"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.
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Outline of the Auckland Mounted Rifles, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade
Auckland Mounted Rifles marching along Upper Symonds Street, Auckland, September 1914.
[From: Auckland Weely News, 1 October 1914, p. 45.]
Auckland Mounted Rifle Squadron Recruitment Catchment Areas
The Auckland Mounted Rifles utilised the Volunteer Territorial structure to recruit members into the three squadrons gazetted as establishment in August 1914. Below is a listing of the three squadrons inclusive of the distinguishing squadron badge.
3rd Auckland Squadron
Badge for the 3rd Auckland Regiment
The 3rd Auckland Squadron was recruited from the Auckland metropolitan area and the immediate surrounding region.
4th Waikato Squadron
Badge for the 4th Waikato Regiment
The 4th Waikato Squadron was recruited from the region south and east of Auckland.
11th North Auckland Squadron
Badge for the 11th North Auckland Regiment
The 11th North Auckland Squadron was recruited from the region north and west of Auckland.
Machine Gun Section
The Machine Gun Section was drawn from recruits over the entirety of the Auckland Mounted Rifles catchment area.
The original Auckland Mounted Rifles embarked to Egypt on 16 October 1914.
In Egypt additional training occurred at Maadi Camp.
As mounted troops, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles were considered to be unsuitable for work in Gallipoli. The mounted troops volunteered to operate as infantry and thus were sent to Gallipoli with the Auckland Mounted Rifles landing on 12 May 1915. Only once was this regiment used for offensive activities which occurred during the two attacks on Hill 60 in August 1915. For the balance of the time the Auckland Mounted Rifles remained at Gallipoli, the unit played a defensive role.
Defence of Egypt
In March 1916, the Auckland Mounted Rifles was allotted as a Regiment in the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, or more commonly called the Anzac Mounted Division. As part of the Division the Auckland Mounted Rifles moved to join its parent brigade, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, which was taking part in the defence of the Suez Canal. The work was hot and monotonous. they remained here until moved to the Romani region to bolster the defence of that area.
The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade played an important role in beating back the Turkish invasion of the Suez Canal zone at Romani. Now known as the Battle of Romani which lasted from 4-6 August which was quickly followed by the Battle of Katia and then Bir el Abd on 9 August. All the actions in which the Auckland Mounted Rifles finally led to the defeat of the Ottoman Canal Expeditionary force and its retreat to Bir el Mazar.
Over the next few months, the Auckland Mounted Rifles took part in the Allied advance over the Sinai leading to the fall of Bir el Mazar, then El Arish followed by Bir el Magdhaba and finally Rafa in January 1917. The Ottoman forces were expelled from the Sinai and were poised to be tackled in Palestine.
On 27 March 1917, the Auckland Mounted Rifles took an adventurous role during the First Battle of Gaza. While involved in the encirclement of the city as a prelude to its capture, the Auckland Mounted Rifles received the order to withdraw and return to the starting line. Grudgingly they did so but realised the Turks had snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat.
The Auckland Mounted Rifles took part in the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 April 1917 and suffered the heaviest casualties since Gallipoli.
The Auckland Mounted Rifles took part in the Battle of Beersheba and then the follow up actions that lasted until early January 1918. This included such actions as the Battle of Ayun Kara and the advance to Jaffa.
After the fall of Jerusalem the Auckland Mounted Rifles moved to the Jordan Valley and took parts in operations in this region. This included the taking of Jericho, the attack on Amman during 27 March - 2 April 1918 and Es Salt Raid of 30 April – 4 May 1918. It's last major action prior to the breakout was to repel the German Asien Corps attack on Abu Telllul, 14 July 1918.
At the opening of the final Allied offensive on 19 September 1918, the Auckland Mounted Rifles took part in the invasion of the Moab hills for the third time. This time Amman was captured and finally, the Ottomans called for an Armistice on 30 October 1918.
Lieutenant Colonel C. E. R. Mackesy
Lieutenant Colonel J. N. McCarroll
Decorations earned by the Auckland Mounted Rifles
2 CMG - Companion in The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George
4 DSO & 1 Bar - Distinguished Service Orders
1 CBE - Commander of the British Empire
1 OBE - Order of the British Empire
1 MBE - Member of the British Empire
7 MC & 2 Bars - Military Crosses
6 DCM - Distinguished Conduct Medals
16 MM- Military Medals
28 MID - Mentioned in Despatches
5 foreign awards
Formed August 1914.
Attached to the New Zealand and Australian Division from December 1914 to April 1915. Attachment ceased on the Division's deployment to Gallipoli.
Attached to the New Zealand and Australian Division at Gallipoli from May 1915 to February 1916.
Attached to the Anzac Mounted Division March 1916 until March 1919.
The Auckland Mounted Rifles returned to New Zealand with the main body of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles. With much ceremony at Chevalier Island, the Wellington Mounted Rifles along with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade was disbanded on 30 June 1919. On the same day, Auckland Mounted Rifles returned to New Zealand on the SS Ulimaroa.
Acknowledgement: Thanks are extended to Steve Butler and Greg Bradley for the excellent site New Zealand Mounted Rifles Association and their consent to use information and images from that particular site.
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