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Regimental History of New Zealand Cyclist Corps in The Great War 1914-1918

Chapter I. — Formation

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Chapter I.

When, on the 3rd August, 1914, the British Empire declared war on Germany, her Dominions beyond the seas answered the call and started earnestly to help the Mother Country.

In accordance with a request from the War Office, the New Zealand Government despatched a Force to Samoa on August 14th, 1914, upon the outbreak of war. On 12th August, 1914, the offer of a Voluntary Expeditionary Force for service abroad by New Zealand to the Imperial Government was accepted, and on October 16th, 1914, this Force sailed for Egypt. During the months that followed, our glorious work in Gallipoli has been told by other writers and need not be duplicated here. On 28th January, 1916, the Imperial Government suggested that in view of the large accumulation of reinforcements in Egypt, a complete New Zealand Division be formed. At the suggestion of the Army Council, details were arranged direct with General Sir William Birdwood, and the Division was formed in February, 1916, under the Command of Major-General Sir A. J. Godley, K.C.M.G., who had raised and trained the N.Z. Expeditionary Force in New Zealand, to whose leadership the whole of the subsequent brilliant success of the N.Z.E.F. is responsible.

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A Cyclist Company being included in the composition of a Division, the New Zealand Government in March, 1916, offered to provide the personnel for such a Company and the offer was accepted by the Imperial Government. The officers and men of this Company were found from the Mounted Rifles reinforcements training at that time in Featherston Camp, in New Zealand, who, having more men than were necessary for immediate requirements, voluntarily transferred to this new Cyclist Company. Major C. Hellier Evans, who was in command of A Squadron, 13th Mounted Rifles, was offered and accepted the command of the Company, and the following were selected as officers:—

2nd Lieut. G. Clark Walker 12th A.M.R.
2nd Lieut. J. T. Steven 12th C.M.R.
2nd Lieut. R. W. Kebbell 13th W.M.R.
2nd Lieut. C. G. G. Johnson Reserve Squadron
2nd Lieut. G. L. Comer 11th C.M.R.

The establishment of a Divisional Cyclist Company was 8 officers, 196 other ranks, divided as follows:—

Company Headquarters, 2 officers 1 Major i/c.
1 Captain 2nd i/c.
and 13 other ranks
6 Platoons each 1 officer and 30 other ranks.

Transport consisting of 6 vehicles and 201 bicycles.

It was decided that the Company should be drawn from the Reserve Squadrons and 12th, 13th and 14th Mounted Rifle Reinforcements. Volunteers were called for on the 5th April and a selection was made; several cycles were obtained and a riding test instituted. The Company was to leave New Zealand with the 12th Reinforcement on the 29th April, and as there was the Musketry test to be carried out and final leave to be granted, time was short. However, by dint of hard work and organisation these were carried through andpage break
1st Cyclist Company BadgeIssued in New Zealand.

1st Cyclist Company Badge
Issued in New Zealand.

The New Cyclist Corps BadgeIssued in France with Shoulder Badges and Colour Patch..

The New Cyclist Corps Badge
Issued in France with Shoulder Badges and Colour Patch..

page break page 15as the sailing of this portion of the reinforcement was postponed for a week, it gave an opportunity to sort out the unfit and obtain organisation.

The Company, being entirely a new Unit—for Cyclists were unknown in the New Zealand Territorials—had no Mother Unit and consequently no badge. As a badge was necessary a design was submitted to the Commandant of the Camp and approved. The badge was a winged cycle front wheel and handlebars, and had on a scroll beneath the words "1st N.Z. Cyclist Company." A number were manufactured by a Wellington firm and sold to the members of the Company; free issues of badges were not made then. Shoulder titles were unobtainable, and the Unit went forward with their N.Z.M.R. titles.

The following is a list of Officers and Senior N.C.O.'s appointed:—

Company Headquarters:

  • Company Commander, Major C. H. Evans
  • Company Sergt.-Major, A. P. C. Hay
  • Quartermaster-Sergt., F. E. Bisney
  • Orderly Room Sergt., A. Morrison
  • Artificers, Lance Corporal J. S. Hill, Private, S. C. Forrester No. 1 Platoon, 2nd Lieut. C. G. Johnson Sergt. A. C. Martis
  • No. 2 Platoon, 2nd Lieut. G. Clark Walker Sergt. S. C. Fox
  • No. 3 Platoon, 2nd Lieut. R. W. Kebbell Sergt., L. H. Browne
  • No. 4 Platoon, 2nd Lieut. G. L. Comer Sergt., S. S. lvemey
  • No. 5 Platoon, no officer Sergt., F. L. Bowron
  • No. 6 Platoon, 2nd Lieut. J. T. Steven Sergt., F. C. Matthews
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The first reinforcement of 10 per cent. of other ranks was mobolised and left with the Company.

On May 2nd the Company was complete, fully equipped and paid up-to-date, and according to custom were put on active service.

The day of embarkation (6th May) approached rapidly, and on the early morning of that day the Company entrained for Wellington, where on arrival the Unit marched to King's Wharf, embarked on the "S.S. Mokoia" and were told off to sleeping quarters, mess rooms, etc.

In the afternoon the usual march through the streets of Wellington took place and the troops were given a right royal send off by the crowds of people. At 5 p.m. all were aboard and the ship cast off, amid frantic waving and cheers. Eyes became dim on realisation that they were leaving something behind—mother, sister, wife and little ones. Many a brave lad that day waved a "last farewell" to his people and Homeland.

After a quiet night in Wellington harbour the ship got under way at daylight, and so commenced our long trip to the War, at which our usefulness is recorded in other chapters.

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The C.O.. Lieut.-Colonel Evans, D.S.O.

The C.O.. Lieut.-Colonel Evans, D.S.O.

Headquarters Officers' Mess.

Headquarters Officers' Mess.

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