Official War History of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment 1914-1919
By 24th September all was in readiness for embarkation. The Awapuni Contingent had reached Wellington, where it was "farewelled" officially and otherwise in Newtown Park. After the ceremony the troops marched to the wharves through dense crowds of enthusiastic well-wishers, the bands playing "Tipperary" and other tunes popular at that time, and the embarkation was quickly accomplished. The men were highly elated at the prospect of an early departure, but disappointment awaited them. The presence of two powerful German cruisers had been detected in adjacent waters, and in consequence the departure was deferred pending the arrival of two other warships to strengthen the escort. The troops were therefore disembarked, the Regiment marching to Trentham Racecourse, where training was resumed, but with more than a full share of recreation. Dances, concerts, and other forms of amusement were provided by the citizens of Wellington, and the troops have grateful recollections of the many kindnesses bestowed on them.
On October 14th H.M.S. Minotaur and the Japanese battleship Ibuki reinforced the escort, and early next morning the troops began to re-embark.
They were shipped like sheep when the dawn was grey
(But the officers knew that no lambs were they);
They squatted and perched where e'er they could,
And they "blankey-ed" for joy as we knew they would,
Knew they would—
Knew they would;
They blankey-ed for joy, as we knew they would.
A memorable day in the annals of New Zealand had arrived—the day of the final departure of the Main Body.
The re-embarkation was quickly effected, the W.M.R. being quartered on three troopships, as follows:—
- Arawa: Headquarters Staff, 2nd Squadron (less one troop), and Machine-gun Section.
- Tahiti: 6th Squadron (less one troop).
- Orari: 9th Squadron (one troop each, 2nd and 6th Squadrons) and all the horses of the Regiment.
The Officers of the Regiment were: Headquarters, Lieut. -Colonel W. Meldrum (in command), Adjutant-Captain V. A. Kelsall Quartermaster-Captain A. H. Wilkie. Signal Officer-Lieut. R. Logan, Machine-gun Officer-Lieut. H. T. Palmer. Attached Major P. M. Edgar, N.Z. Veterinary Corps, Captain H. J. McLean. N.Z.M.C., and Major W. Grant, N.Z. Chaplains' Department.