Mounted Rifles units

Page 6 – Auckland Mounted Rifles timeline 1914-19

Jump to: 19141915; 1916; 1917; 1918; 1919

This detailed timeline of activities of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment is derived from the unit diaries kept during the First World War. Each year of the timeline is introduced by a summary of the main activities in which the regiment was involved.

1914

August 1914

The Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment (AMR) is formed from the three Territorial Force mounted rifles regiments of the Auckland Military District and starts training for service overseas as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF).

Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Ernest Randolph Mackesy is appointed to command the new regiment, which is assembled and brought up to full strength at Epsom Camp, Auckland. Mackesy, known as a disciplinarian, introduces a unique form of punishment. Men guilty of serious offences are struck off the roll and replaced by others selected from the hundreds of eager volunteers. Not surprisingly, the level of discipline is high.

The regiment’s horses come from two sources. A man can enlist with his own horses. Those who do not are allocated a horse (known as a ‘remount’) from the stock that the army purchases at the start of the war. This leads to skulduggery as men attempt to acquire a suitable mount.

September 1914

  • 22nd – The AMR embarks from Queen’s Wharf in Auckland. Most men join the Auckland Infantry Battalion on HMNZT Waimana; the rest board HMNZT Star of India.
  • 23rd – The Waimana and Star of India leave Auckland Harbour in the evening and sail north.
  • 24th – The vessels carrying the AMR re-enter Auckland Harbour. The sailing of the Main Body of the NZEF has been delayed because the convoy lacks a sufficiently strong escort to fight off German cruisers known to be in the Pacific.
  • 27th – The AMR disembarks at Auckland. Two squadrons resume training at Otahuhu, while the third is based at Takapuna.

October 1914

  • 10th – All but one troop of the AMR embarks on HMNZT Waimana and Star of India. In the evening the troopships leave for Wellington.
  • 14th – The Waimana and Star of India arrive in Wellington Harbour and join the vessels carrying troops from Wellington, Canterbury and Otago, and the warships that will escort the convoy.
  • 16th – The Main Body convoy leaves Wellington at 6 a.m.
  • 21st – The convoy arrives at Hobart, Tasmania.
  • 22nd – The men of the Main Body undertake a route march through Hobart before re-embarking on their transports. The convoy leaves the harbour at 4 p.m.
  • 28th – The convoy arrives at Albany, Western Australia, and joins a convoy carrying the main body of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).

November 1914

  • 1st – The combined NZEF/AIF convoy leaves Albany and begins crossing the Indian Ocean.
  • 15th – The convoy arrives in Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Leave is granted.
  • 17th – The convoy leaves Colombo.
  • 25th – The faster ships of the convoy, including the Star of India, leave the convoy and enter port at Aden.
  • 26th – The ships that called at Aden leave and rejoin the rest of the convoy.
  • 30th – The convoy arrives at Suez, Egypt.

December 1914

  • 5th – After passing through the Suez Canal, the AMR disembarks at Alexandria and travels by train to Zeitoun Camp, near Cairo, the capital of Egypt.
    The regiment soon settles into a routine of training interspersed with sightseeing and sport.
  • 17th – The horses have acclimatised and mounted training begins.

1915

For the first four months of 1915, the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment (AMR) continues training in Egypt. Hopes of action in defence of the Suez Canal and then in the invasion of the Dardanelles are dashed. In May, however, the AMR and the rest of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (NZMR) are thrown – as infantry – into the desperate struggle to seize the commanding heights of the Gallipoli Peninsula. In the next four months the regiment suffers more than half of all its casualties in the war.

January 1915

  • 9th – The AMR begins training as a regiment.
  • 30th – The Second Reinforcements arrive in Zeitoun Camp. About 105 men and 130 horses join the AMR.

February 1915

  • 1st – The NZMR begins training as a brigade. These exercises in coordination are important for the senior officers but tedious for the men.

March 1915

  • 26th – The Third Reinforcements arrive in Zeitoun. The AMR receives 115 horses, some of poor quality.

April 1915

  • 2nd – Rioting by Anzac soldiers in Cairo’s Wazzir brothel district is put down by mounted troops. All leave is stopped.
  • 3rd – The Australian and New Zealand Infantry Division receives orders to prepare for the invasion of Gallipoli. The NZMR (including the AMR) and the two Australian Light Horse brigades will remain in Egypt to continue training and to defend the Suez Canal against the Turks.
    Training focuses on long-distance treks and inter-brigade maneouvres.

May 1915

  • 5th – The NZMR receives orders to move to Gallipoli as infantry.
  • 8th – The AMR leaves Zeitoun Camp and travels by train to Alexandria. The regiment, along with the rest of the NZMR, is to reinforce the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula. The Anzacs are part of General Sir Ian Hamilton’s Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF), which has been given the task of capturing the Gallipoli Peninsula and seizing control of the Dardanelle Straits from the Ottoman Turks. Because of the small size of the Anzac beachhead, and the rugged terrain, the regiments of the NZMR are ordered to leave most of their horses behind in Egypt. They will fight as standard infantry units at Gallipoli. Arrangements are made to take officers’ horses and a few draught horses to meet transport requirements.
    After reaching Alexandria, the AMR is divided into two groups that embark on two transport ships:
    HMT Grantully Castle– 25 officers, 451 other ranks
    HMT Kingstonian – one officer, 29 other ranks, 71 horses
  • 9th – Leave is granted in Alexandria during the day.
    Four stowaways from among the AMR’s farriers and reinforcements who are being left in Egypt are found on board and sent back to Zeitoun Camp.
    HMT Grantully Castle leaves Alexandria at 6 p.m.
  • 10th – Another stowaway, Corporal Grant, is discovered on board Grantully Castle. He is probably 13/688 Acting Corporal Daniel Grant, who will later be killed in action on 8 August during the Battle of Chunuk Bair.
  • 12th – HMT Grantully Castle arrives off Anzac Cove at 12.30 p.m. The men of the AMR are transferred onto the torpedo boat Colne and then landed by lighters at the jetty. Though they are exposed to Ottoman small-arms fire from the heights overlooking Anzac Cove during this process, only 13/239 Trooper James Taylor is wounded. The AMR spends the night at Fishermen’s Hut.
  • 13th – The NZMR is ordered to relieve the Royal Naval Brigade and take over No. 4 Section of the Anzac Cove defensive perimeter (a line which includes positions on Russell’s Top and Walker’s Ridge). The AMR goes into the line on Walker’s Ridge, relieving the Nelson and Deal battalions.
    HMT Kingstonian,which is carrying the first-line transport, arrives off Anzac Cove butreturns to Alexandria without unloading any of the men or horses on board.
  • 19th – At midnight on the night of 18/19 May heavy rifle and machine-gun fire is directed at the AMR trenches. This firing continues until 3.30 a.m., when Ottoman troops launch an attack as part of an assault against Walker’s Ridge and Quinn’s Post. By 4.30 a.m. the attack has been repulsed, at the cost of 22 men of the AMR killed and 27 wounded. The bodies of 350 Ottoman soldiers are estimated to be left lying in no-man’s land in the aftermath of the successful defence of the Anzac's positions.
  • 20th – In the evening the Ottoman Turks try to arrange a ceasefire so the dead from the attack can be buried. The AMR fears another attack: large numbers of reinforcements can be seen moving forward in the Ottoman trenches, and the Turks are taking ammunition and rifles from the dead in no-man’s land. After giving a two minutes’ warning of their intention to resume hostilities, the AMR opens fire and forces the Ottoman soldiers back into their trenches.
  • 22nd – The AMR is relieved from its front-line positions by the 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment and moves into dugouts on the western slope of Plugge’s Plateau. The Anzac position is so small that enemy action still presents a danger in the so-called 'rear' area: 13/385 Trooper Johnny Linwood is fatally wounded in a dugout by a spent rifle bullet. AMR casualties in this bivouac caused by stray bullets and shellfire are similar to those on a quiet day in a front-line position on Walker’s Ridge.
  • 31st – The AMR moves along the beach to assist the Wellington Mounted Rifles, which is under heavy Ottoman attack at No. 3 Post. The wors of the threat posed by this attack passes before the AMR becomes involved, and the regiment returns to bivouac at Plugge’s Plateau at 8.30 next morning.

June 1915

  • 1st – The AMR moves to a less exposed position in Reserve Gully.
  • 4th – The AMR relieves the 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment in a front-line position on Walker’s Ridge.
  • 18th – The AMR is relieved by the 9th Australian Light Horse and moves into a bivouac at the beach end of Reserve Gully.
  • 23rd – Major A. Tatternall, the AMR’s temporary commanding officer, is evacuated with dysentery.
  • 25th – 13/634 Major Frank Chapman arrives from Egypt and assumes command of the regiment.
  • 30th – One officer and 107 other ranks arrive as reinforcements for the AMR.

July 1915

  • 3rd – The AMR relieves the 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment in the front line.
  • 14th – Two officers and 10 men arrive as reinforcements for the AMR.
  • 16th – The AMR is relieved from its front-line positions by the 9th Australian Light Horse and moves to a bivouac in Reserve Gully.
  • 30th – 13/75 Lieutenant Walter Haeata and 10 men from the AMR leave Gallipoli for duty as the personal bodyguard to Sir Ian Hamilton on the Aegean island of Imbros, 30 km west of Anzac Cove.

August 1915

  • 5thBattle of Chunuk Bair: The AMR takes part in the biggest offensive undertaken by the Allies at Gallipoli. This has three main components:
    1.  A large-scale British landing at Suvla Bay, 8 km north of Anzac Cove;
    2.  An attack by New Zealand, Australian and British forces from Anzac Cove aimed at linking up with the British at Suvla and capturing the strategic heights of the Sari Bair range;
    3.  Diversionary attacks by the Australian Division at Lone Pine and British forces at Cape Helles.

    The NZMR is assigned to the Right Covering Force of the Allied attack on the Sari Bair range. This force is to clear the way for the Right Assaulting Column to capture the ridge at Chunuk Bair (part of the Sari Bair range) by taking six key features: Old No. 3 Post, Big Table Top, Destroyer Hill, Little Table Top, Bauchop’s Hill and Walden Point. The AMR is to capture Old No. 3 Post.
    The AMR moves to new bivouac area at No. 2 Post.
  • 6thBattle of Chunuk Bair: At about 9 p.m., the AMR moves up the Sazli Beit Dere with the goal of taking Old No. 3 Post (which has been in Ottoman hands since 30 May). The attack is to occur in conjunction with a bombardment by a Royal Navy destroyer. Each night for a number of weeks, the duty destroyer has lit up Old No. 3 Post with its searchlight and bombarded the area from 9 p.m. until 9.10 p.m., and again from 9.20 p.m. until 9.30 p.m. It is hoped that this pattern will enable the AMR to get close to Old No. 3 Post without being detected, then assault it after the second bombardment ends.
    The AMR gets to within 20 m of Old No 3 Post, just outside the searchlight beam. At 9.30 p.m. the 3rd (Auckland) and 11th (North Auckland) squadrons rush Old No. 3 Post. The position, its garrison and an Ottoman bivouac with 400 men behind the front line are overrun, and by 10.30 p.m. the AMR is in control of the area. Despite the strength of the Old No. 3 Post position, it is taken at the cost of only 20 casualties.
    The AMR spends the rest of the night reorganising Old No. 3 Post’s defences for their purposes and repelling counter-attacks. By morning the position is considered secure.
  • 7th  – Battle of Chunuk Bair: Overall Allied progress has slowed and the advance of the main assault columns has fallen badly behind schedule. The AMR is relieved from Old No. 3 Post by two troops of the Wellington Mounted Rifles, and spends the day resting in Overton Gully. At 11 p.m. the AMR is allocated to the right-hand column for a renewed assault on the high ground of the Sari Bair Range. This column is to take Chunuk Bair at dawn.
    One of the casualties suffered by the Regiment in the fighting this day is the loss of Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy’s son, 13/254 2nd Lieutenant Henry Mackesy, 4th (Waikato) Squadron, killed in action.
  • 8thBattle of Chunuk Bair: In the early hours of the morning the Wellington Battalion captures Chunuk Bair. The Ottoman Turks counter-attack repeatedly.
    In an attempt to renew the general attack on Sari Bair, the Allied troops are reorganised into three columns. No. 1 Column consists of the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, the Wellington and Auckland Mounted Rifles regiments, 8th (Pioneer) Battalion, The Welsh Regiment, the 7th Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment, and the 26th Indian Mountain Battery. No. 1 Column is to consolidate the ground already taken on the south-western slopes of Chunuk Bair and, in conjunction with the other two columns, gain the whole of Chunuk Bair and extend out from it as far as possible to the east and south.
    At 1.30 a.m. the AMR moves out of its bivouac and up the slopes towards Chunuk Bair. By dawn the regiment is behind the Apex awaiting developments. At 8 a.m. the AMR and the Maori Contingent are ordered to reinforce Chunuk Bair. The AMR suffers heavy casualties while crossing a ravine to reach Chunuk Bair. At 11 a.m. the regiment is in the line at Chunuk Bair. It spends the afternoon attempting to dig trenches in hot conditions while repelling Ottoman attacks and throwing back ‘bombs’ (grenades).
    After dark the AMR is ordered to move forward to hold a ditch in front of the main Chunuk Bair position. This position is untenable because of the heavy fire and the regiment soon withdraws to the established line. Casualties in the AMR are now so high that the unit has almost ceased to exist.
  • 9thBattle of Chunuk Bair: The AMR is relieved from Chunuk Bair at 5 a.m. and withdraws to a bivouac near No. 2 Post. The total strength of the regiment, including those who are sick, is now 66. Only 22 of the 288 officers and men who went into the advance remain on strength; the rest have been killed, wounded, fallen ill, or are missing.
  • 10th – The AMR moves to a bivouac behind Old No. 3 Post.
  • 11th – The AMR moves into Old No. 3 Post.
  • 12th – Since 6 August, the AMR has lost 57 men killed, 144 wounded and 27 missing in action.
  • 22nd – Thirty-year old Father Patrick Dore, a Roman Catholic chaplain attached to the AMR, is wounded in the spine while assisting wounded men on the Aghyl Dere. He is evacuated but never fully recovered and later dies in New Zealand on 15 July 1918 while undergoing a subsequent operation to treat the injury.
  • 23rd – The AMR and the Wellington Mounted Rifles move into the front line further north, on Hill 60, relieving the Canterbury and Otago Mounted Rifles.
  • 27th – A second attack on Hill 60 is mounted in an effort to expand the foothold gained in an attack on the 21st. The attacking force is divided into three groups: a ‘Right Force’ of 350 Australian infantry, a ‘Left Force’ of 250 infantry from the Connaught Rangers, and a 400-strong ‘Centre Force’ made up of 300 men of the NZMR and 100 from the 18th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force (AIF). What is left of the AMR is in the first wave of this attack.
    – At 4 p.m. an artillery bombardment opens up on the Ottoman trenches. At 5 p.m. this ceases and 160 men of the Auckland and Canterbury Mounted Rifles quickly capture the first line of Ottoman trenches. The second wave, consisting of the Wellington and Otago Mounted Rifles, passes through them and on to the second line of trenches 40 m further back. These too are captured, but both waves suffer heavy casualties and the Ottoman defenders respond with fierce counter-attacks. The advance is halted and Centre Force is ordered to consolidate its hold on the second line of Ottoman trenches. The 100 men from 18th Battalion, AIF, reinforce the New Zealand line.
    The New Zealanders defend the position for the rest of the day and night under constant artillery, machine-gun and rifle fire. A number of Turkish counter-attacks are beaten off.
    Another 50 men of the 18th Infantry Battalion, AIF, and 250 men of the 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment arrive around 10 p.m. to reinforce the New Zealanders. The remainder of the Wellington Mounted Rifles also arrives overnight to reinforce the position.
    – The 140 m of Ottoman trenches taken is the only success of the attack. Right Force has failed to take its objective because of heavy machine-gun fire. Left Force took its objective but was forced out of the position by the Ottoman troops by 9.30 p.m.
  • 28th – The NZMR defends the captured trenches on Hill 60 against Ottoman counter-attacks throughout the day and night.
    – Later in the day 180 men of the 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment arrive to reinforce the line.
  • 29th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR are relieved by troops of the 19th Battalion, AIF, and the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade. They move into trenches at the rear of the Hill 60 position.
    – The AMR has suffered heavy casualties at Hill 60: one officer and 37 other ranks killed, and four officers and 61 other ranks wounded.

September 1915

  • 2nd – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR move to a bivouac just behind the front line on Cheshire Ridge, which was captured during the August offensive.
  • 3rd – The strength of the AMR is now five officers and 83 men.
  • 4th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR relieve the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in the front-line trenches on Cheshire Ridge.
  • 6th – 13/148 Major James Neil McCarroll takes over temporary command of the regiment.
  • 8th – Major King resumes command of the regiment.
  • 12th – The AMR is relieved by the 27th Battalion, AIF.
  • 13th – The AMR (less Major McCarroll and 13 men) is ordered to move down to the beach and embarks on HMT Osmanich. Along with the rest of the NZMR, the AMR is taken to the island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea for rest and training.
  • 14th – The AMR disembarks in Mudros Harbour and goes into Sarpi Camp.
  • 29th – Major McCarroll and his party arrive on Lemnos.

October 1915

  • 5th – Three officers and 216 men arrive as reinforcements for the AMR.
  • 7th – The four regiments of the NZMR reallocate their recently arrived reinforcements to the regiment from the military district in which they were recruited. Some of these men change units for the second time in four days.  
  • 8th – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy is placed in temporary command of the NZMR. Major McCarroll is promoted to temporary lieutenant-colonel and assumes command of the AMR.

November 1915

  • 10th – The AMR embarks on HMT Osmanich to return to Anzac Cove. The regiment moves to Waterfall Gully and spends the next fortnight digging shelters and terracing hillsides. Its effective strength on return to Gallipoli is 10 officers and 286 other ranks.
  • 13th – One officer and 65 other ranks arrive as reinforcements for the AMR.
  • 27th – The AMR moves into the front line, relieving 1/5 Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment at Gloucester Hill.
    Snow starts to fall late in the day and continues falling until the next day. Men in the trenches with little shelter have a miserable time.

December 1915

  • 12th – The AMR is relieved from its front-line positions by the 16th Battalion, AIF.
  • 14th – The AMR embarks on HMT Princess Ena and is transported to Lemnos. Most of the regiment are transhipped to HMT Knight of the Garter,which is coaling in Mudros Harbour.
  • 15th – The four officers and 104 men not transhipped to Knight of the Garter are landed at Mudros.
  • 17th – The men who embarked on HMT Knight of the Garter disembark and join the rest of the regiment in bivouac at Mudros East.
  • 22nd – The AMR embarks on HMT Hororata for transport to Alexandria, Egypt. Its strength is 16 officers and 321 other ranks.
  • 26th – The AMR disembarks at Alexandria and boards a train for Zeitoun Camp, near Cairo.
  • 27th – The AMR arrives at Zeitoun. Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy resumes command of the regiment. Mounted training resumes.

1916

The Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment (AMR), like the rest of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (NZMR), soon recouped its strength after returning to Egypt from Gallipoli. When most of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force sailed for France in April 1916, the NZMR remained in Egypt as part of an Anzac Mounted Division which was helping defend Egypt against the Ottoman Turks. A rethink of British strategy in the region saw this defensive effort changed into an offensive one designed to take the fight to the enemy and destroy or neutralise his bases in the Sinai Peninsula.

The advance this new strategy required was made feasible by the construction of a railway and water pipeline eastwards from the Suez Canal across the Sinai Desert. This would supply the food, ammunition and most importantly water needed to keep the British forces – the ‘Egyptian Expedtionary Force’ (EEF) – fighting in a harsh environment.

By the end of the year the EEF had won a series of actions against Ottoman forces, driven them out of the Sinai, and reached the border of Palestine in one of the most successful Allied campaigns of the war.

January 1916

Reinforcements bring the regiment up to full strength plus 10% of establishment. The regimental Machine Gun Section is reorganised and strengthened from one to two sections (two to four machine guns).

  • 23rd – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR leave Zeitoun Camp for the Suez Canal, 140 km to the east. The AMR bivouacs overnight at the village of Nawa. The journey takes seven days in all.
  • 29th – The AMR completes its journey with a 5½-hour trek from Moascar to Serapeum, near the canal. A camp is set up and the AMR resumes training alongside the rest of the brigade.

February 1916

The AMR spends the month training, playing sport and swimming in the Suez Canal.

  • 18th – The AMR convenes a Court of Enquiry. This decides that 41 men missing since the Gallipoli campaign should be reported as dead.

March 1916

    • 4th – The 3rd (Auckland) and 4th (Waikato) Squadrons return to camp after being attached to the 1st Australian Division.
    • 5th – The AMR moves north from Serapeum to the railhead near Ismailia. Its strength is 28 officers and 489 other ranks.
    • 6th – The AMR moves into the Suez Canal defences and relieves the 5th Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF).
    • 11th– The ‘Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division’ is officially established. Commanded by an Australian officer, Major-General ‘Harry’ Chauvel, it comprises:
      • Divisional Headquarters
      • 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade
      • 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
      • 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade
      • New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade
    The Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division is soon routinely referred to as the ‘Anzac Mounted Division’ by its officers and men.
  • 31st – The AMR is relieved from the Suez Canal defences by the 8th Brigade, AIF, and moves back to the railhead at Ferry Post.

April 1916

  • 1st – The AMR is relieved by Australian troops and moves back to Serapeum.
  • 6th – The AMR and the rest of the WMR ride for 5 hours to Moascar to farewell the men of the New Zealand Division, who are soon to embark for France.
  • 7th – The AMR and the rest of the WMR ride for 8 hours to Salhia, in the desert north-west of Ismailia.
  • 8th – Major James McCarroll assumes temporary command of the AMR while Lieutenant-Colonel Charles. Mackesy is in Cairo.
  • 9th – Four officers from the AMR are attached to the NZMR Training Regiment (TR) that is formed at Moascar Camp.
  • 17th – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy returns from Cairo and resumes command of the AMR.
  • 23rd – The AMR and the rest of the Anzac Mounted Division are ordered to respond to an Ottoman raid on British outposts near Katia. The regiment leaves Salhia at 10 p.m., and covers the 40 km to Kantara overnight.
  • 24th – The AMR arrives at Kantara at 9.15 a.m. and sets up a camp at Hill 70, 10 km north-east of Kantara. Three troops of 3rd (Auckland) Squadron move out into the desert to conduct reconnaissance. By now the Ottoman raiders have withdrawn.
  • 25th – The AMR’s camp at Hill 70 is moved to the west of the Wellington Mounted Rifles’.
    Now that the NZMR is in an area where contact with Ottoman forces is possible at any time, routines change. As a rule, the AMR spends every third day as duty regiment, manning the outposts around the NZMR’s camp and patrolling locally.
  • 29th – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy takes temporary command of the Anzac Mounted Division. Major McCarroll assumes temporary command of the AMR.

May 1916

  • 7th – The AMR rides for 7 hours to Romani, near the coast 40 km north-east of Kantara, and takes over posts there from the 2nd Australian Light Horse.
  • 8th – While the 4th (Waikato) Squadron remains in the defences at Romani, the rest of the AMR returns to the camp at Hill 70.
  • 9th – The 4th (Waikato) Squadron rejoins the regiment at Hill 70.
  • 12th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR ride for 5½ hours to Bir Etmaler, just south of Romani, to protect the wells at Katia and conduct reconnaissance further out in the desert.
  • 14th – From 4 a.m. each AMR squadron carries out a reconnaissance task in the vicinity of Umm Aisha. The day’s work is not complete until after the regiment returns to camp at 7.30 p.m.
  • 22nd – The AMR leaves camp at 6 p.m. After halting at Katia between 8.30 and 10 p.m. it rides towards Debabis, nearly 20 km to the south-east. It is to support the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade, which is conducting reconnaissance around Hod el Gedaidia.
  • 23rd – Hod el Gedaidia is reached at 2.45 a.m. The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron is immediately sent on patrol to the south and south-east to see if any Ottoman forces are in the vicinity.
    At 9.45 a.m. fresh orders are received. The AMR begins its trek back to Bir Etmaler, where it arrives at 5.30 p.m.
  • 24th – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy leaves for Cairo. Major McCarroll assumes command of the AMR.
  • 29th – The NZMR is ordered to attack Ottoman  forces reported at Bir el Abd and Salmana, 40 km east of Romani. The brigade leaves camp at 10 p.m.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy returns from Cairo and resumes command of the AMR.
  • 30th – The AMR arrives at Debabis at 7 a.m. and spends the day resting.
    The NZMR leaves Debabis at 9 p.m. The AMR leaves the column at 10 p.m. and moves south-east. The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron is sent east of Bir el Abd to cut the telegraph wires and prevent the withdrawal of Ottoman forces. No enemy are found at Bir el Abd and the AMR rejoins the brigade on its ride towards Salmana.
  • 31st – The AMR is in position to attack Salmana within 30 minutes of receiving verbal orders to do so. The attack begins at 4.45 a.m. and soon overwhelms an Ottoman rearguard. The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron inflicts further casualties on the Ottoman column as it retreats eastwards. At 6 a.m. the squadron is ordered to break contact and return to Salmana. 13/2007 Sergeant Arthur Parrish is wounded in the arm during this operation.
    The AMR leaves Salmana at 8 a.m. for Debabis, which is reached at 11.15 a.m. Resuming at 3 p.m., the AMR reaches Oghratina at 4.45 p.m. and feeds and waters the horses. The regiment, along with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles, moves off again at 7 p.m. and reaches the camp at Bir Etmaler around 11.30 p.m.

June 1916

  • 1st – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy takes temporary command of the NZMR. Major McCarroll assumes temporary command of the AMR.
  • 2nd – Captain Ramstead, the Pioneer Troop and one troop from each squadron ride to Oghratina to dig wells.
  • 3rd – Captain Ramstead’s force returns to camp at Bir Etmaler.
  • 5th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR leave Bir Etmaler at 2 p.m. and ride for 4 hours to Oghratina.
  • 6th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR leave Oghratina at 3 a.m. and move towards Bir el Abd, 20 km to the east, to clear the area of Ottoman troops.
    By 7 a.m. it is clear that there are no Ottoman forces in Bir el Abd. The AMR is ordered to move independently back to camp at Bir Etmaler. This is a difficult journey for the horses, as the wells at Oghratina and Er Rabah have run dry. By the time Bir Etmaler is reached at 3.30 p.m., the horses are extremely thirsty.
  • 7th – Major McCarroll departs for Port Said on leave.
  • 10th – The AMR and the Wellington Mounted Rifles move to Oghratina to support reconnaissance patrols by the 1st Australian Light Horse.
  • 11th – The AMR arrives back at Bir Etmaler at 5 p.m.
  • 12th – Major McCarroll returns from leave and resumes command of the AMR.
  • 15th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR move to Katia to assist a reconnaissance by the Australian Light Horse.
  • 16th – The NZMR returns to Bir Etmaler.
  • 24th – The AMR, along with the NZMR’s Brigade Headquarters and the Mounted Field Artillery, leaves Bir Etmaler at 10 p.m. for Hill 70.
  • 25th – The AMR arrives at Hill 70 at 4.15 a.m. and settles into camp.
  • 29th – The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron leaves for a rest camp in Kantara. A squadron of Warwick Yeomanry temporarily takes its place.

July 1916

  • 3rd – Major McCarroll, 4th (Waikato) Squadron, two squadrons of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles and a section of machine guns move to Dueidar, 8 km east of Hill 70, to support operations by the 5th Australian Light Horse Brigade.
  • 4th – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy resumes command of the AMR.
  • 5th – Major McCarroll’s force returns to the camp at Hill 70.
  • 7th – The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron returns to Hill 70 from Kantara Rest Camp, where it is replaced by the 4th (Waikato) Squadron.
  • 13th – The AMR receives 35 reinforcements from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment at Moascar.
  • 14th – The 4th (Waikato) Squadron returns to Hill 70 from Kantara Rest Camp and is replaced by the 11th (North Auckland) Squadron.
  • 15th – The three separate regimental machine-gun sections are reorganised as a single autonomous unit, the New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron. Lewis guns are issued to the regiments of the NZMR.
  • 19th – A large Ottoman force is discovered advancing westwards on a 12-km front in the vicinity of Bir el Abd and Bayud, 30 km east of Romani.
    The AMR stands by at Hill 70 as numerous reports of combat between units of the Anzac Mounted Division and Turks come in.
  • 21st – The 11th (North Auckland) Squadron returns to Hill 70 Camp from Kantara Rest Camp.
  • 22nd – Two officers and 30 men drawn from the 3rd (Auckland) and 4th (Waikato) squadrons patrol towards Ottoman forces at Mageibra, 12 km south of Katia. The remainder of the AMR continues to wait at Hill 70.
  • 23rd – The AMR receives 30 reinforcements from the Training Regiment at Moascar.
  • 26th – Lieutenant Carr and 29 other ranks leave Hill 70 with 59 remounts for the Wellington Mounted Rifles.
  • 27th – The AMR receives three Lewis guns, one for each squadron.
  • 30th – The AMR receives 12 reinforcements from the Training Regiment.

August 1916

  • 1st – The 11th (North Auckland) Squadron leaves Hill 70. Some troops go to Bir en Nuss, 10 km east of Dueidar, to establish a strong post and dig sufficient wells to provide water for a brigade of horses. The others ride another 5 km to observe Ottoman troops at Bir Nagid.
  • 3rdBattle of Romani: The 3rd and 4th squadrons of the AMR leave camp at 10 p.m. At midnight they relieve the 5th Australian Light Horse at Dueidar.
    Shortly before midnight the outpost lines of the 1st Australian Light Horse report that a large Ottoman force is moving in front of them.
  • 4thBattle of Romani: The first wave of Ottoman attacks begins shortly after midnight. Concentrated against a sandhill known as Mount Meredith, it is repulsed by 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade.
    The second wave of Ottoman infantry assaults begins around 2 a.m. and is pressed home with much more determination than the first. Intense fighting takes place all along the line. By daybreak the Ottoman Turks have forced the Australians off Mount Meredith and back towards Wellington Ridge.
    At 9 a.m. the AMR receives orders for 3rd (Auckland) Squadron and two troops of 4th (Waikato) Squadron to move back towards Canterbury Hill, joining the main body of the NZMR en route. The two other troops of 4th (Waikato) Squadron are to defend Dueidar.
    The NZMR reaches a point 2½ km south of Canterbury Hill at 11.30 a.m. It is decided to attack the Ottoman forces holding Mount Royston, a large sandhill at the western end of Wellington Ridge. The AMR is in the centre, with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles on the right flank and some British Yeomanry on the left flank. This force advances steadily throughout the afternoon.
    A general attack is ordered for 4.45 p.m. in an attempt to clear Mount Royston before dark. The 5th Australian Light Horse Regiment joins in on the left. The Ottoman Turks withdraw or surrender, and by 5.30 p.m. the summit has been taken. By 6.30 p.m. most of the Ottoman Turks still in the area have surrendered.
    Two men of the AMR have been killed and six wounded. The regiment bivouacs at Pelusium railway station, 2 km west of Canterbury Hill.
  • 5thBattle of Romani: The NZMR moves off at 6 a.m. in pursuit of the Ottoman forces, which are now retreating. The 11th (North Auckland) Squadron and the two detached troops of the 4th (Waikato) Squadron rejoin the AMR at 7.30 a.m.
    The NZMR, the 1st and 2nd Light Horse Brigades and the 5th Mounted Brigade are ordered to attack the Ottoman  rearguard at Katia. The attack begins at 2.30 p.m. The Ottoman soldiers defend a strong position resolutely, and at 7 p.m. the attack is abandoned. The AMR withdraws 3 km and bivouacs for the night.
    Seven men of the AMR are wounded during the day.
  • 6th – The AMR, acting as the advance guard for the NZMR, leaves the bivouac at 6.30 a.m. Katia is found to be empty of enemy forces, and the Ottoman rearguard is located at Oghratina at 11.30 a.m. After spending the afternoon observing and avoiding shellfire, the AMR is ordered at 7 p.m. to withdraw to Er Rabah, where it spends the night in bivouac.
  • 7th – The AMR leaves camp with the rest of the NZMR at 4.30 a.m. but remains in reserve. The regiment withdraws to the bivouac at Er Rabah at 7 p.m.
  • 8th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 4.30 a.m. and moves forward to Oghratina. The enemy forces have withdrawn overnight, and patrols make contact with the main Ottoman position 3 km west of Bir el Abd. The AMR bivouacs at Debabis.
  • 9th – The AMR leaves bivouac at 4.30 a.m. to take part in an attack on Bir el Abd by the Anzac Mounted Division. From 5.20 a.m. the AMR advances along the south telegraph line. Steady progress is made initially, but counter-attacks eventually halt the advance, and at 11.20 a.m. enfilading fire forces the left flank to retire. With counter-attacks continuing, the division receives orders to withdraw at 4.15 p.m. The AMR pulls back successfully while in close contact with enemy forces, and bivouacs at Oghratina. The day’s fighting has cost 12 men killed and 21 wounded.
  • 10th – The AMR mounts an outpost line and keeps watch on the Ottoman positions at Bir el Abd. The regiment is relieved from the outpost line at 7 p.m. and bivouacs at Debabis.
  • 11th – The AMR rests at Debabis during the day, then moves into the outpost line at 6.30 p.m. for 24 hours’ duty.
  • 12th – Canterbury Mounted Rifles patrols confirm that the Ottoman Turks have pulled out of Bir el Abd and retreated to Salmana. At 11.45 a.m. the AMR and the Wellington Mounted Rifles move east to support the Canterburys’ reconnaissance of Salmana. They return to Debabis to bivouac that night.
  • 13th – The AMR leaves Debabis at 3.30 p.m. and relieves the 5th Australian Light Horse Regiment in the outpost line at Bir el Abd.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy becomes the temporary commander of the NZMR. Major McCarroll reassumes command of the AMR.
  • 14th – The AMR now covers a longer outpost line. While the 3rd (Auckland) Squadron remains at Bir el Abd, 4th (Waikato) moves 3 km north to Hod el Hisha and 11th (North Auckland) 3 km south to Hod el Bada.
  • 20th – Relieved from the Bir el Abd outpost line by the Canterbury Mounted Rifles at 7.30 a.m., the AMR moves to Hod el Amara and rejoins the rest of the NZMR.
  • 25th – The 4th (Waikato) and 11th (North Auckland) squadrons, along with the rest of the NZMR, leave Hod el Amara at 2 a.m. on reconnaissance to the island of El Galss, north of Salmana. The force returns to Hod el Amara at 8 p.m.
    The AMR receives 56 other ranks from Hill 70.

September 1916

  • 2nd – The AMR receives 11 reinforcements from the Mounted Training Regiment at Moascar.
  • 11th – The NZMR leaves Hod el Amara at 5.30 a.m. and reaches Bir Etmaler at 11.30 a.m.
  • 20th – The headquarters of the AMR, and 97 other ranks, depart for a new rest camp at Sidi Bishr (on the coast near Alexandria) at 3.25 p.m. The rest of the AMR comes under the command of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles.
  • 23rd – A second draft of three officers and 46 other ranks of the AMR arrives at the rest camp in Sidi Bishr from Bir Etmaler.
  • 29th – The headquarters of the AMR returns to Bir Etmaler.
  • 30th – Major McCarroll takes command of a composite regiment of AMR and Canterbury Mounted Rifles men while the latter’s headquarters is at Sidi Bishr.
    A third draft of two officers and 75 other ranks of the AMR leaves for Sidi Bishr.

October 1916

  • 1st – The second draft returns from the rest camp at Sidi Bishr, where they are replaced by a fourth draft of three officers and 65 other ranks.
  • 2nd – The AMR receives 26 reinforcements from the Mounted Training Regiment at Moascar.
  • 6th – The AMR receives 11 reinforcements from the Mounted Training Regiment.
  • 7th – The Canterbury Mounted Rifles’ headquarters arrives back at Bir Etmaler and resumes command of its men.
  • 8th – The remaining leave parties return to Bir Etmaler and rejoin the AMR.
  • 23rd – The AMR, along with the NZMR, rides to Bir el Abd and bivouacs for the night.
  • 24th – The AMR rides to Bir el Ganadil, 6 km south-east of Salmana, and relieves the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment in the forward outpost line. They maintain a defence against enemy incursion and mount patrols to gain information about Ottoman troop movements and find sources of water.
  • 27th – The AMR moves to Bir el Kasseiba to occupy a new forward outpost line.

November 1916

  • 5th – A 15-minute downpour is the first rain the AMR has seen since February.
  • 8th – The AMR receives one officer and seven other ranks from the Mounted Training Regiment.
  • 13th – After being relieved by the Imperial Camel Corps, the AMR rejoins the rest of the NZMR on a new outpost line at Mazar.
  • 22nd – The AMR receives 44 remount horses.
  • 23rd – The AMR receives seven reinforcements from the Mounted Training Regiment.
  • 25th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR leave Mazar at 5.45 a.m. for Mustagidda, where they set up a new outpost line.
  • 27th – The AMR receives 30 reinforcements from the Mounted Training Regiment.
  • 28th – The AMR receives six reinforcements from the Mounted Training Regiment.
  • 29th – The AMR receives 29 remount horses.

December 1916

  • 9th – The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron and D Field Troop spend the day looking for sources of water to the east of Mustagidda.
  • 11th – The AMR receives eight reinforcements from the Mounted Training Regiment.
  • 15th – The AMR receives 26 reinforcements from the Mounted Training Regiment.
  • 19th – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy resumes command of the AMR.
  • 20th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR leave Mustagidda at 1.30 p.m. After pausing at Ghurfan el Gimal for 1½ hours, this force rides through the night for 35 km to get into position to attack El Arish.
  • 21st – The attacking force arrives at El Arish to find that the Ottoman garrison has abandoned the town three days ago. The AMR bivouacs at Masmi, 5 km to the west.
  • 22nd – Scottish soldiers of the 52nd (Lowland) Division arrive at El Arish to relieve the Anzac Mounted Division. This allows the Anzac Division to attack the Ottoman garrison – two battalions of the 27th Arab Division – at Magdhaba, 40 km inland. The NZMR concentrates in Wadi el Arish for this task.
  • 23rd – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 1.10 a.m. and arrives at a point 6 km outside Magdhaba at 4.50 a.m. After a reconnaissance, the village is attacked. Ottoman resistance is overcome late in the afternoon.
    The AMR remains in reserve throughout the day. It bivouacs at Magdhaba.
  • 24th – The AMR remains at Magdhaba until 3 p.m., collecting enemy weapons and burying the dead. The AMR rides towards El Arish until 9.30 p.m., when it bivouacs in the open desert.
  • 25th – The AMR reaches El Arish at 8 a.m. and spends a cold and wet Christmas Day in bivouac.
  • 27th – As the AMR moves to a bivouac near the beach west of El Arish, a storm that will rage for 12 days begins.
  • 31st – Gales heap sand over fresh meat that has just been landed from a small steamer. The AMR troopers’ stew is more gritty than usual.

1917

During 1917 the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment (AMR) and the rest of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (NZMR) take part in three battles for Gaza. After two setbacks, the third battle is won. The way is now clear for the Egyptian Expeditionary Force to advance along the coast of Palestine as far as modern-day Tel Aviv, and into the Judean Hills towards Jerusalem.

January 1917

  • 1st – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR move west to the railhead at Kilo 139 (markers give the distance from Kantara), mainly because of the difficulty of transporting supplies across 15 km of desert to El Arish.
  • 4th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR move further west to Wilder Hod because of the poor watering arrangements for the horses at Kilo 139.
  • 7th – The AMR receives 30 reinforcements from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment and 30 remount horses.
  • 8th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR cross the flooded Wadi el Arish. They join the Australian units of the Anzac Mounted Division, which moves off as a divisional column at 4 p.m. to ride 45 km to Rafah overnight and attack the isolated Ottoman garrison there.
  • 9th – The AMR is ordered to cordon off the village of Shokh es Sufi, 7 km south of Rafah, detain all males and send them to the Anzac Mounted Division Police. This task is completed quickly, but not without incident. 24861 Trooper William Harris is killed and Trooper Albert Watson is knocked unconscious and has his rifle stolen.
    The Anzac Mounted Division crosses the frontier into Palestine and surrounds Rafah. After a 30-minute bombardment, the attack begins at 10 a.m. The AMR and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles are ordered to take the key defensive position, the redoubt at Point 255.
    The initial advance is steady but slow. By 12.15 the attackers are within 500 m of the redoubt. No further progress is made against heavy Ottoman fire, and at 1 p.m. the Wellington Mounted Rifles moves into the line to assist the attack. By late afternoon the situation is becoming desperate, with Ottoman reinforcements approaching. At 4.30 p.m. Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Chetwode, in charge of the operation, orders a withdrawal. However the NZMR has launched an attack on the redoubt shortly after 4 p.m. Fire from Lewis guns and the New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron allows the New Zealanders to take the redoubt at bayonet point. With the redoubt and the high ground taken, resistance in the other position is quickly overcome by the Australian Light Horsemen and the Imperial Camel Corps.
    As Ottoman reinforcements continue to approach, the AMR withdraws at 6.30 p.m. and goes into bivouac at Sheikh Zowaiid, 15 km south-west of Rafah, at 12.30 a.m.
    The AMR has had four men killed in action; three die of wounds and 41 are wounded.
  • 10th – The AMR and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles move back to Masaid, near El Arish.
  • 16th – The AMR receives 31 reinforcements from the Training Regiment at Moascar, and 12 remount horses.
  • 30th – Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Mackesy is once again appointed temporary commanding officer of the NZMR. Major McCarroll reassumes command of the AMR.

February 1917

  • 4th – The AMR receives 37 reinforcements from the Training Regiment.
  • 8th – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy resumes command of the regiment.
  • 22nd – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR join the Anzac Mounted Division column and move forward to Sheikh Zowaiid.
  • 23rd – The AMR, the rest of the NZMR and the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade leave Sheikh Zowaiid at 1 a.m. for Khan Yunis, 30 km to the north-east, which is reported to have been abandoned by the Ottoman forces. It is hoped to capture Sheikh Ali el Hirsch, a suspected Ottoman spy.
    Reports of Ottoman forces abandoning Khan Yunis prove to be premature. The Anzac operation is broken off after some skirmishing because of the Ottoman strength. The AMR is in reserve and does not become involved in the fighting.
    The AMR and the rest of the Anzac column return to bivouacs north-west of Sheikh Zowaiid.
  • 26th – The AMR provides the advance and right flank guard for the NZMR as it conducts a day-long reconnaissance around Shokh es Sufi, 8 km south-east of Rafah. Elements of the advance guard make intermittent contact with Ottoman patrols but suffer no casualties. The column returns to bivouacs at Sheikh Zowaiid that evening.
  • 28th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR conduct a day-long reconnaissance around Rafah. The column again returns to bivouacs in Sheikh Zowaiid.
    Khan Yunis is abandoned by the Ottoman Turks and occupied by elements of the Desert Column.

March 1917

As part of a reorganisation of the British forces operating against the Ottoman Turks, the 22nd (Yeomanry) Mounted Brigade is incorporated into the Anzac Mounted Division. The Desert Column now comprises the Anzac Mounted Division, the Imperial Mounted Division and the 53rd (Welsh) Division.

  • 3rd – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR conduct a day-long reconnaissance east and south-east of Karm Ibn Musleh, which is 6 km south of Rafah. Rifle fire is exchanged with Ottoman patrols but there are no casualties. The AMR returns to bivouacs at Sheikh Zowaiid at 6.30 p.m.
  • 7th – The AMR provides the advance guard for the NZMR on a reconnaissance around Khan Yunis. The regiment returns to its bivouac at Sheikh Zowaiid at 6.45 p.m.
  • 10th – The AMR, along with the NZMR, rides to Bir el Malalha, on the coast north of Rafah, and sets up a new bivouac.
  • 11th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR undertake a reconnaissance towards Gaza. The AMR returns to its bivouac at Bir el Malalha at 5.30 p.m.
  • 14th – The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron leaves bivouac at 7 a.m. and rides to Khan Yunis to protect a party of Royal Engineers working on the wells. The squadron returns to bivouac at Bir el Malalha at 8.45 p.m.
  • 18th – The AMR leaves its bivouac at 1 a.m. and rides to Deir el Belah (15 km from Gaza). Finding no enemy forces, it returns to Bir el Malalha.
  • 23rd – After receiving orders from Brigade Headquarters, the AMR begins preparations for an operation on the 25th which will result in the Battle of Gaza.
  • 24th – The AMR has a strength of 19 officers, 424 other ranks and 484 horses. Lack of horses means 20 men are left behind.
  • 25th – The NZMR moves out of Bir el Malalha at 2.30 a.m. for Deir el Belah. The NZMR and the 22nd Mounted Brigade are to provide a screen for the Desert Column while it moves up to and crosses Wadi Ghazze.
  • 26thFirst Battle of Gaza: The NZMR leaves its bivouacs at 2.30 a.m. to take part in the Anzac Mounted Division’s operations against Gaza. The division is to block the roads north of Gaza to prevent an Ottoman withdrawal or the arrival of reinforcements. The Imperial Mounted Division will play a similar role east of Gaza. The 53rd (Welsh) Division and a brigade of the 54th (East Anglian) Division are to attack the town from the south at 8 a.m.
    The AMR arrives at its blocking position at Tellul el Humra at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. 4th (Waikato) Squadron is detached from the regiment and sent to Huj, 10 km east of Gaza, to watch for nearby Ottoman forces attempting to come to the beleaguered garrison's aid. At midday 11th (North Auckland) Squadron and a troop of 3rd (Auckland) Squadron are sent further north towards Tor Dimre with the same task. The other three troops of 3rd (Auckland) are retained as a reserve force and not committed to the battle.
    While the NZMR carries out its initial role, the infantry attack from the south faces more difficulties. Fog obscures the routes across Wadi Ghazze. The infantry is in position to begin the assault at 9 a.m., but there is further confusion about the location of some of the assault force, and the artillery is slow to come into action. By the time the attack is launched at 11.45 a.m. the Gaza garrison is well prepared and much precious time has been wasted, allowing Ottoman relief columns from further up the coast to be alerted and to begin their march south to Gaza’s aid
  • With the infantry attackin disarray and behind schedule, the Anzac Mounted Division launches an attack from the north-east at 4 p.m. to assist. The Wellington Mounted Rifles advances on the left, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in the centre and the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade on the right. With most of the Ottoman garrison battling the British infantry attack to the south, the mounted regiments make good progress and quickly break into the town. But the town and its defences are not fully secured and the opportunity presented by this break through is allowed to pass: with Ottoman relief columns fast approaching and nightfall imminent, Lieutenant-General Chetwode, in charge of the operation, judges the risk of trying to finish the job of clearing the town to be too high and so makes the controversial decision to order his mounted troops to pull out of Gaza and withdraw back across Wadi Ghazze.
    In preparation for the withdrawal, 11th (North Auckland) Squadron rejoins the AMR at its position north-east of Gaza at 8 p.m. The 4th (Waikato) Squadron and the troop from 3rd (Auckland) Squadron are ordered to remain at Huj to delay any approaching Ottoman relief. The rest of the AMR begins to withdraw at 11 p.m.
  • 27th – The 4th (Waikato) Squadron and the troop of 3rd (Auckland) Squadron withdraw from Huj at 3 a.m., initially at ‘a smart pace’ because of the approach of Ottoman reinforcements for Gaza.
    The bulk of the AMR arrives back at Deir el Belah at 6 a.m. and leaves for El Demeita at 6.45 a.m. to rest for the day. The 4th (Waikato) Squadron and the 3rd (Auckland) troop rejoin the regiment at 8 a.m.
    At 5.30 p.m. the AMR rides to an outpost line between Inseirat and El Iaire which is being manned by the other NZMR regiments.
  • 28th – The AMR moves to a bivouac north of Deir el Belah.
  • 29th – The AMR occupies the outpost line at One Tree Hill.
  • 30th – The AMR rides to Tel el Jemmi, 10 km south of Gaza on Wadi Ghazze, to protect a road-making party. The regiment returns to Deir el Belah at the end of the day.

April 1917

  • 1st – The AMR receives nine remount horses.
  • 2nd – The AMR moves to an outpost line in the Deir el Belah area.
  • 3rd – The AMR is relieved from the outpost line by a unit of the Imperial Mounted Division and moves into bivouac in the Deir el Belah area.
    The AMR’s Lewis guns are replaced with Hotchkiss automatic rifles.
  • 6th – The AMR moves into the outpost line.
  • 9th – The AMR is relieved and moves into bivouac.
  • 10th – Gas masks are issued to all men in the regiment.
  • 11th – The strength of the AMR is 24 officers, 509 other ranks and 536 horses.
  • 13th – The AMR receives six men from the TR.
  • 16th – The AMR receives orders to move inland to Shellal (15 km south of Gaza) to take part in the second attempt to take Gaza. The regiment leaves Deir el Belah at 6.30 p.m. as the rearguard of the NZMR column.
  • 17thSecond Battle of Gaza: The situation facing the Allied forces has become more difficult since the First Battle of Gaza. The 18,000 Ottoman troops now holding the line between Gaza and Tel el Sheria occupy more elaborate and extensive defences – more akin to the Western Front than anything ever seen before in this theatre of the war. A frontal assault from the south is now deemed the only practical option by the commander of the EEF, Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Murray. This is undertaken in stages. On the 17th the British infantry move up close to Gaza. The artillery batteries who will support the infantry move their field guns and howitzers up behind them into the new fire positions on the 18th, with the final assault to be made the next day. Eight Mark I tanks have been rushed out from England especially for this battle, to support the infantry attack – it will be the first time tanks will be used in war in the Middle East. Accompanying the tanks are 4000 phosgene gas shells intended for the British artillery to use in their opening barrage, making this battle the first (and only) instance of gas warfare to occur in the Middle East theatre during the First World War.
    The Desert Column has two subsidiary roles in the assault: to protect the right flank of the infantry; and to keep the redoubts at Atawineh and Hareira (10 to 12 km from Gaza) busy, preventing the Ottoman commanders there moving men to the main battlefield at Gaza.
    The AMR makes sure it is observed around Point 550, which overlooks Hareira. At dusk the regiment moves back to Shellal and bivouacs for the night.
  • 18thSecond Battle of Gaza: The AMR moves up to the Ottoman lines in the morning and continues its role in the demonstration. The regiment returns to El Shellal at 9.30 p.m.
  • 19thSecond Battle of Gaza: It is decided that the Imperial Mounted Division will attack the Atawineh redoubt to assist the infantry assaults. The NZMR is placed in reserve with a view to exploiting any breach in the Ottoman line.
    The day does not go well for the Allied assault force. The assaults by both the infantry and the mounted horsemen are unsuccessful, the tanks ineffective and the gas shells insufficient and by days’ end, after horrific casualties amongst the attacking British infantry in front of Gaza for very little gain, General Murray orders a halt to the offensive.
    Only 3rd (Auckland) Squadron has been committed to the fighting, supporting the right flank of the Wellington Mounted Rifles. By the time it withdraws at 8 p.m., the squadron has lost one man killed and 17 wounded.
    The AMR moves back to a bivouac 4 km south-east of El Izraain.
  • 20th – During the night it is decided not to renew the assault on Gaza because of the strength of the defences. The Allied units are redeployed to defensive positions.
    The AMR moves to Sheikh Nuran and occupies an outpost line.
  • 21st – The AMR is relieved by the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade and moves to a bivouac at Abasan el Kebir, east of Khan Yunis.
    L ieutenant-Colonel Mackesy is appointed temporary commander of the NZMR. Major McCarroll assumes temporary command of the AMR.
  • 22nd – The AMR occupies an outpost line at Karim Abu el Hiseia, on Wadi Ghazze.
  • 23rd – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy relinquishes command of the NZMR after being appointed Administrator of the Khan Yunis – Deir El Belah area. Major McCarroll is promoted to temporary lieutenant-colonel and retains temporary command of the AMR.
  • 26th – The AMR is relieved from the outpost line and bivouacs 3 km west of Point 310.
  • 27th – The AMR starts developing the defences at Nos 6 and 7 Ruins’ Posts at Point 330.
  • 29th – The AMR is relieved by two companies of the 74th (Yeomanry) Infantry Division and moves to a bivouac 2½ km south-west of Tel el Fara (south of Shellal and about halfway between Rafah and Beersheba) for a short period of rest.

May 1917

  • 1st – The AMR acts as the advanced guard for the NZMR on a reconnaissance to Goz el Basal. Ottoman patrols are fired upon but there are no casualties. The AMR returns to its bivouac at 5 p.m.
    The AMR receives two officers and 46 other ranks from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment at Moascar.
  • 6th – The NZMR and 6th Mounted Brigade concentrate at a point west of Goz el Basal at 9.15 p.m.
  • 7th – At 1 a.m. the AMR rides towards Kh Khasif to try to capture Ottoman patrols that have been reported in the area. No Turks are found and the AMR heads back towards Tel el Fara at 6.45 a.m.
  • 11th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 3 a.m. and rides towards El Buggar, 15 km to the east, to look for 2000 Ottoman Turks who are reported to be in the area. Only small Ottoman patrols are contacted. The AMR returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara at 4 p.m.
  • 12th – The NZMR holds a sports day to mark the anniversary of its landing at Gallipoli.
  • 16th – The AMR rides out to Point 550 to support operations by the 6th Mounted Regiment. The AMR returns to Tel el Fara at 2.30 p.m.
  • 17th – The AMR relieves the 6th Mounted Regiment at El Shauth.
  • 18th – The AMR is relieved by the 2nd Light Horse Brigade and moves back into bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 22nd – The NZMR moves out of bivouac. The New Zealanders hold a defensive position in the desert to provide a link between the Imperial Mounted Division, which is conducting a demonstration against Beersheba, and the Australian Light Horse, which is demolishing as much of the Asluj–Auja railway (south of Beersheba) as it can. The raid is a success, destroying 11 km of track and five bridges. The AMR returns to Tel el Fara next day without making contact with Ottoman forces.
  • 28th – The AMR moves to Abasan el Kebir, 5 km inland from Khan Yunis, and bivouacs for the night.
  • 29th – The AMR moves 10 km north-east to Fukhari and sets up a bivouac.
  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 26 officers and 499 other ranks. Three officers and 50 other ranks have been taken on strength during the month; 28 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital.

June 1917

  • 1st – The men of the AMR exchange their .303 Lee-Enfield Mark III rifles for new .303 Lee-Enfield Mark III* rifles.
  • 2nd – Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel McCarroll is promoted to lieutenant-colonel and given command of the regiment.
  • 8th – The NZMR moves to Marakeb, just north of Khan Yunis, for a period of rest and training.
  • 18th – The NZMR moves to Kazar.
    The AMR receives one officer and 31 other ranks from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment.
  • 30th – The AMR has a strength of 22 officers and 472 other ranks. During the month two officers and 40 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital; seven have been sent to rest camp, and another seven to Moascar (10 km west of Ismailia) for dental treatment.

July 1917

  • 2nd – The AMR receives one officer and 22 other ranks from the Training Regiment.
  • 3rd – At 11.45 p.m. the NZMR leaves for Taweil el Habari to support a reconnaissance towards Beersheba by the Australian Mounted Division.
  • 4th – The AMR returns to its bivouac at Kazar just before midnight.
  • 6th – The NZMR moves to Tel el Fara.
  • 8th – The AMR takes part in a day-long reconnaissance east of Issiri by the Anzac Mounted Division. Ottoman artillery fire wounds one man and three horses.
  • 10th – In the early hours of the morning the AMR, less 4th (Waikato) Squadron, takes part in an NZMR operation to capture Ottoman patrols in the Khasif–El Buggar area, 15 km west of Beersheba. No enemy patrols are found and the AMR returns to bivouac at 6.30 a.m.
  • 12th – The AMR leaves bivouac at 5 a.m. and patrols the area between Khasif and Wadi Imleih. There are minor encounters with Ottoman patrols and two horses are wounded by shelling. The regiment returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara at 9 p.m.
  • 14th – The AMR moves to Ghabi to relieve the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment and occupy the redoubts there.
    A leave party of three officers and 37 other ranks departs for Cairo.
  • 21st – The 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment relieves the AMR in the Ghabi defences. The AMR moves to bivouacs at Tel el Fara.
  • 22nd – The AMR patrols to Wadi Imleih and Bir Ifteis.
  • 23rd – The NZMR makes a reconnaissance to Beersheba to investigate false reports that the Ottoman Turks have abandoned the village.
  • 25th – The AMR patrols to Wadi Imleih and then returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 28th – The AMR again patrols to Wadi Imleih and returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 23 officers and 439 other ranks. During the month four officers and 89 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements; three officers and 122 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. The summer heat and the extended period of campaigning are beginning to affect the health of the regiment.

August 1917

  • 3rd – The AMR, without 3rd (Auckland) Squadron but with a section of artillery from Somerset Battery and a section of machine guns under command, undertakes a patrol to Wadi Sheria and Wadi Imleih, north-west of Beersheba. Two enemy posts are found and cleared in Wadi Imleih. The AMR and the attached men then return to Tel el Fara.
  • 5th – The AMR undertakes a patrol towards Khalasa, 20 km south-west of Beersheba, before returning to bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 7th – The AMR, less four troops, undertakes a patrol to Darb el Zol and Abu Ghalyun before returning to bivouac at Tel el Fara.
    The AMR receives 14 other ranks as reinforcements.
  • 11th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 8 p.m. to support a raid by the Imperial Camel Corps on the Sana redoubt at Beersheba.
  • 13th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 7 p.m. to support a 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade operation. The AMR returns to Tel el Fara at 8.20 a.m next day.
  • 14th – The AMR receives six reinforcement from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment.
  • 16th – The AMR assists an Anzac Mounted Division operation in support of a reconnaissance by the Desert Mounted Corps to the south of Beersheba.
  • 18th – The Berkshire Mounted Rifles relieves the AMR. The NZMR moves to the beach at Marakeb for a period of rest.
  • 19th – The AMR sets up a 12-man surf life saving squad.  
  • 27th – The AMR receives 27 reinforcements from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment.
  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 19 officers and 472 other ranks. During the month two officers and 113 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements. Two officers and 53 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital.

September 1917

  • 1st – The AMR holds a sports day.
  • 11th – The AMR sends 12 horses to Moascar for rehabilitation.
  • 12th – The AMR receives 12 remount horses.
  • 14th – The NZMR’s commanding officer acknowledges the bravery of three AMR men who have rescued comrades who got into difficulty in the sea: Signal Sergeant Dunning, Farrier Corporal Lee and Trooper McRae.
  • 16th – The AMR receives 16 reinforcements from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment.
  • 18th – The NZMR moves inland to Fukhari for a month of training.
  • 21st – Second Lieutenant Bisley joins the AMR from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment.
  • 25th – The AMR receives gift parcels from the Women’s Branch of the Wairarapa Patriotic Society.
  • 30th – The strength of the AMR is 22 officer and 478 other ranks. Six officers and 85 other ranks have been taken on strength, while one officer and 30 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. Two officers and 49 other ranks have been sent to the School of Instruction at Zeitoun Camp, Cairo.

October 1917

  • 24th – The AMR spends the day preparing to move. At 5.50 p.m. it leaves with the NZMR for Esani, 20 km west of Beersheba. This move is part of a concentration of forces for a third assault on the Gaza line.
  • 25th – The AMR arrives at its bivouac on the north side of Point 750 at 12.15 a.m.
  • 28th – The AMR leaves its bivouac at 5 p.m. and rides 10 km south-east to a new bivouac north of Khalasa.
  • 29th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 5 p.m. for Asluj, 15 km further south-east.
  • 30thThird Battle of Gaza: The AMR moves out with the Anzac Mounted Division to ride through the night to take part in the third assault on the Gaza line. In the Second Battle of Gaza the emphasis was on a frontal assault. This time 21 Infantry Corps will threaten Gaza at the western end of the Ottoman line, but the main attack will come from 20 Infantry Corps and the Desert Mounted Corps (including the NZMR) around Beersheba at the eastern end of the line. Once the Desert Mounted Corps captures Beersheba 20 Corps will roll up the Ottoman line from the east and ultimately take Gaza. Beersheba must be captured quickly before the Ottoman Turks can blow up the wells there. The Desert Mounted Corps and 20 Corps are operating away from the coastal railway that supplies the Allied forces. Without Beersheba’s water, implementing the plan will be difficult, if not impossible.
  • 31stThird Battle of Gaza: At 9 a.m. the AMR receives orders to take Tel el Saba, a 300-m high hill 5 km east of Beersheba. Its occupation will greatly aid the Australian assault on the town.
    The AMR approaches its objective along watercourses that provide good cover from enemy observation and fire. The 3rd (Auckland) and 4th (Waikato) squadrons get to within 700 m before dismounting, but 11th (North Auckland) has to cover 1600 m on foot.
    With assistance from the artillery of the Somerset Battery, RHA, machine guns, and covering fire from the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, the men of the AMR advance slowly under heavy fire. A general assault is ordered for 2.05 p.m. By 2.40 p.m. the AMR has captured the first Ottoman position. Reinforced by the 2nd (Wellington West Coast) Squadron and a squadron of Australian Light Horse, they charge the summit. By 3 p.m. Tel el Saba is in their hands. The 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade, supported by 5th and 7th Mounted Brigades, now makes a wild mounted charge with drawn bayonets into Beersheba directly against and through the Ottoman trenches, an action which breaks the back of the Ottoman resistance. By 6.30 p.m. the town and most of its vital water supplies are in Allied hands. The infantry can now outflank the main Ottoman defences and proceed to isolate and encircle Gaza from the east.
    The AMR spends the night in bivouac on Tel el Saba. During the day the regiment has lost six men killed, one died of wounds and 21 wounded.

November 1917

  • 1stThird Battle of Gaza: The AMR remains at Tel el Saba.
  • 2ndThird Battle of Gaza: The AMR moves into the Judean Hills and takes over an outpost line at Bir Imshash, 17 km east of Beersheba. Men and horses soon suffer from a shortage of water.
  • 4thThird Battle of Gaza: The NZMR is ordered 20 km north to Khuweilfe to relieve the 5th Mounted Regiment, which is in contact with Ottoman forces.
  • 5thThird Battle of Gaza: The AMR holds its position at Khuweilfe against Ottoman attacks.
    One man is killed and four are wounded during the day
    By now the NZMR’s horses have had no water for 48 hours, and it is decided to lead them back to Beersheba for watering.
  • 6thThird Battle of Gaza: The NZMR is relieved by the Imperial Camel Corps during the morning. The brigade marches 8 km north-east to Khurbet el Ras and occupies an outpost line.
    The brigade’s horses arrive that night after being watered. The brigade remains at Khurbet el Ras until the 9th. The horses are led to Beersheba each day for watering.
  • 7thThird Battle of Gaza: The Ottoman Turks abandon Gaza and are pursued north.
  • 10th – The AMR is attached to the 53rd Infantry Division. The rest of the NZMR moves to Beersheba.
  • 11th – The Westminster Dragoons relieve the AMR, which after a long trek rejoins the NZMR at Nahr Sukereir, 30 km north-east of Gaza, on the 13th.
  • 14thBattle of Ayun Kara: Following the collapse of the Gaza defensive line, the Ottoman defence of Palestine is centred on Jerusalem and Jaffa. The Allied plan is to cut communications between the two towns and then attack each separately. The NZMR is ordered to advance to Kubeibeh (10 km south of Jaffa) and conduct reconnaissance towards Surafend, 6 km further north-east. Kubeibeh is reached at 9.30 a.m. When the Canterbury Mounted Rifles move towards Surafend it comes into contact with Ottoman troops. The NZMR launches an attack at 12.30 p.m. The AMR is on the left, the Wellington Mounted Rifles in the centre and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles on the right. By 2.30 p.m. the attack has come to a halt and Ottoman forces are counter-attacking with increasing vigour, particularly against the Auckland and Wellington regiments. The New Zealanders withstand the pressure, and by 4.15 p.m. the counter-attacks have stopped and the Ottoman infantry pull back.
    The NZMR’s victory has been costly for the AMR, which has lost 14 men killed and 75 wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel McCarroll has been wounded in the neck and the shoulder and is evacuated. 13/656 Major Henry Whitehorn assumes temporary command of the regiment.
    The AMR bivouacs on the battlefield.
  • 15th – During the morning the AMR buries its dead. At 12.30 p.m. the NZMR moves forward and sets up an outpost line near Richon le Zion, a Jewish village 8 km south-east of Jaffa.
  • 16th – The AMR moves north and sets up an outpost line linking Beit Dejan and Safiriyeh, within 6 km of Jaffa.
    Two officers die of their wounds.
    The Ottoman Army withdraws from Jaffa before Allied forces arrive.
  • 17th – The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron moves into Jaffa to assist the Canterbury Mounted Rifles with garrison duties. The rest of the AMR moves back to Ayun Kara and joins up with the Wellington Mounted Rifles.
  • 18th – The AMR moves into Jaffa and bivouacs in nearby Sarona.
  • 20th – The AMR moves north and occupies an outpost line along Nahr el Auja.
  • 22nd – The AMR is relieved from the outpost line and moves back to Jaffa for garrison duties.
  • 24th – The AMR conducts a demonstration at a ford on Nahr el Auja to help the Canterbury and Wellington regiments cross to the north side. The 3rd (Auckland) and 11th (North Auckland) squadrons are sent across the river to help defend the newly won ground.
  • 25th – At 2.45 a.m. the 3rd (Auckland) and 11th (North Auckland) squadrons come under heavy attack. By 5.45 a.m. 3rd (Auckland) has been forced back into a supporting line of British infantry. By 8 a.m. the position has become untenable and the British infantry are ordered to withdraw across a bridge to the south side of the river. They are followed by the two AMR squadrons, and then by the 2nd (Wellington West Coast) Squadron and a squadron from the Canterbury Mounted Rifles that has been sent to support them. This ends the Allied incursion on the north side of the Auja.
    The AMR’s casualties are one man killed, 19 wounded and one missing. Major Whitehorn is wounded and command of the regiment passes to 13/757 Major Duncan Munro.
    That night the AMR holds a line overlooking the south bank of the Auja.
  • 26th – The AMR moves to a new bivouac 2½ km south-east of Sarona.
  • 30th – The AMR’s strength is 16 officers and 375 other ranks. During the month 27 men have been killed or died of wounds, 88 wounded, 61 evacuated to hospital and two posted as missing. The regiment has received five officers and 97 other ranks as reinforcements.

December 1917

  • 4th – The NZMR relieves the Imperial Camel Corps in muddy trenches at Sakia, 7 km south-east of Jaffa.
  • 10th – The AMR is relieved from the trenches at 8.30 p.m. and moves to billets in Jaffa.
  • 16th – Major Whitehorn returns and resumes temporary command of the AMR.
  • 18th – The AMR relieves 52nd (Lowland) Division troops in a position at Summeil, 2 km north of Jaffa overlooking Nahr el Auja.
  • 20th – After the 52nd (Lowland) Division crosses the Auja, the fighting moves away and the AMR is relieved of front-line duties.
  • 21st – The AMR moves back to billets in Jaffa.
  • 22nd – The AMR moves forward to Sheikh Muwannis to act as divisional reserve for the 52nd (Lowland) Division. At midday 11th (North Auckland) Squadron conducts a reconnaissance in front of the front line. That night the regiment bivouacs at Dam Bridge.
  • 23rd – The AMR sets up a number of observation posts during the day, then returns to billets in Jaffa.
  • 24th – The AMR receives orders to meet up with the NZMR at Nahr Sukereir. The regiment leaves Jaffa at 8 a.m and reaches Esdud, where it bivouacs.
  • 25th – The AMR rejoins the NZMR at Nahr Sukereir.

1918

The Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment (AMR) and the rest of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (NZMR) move east across Palestine into the Jordan Valley in early 1918 as part of the Anzac Mounted Division. Two raids into the highlands east of the Jordan are costly failures. A third raid in September reaches Amman and takes 7000 Ottoman prisoners. An armistice with the Ottoman Empire comes into effect on 31 October.

January 1918

  • 12th – The AMR moves north from Nahr Sukereir to a new bivouac at Richon le Zion.
  • 15th – Lieutenant-Colonel James McCarroll returns from hospital and resumes command of the AMR.
  • 31st – The AMR has a strength of 22 officers and 486 other ranks. During the month it has received 74 reinforcements.

February 1918

  • 4th – The AMR provides a guard of two non-commissioned officers and nine men for the brewery at Richon le Zion.
  • 15th – After a pause in operations, General Sir Edmund Allenby wants the Anzac Mounted Division to take the shortest route east from Bethlehem, 9 km south of Jerusalem, to the northern end of the Dead Sea, then clear the Jordan Valley west of the Jordan River as far north as Wadi el Auja. Meanwhile the infantry will advance down the main road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Allenby hopes that with the Mounted Division threatening to cut off their line of retreat, the Ottoman Turks will abandon their defences along the road, avoiding the need for a potentially costly assault.  
    In preparation for its role in this operation, the AMR is to move to Bethlehem, where the NZMR is concentrating. The AMR reaches Junction railway station and bivouacs there for the night.
  • 16th – The AMR leaves bivouac at 9.30 a.m. and rides to Zakariye, where it rests for the night.
  • 17th – The AMR reaches Bethlehem and sets up a bivouac.
  • 19th – The NZMR leaves Bethlehem to travel through an area known as the ‘Wilderness’ on its way to the Jordan Valley. The AMR is at the rear of the advancing force and has no contact with Ottoman forces. After riding for nearly 20 km the AMR passes through El Muntar at lunchtime. It continues during the afternoon before stopping and setting up a bivouac.
  • 20th – The AMR, as part of the NZMR, leaves bivouac at 4 a.m. and continues to move towards the Jordan Valley. During the morning contact is made with Ottoman forces defending two hills 4 km apart and about 10 km north-east of El Muntar. The Wellington Mounted Rifles attacks Tubk el Kuneitra and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles assault Jebel el Kalimun. When the Canterburys climb the wrong ridge, the AMR is brought up from reserve to bolster the attack. Heavy Ottoman fire holds the Aucklanders at bay for most of the morning. Just before midday 11th (North Auckland) Squadron rushes the first Ottoman position, causing a partial withdrawal. A mounted charge by the AMR drives the Ottoman Turks off Jebel el Kalimun.
    The NZMR continues to push forward during the afternoon and bivouacs on the line it holds at dusk.
  • 21st – The NZMR resumes the advance at 5 a.m. It is quickly discovered that Ottoman forces have withdrawn overnight and the force moves into the Jordan Valley. The 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade occupies Jericho, 12 km north-east of Tubk el Kuneitra. Major Munro of the AMR is appointed Military Commandant of the village.
    The AMR bivouacs under Jebel Kuruntul, the biblical Mount of Temptation, 3 km north-west of Jericho.
  • 22nd – Most of the Anzac Mounted Division returns to Bethlehem. The AMR, a battery of field guns and a section of machine guns remain in the Jordan Valley to observe the Ottoman forces.
    The AMR moves to a new bivouac and devises a defensive scheme. Each squadron in turn mans an outpost line and watches for Ottoman movement across the Jordan River, while the other two squadrons rest and conduct patrols.

March 1918

  • 2nd – Four 60-pounder guns are brought into the valley to support the AMR in a reconnaissance towards one of the bridges over the Jordan River. The Ottoman defences on the western side of the river are strong and the bridge is not reached.
  • 6th – The 11th (North Auckland) Squadron makes another unsuccessful attempt to approach the bridge. That night the Ottoman Turks withdraw across the Jordan and blow up the bridge behind them.
  • 23rdFirst Raid on Amman: The AMR crosses a pontoon bridge over the Jordan River at Hijla (10 km south-east of Jericho) at 7.30 a.m. Two bridges have been built in the previous two days with the aim of establishing a bridgehead on the eastern side of the river before launching a raid against the Hejaz railway at Amman. Two battalions of the London Regiment on the eastern bank have been unable to make any headway. The AMR is ordered to cross the river, then move 6 km north to Ghoraniyeh so that another bridge can be built there.
    Once the AMR clears the infantry outposts, the 3rd (Auckland) and 4th (Waikato) squadrons gallop north towards Ghoraniyeh, while 11th (North Auckland) guards their eastern flank. A number of Ottoman posts are overrun and a troop of cavalry is routed before the AMR reaches Ghoraniyeh and forces the garrison from its positions. This charge kills 50 Ottoman Turks and captures 60 for the loss of one man killed and two wounded – a spectacular achievement for a unit neither trained nor equipped for cavalry work
  • 24thFirst Raid on Amman: The AMR joins the NZMR column and moves into the hills along the Ain es Sir track. The 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade, the Imperial Camel Corps and an infantry column are approaching Es Salt and Ain es Sir along different tracks. The intention is to then attack Amman.  
    The NZMR’s advance is not impeded by the Ottoman Turks, but the weather is miserably wet and cold (the hills are 600–900 m above sea level). With the track unsuitable for wheeled vehicles, the column is not supported by artillery.
  • 25thFirst Raid on Amman: The NZMR reaches Ain es Sir (35 km from Ghoraniyeh) at noon, having had very little rest the night before. The column bivouacs at 1.30 p.m. and waits for the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade and the Imperial Camel Corps to arrive.
  • 27thFirst Raid on Amman: The NZMR, Imperial Camel Corps and 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade launch a raid on Amman, which is 12 km east of Ain es Sir. The defenders, well equipped with artillery and machine guns, are too strong for the mounted troops. They decide to hold the ground that has been taken during the day while waiting for the infantry column.
  • 28thFirst Raid on Amman: The British infantry battalions and mountain guns arrive to reinforce the attack on Amman. The assault is renewed at 1 p.m., but the plan is very similar to that for the previous day and little progress is made.
  • 29thFirst Raid on Amman: More British troops arrive outside Amman. An Ottoman force is now threatening to cut the line of retreat at Es Salt, and two of the three bridges across the Jordan River have been swept away by floods. With the situation now urgent, a night attack will be undertaken.
  • 30thFirst Raid on Amman: The AMR starts to move towards the NZMR’s objective, Point 3039, at 1.30 a.m. Heavy rain assists a silent approach. At 4.30 a.m. the defences on the hill are overrun by a bayonet charge, and by dawn the brigade overlooks the defences of Amman. The bulk of the WMR now arrives and the New Zealanders prepare defences on Point 3039 against Ottoman counter-attacks that continue throughout the day.
    The assault on Amman by the Imperial Camel Corps and the infantry fails. The leader of the raiding force, Major-General Edward Chaytor, decides that Amman cannot be taken quickly enough and orders a withdrawal.
    The AMR withdraws from Point 3039 after dark and moves back to Ain es Sir, where it bivouacs at 4 a.m.
  • 31stFirst Raid on Amman: The AMR remains at Ain es Sir to help the Canterbury Mounted Rifles mount a rearguard that allows other units to withdraw in good order.

April 1918

  • 1stFirst Raid on Amman: The AMR holds the rearguard position until 4 a.m., then moves west. It reaches Shunet Nimrin at 8 p.m. and bivouacs.
  • 2nd – The AMR withdraws across the Jordan River at 6.45 a.m. and sets up a bivouac near Jericho. The regiment provides men for the outpost line overlooking the Jordan River on a regular basis over the coming days.
  • 3rd – The AMR is bombed by aircraft at 6 a.m. Six men are wounded; 18 horses are killed and four wounded.
  • 5th – The AMR receives 21 remount horses.
  • 18th – The AMR moves into the bridgehead east of the Jordan River at Ghoraniyeh.
  • 19th – The AMR saddles up for the day in the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead in case the Canterbury Mounted Rifles, which is conducting a reconnaissance, needs support. At dusk the AMR recrosses the Jordan and returns to its bivouac near Jericho.
  • 30thSecond Raid on Amman: The AMR moves into the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead at 3.15 a.m. At 8 a.m. it joins the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in supporting the 180th Infantry Brigade in an attack on Shunet Nimrin. The attack makes no progress and at nightfall the AMR moves back to Ghoraniyeh and bivouacs.
    Seven men have been wounded by shelling during the day (four of them remained on duty). Six horses have been killed and five wounded.
    The strength of the AMR is 23 officers and 416 other ranks. During the month one officer and 80 men have been evacuated to hospital. Four officers and 87 other ranks have been received as reinforcements.

May 1918

  • 1stSecond Raid on Amman: The AMR is sent forward at midday to support the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade. The attack has ground to a halt. By 6 p.m. the AMR has constructed an outpost line which it holds until the 5th.
  • 5th – The AMR moves to the ford at El Auja, 6 km north of Ghoraniyeh, where a new bridge is being built across the Jordan. The regiment spends the day building defences. Relieved at 6 p.m., it withdraws across the river and returns to its bivouac near Jericho.
  • 6th – The AMR receives 12 remount horses.
  • 12th – The AMR receives eight remount horses.
  • 16th – The NZMR moves to new bivouacs near Talaat ed Dumm, 300 m above sea level.
  • 17th – The AMR receives four remount horses.
  • 23rd – The AMR receives 23 reinforcements and eight remount horses.
  • 25th – The AMR receives 10 remount horses.
  • 26th – The AMR receives four reinforcements.
  • 28th – The AMR receives three reinforcements.
  • 29th – The NZMR leaves Talaat ed Dumm at 7 p.m. for new bivouacs near Bethlehem.
  • 30th – The AMR arrives at El Khudr at 4 a.m. and sets up a bivouac.
  • 31st – The AMR has a strength of 23 officers and 482 other ranks. Two officers and 60 other ranks are at the rest camp in Port Said, at the Mediterranean end of the Suez Canal.
    During the month one officer and 29 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. Six officers and 184 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements.

June 1918

  • 14th – The AMR rides back down to Jericho. It bivouacs under Jebel Kuruntul.
  • 15th – The AMR moves to Wadi Abeid. With its rest period over, the regiment will now live and patrol in extreme mid-summer heat.
  • 30th – The AMR relieves the Wellington Mounted Rifles at Ain ed Duk, 3 km north of Jericho.
    From 19 June the maximum shade temperature is recorded each day. This varies between 38°C (25th) and 43°C (22nd).
    The strength of the AMR is 24 officers and 530 other ranks. During the month three officers and 37 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. Eight officers and 97 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements.

July 1918

  • 19th – The 18th Lancers relieves the AMR, which joins the NZMR in moving back to Talaat ed Dumm. Daily maximum temperatures have ranged from 36°C (8th) to 46°C (14th).
  • 27th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 5.30 p.m. for Bethlehem.
  • 28th – The AMR reaches El Khudr and sets up a bivouac.
  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 20 officers and 442 other ranks. During the month the regiment has had four officers and 166 other ranks evacuated to hospital, most with malaria. Two officers and 132 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements.

August 1918

  • 16th – The NZMR moves out of bivouac at 3 p.m. and starts to ride back to Jericho. The AMR travels via Jerusalem and bivouacs for the night near Bethany, 2½ km east of the city.
  • 17th – The AMR resumes the journey at 3 a.m., reaches Talaat ed Dumm (12 km north-east of Bethany) at 7 a.m., and sets up a bivouac.
  • 18th – The AMR leaves bivouac at 3 a.m., rides 12 km to Jericho, and sets up a bivouac.
  • 19th – The AMR moves to a new bivouac and relieves the 18th Lancers at 7.30 p.m. The next two weeks is spent training and squashing mosquitoes.
  • 20th – The temperature in the Jordan Valley reaches 39°C.
  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 21 officers and 452 other ranks. During the month nine officers and 100 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. Nine officers and 117 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements.

September 1918

  • 5th – The AMR relieves the 3rd Light Horse Regiment at El Madhbeh. Its task is to patrol the surrounding district.
  • 19th – A major offensive against the Ottoman Turks is launched along the Mediterranean coast. The Ottoman Army in Palestine, weakened by illness and desertion, is unable to resist effectively. The Ottoman front line is soon ruptured. The Desert Mounted Corps advances towards Haifa and infantry moves north along the Judean Hills.
    The troops remaining in the Jordan Valley are now known as ‘Chaytor Force’. This comprises the Anzac Mounted Division (including the NZMR), the 20th Indian Brigade, the British West Indies Regiment, and two battalions of Royal Fusiliers. With their supply lines about to be cut, the Ottoman Turks opposite them will soon have to withdraw. Chaytor Force is to wait until this withdrawal begins, then advance up the western side of the Jordan Valley and take the bridge at Damieh. They are then to cross the Jordan, advance on Amman and cut off the Ottoman Turks to the south.
    An AMR patrol down to the Jordan River finds no signs of a Ottoman withdrawal.
  • 20th – An AMR patrol in the morning is met by heavy shelling. This turns out to be a bluff by the Ottoman rearguard and Chaytor Force prepares to advance. The infantry will advance along the hills west of the Jordan Valley, while the AMR leads the advance along the valley floor.
  • 21st – The AMR moves north along the Old Roman Road at 12.15 a.m. By 3.30 a.m. it has occupied Faisal and Meteil Edh Dhib. At 6 a.m. Talat Amrah is occupied by 11th (North Auckland) Squadron. As the drive north continues, small groups of Ottoman troops are quickly overcome.
  • 22nd – The AMR resumes the advance at midnight. By dawn the regiment is in sight of the bridge at Damieh, which a large Ottoman force retreating from Nablus is trying to cross. The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron is sent to capture the bridge but held up on the heights above it. When the Ottoman Turks counter-attack, 4th (Waikato) Squadron, some Indian troops and a squadron of Canterbury Mounted Rifles are sent to reinforce the position. At 11 a.m. another attack is launched and the bridge is secured.
    The AMR moves into a bivouac above the bridge at 4 p.m.
  • 23rdThird Raid on Amman: The AMR crosses the Jordan at 8 a.m. and along with the NZMR rides 25 km to Es Salt, which is reached at 5 p.m. The AMR bivouacs outside the town.
  • 24thThird Raid on Amman: The AMR moves out at 8.30 a.m. and occupies Suweile, 15 km further east, at midday. In the afternoon a 100-strong party under Major John H. Herrold moves towards Amman to sabotage the Hejaz railway. The rest of the regiment sets up a bivouac for the night.
  • 25thThird Raid on Amman: Major Herrold’s party returns at 5.30 a.m. after removing a section of railway track. The regiment moves towards Amman at 6 a.m. with the NZMR and the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade. It is anticipated that the mounted force will lack the strength to take the village. A full-scale assault will begin once the slower column of British infantry and artillery arrives.
    At 7.45 a.m. the Wellington Mounted Rifles, which is leading the advance, comes under fire. The AMR is sent forward at 10.30 a.m. to help clear the advanced defensive posts.
    At 10.40 a.m. the situation changes dramatically. A British aircraft drops a message stating that the Ottoman Turks are abandoning Amman. Chaytor now orders a full-scale assault. The Canterbury Mounted Rifles, supported by the 4th (Waikato) Squadron, push towards the village and capture the ‘Stone Tower’, a key feature of the defences. This allows the NZMR to move into Amman itself and clear out the last Ottoman resistance. At the same time the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade clears Point 3039 behind the village. By 4.30 p.m. Amman is secure.
    That night the AMR sets up a bivouac in Wadi Amman.
  • 29thThird Raid on Amman: The NZMR advances to the Quseir railway station, 5 km south of Amman, and bivouacs for the night there.
    The 5th Australian Light Horse Regiment arrives at Ziza railway station, 20 km south of Quseir, to find 4600 Ottoman Turks surrounded by a large Arab irregular force who are keen to loot them. The Ottomans are unwilling to surrender until an Allied force large enough to protect them arrives. Two Australian regiments join the Ottoman forces in the Ziza defences.
  • 30thThird Raid on Amman: The NZMR leaves bivouac at 1.30 a.m. and rides to Ziza to complete the Ottoman surrender.
    The AMR bivouacs at Ziza.
    The strength of the AMR is 22 officers and 473 other ranks. During the month five men have been killed in action and three officers and 86 other ranks evacuated to hospital. Six officers and 96 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements.

October 1918

  • 1stThird Raid on Amman: The NZMR moves back to Amman.
  • 3rd – The NZMR moves to Ain es Sir.
  • 4th – The NZMR moves to Shunet Nimrin.
  • 5th – The NZMR crosses the Jordan River at Ghoraniyeh and bivouacs near Jericho.
  • 8th – The NZMR rides to up Talaat ed Dumm and bivouacs for the night.
  • 9th – The NZMR moves to Mar Elias, 5 km south of Jerusalem, and sets up a bivouac. Malaria is now hitting the AMR hard.
  • 13th – The NZMR rides 25 km to Latrun.
  • 14th – The NZMR resumes its journey at 8.30 a.m. and rides 25 km to Richon le Zion.
  • 30th – The Ottoman Turks sign an armistice.
  • 31st – The armistice comes into effect at noon.

The strength of the AMR is 19 officers and 355 other ranks. During the month 11 officers and 331 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital, and 22 have died of disease. Nineteen officers and 239 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements.

November 1918

  • 14th – A party of officers and 100 other ranks travels to Ayun Kara to commemorate the first anniversary of the battle there. The New Zealanders buried in the vicinity are exhumed and buried at the Ayun Kara Cemetery. The local Jewish community formally takes over the care of the New Zealand graves.
  • 30th – The strength of the AMR is 26 officers and 461 other ranks. During the month 29 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. Eleven officers and 142 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements.

December 1918

  • 3rd – The AMR holds a race meeting.
  • 10th  – Squadrons of the AMR and the Wellington Mounted Rifles are ordered to the village of Surafend, near Richon le Zion, where about 40 Arab men have just been killed by men of the Anzac Mounted Division angered at the killing of a comrade by a thief the previous night. The Wellington squadron briefly patrols the perimeter of the village, then withdraws. No soldiers are charged over these deaths.
  • 18th – Following the Surafend massacre, the NZMR is ordered to move south. After its first day on the road it bivouacs at Yebna.
  • 19th – The NZMR reaches Majdel.
  • 20th – The NZMR reaches Gaza.
  • 21st – The NZMR reaches Deir el Belah.
  • 22nd – The NZMR reaches Rafah at 3 p.m.
  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 18 officers and 395 other ranks. During the month three officers and 21 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. Five officers and 23 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements. Seven officers and 65 men have been detached to other units and depots for training.

1919

The return home of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (NZMR) is delayed by a shortage of shipping. The men take classes designed to ease them back onto ‘civvy street’ after up to five years in the army. They also help quell riots in Egypt, where there is anger at the lack of progress towards the independence that has been promised after the war.

January 1919

The Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment (AMR) remains at Rafah undergoing training and education to prepare the men for a return to civilian life.

  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 24 officers and 436 other ranks. During the month one officer and 24 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. Eight officers and 87 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements.

February 1919

  • 14th – The AMR starts to dispose of its horses. 43 D Class horses are destroyed under the supervision of the Brigade Veterinary Officer, and 100 C Class horses are sent to the Australian remount depot at Moascar.
  • 28th – The AMR is still at Rafah. Its strength is now 20 officers and 369 other ranks. During the month two officers and 15 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital.

March 1919

  • 17th – The AMR leaves Rafah by train at 7 p.m. The NZMR is being rushed to Egypt to help suppress nationalist riots. Martial law has been declared.
  • 18th – The AMR leaves its train at Kantara East and moves into a bivouac at Kantara West.
  • 20th – The AMR obtains 337 horses from the remount depot in Kantara before boarding a train at 11.15 a.m.  The regiment arrives at Tanta in the Nile Delta at 7.30 p.m. and bivouacs for the night.
  • 21st – The AMR travels by train to Damanhour, 50 km south-east of Alexandria, arriving at 11 a.m. 
  • 27th – The AMR leaves Damanhour by train at 9 a.m. It travels the 60 km back to Tanta and bivouacs in the grounds of a school.
  • 28th – The AMR, less 3rd (Auckland) Squadron, rides 25 km north-east to Mahalla el Kubra and sets up a bivouac.
  • 29th – The AMR rides 25 km north-east to El Mansura, on the eastern distributary of the River Nile. It bivouacs next to the Agricultural Bank of Egypt.
  • 30th – The AMR marches through El Mansura for ‘moral effect’.
  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 22 officers and 367 other ranks. During the month one officer and 18 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. Five officers and 31 other ranks have been received as reinforcements.

April 1919

  • 1st – The 4th (Waikato) Squadron is detached and rides through villages in the surrounding district.
  • 4th – The 4th (Waikato) Squadron returns from its journey.
  • 5th – The 4th (Waikato) Squadron moves 25 km north-east to Shirbin and bivouacs there.
  • 6th – The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron moves to Mahalla el Kubra and sets up a bivouac there.
  • 7th – A Summary Military Court is set up in Shirbin to try civilians arrested during the disturbances. Those convicted of rioting are publicly flogged, fined or serve a short spell in gaol.
  • 30th – The strength of the AMR is 25 officers and 360 other ranks. During the month 24 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. Four officers and 33 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements.

May 1919

The AMR continues garrison duties at Shirbin, Mahalla el Kubra and Talkha (across the Nile from El Mansura). 

  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 23 officers and 354 other ranks. During the month one officer and 16 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital; 45 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements.

June 1919

  • 22nd – The AMR is relieved of its garrison duties and concentrates at the Demobilisation Camp at Chevalier Island, Ismailia.
  • 26th – The AMR is divided into two groups. Seven officers and 193 other ranks move to the New Zealand training unit and depot at Ismailia to await transport home in July.
  • 30th – The rest of the regiment embarks on HMT Ulimaroa and the AMR ceases to exist as a formed unit.
How to cite this page

'Auckland Mounted Rifles timeline 1914-19', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/auckland-mounted-rifles/1914, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 22-Mar-2017