Wednesday 25 April 2018

Canterbury Mounted Rifles on Anzac Day

It's Anzac Day here in New Zealand today, meaning, as a nation, New Zealanders gather together at war memorials throughout the country to commemorate the service and sacrifice of our soldiers throughout the 20th century. This afternoon my 'better half ' and I travelled out to the Greendale Domain in rural Canterbury for the service there. The draw for me was the attendance of the NZ Mounted Rifle Charitable Trust reenactment troop. Compared to other countries, New Zealand only has a very few number of reenactment groups, and this one was only established in 2014 to mark the centenary of the Great War. The unit portrays the Canterbury Mounted Rifles, which many of the farm boys from the Greendale area served in. I hope you enjoy the selected photos I took of them.

Unusually, many of the reenactors were of the 'fairer sex', but you can't really tell from the way they wear their uniforms.

Note the saddle blanket on this horse. It belongs to the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry - first established as a volunteer mounted militia unit in the 1860s, it later formed A squadron of the Canterbury Mounted Rifle Regiment of the Territorial Force from which the regiments of the NZ Expeditionary Force were formed.

Note the leather rifle bucket strapped to the saddle. Unlike normal cavalry units, the mounted rifles usually dismounted to engage the enemy with musketry and the bayonet.

The Aussie flag was carried to acknowledge the special bond forged between the soldiers of the two British dominions during the Gallipoli campaign. It was here that the colonials gained a sense of national identity that was strengthened by further fighting on the Western Front. After serving as infantry at Gallipoli, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles served in the Anzac Mounted Division in Egypt and Palestine until the end of the war. 

I spotted this bloke walking around but he wasn't part of the Mounted Rifles, just a local reenactor who turned up to add an infantry perspective.

This chap is dressed as a lance-corporal of the the Canterbury Infantry Regiment  circa 1916. He wears the distinctive 'Lemon Squeezer' hat that the New Zealander Division adopted when it was formed in Egypt in March 1916, prior to transferring to the Western Front. The standard British Army tin helmet was worn when serving on the front line. The green/ red puggaree of the hat represents an infantry unit, while the hat and collar badges identify his regiment. Note that the medal on his left breast indicates that he has been a serving soldier in the past.  

The whole uniform (apart from the unit badges and boots) was sourced through reenactment suppliers in the UK.

Lest we forget!

Until next time.



  1. Excellent photo's. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great photos Wayne. Should have gone myself.

    1. If I hear of them doing another gig I'll let you know. It was well worth it.

  3. The chap in the last 3 pics is Gus McGirr, who I went to high school and air cadets (at Omaka) in Blenheim with him. He was a trucker in the States for years, but came home and is now part of our reenactment group 'The Garrison' in Omaka, Blenheim. A bloody legend and great bloke!