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PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:54 pm
by Steve_Butler
As I wander about Libraries and old book stores I keep coming up with new names that perhaps have a link with the NZMR. While reading Herbert's "Mons, Anzac and Kut" I have been alerted to the carrying-ons in Kut el Mara and Persia and the Russian and Turkish confrontations as the Ottomans seek new territories to the East 196 -1918

So up pops this man - here is a short profile:

Dunsterville, Lionel Charles (1865- 1946)
British Military Commander, Dunsterville, A Russian speaking Indian Army Officer, was appointed at the end of 1917 to lead a composte force of Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand Troops charged with preventing a German-Turko invasion of India and establishing an indipendant Trans-Caucasia.
Supported by an attachment of armoured cars, Duntsterforce march 700 miles across Persia before being turned back by Russian revlountionary forces at Enzeli. A later attempt to occupy the important oil port of Baku had to be abandoned in the face of a superior Turkish force in September 1918, though the port was reoccupied at the Armistice. "Dunsterforce" achievements were a logistical miracle, but the force was too small (no more than 1000 men) to have any real or lasting effect, amounting to little more than an exciting adventure. Dunsterville was at school with Rudyard Kipling, for whom he provided the model of "Stalky".

I was lucky enough to find his diary for these dates printed here: ... _1918.html

My question is this: Just who and where did the Australian and New Zealand soldiers come from to form this Dunsterforce? obviously troops stationed in the Middle East - were they taken from NZMR and Light Horse ranks?
Seems quite a hard case - a "Boys own Paper" tale no less.

Re: Dunsterville

PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:27 am
by hbtoday98

Re: Dunsterville

PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:51 am
by Steve_Butler
Thanks Hb and thanks to Bill who sent this image across the ditch.

It just goes to show, that however remote you think a subject is, there are plenty out there that have been to a story before you!

(note: if you are unable to see all this image on your screen click Right-Hand-Mouse-Button and select "view image" - this will place image on full screen.)

On looking at this image, and I am told taken from the book "With Horse and Morse in Mesopotamia" we see a list that only contains Officers and Sergeants - which immediately begs the question (a) is this the complete list of NZers and (b) With the fact that the force was considered small with approx 1000 men - Why would there be so many men included with such high ranks? - There seems to be enough Officers for a few Battalions - and then there were Aussies, English, Canadians, surely there would be Officers from these forces as well? And here included are 21 Sergeants - considering an average ratio would be one Sergeant per platoon of 33 men (in my day) that would equate to 693 men for a start!

At first look at these names we can see 3 men are NZMR by their enlistment regimental numbers:
11/971 Sergeant Raymond Barrell - 3rd Reinforcements WMR - from Mangatainoka.
two Otago Mounted Riflemen, 9/1415 Sergeant Gordon Duncan of Otane, Hawkes Bay (whats he doing in the Otago's? Oh good Scots name would have helped :wink: )and 9/144 Sergeant James Grant enlistment address Kelso NZ who left with the Main Body - I am sure there will be others as this date of Dunsterforce was late in the war and numbers for regimantal prefixes were dropped with later reinforcements - so some of these numbers will be MR??
However looking at the first Sergeant - 1078 George Agnew he was with the 1st New Zealand Cycle Company.

I was interested as to why the asterisk appearred next to some of the names, and I chose 10134 Sergeant John Weld, he was a sheep farmer from Waikari in Canterbury, he left with the 11th Reinforcements K Company Infantry - The asterisk denotes the soldier died during his service - He is listed as: Died of Disease, Mesopotamia 17th October 1918 - just 23 days before hostilities ceased against the Ottoman Forces.

Re: Dunsterville

PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:18 am
by Steve_Butler
Following up Captain Robert Kenneth Nicol from this page I see he is only listed as a Lieutenant on the Auckland Museum roll.
His manner of his death is listed here at: ... alID=11496

10/2499, first known rank Sergeant, 6th Reinforcements Wellington Infantry Batt.
Awarded the M.C.
award circumstances:
London Gazette, 9 January 1918, p662, Rec No 1085: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When in charge of Stokes mortars in the defence of a captured village one of his two guns was destroyed, so he handed the other on to his corporal and joined the company, which was in the village. Here he displayed magnificent gallantry and the utmost fearlessness in assisting the company commander, personally leading a bombing party against and enemy counter-attack, and accounting for six of the enemy himself in the desperate hand-to-hand fighting which ensued. His prompt action and fine leadership saved the situation

His place of death is listed as: Persia 5th August 1918

Re: Dunsterville

PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:07 pm
by Jonsig
Hi Steve

One of my drawing I am working on for Pack Horse ........ is of

""""""No. 9 (New Zealand) Station, 1st Wireless Signals Squadron, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force""""""""".
""""""""""Also the the a pack saddle model also.""""""""""""""""

We also sent Doctors and Medics, they will be listed somewhere.
I have a map the belonged to Lt Col Whyte W.M.R Shumran Baghaila TC 74, just to the left of Kut The map has the R. Tigris running though it I also have his JERICHO B6 map I am not sure why he had a used map of Shumran Baghaila ?.

I also have this little item I picked up , it must have been a souvenir, it has the Royal Army medical corps badge drawn on it and Mesopotamia 1916-17-18


Re: Dunsterville

PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:26 pm
by stevenbecker

Just to add

THe Kiwis of Dunsterforce are;

Maj Fred Starnes DSO OBE MID
Capt CM Bathgate
Capt ACP Hay
Capt GEF Kingscote
Capt RK Nicol MC
Capt TWL Rutherford MC
Capt SG Scoular MID
Capt CF Seaward MC
Capt ST Seddon MC
Capt WF Tracy MC
Capt ER Wells MC
Sgt G Agnew 10748
Sgt RM Barrell 11/971
Sgt AJ B;yth 12/303
Sgt F Brophy 12/3949
Sgt Joe Brown 12/1162
Sgt RB Clarke 20098
Sgt G Duncan 9/1415
Sgt J Grant 9/144
Sgt RG Leeden 8/66
Sgt JH Missen 8/3359
Sgt A Nimmo DCM 34906
Sgt A MacKenzie 10858
Sgt W O'Connor 32373
Sgt WM Ryburn 24058
Sgt TB Smith 15983
Sgt HA Strawbridge 6/3172
Sgt JH Swinbanks 23/1837
Sgt HG Tullan 33158
Sgt OP Turnbull 41050
Sgt JE Weld 10134
Sgt AN Wikins 54627




Are you aware that NZ had a Pack (Sig) Troop operating in Mespotamia as well.

Re: Dunsterville

PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:01 pm
by Steve_Butler
Again Steve a welcome input - saves me typing it all out from the book :D

Johnsig: a lovely little find - but what actually is it a leather case for?

and as you are drawing the 9th I went to AWM and grabbed this image (there is about five there I believe of the 9th wireless)


and below my copy for the updates page:
Members of the 1st Wireless Signals Squadron of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force take a well earned break on a section of the "Old Silk Road" after crossing the Zargos mountains outside the ancient Persian Capital of Hamadan - (Mt. Elwend - 11,000 feet in the background),
The 1st were also known as the 1st Anzac Wireless Squadron, and provided communication support back to British Headquarters in Sharbon from Baratov's Russian Force (1st Caucasian Division) and the highly mobile Ford car driven "Dunsterforce".
This photograph from the Australian War Memorial Museum (P00-562.126) was taken by 2055 Sapper Eric Keast Burke of the Australian 'D' Troop Wireless Section., and his subjects here are the "No.9 Horse Drawn (New Zealand) Station - 1st Wireless Signals Squadron."
Eric Keast Burke recorded many photographs of the Anzac Signallers in Mesopotamia and after the war was ardently pursued by Australia's Official Historian Charles Bean to record the "Unit's" history. The prodding worked and Bean was able to post in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1927:
The editor of "With Horse and Morse in Mesopotamia (the Story of
the Anzacs in Asia)" has just published one of the finest memorial
unit histories of the war which Australians have yet produced.

It is my intention to make available an eBook copy of Buke's "With Horse and Morse in Mesopotamia" in the near future.
Eric Keast Burke joined the AIF straight from Sydney University but originally hailed from Christchurch, New Zealand. This was not an uncommon practice - Many New Zealanders joined Australian units at the outbreak of the war, Likewise hundreds of Australians joined NZ forces.

Re: Dunsterville

PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 2:05 pm
by Jonsig
Hi Steve yes this is the Wireless cart wagon that I have been working on :D
Also the pack Wireless.

I have been told by a few experts, It would of held Cigars or Cigarettes.
On the back in Pencil is Mesopotamia 1916-17-18 also a name that is hard to make out.
It may have been a Christmas present issued to men serving in that area?
This was off trademe a while ago, it came from a deceased estate .
Sadly they could give me no information on it.
It would be great to have that book online, I have heard of it, but never had a chance to read it.


Re: Dunsterville

PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 4:24 am
by Dave Armstrong

My grandfather was 9/144 James Alexander Grant, he was left for dead with typhoid in the Mesopatamian desert and walked out three weeks after the war had finished.

Not long ago we recieved a photo from England showing him in uniform just before the Dunsterforce sailed for Basra.

This year I recieved his Gallipoli medallion and plan to place it with his medals in the Army museum.

I am currently working in Durban but on my return hope to have the medallion blessed at QAMR lines and then travel to Wellington and have Terry Kinloch sign my copies of his first 2 books and give him a copy of my grandfathers photo for his third book before visiting the NZMR museum in Bulls and presenting another photo. Finally to Waiouru to place the medallion and hand over another photo.

We are so proud to be not only a family with ANZAC roots but have three generations of cavalry soldiers so far.

My fathers uncle was a Rough Rider and I still need to research him more.

Poppa (James Grant) Otago Mounted Rifles (12th, Southland)

My Father 3rd Armoured regiment
His brothers New Zealand Scottish Regiment

Myself RNZAC. 1 Sqn NZ Scots and QA Wai/WEC
My brother John 1 NZ Scots TF

From what I understand the Dunsterforce consisted of Sgts and Officers no lower ranks.

much the same as the NZ Monitoring force in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe which I was a part of consisted of teams of 1 officer 5 Sgts and 5 Cpls.

From talking to my mother and aunt, James didn't talk a lot about his experiences in the war, but did mention women picking the seed out of the horses dung as the force was working in a famine area and had no food to spare. From what I have been able to read the force was split up and most did not reach Bhaku it was only a short campaign but physically exhausted the men some of who like my grand father had survived Gallipoli and the Somme.

I base out of Loburn near Rangiora and am interested in participating in a South Island memorial troop if there is any one else interested.

Dave Armstrong

Re: Dunsterville

PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:15 pm
by Maryh
I have been researching the topic of Lord Dunsterville's "hush hush" mission to Baku for several years now, as a great uncle, Seargent William O'Connor, was one of the New Zealanders on that mission. Initially it was quite hard to find anything at all about it but this has changed recently. One of the best articles I have read is an account of the Canadians who were part of this expedition ... 20long.pdf

I have been told by older relatives that the most shocking part of the whole mission was the condition of the woman and children they encountered; who were mostly starving. My uncle found this aspect hard to forget in later years.

Re: Dunsterville

PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:21 am
by Steve_Butler
Thanks Maryh - it has taken me a few days to get to the download and read the PDF - highly recommended- the references for further reading at the end are very helpful - This story is a marvelous bit of "Boys Own" bit of mentality - it could have been so easily a complete disaster - goes to show how inept the enemy was as well.