Mjr J.M. Elmslie, NZEF

Major James McGregor ELMSLIE
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Major James McGregor (Queen's South Africa Medal & 5 Clasps. Mentioned in despatches)

No. 11/629, 2nd Queen Alexandra's (Wellington West Coast) Squadron, Wellington Mounted Rifles, New Zealand Expeditionary Force

Born 21st August, 1876, in Waverley, Wanganui, NZ
[Birth certificate 1876 2089 [Patea dist. Sep qtr], NZ]

Educated: unknown

Married; Farmer, of Waverley, Wanganui, New Zealand

Next of Kin listed as: Wife, Martha Jean Elmslie, of 'Blair', Asher St, Coogee, Sydney, NSW / Burwood, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Photos of Major Elmslie are known to exist in the following locations:
Wilkie frontispiece. Auckland Weekly News 16 Sep 1915 p38. Sydney Mail 29 Sep 1915 p11

Died of wounds
9th August 1915
at Chunuk Bair
Aged 38

2nd Queen Alexandra's (Wellington West Coast) Squadron, Wellington Mounted Rifles, NZEF

Ake Ake Kia Kaha
(For Ever and Ever, Be Strong)

No Known Grave


Fought in South African (Boer) War, with 2nd New Zealand Contingent.
[ELMSLIE, Private James Mcgregor No. 378. Farmer, of Waverley, Wanganui. Father; Mr P. Elmslie, same address. Sailed in S.S. 'Waiwera' ex Wellington, 20 Jan 1900. (NZ Contingents in the South African War 00. -.7).]

Address also listed as Coogee, NSW (Sydney Mail 29 Sep 1915 p11).

'By the latest mail a copy of the regimental orders of the Wellington Mounted Rifles was forwarded to the parents of the late Fred Coates. In a covering letter, Major Elmslie, officer commanding the 2nd Squadron, since killed in action, says regarding the late trooper: 'For our part, although dead and gone, yet he will long live in our memories, and the best any of us can wish is that, if it is our fate to fall here in this war, we may do it in such a fashion that our comrades are proud of us.' The major's wish was granted for not long after writing the letter he fell fighting.' (Lyttleton Times 17 Sep 1915 p8).

Killed during the heavy fighting on Chunuk Bair, 9th August:

'About 5 a.m., while the Turkish attack upon them was still at its height, three high-explosive howitzer shells, coming from the right rear, burst among them, one exploding in the front trench on the left, wrecking the trench, and killing the gallant Major Statham together with his brother beside him, as well as Sergeant-Major Porteous and six or seven men. The shells almost certainly came from one of the howitzer batteries inside the old Anzac lines. Part of the New Zealanders on the left consequently broke, and ran back towards the second trench, fifty yards in rear. Some men also fell back from the right. The situation for a moment looked critical. But Colonel Meldrum of the Wellingtons with his adjutant Captain Kelsall, and Major Elmslie, rallied the men. The brave Elmslie led forward a troop of his squadron to reoccupy the empty sector of trench. Before he could reach it he was hit by a bullet through shoulder and neck. He fell, picked himself up, gained the trench, and there, smiling at some of his men, 'I'm afraid I can't help you much further, boys, but you're doing well - keep on...,' he said, and died. Kelsall, leading back the men who had retired, also gained the trench, but was soon afterwards killed by a bomb.' (Bean V2 p192-3, 195n, 636n, 692-693 quoted).

'Tortured by thirst, in desperate pain from open wounds, the gallant little force refused to be beaten. It was during this momentous phase in the operations that the magnificent morale and inspired example of the officers of the Regiment asserted themselves with splendid results. While the position was exposed to the full force of the attack, and one part of the line appeared to be weakening, Colonel Meldrum, Major Elmslie, and Captain Kelsall sprang from their shallow trenches and hastened to restore the line. Major Elmslie and Captain Kelsall both fell during this critical time. But their example was not lost.' (Wilkie p34, 55 quoted, 56, 59).

'In the evening the body of Major Elmslie was buried at Old No. 3 Post, close to Major Chambers' grave.' (Wilkie p59).

As Major Elmslie now has no known grave, the marker for his original grave at Old No. 3 Post was probably lost between 1915 and 1919, when the War Graves registration unit returned to Gallipoli.

Lest We Forget

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