"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.
Formed in August 1914 as part of the 1st Contingent and attached to the Australian Division, the 1st Light Horse Regiment was made up of Light Horsemen from five different Militia Regiments. This was the only New South Wales Regiment recruited from a majority of men drawn immediately from the Militia formations.
Originally recruited at Melbourne in October 1914 to form part of the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance, when Military Order 575 of 1914 created the 3rd Light Horse Brigade and the unit became the 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance.
Brigade Scouts, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance Part 7 The Flank Screen Topic: AIF - DMC - Scouts
Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, Part 7
The Flank Screen
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.
(B) THE FLANK SCREEN. GENERAL REMARKS.
The Flank Guard protects the main body from a surprise attack from the Flank. In order to do so, it seizes, and hold's as long as may be necessary, a succession of defensive positions. These positions must first be reconnoitred. This is done by the Flank Guard throwing forward a small advanced Screen which will act as already described in Section A. But outside the Flank Guard, i.e., towards the enemy, there must also be a screen of Scouts, and it is their formations movements and defies that are discussed hereunder.
Firstly, I submit the following diagram as an aid to the understanding of the context:-
1. - Preliminary Instructions.
The leader of the troop or section told off for the Flank Screen should get clear directions as to-
(1) The direction of the advance and any contemplated changes thereof.
(2) What is known at present about the enemy, and of the position of our Advanced Guard, and of any neighbouring columns of friendly troops.
(3) Any special directions as to rate of march.
As laid down in Section (A), the leader will pass on his instructions to his subordinate before extending and supplementing them by anything he thinks necessary.
He will then tell off an advanced patrol (or patrols), a reserve under his own immediate control, and at least one rear patrol. He may also require connecting links between himself and his support or the Mainguard.
2. - Extension.
Extension must be by units - “twos" or "fours" (four men). In Africa - it was not unusual to see the Flank Screen composed of an apparently endless string of single files, riding behind each other with painful exactitude at about a distance of fifty yards or so. Up hill and down dale, across spruit and donga, they rode, looking neither to right nor left, but watching only the men in front of them. What wonder that every day told its tale of Scouts (?) shot down at close quarters, of troopers missing, of main bodies surprised.
By breaking your Screen into units you secure a delegation of command and fix responsibility upon your N.C.O.'s and four leaders, i.e., upon individuals who should he accustomed to accept responsibility and exercise command.
You say: "Corporal Jones, take your 'four' and Scout on my right. I look to you, I depend on you, to protect that flank and give me warning of any danger." Does it not stand to reason that Corporal Jones will do his best to rise to the occasion?
It is very important that at the outset the leader retains with him a fair proportion of his command to meet subsequent emergencies, but he must detach at least one patrol straight to the front, and another to follow in rear. I do not attempt to lay down distances, because those depend entirely on the nature of the country. Suffice it to say that in clear country distances will be greater and detachments less in number than in enclosed or timbered country.
In any case the patrols must keep "touch" with the body from which they are detached.
3. - Movements.
The Main Plank Guard best carries out its duty by the successive occupation of defensive positions. Similarly the Flank Screen takes up points of observation. The leader should so arrange that there shall be a full utilisation of all vantage points. A study of the sketch and notes will give an idea of what is meant. The instance is founded on an actual occurrence. I may say that the Main Body was moving at a walk on good ground, but the country traversed by the Flank Guard was boulder-strewn ridges. There was neither timber nor scrub.
The dotted line with arrow points shows the route of the main body, which was a small column.
The Flank Guard leader is at A, studying the situation.
He has with him the greater portion of a troop -his advanced patrol is halted at R; his support is shown moving in fours towards D.
He decides that he must secure the point C quickly. He there-fore sends a four at a canter to hold B, and with a message to the four already there to push on rapidly to C. This done, lie mounts his party and moves up to B, leaving a patrol to stay at A until he is seen to get to B. On arrival there the disposition is: Advanced patrol at C; Main party at B; patrol leaving A. From B, he can see down and across the valley Y, Y, to where the view is closed by low ridges. He would like to know what is beyond. Suddenly the sharp-pointed hill at F arrests his gaze-if only we had that, he thinks, we could see far and wide. Without any loss of time lie canters up to C himself, with four men leaving the remainder at B to follow leisurely. Arrived at C, he has another look, makes tip his mind, and at once sends a corporal and two men to Scout and occupy F, signal the result of their observations, and remain there till the rear patrol arrives at E.
Next an advanced patrol is sent to E; the main party is then at C, and another patrol is leaving B. Thus by successive steps the Screen moved from one observation point to another. There was always some, portion halted in observation, and no important point was given up to possible seizure by the enemy until the next point was secured. Surprise was impossible.
All the units of the Screen will frequently halt at suitable points to make observations. When a, general halt is called, the Screen becomes a succession of Cossack posts and groups keeping a sharp look out--in fact, a temporary out post line, fronting outwards from the Main Body.
5. - Contact with the Enemy.
Whenever the enemy is discovered, the chief thing to be remembered is to at once warn the supporting portions of the Flank Guard and then the Officer commanding the Main Body. If the enemy is unaware of your presence, lie very low and avoid alarming him. Should he be advancing to the attack, fire on his Scouts or skirmishers and hold them back as much as possible. When compelled, and not before, retire, still fighting wherever a position offers.
6. - Signals and Signalling.
Constant touch must be maintained between all units by signals and by signallers.
Endeavour should be made to get touch with the Advanced Guard and Rear Guard.
Outline of the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF
Formed in August 1914 as part of the 1st Contingent and attached to the Australian Division, the 1st Light Horse Regiment was made up of Light Horsemen from five different Militia Regiments. This was the only New South Wales Regiment recruited from a majority of men drawn immediately from the Militia formations. The Regiment included:
The 1st Light Horse Regiment sailed by convoy from Albany and passed by the action against the Emden at the Cocos Islands. The Star of Victoria disembarked the 1st Light Horse Regiment in Egypt on 8 December 1914.
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 1st 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 1st 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 1st Light Horse Regiment was light blue over white.
1st Light Horse Regiment Colour Patch
The 1st Light Horse Regiment carried the white Brigade colour as the lower triangle part of the colour patch, while the light blue unit colour was on the top. This is illustrated with the above presentation.
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 1st Light Horse Regiment landing on 12 May 1915. Only once was this regiment used for offensive activities which occurred on the morning of 7 August 1915 with an attack on a Turkish position known as "the Chessboard". The tragic result was some 147 casualties from the 200 men who were involved in the charge. For the balance of the time the 1st Light Horse Regiment remained at Gallipoli, the unit played a defensive role.
Western Frontier Force
After the return to Egypt, the 1st 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 1st Light Horse Regiment became a foundation member.
For the first five months of 1916, between January and May, the 1st Light Horse Regiment was deployed throughout the Nile valley to defend the Egyptian economic centres from the interruption by the Senussi infiltrating from Siwa Oasis.
Defence of Egypt
On 14 May1916, the 1st Light Horse Regiment moved to join its parent brigade, the 1st 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 1st 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 1st 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 1st 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.
The 1st Light Horse Regiment was assigned to protect the rail line and lines of communications for the first months of 1917. They missed the First Battle of Gaza but were back at the fron by 6 April 1917 and took part in the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 April 1917.
The 1st Light Horse Regiment took part in the Battle of Beersheba and then the follow up actions that lasted until early January 1918. This included such actions as the advance to Jaffa.
After the fall of Jerusalem the 1st 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. It's last major action prior to the breakout was to repel the German Asien Corps attack on Abu Telllul, 14 July 1918.
At the opening of the final Allied offensive on 19 September 1918, the 1st Light Horse Regiment took part in the invasion of the Moab hills for the third time. This time Amman was captured and finally, the Ottomans called for an Armistice on 30 October 1918.
Return to Australia
After the conclusion of hostilities, the 1st 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's 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 12 March 1919 the 1st Light Horse Regiment embarked from Egypt for the long voyage to Australia where the unit was disbanded.
Lieutenant Colonel John Baldwin Meredith Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Venables Vernon Lieutenant Colonel Thomas William (Bill) Glasgow Lieutenant Colonel Cecil Horace Granville Lieutenant Colonel George Macleay Macarthur-Onslow
Decorations earned by the 1st Light Horse Regiment
5 DSO - Distinguished Service Orders
10 MC - Military Crosses
2 DCM - Distinguished Conduct Medals
18 MM - Military Medals
42 MID - Mentioned in Despatches
8 foreign awards
Defence at Anzac
Defence of Egypt
Second Battle of Gaza
Third Battle of Gaza
Casualties suffered by the 1st 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 1st 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 1st Light Horse Regiment ended up in a different unit altogether. This list details the men's starting point in the AIF.
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre is a not for profit and non profit group whose sole aim is to write the early history of the Australian Light Horse from 1900
- 1920. It is privately funded and the information is provided by the individuals within the group and while permission for the use of the material has been given for this
site for these items by various donors, the residual and actual copyright for these items, should there be any, resides exclusively with the donors. The information on
this site is freely available for private research use only and if used as such, should be appropriately acknowledged. To assist in this process, each item has a citation
attached at the bottom for referencing purposes.
Please Note: No express or implied permission is given for commercial use of the information contained within this site.
A note to copyright holders
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has made every endeavour to contact copyright holders of material digitised for this blog and website and where
appropriate, permission is still being sought for these items. Where replies were not received, or where the copyright owner has not been able to be traced, or where
the permission is still being sought, the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has decided, in good faith, to proceed with digitisation and publication. Australian Light
Horse Studies Centre would be happy to hear from copyright owners at any time to discuss usage of this item.