"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.
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Tuesday, 4 August 2009
1st Australian Field Squadron Engineers, Roll of Honour Topic: AIF - DMC - Eng 1FSE
1st FSE, AIF
1st Australian Field Squadron Engineers
Roll of Honour
Poppies on the Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra
The Roll of Honour contains the names of all the men known to have served at one time with the 1st Field Squadron Engineers and gave their lives in service of Australia, whether as part of the 1st Field Squadron Engineers or another unit.
Roll of Honour
Leonard Haigh BRIGG, Died of Disease, 20 October 1918.
John CLAYTON, Died of Disease, 23 October 1918.
William George HALLETT, Died of Disease, 18 October 1918.
George Henry SMITH, Died of Disease, 19 November 1918.
Lest We Forget
Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Steve Becker who provided much of the raw material that appears in this item.
The Battle of Elands River, South Africa, 4 August 1900, Outline Topic: BatzB - Elands
The Battle of Elands River
South Africa, 4 August 1900
Elands River, fought on 4-16 August 1900 during the Second South African War, entailed the heroic defence of a staging post in Western Transvaal by a mixed force of British colonial troops. The defenders comprised some 300 Bushmen from various Australian colonies (105 From New South Wales, 141 from Queensland, 42 Victorians, nine West Australians and two Tasmanians), along with 201 Rhodesians, two Canadians and three from British units - the whole commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Charles Hore, a British officer. The garrison was supported by only one Maxim and an old 7-pounder screw gun. Opposing this force were 2,000 - 3,000 Boers armed with six 12-pounder field-guns and three quick-firing automatic guns known as pom-poms, commanded by General J.H. De la Rey and General H. L. Lemmer.
The garrison was there to guard a large accumulation of supplies intended for other British columns operating in the region, and the latter represented the Boers' primary reason for attacking. The main camp occupied a small rocky ridge situated in the centre of a natural amphitheatre about two hectares in extent, about a kilometre east of the river, but detachments of troops also held two small hills on the riverbank. An attack on the exposed outpost had been anticipated before the siege began on 4 August, although it was hoped that a column of 1,000 New South Wales Imperial Bushmen and South African irregulars under General Sir Frederick Carrington would arrive before this eventuated. As a precaution, though, a defensive perimeter was hastily improvised using ox-wagons and boxes and bags taken from the stores depot.
These preparations enabled the defenders to withstand the enemy's initial onslaught, during which the compound was subjected to a heavy bombardment. In the first two days over 2,500 shells hit the camp, killing most of the 1,500 horses, oxen and mules, blasting stores in all directions and causing numerous human casualties. On the second day of the investment, the leading elements of Carrington's force were spotted on the rising ground three kilometres to the west. Hopes of relief were cruelly dashed, however, when the column - advancing without the use of scouts - rode into an ambush and was put into headlong retreat, albeit after sustaining only seventeen minor casualties.
Left to their own resources, the garrison completed the digging of rifle pits and building of stone sangars to provide shelter from enemy fire. Some relief was also afforded by the fact that the Boers badly wanted the stores being defended, and hence eased up on the weight of their artillery barrage. The battle was nonetheless maintained using smaller calibre weapons, and the colonial troops were kept under fire from all directions, around the clock. This fire had to be braved during the night, when small parties were sent of necessity to carry drinking water into the lines from the river. Occasional night-time forays were also made to deal with particularly troublesome Boer positions. During daylight hours, however, the defenders remained pinned down in their pits, enduring the heat, thirst and overpowering stench from the carcasses of dead animals.
After a week of fighting the Boers called on the camp to surrender. As a mark of respect for the gallant defence which had been made, De la Rey was prepared to allow officers to retain their side-arms and the garrison was guaranteed a safe passage to the nearest British position. His offer was refused and the battle continued. Meanwhile, a second attempt at lifting the siege was being undertaken from the east by Colonel Robert Baden-Powell at the head of a column 2,000 strong. This reached within 30 kilometres of the post but received orders to turn away in the belief that the defenders had already capitulated.
Not until 13 August was the true position learnt, after a native runner was picked up on the Mafeking railway with the news that the camp was still holding out. A new effort to break the siege was immediately ordered, and columns totalling 10,000 men under General Lord Kitchener started out on the 15th. In the face of the overwhelming strength of the advancing British force, De le Rey withdrew his burghers before Kitchener rode into the Elands River camp the next day. By this stage twelve of the garrison had been killed, along with seven native porters, and another 58 wounded. The siege was perhaps the most notable action involving Australians in South Africa, earning high praise from even the Boers' senior commander, Jan Smuts, who said:
Never in the course of this war did a besieged force endure worse sufferings, but they stood their ground with magnificent courage. All honour to these heroes who in the hour of trial rose nobly to the occasion ...
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 83-84.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
L.S. Amery, (ed.) The Times History of the War in South Africa 1899-1902, Vol. 4 (1906), London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
James Green (1903) The Story of the Australian Bushmen, Sydney: William Brooks & Co.
R.L. Wallace (1976) The Australians at the Boer War, Canberra: Australian War Memorial & Australian Government Publishing Service.
The Nek, Gallipoli, 7 August 1915, The Plan of Attack Orders Topic: BatzG - Nek
Gallipoli, 7 August 1915
The Plan of Attack Orders
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary, August 1915
The actual orders were:-
8th L H. 1st Line.
First line will consist of troops already in fire-trenches and saps. On a given signal, silently and without rifle-fire, it will rush The Nek (A1) and with bayonet and bomb engage the enemy, taking possession of the flank, communicating and advanced trenches (A9, A5. A8, A11), paying special attention to the machine-guns which must be sought for and rushed and to the trenches overlooking the cliff north of The Nek and to those on the southern flank of same, so as to prevent flank interposition by the enemy - mine fuses and 'phone wires to be sought for and cut.
8th L.H. 2nd Line
Second line (already on banquette) will immediately follow. Jumping advanced trenches (already engaged by first line) it will sweep on and attack supporting and subsidiary trenches (A12, C1, C4). Its action will be forward, ignoring trenches behind, but accounting for those to right and left (C6A, B1, B2. B3). Bayonet and bomb without fire.
As soon as first line has moved from our trenches, second line will take the position vacated in order to make room for third line. In passing over intervening space officers will take post in the ranks so as not to make themselves a conspicuous target.
The 10th L.H. 3rd Line.
Having moved up communicating trenches, third line will in like manner be prepared and follow on at once. Its objective will be the next line of trenches (C2, C3, C5, C7, C8) and, if possible. Z. Y, C10, C11, to C12-13. With bomb and bayonet only, the enemy will be driven back and out without turning back, and avenues blocked. Once in the trenches, the enemy will not be able to make effective use of his machine-guns. When the extreme limit of advance has been reached the gain must be made good and safe against machine-gun fire and against counter-attack. Here fourth line plays its part.
10th L.H. 4th Line.
Fourth line will in like manner follow and act in concert with 2 and 3. It must endeavour to join up with the latter. Every second man will carry digging tools in the proportion of one pick to two shovels. It is impossible to define precisely what this line may be called upon to do. This must of necessity depend upon the progress of its predecessors. It may have to down tools and assist but it must make every effort to join up with third line and block the approaches. This is its role."
(The capital letters and figures refer to Turkish trenches which were thus marked on the British maps. "Y" and “Z" were centres or junctions of several trenches )
The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, Fremantle Rifle Volunteers Topic: Militia - LHW - WA
Western Australian Militia
Fremantle Rifle Volunteers
The following is an extract from the book written in 1962 by George F. Wieck called The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia 1861-1903, pp. 37 – 39:
Fremantle Rifle Volunteers
Sponsored by Mr. G. B. Humble of Fremantle, a memorial bearing the names of 40 persons desirous of forming an Infantry Volunteer corps at Fremantle was presented to the Military Commandant on 30.8.1872. Approval to form a corps, to be designated the "Fremantle Rifle Volunteers" appeared in the Government Gazette of 5.10.1872. Approval was given also for the new corps to wear uniform of the same type and pattern as that of the defunct Fremantle Volunteer Rifles. Captain R. Sutherland was appointed to Command as from 7.10.1872.
On 7.10.1872 corps strength stood at 71: it increased to 69 plus bandsmen in 1873; and by 1877 had increased to 124 all ranks. The maximum of 137 was reached in 1893 but a drop to 78 occurred in the following year when, presumably, the roll was purged of inefficients and dead-heads.
Approval to form a second Company was given in 1884. For a period of nine years corps strength was never less than 100, overshadowing the Perth Corps in this regard.
The Inspector of Volunteers reviewed the corps on 13.3.1873 (attendance 55) and again on 23.10.1873, both reports being favourable - even to the extent of recommending that new Martini-Henri rifles then on their way from England should be issued to replace the very obsolete weapons the corps then possessed. The new rifles were issued in due course but could not be fired for some months because someone in authority had forgotten to order suitable ammunition.
Corps training was co-ordinated with that of the Perth and Guildford bodies, the three frequently combining to carry out tactical and ceremonial exercises. It formed part of the 1st Battalion W.A. Volunteers and also attended the 1884 camp.
When on 1.7.1899 the Perth, Guildford and Fremantle corps were amalgamated to form the 1st Infantry Regiment, the latter provided "C" and "D" Companies of the new arrangement.
Australian Light Horse, Roles within the Regiment, Guards on Horse Lines Topic: AIF - Lighthorse
Australian Light Horse
Roles within the Regiment
Guards on Horse Lines
The following entries dealing with the roles and duties within the hierarchy of a light horse regiment are extracted from a very informative handbook called The Bushman’s Military Guide, 1898. While written in 1898, the information contained in the entries held true for the next twenty years with only minor modifications with the principles remaining as current then as now.
Guards on Horse Lines
(1.) The Night Guard will parade after evening stables fatigue dress, with cloak and service caps, but without arms.
(2.) This Guard will usually consist of 3 men for each 50 Horses in camp, under a corporal. This will allow a sentry to be in charge of 50 horses only.
(3.) In detailing the men for this guard it should be so arranged that the men of the troop, or half squadron, furnish the sentries for the horses of their own unit.
(4.) The corporal in charge of the Horse Lines Guard should frequently visit the horses during the night, accompanied by a trooper of his guard, and should always carry a lantern.
(5.) Sentries on horse lines should challenge after lights out, and when ordered pass the call of "all's well" every half hour until reveille.
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