The Troopers’ Tale

The History of the Otago Mounted Rifles

About this book

The Troopers’ Tale is a new kind of military history. The book encompasses the exciting narrative of the Otago Mounted Rifles during their many overseas campaigns, and tells the personal stories of the men and families involved. This 380-page hard covered book features nearly 400 photographs, illustrations and maps – almost all of which have never been published – and extensive endnotes, appendices and indices.

The Otago Mounted Rifles

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 in April 1915, 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 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.

About the writers

All 12 chapters are written by historians Dr Christopher Pugsley, Lt Colonel Terry Kinloch, Dr Jeff Plowman, Dr Don Mackay, Dr George Davis and Mr Graham Scott, and edited into a compelling and comprehensive history by Dr Mackay and Dr Paul Sorrell. At least 20 other experts in their related fields have also offered contributions.

The Troopers Tale has been professionally designed and printed in Dunedin by Ralph Lawrence and Southern Colour Print.