3/400 - 11/400A Trooper Archibald Foley



Archibald Foley was born in Cape Town, South Africa on 22nd August 1891. Archibald’s father, Timothy Foley, 14508 Sapper the British Royal Engineers had arrived in December 1878 in South Africa and was engaged the Anglo-Zulu wars.[i] Family history is that he was wounded and while being nursed met and later married his wife. The Foley family left South Africa with the army in 1884 but returned in 1888 with Corporal Foley being finally discharged in 1896. The family remained in Cape Town with Archibald’s service record noting that he had served, as part of compulsory military training, with the Cape Peninsula Rifles.

Archibald arrived in New Zealand about 1911 he had resigned from the Cape Peninsula Rifles prior to departing South Africa and this unit was disbanded in 1912.[ii] There was a large recruitment program for young single men from the British Empire, mainly Scotland and England, to staff New Zealand’s mental hospitals.  

In October 1914 Archibald enlisted in the New Zealand Army, when he enlisted he was employed at Porirua Hospital as a hospital attendant.[iii] Archie enlisted with eight other men from the Porirua Hospital, a number he had played Association Football (Soccer) with as part of the Hospital team[iv].   All entered the Trentham Military Camp as part of the reinforcements for the Mounted Field Ambulance, New Zealand Medical Corp. 3/400 Private Foley was quickly promoted to Sergeant possibly because of his military experience with the Cape Peninsula Rifles and he sailed for Egypt, from Wellington, in December 1914 as part of the 2nd Reinforcements, Field Ambulance, New Zealand Medical Corps.


Photo of Sergeant Archibald Foley, with four other sergeants of the New Zealand Medical Corps, at Trentham Camp in November 1914 prior to departure for overseas service. 3/400 Sergeant Foley is the second right. Also in the photo is 3/401 Sergeant Henry Heath also from Porirua Hospital.

In January 1915 on joining the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in Egypt Sergeant Foley reverted to Private Foley and later in March 1915 transferred to the 2nd Queen Alexandria’s (Wellington, West Coast) Squadron as a Trooper. Trooper Foley was given a new regimental number 11/400A. The mounted elements of the NZEF remained in Egypt during the April landings at Gallipoli but heavy casualties resulted in the mounted units, without their horses, being shipped in May 1915 as reinforcements to ANZAC Cove.




11/400A Trooper Archibald Foley at Zeitoun Camp 25th March 1915.

The lack of the red cross badge on the sleeve indicates the Trooper Foley is now part of the fighting element of the Wellington Mounted Rifles.

In August 1915 with a large scale British landing at Suvla Bay the plan was an attack by the Allied forces in ANZAC Cove that would enable a link up with the Suvla Bay force and the capture the strategic heights of the Sari Bair range, including Chunuk Bair. The New Zealand Mounted Rifles (NZMR) was assigned to the Right Covering Force with the mission to clear the way for the assault column to capture Chunuk Bair. The three squadrons of the Wellington Mounted Rifles (WMR) were to capture Destroyer Hill and Big Table Top. On the evening of 6th August 1915 the mission starts well with the capture Big Table Top, after hand to hand fighting, by the 6th Manawatu’s.  The 2nd Queen Alexander’s and 9th East Coast then passed through this position then climbed to attack the Turkish positions from the rear capturing Destroyer Hill.

In the early hours of 8th August 1915 the Wellington Battalion captured Chunuk Bair and were subjected to repeated counter-attacks by Turkish forces and the 2nd and 6th Squadrons of the WMR consisting of 173 men moved to Chailak Dere and then was ordered to attach to the Otago Infantry Battalion on Chunuk Bair with orders to ‘hold their position at all costs’.[v] The WMR at 10:30 pm, 8th August 1915 was occupying the Cockpit a centre position in the line.  During 9th August 1915 the Allied troops on Chunuk Bair are subjected, from 4 a.m., for the next 10 hours to repeated attacks by the Turkish infantry supported by heavy artillery, machine-gun and rifle fire. Trooper Foley’s military records note that he was wounded on the 9th with a gunshot wound to the elbow. Trooper Foley was evacuated from ANZAC Cove and was admitted on 14th August 1915 to hospital in Cairo, Egypt. In September 1915 Trooper Foley was medically assessed and it was recommended that he return to New Zealand for convalescence and treatment and he sailed on 25th September 1915 from Egypt on the SS Willochia. Also returning to New Zealand on the Willochia were 3/460 Private Frank Walsh and 3/401 Private Herbert Foster both men Archibald Foley had worked with at Porirua Hospital and had also played soccer with in the Hospital team. Archibald, Herbert and Frank were members of the group of nine hospital men who had enlisted together in October 1914.[vi]

Archie Foley was discharged from the NZEF on 19th January 1916 as ‘medically unfit for active service’ and returned to work at the Porirua Hospital. In March 1917 he married Marcella Ruby France from Lower Hutt, Wellington. Marcella would lose one of her younger brothers later that year when Frederick (Freddie) Carey France was killed in October 1917 at Passchendaele.




Archie Foley (in uniform) with Ruby and others c 1916

In 1917 Archibald and Ruby Foley were successful in the ballot for farm settlement under ‘The Discharged Soldiers Settlement Act 1915’.[vii] This Act was enacted to provide farm settlement schemes and vocational training to First World War veterans. The Foley’s settled in the Marakeke Settlement, Takapau, Hawkes Bay with Archibald’s medals being sent to him there in 1922. 




Archibald and his son Patrick on the Takapau farm 1920’s.

Frank Walsh who returned with Archibald on the SS Willochia also won a settlement farm in the Takapau area close to the Marakeke Settlement but died in 1927 from injuries received in a motor vehicle accident when the car he was a passenger in crashed into a train in Waipukarau, Hawkes Bay.[viii]

Archibald and Marcella Foley would have four children. Archibald Foley died in 1941 with Marcella Ruby Foley dying in 1971.




Archie at the stock sales Waipukarau 1939

The Foley family still farms, including the original soldier / settler’s farm, in the Takapau area.

Allan Dodson March 2015


Another Porirua Hospital man, who enlisted with Archie Foley, Arthur Harold Topham also farmed in the area in the 1920’s.


Five NZMC Sergeants at Trentham Camp November 1914: Foley family

3/400 Trooper Foley in Egypt  25 March 1915: Foley family

Archie and Ruby at the beach c1916: Foley family

Archie and Patrick (son) on the farm 1920’s:Foley family

Archie at the Waipukarau stock sales 1939: Foley family


Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 3/400 & 11/400A Trooper Archibald Foley

Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 3/460 Private Francis William Walsh

History Online: Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment Timetable

Official War History of the Wellington Mounted Rifles 1914 - 1919

[i] Foley Family Papers

[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records 3/400 & 11/400A Trooper Archibald Foley

[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 3/400 & 11/400A Trooper Archibald Foley

[iv] Hospital staff enlisting 21st September 1914: J Alexander*, A Foley* H Foster*, H Heath*, K Munro, P Roots*, W Skinner*, A Topham & F Walsh*. (* Hospital AFC Players)

[v] History Online: Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment Timetable - 8th August

[vi] Hospital staff enlisting 21st September 1914: A Foley, F Walsh.

[vii] Soldier Settler: confirmed by Foley family

[viii] Evening Post 10 August 1927: Death of Soldier Settler -


Last Updated: 30/03/2015 6:51pm