Topic: AIF - NZMRB - OMR
Otago Mounted Rifles Regiment
Es Fidelis - Be Faithful
Review of the 5th Otago Mounted Rifles before General Godley in Tahuna Park, Dunedin, 21 August 1914
[From: Auckland Weekly News, 3 September 1914, p. 36.]
The Territorial Volunteer Regiments.
The first Territorial unit, known as the Otago Cavalry was formed on 4 November 1864 but the name was quickly altered to reflect the nature of the unit, that is as light horse rather than full cavalry. So on 17 December 1864 the formation was renamed the Otago Light Horse.
About 1885, the name was changed again to the 5th Otago Hussars, again, reflecting the role expected of the Regiment.
After the lessons of the Boer War filtered through to the New Zealand military structure, on 14 September 1900, the unit was renamed the Otago Mounted Rifles. This was to distinguish the unit from a mounted infantry role which required the added mobility and use of the rifle. Two weeks later, on 1 October the government gazetted two Battalions were gazetted to be raised from the Otago region.
Another name change occurred on 13 September 1906 when Battalions of Mounted Rifles were to be henceforth known as Regiments, thus came into being the 1st and 2nd Regiments, Otago Mounted Rifles.
The last change prior to the Great War occurred on 17 March 1911 when the New Zealand compulsory military training program commenced. Three Regiments were to be raised to form the Otago Mounted Rifles Brigade. The three Regiments formed were: the Otago Hussars centred in Dunedin; 7th Southland Regiment located around the Invercargill region; and, a newly formed Regiment based upon the hinterland to the west of Dunedin called the 12th (South Otago) Mounted rifles.
The Otago 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.
5th Otago Mounted Rifles Squadron
The Territorial Volunteer unit known as the 5th Mounted Rifles, or more commonly by the Territorial name, the Otago Hussars provided the men for the 1st Squadron while also establishing the Regimental structure for the Otago Mounted Rifles. After seeing service at Gallipoli, it was the 5th Mounted Rifles that remained a mounted formation when the Otago Mounted Rifles were disbanded in March 1916. The Squadron went to France where it became brigaded with the "B" and "D" Squadrons from the 4th Light Horse Regiment. These three squadrons formed the composite regiment known as the II Anzac Corps Mounted Regiment. [See: Aus Units - 22nd Corps]
12th Otago Mounted Rifles Squadron
The 12th Otago Mounted Rifles Regiment as a Territorial Volunteer formation came into being on 17 March 1911 when the New Zealand compulsory military training program commenced. The 12th Otago Mounted Rifles Squadron was recruited from the same Territorial region which included the area north and east of Dunedin.
7th Southland Mounted Rifles Squadron
The 7th Southland Mounted Rifles Regiment was founded on 1 October 1900 when it was gazetted as a new regiment although with its roots in the Otago Hussars. The 7th Southland Mounted Rifles Squadron was recruited from the same Territorial region which incorporated the south and west of Dunedin and was centred on Invercargill.
Machine Gun Section
The Machine Gun Section was drawn from recruits over the entirety of the Otago Mounted Rifles catchment area.
The original Otago Mounted Rifles Regiment embarked to Egypt on 16 October 1914.
- HMNZT 5 Ruapehu - Otago Mounted Rifles Regt. (1 Squadron)
- HMNZT 9 Hawkes Bay - Otago Mounted Rifles Regt. (less 1 Squadron)
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 Otago 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 Otago Mounted Rifles remained at Gallipoli, the unit played a defensive role.
Lieutenant-Colonel A. W. Bauchop, 1914
Lieutenant-Colonel R. R. Grigor, D.S.O., 1915-16
Lieutenant Colonel Stanley George Hindhaugh
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.
Disbanded March 1916.
After Gallipoli, the honours are attributed as part of the Corps Cavalry, 2nd Corps Cavalry and 22nd Corps Cavalry.
- Defence at Anzac
- Sari Bair
- Gallipoli 1915-1916
- Messines 1917
- Ypres 1917
- Marne 1918
- France and Flanders 1916-1918
The Otago Mounted Rifles fought as a Regiment at Gallipoli but subsequent to the evacuation from the peninsular, the Regiment was disbanded and absorbed into the newly formed 2nd Battalion of the 3rd (Rifle) Brigade. The 5th Mounted Rifles Squadron remained as a mounted formation for the specific purpose of being sent to France as part of the Corps Cavalry and later to be known as the 22nd Corps Cavalry.
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. Steve Butler has kinldy provided the artwork for this entry.
A further thanks are extended to Steve Becker for his excellent work and article called: The XXII Corps Mounted Regiment and the 2nd Battle of the Marne.
Citation: Otago Mounted Rifles, NZMRB, History