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The New Zealand Division 1916 - 1919: A Popular History Based on Official Records

2nd New Zealand Infantry Brigade

2nd New Zealand Infantry Brigade

  • Commander—Lt.-Col. (Temp. Brig.-Gen.) W. G. Braithwaite, D.S.O. (Royal Welsh Fusiliers)
  • Brigade Major—Major F. H. Lampen, N.Z.S.C.
  • Staff Captain—Major E. Puttick
  • 2nd Bn., Auckland Regiment—Lt.-Col. W. W. Alderman, A.I.F. Staff
  • 2nd Bn., Canterbury Regiment—Lt.-Col. H. Stewart, M.C.page 16
  • 2nd Bn., Otaga Regiment—Lt.-Col. A. Moore, D.S.O. (Royal Dublin Fusiliers)
  • 2nd Bn., Wellington Regiment—Lt.-Col. W. H. Cunningham
  • New Zealand Pioneer Bu.,—Lt.-Col. G. A. king, N.Z.S.C.
  • 3 Machine Gun Companies
  • New Zealand Divisional Train—Lt.-Col. N. C. Hamilton, R.A.S.C.
  • 1st New Zealand Field Ambulance—Lt.-Col. E. J. O'Neill, D.S.O.
  • 2nd New Zealand Field Ambulance—Lt.-Col. D. N. W. Murray
  • 3rd New Zealand Field Ambulance—Lt.-Col. J. Hardie Neil
    • New Zealand Sanitary Section.
    • New Zealand Mobile Veterinary Section
In addition the following units accompanied the Division:—
  • 5 Depot Units of Supply
  • 1 Field Butchery
  • 1 Field Bakery
  • 1 Infantry Base Depot
  • Divisional Record Section
  • Postal Corps Details

The voyage to Marseilles over a calm sea was uneventful. Transports took different courses, and some touched at Malta. In addition to the ordinary routine, emphasis was laid on gas lectures, and gas helmets were issued. Every precaution was taken against submarines. No lights were allowed on deck between sunset and reveille, and all lights below were carefully shaded and deadlights closed. The minimum of noise was enjoined after dark. All ranks worked ate and slept in lifebelts "Boat stations" were regularly practised, and beside machine and Lewis gun sentries a submarine guard was on duty throughout on each vessel. This consisted of 2 platoons, 1 in the forward-well deck, 25 men armed with loaded rifles on each side of the ship, and 1 platoon in the aft-well deck, similarly-divided. Wireless message announced the presence of submarines off Marseilles, and observers on one transport sighted or thought they sighted a periscope 800 yards astern. But all the vessels reached Marseilles, from 11th April onwards, without incident. A few units received a demonstration of welcome from the populace, but for 'the most part unobtrusively and expeditiously the New Zealand Division entrained for the British sector away in the North.

Although the Corps was thus despatched to France and a Base Depot, formed at Etaples, near Boulogue, it was not proposed at first the shift the Australian or New Zealand bases from Egypt, which was for the Australian force more favourably situated than England. The War Office definitely approved this policy on 24th March. The N.Z.E.F. Heaquarters therefore remained in the Kasr-el-nil barracks in Cairo, under the control of Col. J. J. Esson, where they page 17had been established in January. On Col. Esson's, returning on duty to New Zealand in March he was succeeded by Col. V S. Smyth, N.Z.S.C. The Chief Staff Officer was Lt.-Col. G. T. Hall, who had during 1915 commanded the New Zealand Base Details Camp at Zeitoun In the beginning of the year Col. W. H. parkes was appointed D.D.M.S. to the Force, and Major J. Studholme became General Godley's Assistant Military, Secretary.

There were at this time in England about 2000 convalescent New Zealand soldiers who had come in hospital ship from the Dardanelles. Originally-after being discharged fit these had been quartered in an Australian depot at Weymouth, but by March they had been concentrated partly in an English camp at Epsom and principally at an exclusively New Zealand depot at Hornchurch. This was at first commanded by Major T. H. Dawson, who was succeeded in April by Major C. H. J. Brown, N.Z.S.C. Throughout this early period a committee of New Zealanders under Lord Plunket, a former Governor of the Dominion, had set up various organisations for the well-being of the troops, in particular a small hospital at Walton-on-Thames, which was conducted by Major B. Myers. Administration in England was carried on by the High Commissioner's staff. The work thus imposed on Sir Thomas Mackenzie's office not only in the way of records pay and other details of administration but also in correspondence with the War Office and the New Zealand Government was excessive; and with the best will in the world the system was not conducive to military discipline or general efficiency. It was therefore decided to attach to the High Commissioner's staff a Military Representative who should undertake liaison duties with the War Office and at the same time act as Commandant of the Hornchurch depot. At the instance of the New Zeland Government a eable was accordingly sent in February to the Salonika Army asking for the release of Brigadier-General G. S. Richardson who had at the outbreak of war been acting as New Zealand Representative at the War Office and at this time held the appointment of D.A. and Q.M.G. in the XII. Corps. He arrived in England in March, and following on recommendations submitted by General Godly to the New Zealand Government, assumed the larger duties of Commandant New Zealand Troops in England in addition on to those of Military Representative for the Dominion. The appointment was subsequently defined as that of General Officer in charge page 18of Administration. His headquarters was at first a room in the High Commissioner's office with administrative personnel detached in 2 building in Victoria Street.

This arrangement, however inconvenient, might have sufficed to deal with the handful of troops that might be expected to be in England on the assumption that the base remained in Egypt. A conference, however, on various questions connected with the Australasian forces was held at the War Office on 28th April between General Birdwood and the Heads of Departments concerned, at which also the Australian and New Zealand Military Representatives were present. To facilitate administration and effect economy in man-power by providing opportunities for speedier recovery under more favourable climatic conditions from wounds or sickness, it was then agreed that the bases for the Australasian troops in France should be transferred from Egypt to England. At the same time the position of the New Zealand High Commissioner was defined. It was decided that he should be kept informed by the Representative on all military matters affecting New Zealand, but that his office should no longer be the channel for correspondence with the War Office. Following on this interview, the New Zealand Base arrived in London early in May, and suitable accommodation was secured for all offices in Southampton Row. In the beginning of June a "Command Depot" (Major J. A. Mackenzie) was established on the edge of Salisbury Plain at Codford. This term had been introduced to distinguish the depots specially devoted to the reception of unfit men from the ordinary Infantry or General Base depots where reinforcements and fit men were in training and readiness to proceed to the front. As a training depot the War Office shortly afterwards assigned Sling Camp, also on Salisbury Plain. There the training units brought from Egypt under Colonel Smyth were concentrated. The infantry were organised in 3 reserve battalions for the respective brigades in the field. At this time, and for some little time afterwards, various Imperial officers were loaned for instructional duties.

In July the Walton-on-Thames hospital was taken under military control and expanded. Major (now Lt.-Col.) B. Myers, who had supervised it for the committee, was prometed A.D.M.S. and transferred to Medical Headquarters. His place was taken by Lt.-Col. T. Mill.1 Walton thus became

1 Succeeded in December 1917 by Col. E. J. O'Neill, D.S.O.

page 19No. 2 New Zealand General Hospital. The former 2nd Stationary Hospital (Lt.-Col. D S. Wylie) on being transferred in May to England had been designated No. 1 New Zealand General Hospita1.1 It was established at Brockenhurst in the luxuriant woodland scenery of the New Forest. By July a No. 3 General Hospital (Lt.-Col. M. Ho1mes)2 had been organised near the Command Depot at Codford. In June Major C. H. Tewsley took over the administration of the Hornchurch Dept from Major (now Lt.-Col.) Brown to enable the latter to proceed to the command of the 2nd Auckland Battalion in France. In the course of the following month the engineers were centralised at Christchurch, the signallers at Hitchin, and the machine gunners at Grantham, where the foundations of the great British Army machine gun school were already laid. In the last week of September 1916 the Australians and New Zealanders training on and about Salisbury Plain were inspected by H.M. the King. Such were the early stages in the development of the organisation and establishments in England which were afterwards to expand to a scale not then visualised.

1 Lt.-Col. Wylie was succeeded in January 1918 by Col. P. S. Fenwiek. C.M.G.

2 Succeeded in turn by Col. Fenwick, (Aug. 1916) Lt Col. H. J. McLean, (Jan. 1918); Lt.-Col. G. Home, O.B.E (Nor. 1918); Major (Temp. Lt.-Col.) H M. Buchanan, (Jan. 1919).