NZ'S FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY 2014–2019

The Troopers Tale - The History of the Otago Mounted Rifles

The Troopers Tale - The History of The Otago Mounted Rifles is the complete and authorised narrative of the Otago Mounted Rifles, edited by the late Dr Don Mackay.

Sergeants of the 7th before the war. From left: James Hargest, Peter Mackay and John McAlister.

“Talk about the charge of the Light Brigade. The infantry said we were mad, and by Jove we were! We charged over barbed wire entanglements, over trenches...” - Trooper Fred Naylor, Otago Mounted Rifles

Frantically galloping under fire across the devastation of No Man’s Land on the Western Front, the men of the Otago Mounted Rifles rode their way into New Zealand’s military history at Messines in 1917. Well-known military historians Christopher Pugsley, Terry Kinloch and Jeff Plowman have joined forces with author and historian Don Mackay to produce the first complete and authorised history of the Southern mounted riflemen who fought in South Africa, at Gallipoli, and on the Western Front. The Troopers’ Tale records the history of the regiment from the 1860s to the present day, and tells the fascinating personal stories of many previously unknown New Zealand soldiers.

The men of the Otago Mounted Rifles (OMR) personified to the very end the meaning of their regimental motto, Es Fidelis – ‘Be Faithful’. First formed in 1864, they trained as a mobile force able to gallop to Southern coasts to meet a foreign invader and hold them at bay until reinforcements arrived.

During the South African War, OMR troopers served in the New Zealand contingents where they fought with great dash on the veldt. Designated as divisional cavalry during the First World War, the OMR had a different war from the other New Zealand mounted rifles regiments. At Gallipoli, an advance guard of the OMR were the first mounted riflemen to arrive at Anzac Cove, and the first New Zealand troops to land at Cape Helles. OMR troopers fought with distinction during the harrowing August offensives and the survivors were among the last to leave the peninsula at the evacuation. They were the only New Zealand mounted troops to fight on the Western Front and were part of the unique ANZAC Mounted Regiment. At Messines in April 1917, the OMR made history with their stirring horseback charge across No Man’s Land under heavy shot and shell. In the final months of the war, they operated as scouts ahead of the infantry to locate enemy guns, often acting as decoys to draw enemy fire. The OMR had the honour of being the first mounted troops from Australasia to arrive at the firing line in 1915, and were still in action on the morning of Armistice Day in November 1918. When New Zealand was threatened with invasion in 1942, the regiment again assumed the role of meeting the enemy at the shore, but with armoured vehicles in place of war horses. The OMR holds a distinguished position in the history of Otago and Southland, and within the military heritage of New Zealand.

Publication details

The Troopers Tale - The History of the Otago Mounted Rifles. Edited by Dr Don Mackay
Turnbull Ross Publishing www.omr.co.nz with Ralph Lawrence (Publications)
Jacketed hardback, 190 x 250mm
382 pp & 400 pp photos, illustrations and maps.
Publication date: November 2012
RRP: $49.95
ISBN 978-0-473-20462-4

Click on the image to view full size
Troopers groom before departure from Southland
This activity is being worked on from
2010
 to 
2020
Date added: 07 August 2014 | Last updated: 05 May 2017
| Contact:
Ralph Lawrence
| Email:

Leave a comment

Use your WW100 account

Create an account | Sign in