"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
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre site holds over 12,000 entries and is growing daily.
The following entries are extracted and transcribed from the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, the originals of which are held by the Australian War Memorial. There are 366 entries on this site. Each day has entries as they occurred from 1914 to 1919. In addition to the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, when appropriate, entries from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary and other regiments with the Brigade will also appear. Entries from the unit history, Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924 will also appear from time to time. The aim is to give the broadest context to the story and allow the reader to follow the day to day activities of the regiment. If a relative happened to have served in the regiment during the Great War, then this provides a general framework in which the individual story may be told.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Formation of Regiment occurring at Morphettville Race Course Camp, Adelaide, while "C" Squadron is formed at Broadmeadows Camp, Victoria. Signalling instruction begins at Signalling School, Broadmeadows Camp.
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - One mile south Tel et Turmus.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Moved ½ mile north to Brigade Headquarters, rationed and at 0830 as advanced regiment to Brigade moved to Wadi Sukhreir north of Esdud. Very interesting trek crossing over Gaza Road and railway where inhabitants appeared to be very curious and pleased with British occupation.
At 1320 arrived on Wadi Sukhreir, bivouacked and watered horses in large pools in wadi. By this time the horses where just about knocked up not having had water for fifty six hours doing fast work and heavy fighting part of the time. Water was plentiful near this bivouac. The men were able to wash their clothes and bath for first time since operations commenced.
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary -
The brigade stood to arms at 0430 and at 0645, 14th November, 10th Light Horse Regiment established a line of observation posts from Tel et Tumus to point 248, the remainder of the Brigade concentrated and at 0830 marched to Wadi Sukhreir, north of Esdud, a distance of ten miles where there was a plentiful supply of water.
At 1300 the Brigade, less 10th Light Horse Regiment arrived at Wadi Sukhreir. The Brigade Engineers had preceded the main body, and had erected troughs in readiness for the watering of the Brigade in the fine lagoons which exist near the mouth of this Wadi. The Brigade bivouacked one mile east of Nebi Yunis, and received orders to keep in readiness to march at short notice for operations northwards. All ranks at once set about bathing and washing clothes; this was the first time since moving out for operations on 28th October 1917 that water had been found to permit of washing. On account of continued action with the enemy, rations had not been able to be kept up to all forward troops regularly. There was opportunity now for cooking and sheep were purchased by our troops from the local inhabitants and the fresh meat was appreciated. Broad bread, [brown], was also obtainable, and augmented the short issued biscuits which had been unavoidable on account of continued active operations.
Diaries of AIF Servicemen, Bert Schramm, 14 November 1918 Topic: Diary - Schramm
Diaries of AIF Servicemen
14 November 1918
2823 Private Herbert Leslie SCHRAMM, a 22 year old Farmer from Whites River, South Australia. He enlisted on 17 February 1916; and at the conclusion of the war Returned to Australia, 10 July 1919.
During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, Bert Schramm kept a diary of his life. Bert was not a man of letters so this diary was produced with great effort on his behalf. Bert made a promise to his sweetheart, Lucy Solley, that he would do so after he received the blank pocket notebook wherein these entries are found. As a Brigade Scout since September 1918, he took a lead part in the September Offensive by the Allied forces in Palestine. Bert's diary entries are placed alongside those of the 9th Light Horse Regiment to which he belonged and to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade to which the 9th LHR was attached. On this basis we can follow Bert in the context of his formation.
The complete diary is now available on the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre Site at:
Nominal Roll, AWM133, Nominal Roll of Australian Imperial Force who left Australia for service abroad, 1914-1918 War.
War Diaries and Letters
All War Diaries and letters cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:
Aboriginal Light Horsemen, Part 11, Students outline Topic: AAB-Education Centre
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre in conjunction with the various Education authorities in Australia, has embarked upon producing a program of instruction targeted initially towards the Later Adolescence band of scholars, characteristically those who are studying in Year 9 and 10 within Australia. Each lesson will be a self contained module. Some will be more difficult than others and graded accordingly.
Indigenous Australians have always been part of the Australian Story from the inception of European colonisation. This was recognised until Federation in 1901 when Aboriginals were virtually stripped of their citizenship by the Constitution, a situation that remained till 1967. Despite that, Aboriginals played a minor but significant role in the subsequent life of the nation. During the Great War, despite prejudice, many Aboriginal men enlisted in the AIF. They faced the same dangers as everyone else, won medals for bravery and some paid the ultimate price with their lives. In this lesson students explore the history of Aboriginal participation in the Australian Light Horse during the Great War; identify issues of specific Aboriginal concerns; research and produce a military biography; develop conclusions based upon the available information; and deliver findings of the study.
When dealing with the subject of Aboriginal servicemen from the Great War, it is important to be aware that in some Aboriginal communities, hearing or seeing names or seeing images of deceased persons might cause sadness or distress, particularly to the relatives of these people. Some Aboriginal cultures may also have prohibitions on who may see certain records based on the age, or sacred or sensitive status of information in them, as it relates to individuals of any particular Aboriginal group. If you feel that your inherited culture falls within the categories mentioned in this section and you feel that it would be inappropriate for you to participate in this learning session, your teacher already understands this and will allow you to undertake an alternative activity.
What do we mean by the term “race”?
What is an Aboriginal?
Why is the understanding of Aboriginal history in Australia important?
In considering the idea of “race” let us take a few minutes to think about the idea of a nation and the community.
What sort of groups form in the community?
In the past, when the Great War broke out, why were Aboriginals excluded from Australian society?
The Light Horse
Let us look at the way Aboriginal Light Horsemen were treated during the Great War
Was Alfred John Henry Lovett treated more fairly than Pte Tom Cooper? Why do you think this is so?
One thing to notice that once accepted as a soldier in the AIF, there was no discrimination in relation to treatment and pay.
From the Australian War MemorialEncyclopaedia:
Indigenous Australian servicemen
Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have fought for Australia, from the Boer War onwards.
Change in attitudes
Generally, Aborigines have served in ordinary units with the same conditions of service as other members. Many experienced equal treatment for the first time in their lives in the army or other services. However, upon return to civilian life, many also found they were treated with the same prejudice and discrimination as before.
First World War
Over 400 Indigenous Australians fought in the First World War. They came from a section of society with few rights, low wages, and poor living conditions. Most Aborigines could not vote and none were counted in the census. But once in the AIF, they were treated as equals. They were paid the same as other soldiers and generally accepted without prejudice.
Enlistment and Service First World War
When war broke out in 1914, many Aborigines who tried to enlist were rejected on the grounds of race; others slipped through the net. By October 1917, when recruits were harder to find and one conscription referendum had already been lost, restrictions were cautiously eased. A new Military Order stated: "Half-castes may be enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force provided that the examining Medical Officers are satisfied that one of the parents is of European origin."
This was as far as Australia – officially – would go.
Why did they fight?
Loyalty and patriotism may have encouraged Aborigines to enlist. Some saw it as a chance to prove themselves the equal of Europeans or to push for better treatment after the war.
For many Australians in 1914 the offer of 6 shillings a day for a trip overseas was simply too good to miss.
Aborigines in the First World War served on equal terms but after the war, in areas such as education, employment, and civil liberties, Aboriginal ex-servicemen and women found that discrimination remained or, indeed, had worsened during the war period.
Choose a name from this list or perhaps your teacher will allocate a name per person. This section works best if everyone has a different Aboriginal light horseman’s service file. There are 26 names in this list.
Each file will have 5 pages. Underneath every page is a list of information to extract from the file.
The front cover of the Attestation Paper of Persons Enlisted for Service Abroad provides the reader with the following information:
Married or Single,
Next of Kin Relationship,
Next of Kin Name and Address,
The third page of the Attestation Paper of Persons Enlisted for Service Abroad provides the reader with the following information:
Try to convert the height and chest measurement into metres. Remember: 1 foot = 0.305 metres; and, 1 inch = 0.0245 metres.
Try to convert weight into kilograms. Remember: 1 stone = 14 pounds or 6.35 kilograms; and, 1 pound = 0.454 kilograms.
The next two pages are from the B103, the Casualty Form - Active Service which is a summary of the service performed by the serviceman in the Australian Imperial Force, AIF. To help you understand some of the abbreviations used on this form, there is a list of common terms
To understand the terms employed in the B103, the Casualty Form - Active Service, an index is available here:
The front of the B103, the Casualty Form - Active Service provides the reader with the following information:
Rank on Enlistment,
Terms of Enlistment,
Date Taken on Strength with the 11th LHR.
The back of the B103, the Casualty Form - Active Service you may find a further chronology of the serviceman. However, you will only need to find the following information:
Did the serviceman Return to Australia; and,
The date this occurred.
The term “Returned to Australia” is the date the serviceman departed from the overseas placement, and specifically in the case of the Aboriginal light horsemen, it means the date they left Egypt. The arrival in Australia is a different date usually about a month later.
Page 1 of the Transferred to Australian Imperial Force D provides the reader with the following information:
The last rank held in the AIF,
The date of Discharge,
The place where Discharged,
The eligible medals awarded to the serviceman.
At the end of the war men who enlisted and served prior to the end of 1915 were awarded the Medal Trio of the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. They were commonly known at the time as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred. Here is some information about these medals:
The men in this example only were awarded generally the British War Medal and the Victory Medal because they enlisted after the end of 1915. In one case, the Victory Medal was not awarded because this medal required the soldier to have been taken on strength in an active service unit. Since this man was sick and spent his time in Egypt going from one hospital to another until repatriated back to Australia, he was ineligible for the Victory Medal.
When you have extracted all the information, your teacher will ask you to present it to the class. As all the information is collected and collated, you will see some very interesting things happen. You will note items like the most common occupation at the time of enlistment or when most men were discharged from the AIF. Your teacher will help you to understand this information.
Here are some questions you might like to think about.
What motivated these men to enlist?
Were the men treated the same as the non-indigenous Light Horse?
What did they feel towards the man they were researching in terms of his experience?
Did experiences vary? How? Why?
What was it like to be an Aboriginal Light Horseman?
Aboriginal members of the 11th LHR were regularly employed as trackers. Here is one story about two men employed as trackers during the Egyptian Rebellion of 1919. This comes from Hammond, EW, History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, Fourth Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Forces, Singapore, 1984, p. 142:
A soldier of the 3rd Gurka Regiment. was murdered by natives while on patrol, and the miscreants were tracked by Corporal Allen and Driver Smith to a village near Abu Hammad on the Cairo-Port Said railway. The Omda (head man of the village) renounced all responsibility in the matter. and, in fact, became defiant and even truculent towards our men. This action, at such a time, was, to say the least of it, foolhardy, and retribution descended swiftly upon him and his people. The soldiers surrounded the village and organised parties escorted the women and children to safety. The troops then entered the village, and after thrashing every man in it with their fists the soldiers burnt the houses to the ground. It is a pleasure to relate that after the "clean up" the guilty natives (three in number) confessed the crime and were later court-martialled and sentenced to death.
Driver Smith was one of men from the 11th LHR 20th Reinforcements studied in the learning assignment. Here are his details.
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