Topic: BW - Vic - 1VMI
1st Victorian Mounted Infantry
Map illustrating the activities of the 1st Victorian Mounted Infantry in South Africa, 1899 - 1900.
[From: Chamberlain, M., The Australians in the South African War 1899-1902, Canberra, 1999.]
In 1911, Lieutenant-Colonel P. L. Murray, produced a marvellous Boer War reference detailing all the contingents sent from Australia to South Africa, giving a brief history of the formation and finally, listing all the soldiers who saw service in South Africa with that unit. The book was called, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa. It is now the standard reference and starting place for any person interested in pursuing information about Australian involvement in the Boer War.
Murray, P. L., Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, pp. 213 - 222.
First Victorian Contingent.
GO.77 of 28th October, 1899 - "Colonel Hoad, Assistant Adjutant-General, proceeds on 30th instant by train to Adelaide to join S.S. Medic en route to South Africa, for duty there."
The following troops embarked on the as. Medic at Melbourne on the 28th October, 1899:
Special Service Officer, Colonel J. C. Hoad, A.A.G. Victorian Forces; and 2 horses.
Transport Officer, Commander W.J. Colquhoun, V.N.
One Company Mounted Rifles - 125 officers, N.C. officers, and men; 156 horses.
Commanding Officer, Captain D. McLeish.
One Company Infantry - 125 officers, N.C. officers, and men; 9 horses. Commanding Officer, Major G. A. Eddy.
One Company Infantry - 80 officers, N.C. officers, and men; 4 horses. Commanding Officer, Captain C. St. C. Cameron.
Embarked at Adelaide on 2nd November, 1899. One Company Infantry - 127 officers, N.C. officers, and men; 3 horses and 9 mules.
Commanding Officer, Captain F. H. Howland.
Embarked at Albany on 7th November, 1899. One Company Infantry 130 officers, N.C. officers, and men; 17 horses.
Commanding Officer, Captain H. G. Moor, R.A.
Total - 588 officers, N.C. officers, and men; 189 horses, and 9 mules.
Arrived at Cape Town on 26th November, 1899.
Lines of Communication Orders, dated 28th November, 1899:-
"(9) The undermentioned details having arrived per S.S. Medic and disembarked at Cape Town on 25th November, 1899, are taken on the strength of the Command accordingly:- Tasmanian Infantry, Western Australian Infantry, South Australian Infantry, Victorian Mounted Rifles, Victorian Infantry."
Colonel Hoad, and the Commanding Officers of the Contingents were invited by Sir Alfred Milner to dine at Government House, on the evening of arrival at Cape Town.
First Australian Regiment.
South African Campaign, October, 1899, To April, 1900.
The "Australian Regiment" was formed at Cape Town on the 26th November, 1899 by the amalgamation of the companies sent to South Africa from the Australian Colonies, as follows:- 1 Company of Mounted Rifles, Victoria; 1 Company of Infantry, Victoria; 1 Company of Infantry, South Australia; 1 Company of Infantry, Western Australia; 1 Company of Infantry, Tasmania.
Commanding Officer-Colonel J. C. Hoad, Victoria.
Second in Command-Major G. A. Eddy, Victoria.
Captains- C. St. C. Cameron, Tasmania (promoted major, 17th December, 1899); H. G. Moor, Western Australia (promoted major, 14th October, 1899); G. R. Lascelles, A.D.C., South Australia, "Royal Fusiliers" (adjutant); D. McLeish, Victoria (promoted major, 29th March, 1900); F. H. Howland, South Australia; R. W. Salmon, Victoria.
Lieutenants- T. McInerney, Victoria; J. H. Stapleton, South Australia; F. N. Blair, South Australia; Wallace Brown, Tasmania; H. W. Pendlebury, Victoria (acting quartermaster); G. F. Thorn, Victoria; A. J. N. Tremearne, Victoria; F. B. Heritage, Tasmania; J. W. Powell, South Australia: F. M. Parker, Western Australia; S. T. Staughton, Victoria; G. G. F. Chomley, Victoria; J. C. Roberts, Victoria; H. F. Darling, Western Australia; J. Campbell, Western Australia; G. E. Reid, Tasmania.
Medical Officers- Major G. F. McWilliams, Western Australia; Captain J. T. Toll, South Australia; Captain W. F. Hopkins, Victoria.
Veterinary Officer- Captain E. A. Kendall, Victoria.
Attached for duty - Commander Colquhoun, V.N., Victoria.
Regimental Sergeant-Major- A. W. Johnston, South Australia.
Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant- J. Paul, Victoria.
The following officers subsequently joined the Regiment:- (9.12.99) New South Wales - Captain J. G. Legge, Lieutenants W. Holmes, F. A. Dove, and M. W. Logan; Captain Sellheim (Queensland), was attached to the Regiment for duty from 17.12.99 to 31.1.00; Captain J. H. Bruche (Victoria), 1.1.00 (appointed quartermaster); Major C. D. W. Rankin (Queensland), 2.3.00. Strength of the regiment, 716, and 3 maxim guns.
This was the fast occasion on which a regiment was formed for active service of troops representative of the various Colonies of Australia.
27th to 30th November, 1899.-The Regiment was stationed at Maitland Camp, Cape Town, re-equipping, &c.
28th November.- Sir Alfred Milner inspected the Regiment at Maitland, and the officers were presented to him. He said-
"Colonel Hoad - I am delighted to see the Australians here. They are a fine lot of men, and look very fit indeed. The horses are in excellent condition, and I am surprised that you only lost one on so long a sea journey. I shall cable to the Government of the several Colonies represented, the pleasure I feel seeing you here in camp today."
29th November.- Major-Generals Brabazon and Babington visited the camp.
1st December.- The Regiment entrained at Cape Town, under orders to proceed to De Aar, to join the Kimberley Relief Force. 3rd.- Arrived at De Aar, and ordered on, without detraining, to Orange River, where the Regiment arrived the same day and detrained. Major-General Wauchope, C.B., C.M.G., in command of the troops at Orange River. 6th.- Four Rimington Guides, under Corporal Clements, were attached to the Regiment. Corporal Clements was awarded the V.C. during the campaign. 7th.- Marched to Witteputs, starting at 5 a.m. Ordered to start at midnight for Belmont.
8th.- Arrived at Belmont at daylight. The march to Witteputs was most trying; the distance was only 1 miles, but it was very hot. The distance to Belmont was 10 miles. It rained heavily during the night, and we had to take all our transport with us. The transport consisted of - 13 buck wagons, 4 Scotch carts, 4 small arm ammunition carts, 11 water carts, 1 spring cart, 190 mules, and 9 horses. The following message was received from the Commanding Officer at Orange River:-
"8.12.99 O.C. Australians, Belmont - I am pleased to hear you have surmounted difficulties of night march and heavy rain, and will be glad to receive abort account of your experiences. - O.C. Troops, Orange River."
9th.- The strength of the Regiment was increased by the arrival of a company of infantry from New South Wales, under the command of Captain Legge. 10th.- Marched to Enslin, accompanied hr two guns Royal Horse Artillery. Camp formed under command of Colonel Hoad.
18th.- The 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders joined at Enslin camp from the Modder River; also two guns field artillery, section of field engineers, and a detachment of Rimington's Guides.
23rd.-The following message was received by Colonel Hoad from Cape Town:-
"18th December, 12.30 a.m. - It is officially announced that Field Marshal Lord Roberts has been appointed to supreme command of the British Army in South Africa, and that General Lord Kitchener will act as Chief of his Staff. It is assumed that Sir Redvers Buller will continue to hold the Chief Command of the Forces operating in Natal."
25th.- The following telegram was received from Her Majesty the Queen: I wish you and all my brave soldiers a happy Christmas. God protect and bless you all.-Victoria R.I."
27th.- The following telegram was received from the Lord Mayor of London:-
"Kindly convey troops hearty Christmas greeting from citizens of London. Admiration and sympathy with their struggles."
1st January, 1900.- Captain J. H. Bruche (Victoria), joined Regiment; appointed quartermaster vide Captain Pendlebury. Fifty Mounted Rifles, with Captain McLeish in command, reconnoitred towards Douglas, and got touch of a Boer laager. The “Queen’s chocolate" distributed.
6th.- The following cable message was received from Melbourne:-
"Victoria sends New Year's greetings, and God speed to Colonel Hoad and his brave soldiers now fighting for the Empire."
8th.- Major-General Babington visited Enslin Camp. 9th.- The mounted company took part in a reconnaissance into the Orange Free State, under Major-General Babington. The following extract from a memo sent to Colonel Hoad by Major-General Babington was inserted in Regimental Orders:-
"I would like to tell you how pleased I was with the men of the Victorian Mounted Rifles that were out with me. I hope you will convey this to their immediate Commanding Officer and men, and I wish you were all up at Modder River."
Colonel Hoad, accompanied by Captain McLeish, visited General Lord Methuen at Modder River, having in contemplation the conversion of the whole Regiment into mounted infantry.
17th.-12th Lancers, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Airlie, joined at Enslin. The troops then under Colonel Hood's command were:- 12th Lancers, four field guns, the Australian Regiment, 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders, detachment of Royal Engineers, detachment of Rimington Guides.
21st.- First casualty of Australian Regiment occurred, Private P. Falls being wounded while on patrol duty. 29th.-Orders were received to proceed to Naauwpoort to take over horses to mount the Regiment. 30th.- The Regiment marched to Belmont. 31st.- Entrained at Belmont for Naauwpoort. 1st February.- Arrived at Naautrpoort. The regiment was inspected by Major-General Kelly-Kenny, who said:-
"Colonel Hoad, I am delighted to have seen those Australians and to notice the excellent physique of the men and the fit condition in which you have brought them to this station. I congratulate you on having such a command, and I would impress on you all the importance of the duties you are called upon to discharge here. There are large quantities of stores at this station, and it is one of strategic value. It is your duty to help in guarding it just now, but very soon you will be sent where you will get plenty of work of the kind which I know you want."
The Regiment took over the first detail of 260 horses and 260 men were equipped and mounted.
2nd.- 182 officers and men (mounted), under Colonel Road, proceeded by rail to Rensburg. 3rd.- The portion of Regiment at Rensburg was inspected by General French at daylight, and a further draft of 150 men (mounted) arrived at Rensburg, under Major Eddy. General French left Rensburg, and the Australian Regiment formed part of the force, under the command of Major-General Clements, D.S.O.
4th.- Captain McLeish's company ordered to Maeder's Farm on outpost duty. Remainder of regiment from Naauwpoort arrived at Rensburg (not yet horsed), as the horses could not be got through from Cape Town. 6th.- The New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian companies were ordered to Maeder's Farm, the Western Australian company to Slingersfontein; and 40 of the Tasmanian company to Jasfontein. Skirmishing with enemy was general all round on the outpost line. Wounded - Private J. M. Cunningham, Western Australia.
6th.- A further draft of 256 remounts received, and the Regiment was now fully horsed. A company of 50 mounted men was detailed for special duty with Major General Clements. 9th.- A detachment, under Captain Salmon, sent to Jasfontein to support the Tasmanian company. Heavy engagement. The Western Australians at Slingersfontein also were hotly engaged. Casualties:- Killed - Western Australia - Privates Conway, T. Gilham, and T. Button (originally reported as missing), Wounded - Western Australia - Sergeant Hensman, promoted lieutenant (subsequently died in hospital), Sergeant Unkles, Privates L. France, J. Bird, J. Ansell, and G. Gifford. Mr. Lambie, war correspondent of the Age, who was attached to the regiment, was killed at Jasfontein. Major W. T. Rosy, the war correspondent of the Herald, rendered valuable assistance during the engagement at Jasfontein. He was awarded the South African war medal. Mr. A. G. Hales, war correspondent, was taken prisoner by the Boers.
Order issued by Major-General Clements, D.S.O.:-
"Operations at Slingersfontein, 9th February, 1900. The General Officer Commanding wishes to place on record his high appreciation of the courage and determination shown by a party of 20 men of the Western Australians, under Captain Moor, in the above operations. By their determined stand against 300 or 400 men they entirely frustrated the enemy's attempt to turn the flank of the position."
The position defended by the Western Australians was named “West Australia Hill.”"
10th.- The Victorian Company was heavily engaged at Bastard's Nek. Killed -Sergeant Grant and Private Wilson, Victoria. Wounded and taken prisoners - Privates Snare (subsequently died in Boer hospital), Burrows, and Gifford.
12th.- Very heavy, engagement at Pink Hill. Casualties:-Killed-Major Eddy, Victoria; Lieutenant Powell, South Australia; Corporal Ross, Privates Williams and T. Stock, Victoria. Mortally wounded - Lieutenant Roberts (died following day). Wounded and taken prisoners- Captain McInerney, Lieutenant Tremearne. Severely wounded - Privates S. W. Edwards and H. J. Colley. Wounded - Privates Inglis, Lawdorn, Maxwell, Byers, Elms, Wallace, Busts, Meagher, Hamilton, Michel, Hagan, Peters, Gamble, Williamson, McCance, Stanford, Roberts, and Corporal McCauley. Taken prisoner - Lance-Corporal Mawley. 13th.- Lieutenant Tremearne released by Boers and handed over to Captain Hopkins (Victoria), medical officer.
14th. - General Clements' column (including Australian Regiment) retired to Arundel; the Advance Guard being formed of the New South Wales and Tasmanian companies; Right Flank Guard, Victorian company: Left Flank Guard Western Australian company; and Rear Guard, South Australian company. Boers attacked Arundel position, but were repulsed.
The following order was issued by General Clements:-
"Operations, 9th to 14th February, 1900. The General Officer Commanding wishes to place on record his appreciation of the spirit and determination of the troops in the operations of the 9th to the 14th instant. The powers and endurance of the troops were fully taxed, and they well sustained the strain. The resistance which the Worcester Regiment offered to a large number of the attacking force at Slingersfontein was highly creditable, as was that offered by the Wiltshire Regiment at Hobkirk's Farm. The assistance rendered to their dismounted comrades of the Wiltshire Regiment by the Victorian Rifles is deserving of the highest praise. The General Officer Commanding wishes his thanks conveyed to all ranks of the forces."
19th and 20th.- Lord Kitchener, Chief of Staff, visited camp of Australian Regiment at Arundel, and desired that the officers be introduced to him. He referred specially to the good work done by the Regiment in the Colesberg district.
20th.- Boers attacked Arundel camp; fighting lasted all day. Enemy's attempt to invest Arundel camp defeated. Casualties: Killed- Private S. C. Atchison, New South Wales. Slightly wounded - Private; Southey.
21st.- Desultory fighting during whole day. Killed - Private W. C, Smith, South Australia.
22nd and 23rd.- The Boer positions around Arundel were shelled and attacked. 24th.- Captain Cameron (Tasmania) was wounded and captured by the enemy while on reconnaissance duty. One hundred and forty-eight additional remounts were received by Regiment to supply losses at Rensburg, &c.
28th.- The Boers commenced retirement from the neighbourhood of Arundel. New South Wales company engaged while on reconnaissance. Casualties:- Slightly wounded - Lieutenant Dove. Wounded and taken prisoners - Privates F. McLennan and D. Fraser (subsequently died of wounds at Colesberg). Taken prisoners - Private Black (wounded), Corporal J. E. Fraser, Private Goodsall.
27th.- Boers complete retirement from Arundel. 28th.- Major-General Clements' column, keeping touch with Boers, again advanced to Rensburg and occupied old position., also pushed on advanced troops (including Australian Regiment) to Colesberg Junction.
4th March.- Victorian companies and Western Australian company reconnoitred towards Norval's Pont. Engaged with Boer detachment. Casualties:- Wounded - Private A. H. Baker, Western Australia. 6th.-The column advanced to Achtertang. 7th.- Advance party reached Norval's Pont. 8th.- Advance of column continued to Van Zyl's Siding. 12th.- News received that Sergeant Hensman had succumbed to his wounds at the military hospital, Maitland. 14th.- A Colt gun attached to the Regiment. 15th to 27th.- Regiment crossed the river into Orange Free State, with Major-General Clements' column. Communication opened up with Lord Roberts at Bloemfontein. Captain R. Salmon (Victoria) died of fever at Naauwpoort. Advance continued to Donkerspoort. Column arrived at Longkop. Column, marched through Philippolis. The Regiment marched with the Column through Fauresmith, and a detachment of the Regiment, under Colonel Hoad, detached to Jagersfontein. Captain W. F. Hopkins, Medical Staff (Victoria), died of fever at Naauwpoort. 29th to 31st.- Column left Fauresmith and matched to Riet River. March continued to Beisjesbult (Bettyput). March continued to Boschkop (near Petrusburg). 1st to 3rd April - March continued to Briekop. Advance to Bloemfontein continued (by night march on 2nd), and on following day (4th) the regiment, with General Clements' column, arrived at Bloemfontein.
6th.- Major-General Hutton inspected the regiment and said:-
"Colonel Hoad, Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Men of the Australian Regiment, I wish to explain to yon the circumstances which have led up to an alteration now to be made in the constitution of the various Contingents from the Australian Colonies. As you are no doubt aware the Australian Regiment was formed in the first instance with a view of simplifying the administrative work of the units from Australia. This object, I may tell you, has been fully achieved, and the organisation has been a complete success. I may further express to you my high appreciation, not only of the administrative work, but of that done in the field by the Regiment since its formation. That work rebounds to the credit of Colonel Hoad and of every officer and man in the Regiment. As later Contingents have arrived, it has been thought desirable that in future troops from individual Colonies should, as far as possible, work together. The advantages of this arrangement are, no doubt, obvious. While small units engaged in a large campaign like this are unquestionably doing good work - most admirable work - they can scarcely, while acting separately, make their work sufficiently pronounced and distinctive of the several Colonies they come from. By becoming units in a larger sense they may be able to play a much more important part in operations in the field.
"I am sure that every officer and man present desires to add to the honour of the Colony from which he comes. The formation of a Colonial Division, comprising, as it will do, two brigades of about 6,000 men each, should materially assist you in accomplishing that object.
“I am very pleased indeed to renew my acquaintanceship with my old friend, Colonel Hoad, and also with Australian troops generally. Some of your faces are well known to me, and recall pleasant recollections of the time I spent in Australia. I feel sure that the disposition of troops from the several Colonies which has been decided upon will considerably increase your volume of usefulness.
“I have appointed Colonel Hoad my A.A.G., and he will represent me here in camp."
6th.- Colonel Hoad, in bidding good-bye to the Regiment, said:-
"Officers and men of the Australian Regiment, as this is the last parade on which you appear as a regiment, I desire to express to you my appreciation of the loyal support and assistance I have received from you during the period of my command. The work done by the Regiment speaks for itself. I may tell you that General Clements yesterday informed me that he was going to report to Lord Roberts on the admirable character of that work performed by you in the field. The organization of this regiment at Enslin on a new basis as a mounted infantry corps, needless to say, involved a great deal of work. I desire to express my personal indebtedness to Captain Lascelles who, as you know, wrought like a Trojan as our adjutant, at a period when there was very much to do. In saying good-bye to you as a regiment, I am pleased to know I am not to be disassociated from you, and can only express the hope that every officer and man may be able to look back to the time we have spent together, and think of me not so much as a commanding officer, but as a friend and comrade, as one who has slept beside him on the South African veldt. I may tell you that the alteration now to be made, and which the General has described to you, is one about which I was consulted, and in which I have at every stage moat heartily concurred, and I feel that it will be a great advantage to the troops from Australia. I wish you all good-bye and good luck, and I pray that if God wills you may all be spared to return to your wives, families, and dear ones in Australia."
8th.- The Australian Regiment with several other corps, was absorbed in the 1st Mounted Infantry Brigade, formed under the command of Major-General Hutton, C.B., A.D.C.
The regiment served under the following General Officers:-
Lieutenant General Sir F. W. R. F. Forestier-Walker, G.C.M.G., K.C.B.;
Major-General A. G. Wauchope, C.B., C.M.G.;
Major-General Elliott Wood, R.E., K.C.B.;
Lieutenant General P. S. Lord Methuen, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., C.M.G.;
Lieutenant-General T. Kelly-Kenny, C.B., p.s.c.;
Lieutenant-General Sir J. A. P. French, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.;
Major-General A. A. P. Clements, D.S.O., A.D.C.; and,
Formed part of the Kimberley Relief Force, under Lord Methuen, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., C.M.G.
Operations in Cape Colony, South of Orange River, including actions round Colesberg, operations in the Orange Free State, and the advance to Bloemfontein.
Extract from Lines of Communication Orders, dated lot August, 1900 (Cape Town):
“Command-Colonel J. C. Hoad, Australian Regiment, commanded the, Australian Regiment from 27th November, 1899, to 7th April, 1900, inclusive. C.R., No. A8365 - 107A."
After the Australian Regiment had been broken up, the 1st Victorians were placed under Colonel Price, who had the 2nd Victorians, and they formed part of the 4th Mounted Infantry Corps, under Colonel Henry (vide 2nd Contingent). They took part in all the operations with the main line of advance from Bloemfontein to Komati Poort, being present at Brandfort, Klip River, Zand River, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Diamond Hill, Belfast, and many other fights. During the fighting east of Karee on 1st May, several men whose horses had been killed were carried out by their comrades. Colonel Price and Captain Staughton each carried one out of fire during the retirement.
On 5th November, the Contingent embarked at Cape Town in the Harlech Castle, and arrived at Melbourne on 4th December, having called at Albany and Adelaide en route.
Citation: 1st Victorian Mounted Infantry, Outline