Richard Percy Renall

Richard Percy Renall, 13/2242

Machine Gun Squadron, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade

Killed in action, 28 March 1918

Born in Wairarapa in 1895, Richard Percy Renall was the tenth of Joseph and Mary Renall’s eleven children. The family were well-known in the area; Richard’s grandfather was a prominent early settler and both he and Richard’s father served as mayors of Masterton. In 1907, when Richard was still at school, the family relocated to Kohekohe, west of Pukekohe.

Described as ‘a fine big fellow’, Richard became a famer and was working with his father in Kohekohe when he enlisted for service in June 1915. He joined the Auckland Mounted Rifles as a trooper and spent a month at Gallipoli before the evacuation in December. During several months of rest and recuperation in Egypt, the New Zealand forces were reorganised. In April 1916 the new New Zealand Division departed for the Western Front while the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade remained behind. They became part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, whose task was to prevent Ottoman forces reaching the Suez Canal.

In July 1916 Richard transferred to the Machine Gun Squadron, in which he became known for his skill with machinery and ability to fix watches. Over the next 18 months the mounted riflemen fought in a series of battles which gradually pushed the Ottomans back across the Sinai Desert and into Palestine. Richard was promoted to lance-corporal and then awarded a Military Medal for his bravery in battle at Ayun Kara in November 1917.  

On 27 March 1918 the New Zealand mounted riflemen participated in a raid on the strategically-important town of Amman, east of the Jordan River. They attacked the town repeatedly for four days before abandoning the offensive and withdrawing back to the Jordan Valley. Richard was killed on the second day of this offensive.

While returning from gun positions where he had delivered tea to the men and checked their supplies of food and ammunition, Richard was shot by a sniper. He died instantly. A small party of men buried his body, but the location of his grave was lost when the force withdrew. Richard’s body was not recovered after the war. He is remembered on the memorial at Jerusalem War Cemetery in Israel. Back home in New Zealand his name appears on the war memorial in Waiuku and in the Te Toro and Kohekohe Roll of Honour

Further information:

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph record – Richard Renall

Commonwealth War Graves Commission record – Richard Renall

'Personal', Wairarapa Age, 14 March 1918, p. 5

'Various units', New Zealand Herald, 13 April 1918, p. 9

'Bereavement notices', New Zealand Herald, 18 June 1918, p. 1

'Roll of Honour', New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1918, p. 6 

Palestine campaign – Trans-Jordan raids (NZHistory)

Sinai campaign (NZHistory)   

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