History – Sumner Redcliffs RSA

Sumner Redcliffs RSA’s history goes back to World War I, with members of the Sumner community fighting in the Great War. Sumner community’s involvement in the war also included the support shown by the local people to the fighting men. The Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment was one of four regional mounted rifles regiments raised to serve overseas in the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces (NZEF). The others were the Auckland, Wellington and Otago mounted regiments. It was unusual as it was the only one without an exact equal by name in the Territorial Force regiment.

The Canterbury Mounted Rifles formed up at the Addington showgrounds. They marched and rode their mounts to Lyttelton for embarkation on the transport ships HMNZT Tahiti and Athenic, and met up with the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces gathering in Wellington for deployment to the war. The march to Lyttleton meant the regiment had to rest the mounts and men at Sumner before going up and over the summit road to the waiting ships. While in Sumner all the community came out to help with the feeding and watering both man and beast. The Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment went on to serve as part of the New Zealand and Australian Division on Gallipoli in 1915, and in Sinai and Palestine as part of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, from 1916 to 1918.  After the armistice with the Ottoman Turks in October 1918, the Canterbury Mounted  Rifles remained in Palestine and the Gallipoli Peninsula until March 1919. They were then sent back to Egypt to help suppress nationalist riots.

The regiment was disbanded in June, when most of the officers and men embarked on the troop carrier Ulimaroa for the return voyage to New Zealand. Sumner and Redcliff men fought in the Second World War. The local community was also aware of the potential threat of invasion, with the fortifications and training groups based at Godley Head. The Sumner RSA was formed by returned soldiers in 1931.

Introduction and Acknowledgements

As an introduction to this part narrative, part chronicle work, I am aware that it barely scratches the surface of the history of the Sumner-Redcliffs Returned Soldiers/Services Association.

To each and every member since its birth, it has a differing significance and particular memories. Each one is as a plank of a nail in the edifice that has been built. Just as some of the strongest beams and most essential components are out of sight in the actual building, so too are the contributions and endeavors of so many whose names and faces are becoming hazy in the dust motes of the years.

Names have been kept to a minimum as an intentional omission of many is preferable to accidental omission of even only one. The Presidents’ Roll is included as the names on this roll represent the collective wisdom and achievements of the committees that they presided over.

Special mention for Mr. F.F. Harvey, WWI Com. 1936/43, Treas. 1938/43, V/Pres 1938, 1940, 1941/43, and the late Mr. CM Dixey, WWI Com. 1933 Sect. 1934, Pres. 1935, for their interesting background chats bringing the recorded data alive.

Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Rule and the Sumner Historical Society for the use of the Sumner Borough Council Records. Thanks to the Christchurch Returned Services Association for access to their archives.