New Zealand Rifle Brigade at the Wolgarston Farm Ram Sale, Penkridge

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Date:30th of August 1918

Description:This photograph was taken during the annual sale of Shropshire sheep at Wolgarston Farm, Penkridge. On the left there are several soldiers from the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

It was reported in the Staffordshire Advertiser on Saturday 7 September 1918 that the Wolgarston Ram Sale was attended by a large number of breeders and farmers and among the visitors were a number of men from the New Zealand Rifle Brigade who were invited by Mr Joseph Brown to lunch.

The Staffordshire Advertiser also noted that this annual sale of Shropshire sheep from Mr Joseph Brown’s old established flock took place on Friday 30 August. Mr Harry Winterton of Messrs. Winterton and Sons, Lichfield, conducted the sale and among the buyers were Lord Hatherton, Captain Levett and the Duke of Westminster who purchased the first pen of three shearling ewes at 11 guineas and the third pen at 12½ guineas. Competition for the various lots was very keen and bidding prices rose steadily by steps of a guinea. Prices were said to have been much better than the previous year (1917) when the average price was £18, 4s.10d. and this year's were an average of £22 4s. 6d. with the highest figure for an individual ram being 50 guineas. It was also stated that this was the only private sale in England.

The New Zealand Rifle Brigade (NZRB) were quartered at Brocton Camp on Cannock Chase and they were nicknamed 'The Dinks', as they were considered to be good, honest (dinkum) soldiers. Their mascot was a Harlequin Great Dane named Freda, whose grave can still be seen on the site of the camp.

The NZRB were part of the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps and generally known as the ANZACs, which was formed early in the conflict of the Great War answering the British Empire's call to arms. After fighting at the Somme and at the Messines Ridge, the NZRB were considered a valuable source of combat experience. Consequently, the 5th Battalion was transferred to Brocton Camp in September 1917 to train fresh drafts. This was to be their home and headquarters until their return to New Zealand in May 1919. The NZRB was the last unit to leave Cannock Chase after the war. On 10 May 1919 prior to their departure the NZRB made a farewell parade through the streets of Stafford to a presentation ceremony held in the Market Square by the Mayor of Stafford, Mr Joseph Rushton.

Tragically, in the Autumn of 1918 the Spanish Flu epidemic swept through the camp, claiming over 70 of the New Zealanders and over 200 of the German POW's housed there. Their graves are in the Cannock Chase War Cemetery.

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Image courtesy of: The Arthur Lloyd Collection

Donor ref:A_Lloyd-476aa (232/43744)

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