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11/76 Corporal Eric Michael Harris Joseph Lynch[i] Wellington Mounted Rifles

Eric Michael Harris Joseph Lynch was born on 19th July 1891 in Paekakariki the second son in a family of seven children born to Michael Joseph & Margaret Lynch.

Eric’s father was a farmer in the Paekakariki area, as was one of his brothers Ossian Paul Lynch, so Eric grew up with a
large number of siblings and cousins. The Lynch’s were Roman Catholic so the boys went into St Patricks, Wellington for secondary education.[ii]  Eric and two of his cousins, William and Oscar also served their compulsory military training in
the 6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles. At the outbreak of war the three enlisted together in 6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles, sailing, in August 1914, for the European War.  
11/71 Trooper William Henry and his brother
11/77 Trooper Oscar Avonmore Lynch as part
of B Squadron, one of their Lance Corporals
was 11/24 Lance Corporal Hector Craw.[iii]  
11/76 Trooper Eric Michael Lynch was assigned
to the Machine Gun Section of C Squadron, also
in this section were two Porirua Hospital men,
11/26 Trooper Walter Cobb and
11/713 Trooper John William Reichart[iv].

6th Manawatu Mounted Rilfes parade at 
Awapuni Racecourse 1914


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. Corporal Lynch wrote a letter about Gallipoli reproduced, in part, in the Wairarapa Daily News of 5th August 1915[vi]

     ‘The whole of Gallipoli Peninsula is one high graveyard’ writes Corporal Eric Lynch late of Paraparumu ‘and
     just above high water mark are the graves of dozens of our brave boys who were killed in the first rush –
     many of whom never reached the shore. When in the trenches we could see a couple of boats on the beach
     about half a mile away, and on looking through the glasses we saw the boats were full of dead men – men
     who never effected a landing. One night some of our boys went off and buried them, as it was impossible to
     do so by daylight.’

11/77 Trooper Oscar Avonmore Lynch was the first of the cousins to become a casualty being evacuated on 19th May
1915 with Enteric Fever. Shipped to Egypt Oscar made a recovery and was transferred in June 1915 to the NZ Army Service Corps, based in Egypt, and promoted as 5/77B Lance Corporal Lynch. However in late June he again contracted Enteric Fever this time dying of the disease on 5th July 1915.

The second of the cousins to become a casualty was 11/76 Corporal Eric Lynch, he was wounded on the 26th May 1915,
Lance Corporal Craw’s diary entry of 27th May 1915 noted:[vii]

    ‘ Last night at 6 o’clock Turkish shell landed in the middle of where we are camped, killed one man
    ( Neil Campion[viii] ) and wounded five others Lynch, Maby[ix], Sommerset,[x]  Geange[xi] and
    Cooper[xii]. Cooper was from our section. 
    At 6 o’clock this morning Majestic was torpedoed & sunk at 6:45.
    Some shells for tea too - making stew.’

The effects of the shell was also reported in a letter from 11/234 Trooper Robert James MacDonell in the Dominion on
30th October 1915[xiii]

    ‘. . . at present shells are bursting on both sides of us, but they are pretty harmless, and they are
    not likely to get us. I think they are trying to get the battery behind us. I suppose you heard about
    Bill Overton, Clapham, Eric Lynch and Neil Champion. I was close handy and saw all four hit and
    saw Bill and Neil die. We were all sitting down on May 26th - all dog tired after a hard days sapping.
    Suddenly without warning a shell burst overhead. Altogether it hit eight different men. It only wounded
    Eric Lynch but Neil Champion died about ten minutes later. Two of the others that were hit also died
    (Grange and Somerset) At the time the shell burst five of us were sitting together and it was a miracle
    how we other three escaped, pellets hit the bank all round us ...’

Trooper Lynch initially was reported to have shrapnel wounds to the scalp and was evacuated to Malta on arriving on
7th June 1915 and was admitted to hospital with shrapnel wounds to the foot. Trooper Lynch was then shipped to
England being admitted to the No 5 Temporary Hospital, Exeter, where he continued with treatment. The Manawatu Standard, 28th August 1915[xiv] reporting:

    ‘Corp. Eric Lynch of Paraparaumu, who is still in hospital has been further operated on, with the result that two
    more bullets have been extracted from his foot.’

Corporal Lynch remained in hospital until November 1915 when he was granted leave prior to being shipped back to
New Zealand where in January 1916 being finally discharged as ‘no longer physically fit.’
Eric returned to his father’s home  ‘ Dilkoosha’ at Paraparaumu and farming. In February 1918 Eric married Ivy Elisa Abbott, Ivy’s only brother 2nd Lieutenant Victor H S Abott was killed in 1916 in a flying accident prior to his RAF squadron being posted to France. Eric moved to Pauatahanui to assist Ivy’s father and uncle on the family farm at Battle Hill.

                                                                                                               Eric’s medals were sent to him at ‘Ngaere’ Pauhatanui in                                                                                                                         1920. At the unveiling of the Pauatahanui War Memorial, on                                                                                                                   the 21st February 1922, Eric Lynch presented the speech in                                                                                                                   reply, on behalf of returned servicemen from the district, to                                                                                                                   the Governor-general Lord Jellico.

                                                                                                               Unveiling the memorial February 1922
                                                                                                               Eric Lynch possibly to the left behind the
                                                                                                               Governor-general

                                                                                                               Eric and Ivy Lynch had two children and took over the farm                                                                                                                     after the death of Ivy's  father and uncle, the farm remaining                                                                                                                 with the family until 1975 when the farm was sold. 

                                                                                                               Eric Michael Lynch died in Pauatahanui on 26th July 1962.

                                                                                                                              Notes:
                                                                                                                             The third cousin 11/71 Trooper William Henry Lynch was the final casualty being killed in action on 9th August 1915 during the Battle for Chunuk Bair.
Lynch’s crossing, Paraparaumu was named after the family and ‘Emerald Glen’, Waterfall Road, Paraparaumu was original built for the
Lynch family.
Historic spellings of Pauatahanui have been used where they appeared in documents.
11/234 Trooper Robert James MacDonell was wounded at the Battle of Chunuk Bair evacuated from Gallipoli and would be invalided
back to NZ

References:
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 11/71 Trooper William Henry Lynch
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 11/76 Trooper Eric Michael Lynch
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 11/77 & 5/77B Trooper Oscar Avonmorre Lynch
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 11/24 Lance Corporal Eric Hector Dunstan Craw
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 11/26 Trooper Walter Cobb MC
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 11/713 Trooper John William Reichart
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 11/234 Trooper Robert James NacDonell
Diary, 1915, written by 11/24 Lance Corporal Eric Hector Craw: Craw family
Paperspast Online
NZ BDM 

Photos:
The Wellington Mounted Rifles: Google photos
Unveiling the memorial: Pataka Museum

[i]     Eric Michael Lynch is used on the majority of military documents and will be used in the article but the notification of Eric Michael                       Lynch’s to the NZ Defence Department uses a full Eric Michael Harris Joseph Lynch.
[ii]    200 ex-pupils in the Ranks (15 December 1915) Dominion
[iii]   A story on 11/24 Lance Corporal Eric Hector Craw has already been published
[iv]   Stories about 11/26 Trooper Cobb and 11/716 Trooper Reichart have already been published.
[v]    Personal Diary – 11/24 Lance Corporal Eric Hector Dunstan Craw B Squadron, 6th Manawatu, Wellington Mounted Rifles.
[vi]   Local & General (5 August 1915) Wairarapa Daily News
[vii]  Diary for Year 1915 – 11/24 Lance Corporal Craw
[viii] 11/32 Trooper Neil Campion from Waikanae
[ix]  11/94 Trooper George Mabey from Taita
[x]   11/603 Trooper Edward Sommerset from Ashurst died of his wounds 28th May 1915
[xi]  11/53 Trooper John Wallace Geange from Upper Hutt died of his wounds 31 March 1917
[xii] 11/28 Trooper Robert Alexander Cooper from Wangarai
[xiii] In the thick of battle – Gallipoli in August (30 October 1915) Dominion
6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles parade August 1914