74810 Trooper Thomas (Tom) Windley – Wellington Mounted Rifles

Thomas (Tom) Windley was born on 23rd November 1897 in Porirua[i] the first of five children born to
Blanche Mary Ada (Nee Whitehouse) and William Windley.

Ada and William both came from well established Porirua farming families, both went to the   Porirua School in the 1870’s[ii]. Thomas (Tom), was also enrolled at Porirua School, starting in 1903, also attending the school were Whitehouse and Windley cousins and later his brothers and sister.

On 23rd November 1917 Tom turned 20 and was eligible for military service, on his birthday he signed his military papers and attended a medical examination where he was passed a A fit though it was noted that his heart action was irregular at times. The 20 year old farmer is listed as was working on his father’s farm in Porirua and was also serving his compulsory military training with the 6th (Manawatu) Squadron, Wellington Mounted Rifles. Tom’s military papers note that his preference for Mounted forces.

Tom entered military camp on 6th March 1918 initially as 74810 Private Windley, 39th Reinforcements but on 12th March 1918 he was attached as 74810 Trooper Windley, New Zealand Mounted Rifles (NZMR) then 2 days later allocated to the 40th Reinforcements, NZMR.  Trooper Windley was in training until 1st August 1918 when he was granted two month
Leave without Pay.   The leave may have been granted to allow Tom to help
on the farm during the lambing and calving season.

On 1st October 1918 Trooper Windley returned to camp and on
11th October 1918 left on the Moeraki with the 40th Reinforcements,
NZ Mounted Rifles,  for Sydney where the NZ Mounted Reinforcements  
were transferred to HMT Malta which also carried Australian reinforcement
to  Egypt.

74810 Trooper Thomas Windley  1918 

The NZ Reinforcements (NZMR) were at sea on 30th October 1918, when
the news that the Ottoman Forces had signed an Armistice was received,
there is no mention of it in the diary Tom kept during his military service.
The HMT Malta stopped at Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to take on coal and
it gave the troops time ashore. Trooper Windley wrote in his diary on the
10th November 1918:

We stopped in the tents all this morning until about 1 O’Clock when
we were ordered to go down to GHQ and take care of the nurses gear.
(there were 50 Australian nurses on-board the Malta)
Embarked at three and when we got on board we were told peace
was declared.

At sea, seven days later, Trooper Windley wrote in his diary about the
impacts of Spanish Influenza on a crowded troopship[iii]:

‘17th November (Sunday) 1918 - first signs of influenza, very large sick parade.

18th November 1918 - caught the influenza while on duty in the Aussie Quarters.

19th October 1918 – all the decks covered with sick even had to convert the sergeant's
mess into hospital. Only 7 left at our table out of 61 all the sick in hospital. Still very bad
could hardly move.

20th Buried a Queensland boy at 5:30 in the morning woke up and I tell you it did not
seem to nice waking up and hearing them read the burial service.
Getting over the influenza, able to get about and out a bit. ‘

On arrival in Egypt on 22nd November 1918 the  415 New Zealand Reinforcements from the HMT Malta  were sent to
an isolation camp and remained there until the epidemic was considered over. Trooper Windley was posted to the
NZ Mounted Rifle Training unit of 28th December 1918 remaining in the unit until 3rd January 1919 when he was posted
to the 6th (Manawatu) Squadron, Wellington Mounted Rifles.

The WMR were at Rafah undergoing training and education to prepare the old hands for a return to civilian life[iv].
There were also sports events arranged to try and prevent all the troops from getting bored. In March the WMR were moved from Rafah into Egypt where Martial Law had been declared in an attempt to suppress a nationalist revolt.  
The unrest was wide spread when the WMR was moving on 1st April from Quwensa in the Nile Delta to garrison Minuf, Trooper Windley noted:

Left Quwesna for Minuf at 9 o’clock and had a bit of a scrap on the way.
When we had gone through a village (Sub ked Eahhak) the natives started chasing
us with stones and sticks so we turned and put a few shots in them – killed a few.  

It was not until 30th June 1919 that Trooper Windley embarked on HMT Ulimoroa for New Zealand.
Trooper Windley landed in New Zealand on 14th September 1919 and a month later was discharged from the NZEF
‘on termination of his period of engagement.’    

Tom returned to farming on the family farm in what is now the Cannons Creek area of Porirua East.

Thomas Windley married on 13th August 1924 Myra Alizon Bennett, the couple rasied seven children on the farm.
Tom bred stud Romney sheep and also stud shorthorn cattle[v].

Like the other farming families in the area the Sievers, Mayer and Mexted families the Windley farm was sold in
the 1950’s as the area was developed for housing.

The Windley family is commemorated with Windley Street, Porirua East and Windley School, Cannons Creek.
T Windley is also commemorated on the Porirua School of Honour.

Tom died in Matamata on 29th October 1979 and Myra, in Levin,  on 18th April 1990.  

An Australian nurse on board noted ‘Our luck held and we landed them with only one death (an aboriginal.)[vi]

Paperspast online
The Trove (Australian )
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files
Trooper Thomas Windley’s diary – unpublished ‘Windley family’
Wellington Mounted Rifles 1919 timeline – NZ History
The Windley Book – family genealogy reference.

74810 Trooper Thomas Windley – ‘Windley family’

[i] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 74810 Trooper Thomas Windley
[ii] Porirua School Jubilee 1872 - 1923
[iii] Trooper Windley diary 17th October 1918
[iv] WMR Timeline
[v] The Windley Book
[vi] Nurses letter, 6th January 1919, The Western Australian (The Trove)
NZ Mounted Brigade - Cairo, Egypt