Photographs, letters and Diary compiled by Steve Butler
Jack Shepherd was an ordinary man, one of the thousands of ordinary men that made up the rank and file of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles during the First World War. His story is told in a single "Gallipoli" Diary and photographs he sent home to his family – certainly Jack’s daughter Margaret was not born until after the Great War, but she was to inherit the collection and it has been in her protective custody for a great many decades.
All these years later we now have the opportunity to re-visit the life of one individual trooper during his service abroad in Egypt, Gallipoli and England.
Jack’s story is of interest on a number of key points. Most of us tend to think of the men of the mounted brigade going into action at Gallipoli in 1915 in the first campaign, later returning to base camp in Egypt by December that year. Then in 1916 to 1918 advancing across the deserts of Sinai into Turkish Palestine in the second campaign of the Mounted Rifles war effort.
For Jack and hundreds of other members of the Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury Regiments, their destiny was to be quite different after the Gallipoli campaign. Many individuals from these units, along with the entire Otago Mounted Rifles Regiment, were dispatched into the European conflict.
Some sections of men were taken from the ranks of the NZMR brigade to bolster the allied armies in France and Belgium – many machine gunners especially were re-deployed. Then there were the others, the men who had become seriously ill or severely wounded in the Gallipoli Campaign and had been sent the long sea voyage to English hospitals for surgery and treatment – for Jack and his fellows who recovered, now found themselves stationed in an area desperately short of fighting men. These men were transferred into New Zealand Infantry and Artillery units and sent onto the Western Front. Jack was posted to, and was to spend the remainder of the war, with the Auckland Rifle Battalion.
Jack’s story is unique on another rather sad point. He was one of only a handful of troopers of the Auckland Mounted Rifles to survive the August 8th 1915 attack on the Turkish defences on the Sari Bair range during that dreadful day they fought to gain the high ground of Chunuk Bair – he was one of a few able to return and write about the attack in his diary.
OFF ON THE GREAT O.E.
| Jack is seen kneeling second from left. Why this is such an especially good find is that Jack gave this photograph to his Grandmother, writing information on the reverse.
" To Grandma from Jack - J. Fothingham. H. Holt. F. Marsh. J. Fox. G. Garland. O. L. Farrelly.
C. Gillanders. E. W. [Jack] Shepherd. E. J. Williams. V. Gillanders.
4th Waikato Mounted Rifles. Epsom Military Camp - September 11th 1914."
For these young men the great overseas adventure was just beginning - they hoped they would get to Europe before the war finished without them. The reality of Gallipoli and other theatres of the conflict meant otherwise - many would not return home.
The following month from when this photograph was taken, 2,143 soldiers and 891 horses of the Auckland Mounted Rifles boarded the "Star of India" and the "Waimana" troopships and with their escorts, HMS Phillomel and the Japanese warship "Ibuki", sailed down the Waitemata for 'ports unknown'.
Note: Cross references on the site would lead me to believe that the trooper standing fifth from the left is Grev Garland - we have his story on the Troopers Histories page. And on reading the newspaper cutting placed on that page, it would seem that both Grev Garland and the man standing next to him, O.L. Farrelly were mentioned in dispatches during attacks at Gallipoli between the dates of May 6th and June 23rd 1915. The report goes on to say that O.F. Farrelly had since been killed in action. (Initials O.F. is a misprint in the newspaper clip - the Cenotaph data base records Trooper 13/334 O.L. [Oliver Lawrence] Farrelly was KIA on the 8th August 1915.)
Also recorded is that Trooper 13/389 Fredrick George Marsh was also killed during the same attack of the 8th. Twenty days later, 13/335 Trooper James Fotheringham was killed in action, also on Gallipoli. To think that three men here would be dead within the year - and five others hospitalised with wounds and disease.
GILLANDERS - The names of three sons of Mr. & Mrs. Chas Gillanders of Ngaruawahia have now appeared in the casualty lists. The three brothers enlisted at the outbreak of war and left with the 4th, Waikato Mounted Rifles. Bugler Norman GILLANDERS was killed in action in May; his brother Trooper Charles GILLANDERS, was wounded in August; and the third son, Trooper Vincent Francis GILLANDERS, is reported to have been dangerously wounded and is now in the 3rd, Western Hospital, Cardiff. [printed Auckland Weekly News 30.09.1915]
WAIKATO MEN STRONG AND TRUE
|Second Lieutenant Morris James Milliken proudly sits with his men from the 4th Troop, 4th Waikato Mounted Rifles.
Although this photo home has no date. We can be certain that this image of the men is taken during training in Egypt between December 1914 and April 1915, as many of the men pictured here were killed or wounded in the following months on Gallipoli. Among those killed was Morris Milliken during the disastouros attack to capture the heights on August 8th 1915.
Jack wrote down the names of the men on the reverse of this photograph post card. We are therefore able to detail what became of these men over the next few months:
Number 4 Troop - 4th Squadron (Waikato Mounted Rifles) - Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment NZMR.
Frank William Terry - Corporal 13/464 - Killed in Action August 8th 1915
George Allen Hill - Sergeant - 13/354 - Killed in Action August 8th 1915
Ernest William Chater - Trooper 13/305 - Wounded August 6th 1915 , promoted Sgt.
Cliffton Vernon Bigg-wither - trooper 13/301
George Reeve Bettelheim - Lance Corporal - 13/302 - Died of Disease - Pulmanory TB - New Zealand April 1918
Vincent Frances Gillanders - Trooper 13/346 - reported wounded in AWNews 30.09.1915
Samuel Snowden - Trooper 13/441
Alfred James Swayne - Trooper 13/459 - Wounded August 7th 1915
Harold Willoughby - Trooper 13/481 - Died of Wounds - Gallipoli 18th June 1915
Ernest Albert Jurd - Second Lieutenant 13/369 - Killed in Action August 8th 1915
William Rose Holden - Corporal. 13/411 - Wounded May 24th 1915
Clifford Henry Robinson - Trooper 13/435 -Wounded August 8th 1915
Unkown Trooper - see note below.
John Cullerton - Trooper 13/316 - Wounded August 6th 1915
Charles McRae Gillanders - Trooper 13/340 - Wounded August 8th 1915
William Atherton Bennett - Trooper 13/292 - Wounded much later in Sinai with the rank of Lieutenant, at Beersheba 31st Oct 1917.
James W. Watson - Trooper 13/479 - Wounded 2nd June 1915, promoted Lieutenant.
Alfred William Kent - Trooper
13/376 - Killed in Action August 8th 1915
Allen Seivier Wild - Trooper 13/474 - a Diary is held at Auckland Museum.
Ernest Meyer - Corporal 13/399 - Wounded 19th May 1915
Morris James Milliken - Lieutenant - Killed in Action August 8th 1915
Joseph Mewsomne Drabble - 13/332 Trooper
Albert Victor Smith - Trooper 13/450
W. "Jack" Shepherd - Trooper - Invalidid off Gallipoli sickness, to London
Willian John Foster - Staff Qmaster Sgt -13/326 - Wounded May 31st 1915
|Note: It is probable that the soldier's name omitted by Jack when writing the names on the back of the photograph was:-
HADDOCK, Trooper Wm, 4th, Waikato, Squadron, Auckland Mounted Rifles, who was killed in action on June 17, was the third son of the late Mr. John Haddock of Pratt St, Auckland. He was a farmer of Karamu, Waikato and prior to the outbreak of the war was the secretary of the Karamu branch of the Farmers' Union. [printed Auckland Weekly News 08.07.1915]
Hospitalisation in England
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.
Above, 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
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
ON THE MEND
Trooper Harwood and Corporal Delany
On a photograph post card Jack writes home to his sister from Hornchurch Camp, England. Jack and his fellow troopers have recovered from their ordeal on Gallipoli and have now begun training to gain fitness and return to the front lines:
Well dear I am afraid there is very little news of any interest. Will write as often as I can. Feeling pretty tired, it is pretty hard work carrying the pack, but I am doing my best.
Goodbye for the present.
With fond love to you all.
From Jack XXXXXXX
H.Harwood and Corporal Delaney [pictured]
Within a few weeks Jack is detailed and transferred to the Auckland Infantry Battalion to France. Others are relocated or sent back to join the NZMR in Egypt.
What became of these two men?
On the right is Corporal Arthur Delaney of the 11th North Auckland Mounted Rifles. He rejoins the Mounteds and is included during the opening attack into the Sinai Desert. He is promoted Sergeant but dies of wounds in the 27th Genera Hospital, Cairo on the 17th August 1916.
(4 NZMR men killed and 35 wounded on the opening attack at Romani that began on the 4th August 1916, presumably Arthur Delaney was among this initial number).
Trooper Nataniel Harold Harwood also returned to Egypt, and having first been transferred from the Auckland Mounted Rifles to the Wellingtons on the 28th March 1915, he now transferred to the New Zealand Army Service Corps on 14 January 1916 as a Driver attached to [N.Z. M. Field Amt], before transferring to No. 4 Company, New Zealand Army Service Corps, as a Shoesmith on 20 May 1918. He was finally promoted to Shoesmith Corporal on 10 January 1919. He embarked for New Zealand from Suez on the Kaikoura (ship) on 6 March 1919.
|CLICK HERE to go to Jack's Gallipoli Diary posted on the next page.