bde.  and returned to Hod EL Dharbis and  remained until
          2pm then retired to Oghratina and bivouacked for night. (GFY)

                    (Side note:- For ?????????? on operation ????????????????????2nd Appendix

                                                                                                              (page 9)
Aug 10th.       Squadron stayed at Hod EL Darbis with Bde.    (GFY)
11th.              Sent two Sections with 5th. A. L. H.  On outpost.    (GFY)

12th.              Sent two Sections with C.M.R.to Salmana * on reconnaissance.  Turks
          retiring.  Guns did not go into action.  Remainder of Squadron accompanied Bde.  as
          covering troops to Bir EL Adb.
                    2/Lieut. G.G. Harper reported died of wounds at Cairo.    (GFY)

13th.              Rested at Hod EL Darbis.     (GFY)

14th.              Bde. moved to Hod Amara and formed bivouac Camp

15th.              2/Lieut. McCarroll  T. went to hospital Port Said.           (GFY)

16th.              Recuperating.  Mounted two anti aircraft guns daily.  Septic sores very
  to 24th.        prevalent amongst men.  (GFY)

25th.              Took 4 sections with Bde on         reconnaissance to Galss *.  No enemy
          Returned to Hod Amara.  Horses very tired and weak.  Many sore backs and cases
 of sickness.  (GFY)

                                                                                                              (page 10)
Aug 26th.       Squadron resting.  Sick horses being treated.
to                 Two antiaircraft guns mounted daily
31st. incl.       Fired at Turks enemy aeroplanes when considered within range but without apparent effect.  (GFY)
                                                            Signed  R. P Harper  Capt.
                                                            N.Z.M.R.  M. G. Sqndn.

Pencil notation  on 2nd copy of file reads:-

                                        1  Off   D O W
                                        3  O/R’s Killed
                                        75  “       Wounded


                                        APPENDIX   I.                                                 (page 11)
                              Officer.                   Other Ranks.
Place            Date             Killed Wounded               Killed  Wounded
Mt Royston  Aug 4th             Nil       Nil                          1         5

Qatia         Aug 5th.              Nil       Nil                            1         9

Bir El Abd  Aug 9th.            Nil     2/Lt G.G. Harper          1        11

                                        APPENDIX II.                                                  (page 12)
          Throughout the operations from Aug 4th.  to the 9th (both days inclusive)
The following points were noted:-
                    Maxim Guns too heavy for desert warfare owing to great weight on pack-horse and on men when going into or out of action in soft sand.  Many minor stoppages experienced with three old Maxim guns.
Working of guns, otherwise good.  Sand not a serious source of trouble, if not very windy and if guns not too oily.  Indirect fire not used as owing to difficulty of transport could not use the quantity of ammunition necessary to make this method effective, also target constantly appearing at different points made direct fire only, necessary.  Ranging Fire practically the only method of range finding employed owing to good observation of fire on the sand.
                    Unclipped specially tested, machine gun S. A. A. used where ever possible and found highly essential.
                                                                                                              (page 13)
          N.Z. Mark VI used by this Squadron.
          Necessity for two or three spare packhorses per section owing to heavy nature of work and danger of casualties amongst horses.
          Necessity for close co-operation between Machine Gun units and Troops with which they are operating.
          There is a tendency on the part of officers in command of other troops to move on or withdraw without and notifying M. G. Officers and without providing for the protection or covering of the M. G. Sections.  Also in some cases to regard the M.G. units as being on a separate mission, and therefore not deriving from them all the assistance that they otherwise  might.

          A certain amount of trouble was experienced with pack- saddler as the G-S pack saddle provided, are intended for use with mules, and are in some cases, too small for horses.

                                                                                                              (page 14)
The gun hangers and ammunition panniers were almost all made by men of the Squadron.  The remainder being very old; having been in use since the beginning of the War and having been through the Gallipoli Campaign.  In spite of this new pack saddler was not obtainable.

New establishment of Machine Gun Squadron found  to be inadequate as regards numbers of N.C.O.’s.  Also , one spare pack-horse per Section insufficient.  (GFY)

                                                  R. P. Harper.  Capt.
                                                  N.Z.M.R.M.G. Sqndn


Transcribers note:-  (GFY) is the initials of the Adjutant who obviously wrote the diary and was later signed by the Captain.