Trooper John Strachan came from Puketapu (in the hills west of Taradale where he was most probably working on a farm) and embarked with the Main Body, NZEF in the Wellington Mounted Rifles. The first contingent of men who embarked for Egypt to serve with the NZ Expeditionary Force were called the "Main Body".

Wellington Mounted Rifles consisted of the Queen Alexandra's 2nd (Wellington West Coast) Mounted Rifles, 6th (Manawatu) Mounted Rifles and 9th (Wellington East Coast) Mounted Rifles.

They embarked 16th October 1914 from NZ aboard either HMNZT 04 (ss Tahiti) (1 squadron) or HMNZT 06 (ss Waimana) (East Coast Squadron and 2 troops) or HMNZT 10 (ss Arawa) (less 2 troops) and disembarked 3rd December 1914 at Alexandria, EGYPT.

On arrival in Egypt on 26th March 1915, the Wellington Mounted Rifles were encamped at Zeitoun where they trained as Infantry until their departure to Gallipoli. The 3rd Reinforcement arrived at Anzac on 6th May 1915 and the Mounted Rifles arrived on the 12th. The NZ Expeditionary Force served on the Gallipoli Peninsula until December 1915 when they were evacuated back to Egypt.

The Wellington Mounted Rifles served in Sinai and Palestine [rather than France and Belgium]. On 23rd January 1916 they travelled to Suez and from there to Sinai and Palestine where they remained in action until 30th June 1919 when the NZMR Brigade was disbanded and its 75 officers and 1014 other ranks embarked aboard ss Ulimaroa for NZ.

The fighting conditions were very hard and there was a significant incidence of sickness during the entire Sinai and Palestine deployment.