"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
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Thursday, 12 November 2009
The Australian Light Horse, Notes on Cavalry Principles, Spanish Cavalry Training. Vol. IV, 1910 Topic: AIF - Lighthorse
The Australian Light Horse
Notes on Cavalry Principles
Spanish Cavalry Training. Vol. IV, 1910
The big news in the study of Light Horse methods and theory in 1910 was the new edition of Volume IV, Spanish Cavalry Training called Reglamento provisional para la Instruction tactics de las Tropas de Caballeria. It was published by the Spanish General Staff, Madrid, 1910. The nub of its message was quickly adapted for Australian conditions. The salient points were then made available to the Light Horse.
This summary was published in the Military Journal, April, 1911, p. 97
Volume IV of the Spanish Cavalry Training deals with " Combats and Manoeuvres"; it superseded the 1901 edition.
The strategic handling of cavalry does not come within the scope of the book, which deals exclusively with the tactical handling of the arm.
The dominant feature is insistence on the value of the spirit of the offensive as exemplified in phrases such as "inaction is the only unpardonable sin." About 20 pages out of 131 are devoted to dismounted action, it being stated that mounted action is the rule, dismounted action the exception.
The following are some of the points dealt with:-
Cavalry v. Cavalry.
The approach march is to be conducted in successive "bounds" covered by protective bodies, composed of sections or squadrons. The actual conduct of the fight must depend on the attendant circumstances, but the following principles should be adhered to:-
(a) A definite plan of attack should be formed best suited to the ground, the forces available and the enemy's dispositions.
(b) The force should be divided into different groups of combat, each with a distinct mission.
(c) Unanimity of action must exist between the various groups. It may be necessary to keep connexion between them for this purpose, but such connexion is not to interfere with the carrying out of the mission assigned to each group.
(d) The troops should be disposed in depth.
Cavalry v. Infantry.
The elements of a successful attack on infantry are as follows:
(2) The enemy's physical exhaustion;
(3) Weakness of the enemy's fighting power owing to a weak firing line, shortage of ammunition, change of position, &c.
It would be most foolish to launch cavalry against unshaken infantry without fire preparation. But cavalry, with its attendant horse artillery and machine guns, now possesses such increased fire power that it is by no means impossible that it may defeat hostile infantry without assistance.
This increased fire power must not, however, be abused; it has not altered the fundamental principle of cavalry employment which is offensive action. Fire should be used to develop that principle, not as a substitute for it.
In the attack the employment of dismounted cavalry is not altogether dissimilar to that of infantry. They should advance in skirmishing order and will occupy successive fire positions. The method of advance should usually be by section rushes. Supports should not usually be employed, but a mounted reserve should be kept in hand to be used either mounted or dismounted, as circumstances may direct.
In the defence the firing line should usually occupy the crept line, unless there is much dead ground, when it should be advanced along the forward slope.
The efficiency of cavalry action depends on the position of the cavalry during the different phases of action. During the preliminary reconnaissance cavalry take a leading part in the reconnaissance work, after which they should be withdrawn to the line of the reserve. During the decisive attack cavalry must be energetically employed in co-operating with the other army to force a decision.
Outline of the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade, AIF
Formed in August 1914 as part of the 1st Contingent and attached to the Australian Division, the 1st Light Horse Brigade was made up of Light Horsemen from four different states. This was the only Brigade recruited from a majority of men drawn immediately from the Militia formations within the various states. The Regiments included:
The 1st Signal Troop was composed exclusively from Victorians from the Militia 10th and 21st Signal Troops.
1st Light Horse Field Ambulance
The 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance was formed with two sections: "A" Section recruited in Melbourne which included some 20 students from the Richmond Agricultural College; and, "B" Section recruited in Sydney and composed to a greater extent by Militia members from the 28th Light Horse Field Ambulance.
1st Light Horse Brigade Train
The 1st Light Horse Brigade Train was primarily recruited around Brisbane and trained at Enoggera. After Gallipoli, this unit underwent some name changes from 1st Supply Section in February 1916 to 32nd Australian Army Service Corps Company in February 1917.
6th Mobile Veterinary Section
After the formation of the Anzac Mounted Division, the three individual Regimental Veterinary sections were brigaded to form the 6th Mobile Veterinanry Section.
1st Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron
In July 1916, all Regimental Machine Gun Sections were to be excised 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.
Artillery support was provided for the 1st Light Horse Brigade from British batteries. The first British battery attached to the Brigade was the 3rd (Territorial Force) Horse Artillery Brigade, Leicester Battery. This battery remained until the re-organisation of February 1918 when the Leicester Battery was replaced by the British 18th Royal Horse Artillery Brigade, Somerset Battery
1st Light Horse Training Regiment
Formed in Egypt during March 1916, this unit trained incoming reinforcements while allowing the wounded and sick a place to recover before returning to active service. The Training Regiment contained three squadrons, each duplicating the Regiments within the Brigade to whom it supplied the reinforcements. The Training Regiment was disbanded in July 1918 to be replaced by the Anzac Light Horse Training Regiment when recruits were no longer tied to a Regiment but placed in a general pool of reinforcements called the General Service Reinforcements.
1st Light Horse Double Squadron
Formed Egypt 6 July 1916 from 1st Light Horse Brigade reinforcements. It was officered and administered by the 1st Light Horse Brigade. This Double Squadron was broken up in November 1916 with the men being transferred to the newly formed Imperial Camel Corps Battalions.
The Brigade embarked to Egypt during the months of September and October 1914. In Egypt additional training occurred at the Mena Camp.
See:Troop transport ships for information and photographs about the various ships employed in transporting the troops to Egypt.
To assist with identification of 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 Brigade 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 Brigade was plain white.
1st Light Horse Brigade Colour Patch
The individual units attached to the 1st Light Horse Brigade carried the white colour as a lower triangular part of the colour patch, the unit itself having their colour on the top. This is illustrated with the above description about each individual unit.
Brigadier General Henry “Harry” George Chauvel 15 August 1914 to 6 November 1915.
Brigadier General Charles Frederick Cox 6 November 1915 to 13 March 1919.
Formed Australia August 1914.
Attached to the New Zealand and Australian Division from December 1914 to April 1915. Attachment ceased on the Division's deployment to Gallipoli.
Attached to the New Zealand and Australian Division at Gallipoli from May 1915 to February 1916.
Attached to the Anzac Mounted Division March 1916 until March 1919.
The Brigade returned to Australia in March 1919. As each Regiment arrived in the specific home port, they were disbanded.
The following list details all the embarkations in support of the 1st Light Horse Brigade, 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 Brigade ended up in a different unit altogether. This list details the men's starting point in the AIF.
The 9th Light Horse Regiment was formed as part of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade, 3rd Contingent and attached to the Australian Division. The 9th Light Horse Regiment was a composite regiment with two squadrons made up by recruits from the 4th Military District [South Australia and the Broken Hill region of New South Wales] while the last squadron, "C" Squadron was composed of men from the 3rd Military District [Victoria].
The 10th Light Horse Regiment was formed as part of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade, 3rd Contingent and attached to the Australian Division. The 10th Light Horse Regiment was made up by recruits entirely drawn from the 5th Military District [Western Australia].
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.
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