Background to this trip

The story of the Otago Infantry Regiment and Otago Mounted Rifles in WW1 is a tale of courage, endurance and tragedy spanning over 5 years. Sadly for today’s residents south of the Waitaki, it is a relatively unknown story. As the centennial of WW1 approaches, the Otago Settlers Association in conjunction with Toitū Otago Settlers Museum is creating a video series of short documentaries which follow in the footsteps of our region’s service personnel, sharing a story which should not be forgotten.

Follow us as, 100-years later, we attempt to retrace the steps of the Otago Infantry Regiment and Otago Mounted Rifles

OIR badge


12 thoughts on “Background to this trip

  1. Nice site .My grandfather and his brothers were in ww1 from southland. SELBY , Harold and Ernest were well known in the district.


  2. I have only just discovered this site. I am very interested in Otago Battalion because my grandfather and his brother – Frank and Clive Statham were with Otago and were killed on Chunuk Bair. Have been trying to get a full understanding of Otago’s role and this series of stories has covered it.. I would like to be in contact with the author!


      • Thank you so much for directing me to the wonderful work you have done. I wish I had tracked you down earlier. The journey of Frank and Clive Statham is very important to me, and it is great to see it written about. I was at Gallipoli in August 2015, and at Chunuk Bair at dawn on 9th August 2015 to remember 100 years since their deaths. It was my third visit to Gallipoli, the first one being in 1974, when my father asked me and my sister to try to find Frank’s grave. This was at a time that no-one was interested in Gallipoli. I was at the Dunedin Anzac Dawn Service in April 2014 – you were probably there. Would like to meet you some time. (I live in Australia, but have frequent visits to NZ). Best wishes, Janet Statham


  3. Sean, many thanks for pointing me in this direction at Cromwell yesterday. The excellent coverage of the battlefields is very interesting and highly useful. Best regards, John Barham


  4. So excited to have found this site. I am writing an account of my grandfather, Corporal Croydon Lee (4th Otago Regiment.). He travelled to France with the 21st Reinforcments in 1917 and fought with them in France. Looking forward to reading this blog!


  5. Great videos, thank you. My great uncle Arthur Elias Wilson was killed in the Somme, it’s interesting but devastating to know where he was, and I feel like I was there with him..cheers


  6. My Grandfather Trooper John McLauchlan enlisted in the Southland Mounted Rifles and after Gallipolli he was transferred to the Otago Mounted Rifles. He was wounded in action. M I A and awarded the Distinguished Service Medal which he received from Queen Mary in England he was a dispatch rider out of Headquarters and was given the title of Corporal while there which was later put back to Trooper when he rejoined his company Otago Mounted I have no information as to why he was awarded that particular medal are YOU able to help at all.


    • Dear Annette. You should check Wayne McDonald’s book “Honours and awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War”, which is an alphabetical listing of award winners, that notes rank, regiment, citations (with original Gazette references). There is also a book specifically on the MSM recipients (at least I think it applies to what you are talking about): Chamberlain, H.E. “Service lives remembered: the Meritorious Service Medal in New Zealand and its recipients”. Alphabetical listing, with comprehensive biographies and service details of award winners.
      I think it likely that it was in recognition of his despatch riding service at 2 ANZAC HQ rather than for gallantry, as this was the sort of thing that most of the MSMs seem to have been presented for. Don Mackay lists the OMR’s decoration recipients in an appendix to The Trooper’s Tale and lists John. He further notes that it was a rare decoration, just four being awarded to OMR men but he doesn’t detail any act of gallantry or anything else relating to John McLaughlan in the rest of the book .

      One little point of clarification. The 7th Southland Mounted Rifles Regiment of the pre-war Territorial Force became the 7th Southland Squadron of the Otago Mounted Rifles Regiment once the New Zealand Expeditionary Force was created and it is this squadron that your grandfather joined as a Main Body man in August 1914. The night before they left Dunedin in September 1914 the Squadron presented a signed scroll to the Otago Women’s Patriotic Association in gratitude for all the work the women had done for the men at the Early Settlers Hall (now Toitu) while they were training in Dunedin. It has the signature of every member of the Squadron and a group photograph of them at the top. We had this item on loan for last year’s “The Women’s War” exhibition but it has now been transferred to the Southland Museum in Invercargill. But if you contact me at the museum I might be able to find a photograph of it.

      There is one other odd thing about your grandfather’s service record – it has two different service numbers on it. The first one 9/235 is an OMR one (the Main Body OMR men’s numbers all started with the 9/ to indicate this Regiment). But there is also a reference to 15/235a and a note that his records have all been changed to the 9/235 at Base records. The 15/ number indicates NZEF Headquarters staff but men usually stuck with their original enlistment number whatever subsequent transfers went on. Maybe there was a brief period where they changed the numbers instead and your grandfather is one of the cases where this happened. I hope that’s helpful.


  7. It was the MMS which is no longer awarded to ordinary soldiers I think it’s reserved for officers.
    9/235 Left NZ 15 Oct 1914
    Disembarked Alexandria 4 Dec 1914
    Returned to NZ 1918 and finally discharged in Sep 1919


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