"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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The 6th Light Horse Regiment was formed as part of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, 2nd Contingent and attached to the Australian Division. Recruits went to the Liverpool Training Camp to the west of Sydney, New South Wales, during September 1914. The recruits were drawn from throughout New South Wales.
One of the best sources of information available for understanding the immediate challenges facing a regiment is to be found in the Routine Orders. They are a wealth of detail. The Routine Orders provide an unvarnished history of the Regiment.
Brigade Scouts, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance Part 11 Avoiding Detection Topic: AIF - DMC - Scouts
Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, Part 11
Frederick Allan Dove
3rd Light Horse Brigade Scouts in the hills at Tripoli, December 1918
In 1910, Major Frederick Allan Dove, DSO, wrote a book on a subject he was very familiar with through practical experience called Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance. This book set the intellectual framework for the formation of the Brigade Scouts during the Sinai and Palestine Campaigns as part of the Great War.
Dove, FA, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, 1910.
6. - How to Avoid Detection.
(1) By Day. - Whether moving or halted, avoid the skyline. Hills must be ascended for purposes of observation. This can be done in such a way as to obviate risk of being by hostile Scouts. In any arse, only one or two men should actually go to the crest. When there, keep away from single bushes, trees, or rocks. Undergrowth and long grass give the surest concealment. Get into a shadow if you can, hilt be careful of your background. Always take it for granted that flare is an enemy looking out for you, and act accordingly. When observing, remember that eyes were made before field-glasses. Use your eyes well and quickly first, sweeping the country from dose to you to far array. Then take up the glasses to examine, anything doubtful. When finished, slip carefully back below the crest, still believing that you are being watched for.
Movements straight forward or straight back are not so liable to betray you as movements to a flank. Before leaving your concealment, decide on your next halting place and how to get there.
Avoid roads, tracks, clearings, bare ground. If tracks of men and horses, &c., are to be looked for, do so on foot, some of the patrol keeping a sharp look out.
There is no more risky operation in Scouting than that of following up an enemy's trail, as it is so easy for him to lay an ambush for the trackers. Only one or two should do the tracking, the remainder Scouting in advance and to the flanks, thus:
The advances of patrols should be by successive movements from one point of observation to another. While halted the Scouts select the next position and the most covered approach. They should not mind going a considerable way back or making a wide circuit to attain their object. If there is no other way than by crossing clear open ground, one or two should do so quickly, making for different points, the rest remaining concealed until their mates signal “All clear."
In low brush or scrub about saddle high, movements are best made on foot; the Scouts mount occasionally to get better view around them.
Hollows, gullies, gorges give concealment but are very bad places to be discovered in. In such places the, patrol should be strung out rather than closed up, and no time should be lost in at least one Scout getting on to high ground.
(2) By Night. - Avoid making any noise, striking matches, etc. Ride in hollows, and on soft or sandy soil for preference. It is fatal to extend men by night, as calling, whistling or "cooeeing" will be most likely required to bring them together again. If anything suspicious is seen or heard, everyone should halt and dismount. One or two Scouts proceed to investigate, on foot if it is near. These men take a very careful note of their surroundings and the direction (by star, if possible) before leaving the patrol.
It must be understood that if they do not return in a reasonable time the patrol will proceed. No audible signals are to be allowed, unless for a very urgent reason indeed. Avoid habitations, unless it is part of your duty to search them. Dogs barking, cocks crowing, &c. may betray your presence. On moonlit nights, take advantage of the shadows of hills or belts of timber. Do all close examination work on foot. If your men are getting drowsy, make them dismount and lead horses for a few minutes. Most horses are wonderfully quick at night in detecting the presence or approach of strange men or animals, and will notice physical dangers, such as precipices, boggy ground, &c., before their riders. The night Scout will do well to note and heed the mute warnings given by his horse.
7. - Contact with the Enemy.
(1) When the patrol has seen without being seen: Endeavour to ascertain his numbers and arm of the service: look around for a better observation point; as soon as something definite has been ascertained, send off one mall who call find his way back; if the matter is very urgent, send two men, but not together or by the same route, if they can be safely separated. Go on observing.
(2) When your are discovered: possible, "bluff" them as to your real intentions; try to draw their attention away from the direction in which you mean to move. If they are aggressive and too strong to be fought, divide the patrol and retire by different routes to a prearranged rallying place.
(3) At all times be prepared for an emergency, and when it comes, try to be cool. If you have been observant of the nature of the country, you will know where the nearest good cover is to be found.
Let me give one more illustration of how a small patrol may get out of a difficulty.
A patrol of three are at A (see Sketch), six miles from our Outposts, and making for a point ten miles further west. It is in the afternoon of a bright day. The country is known to contain many small prowling parties of the enemy. The patrols are under cover. Half a mile in front across the creek is a group of houses on the side of a low hill. From the houses the inmates can see along the clear banks of the creek for a mile and a half. The patrol must get on, and cannot afford the time to make a wide detour.
Around the houses are some saddled-up horses, about a dozen, mostly loose and grazing, with a man or two lounging around. Presently there is activity, but not ostentatious. The horses are caught and led behind the houses. Our patrol leader scents danger. A spur leads down towards his left front into broken low ground; but he does not want to go that way. He mounts his men and they all canter, just showing over the crest, down the spur for a hundred yards or so; one shows again lower down; they all move rapidly left about wheel, and round to their proper right. A pause is made to observe. The enemy have mounted, all of them, and are galloping diagonally to head off the patrol lower down the creek. Our men then make a bolt of it across the open to reach scrubby hill country ahead. In this they are successful. The enemy discover their mistake too late, and the patrol easily eludes the subsequent pursuit. The risk had be-en great. In war one must take risks, but every effort should be made to reduce these to a minimum when you have made what you consider the best preparations to avoid defeat, act with boldness and determination.
8. - Reporting Information.
This subject is dealt with fully in Field Service Regulations, Chapter 11, Secs. 9, 15, 16. I have also gone into it in Part I. of this book, (A)7, Communication.
Scouts and patrol leaders when being trained should have much practice in making verbal and written reports and rough sketches to illustrate their reports. They must above all try for accuracy in fact and detail. Some authors speak of the scout as an, amateur Sherlock Holmes, capable of writing a whole story about a few withered leaves, lying on the roadside, etc. The reading of such stuff can only tend to spoil men why might otherwise become good reconnoitrers. Our Scouts should bear in mind that the officer to wholly, they report wants Facts, not Fancies. He can form deductions if it pleases him.
9. - Section and Training of Scouts.
Presuming that the risen - in our regiments are already efficient soldiers - disciplined, well trained in musketry and skirmishing - those appearing to possess all or most of the following characteristics should be, selected for training as Scouts: - Strong, wiry build; active sport-loving character; brought up in a country district; good marksman (including judging distance); in Mounded Corps, a lover of his horse and a good rider; cool, quiet disposition, not prone to excitement nor exaggeration; fair amount of education.
The special training should include: Protective Scouting; patrolling; map-reading and sketching; marching on a bearing; by day and by night; finding way cut and back with and without compass or map, both by day and by night, and in familiar and in strange country; swimming rivers, etc., with and without horse ; development of the bump of locality, and the powers of observation ; hasty demolitions; what and how to report; first aid to wounded and treatment of injuries the result of accident and snake bite.
2nd New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron, Nominal Roll Topic: AIF - 5B - 2 NZMGS
2nd New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron
5th Australian Light Horse Brigade
Imperial Camel Corps, New Zealand members hat badge
The following Nominal Roll for the 2nd New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron, 5th Light Horse Brigade, Desert Mounted Corps (2nd NZMGS) comprises the men known to have served with that formation during the Great War. Note: There are many names missing and as time goes on these gaps will be filled.
12573 Trooper Richard William BEAL, 4th Battalion, 15th Company.
A troop of the 6th Light Horse at Liverpool Training Camp
[From: The Sydney Mail, 25 November 1914, p. 12.]
The 6th Light Horse Regiment was formed as part of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, 2nd Contingent and attached to the Australian Division. Recruits went to the Liverpool Training Camp to the west of Sydney, New South Wales, during September 1914. The recruits were drawn from throughout New South Wales. Many of the men went from the Light Horse Militia formation into the AIF Light Horse.
"A" Squadron recruited mainly from:
7th Light Horse Regiment (5 men).
11th Light Horse Regiment (6 men).
"B" Squadron recruited mainly from:
9th Light Horse Regiment (6 men)
28th Light Horse Regiment (6 men)
"C" Squadron recruited mainly from:
5th Light Horse Regiment (7 men); and,
27th Light Horse Regiment (5 men).
6th Light Horse Regiment Routine Order No 1, 30 October 1914
[Click on page for larger version.]
Training of the 6th Light Horse Regiment occurred at Liverpool Training Camp from September 1914.
Embarkation of the 6th Light Horse Regiment occurred by the HMAT A34 Suevic from Sydney, New South Wales, on 21 December 1914.
The 6th Light Horse Regiment sailed to Egypt and disembarked on 1 February 1915.
Initially, the only colour separation of the various Australian mounted troops was by use of the pennant. The marker pennants were carried on poles to mark lines troop lines in camps in Egypt. They were not lance pennants as the Australian lancers had red over white pennants on their lances.
Pennant of the 6th Light Horse Regiment
While this pennant was useful in distinguishing horse and troop lines, it failed to identify the individual with a unit. The AIF 1st Australian Division Standing Orders issued in December 1914 ordered the Australian Light Horse Regiments to wear a 4 inch wide [10.2cm] blue armband with the regiment name marked on the band in black lettering.
The earlier systems proved to be ineffective so to assist with identification of the men in the various units within the AIF, Divisional Order No 81 (A) Administration was issued at Mena on 8 March 1915 detailing the Colour Patch for the 6th Light Horse Regiment as others received their colours. The colour patch was made of cloth 1¼ inches wide and 2¾ inches long and worn on the sleeve one inch below the shoulder seam. The colour patch for the 6th Light Horse Regiment was green over red.
6th Light Horse Regiment Colour Patch
The 6th Light Horse Regiment carried the red Brigade colour as the lower triangle part of the colour patch, while the green unit colour was on the top. This is illustrated with the above presentation.
The 6th Light Horse Regiment distinguished itself from all other Light Horse Regiments with the use of the wallaby fur puggaree on the felt hat. The puggaree is the band around the felt hat, usually made of pleated cloth.
As mounted troops, the Light Horse was considered to be unsuitable for work in Gallipoli. The mounted troops volunteered to operate as infantry and thus were sent to Gallipoli with the 6th Light Horse Regiment landing on 20 May 1915. The Regiment was only deployed on defensive activities on the far right of the front line [the southern regions of Anzac] throughout the stay at Gallipoli. The 6th Light Horse Regiment left the peninsula on 20 December 1915.
Defence of Egypt
After the return to Egypt, the 6th Light Horse Regiment reformed and re-equipped. The reorganisation of the Light Horse led to the formation of the ANZAC Mounted Division to which the 6th Light Horse Regiment became a foundation member.
On 28 February 1916, the 6th Light Horse Regiment moved to join its parent brigade, the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, which was taking part in the defence of the Suez Canal. The work was hot and monotonous. They remained here until moved to the Romani region to bolster the defence of that area.
The 2nd Light Horse Brigade played an important role in beating back the Turkish invasion of the Suez Canal zone at Romani. Now known as the Battle of Romani which lasted from 4-6 August which was quickly followed by the Battle of Katia and then Bir el Abd on 9 August. All the actions in which the 6th Light Horse Regiment finally led to the defeat of the Ottoman Canal Expeditionary force and its retreat to Bir el Mazar.
Over the next few months, the 6th Light Horse Regiment took part in the Allied advance over the Sinai leading to the fall of Bir el Mazar, then El Arish followed by Bir el Magdhaba and finally Rafa in January 1917. The Ottoman forces were expelled from the Sinai and were poised to be tackled in Palestine.
On 27 March 1917, the 6th Light Horse Regiment took an adventurous role during the First Battle of Gaza. While involved in the encirclement of the city as a prelude to its capture, the 6th Light Horse Regiment received the order to withdraw and return to the starting line. Grudgingly they did so but realised the Turks had snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat.
The 6th Light Horse Regiment took part in the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 April 1917 and suffered the heaviest casualties since Gallipoli.
The 6th Light Horse Regiment took part in the Battle of Beersheba and then the follow up actions that lasted until early January 1918. After the fall of Jerusalem the 6th Light Horse Regiment moved to the Jordan Valley and took parts in operations in this region. This included the taking of Jericho, the attack on Amman during 27 March - 2 April 1918 and Es Salt Raid of 30 April – 4 May 1918.
At the opening of the final Allied offensive on 19 September 1918, the 6th Light Horse Regiment took part in the invasion of the Moab hills for the third time. This time Amman was captured with the participation of the 6th Light Horse Regiment. Finally, the Ottomans called for an Armistice on 30 October 1918.
Return to Australia
After the conclusion of hostilities, the 6th Light Horse Regiment was marked to return to Australia. Prior to that action, one of the saddest actions occurred for the Australian Lighthorsemen, they had to farewell their best friends, the horses. All the Light Horse unit horses' health was ascertained with the fit horses being transferred to the Indian Cavalry while those in poor condition were destroyed by the Veterinary units.
On 13 March 1919 the 6th Light Horse Regiment was deployed to assist in suppressing the Egyptian Uprising. When the revolt collapsed, the 6th Light Horse Regiment embarked on the 28 June 1919 for the long voyage to Australia where the unit was disbanded.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Frederick Cox Lieutenant Colonel Colin Dunmore Fuller Lieutenant Colonel Harold Albert Duckett White Lieutenant Colonel Donald Gordon Cross
Decorations earned by the 6th Light Horse Regiment
7 DSO - Distinguished Service Orders
6 MC - Military Crosses
7 DCM - Distinguished Conduct Medals
15 MM- Military Medals
1 MSM - Meritorious Service Medal
37 MID - Mentioned in Despatches
4 foreign awards
Defence at Anzac
Defence of Egypt
First Battle of Gaza
Third Battle of Gaza
Casualties suffered by the 6th Light Horse Regiment
The Australian War Memorial has put these on line and may be accessed here:
The following list details all the embarkations in support of the 6th Light Horse Regiment, AIF, during the Great War. Each entry details the individual soldier's: rank on embarkation; full name; Declared age; last occupation held; last address as a civilian; enlistment Date; and, ultimate fate. Each man is linked to a brief military biography where ever possible. One interesting point is that many of the men listed in the embarkation roll for the 5th Light Horse Regiment ended up in a different unit altogether. This list details the men's starting point in the AIF.
Colour patch for the 1st Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron
1st Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron
In July 1916, all Regimental Machine Gun Sections were to be excised from the regiments of the 1st Light Horse Brigade and brigaded to form a Machine Gun Squadron. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Machine Gun Sections were combined to form the 1st Machine Gun Squadron under the command of the Brigade.
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