Specialist Units of the NZEF

Page 4 – Cyclist Battalion

PM William Massey inspects the New Zealand Cyclist Corps at Oissy, 3 July 1918.

The New Zealand Cyclist Corps, which served at various times as the II Anzac Corps Cyclist Battalion, XXII Corps Cyclist Battalion and New Zealand Cyclist Battalion, was added to the New Zealand Division in April 1916. Starting as a single company, it was formed in New Zealand from men training to be mounted riflemen. The unit arrived on the Western Front in July 1916, when it was split into two companies and was attached to II Anzac Corps. For most of the war it did not fight with the rest of the New Zealand Division but as a separate unit attached to other corps within the British Army.

Cyclist battalions performed a similar function to mounted riflemen, conducting scouting and reconnaissance work. Like mounted riflemen they were of little value in trench warfare conditions, so spent much of the war on navvying work. They were particularly involved with burying telegraph cables, and at times served in the trenches as infantrymen.

The New Zealand cyclist companies served exclusively on the Western Front, participating in the Messines and Passchendaele offensives in 1917 and the Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory in 1918. In January 1918 a third New Zealand company was created to replace an Australian one that had been transferred. The three New Zealand companies were then designated XXII Corps Cyclist Battalion. In September 1918 the unit was renamed the New Zealand Cyclist Battalion. 

NameUnit attached toCampaignsDatesFurther information
No. 1 New Zealand Cyclist Company2nd ANZAC Corps Cyclist Battalion (July 1916-December 1917); XXII Corps Cyclist Battalion (January-March 1918; May 1918-March 1919); A Company, XXII Mounted Troops Composite Battalion (March-April 1918)Western Front:
Messines 1917;
Passchendaele 1917;  
Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory 1918;
The battles of the Marne, 1918;
Second battles of the Somme, 1918.
July 1916-November 1918Unit diaries at Archives New Zealand,
Unit diaries at Australian War Memorial: April-July 1916, July 1916-December 1917
No. 2 New Zealand Cyclist Company2nd ANZAC Corps Cyclist Battalion (July 1916-December 1917); XXII Corps Cyclist Battalion (January-March 1918; May 1918-March 1919); A Company, XXII Mounted Troops Composite Battalion (March-April 1918)Western Front:
Messines 1917;
Passchendaele 1917;  
Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory 1918;
The battles of the Marne, 1918;
Second battles of the Somme, 1918.
July 1916-November 1918Unit diaries at Archives New Zealand,
Unit diaries at Australian War Memorial
No. 3 New Zealand Cyclist CompanyXXII Corps Cyclist Battalion (January-March 1918; May 1918-March 1919); B Company, XXII Mounted Troops Composite Battalion (March-April 1918)Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory 1918;
The battles of the Marne, 1918;
Second battles of the Somme, 1918.
January-November 1918Unit diaries at Archives New Zealand

Cloth patch, badges, shoulder title and puggaree

Cloth patch worn by the New Zealand Cyclist Corps. Cloth patches sewn on the backs of uniform jackets from October 1916 identified which unit – or part of a unit – an individual belonged to.

NZ Cyclist Corps badge

Cap and collar badges: Wheel with crossed rifles surmounted by a crown and a scroll underneath with the words ‘NZ Cyclist Corps’.

An earlier badge featured a winged cycle front wheel and handlebars, with a scroll beneath reading ‘NZ Cyclist Corps’. 

New Zealand Cycle Corps shoulder title

Shoulder title worn by the New Zealand Cyclist Corps.

The New Zealand Cyclist Corps wore the same puggaree (hatband) as the mounted rifles.

Further reading

Austin, Ronald J., Cycling to war: the history of the AIF/NZ Cyclist Corps 1916–19 (McCrae, Australia: Slouch Hat Productions, 2008)

Regimental history of New Zealand Cyclist Corps in the Great War, 1914–1918 (Auckland: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1922; reprinted by Kiwi Publishers, Christchurch, 2004; reprinted by Naval & Military Press, Uckfield, East Sussex, 2006)

The New Zealand cyclists at Messines (WW100, June 2017).

Map of New Zealand Cyclist Corps movements on the Western Front, 1916-19

How to cite this page

'Cyclist Battalion', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/specialist-units/cyclist-battalion, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 4-Sep-2017

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