enry Dewar spent most of his life growing up and playing rugby in the lower half of the North Island, New Zealand. We know that he was born in Wellington in 1883, attended the local Berhampore School before moving to Taranaki in 1910. At this stage we don't know anything about his father, Alexander Dewar who wasn't mentioned as next-of-kin, only his mother Lydia. His secondary schooling history is also a mystery.
Henry left school and took up the trade of 'Ironmoulder' working for B. Harkness of Stratford.
Though an All Black from Taranaki, Dewar was a product of Wellington's Melrose club and played his first provincial rugby with Wellington in 1907. The following year he was in the Wellington team which beat the touring Anglo Welsh but suffered a setback that year by being in the side thrashed 24-3 by Auckland in a Ranfurly Shield challenge. Known by the nickname, "Norkey," Dewar was strong and ruggedly built for those years at 1.79m and around 82kg.
In 1910 he joined the Taranaki Club side. Henry had the chance to avenge the shield loss once again in 1912 by playing Auckland but suffered a narrow loss of 6-5. However, a year later the Taranaki side finally ended Auckland's long reign as the Ranfurly Shield holders with a 14-11 win. Taranaki then went on to successfully defend the shield six times before losing to Wellington 12-6 at the end of the 1914 season. Good form for Taranaki won him a place in 1913 in the 'North' side in the annual interisland match. This interisland tournament had taken place since 1897, only stopping for two world wars and eventually coming to an end in 1965.
Taranaki was narrowly defeated by the touring Australians of 1913, but he had already done enough to win his All Black jersey, playing in the 30-5 first test win over the Wallabies at Athletic Park on 6 September 1913. This was a significant match in relation to this project as Henry played that day with two other All Blacks who died in WWI: Albert Downing and George Sellars.
That was followed by selection for the tour of North America in which Henry proved to be one of the most consistent performers again playing alongside Sellars. He appeared in 14 of the 16 matches including the 51-3 win over All America to give him the second of his test caps. After the game against the Olympic Club on 4 Oct, player, Jim Wylie, found his visit so enjoyable that he stayed in the Bay Area and later became a member of the OC helping to coach the players. Some critics have blamed these 'hammerings' for stunting the growth of the game in the States, but the USA bounced back to win the Olympics in 1920 and 1924. An unofficial match was played against Grand Pacific club, at Suva, Fiji Islands, whilst returning to New Zealand and NZ won, 67–3. The Fiji team were comprised of Europeans.
The 1913 All Black team was to be the last side to be selected until 1920.
After the tour Henry appeared in Taranaki's first four defences in 1914 against Wanganui, Manuwatu, Horowhenua and Wairarapa. Henry was by now nudging 30 years old and should perhaps have been winding down his playing days. But instead, he built on the experience he had amassed to produce the best form of his career.
These were difficult years. The clouds of the 1914-18 war were gathering over Europe and the International situation had its effect upon the domestic scene in New Zealand. The financial advantages available to the shield holders these days did not become Taranaki's lot in 1913-14. War broke out during Taranaki's Shield tenure, and although the Union played through the prescribed programme, the majority of games only just managed to pay expenses. Taranaki provided seven players to New Zealand teams in 1913-14.
And so, Henry's career came to an abrupt halt with the outbreak of World War I. He joined the 9th Wellington East Coast Mounted Rifles as a Machine Gun Specialist. The Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment was formed on the 8th day of August, 1914 and was based at Awapuni racecourse, Palmerston North. Henry was promoted to Sergeant on 01 Sept 1914, which may have had something to do with the fact that he had served four years previous with the Wellington Naval Artillary Volunteers. When training was complete, he embarked onboard the 'Orari' vessel at Wellington on 16 Oct 1914 bound for Suez, Egypt. This ship which was one of 12 transports carrying the New Zealand Mounted Rifles and carried the most horses – 730 in all. When conditions allowed, horses were led from their stalls and walked around the deck. The seven week journey to Egypt took its toll however and 25 horses from the Orari died. Henry arrived in Alexandria on 3 December 1914. After arriving with another 26 transports from Australia, the horses were unloaded – some stampeding in the process. Camp was then set up and training in the desert began. Henry remained in Egypt before going to the Gallipoli Peninsula. His horse would have been left in Cairo as the terrain at Gallipoli was generally unsuitable for horses.
Dewar was one of the first to enlist in the NZ Expeditionary Force but, after captaining the Wellington Mounted Rifles team in several matches in Egypt, in 1915 he was among the many casualties in the Gallipoli disaster, dying a couple of months short of his 32nd birthday.
The NZMR Gallipoli landing was in support of the original attack on 12th May 1915. The 1st and 2nd NZ Machine Gun Squadrons, who were equipped as per the Mounteds, and carried SMLEs (service rifles), supported the NZMR in all their tactical roles. Initially Vickers heavy machine guns and Lewis guns were carried, but later in the campaign the lighter and more portable 303 MK I Hotchkiss air cooled machine gun became the mainstay Mounted Rifles support weapon.
Henry landed at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli, on 8 August 1915 and immediately received orders... One of New Zealand's epic stands on the Gallipoli peninsula was in the heat of August 1915 at Chunuk Bair, one of the three high points on the Sari Bair range. These were the main objectives of the ANZACs' offensive of early August 1915 when they tried to break out of the stalemate with the Turks in the Anzac sector. The NZ Infantry Brigade advanced up Chailak Dere and Sazli Beit Dere during the night of 6-7 August to capture Chunuk Bair. Earlier, their way had been opened by the New Zealand mounted rifles units and the Maori Contingent, which had captured key points guarding the valleys in daring night assaults. The attack had fallen behind schedule and the NZ'rs were still short of the summit when dawn broke on 7 August, sheltering at a position below Rhododendron Ridge that would become known as The Apex. In a mid-morning attack the Auckland Battalion suffered heavy casualties to reach the Pinnacle, 200 m from the summit. When ordered to follow suit, the Wellington Battalion's commander Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone refused to sacrifice his men in a futile attempt, insisting that the attack be mounted that night. In the pre-dawn darkness of 8 August the Wellington swiftly moved up Rhododendron Ridge on to the summit, which almost inexplicably had been abandoned by its Turkish defenders. When the sun rose, Malone and his men, assisted by some Auckland mounted riflemen and British troops who also reached the summit, engaged in a desperate struggle to hold off the Turks. This was when Henry entered the fray... The Otago Battalion and Wellington Mounted Rifles relieved the Wellingtons during the night of 8-9 August only to endure a similar ordeal all through the long summer day. They, too, were relieved during the night of 9-10 August by two British battalions, which almost immediately succumbed to a massive counterattack launched by the Turkish commander, Mustafa Kemal. The summit was lost, that day being the only full day the New Zealanders held the summit of Chunuk Bair but they stemmed the Turkish flood down the seaward slopes of the hill. The Apex was held until the end of the campaign.
Sadly though, Henry was killed that historic day on the 9th August and probably had no idea about his fellow All Black mate's death the day before. Albert Downing, AB #176, had died during the same assault and was the first All Black to lose his life in WWI.
Of the 8556 New Zealanders who served on Gallipoli, 2721 died and 4752 were wounded. The campaign lasted about 6 months. Of the 632 graves in the Chunuk Bair cemetery, only ten are identified and eight of these are named to New Zealanders. Henry's name appears on panel No. 4 of the memorial which commemorates 852 New Zealanders who have no known graves. Most of these died on and around Chunuk Bair summit on 8-9 August.
Henry's mother, Lydia, died 10 years later on 27 September 1925, aged 77, and was buried in Palmerston North Cemetery.
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All Black statistics courtesy of the NZ Rugby Museum:
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'All Blacks At War: The First XIII'
Last Test 15 November 1913 v USA at Berkeley aged 30 Rank Sergeant, 9th Wellington East Coast Mounted Rifles Serial Number 11/448 Died Monday, 9 August 1915, Gallipoli Age 31 Grave Listed on Chunuk Bair Memorial REF: Panel 4, no known grave.
Born 24 Oct 1883, Foxton Parents Alexander & Lydia Dewar, 11 Linton St, Palmerston North Education Berhampore School, Wellington.
Physical 1.81m, 83kg
Province Taranaki Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Stratford, 1913. AB# 175 Position Loose Forward
All Black Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia, Wellington aged 29 International Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia, Wellington, aged 29
The All Black Games that Dewar played.
(+) = substitute; (-) = replaced
6 Sept vs Australia at Wellington 30 - 5
10 Sep vs Wellington at Wellington 19 - 18
4 Oct vs Olympic Club at San Francisco 19 - 0
8 Oct vs University of California at Berkeley 31 - 0
11 Oct vs Barbarians Club at San Francisco 30 - 0
15 Oct vs Stanford University at Palo Alto 54 - 0
22 Oct vs University of Santa Clara at Santa Clara 42 - 0
25 Oct vs University of California at Berkeley 38 - 3
29 Oct vs University of Nevada at Reno 55 - 0
3 Nov vs University of California at Berkeley 33 - 0
5 Nov vs St Mary's College at San Francisco 26 - 0
12 Nov vs University of Santa Clara at Santa Clara 33 - 0
15 Nov vs USA at Berkeley 51 -3
19 Nov vs Victoria (B.C.) at Victoria 23 - 0
22 Nov vs Victoria (B.C.) at Victoria 35 - 0
24 Nov vs Vancouver at Vancouver 44 - 0
Points scored for the All Blacks
t c p dg pts
vs University of California, 8 Oct 1913
Test Record by Nation
1 - - - 3
1 0 0 0 3
P W D L t c p dg pts
1 1 - - - - - - - 1 1 - - - - - - - 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Berhampore School - Wellington
Australian Team 1913
Wellington Mounted Rifles
Wellington Mounted Rifles - Palmerston North 1914
Chunuk Bair memorial to NZ missing - Gallipoli
Palmerston North Great War Memorial
Henry Dewar Soldier 1914
All Black 1913
Machine Gunner Chunuk Bair
Apex - Chunuk Bair
ANZAC Cove Gallipoli 1915
Mounted Rifles Uniform
9th Wellington Mounted Rifles Badge
Or visit another of the 'First XIII'
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