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New Zealand Mounted Rifles.  War Dairy for
1st. Machine Gun Squadron
N.Z.M.R.M.S. MARCH 1917
Transcribed to text by Gordon Sylvester NZMRA - December 2011
Pagination starts with cover page as No. 1 in each file

Transcribers notes: entries of question marks (??) are undecipered



Nov. 1916
            1st to 13th.
                                                                                         (page 2)
                                    Daily routine.  Mount 2 anti aircraft guns.  Exercise horses & hold mounted parade alternately.  Instruction in gun working and signalling. 
Two sections form Inlaying Picquet each night.

14th.                             Marched to Bie EL Mazar & formed camp.  All Officers looked over outpost line and selected positions for outpost guns.  Also alternative positions and positions for supporting guns.
Placed three guns each with 6 men under a Sergt or Crpl in outpost line.

15th.                                                 Sand bagged gun emplacements & built anti aircraft gun mounts.
  Started  following daily routine.  2 Anti Aircraft Guns, three guns with outpost, an officer visits outpost guns by night & at “Stand to Arms” in the morning.

16th. to 20th.                 Parties of Officers & NCO’s made reconnaissance of surrounding country.  Prepared range charts from outpost gun positions, made small communication trenches up to positions.

21st.                             25 O/R and 40 horses marched in from details & taken on strength.

22nd.                            All ranks inoculated against cholera.

25th.                             Moved to Mustagidda & formed bivouac camp.  Selected two AA positions.

26th to 29th.                  Daily routine.  -  Signalling and gun classes.  Exercise horses.

30th.                             All ranks inoculated against cholera.  (2nd. Time)   (GFY)



Dec. 1916

            1st. to 3rd.                                                                                           (page 2)
                                    Saddlery & harness cleaned and Dubbined.       
                                    Started daily sick parade in Squadron lines.  Medical Corps undertaking dressing & bandaging of cuts, sores, and septic hands. (GFY)

4th. to 8th.                     Daily Routine.

9th.                               Detailed four men as stretcher bearers to go through a course of instruction as Field Amb.

10th.to 13th.            Lieut. R.F. Chapman rejoined from NZMR Training Regt. Moascar. (GFY)
                                    Received Operation Orders.  General and Special ideas for practice
                        manoeuvres on 14th inst.  Issued orders for three sections (6 guns) of the Squadron to take part.(GFY)

14th.                             Took part in manoeuvres with half of Squadron.  The remainder carrying out usual daily routine.

15th.                             Took 12 sets new pack saddlery for ammunition into use.  Returning old saddles to Ordnance Depot.  Cleaned harness and saddles.  (GFY)

16th.                             Routine. (GFY)

17th.                             Tested guns and ammunition. (GFY)

18th.                             Fired on two hostile aeroplanes without apparent result. (GFY)

19th.                             Routine.  (GFY)

20th.                             Received orders that Bgde would move out at 1330. (GFY)

20th.     1330                Marched out with first line transport & regimental reserve Saa. (GFY)
            2000                Drew rations & forage & marched at night towards El Arish.

21st.                             Arrived at Bir et Masmi & found that enemy had evacuated El Arish and El Masale?.  Formed bivouac encampment at Bir et Masmi.  Mounted three anti-aircraft guns and provided two guns with outposts. (GFY)

22nd.                            Received orders to move out with Brigade at 1730.
            1730                Took whole squadron except small base party & marched towards El Magdhaba.  On advancing to the attack two sections were sent with each Regiment, and remaining two sections kept in reserve with Reserve Regt. 

                                                                                                                                    (page 3)
23rd.                             All guns except reserve, did long range firing throughout the morning at parties of enemy troops in rear of their line.  Owing to the nature of the ground very few targets were obtained in enemy’s front line.
During the attack in the afternoon, all guns went forward with dismounted troops, finding several good targets & giving supporting & covering fire to our troops advance. . (GFY)
            1700                On enemy surrendering, led horses were brought up & the Bde moved back to El Masmi.           
During the first  phase of this operation owing to firing being chiefly ‘sniping’ machine guns could not be employed to great advantage except to harass parties in rear.  During the general attack, dismounted, however, guns were moved forward with the troops & were able to bring a great deal of fire to bear on the enemy position at effective ranges.
Casualties were two Other Ranks wounded.  . (GFY)

24th.     0600                Arrived at Bir el Masmi

25th.                             Routine.   6 O/R including 1 Corpl. & 1 R/Corpl. Arrived from Training Reg. As reinforcements.  Both NCO’s reverted to ranks at their request.  . (GFY)

26th.                             Routine.  Received order for move of Bde on following day.  (GFY)

27th.     1000                Moved to bivouac camp on beach 3 miles west of El Arish. 
                        Discontinued.      “Stand to Arms”      Mount one anti aircraft machine gun. . (GFY)

28th.                             Sent Farrier & men to Details camp for forges,shoes, etc for shoeing horses.  Two Officers left for Port Said to buy kits to replace others lost from camels. . (GFY)

29th.                             Inspection by G. O. C.  Desert Column. . (GFY)

30th. & 31st.                 Camp Routine.  . (GFY)


Jan. 1917  
                                                                                                            (page 2)
1st.                               Moved to Bardawil and bivouacked.  (GFY)

2nd. & 3rd.                    Camp routine.  Mounted 2 A A guns.  (GFY)

4th.                               Returned to old camp at Masaid. (GFY)

5th. & 6th.                     Camp  Routine.  (GFY)

7th.                               Received 13 O/R for reinforcements & 10 remounts, thus bringing the Squadron up to strength. 
                                    2/ Lieut G.D. Russell transferred from OMR  marched in.
                                    Attack on Rafar  (GFY)

8th.       1200                Brigade left for Rafar * took whole Squadron  & small reserve of SAA. with sections spare pack horses.

9th.                               Before proceeding to the attack.  1 section (2 guns) was sent to form the AMR Regt., & 2 sections (4 guns) were sent to C.M.R. Regt.  The remaining 3 sections (6 guns) being kept in reserve to use as opportunity offered by the squadron commander.
                                    As the Bgde moved round to the right flank of the line of attack, good target of trenches and parties of enemy were  noted & two of the reserve guns were sent onto a small ridge which afforded cover.  Very good shooting was done by these guns at 800 yds supported by half a troop, which greatly assisted the 3rd A.L.H. Bgde in advancing & eventually forced the enemy to abandon that portion of his position.
 A machine gun was afterwards found abandoned in these trenches.  The Squadron Commander then took over  the four remaining reserve guns & the two which had been previously sent with the A.M.R. Reg., & these being distributed along the line of attack as far as the Sector held by the C.M.R. on the right, advanced with the troops giving them mutual support & were able to bring covering fire to bear on the redoubt right up to the time of its capture.
                                    The foremost of these guns reached to within 400yds of the enemy position from where their fire was most effective, they having had superiority of fire throughout the advance.  The four guns with the CMR Regt supported the right flank & gave good covering fire at   (GFY)

                                                                                                                                    (page 3)
Jan 9th. cont.                effective ranges.   These guns were placed in a trench and afterwards moved forward into a sunken road from which places they were able to sustain overhead covering fire until the assaulting troops were within a few yards of the trenches.   Their position was such a nature that, had our troops been compelled to retreat these guns would have been most useful in covering their retirement.
                                    During the day many good targets were found at al ranges from 400 to 1800 yds & one of the chief functions of Machine Guns, that of covering our troops advance by keeping the enemy down in their trenches was carried out most effectively.  The co-operation between our guns & our troops enabled the latter to advance across very exposed ground up to an extremely strong position with comparatively few casualties.  In this way 40,000 rounds  SAA were used, this being more than the amount laid down to be carried by a
Machine Gun Squadron but made up by extra bulk  SAA on spare pack horses. 
More could have been used to advantage had it been available, but owing to Regimental Reserves not coming up, the amount of fire had to be restricted when troops were not actually moving across the open.
                                    Owning to the absence of cover for led horses within 3000 yards of the enemy positions, all ammunition had to be carried great distances but the supply was maintained, owing to the energy of  the ammunition carriers.
                                    The system of keeping a larger number of guns as a reserve under the Squadron Commander was found very satisfactory and it would be of greater advantage to have the whole squadron so employed except where regiments are sent off on a separate mission.  The Regimental Lewis Guns enabled the Machine Guns to be used more to give covering fire from good points and to be sent when & where most needed instead of being attached to Regiments where they may not be required as much as at some other point.  In the long advance across open ground exposed to heavy fire, the Maxim Guns were again found to be very awkward owing to their great weight & consequently the Vickers  (GFY)

                                                                                                                                    (page 4)
Jan 9th.             had to be used often, and had to lead the way.  Carrying the Maxim Guns told heavily on the men & exposed them to a great deal of fire.
                                    Casualties   1 o/r killed    7 o/r wounded.  (GFY)
            1800                Marched to Shiek Zowaiid and bivouacked for the night. (GFY)

10th.     0700                Returned to El Arish & to old camp.  (GFY)

11th.                             Rested in camp.  Drew SAA & filled belts. (GFY)

12th.                             Inspected by G. O. C.  Division.  (GFY)

13th. to 15th.                 Camp routine.  Gun instruction, exercise of horses, cleaning of saddlery and harness.  (GFY)

16th.                             5% of all Ranks granted 3 days leave to Cairo
                                    Camp Routine.  (GFY)

17th. & 18th            Routine,  Gun instruction,  8 remounts marched in & taken on strength. (GFY)

19th                              Leave party increased to 10%.  (GFY)

20th.                             Instructional classes in loading & unloading Machine Guns wascommenced for men in the Regiments.  Each Regt sent over one (1) NCO & 11 men.  (GFY)

21st.                             Routine.  (GFY)

22nd. to 26th.                Mounted Parades as per syllabus, action work, signalling Instructional classes for Regiments.  1 Off & 6 O/R’s left for Imperial School of Instruction.   (GFY)

27th.                             Machine Gun firing practice and testing of guns.  All men put through ranging practice.  (GFY)

28th.                             Church Parade.  (GFY)

29th.                             Disinfecting parades to Kilo 155.  100 of all ranks paraded.             (GFY)

30th.                             Disinfecting parade for rest of Squadron.  50 all ranks.              (GFY)

31st.                 Routine.  Mounted Parade & instructional classes for Regiments.             (GFY)


Feb. 1917

                                                                                                            (page 2)
1st. & 2nd. Held mounted parades & Gun Instruction.  (GFY)

3rd.       Machine Gun shooting.  Remainder of Squadron put thorough ranging practice.  Good times put up for getting into and out of action.  Shooting good.  Six  O/R left for Kantara to look after transport horses. (GFY)

4th.       Church Parade .  (GFY)

5th.       Inspection by Major McCartney  G.H.Q.  U.G. Officer.  (GFY)

6th. to 8th. Mounted parades.  Gun instruction.  Instructional classes for Reg. Men.  (GFY)

9th.       Sent Limbers to Ordnance for repairs.  Range shooting – competition. (GFY)

10th.     17 Draught & 2 riding horses taken on strength from Remount Depot.  Drew new McConnell Pack Saddles & returned old ones.  (GFY)

11th.     Church Parade.  2/Lieut McCarroll placed on NZ Roll on account of ill health
18/12/16.  Lieut. Hinman appointed 2nd in command of Squadron.  25/9/16. (GFY)

12th.     Mobilisation Parade.  6 Limbers from Kantara.  (GFY)

13th.     Seven men marched in from Moascar. (GFY)

14th to 16th. Mounted Parades.  Gun Instruction.  (GFY)

17th.     Inspection of guns by I.O.M.  Lt.  Horner?  (GFY)
Signed R. P. Harper Comd. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (page 3)
18th.     Church parade. (GFY)

19th.                 Mounted parades.  Recieved orders for move to Sheikh Zowaiid.
                        Sent old Gun pack saddle and ammunition saddle to Moascar for use of Training Regiment.   1 Officer & 6 O/R returned from School of Instruction. (GFY)

20th.     Mobilization Parade. (GFY)

21st.     Inspection of Mounted Action work by Major McCartney.   Lt. G. F Yerex, temporarily attached.  Returned to Auckland M. R.  Preparation for move. (GFY)

22nd.  0700 Move.   Left Masaid camp at 0700 with first line of transport and Regimental reserve of SAA. and marched with Brigade to Sheikh Zowaiid arriving at 600. 
Put down temporary lines and bivouacked.  Received Operation Order for attack on Khan Yunus.  (GFY)

 23rd.  0100 Squadron marched out with Brigade from Sheikh Zowaiid with 6 half limbers containing reserve of SAA.  (GFY)
            0500    Passed the Egyptian border.
            0600    The advance sqdn of the Brigade came in touch with the enemy who were entrenched.
            0700    One section (two guns) went up on the right flank with the Canterbury Regiment, and one section on the left flank with Wellington Regiment.
The remainder of the Squadron being kept in Reserve with reserve equipment.
Our headquarters signallers kept up flag  Communication with both sections when they got into position.                                                              
Signed R. P. Harper Capt. 

                                                                                                                                    (page 4)
23rd.  0800            Two more guns were sent up on each flank.
                        The guns on the right got into position at 1400 yds but did not open fire as there were no targets warranting it.
            Directly afterwards the order for withdrawal was given & two of these guns gave covering fire to the troops who were in advance.  They then withdrew & joined the Squadron.  The first 2 guns on the left flank came into action at 100 yds and gave covering fire for the advance of the troops. Later for their  withdrawal.  No good targets were engaged but the covering fire enabled our  troops to withdraw without casualty.  Ammunition expended 4000 rounds. 
Casualties 1 O/R slightly wounded.  The squadron left with Brigade & marched to Rafar arriving 1100
      1130            Left Rafar  Arrived Sheikh  Zowaiid  1430  picked up all  gear left behind & marched to camp site on beach.
      1600            Arrived new camping ground, put down horse lines, made bivouac’s.
24th.                 Fixed up new camp.  Sent 5 men to Kantara to bring up remounts.  Filled ammunition belts. 
Cleaned and overhauled guns.  Setup anti aircraft guns.
                                                                                    Signed R. P. Harper Capt. 
25th.                 Church Parade.   Received orders for reconnaissance to A. M. R.

26th 0615            Marched out with Bde and treked East over border south of Rafa halting at Shokh el Sufi.  The regiments carried out a reconnaissance & the squadron remained in reserve.
       1400            Started return journey arriving at bivouac at 1800.
                        2/Lieut Kelly and 3 O/R marched in from Moascar.
27th.                 Machine gun and rifle inspection & General Routine.  Received orders for reconnaissance  E & NE of Rafa.

28th.  0615            The squadron marched out from bivouac with Brigade.  Got in touch with enemy patrols at 1145.  The Squadron remained in reserve while Regiment sent out patrols.
        1900            Returned to bivouac.
                                                                        R. P. Harper.  Capt.
                                                                                    N.Z.M.R.M.G. Sqndn


March 1917  
                                                                                                            (page 2)
1st.       Camp Routine.

2nd.      Camp Routine.  Mounted signalling Parade.

3rd.       Reconnaissance by Brigade in vicinity of  El Bardari.  Squadron kept in reserve.

4th.                   Church Parade.

5th.                   Rifle and Gun inspection.  Cleaned & Dubbined saddler. S. S. M. Picot E.H. Appointed 2/Lieut vice G.F. Yerex transferred Auckland Regt.

6th.                   Signalling Parade.   Adjusted Range Finders.

7th.                   Reconnaissance by Brigade east of Khan Yunus.  Squadron kept in reserve.

8th.                   Camp Routine.  Received 4 rebushed tripods from Ordnance & retd old ones.

9th.                   Camp Routine.  9-O/R marched in from Moascar Trg Regiment.  Received special orders for move to Bir el Melalha.

10th  1000            Squadron with first line transport & Reserve Ammunition marched out with Brigade and trekked to new bivouac at Bir el Melalha.  Put down horse lines and fixed up camp. Received Special Orders for Reconnaissance to Wadi el Ghuzze.
signed  R. P. Harper.  Capt.
                                                                                                                        (page 3)
11th.  0730            Squadron minus transport marched out with Brigade passing south of Khan Yunus and reconnoitred ground from Tel el Jemmi to Deir el Belah.  Returned to bivouac 1830.

12th.                 Camp routine.  Gun & Rifle Inspection.

13th.                 Camp routine.  Cleaned saddler.

14th.                 Camp routine.  Grazing parade. Signalling – Recd 6 Vickers Guns fromOrdnance.

15th.                 Camp Routine.  Overhauled and tested new guns and filled 4(?) Packs(?)

16th.                 Camp routine.  Retd 6 Maxim guns to Ordnance.

17th.                 Camp routine.  Gun Instruction.

18th.   0315            Squadron minus transport marched out with Brigade passing south of Khan
         0600            Yunus.  Two sections (4 guns) were sent with the Wellington Regt on the right  flank & the remainder of the Squadron kept with B. H. Q. who moved to point 320 East of Beni Sela.  The ground being made(?) good between Tel E Wemmi & Deir el Belah, the Brigade returned to bivouac arriving 1400.

19th.                 Camp Routine.

20th -24th.            Camp Routine.   7 O/R marched in from Moascar.
            Preparation for move.  Sent 8 O/R – 3 Limbers & 12 horses to D. H. Q. to form Divisional train.
signed  R. P. Harper.  Capt.


March                                                                                                                          (page 4)
25th.                 Squadron marched out with Brigade with first line transport [camels] & 3  limbers. Each containing 16000 rounds reserve  SAA. Very pistols oil and water
            0600  Arrived Deir el Belah.  Watered and fed.
            0730            Moved out on Reconnaissance.  Two guns went with Well Regt to  Sheik Nebhan.  Remainder of Squadron staying at El Breij with B.H.Q.Returned to  Deir el Belah to bivouac at 1700.

26th 0330            Squadron with 48,000 rounds reserve SAA in three limbers marched out with Brigade and arrived at Beit  Durdis (Syria) at 0930.  Watered and fed & remained in reserve with B.H.Q.
      1430            Brigade moved round towards the coast and after a fast ride came into action North of Gaza.  Two sections (4 guns) were sent with the Wellington Regt on the right flank & two sections with  the Canterbury Regt on the left flank.  The remaining 4 guns were kept in reserve with reserve regiment.  Flag communications were kept up from Headquarters to all sections until their withdrawal at dark.
On the right the advance was through very heavy cultivation and cactus hedges and only one good target presented itself and this was dealt with effectively at 100 yds range.
            signed  R. P. Harper.  Capt.

26th.                 On the left flank circumstances were similar but traversing along the hedges where snipers were observed, kept the  latter quiet and helped our troops to advance.
      1830            Squadron withdrew from front line and made for the Brigade rendezvous East of Ali Muntar redoubt.  During the action the Wellington Regt captured two field guns & the limber horses were commandeered to pull them to D.H.Q. who then gave the orders  for the limbers to be abandoned & the guns to be taken to Deir el Belah.
                        Casualties  3 O/R wounded.  Ammunition expended 2500 rounds
      2330            Left Ali Muntar with Brigade.

27th  0600            Arrived  Deir el Belah.  Watered and fed – Filled Belts.  Overhauled Guns – Received 6 limbers from Div Train to carry reserve SAA.
       1700            Outpost with Brigade.

28th.  1300            Retd.  to bivouac on beach.

29th 1600            Outpost with Brigade.

30th.  1300            Retd.  to bivouac.

31st.                 Camp routine.  2 O/R marched in from Moascar.  2 remounts taken on
                                    Signed  R. P Harper.   Capt.
                                                            N.Z.M.R.M.G. Sqndn

Transcribers note:-  (GFY) are the initials of the Adjutant, 13/2973 Lieut George Franklyn Yerex, who obviously wrote the diary that was later signed by the Captain.