‘The end of a good pal’. This New Zealand Mounted Rifles horse received shrapnel wounds to the neck and shoulder during a bombing raid by Turkish aircraft, 1916-17. The horse had to be put down because of the severity of its wounds.These photos were taken by Private Fred Albert Crum, who served with the Mounted Field Ambulance, New Zealand Medical Corps during the Sinai and Palestine campaigns. He died of wounds on 9 April 1917.
Major Claude Horace Weston (sitting), 1st Battalion, The Wellington Regiment, with his horse Billy in Egypt, February-March 1916. The two other soldiers in the picture are Billy’s groom and Weston’s batman (servant). In his wartime memoir, Three years with the New Zealanders (1918), Weston describes how he acquired Billy:As a Company Commander, I was entitled to a horse, and I was rather concerned as to the animal I should be able to get. Seeing that the horse that Major Brunt, the first Commander of the Taranaki Company, had ridden was dead, I was, literally, in the air.
Troops construct a track up Walker’s Ridge, Gallipoli, May 1915.The artillery landed and retained some horses at Gallipoli. But heavy equipment such as field guns had to be manhandled up the steep slopes. For example, 2nd Battery found it impracticable to use horses to get its guns to the top of Plugge’s Plateau:[A] working party of infantry, some hundreds strong, was set to work to make a road … [T]he track was sufficiently prepared by evening to permit of the passage of the guns.
Camels equipped with ‘cacolet’ stretchers transport wounded soldiers across the desert during the Sinai campaign of 1916-17.Two Camel Companies were formed from NZMR Brigade Reinforcements. The roles of camels in Sinai and Palestine included transporting wounded on ‘cacolet’ stretchers. This was an uncomfortable experience, as C.G. Powles observed in his history of The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine (p.
The attack of the Otago Mounted Rifles at Messines, 7 June 1917, painted by Captain Matt Gauldie, official New Zealand Army Artist, in 2010.Gauldie’s dramatic painting shows a charge by a squadron of the Otago Mounted Rifles Regiment during the Battle of Messines in June 1917. These horsemen advanced nearly a kilometre ahead of the infantry on Messines Ridge, capturing several German prisoners and two field guns.
A statement showing the number of troops and ‘animals’ of the New Zealand Division transported from Egypt to France in April 1916.The largest number of ‘animals’ carried on one ship was 736 on the Cestrian. Between 426 and 611 were carried on the Minnewaska, Elele, Menominee, Eboe and Haverford.
Use the tool bar at the bottom of this interactive to zoom in and navigate.Letter from Dora Spencer to Minister of Defence James Allen, 19 March 1916, regarding her favourite riding mare.Dora Spencer of Tolaga Bay wrote to the authorities several times from early 1916 asking for the return of her ‘favourite riding mare’ from Egypt. They responded that ‘no horse’ could be repatriated from Egypt because of the risk of introducing diseases.
Dead horses litter the ground after a German bombing raid in France, circa 1917-18.In a similiar incident in August 1917, the 2nd Battalion, The Wellington Regiment, and 1st Machine Gun Company lost many of their horses when their transport lines were bombed. The resulting carnage is described in The Wellington Regiment (pp. 204–5):[A]t about 2 o’clock in the morning, of the 11th August, bombs were dropped on the transport lines of the 2nd Battalion, and the First Machine-Gun Company, whose animals were together near Kortepyp. The effect was disastrous.
A gun crew struggles in the mud at Passchendaele, October 1917. In the regimental history, New Zealand artillery in the field (p. 197), Lieutenant J.R. Byrne gives an evocative description of the conditions encountered during this battle:The whole countryside was one vast quagmire, and the roads were little better.