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Boer War
   
SA4643 Trooper John Robinson   -  7th Contingent New Zealand Mounted Rifles
 
John Robinson was a 27 year old single man working as a farmer for Mr John Orr in Johnsonville when he enlisted in date in the New Zealand Mounted Rifles. John’s enlistment papers, signed on the 3rd April  1901, indicate that he was born  in Ireland and  his father, living in Londonderry, is noted as his next of kin.[i] John listed a friend Constable Hutton as his 
New Zealand contact point. Constable Hutton was a well known public figure in the district, while based in Johnsonville,
his beat included Pukerua Bay to the north, Pauatahanui in the east and all points in between. 
 
On the 6th April  1901 SA 44643 Trooper John Robinson,  SA4645 Farrier Len Retter, his younger  brother SA 4644 Farrier Darcy Retter,  SA 4207 Trooper Charles Robertson  all from Johnsonville,  SA4605 Lance Corporal Joseph Brown from
Tawa, SA4650 Trooper George Styles from Pauatahanui and  SA4657 Trooper Leo Gestro from Paremata all sailed as part of the 7th Contingent for South Africa.
 
On arrival in South Africa the 7th New Zealand and the 6th Queensland Contingents were assigned to Colonel Garratt’s column operating in the Eastern Transvaal and north-east of the Orange Free State. During June 1901 there was constant skirmishing with the Boers with casualties inflicted on both at Blesboxspruit and Kaffir’s Spruit.
 
On the 26th June 1901 Trooper Robinson was subject to a disciplinary action where he was brought up on a charge of being insolent to the Transport Officer, Lieutenant Browne and was cautioned.[ii]
 
In July 1901 they captured a Boer Commando at Koppjiesfontein where also 11 Boers were killed or wounded, 25
captured along with 34 waggons, 31 carts and 1240 cattle.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Men of the 7th Contingent, NZMR
break camp on the Veldt early in
their campaign in South Africa 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
More successful capture of material and men continued in August 1901 at Bulfontein, Spannerberg. These clearing operations continued, seriously weakening the Boers. The final major contact was in February 1902 where the British forces attempted the capture of key Boer leader De Wet the report on the action sent as a dispatch on the night of 23rd February 1902 at Langverwacht. The action is also known as the Bloody Battle of Bothasbergat.[iii]
 
‘De Wet adopted the plan of advancing under cover of a large mob of cattle, which were rapidly
driven up by natives to the point where the rush through was to be attempted. This expedient
met, it is true, with a part of the desired success, for there is little doubt that De Wet, Ex-President
Steyn, and a number of their men thus managed to break out of the toils. As a whole, however,
the Boer force was very severely punished by the New Zealanders of Lieutenant Colonel Garratt's
column, who displayed great gallantry and resolution at a critical moment in resisting and in part
repelling the attack. The conduct of the New Zealanders upon this occasion reflects the highest
credit upon all ranks of the contingent, and upon the Colony to which it belongs. Nothing could
have been finer than the behaviour of the men. The whole of the Boer cattle and vehicles were
captured, and 31 of the enemy, together with over 160 horses, were killed at the point where the
attempt to penetrate our line was made. Our own casualties were also severe, 2 officers and 18
men being killed, and 5 officers and 33 men wounded, the large majority of whom belonged to the
New Zealand 7th Contingent’
 
One of those killed in this action was SA4645 Farrier Len Retter.
 
In late March after the year of operations, the 7th contingent started their journey to Durban and the return to New Zealand.  At Newcastle on the journey home the 7th Contingent was addressed by the New Zealand Premier Mr Richard Seddon. The 7th Contingent sailed from Durban, South Africa on the 22nd May 1902.
 
There is no official date for Trooper Robinson’s return to New Zealand but a note in his military files indicates that he had suffered a severe bout of influenza in South Africa and this had resulted in him being given paid leave from July 1902 to November 1902. During this period , on 15th September 1902, he was given his discharge which noted it was the completion of engagement that he was going to reside in Johnsonville and that his character was ‘fair.’ This reference
may be the result of being charged for insolence while in South Africa.
 
In December 1902 John was again examined and given two more months paid leave with a final examination in February 1903. At this stage John had moved from Johnsonville and was living in Wellington City. The results of the medical examination concluded no permanent illness and that light duties could now be undertaken.
 
SA4643 Trooper John Robinson was awarded the Kings South Africa War Medal with year clasps of 1901 and 1902 and provincial clasps for Transvaal and Orange Free State.
 
It is difficult to trace any other records for John Robinson from this date.
 
 
 
Notes:
Private and Trooper are used in Military Files and newspaper items so Trooper has been used in Porirua stories for consistancy.
 
References:
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: SA4643 Trooper John Ronbinson
Papers Past Online
Boer War - 7th Contingent, NZMR: NZ History Online
 
[i] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: SA4643 Trooper John Robinson
[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: SA4643 Trooper John Robinson 
[iii] Boer War – 7th Contingent: NZ History online
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Men of the 7th Contingent, NZMR break camp on the Veldt