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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

Leaving Cairo

Leaving Cairo.

The men of the Maori contingent were disappointed to find that they were not to join up at once with the Division. and after an entertainment and haka before Sir John Maxwell, the High Commissioner of Egypt, one of their officers made an eloquent plea to be sent on active service. The promise
Black and white photograph of kit inspection in the field ambulance lines.

[Lent by Capt. Boxer. N.Z.M.C.
Kit Inspection in the Field Ambulance Lines.

was made that the request would be acceded to after a short term of garrison duty at Malta, for which station they left Zeitoun Camp on the evening of Easter Monday, embarking on the s.s. “Runic” at Port Said.

Easter Monday was a most trying day. The khamseen blew, the breakfast dishes were full of grit, horses were page 63 fidgety in the driving sandstorm, everyone's temper was on edge. Egypt is a delightful place for the tourist, who can amuse himself indoors if the conditions be undesirable without. The soldier, on the contrary, must soldier on, khamseen or no khamseen, so over the drifting wastes of sand, artillery, engineers, infantry, divisional train and ambulance, wended their several ways to their different rendezvous in the desert. This was a new idea in the matter of parades—parading by ships—all to go on the “Lutzow” mustering in one place, those for the “Katuna” in another, and so on. Men, horses and vehicles were carefully checked by the known capacity of the transports already waiting in Alexandria Harbour.

Because the country was known to be mountainous and almost devoid of water it was recognized that in the initial stages of the campaign the mounted men must be left behind. This reduced the fighting strength of our division from four brigades to two. The mounted rifles for once were sorry they had horses, but hardly envied the infantrymen the daily long-distance route marches with the seventy pounds of pack and a rifle, dusty tracks, and an angry sun.

Everything comes to an end, even training in Egypt. In the week following Easter, all ranks were thankful to get aboard the troop trains in the dark and disappear into the black Egyptian night. The only regret was that their comrades of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles and Australian Light Horse were left fretting in the desert camps.