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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.

Thursday, 15 May 2008
Fleas on fleas
Topic: Gen - Legends
 
A Legend from Misunderstanding
 
Fleas on fleas, the results from careless work

 

 

The results from careless work - a case study

One major problem confronting any researcher is the quality of primary research conducted by popular historians. Poor quality research and published conclusions are then picked up by the public and soon the error becomes the reality. This is readily seen with the use of the emu plume as a symbol of the Australian Light Horse during the Great War.

One thing that becomes apparent is the confusion between the 3rd LHR (Light Horse Regiment) and the 3rd (LHB) Light Horse Brigade. This confusion rears its head in many captions of pix held at the AWM (Australian War Memorial) and because of the role played by the AWM as an authoritative institution, is picked up by many people as being accurate.

 

Case #1.

 

Caption Reads - "A captured turkish water cart at the camp of the 3rd Australian Light Horse near Beersheba. The cart is pulled by an emaciated grey Turkish horse while a ridden Waler in improvised breast plate and traces, is hitched in front of the Turkish horse. Horse lines can be seen in the background. "

[From: AWM P05109.003]

 

There are a number of overt problems with the description provided by the AWM regarding this specific picture. Desptie the caption describing the men as belonging to the 3rd Australian Light Horse, nothing could be further from the truth. A quick look by someone with a bit of knowledge would ascertain that the men in this picture are clearly British Yeomanry, and in this case, at a guess, possibly from the 5th Mounted Brigade.

The distinguishing uniform features of the men in the tell the story in this circumstance. They are wearing the pith helmet, rifle buckets and more importantly, they have puttees on their legs, items only worn by the Yeomanry. The Australians had discarded the pith helmet very early during the Sinai campaign and they never wore puttees, always leather leggings.

Just as an aside, all water casks captured from the Turks were ordered to be burnt. This was a great necessity as the containers were usually disease ridden. A couple cases of cholera ended any desire to retain Turkish water holders. The destruction was to ensure they did not end up in Turkish hands again either by accident or capture nor would they be available to carry cholera to the Allied troops.

 

Case #2

The poor ol' 3rd LHR get going over. They are attributed as taking part in many photograph captions regardless if they were no where near to be found. Such poor captioning brings up the realisation that there is a certain lack of quality control where the culture is more "near enough is good enough" and "say anything because the average person reading the site really wouldn't know". This is indicative of a culture that aims to gets quantity rather than quality from the dollar. It seems to work like this - if you employ professionals, they cost money, so basic wage staff will do the same for less money. This may seem like good economics within the organisation but the knock on effects to the broader community are dreadful. It is instrumental in passing on poor and corrupted information from one source to another, each compounding the error and feeding that error back as a confirmation.

To illustrate, I looked at the Hurley Collection and sure enough, an error made by a less than thorough historian or caption writer created an error which is then recycled in the public as well as scholarly works, thus adding to the apparent authenticity of the original mistake. We will use one of the famous pics take by the Official War Photographer, Captain Frank Hurley during his tour of Palestine at the end of December, 1917.

Here is the picture:

 

Four unidentified members of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment machine gun in action at Khurbetha-Ibn.

[From: AWM P03631.087]

 

Picture details displayed by the AWM at the time of writing, 15 May 2008:

ID Number: P03631.087
Maker: Hurley, James Francis (Frank)
Place made: Palestine
Date made: 31 December 1917
Physical description: Colour
Summary: Four unidentified members of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment machine gun in action at Khurbetha-Ibn. This image is a colour Paget Plate. The same image is available in black and white and is held at B01697.



Now let's test out the veracity of this caption. It should be easy.

The 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment War Diary is online and kindly provided by the AWM, a service which can only be described as of the highest order and most commendable as it is the life blood of most researchers - the December 1917 War Diary pages are found at this address:

http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/AWM4/10/AWM4-10-8-37.pdf


Let's see what it says:

"Jisr Esdud, 31/12/17, Detailed working party of 1 NCO & 15 men to report to Lt Jones Field Troop, at watering area at 0900 to deepen troughs. Details party of 1 NCO & 6 men as Guards on the drinking water."


This is the simple part. A quick check of a map will reveal that  Khurbetha-Ibn and Jisr Esdud are no where near each other. Indeed, the former is in the Judaean Hills while the latter is on the coast, two very different locations. Added to this, there is no mention of deployment of any machine gunners from the 3rd LHR in their War Diary.

So who was at Khurbetha-Ibn?

Well, one will find that at a place named Khurbetha Ibn Harith were elements of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade and indeed the 3rd Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron deployed near the Beit Sira area, nearby the headquarters at Khurbetha Ibn Harith. Here is what the 3rd LHB War Diary says for that very day:

"The relief of the Brigade by the 29th Infantry Brigade commenced at 0900 but owing to the steep and rocky nature of the country was not completed until 1600.

"At 2000 the Brigade was concentrated in the vicinity of Kefr Rut. Instructions were received that the withdrawal of the Brigade to Katra would commence at 1100 on 2nd January, 1918, and that the Brigade led horses would reach Brigade Headquarters at 1000 that day."

This entry gives a hint as to the formation that actually was at  Khurbetha Ibn Harith, the 3rd Light Horse Brigade. There is a substantial difference between a "Regiment" and a "Brigade", the most significant difference being at that time being was a Brigade was composed of three Regiments, thus making the Brigade a larger formation and thus quite different in nature. The structure of the Light Horse in Egypt and Palestine may be seen discussed in general terms at The Australian Light Horse - Structure while the complete structure of the Australian Light Horse forces deployed is found here at Australian Light Horse Order of Battle.

Let us go one step further and meet Trooper Henry Bostock of the 10th LHR. Fortunately for us, he left a diary.

 

 Trooper Henry Bostock's Diary Entry of 30 December 1917

 

And now we go to the personal diary of Henry Bostock of the 10th LHR. He was a 3rd LHB Scout and was delegated to provide an escort for Hurley on 30 December 1917 to the front lines to take his pictures. Here is what Bostock says:

"I escorted Brig Gen Wilson & Capt Hurley OWP around the front line."

Finally we look at the diary of Frank Hurley himself. During these days he talks only of being escorted around by General Wilson of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade. Not one mention of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment.

 

Frank Hurley's Diary, 31 December 1917

[From: Manuscript No. 883 - Frank Hurley Diary,  p. 128]


The relevant pages of the Hurley diary are available on the National Library of Australia site. 

So now we know - the men in the photograph are members of the 3rd Light Horse Machine Gun Squdron [3rd LHMGS] at Beit Sira.

One final piece of the puzzle. Hurley's team filmed this particular event.

 

Extract from the Hurley film of the 3rd Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron in action.

[To view the film clip, click on this link or on the above picture. Note: the clip is 5 mb in length.]

 

One look at the movie produced of the event and the still photograph indicates that it is one and the same event. Hurley was filming and photographing the 3rd Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron in action in the Judaean near Beit Sira, not the machine gunners from the 3rd Light Horse Regiment.

"Regiment" or "Brigade" - who cares and what is the difference anyway?

The 3rd LHR was part of the 1st LHB NOT the 3rd LHB. Two totally different formations. This is clearly seen when reading the Australian Light Horse Order of Battle.

Now the impact on external research and publications.

We now go to the book by Benjamin Z Kedar, The Changing Land - Between Jordan and the Sea - Aerial photographs from 1917 to the present, and then open at p. 102. where we see the Hurley picture published in this excellent volume.

 

Benjamin Z Kedar, The Changing Land - Between Jordan and the Sea - Aerial photographs from 1917 to the present, p. 102.

 

The caption to the picture on this page reads:

"The Third Australian Light Horse Regiment machine gun in action northwest of Beit Sira, 31 Dec 17. (Frank Hurley's color photo)"


Now we have the same error initiated by the AWM being perpetuated by Kedar. These are fleas on fleas. Goodness only knows where this corruption will head to but if publications such as these rely upon the AWM caption, which they have, then the editors relied upon poor information. But this mistake has now become reality.

And so it goes on.

This is not meant to pick on the AWM since there are other institutions who present this information in a flawed format. The list is long and the mistakes almost endemic. It presents the question: "If only the experts can determine the accuracy of a statement, what chance has the ordinary punter got?"

It is through producing a quality product that we honour our ancestors and the work and sacrifices they endured and in so doing, we honour ourselves.

The culture is clearly - "near enough is good enough" which is clearly not good enough.

 

Further Reading:

The Australian Light Horse - Structure

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle

Fleas on fleas - The results from careless work - another case study

Myths and Legends

 


Citation: Fleas on fleas - The results from careless work - a case study

Posted by Project Leader at 10:46 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 25 July 2010 12:30 PM EADT
Great War, Queensland History, Embarkation from Townsville to Enoggera
Topic: Gen - St - Qld

Great War

Queensland History

Embarkation from Townsville to Enoggera

 

In September 1914, more embarkations from Townsville occurred. This time, the recruits were heading south for training at Enoggera, a training base to the west of Brisbane.

 

Marching down Sturt Street, Townsville.

[From: The Queenslander, 5  September 1914, p. 27. ]

 

This is the group of young hopefulls marching west along Sturt Street just past the Post Office building on the corner of Sturt and Denham Streets. This area now is all part of Flinders Mall although the old buildings have been preserved with a boutique brewery located in the old Post Office building. One thing that is not apparent in many other similar departure pix is the number of onlookers riding horses to get a better view of the parade.

 

Marching down Stokes Street, Townsville.

[From: The Queenslander, 5  September 1914, p. 27. ]


The parade has now turned left into Stokes Street and are moving south east to cross the Victoria Bridge over to Palmer Street and onto the wharf. One thing that really stands out is the poor condition of the road itself. If you look carefully, you can see all the fearsome ruts in what appears to be a macadamised earthen track. The buggies appear to have created a traffic jam.

 

Listening to the Speeches at the wharf, Townsville.

[From: The Queenslander, 5  September 1914, p. 27. ]

 

All the hopeful soldiers in muftee are lined up on the wharf in anticipation of saying farewells and boarding the ship. This is when they would have heard all the patriotic speeches.

 

Last Farewells at the wharf, Townsville.

[From: The Queenslander, 5  September 1914, p. 27. ]

 

The farewells. This rather awkwardly posed pic tries to demonstrate all the different ways people said farewell. However, the men look very uncomfortable in their new uniforms - probably the only couple who actually had a uniform of sorts. The dower women look stoic and expressionless. This is totally the opposite of the previous pix showing a more tumultuous farewell. Indeed, I would guess that after the pic was taken, these folk went back to making their farewells a tad bit more filled with emotion and expression.


The only difference between this deployment and one which occurred in 2006 to Timor, some 92 years later, is that in 1914 at least the people in Townsville knew that the men were leaving and were given an opportunity to say farewell. In 2006, the ship left in the dead of night and no one knew officially that the troops had departed until 3 weeks later, although the empty beds and no telephone responses indicated something had happened to the soldiers. That's progress for you.

 

 

Further Reading:

Great War, Queensland History

Great War, August 1914

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Great War, Queensland History, Embarkation from Townsville to Enoggera

Posted by Project Leader at 12:15 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 24 July 2010 5:39 PM EADT
9th LHR AIF War Diary, 15 May
Topic: AIF - 3B - 9 LHR

9th LHR, AIF

9th Light Horse Regiment

War Diary, 15 May

Pro Gloria et Honore - For Glory and Honour

Regimental March -  Marching Through Georgia

 

 

The following entries are extracted and transcribed from the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, the originals of which are held by the Australian War Memorial. There are 366 entries on this site. Each day has entries as they occurred from 1914 to 1919. In addition to the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, when appropriate, entries from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary and other regiments with the Brigade will also appear. Entries from the unit history, Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924 will also appear from time to time. The aim is to give the broadest context to the story and allow the reader to follow the day to day activities of the regiment. If a relative happened to have served in the regiment during the Great War, then this provides a general framework in which the individual story may be told.

 

The Diary

 

1914

Friday, May 15, 1914

See 4th Military District, South Australia for militia activities.

 

1915

Saturday, May 15, 1915

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Heliopolis Camp, Egypt.

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary -  No entry.

Carew Reynell Diary - At 2300, Saturday 15 May we marched out of Camp and proceeded to Helmieh Station and entrained at midnight.

3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary - 1900 Entrained Helmieh Siding.

 

1916

Monday, May 15, 1916
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Roadhead, Serapeum.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Lieutenant R Wilkinson, Adjutant, attached for duty to General Staff, Anzac Mounted Division for one month's instruction.
Lieutenant HS Pender to act as Adjutant.

 

1917

Tuesday, May 15, 1917
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Abasan el Kebir
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 100 all ranks were sent to ablution area near watering troughs at 1100 for bathing and to wash clothes.
At 1400 the Regiment less “C” Squadron attended a demonstration of Gas when the Divisional Gas Officer explained the different effects on us and then gave a practical test of all Gas Helmets the Regiment wearing their helmets being marched through gas allowed to escape from cylinders. This demonstration was held ½ mile south of Brigade Headquarters at Abasan el Kebir.
 

1918

Wednesday, May 15, 1918
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Auja Bridgehead defences
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 0030 Information received that an Indian Lancer post on the right had been driven in. Later information received that the enemy had withdrawn to foothills at dawn.
2000 Our artillery carried out practice barrage in front of our own wire. Turner, Captain Chaplain RC, proceeded on leave to Jerusalem.

 

1919

Thursday, May 15, 1919
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Zagazig
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 0700 Advance party personnel comprising El Abbasa Post proceeded to Tel el Kebir.
Shaw, Lieutenant OJ, marched out of A Details, Moascar for ten per cent United Kingdom leave.
1300 Aikman, Lieutenant GE; and, party returned from Alexandria.

 


Previous: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 14 May

Next: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 16 May

 

Sources:

See: 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Contents
Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy

 

Further Reading:

9th Light Horse Regiment AIF

Bert Schramm Diary

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 15 May

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 26 July 2010 10:34 AM EADT
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Great War, Queensland History, The departure of the Kennedy Regiment
Topic: Gen - St - Qld

Great War

Queensland History

The departure of the Kennedy Regiment

 

At the outbreak of war, the Kennedy Regiment was mobilised for war service. Being a Militia unit, and thus filled with conscripts, it was not permitted to serve outside Australian territory. The Kennedy Regiment embarked for Thursday Island to defend the wireless station.

 

Marching over Victoria Bridge, Townsville.

[From: The Queenslander, 22  August 1914, p. 30. ]

 

The Kennedy Regiment's march through the town and over the Victoria Bridge.

 

Marching over Victoria Bridge, Townsville.

[Picture by Bill Woerlee. ]

 

The scene looks a little bit different today. I thought a comparison between August 1914 and August 2005 might be just in order. I took this shot on a similar spot as a comparison. Very little change has occurred at this spot.

 

Speeches at the Wharf, Townsville.

[From: The Queenslander, 22  August 1914, p. 30. ]

 

The mandatory speeches to whip the crowd into patriotic enthusiasm. The finale: "God save the King!" This moment was captured here.

 

Boarding the Ship, Townsville.

[From: The Queenslander, 22  August 1914, p. 30. ]

 

Getting the troops on board the ship. These are the last few hours of getting the ship ready for sailing. The men on board are calling out to their loved ones and friends final messages. These moments were quite noisy for all concerned. One can only imagine what is going on in everyone's minds. Parents harbour grave fears for their sons while girl friends and wives are unsure as to when they will see the man they care for again. The members of the Kennedy Regiment will be feeling excited at a new adventure but nervous as to the fate that awaits them.

 

The Ship Embarks, Townsville.

[From: The Queenslander, 22  August 1914, p. 30. ]

 

As the ship moves into the shipping lane, people follow along for as far as they can go. In the background, the outline from the hills of Magnetic Island look like the bottom of a curtain as it descends upon the final scene.

 

Further Reading:

Great War, Queensland History

Great War, August 1914

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Great War, Queensland History, The departure of the Kennedy Regiment

Posted by Project Leader at 10:44 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 24 July 2010 5:56 PM EADT
Great War, Queensland History, 1st Garrison Battery, Townsville, August 1914
Topic: Gen - St - Qld

Great War

Queensland History

1st Garrison Battery, Townsville, August 1914

 

1st Garrison Battery on Parade, Townsville.

[From: The Queenslander, 22  August 1914, p. 30. ]



Officers of the 1st Garrison Battery, Townsville.

[From: The Queenslander, 22  August 1914, p. 30. ]

 

The above photograph is a nice study in the uniforms worn by these men.

The volunteers formations at Townsville were quick off the mark to demonstrate their ability to present a sound defence to see off the lurking forces of the Kaiser. At Fort Kissing Point, located overlooking Cleveland Bay, just behind the Rock Pool on the Strand in Townsville, the 1st Garrison Battery held a public parade.

 

 

Further Reading:

Great War, Queensland History

Great War, August 1914

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Great War, Queensland History, 1st Garrison Battery, Townsville, August 1914

Posted by Project Leader at 10:32 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 24 July 2010 7:11 PM EADT

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