Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment

Page 3 – 1915 - Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment timeline

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

  • 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

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

March

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

April

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.
How to cite this page

'1915 - Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment timeline', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/auckland-mounted-rifles/1915, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012