1918 - Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment timeline

The Canterburt Mounted Rifles Regiment (CMR) 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. After an armistice with the Ottoman Empire comes into effect on 31 October, the CMR represents the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in an occupying force on Gallipoli.

January

  • 12th – The CMR moves north from Nahr Sukereir to a new bivouac at Richon le Zion.
  • 14th – The CMR receives eight reinforcements.
  • 19th – The CMR moves 25 km inland to Nalin and relieves the 2nd Australian Light Horse Regiment in front-line positions.
  • 22nd – Major Percy Acton-Adams assumes command of the regiment.

February

  • 3rd – The CMR is relieved by the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment and returns to 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 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.
    To prepare for its role in this operation, the CMR must move to Bethlehem, where the NZMR is concentrating. The CMR bivouacs for the night at Junction railway station.
  • 16th – The CMR leaves bivouac at 9.30 a.m. and rides to Zakariye, where it rests for the night.
  • 17th – The CMR reaches Bethlehem and sets up a bivouac there.
  • 19th – The CMR and the Auckland Mounted Rifles leave Bethlehem and ride through an area known as the ‘Wilderness’ towards the Jordan Valley. The two regiments are following the Wellington Mounted Rifles, which is cooperating with an infantry attack on the Ottoman defences at El Muntar. The Wellingtons clear a path through these defences and the CMR does not make contact with Ottoman forces.
  • 20th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 4 a.m. and continues to move towards the floor of 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 CMR assaults Jebel el Kalimun. The CMR initially follows the wrong ridge. The Auckland Mounted Rifles is brought up from reserve to bolster the attack and Jebel el Kalimun is eventually taken.
    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 the Ottoman forces have withdrawn overnight and the CMR is soon in the Jordan Valley. The Australian Light Horse Brigade occupies the village of Jericho, 12 km north-east of Tubk el Kuneitra. The CMR sets up an outpost line on the Jordan River.
  • 22nd – While the Auckland Mounted Rifles is ordered to maintain a patrol presence in the Jordan Valley, the CMR and the Wellington Mounted Rifles are to return to Bethlehem.
    The CMR starts moving out of the Jordan Valley at 6 p.m.
  • 23rd – The CMR reaches Bethlehem at 5.45 a.m. and moves into bivouac.
  • 24th – 25% of the CMR is granted leave to Jerusalem.
  • 25th – The CMR starts a two-day ride back to its old bivouac at Richon le Zion. The regiment reaches Zakariye on the first day of march.
  • 26th – The CMR arrives at Richon le Zion and begins a period of rest and training.
  • 28th – The CMR receives 12 reinforcements.

March

  • 13th – The CMR and the Wellington Mounted Rifles move to Junction railway station.
  • 16th – The CMR rides to Zakariyen.
  • 17th – The CMR rides to Mar Elias, 5 km south of Jerusalem, and sets up a bivouac.
  • 20th – The CMR leaves Mar Elias at 6.30 p.m. for Talaat ed Dumm, a village halfway between Jerusalem and Jericho.
  • 21st – The CMR arrives at Talaat ed Dumm at 1.30 a.m. and sets up a bivouac.
  • 24thFirst Raid on Amman: The CMR rides down into the Jordan Valley as part of the Anzac Division. It crosses the Jordan River at Hijla and enters a bridgehead established by the 2/19 London Battalion on 22 March. The CMR is on the right flank of an attack on Ottoman positions at Shunet Nimrin, 12 km east of the river. These are taken by midday and at 3 p.m. the NZMR column 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 by different routes. The intention is then to attack the Hejaz railway at Amman.
    The NZMR’s march 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 (25 km north-east of Shunet Nimrin) at noon, having had very little rest overnight. The column bivouacs at 1.30 p.m. and waits for 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade and the Imperial Camel Corps to arrive.
  • 27thFirst Raid on Amman: The NZMR, the Imperial Camel Corps and the 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. These hold the ground that has been taken during the day while waiting for the infantry column.
    The CMR has two men killed and four wounded during the day.
  • 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 headway is made.
    The CMR tries twice during the day to advance, but at the end of day it still occupies the line it held the previous day.
    The CMR’s casualties for the day are one man killed and two wounded.
  • 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 Auckland Mounted Rifles, the CMR (less 10th Nelson Squadron, now the brigade reserve) and two troops of the Wellington Mounted Rifles attack Point 3039 in two lines 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 rest of the Wellingtons now arrive and the New Zealanders prepare defences 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 CMR withdraws from Point 3039 after dark and moves back to Ain es Sir, where it goes into bivouac at 3.15 a.m.
    The day has been a costly one for the regiment. Three officers and 13 other ranks have been killed, one officer and 31 other ranks wounded, and one man is missing.
  • 31stFirst Raid on Amman: The CMR and the Auckland Mounted Rifles remain at Ain es Sir as a rearguard that allows other units to withdraw in good order.

April

  • 1stFirst Raid on Amman: After withdrawing at 4 a.m., the CMR moves down the track and reaches Shunet Nimrin and a bivouac at 8 p.m.
  • 2nd – The CMR withdraws across the Jordan River and bivouacs 3 km south-east of Jericho.
  • 4th – Lieutenant-Colonel Findlay returns from furlough in England and resumes command of the regiment.
  • 5th – While bivouacked near Jericho, the CMR sends daily working parties into the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead to help improve the defences.
    The CMR receives 15 reinforcements and nine remount horses.
  • 12th – The CMR receives 20 reinforcements.
  • 17th – The CMR receives 58 reinforcements.
  • 18th – The CMR moves into the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead.
  • 19th – The CMR conducts a reconnaissance into the foothills around the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead, then returns to bivouac at Jericho at 9 p.m.
  • 30thSecond Raid on Amman: The CMR moves into the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead at 3.30 a.m. During the day the regiment is shelled as it assists the British 180th Infantry Brigade in its attack on Shunet Nimrin. Little progress is made and at the end of the day the CMR moves back to Ghoraniyeh and bivouacs for the night.
    Three men have been killed and 11 wounded; 20 horses were killed and 25 wounded.

May

  • 1stSecond Raid on Amman: The CMR again operates outside the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead in support of the 180th Infantry Brigade.
  • 2ndSecond Raid on Amman: The CMR moves north to the Umm esh Shert track to help the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade hold open this route to Es Salt.
  • 5th – The CMR withdraws across the Jordan River and bivouacs at Kh Kakun.
  • 16th – The CMR and the rest of the NZMR move to a new bivouac near Talaat ed Dumm, 300 m above sea level.
    Major Acton-Adams assumes command of the regiment.
  • 18th – The CMR receives 18 reinforcements.
  • 24th – Trooper G.W.H. Smith is killed by a kick from a horse.
  • 27th – The 8th (South Canterbury) Squadron moves to the Desert Corps School of Instruction at Richon le Zion for a tour of duty.
  • 29th – The NZMR leaves at 7.30 p.m. for Bethlehem.
  • 30th – The CMR arrives at its new bivouac at Beit Fajjar, 8 km south of Bethlehem, around 6 a.m.
  • 31st – The CMR receives 12 reinforcements.

June

  • 13th – The CMR moves back to Talaat ed Dumm and bivouacs overnight.
  • 14th – The CMR moves into the Jordan Valley and bivouacs at Jebel Kuruntul, the biblical Mount of Temptation 3 km north-west of Jericho, at 11.30 p.m.
  • 16th – The CMR moves to Ain ed Duk, 3 km north of Jericho, and takes over the bivouac of the 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment. Over the coming days the men of the regiment patrol and provide working parties in extreme heat.
  • 28th – Lieutenant-Colonel Findlay resumes command of the regiment.

July

  • 1st – The CMR receives 18 reinforcements.
  • 4th – The CMR receives 21 reinforcements.
  • 7th – Major H.C. Hurst assumes command of the regiment.
  • 9th – The CMR receives 21 reinforcements.
  • 10th – The 8th (South Canterbury) Squadron rejoins the CMR after its detachment to the Desert Corps School of Instruction.
  • 14th – The CMR moves to ‘Wax Post’ at 1 p.m. to help the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade repel an attack by a German battalion on Wadi el Auja. The regiment moves back to its bivouac at Ain ed Duk at 4.30 a.m. One man has been killed and five have been wounded.
  • 19th – The CMR is relieved and at 7.30 p.m. begins to move up to Talaat ed Dumm.
  • 21st – Lieutenant-Colonel Findlay resumes command of the regiment.
  • 27th – The CMR moves to Solomon’s Pools (outside Bethlehem) and sets up a bivouac. The regiment’s strength is down to 18 officers and 363 other ranks after its periods of duty in the malaria-infested Jordan Valley.

August

  • 5th – The CMR receives 38 reinforcements.
  • 6th – The CMR holds a regimental sports meeting.
  • 16th – The NZMR moves out of bivouac at 3 p.m. for Jericho. The CMR rides via Jerusalem and bivouacs near Bethany, 2½ km east of the city.
  • 17th – The CMR resumes its ride 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 CMR rides the 12 km from Talaat ed Dumm to Jericho.
  • 19th – The CMR moves to a bivouac near the Auja bridgehead.
  • 20th – The CMR receives 37 reinforcements.

September

  • 5th – The CMR moves to Wadi el Auja.
  • 19th – A major offensive 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 rides towards Haifa and infantry move north along the Judean Hills.
    The troops remaining in the Jordan Valley are now known as ‘Chaytor Force’. They comprise 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.
    The CMR’s normal daily patrols find no signs of an Ottoman withdrawal.
    Major Hurst assumes command of the regiment.
  • 20th – Late in the day the anticipated Ottoman withdrawal is detected and the CMR prepares to move.
  • 21st – The CMR moves out of bivouac at 8 p.m. As the reserve regiment of the NZMR, it follows the Auckland Mounted Rifles along the west side of the Jordan Valley.
  • 22nd – The CMR remains in reserve for most of the morning. At 6.30 a.m. the 10th (Nelson) Squadron is sent to help the Wellington Mounted Rifles secure the area around Makhruk. At 10.30 the 1st (Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry) Squadron helps the Auckland Mounted Rifles capture the bridge at Damieh. Units now begin crossing the Jordan River to start the second stage of the operation, the advance on Amman.
    The CMR crosses the Jordan at 2 p.m. and pushes out to the hills. The regiment returns to the vicinity of the Damieh bridge at dusk and bivouacs there.
    The CMR suffers no casualties during the day.
  • 23rdThird Raid on Amman: The CMR forms the advance guard of the NZMR during the advance to Es Salt, 25 km south-east of Damieh. The CMR moves into the town at 4.20 p.m., easily overcoming resistance and capturing 64 Ottoman Turks.
    The CMR bivouacs for the night at Es Salt.
  • 24thThird Raid on Amman: The CMR leaves at 11.40 a.m. to join the rest of the NZMR at Suweile, 15 km further east.
  • 25thThird Raid on Amman: The CMR leaves its bivouac at 6 a.m. and joins the NZMR and the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade en route to Amman, 15 km to the south-east. 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 comes under fire. At 10.30 a.m. the Auckland Mounted Rifles is sent forward 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 CMR, assisted by the Wellington Mounted Rifles, pushes towards the village and captures 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.
    At the end of the day the CMR bivouacs in Amman. One officer has been killed and two other ranks wounded.
  • 29thThird Raid on Amman: The NZMR advances to Quseir railway station, 5 km south of Amman, and bivouacs there for the night.
    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 Ottoman Turks are unwilling to surrender until an Allied force large enough to protect them arrives. Two Australian regiments join the Ottoman Turks 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 CMR bivouacs at Ziza station that night.

October

  • 3rdThird Raid on Amman: The CMR is relieved by the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment and rides back to Quseir station.
  • 4thThird Raid on Amman: The CMR rides via Ain es Sir to Shunet Nimrin, where it rejoins the NZMR.
  • 5th – The NZMR crosses the Jordan River at Ghoraniyeh and bivouacs near Jericho.
    Since 20 September 18 CMR officers and 150 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital with malaria.
  • 8th – The NZMR rides up to Talaat ed Dumm and sets up a bivouac.
  • 9th – The CMR moves to Mar Elias, 5 km south of Jerusalem, and sets up a bivouac.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Findlay resumes command of the regiment.
  • 10th – Half the regiment are granted leave to visit Jerusalem.
  • 13th – The NZMR rides 25 km to Latrun.
  • 14th – The NZMR resumes its journey at 8 a.m. and rides 25 km to Richon le Zion. Bivouacs are set up and the brigade rests and trains.
  • 30th – The Ottoman Turks sign an armistice.
  • 31st – The armistice comes into effect at midday.

November

  • 13th – The CMR boards a train at Ludd, 8 km from Richon le Zion.
  • 14th – The CMR arrives at Kantara, Egypt, and bivouacs beside the railway line 7 km north-east of the town.
  • 15th – The CMR receives 42 reinforcements.
  • 22nd – The CMR receives 15 reinforcements.
  • 27th – The CMR embarks on HMT Huntscastle. The regiment and the 7th Australian Light Horse Regiment are returning to the Gallipoli Peninsula to monitor Ottoman compliance with the terms of the armistice.
  • 28th – HMT Huntscastle leaves Kantara.

December

  • 1st – HMT Huntscastle spends the day anchored at Lemnos. The first signs of influenza appear amongst the men.
  • 5th – HMT Huntscastle arrives off Chanak (Canakkale) in the Dardanelle Straits.
  • 6th – The CMR begins disembarking onto Gallipoli. Most of the regiment is billeted in a hospital on the eastern side of the peninsula; 10th (Nelson) Squadron occupies a ruined mosque at Maidos.
    One officer and 24 other ranks are evacuated to hospital with influenza. During the month a total of 92 men will be sent to hospital.
  • 9th – Lance-Corporal Hugh McGuckin is the first of 11 CMR men to die from disease during December.
    Disembarkation from HMT Huntscastle is complete.
  • 11th to 15th – The CMR reconnoitres the southern part of the Gallipoli Peninsula.
  • 25th – A CMR party goes to Anzac Cove to tend the graves there.

Prev page: 1917previous buttonnext button Next page: 1919

How to cite this page: '1918 - Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment timeline', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/canterbury-mounted-rifles/1918, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 7-Feb-2013