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"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess

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Wednesday, 10 November 2004
Australian Horse, Birth of a Regiment 1897 - The Boys in Green, Part 1
Topic: Militia - LHN - 3/11/7

AH

Australian Horse

Birth of a Regiment, 1897

1st (Volunteer) Australian Horse [1897 - 1903]
1st Australian Horse (Boer War) [1899 - 1901]
3rd (Australian Horse) Australian Light Horse [1903 - 1912]
11th (Australian Horse) Australian Light Horse [1912 - 1918]
7th (Australian Horse) Australian Light Horse [1919 - 1935]
7th/21st (Australian Horse) Australian Light Horse [1936-1937]
7th (Australian Horse) Australian Light Horse [1937 - 1942]
7th (Australian Horse) Australian Motor Regiment [1942 - 1943]
7th/21st (Australian Horse) Recce Regiment 1948 - 1937]
7th/21st Australian Horse [1949 - 1957]

 Hearth and Home

 South Africa 1899 - 1902

Allied with: King Edward's Horse (The King's Overseas Dominions Regiment).

 

The following article about the Australian Horse and the Birth of a Regiment 1897 was written as Chapter 1 in the booklet produced by the Centenary Publications, Harden, August 1997 and produced by Clarion Editions at Binalong called, The Boys in Green - A Centenary History of the 1st Australian Horse and the Light Horse Units of Harden and Murrumburrah, New South Wales, and this extract is from pp. 3 - 4.

 

Chapter 1, Part 1

 

Birth of a Regiment, 1897

The right to wear a uniform of green was first bestowed on a British regiment of foot in 1800 when an elite formation of riflemen - the 95th Regiment - was formed to fight as skirmishers, similar to the German "jaegers" and French chasseurs (hunters). More lightly equipped than the slow-moving red-coated Regiments who were armed with muskets, the Riflemen marched at a brisker pace and carried the rifle, a weapon accurate at 400 metres (four times the range of a musket). The "greenjackets" had no colours - no richly embroidered king's and Regimental Colours to rally behind in battle; they were trained to fight in extended order to commands from bugle horn and whistle and to be the first into battle and the last to retire. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars their record was so outstanding that by order of the King the 95th were taken out of the Line and made a separate entity - The Rifle Brigade - an honour granted previously only to the King's household troops, the Brigade of Guards. From that date the green jacket, with its burnished buttons and black leather accoutrements, was more highly esteemed than the scarlet and gold of the Line infantry and was rapidly adopted throughout the Empire by many of the volunteer militia regiments, both mounted and foot, that sprang into being from the 1860s on, particularly by those whose men saw themselves as elite.

Not least among the attractions of the simple uniform of rifle green was the fact that it was relatively inexpensive - an important factor for militia officers who had to provide their own uniform and horses.

When the last British garrison regiment left Australia in 1870 the colonies began a belated programme of defence spending, their efforts intensified by the periodic "war scares" of the period - the possibility of war between Great Britain and Russia in 1884 was directly responsible for the purchase of gunboats galore by the colonies, and the raising of a militia regiment of cavalry at Parramatta in 1885, the now famous New South Wales Lancers. In the same year James Alexander Kenneth Mackay, an outstanding rider and the son of a grazier, formed a cavalry troop of volunteers from the men in the Camden district who provided their own horses and uniforms, The Mist Camden Light Horse. Mackay stood successfully for election for the Boorowa seat in 1895 as a Protectionist and in 1.891, when the volunteer component of the New South Wales Military Forces was being revived, set out to raise a regiment of cavalry in the rural areas of the Colony. The regiment would wear green uniforms and be known as the First Australian Horse. He chose to form its first troop in his electorate, at the twin towns of Harden and Murrumburrah.

Captain Mackay visited Harden-Murrumburrah on Saturday 28 August 1897 for the purpose of recruiting and enrolling members to start the 1st Australian Horse in the region. About 80 horsemen mustered on the local racecourse of which 60 were picked to form the local half squadron.
On Saturday 6 November 1897 the Harden-Murrumburrah Half Squadron of the 1st Australian Horse held a parade for final selection, all were passed by Lieutenant and Adjutant Thompson as fit for military purposes.

On 18 February 1898 the Adjutant, 1st Australian Horse, wrote from Headquarters in Sydney (9 Richmond Terrace, Outer Domain) to inform his officers of the following:

"A. In formulating his scheme for the formation of a distinctly Bush Force, Major Mackay aimed at utility - not show or unnecessary expense - but serviceable, inexpensive, and at the same time practical uniform suitable for the local conditions, and in keeping with the requirements of Officers located in Country districts.

"Perusal of the Dress Regulations and the original circular notifying the Governor's authority for the formation of the Australian Horse, will show that no gold or silver lace (always very expensive items in all other uniforms) is introduced in the Regimental Kit of our Bush Force.

"Bearing in mind the incidental expenses to which Officers are put in the way of providing and keeping a suitable charger for drills; loss of time from business in organizing and maintaining their respective units to full strength; annual attendances at camp, and being responsible for the drill, discipline, arms, uniform and Government property on issue to their men, the Major Commanding intends - of course subject to the approval of the General Commanding - to supply all Officers from the annual Capitation grant with Field Service uniform (hat, caps, jacket, pants, etc). Belts, sword, spurs, bridle, bit, stirrups, breastplate, headrope etc), to be issued as Regimental Property to Officers while serving in the regiment.

"Officers to supply themselves at present with a Full Dress Tunic, Gloves, and the necessary boots for parades (the men must also supply boots) and subsequently, when decided by the Officers as a whole, with a mess jacket and vest. The present uniform therefore should not be much above 10 guineas per uniform.

"B. The Major Commanding from his previous experience at Encampments, proposes to keep the expense of the Mess down to the lowest minimum cost; recognizing as he does that the days of junketting, when Officers assembled for Military training, are exploded in this utilitarian
period."

Some of the names that can be found from early records are:

 

1897 Nominal Roll - Harden and Murrumburrah

 

1. W. Affleck

2. F. Allsopp

3. T. Allsopp

4. G. Allsopp

5. R. Aiken

 

6. A. Barnes

7. T. Barnes

8. Sergeant Baxter

9. W. Black

10. A. Brown

11. J. Brown

12. Brown

13. Boreland

14. J. Bradford

15. Lieutenant J.K. Bourke

 

16. J. Callen

17. J. Chamberlain

18. E. Clarke

19. Cullen

 

20. P. Drum

21. Duke

 

22. J. Ellis

23. Edmonds

 

24. Farrier Sergeant R.S. Fallan

25. Flanery

26. Ford

27. J. Futter

 

28. Garland

29. W. Cannon

30. J. Gordon

31. H. Grant

 

32. Hayes

33. Hobson

34. Hodgson

35. L. Hunt

36. T. Hunt

37. Hutchinson

 

38. G.R. Irving

 

39. Kelly

40. Sergeant Kendall

41. Kinnar

 

42. G. Long

 

43. Martin

41. Corporal D. Macansh

45. Mitchell

46. A.L. Murphy

 

47. Sergeant O'Connell

 

48. Prest

49. Peterson

50. Dr. Parry, Medical Officer

 

51. J. Quinn

 

52. E. Reardon

53. T. Reid

54. T.R. Reid

55. CW. Russell

56. J. Rose

 

57. J. Shields

58. Bugler W. Simpson,

59. Smart

60. Spillane

61. Smith

 

62. Tout

63. Thompson

 

64. Watts, Sergeant

65. Wilson

66. J. Walsh

67. Whitty

 

 

Previous: 3rd/11th/7th Australian Light Horse 

Next: Australian Horse, Training Begins, 1898 - The Boys in Green, Part 2


Further Reading: 

3rd/11th/7th Australian Light Horse

Militia Light Horse, New South Wales

Australian Militia Light Horse

 


Citation: Australian Horse, Birth of a Regiment 1897 - The Boys in Green, Part 1

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 2 July 2010 10:52 PM EADT

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