A group of Bay locals will travel to Israel next month to commemorate Anzac soldiers who fought in a WWI campaign little-known to New Zealanders.

Chris Archer is one of 20 Kiwis who will be commemorating the centenary of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles' Anzac effort in Egypt and Palestine from 1914-1918.

Mr Archer and his wife Betty will join five other people from the Bay of Plenty and a further 13 people from Hamilton, Auckland and Christchurch in Israel next month.

The retired school teacher said he did not know much about the WWI battles in Egypt and Palestine but after finding a "family link" he began his research.


After discovering his great uncle fought in Egypt, Mr Archer wanted to know more about the battles the Anzac division were involved in so he completed a three-year research project and wrote a book on the topic.

Following his research, Mr Archer decided to make the trip this year for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Ayun Kara.

"You really get to know these people you research, it is such an intriguing place and this trip will bring a lot of things together," he said.

Mr Archer said the Battle of Ayun Kara was especially important because it was the first time that Anzac officers were in command and not British officers as was customary during that time.

"It was an exceptional battle in its staging and strategy because it was a "moving battle" and not a battle fought along a broad front line as was the accepted practice in those days."

Mr Archer said the "main focus" for the travelling group would be on November 14 at Rishon Le Zion and Nes Ziona to commemorate the battle.

Tauranga Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout and his wife Kathryn will be part of the group travelling to Israel to "commemorate the Anzacs who liberated the holy land".

"Some people have no idea the Anzacs were involved in WWI in Israel," said Mr Clout.


Mr Clout said he had a family connection to the battles as his wife Kathryn's great-great-grandfather James Binnie Whyte was part of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, part of the Anzac campaign.

He said Kathryn would be wearing replicas of her great-great-grandfather's medals to commemorate him in Israel.

Mr Clout said he also had a "long fascination" with Israel as it had biblical significance and it was a "great honour" to be speaking on behalf of New Zealand at the commemoration of the battle of Ayun Kara.

Chris Archer's book Saviours of Zion is available now.