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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

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.

Contact: Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

Let us hear your story: You can tell your story, make a comment or ask for help on our Australian Light Horse Studies Centre Forum called:

Desert Column Forum

WARNING: This site contains: names, information and images of deceased people; and, language which may be considered inappropriate today.

Sunday, 31 May 2009
Australian Light Horse, Australian Militia Field Force, Contents
Topic: Militia - LH

Australian Light Horse

Australian Militia Field Force

Contents

 

Items

Volunteer v Volunteer, Definitional matters within the Militia

The Loyd Lindsay Competition

 

Mounted Rifles or Mounted Infantry

The Australian Mounted Rifles, Militia Outline, An essay by Ivan, 1885

The Australian Light Horse, Militia and AIF, Concept 1902

 

Collyer, JJ, Mounted Rifle Tactics, Military Journal, April, 1915, pp. 265 - 305

Part 1, Preface 

Part 2, Contents

Part 3, General Considerations 

Part 4, The Attack 

Part 5, Defence 

Part 6, Protection 

Part 7, Night Operations 

Part 8, Reconnaissance 

Part 9, Conclusion

 

Light Horse

Notes on Squadron training for Light Horse Major FA Maxwell, June 1911

The Australian Light Horse, Militia and AIF, The Australian Light Horsemen, June 1912

 

Dove, FA, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, 1910.

Part 1, Preface & Introduction

Part 2, Protective Scouting 

Part 3, Communication 

Part 4, Patrol Formations 

Part 5, Co-operation of Patrols 

Part 6, Lecturettes 

Part 7, The Flank Screen 

Part 8, Screen To Rear Guard 

Part 9, Scouting For Information 

Part 10, Finding One's Way 

Part 11, Avoiding Detection 

 

Priestley, PH, Light Horse Duties in the Field, Military Journal, March 1912, pp. 171 - 185.

Part 1, Scouting for Troop Leaders

Part 2, The Scouts of the Screen

Part 3, Scouts, Pointers, and Connecting Files of the Flank Guard

Part 4, A Criticism of the Article

Notes on Cavalry Principles, Spanish Cavalry Training. Vol. IV, 1910

Some Features of Squadron Training, Arthur William Hutchin, 1912

The Limitations of the Militia Officer by Captain EW Tulloch, 1914 

Training by Lieutenant Colonel Noel Murray Brazier, 1914 

Squadron and Company Training by Major Duncan John Glasfurd, 1914

The Bayonet for Mounted Riflemen by GGA, 1914

The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, Light Horse

The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, Mounted Rifles v Mounted Infantry

 

Structure

The Australian Light Horse - Structure 

The Australian Light Horse, Militia and AIF, Organisation 

 

Regimental Administration

Nominal Rolls

 

Roles within the Regiment

Officers in general

Commanding Officer

Second in command

Adjutant

Quartermaster

Squadron Commander

Officer Commanding a Regimental Unit

Subalterns

Qualifications of Non-Commissioned Officers

Regimental Sergeant-Major

Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant

Orderly Room Clerk

Squadron Sergeant-Major

Squadron Quartermaster-Sergeant

Sergeant

Corporal

Sergeant-Farrier

Shoeing-smiths

Trumpeters

 

Guards

Orders for Guards

Relieving and Posting a Guard 

Marching Reliefs 

Relieving and Posting 

Sentries Paying Compliments 

Sentries Challenging 

Instruction of Recruits as Sentries 

Guards Turning Out 

Guards on Horse Lines 

Orders for Sentries on the Horse Lines by Night 

 

Orderlies

Duties of Captain of the Day 

Orderly Officer 

Duties of Regimental Orderly Squadron Sergeant Major 

Duties of Regimental Orderly Sergeant 

Regimental Orderly Corporal 

Regimental Orderly Trumpeter 

Duties of Half-Squadron or Troop Orderly Sergeant 

Duties of Troop (or Half-Squadron) Orderly Corporal 

Duties of Tent Orderly 

 

Cooking

Troop Cooks

Hints for Camp Cooking 

Preserved Meat Tins 

Aldershot Oven 

Other Ovens 

Kitchen 

Wood 

Recipes for Field Cooking - Preserved Meat

 

History

The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, Unit Numbering 

The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, The Division

 

The Waler

The Waler, Moving the Light Horse

The Riding Test, Argus 27 January 1915 

 

Kitting out a Regiment.

Regimental Embarkation Equipment Stock List, 1914, Weedon Section

Regimental Embarkation Equipment Stock List, 1914, Accoutrements

Regimental Embarkation Equipment Stock List, 1914, Pioneer Equipment 

Regimental Embarkation Equipment Stock List, 1914, Regimental Transport

Regimental Embarkation Equipment Stock List, 1914, Harness, Saddlery and Packsaddlery

Regimental Embarkation Equipment Stock List, 1914, Signalling and Reconnaissance Equipment

Regimental Embarkation Equipment Stock List, 1914, Miscellaneous Camp Equipment

Regimental Embarkation Equipment Stock List, 1914, Machine Gun Equipment

 

Light Horse Marching Kit

Australian Light Horse Regiments, AIF, Marching or Service Order Field Kit 

Australian Light Horse Regiments, AIF, Full Marching Order Kit

 

Light Horseman's Kit

All Light Horsemen wore emu plumes  
Soldier's Housewife - the "Hussif"

 

The Australian Ligth Horse

The small volume written by RJG Hall called The Australian Ligth Horse, Melbourne 1967, is a simple reference volume on the Light Horse in Australia which outlines in broad terms the trends that effected its history.

The Australian Light Horse, The Early Years 1818-1870, Part 1

The Australian Light Horse, Regional Development, 1870 - 1900, Part 2

The Australian Light Horse, Boer War 1899 - 1902, Part 3

The Australian Light Horse, Federation to 1914, Part 4

The Australian Light Horse, Marching or Service Order Field Kit, Part 5 


 

Further Reading:

The Light Horse

Australian Light Horse Militia

Militia 1899 - 1920

 


Citation: Australian Light Horse, Australian Militia Field Force, Contents

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 7 February 2010 2:38 PM EAST
The Battle of Kurna, Mesopotamia, 31 May to 1 June 1915, Roll of Honour
Topic: BatzM - Kurna

The Battle of Kurna

Mesopotamia, 31 May to 1 June 1915

Allied Forces

Roll of Honour

 

Poppies on the Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra

 

The Roll of Honour contains the names of all the men from the Allied Forces known to have served and lost their lives during the Battle of Kurna, Mesopotamia, 31 May to 1 June 1915.

 

Roll of Honour

The Battle of Kurna, Mesopotamia, 31 May to 1 June 1915, Allied Forces, Roll of Honour

Lest We Forget

 

Further Reading:

The Battle of Kurna, Mesopotamia, 31 May to 1 June 1915

The Battle of Kurna, Mesopotamia, 31 May to 1 June 1915, Roll of Honour

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Kurna, Mesopotamia, 31 May to 1 June 1915, Roll of Honour

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 3 June 2011 9:44 AM EADT
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Volunteer v Volunteer, Definitional matters within the Militia
Topic: Militia - LH

Australian Militia Force Structure

Volunteer v Volunteer

Definitional matters within the Militia

 

The Problem

When first meeting with texts dealing with military issues dating back to the late 19th Century and early 20th Century as covered by this site, the term that constantly causes the new reader problem is the word "volunteer". The reason is that it has two very different meanings, one as a general term and one as a technical military term as defined by the laws of the land and military law specifically.


Volunteer

In the general military sense, a "volunteer" is a person who freely enlists for military service. There is no sense of legal obligation attached to the act of volunteering in itself although once volunteered, a new set of legal obligations are created.

Upon becoming a volunteer, a person's service in the military may be classified into one of three different categories as defined by State or Federal laws, or both, they being:

"Volunteer";

"Militia"; and,

"Permanent".

These specific categories are detailed below.

 

"Volunteer"

27In the legal sense a "Volunteer" is an unpaid recruit in a particular formation who may or may not have kit supplied. In the mounted sense, when the various mounted units were being created, the "Volunteer" also supplied his own horse and saddle. This particular category of military serviceman and recruitment was completely abandoned in Australia by the reforms of 1912. In contrast, the New Zealand mounted forces were maintained entirely by the "Volunteer" system.

Depending upon the conditions of the State or Federal Government, the volunteer was obliged to attend a certain number of training sessions per year. The volunteer was obliged to find their own rations except during any camp of training. The military authorities were responsible for arming the volunteer and providing ammunition for musketry practice. The particular unit was reimbursed with an annual capitation fee for every volunteer on the roll. This practice brought with it many inherent problems, the worst of which was the padding of rolls with non-effective volunteers giving the impression that the unit had more trained men available than existed in reality. In addition, since there was little incentive other than personal discipline to attend parades, volunteers were capricious in attendance which ensured there was poor efficiency as a unit. For the governments, however, because of their parlous financial circumstances, this was all they could afford to do to obtain some defence facility.

 

 

"Militia"

The "Militia" volunteer is partially paid. In other words, a part time soldier who is responsible for his own rations but is paid a fee for attendance at parades as well as provided rations when required to attend a camp of continuous instruction, usually once a year for two weeks. The standard fee for attendance was similar to that of the full time soldier of similar rank. The importance of payment created two sides of a contract - the volunteer had a legal and contractual obligation to attend a specified number of commitments while the government had both criminal and commercial sanctions to impose should there be non-compliance. After the Military reforms of 1912, all part time members of the military forces were part paid Militia.

 

"Permanent"

The "Permanent" volunteer was the full time soldier. In the time period you mention, these men were involved mainly on Garrison duty or as Instructors for the militia. Expense of maintaining individuals as full time soldiers at the commencement of the 20th Century was far greater than the community could afford and thus the numbers of "Permanent" remained very limited.

 

The structure of the early 20th Century Australian military forces

To assist readers follow this trend, each formation in Australia at the time of the 1903 integration of the Federal forces has been listed in the following brigades, both infantry and light horse. In each of these categories, units are designated as either "volunteer", "militia" or "permenent".

 

Militia - Inf - 1IB - Militia - Infantry - 1st Infantry Brigade

Militia - Inf - 2IB - Militia - Infantry - 2nd Infantry Brigade

Militia - Inf - 3IB - Militia - Infantry - 3rd Infantry Brigade

Militia - LH - 1LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 1st Light Horse Brigade

Militia - LH - 2LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 2nd Light Horse Brigade

Militia - LH - 3LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 3rd Light Horse Brigade

Militia - LH - 4LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 4th Light Horse Brigade

Militia - LH - 5LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 5th Light Horse Brigade

Militia - LH - 6LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 6th Light Horse Brigade

Examination of the various formations gives a good summary about the mixture and conditions of service within the newly created Federal forces.

One of the last volunteer formations within the Commonwealth was the Australian Volunteer Automobile Corps created in 1908. It remained "all volunteer" until the reforms of 1912.

 

Further Reading:

Australian Light Horse Militia

Militia 1899 - 1920

 


Citation: Volunteer v Volunteer, Definitional matters within the Militia

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 18 January 2010 9:54 AM EAST
Thursday, 28 May 2009
9th LHR, AIF, Thomas Joseph Canny
Topic: AIF - 3B - 9 LHR
9th LHR, AIF

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment

 Thomas Joseph Canny

 

Thomas Joseph Canny

 

A brief military biography of Thomas Joseph Canny from The AIF Project:

Regimental number3170
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationFarmer
AddressCradock, South Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Next of kinMother, Mrs Mary Jane Canny, Cradock, South Australia
Enlistment date2 October 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name9th Light Horse Regiment, 25th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number10/14/5
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board RMS Karmala on 8 February 1917
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll9th Light Horse Regiment
FateReturned to Australia 17 July 1919

 

Photograph Album

 

Thomas Joseph Canny upon his horse "Baldy" in Palestine.
 
 

Thomas Joseph Canny at the horselines in Palestine.

 

 

Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Kerry Hardwick for the use of the photographs of her Grandfather.

 

Further Reading:

9th Light Horse Regiment, AIF



Citation: 9th LHR, AIF, Thomas Joseph Canny

Posted by Project Leader at 5:09 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 28 May 2009 5:40 PM EADT
Australian Wireless Squadron, AIF, Francis Patrick O'Dea
Topic: AIF - Wireless Sqn

Australian Wireless Squadron, AIF

Francis Patrick O'Dea

 

Francis Patrick O'Dea

 

 

A brief military biography of Francis Patrick O'Dea.

Regimental number14253
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationWireless Operator
AddressAscot Vale, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Next of kinFather, Patrick O'Dea, Maldon, Victoria
Enlistment date4 April 1916
Rank on enlistmentSignaller
Unit nameAustralian Wireless Squadron 1
AWM Embarkation Roll number22/16/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board RMS Morea on 30 May 1916
Rank from Nominal RollWO2
Unit from Nominal Roll1st Wireless Signal Squadron
FateReturned to Australia 15 January 1919

 

A short history of Frank O'Dea - Andrew Needham

My grandfather was Frank O'Dea. He was originally born in Diggers Rest outside Melbourne and was the son of the local station master. My mother says he learnt to ride fairly early in life and could ride around a paddock bareback.

He joined the citizen forces in 1911 and was trained as a wireless operator. At the outbreak of the war he was recruited as a wireless operator for the RAN Radio Service and was posted to the troop ship HMAT A53 Itria under the umbrella of the RAN Transport Service. However, despite the RAN involvement, he would have sailed under merchant marine articles. At that time wireless was still "cutting edge technology".

 

Francis Patrick O'Dea, Wireless Operator, Itria.

 

Itria was fitted as a troop ship to carry horses and carried members the ALH and their horses to the middle east as part of the third convoy in February 1915. She sailed with a total of 207 men, 5 sergeants and 7 officers from the 2nd and 5th ALH along with 250 horses plus an officer from the AAMC and an officer from the AAVC. I'm not sure how many crew Itria carried. The ALH troops and horses were disembarked at Suez on 26-3-15. Itria then proceeded to Alexandria and was subsequently involved with the Gallipoli campaign. An order from Gen Birdwood had several of the Australian troop ships given new numbers for the duration of the campaign and Itria became A20.


I have not identified which troops Itria took to Gallipoli but the ship, and hence my grandfather, were standing off ANZAC on the morning of 25th April. I have several pictures that he took from the deck of nearby naval ships firing onto the shore.

From what I’ve read in the history of Gallipoli, the medical services were grossly inadequate and there is mention of ships that were designed to take horses and with no medical officer on board having to receive the wounded. Obviously several ships other than Itria would fit that description but it is likely they had to take wounded under very poor conditions. He had several pictures of pinnaces carrying wounded which would go along with this.

After this Itria would have been something of a ferry moving troops and supplies of all sorts. My grandfather took photos of French Senegalese troops embarking Itria to be taken to Gallipoli. Apparently they didn't fare well as their bright uniforms made them good targets for the Turks. I doubt they knew what they were getting into because one picture shows they were taking a bicycle with them!

Itria and my grandfather were present at a number of major events other than the original ANZAC landing. In August Itria took the RAN Bridging Train to the Suvla landings arriving at 5am on 8 Aug 1915 and was caught up in the shambles that Suvla became. Bean's official history remarks on "repeated wireless messages" from Itria trying to get orders to unload the RANBT and that shrapnel was continually falling on the deck. Apparently a German aircraft also tried to bomb the ships but it's not clear how much attention was paid to Itria. Itria was later at the Suvla evacuation and one of my grandfather's photos shows the glow and smoke from burning stores on the shore as the ships pulled away.

Itria returned to Australia in 1916 but my grandfather left the ship in Melbourne in April 1916 as he had been recruited for the newly formed 1st ANZAC Wireless Signal Squadron. His Regimental Number was 14253.

As far as I can find out, the wireless squadron was the first ever military signals unit anywhere specifically dedicated to wireless and was one of very few truly ANZAC units as it had a mix of both Australians and New Zealanders by design. The wireless squadron members were mounted troops but were strictly classed as engineers. Because they were mounted they are frequently [and incorrectly] assumed to have been light horse. They were using mobile wireless sets: the larger ones could be moved in a cart while the smaller sets could be broken down and moved on pack horses.

The wireless squadron had been formed to handle communications in the British campaign that ran up through Mesopotamia and into Persia and the unit disembarked in Basra in July 1916. Very few Australians know this campaign existed or that Anzacs were involved. The basis of the campaign was that Britain was worried that the Russians would withdraw from the area due to increasing political instability in Russia leaving Persia open as a route for the Germans to attack India.

The wireless squadron was formed into a number of individual "wireless troops" and generally one wireless troop would be attached to the campaign headquarter and while other wireless troops would follow the main forces repeatedly setting up and then moving their wireless sets again to send and receive messages as the columns moved. In the case of a battle the wireless would be set up close to the action to send and receive messages as the battle progressed. The wireless masts were easily visible to the enemy and frequently drew artillery fire.

My grandfather's particular troop was primarily attached to the HQ and after they entered Baghdad he would have spent a significant amount of time intercepting Turkish wireless signals.

The Russians were also using wireless but Anzac wireless squadron troops were sent to handle signals in English. My grandfather's troops took their turn to tag along with the Russians in Persia in April 1917.

The situation in Persia was very chaotic at that time. The Russian troops were not being paid or supplied and they were in disarray. They would raid civilian markets to pirate provisions then on other days they would trade their equipment for food. The region was in famine, no doubt due to various armies moving though the area plus there was an exodus of Armenian refugees fleeing Turkish massacres.

While moving through the mountain passes my grandfathers unit narrowly missed being killed in an ambush because one of their carts needed to be repaired making them lag behind the small Russian column they were moving with. When they caught up to the Russians they were being attacked by a group of Kurds and had suffered heavy casualties. One of the wireless troop members rode into the middle of the fight and emptied his rifle at the Kurds. That man was Sgt S Ryan who was subsequently awarded the DCM, I haven't been able to access his citation but I suspect it was for this action.

Given the circumstances it isn't surprising that the Russians were cut off from the British forces in Mesopotamia and my grandfather's troop was out of contact for so long that they were given up for dead and another troop formed to replace them. This makes tracking the history difficult because my grandfather's troop was "A troop" and the replacement troop was also called "A troop" [subsequently the grandfather's troop was redesignated "AA troop"].

1st ANZAC Wireless Signal Squadron at Kermanshah, Persia, July 1917.

 

This period is succinctly noted in my grandfather's service record as "attached to Russians in Persia". I have little detail on what happened during much of this period but the unit history makes an obtuse reference to "adventures" so it's anyone’s guess. Two things really catch my interest, firstly that he kept a photo of a very beautiful young Russian woman who he thought was a Russian noble fleeing the situation back home. We really have no idea who she was but my grandmother used to joke that she was Princess Anastasia [though we know that cannot be correct]. Second, that long after the war he saw a biblical movie and commented on the way out of the cinema that they'd got Mt Ararat all wrong, that it was much more rugged than they'd shown it and he knew so because he'd seen it. Of course there are many purported sites for Mt Ararat but it begs the question which one he'd seen.

The AA troop spent Christmas 1917 in Kermanshah and were treated to Christmas dinner by a British couple, the husband being the local representative of the Imperial Bank of Persia. I've seen a small card from that dinner signed by almost all the men and was fascinated to see they dined on ibex.

My grandfather and his troop returned to Baghdad 17 January 1918.

By chance I found a diary from an English soldier from the 1/4 Hampshire Rgt, Arthur James Foster, posted on the net who records the Aussies appearing down a mountain pass coming out of Persia. I can't properly reference it because the diary has been removed from the net but I will quote it anyway because I really like it:

"Some time passed then we saw some horsemen approaching. When they came up, they were seen to be Anzacs, and their limbers carried a wireless set. Hardy and resolute they looked as they rode in - where they came from and the circumstances of their appearance right up here in the Persian hills is obscure. I have heard that they were operating with some Russians up country, and had to sneak away."


After his return he was made the squadron SSM but had to be invalided to India because he had malaria and he did not return to Mesopotamia. After repatriation to Australia he was promoted to WO II before his discharge in April 1919.

My grandfather never had much to say about his WW1 service and I lot of what I now is from my research. Not infrequently he's say "Johnny Turk was alright" and that you could open a can of bully beef with a bayonet but not much more. He could fix a radio but wouldn't elaborate on how he'd learnt to do it but he taught my brother Morse Code and semaphore for his scout proficiency badges. And he never rode a horse again the rest of his life.

 

Acknowledgement: Many thanks are given to Andrew Needham for providing a biography and photographs about his Grandfather,  Francis Patrick O'Dea.

Photogaph captioned "1st ANZAC Wireless Signal Squadron at Kermanshah, Persia, July 1917." - AWM P00562.062

 

Further Reading:

Australian Wireless Squadron

Where Australians Fought - Mesopotamia

 


Citation: Australian Wireless Squadron, AIF,  Francis Patrick O'Dea

Posted by Project Leader at 2:19 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 28 May 2009 4:57 PM EADT

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