Topic: AIF - Lighthorse
Australian Light Horse
Within the AIF, in continuation with the British military practice and hence Australian Militia practice, every call on the public purse needed to be accounted. As votes for moneys to supply the material, food and wages of the military came from parliament, the expending of those items was in accordance of the accounting standards of the day. When a person enlisted and was accepted as a recruit, there was a call on the public purse to provide for the individual. Units had legislated peace and war strengths which they were not permitted to exceed. Thus to maintain the expectations of prudent guardianship of the public purse, each person was required to be registered on a roll of a particular unit. This required the production of a regular Nominal Roll. For the smaller parts of the units such as Squadrons or Companies, it was a daily procedure. Reports were then sent to centres advising when an entry has been made into the Nominal Roll. Occasionally these reports contained additional messages on the right hand side of the report. These messages were important as they required further action.
In the case of the light horse, the Squadron was paraded every morning. In this parade two major functions occurred.
1. Roll Call
2. Reading of the Regimental Routine Orders
After the marking of the rolls, any movement of troops in or out of the Squadron were accounted for through movement slips and a cross reference onto the Squadron Roll. Any changes were notified to Regimental Headquarters who then sent this information by way of reports up the line through Brigade, Division, Corps and Third Echelon.
Under extraordinary circumstances roll calls were also taken. These might be emergencies, police actions, battles and other singular occasions.
The Nominal Roll formed the basis for:
2. Rations; and,
After the Great War, a purge of all accumulated paper work occurred and many rolls were burnt. The logic being that the information existed on the individual soldier's file and thus retaining that information would be superfluous to record needs. Sadly, very few documents of this nature survived this purge. The Australian War Memorial holds 848 individual Nominal Rolls within their AWM 9 series, a very small percentage of the actual rolls available after the war. Other rolls exist in Routine Orders but these are rare finds indeed. Other rolls are to be found in newspapers on special occasions.
Citation: Australian Light Horse, Regimental Administration, Nominal Rolls