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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

An Inspection on the Desert

page 60

An Inspection on the Desert.

Just a year before, Sir Ian Hamilton, reviewing the New Zealanders and Australians in their own lands, expressed the wish that some day these wonderful horsemen might be shown to the world. By a strange chance, here they were in Africa, soon to be led by him in their first great visit to Europe, Surrounded by his staff, here again he sees them in the desert. Squadron after squadron go the 1st Light Horse Brigade, the pride of all Australia; then the New Zealand Mounted Rifles—men from the Waikato, the Wairarapa, the Waitaki. and every country district in between—prance gaily past in a cloud of dust and locusts; following the mounted rifles come the divisional artillery, all New Zealanders—with their cap badges blackened for war and their guns bedaubed with multi-coloured paints in a manner to make an old battery sergeant-major go crazy. Here are the handy men of the army—the divisional engineers with their great pontoons, and their confreres the signallers—wise men with buzzers and telephones and other signalling paraphernalia bedecking their horses and waggons. Following the “fancy troops.” in solid ranks of khaki and with bayonets flashing in the desert sun, come the infantry brigades of the Division. These are the men who trudge all day in the desert and at night dig themselves in, bivouacking and trudging on again next morning. The New Zealand Brigade marches brilliantly: every man is a prouder man than when he left New Zealand, for the infantry alone out of our Division participated in the defence of the Canal.

Now come the newly joined 4th Australian Infantry Brigade, and, closely following, the waggons of the divisional train; finally the field ambulance, flying their great Red Cross flags. By this time everybody is covered with grey desert dust and the plain is obscured as if with the smoke of a great bush fire. The march past over, units make for home by the shortest route. Soon the horses are rubbed down and are munching their tibbin and crushed barley, while the men are crowding the showers preparatory to the call of the cookhouse.

page 61

That night we realized that at last the long-desired standard was attained—the New Zealand and Australian Division was pronounced fit for active service.