Kiwis Honour Canterbury Mounted Rifles in Gallpoli

19 April 2018

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) contingent in Gallipoli to commemorate Anzac Day have honoured the 11 men who are laid to rest at the Chanak Consular Cemetery in Canakkale, Turkey.

In December 1918, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment returned to the 1915 battlefields to honour and tend to the graves of New Zealanders who died in the 1915 campaign. During that time they suffered 11 deaths – all but one from influenza.

Two of the 11 men who died in 1918, Lieutenant Arthur Pigou and Lance Corporal Joseph Fifield, had served in the 1915 campaign in Gallipoli.

The wreath-laying service honoured those men who returned and unfortunately did not leave again.

Sergeant Rory Lorimer, who gave a reading at the service, has connections to the Canterbury Mounted Rifles.

His great-uncle, Trooper James Ramsay Lorimer, served in the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment and was one of those to return to Gallipoli in 1918.

“I am very honoured and humbled to not only go to Gallipoli but to honour a relative, among the others of the regiment,” Sergeant Lorimer said.

“James was born in 1882, I was born in 1982. James returned to Gallipoli in 1918 to bury dead and administer the armistice, I will go to honour the fallen in 2018.”  

History and accounts of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in Gallipoli were taken from their War Diary, which contains day-to-day accounts of the unit’s time on the peninsula, as well as references from first-hand accounts from diaries and letters published in New Zealand newspapers.

Trooper Walter Angus Macfarlane wrote that Gallipoli “was very cold. Came up heavy rain in the night and my bivvie was flooded out, but stuck it out though from 3am till daylight, blankets all wet too.”

Soldiers had started to get influenza while at sea when the Canterbury Mounted Rifles were en route to Gallipoli, and when they arrived at the peninsula they endured bitter winter conditions without any shelter. So it wasn’t surprising that in such conditions they suffered.

At the wreath laying NZDF Civilian of the Year 2017 Mark Williamson had the honour of wearing the Ngā Tapuwae kahu huruhuru, or cloak. It is worn only by those members of the NZDF who have excelled in their duty.

“This is a great honour for me, as a long-serving civilian member of the NZDF,” Mr Williamson said. “It is recognition not just of my role but also of the contribution that the 2,800 civilian members play in making the NZDF the effective organisation that it is.” 

This page was last reviewed on 7 February 2019.