Like warriors the world over, they charged into battle on their trusty steeds. Only in this case, the steed was a bicycle, a BSA Mark IV to be precise.
It wasn’t the usual steed or even the usual type of vehicle for troops. But for the 300 odd men of the ANZAC Corps cyclist battalion in World War One, it was their transport over the muddy and treacherous roads of the Western Front.
The sturdy bikes carried not only their rider, in full uniform, with a gas mask but also equipment.
The corps were created the year before and were intended as light infantry, able to carry out reconnaissance, but the reality of trench warfare made that of little use.
Instead they controlled traffic, laid telephone cables and repaired trenches in preparation for the battle.
At one point it was estimated they had dug 37km of trenches - all at night.
On June 7, 1917, at the Battle of Messines they rode into action.
On the day the battle was to begin they were to build a track to allow traditionally mounted troops to ride through wire, shell holes and waterways. It had to be done in less than four hours.
So in the middle of the night on June 7, they cycled 13km wearing gas masks before leaving their bikes and heading to the front lines.
As the battle began, so did their work on the track, across No Man’s Land and through the German trenches. It was extremely dangerous and they did it under fire.
Four Anzac cyclists were killed and 22 others wounded but they completed the track.
Later that same year they laid vital telephone cables before the attack on Passchendaele.
By the end of the war 708 men had served in the New Zealand section of the Cyclist Corps, of whom 59 had been killed and 259 wounded (51 more than once).
Nearly all of those men are buried in France or Belgium. Two on the Roll of Honour made it back to New Zealand but died of their injuries. One was Dudley Edward Harrison, 23, who is buried in Dorie Cemetery (he had been shot in the head) in Rakaia. The other is Edward Wawman, 25, who is buried in the Te Aroha Cemetery in the Waikato.
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