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Official History of the Otago Regiment, N.Z.E.F. in the Great War 1914-1918

A Great Enterprise

A Great Enterprise.

Orders were now issued for the Regiment to be prepared to leave Egypt at short notice as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force which was to be committed to projected operations against Turkey. By the beginning of April General Headquarters had been established at Alexandria, where a great fleet of transports, comprised of captured enemy vessels, was being assembled and made ready for conveying the forces of the Expedition to Mudros, in the Island of Lemnos.

Entraining for Alexandria was to commence on the night of April 6th-7th. An advanced base under Major Charters was being formed at Mustafa, Alexandria, and Zeitoun was to serve as a reinforcing and training camp. Orders were subsequently issued postponing entraining for an interval of 72 hours on account of congestion at Alexandria.

Training was being carried out in long distance route marches, the weight of packs being increased to at least 70 pounds in order to bring the Force up to the state of fitness required for a campaign in the rough and mountainous country of the Gallipoli Peninsula—the scene of the coming struggle. The final preparations of organisation and equipment were now effected, and on Friday, April 9th, entraining for Alexandria commenced.

As Alexandria was reached and detraining completed, embarkation proceeded without loss of time. On April 10th the first of the transports drew out from the harbour where lay sheltered ships of many nationalities. The Regiment was allotted the Annaberg, one of the several captured enemy vessels lying at Alexandria, which was like most of the others—filthy beyond description, and abominably louse-ridden.

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On departure from Alexandria the Battalion was commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Moore, with Major J. H. Moir Second-in-Command, and Lieut. J. S. Reid Adjutant. The Company Commanders were as follows: 4th (Otago) Company, Major R. Price; 8th (Southland) Company, Major J. A. Mackenzie; 10th (North Otago) Company, Major G. Mitchell; 14th (South Otago) Company, Major W. McG. Turnbull.

A journey of three days brought the transports to Mudros Harbour, the rendezvous of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. There in the placid waters of the great natural harbour of the Island of Lemnos, in the Ægean Sea, lay at anchor ships from the far ends of the world—a fleet of vessels of war and all the small craft incidental to their projected operations, transports, and supply ships.