11/713 Trooper John William Reichart
John William Reichart was born on 6th April 1890 in Brighton, England.[i]
In 1908, as an 18 year old, John Reichart enlisted in the British Army serving three years as 7927 Private Reichart, Coldstream Guards where it is noted he specialised in the machine gun. In July 1911 Private Reichart left the Coldstream Guards but remained on the Reserves List being liable for call up for another three years.[ii]
John, like many other single British men, was recruited to come to New Zealand to work in Mental Institutes and he left England in 1911 after his discharge from army.
At the outbreak of war in August 1914 John was employed as an attendant in the Porirua Mental Hospital. He enlisted in the Wellington Mounted Rifles and because of his previous service, was posted to the Machine Gun Section of the 6th (Manawatu) Mounted Rifles.[iii] Following training, 11/713 Trooper Reichart sailed as part of the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) on 16th October 1914. Also sailing with the Machine Gun Section of the 6th (Manawatu) Mounted Rifles was 11/26 Trooper Cobb. Walter Cobb had also, prior to enlisting, worked at the Porirua Mental Hospital.[iv]
On arrival in Egypt the Wellington Mounted Rifles with other New Zealand and Australian mounted units began training for the defence of Egypt. In April 1915 the Wellington Mounted Rifles units remained in Egypt while the New Zealand infantry regiments and support units sailed for the Gallipoli landings. The heavy loss of men at Gallipoli meant a need for replacements and as 11/24 Lance Corporal Hector Craw[v] noted in his diary on 5th May 1915:
‘Heard rumours about going to Dardanelles as infantry leaving horses here. The rumours confirmed going Saturday.’
The Wellington Mounted Rifles (WMR) sailed on the 9th May 1915 arriving off the Dardanelles on the 11th May 1915 when they landed at ANZAC Cove. The WMR squadrons would be engaged at ANZAC Cove from May 1915 leading up to the August 1915 Battle of Chunuk Bair.
The objectives for the Wellington Mounted Rifles as part of a ‘Right Covering Force’ were to capture “Destroyer Ridge” and “Big Table Top”. The attack started at 21:30 hours on 6th August 1915 with the 6th Squadron overpowering Turkish positions and then scaling the north-eastern face of the hill where they attacked the Turks from the rear, capturing their first objective. All day on 7th August they were under heavy attack from Turkish forces which continued into the night. That day the regiment had lost forty-three dead and seventy–four were wounded.[vi] Early on 10 August the regiment, including the 6th Squadron, moved back to the rear. Trooper Hector Craw noted in his diary:[vii]
‘On 6 & 7 big advance on left of ANZAC was not there info from camp our Squadron was practically annihilated out of 90 odd about 13 remained.’
Survivors of the Wellington Mounted Rifles after the Battle of Chunuk Bair
11/713 Trooper John William Reichart was killed on 9th August 1915 his body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Chunuk Bair Memorial.
Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial
Chunuk Bair Cemetery
Trooper Reichart’s medals and memorial plaque were sent to his mother Mrs Fanny Reichart, 45 Franklin Street, Brighton, England.
11/26 Trooper Walter Cobb was the only survivor of the machine gun section of the 6th Manawatu’s and later served in Palestine, being commissioned in the field and winning the Military Cross. Walter Cobb will feature in another article on the men from Porirua Hospital.
Allan Dodson – November 2014
Military files – Archway Archives New Zealand – 11/713 Trooper John William Reichart
Military files – Archway Archives New Zealand- 11/26 Trooper Walter Leonard Cobb
Military files – Archway Archives New Zealand- 11/24 Trooper Eric Hector Dunstan Craw
Personal Diary – Craw family – 1915 Dairy Hector Craw
Wellington Mounted Rifle survivors: Wikipedia
Chunuk Bair Memorial: Private collection
[i] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 11/713 Trooper John William Reichart
[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 11/713 Trooper John William Reichart
[iii] Evening Post – List of 6th Manawatu: 27 August 1914
[iv] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 11/26 Trooper Walter Cobb
[v] Personal Diary – 11/24 Lance Corporal Eric Hector Dunstan Craw B Squadron, 6th Manawatu, Wellington Mounted Rifles.
[vi] Regimental History – Wellington Mounted Rifles: Wikipedia
[vii] Personal Diary – 11/24 Lance Corporal Craw