NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED RIFLES

Comments from Webmaster Steve Butler

Souvenir Shipboard Magazine from 1917

Among the memorabilia of Trooper Rowland Smith's collection is the shipboard produced magazine "Horse Marines". The 24 page. 200 x 250mm publication was handed to each of the men as they arrived in Egypt after their 38 day voyage from Wellington on the "Tofua".
The Editor of the magazine, Trooper J.A. Kyd comments: "...we have tried to make it [magazine] bright and humourous. All the contributions were supplied by the ship's company ".
In the sports section it is recorded that Trooper R.A.R. Smith of the 30th gained 1st place in the Potato Race. The Editor, Trooper Kyd beat all comers in the "Bob Apple", and a rather appropriately named soldier, Corporal Sparrow won the "Cock-fight". Other events contested on the long voyage were: Lazy-stick, Pillow-fight, Cigarette Race, Quoits, Draughts, Skipping, Tug-a-war and Boxing.
Cartoons and caricatures through the magazine are by Corporal C. Buchan N.Z.M.C. - the cover appears to have captured a good likeness of the Officer Commanding the men aboard, Major Batchelar.

A little aside was the discovery in print of the Y.M.C.A. Padre's name. A few years back when I was transcribing Lieutenant Colonel Makesy's 1919 Diary I was unable to decipher exactly what name the Colonel had scrawled in pencil in his battered diary - it was a well faded name and it looked like it could have been "Rule" but as I had not seen the name written anywhere before I was uncertain. The magazine confirms the Padre as a Mr. Rule.

Printed on the last pages are lists of the men from each Reinforcement unit who arrived in Egypt, December 21st 1917. These pages reprinted and added below:
29th Reinforcements NZMR. List of men departing NZ 1917
30th Reinforcements NZMR. List of men departing NZ 1917
31st Reinforcements NZMR. List of men departing NZ 1917
33rd Reinforcements NZMR. List of men departing NZ 1917

34th Reinforcementsand Mounted Field Ambulance - NZMR. List of men departing NZ 1917

Updated Embarkation List of Reinforcements from New Zealand 1914 -1918 - COMPLETED!

SITE MAP

 


21st Anniversary issue
penny and half-penny
stamps 1936.






50th Anniversary issue
4 penny and 5 penny
stamps 1965.







2008 stamp
90th Anniversary of
Anzac 2008.

TROOPER ROWLAND SMITH 30TH REINFORCEMENTS
Trooper Rowland Smith 1917
"Rowley" Smith was destined not to leave New Zealand until November 13th 1917. He was a specialist signaller with the 30th Reinforcements, and on reaching Turkish Palestine was detailed into the Waikato Mounted Rifles Squadron of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment.
Although Trooper Smith and his fellow reinforcement Troopers of the 29th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd and 34th intakes were fortunate enough to only be involved with the Great War for ten more months, many were still to pay the ultimate price for their country.
For Rowley, the war was an opportunity to keep his family and friends informed. He was a compulsive letter writer and took any spare moment to write home.

specialists

Most of his writing covered family updates and observations similar to the other men around him.
But his references to a soldier's life and the retention of anything that came to hand, such as ships menus, train passes, leave, telegraphs gives an informed insight into the lives of the men of the NZMR.
I have started a page on our Forum to release scans and photographs as they come to be processed. As always input from the public will make my job easier as I go forward to create a permanent page for Trooper Rowland Smith 30th Reinforcements.
Left: The Specialists hat badge issued to signallers and machine gunners.
Below: One of Rowley's magnificent photographs.
Portrait Photograph above computer colourised from 1917 original.

 


NEVER BEFORE SEEN COLLECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS AND LETTERS
wounded machine gunner Palestine 1918

For ninety years the collection of Trooper Rowland Smith's photographs and letters have been safely stored out of harms way by his family. Today (February 18th) Margaret Fraser, his daughter, delivered two cases of material for our Association to copy and place in our records. I have to say the amount of material supplied is staggering - you are all in for a treat indeed.
The above scene must be one of the most dramatic photos I have seen come out of the Palestine conflict - Rowland has taken a remarkable composed image that would win an award for any modern day combat photo journalist. The drama locked inside this image asks more questions than we can ever answer.
Rowland writes on the reverse of the photograph:
"Dressing a Machine Gunner wounded in the shoulder".
Rowland was with the 30th Reinforcements, leaving New Zealand on the 13th November 1917. Although I have yet to read any of his letters, it would be fair to say that he would not have seen action until early 1918 - that would put this photograph taken after the surrender of Jerusalem and therefore somewhere in the Jordan Valley or later going towards Amman. The wounded man wears the crossed machine guns and crown hat badge of the Machine Gunners. The trooper at the rear appears to be wear the Canterbury CYC hat badge and the trooper right has the black and white squares on his puggaree hat band signifying he is a member of the Wellington Mounted Rifles.


Click the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry Badge above to download the newly created:
"New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade Diary - Sinai - Palestine 1916-19."
A must reference list for the NZMR researcher. Every major movement made by the Mounteds during the Sinai-Palestine Campaign.
This file is now stored permanently on our LISTS MORE LISTS AND MAPS page.


A NEW SEARCH FOR OUR MISPLACED HISTORY

Like our own NZMR Association the, newly formed Otago Mounted Rifles Historical Trust is seeking the support of New Zealanders everywhere.
There is a fear that many important items of New Zealand's Mounted Rifles Regiments will be lost with the passing of time. Now is the time to retrieve those long hidden documents and photographs stored in Granddad's old suitcase in the attic.

Left, is the new "Public Appeal" poster being made available to promote the campaign for diaries, photographs and letters of men of the Otago Mounted Rifles.
Don McKay writes from the deep south:
Our museum exhibit kicks of in Invercargill around 19-20 March and will be there until after Anzac Day.
Also, I will be meeting in Wellington a Dr David Holloway from Melbourne who is coming to study OMR and Cyclist files at ANZ.  He is bringing over his writings about the 4 ALH Squadrons that made up II then XXII Anzac Mounted Corp on the Western Front.  This could be very beneficial to all concerned.
Watch out for an article that I have done for MCH and NZHC in Pretoria due in Fairfax Media about the restoration of the memorial to the 23 NZMR men killed at Langverwacht.  It is to be syndicated throughout their papers apparently.  I have done this in conjunction with numerous people, not least a very knowledgeable South African military historian Robin Smith.

Don may be contacted on (03)202-5777 or donmackay@woosh.co.nz
For items relating to the Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiments
contact Steve Butler (09) 846-9784.

PLAYFAIR CODE TO THE RESCUE

Sky television shows a "New" Blockbuster movie each Sunday evening on New Zealand television. This weeks release was "National Treasure - the book of secrets". This is the second movie in a series starring Nicolas Cage. His role is to lead a group of patriot citizens in their treasure hunt for long lost gold belonging to the people of the United States.
It is all riveting boys own paper stuff, and a good two hours of cinematic escapism.
Interesting point of the movie was the requirement of the treasure hunters to be able to understand and use the "Playfair Code" to find the prize.

NZMR members will be aware that the "PLayfair Code" was the code used in the field by ANZAC troops during the First World War.
If you would like to understand the workings and applications of the code, read our "Signals page" HERE

 


LIFE ON ANZAC DRAWS TO AN END

December 1915, officers of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Headquarters pose for a final photograph before evacuation. All British troops are forced to leave the Gallipoli Peninsular after a failed eight month campaign to invade the Turkish mainland. It would be three more long years before victory was reached over the Turkish foe in October 1918.
Standing: Lieutenant Anderson (Quartermaster), Captain Stout (Medical Officer), Captain Gibbs (Adjutant).
Sitting: Captain R. Harper (Machine Gun Officer), Major Powles (Commanding Officer, later promoted Lieutenant Colonel), Major Studholme (2nd in Command).


A MOST HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL LETTER OF ANZAC MATESHIP
Because there is just so much material relating to New Zealand's involvement in the Great War of 1914-18 I have tried to keep this site completely dedicated to the NZMR. However some time back Jeff, one of our forum members who lives in Australia, forwarded this letter below. The letter was received by the mother of 36555 Pte Harold Joseph CARMODY of "B" Coy, the 1st Otago Battalion. The letter was written by a Donald S. Mackenzie.
This letter is such a sincere piece of compassion for the mother of an Australia serving with a New Zealand unit that it needs inclusion here:


Waipou Falls
Dunedin N.Z.
2nd May, 1934

Dear Mrs. Carmody,
You will probably be surprised at a perfect stranger writing to you but probably your nephew Bert Carmody has written to you and explained that a few days ago in the course of a conversation we were having on old wartime days, he discovered that I had been with your son on the fatal 8th October 1918.
Your nephew was greatly interested in what I had to tell him and was sure that you would be interested in getting details of how your son was mortally wounded, so I am penning you this letter which your nephew is forwarding to you.
I myself was a comparative late entrant into the firing line, joining up with the 8th Coy, 1st Otago Battalion in September 1918 and I was drafted to the Lewis gun section in which your Son Harold was No. 1 on the gun.
From the outset we became more than friendly, probably on account of our youth, for I had just turned 20, my pal who had been with me from the time of enlistment in Dunedin was also 20, and while your son was a bit older he was still so much a boy that we naturally banded together.
For a while after my joining up we were drilling etc. a good bit behind the lines but at the end of September we shifted up to the support lines on the great Hindenberg Line where we waited our forward advance. We spent about a week here doing little drill but we were always ready to go forward at a moment’s notice.
I will always remember Sunday the 6th October for on that day “Aussie” (for so your boy was nicknamed by us) and I went for a long walk together. We were short of cigarettes and went looking for a canteen to replenish our supplies. We had to walk about three miles before we found one and I remember how our purchases included numerous packets of biscuits. On our way back we discussed the forthcoming stunt and boyishly made the arrangement that if either one of us were wounded the other was to be sure and get the supply of biscuits and cigarettes that we had in our haversacks.
On the 7th October we moved up towards the front line arriving there in the dark. We made camp somewhere in a small forest and we were shelled for a good part of the night and at 12 o’clock at night our pal (Bob Henderson) was wounded. We were lying down trying to sleep, so close to one another that one oil sheet covered us both, when a shell burst in the vicinity and Bob was wounded in the arm. And so my pal of so many years was separated from me and I did feel a bit lonely, but with your son “Aussie” still there it just meant that whereas our trio who where becoming such fine friends was reduced to two.
Orders came to move forward and later on we received our final instructions. We were to commence operations in the dark and it was as black as pitch and move forward as best we could. Our small section comprised a sergeant, corporal and five men and we were on the right flank of the battalion and on our right were supposed to be an English Division. And so we started. Through the dark we trudged and when dawn came we discovered that we had gone too far or had taken a somewhat wrong direction for there was not a soul in sight. This was the time of open warfare and the Germans were retreating rapidly but at the same time were putting up a good fight. I think that on this morning in particular there had been an earlier attack by our men and we were carrying on after them. At any rate our small section of seven men continued to carry on in the half light of the dawn and we were marching along in file when on looking through the rising mist I saw the forms of at least 20 Germans. I yelled “Sergeant, quick, look out!” and dropped to the ground. My warning was not soon enough. A volley rang out and poor “Aussie” fell.
For the next ten minutes or so we were kept busy by the enemy but in the end we prevailed and eventually they retired, leaving behind a number of their party who had fallen to our gun and rifles. The sergeant and corporal bandaged up your son who had been shot through the chest and they made him as comfortable as possible. I bent down and asked him how he was and he quite calmly said that he was done for, the bullet having pierced his lungs. I tried to cheer him up by relating that many men had been shot through the lungs and had recovered, but he seemed to realize that his race was run. We covered him with his oil sheet and stuck his rifle in the ground as a sign to the ambulance men who would be following up later. It was then that I realized the cruelty of war, for on my remonstrating with the sergeant for moving on and leaving poor “Aussie” all alone he told me that it was war and we had to carry on.
With a good luck “Aussie” from all of us we prepared to carry on and as I took a last look it seemed to me as if his soul had passed on and I whispered to one of the others “Has he gone?” “Aussie” must have heard me for he opened his eyes, smiled at me and with his remaining strength winked at me. And so we left him in the cold bleak tract of land, five of us more or less hardened soldiers and one younger soldier in tears.
It was not until some 2 or 3 weeks later that we definitely found out that "Aussie" had died of wounds. The corporal mentioned at that time that he was going to write to you but a few days later he was badly wounded himself so possibly he did not manage to write.
And so Mrs. Carmody this is my description of how I knew your son for a short space of about three weeks, but during that time I had come to be on such friendly terms with him that if your son had been spared I know we would have become much closer comrades. But in the short space of 7 hours I had lost my two friends, one my old pal by wounds and my new found friend by death. But I will not forget your son; his big heart and his braveness as we left him behind have always meant to me the illustration of one who died like a hero. May God rest his brave soul.
I hope you will forgive me in re-opening such a wound that you must still feel in your heart but I know that first hand information on such a matter is always welcome. I lost a much-loved brother in France and so far we have not found out anything about his death, though we have made numerous enquiries.
Had it not been that your nephew had organized a parade for Anzac Day his relationship to my old war friend might never have been discovered. Two days after Anzac Day I met him and asked him how the parade went and in the course of conversation Australia and their keeping of that day was mentioned and then I discovered his relationship to “Aussie”. It really is a small world after all and if this letter of mine should bring you news that you have not been able to obtain before and which you desired to get I an very pleased. It is over 15 ½ years now since that fateful day but each Anzac Day seems but to make me think more clearly of my brother, my three cousins and my many good friends who were caught up in that horrible tragedy. I am now married with a small son of my own and my only hope is that he will never be called upon to face what his father’s generation had to.
Our Anzac Day should be a high help to see that he does not.
Very sincerely yours,
Donald S. Mackenzie


Jeff concluded that this letters origin is probably unknown to the members of Donald's extended family, and by posting here it may be possible to make his descendents aware of its existence.
It is probable that Donald's S. Mackenzie is 29557 Private Donald Sinclair Mackenzie of the 37th Reinforcements Specialists Company that departed New Zealand on the "Ionic" HMNZT 104 16th May 1918. His mother's address as next of kin is listed as Mrs Catherine Mackenzie, 48 Duncan Street, Dunedin. NZ.
Donald relates in the letter that his own brother was killed in France. A search shows listed 8/2820 Sergeant Norman McLeod Mackenzie, also a son of Mrs C. Mackenzie of the same address above who was Killed in Action with the Otago Infantry Regiment on the Somme, France 27th September 1916.