NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED RIFLES

comments from webmaster Steve Butler

A DAY AT THE RACES
As I try to file and then compile into pages all the information that keeps coming into the Association from "hidden places unknown" from about the country, and indeed the world. I know that I must be missing connections between all the material from these different soldiers.
I decided I needed to do a revision of some of the material that sits here in my archives and pick a few subjects.
Lieutenant Colonel Mackesy writes in his Diary a number of times about race meetings held by the troops while the men are in the rest areas.
Then recently photos from Trooper Bloomfield's collection contained a photo that stirred my memory relating to those statements (Image lower left). The picture looked a rather festive occasion, but with rather distant imagery I was not sure - However the Cato Family sent me negatives and I was able to blow the image up. This certainly ties in with another picture taken by Trooper Burrowes that we presented in a gallery last year.

Upper Left: Trooper Stanley Burrowes WMR photo and note pasted under his photo album entry.

Left: Trooper Charles Bloomfield's photo enlargement available by CLICKING ON IMAGE LEFT.


SITE MAP

 


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






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








NZMR 24th
Reinforcements Badge.

PRELUDE TO A STORM
With royal standards flying the Kaiser makes a grand entry into Jerusalem 1898.
A special decree was issued by the Sultan Hamid II of Turkey to enlarge and open the ancient Jaffa Gate so Wilhelm could enter the old walled city on horseback with his entourage.
This forging of friendships between the two nations alarmed Britain and France. The Suez Canal and the new important oil fields of the Middle East appeared to be in military danger of a new alliance.

A LONG PAIN RIDDEN RETREAT BY 'KANKALAH'
The furthermost point west the Central Powers were able to penetrate in WWI was to the banks of the Suez Canal by February 1915. Here the Turko-German forces were halted in a short sharp Allied defence. Cairo and the Suez Canal with its shortest shipping routes to India, Australia and New Zealand remained secure.
The cost in human terms for the thousands of Turk, Arab and German soldiers wounded in the failed attempt was to become a nightmare of transport logistics as the enemy retreated to the aid stations and hospitals of El Arish and beyond.
Unlike the later Allied advance across the Sinai towards Turkish Palestine that built a railway support line as they advanced, the Turks had no means of carrying their wounded by wheeled transport over the undulating desert sands. For those able to survive, the journey by Arab "Kankalah" stretcher camels became a horrific trek of lurching pain.


A name to match this historic photograph.
New information from England updates our "Blackman - Whiteman - Jew" page.
The email received today leads us to state that the soldier being decorated-in-the-field
by General Chaytor in 1918 is probably one Lance Corporal McCollin Leekam.

 

From: Richard Smith
Subject: NZMR
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2008 15:11:12 +0100 (BST)


Dear Steve

As a historian of the British West Indies Regiment I was excited to find
your site recently. You have done a great job providing so many sources
and leads on the involvement of the NZMR and other regiments' involvement
in some of the neglected campaigns of WW1 and in providing some important background on Chaytor.

I was particularly interested in the photos you have uncovered for the
Blackman Whiteman Jew page. I did wonder if the soldier Chaytor is
decorating is 661 Lance Corporal McCollin Leekam of Trinidad. He was
gazetted in the London Gazette of 29 March 1919 as Leekham, an error which was subsequently corrected. His Lance Corporal's stripe is clearly visible and no other BWIR L/C received a medal during this period. Is the original photo from the Australian War Memorial?

Trooper Charles Broomfield's photo of the mixed group of soldiers with
Arab traders is a real gem. All the soldiers appear to be in hospital
uniform in this photo. Does his album contain any other images of BWIR
soldiers?

My own research suggests there was some tension between the Jewish and West Indian battalions, or at least their commanders. Patterson in 'With
the Judeans' states that, prior to the formation of the Jewish Legion, he
opposed the merging of the 38th and 40th battalions with the 1st and 2nd
BWIR to form a combined brigade. Allenby upheld this protest, even though
he was opposed to the formation of Jewish battalions in the first place.
There is some mention of this in Secret Telegrams in the WO33 series at
the National Archives, Kew which I should be able to dig out of my notes
if you are interested.

Incidently, an interesting-looking new book on Patterson was published
earlier this year: Denis Brian, The Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson: How
an Irish Lion Hunter Led the Jewish Legion to Victory (Syracuse University
Press, 2008).

Significantly, the Jewish battalions seem to have experienced similar
discrimination faced by the BWIR. according to Patterson, attempts were
made to form them into labour battalions and they were barred from some
facilities. At one point they even removed their regimental insignia to
avoid harassment from the Military Police.

If you are interested, here is a link to my own rather minimalist webpages
to promote my book.

Once again, congratulations on an excellent site.

Kind regards

Richard

Dr. Richard Smith
Department of Media and Communications
Goldsmiths University of London
New Cross
London SE14 6NW
Tel: 020 7919 7243

 


All images above from the one very high quality gelatin photograph. CLICK IMAGE ABOVE for high resolution
copy. (492k's in size)
Editors Note: carefully look along the skyline behind the
paraded soldiers - Is this a Rugby Goalpost?
I believe it is - the NZMR played many games of Rugby
during the war.

LETTERS FROM HOME
In an English country field flush with new Spring clover a young mounted rifleman writes to his family. Placed about him are his photographs from the other end of the earth to remind him of home.
A further photograph from Trooper Jack Shepherd's collection. Here Jack recuperates after being hospitalised in Essex after his trials on Gallipoli - about him photos of his mother, cousin and his sister Jubie.

N.Z. Base Depot
Grey Towers. Hornchurch
Essex
5th Feby 1916

My Dearest Girl,
I was awfully pleased to get a bundle of letters from you the other day and to hear how you were getting on, most of your letters were dated in Nov, one the 26th so it is not so old.
We had a grand concert here the other day, I am enclosing one of the programmes for you to see, it went off very well, and we quite enjoyed ourselves. Pleased to say I received another letter from Jim the other day, he was quite well when he wrote on Jany 17th.
Well dear I am not going to try and answer your letters in this short note, but will write you a long letter in a few days.
I have just been getting my teeth fixed up, getting some stopped and some out, you know what a nice experience that is, the boring process especially. I am having a good stay in England aren't I?
I have not been down to London since I came up to this Camp, but will most likely be able to get a day or so next week and get down to see Uncle Alfred and his family.
I got a letter from Aunt Blyth at Epping yesterday, she wants me to go up and see them, well I don't know what relation she is but, she is a sister of Grandpa Rollinson, and married Uncle Alfred's brother - she must be my double great Aunt.
Chris told me not to try and fathom the family tree or I would get grey headed in the attempt, he reckons if we had a family gathering of Blyths', it would take the Hotel Cecil to hold us all.
Well dear I will write again soon.
Hoping this finds you all quite well. I remain with much love.
Your Affectionate Brother , Jack xxxxxx


THE FIRST "DESERT FOX"

Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein
(1870-1948)
Thirty years before German General Erwin Rommel earned the nick-name "Desert Fox" in the deserts of World War II - Baron Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein had earned a similar reputation as a cunning and resourceful leader in the deserts of Sinai and Palestine in the Great War.
British historian Liddell Hart described him as "the inspiration and brain of the Turks in Palestine for the first three years of the war."

Kress von Kressenstein was a Bavarian born artillery-officer, and became a member of Liman von Saunders' military mission to Turkey in January 1914. He was to spend the majority of the war in service with the Ottoman Empire.

He planned the attack on the Suez Canal in January 1915 which opened hostilities on the Palestine Front. His 'Desert Force' traversed the Sinai carrying with them specially designed and built punts to cross the Suez waterway, but on arrival at the Canal, February 2 1915, British forces were waiting and the attack failed completely and he was forced to retreat back across the desert.
Not until the Gallipoli Campaign ended did the Turks try to take the Suez Canal a second time. Again Kress von Kressenstein (his full surname) led the Ottoman Army across the Sinai in 1916.

This time he was to meet the Anzac force of Australian Light Horsemen and New Zealand Mounted Riflemen at the Battle of Romani where his forces were routed and he fled backwards to El Arish, harrassed by Anzac actions at Katia and Bir el Abd during the retreat.
Attacks against his forces contnued and he was ordered to take command of the Gaza Garrison. He was fortunate to obtain victory during the first British attack, due in large part to the bungling of English General Sir Charles Dobell; when the battle appeared to be won as Anzac Troops finally broke into the town after a faltering Infantry attack - Dobell ordered the Anzac mounted force to retire.
However the successful defense of Gaza in the second battle was attributed to the skills of Kress von Kressenstein in upgrading fortifications of the garrison.
Replaced in command at Gaza on 5 November 1917 by former German Chief of Staff Erich Falkenhayn, Kressenstein was given command of the Turkish Eighth Army in defence of the coastal sector of the front until the summer of 1918, when he was then transferred to command a German military mission in the Caucasus.
At wars end he returned to Germany in 1919.

Trooper HUGH GORDON HASWELL
For Trooper "Tui" Haswell the action at Ayun Kara was the last fight - his body was buried on the battlefield and a monument was hastily erected. Later the CWGC recovered the bodies and reburied the men at the Ramleh Cemetery. Over time the monument was forgotten and at sometime in the 1930's the monument disappeared. Destroyed and removed by whom, nobody knows, at present there are plans to re-establish a new monument again at the site of Ayun Kara. New Zealand and Israeli Government officials are planning to have a new monument before the centenary of the battle.
Above: Tui Haswell and the badge of the 3rd Squadron NZMR sit on top of one of very few photographs of the Monument at Ayun Kara taken in 1918 - Note: The cross on the left of the picture marks the grave of 13/3161 Trooper H.G.Haswell - Auckland Mounted Rifles NZEF.
Niki Francis is the great niece of Tui Haswell and she has written a moving tribute to her relative that the Association is pleased to present on our website today. Read Niki's article HERE.

A special note To Niki Frances:
Sometimes things are just meant to happen - after receiving your article this week I also received a batch of film negatives from the Cato family of Ohaupo who originally supplied a scanned photo disc for the Association to post as a slide show on the site (see below segments).
When I inspected the disc I could see one of the photos appeared to be the long lost monument that was erected on the battlefield where 'Tui' was killed in action. I contacted Richard and Judy Cato and they were more than willing to allow me to have a go at rescanning some of the negatives - and WOW - look what happens with new technology - CLICK ON THE IMAGE RIGHT - to see Charles Broomfields photo.


Ayun Kara - First Anniversary of the
battle taken 14th November 1918