Tackling the Turk : an examination of tactics employed by the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade during the Sinai-Palestine campaign of World War I : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Defence and Strategic Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This thesis examines the tactics employed by the New Zealand Mounted Rifles (NZMR) Brigade during the Sinai Palestine Campaign of World War I. It seeks to determine how the Boer War shaped mounted rifles tactical doctrine prior to World War I, what tactics were employed during the Sinai Palestine campaign itself, and how the tactics evolved over the course of the campaign. It begins by tracing the New Zealand experience in the Boer War, the ensuing development of mounted rifles tactical doctrine and the formation of yeomanry and mounted rifles units immediately prior to World War I. The thesis follows the campaign in Sinai and Palestine, focusing primarily on patrolling operations and attacks, from the re-building of the NZMR Brigade after its return to Egypt from Gallipoli in December 1915, until the conclusion of operations at Amman in September 1918. The thesis finds that by 1914, New Zealand mounted rifles units trained to employ fire tactics, to move mounted, but to conduct attacks dismounted. New Zealanders undertook extensive mounted patrolling from the outset of the campaign. Most attacks were conducted as 'quick' attacks, despite Turkish defensive positions often being well prepared and stubbornly defended. Most attacks employed envelopment of enemy flanks and followed a general pattern of firing lines of dismounted troopers closing on the enemy under the combined weight of their own and neighbouring rifle fire, machine gun fire and artillery support. Attacks usually concluded with a bayonet charge from short range, once firing lines had got close enough to the enemy. Mounted charges were rarely undertaken, despite the spectacular success of the Australian mounted charge at Beersheba. Indeed, the New Zealand commander, General Chaytor, made a deliberate decision to continue employing dismounted tactics. The thesis finds that longevity in command appointments and the influence and experience of Boer War veterans had a positive effect on the tactics used by the NZMR Brigade.