Topic: AIF - Lighthorse
The Australian Light Horse,
Militia and AIF
Mounted Rifle Tactics, Part 1, Preface
Cape Mounted Rifleman
[Drawing from 1904 by Richard Caton Woodville, 1856 - 1927.]
The following series is from an article called Mounted Rifle Tactics written in 1914 by a former regimental commander of the Cape Mounted Riflemen, Lieutenant-Colonel J. J. Collyer. His practical experience of active service within a mounted rifles formation gives strength to the theoretical work on this subject. It was the operation of the Cape Mounted Riflemen within South Africa that formed the inspiration for the theoretical foundations of the Australian Light Horse, and was especially influential in Victoria where it formed the cornerstone of mounted doctrine.
Collyer, JJ, Mounted Rifle Tactics, Military Journal, April, 1915, pp. 265 - 305:
[by Colonel Sir George Aston, K.C.B., late Brigadier General, General Staff, South Africa.]
South Africa has been called the home of the mounted rifleman.
Whilst it would obviously be inexpedient to apply purely local experiences to the conduct of the mounted arm under different conditions, and in countries not of a similar nature, it would be foolish entirely to ignore the lessons learned in South Africa. This, as we all know, is a country of vast expanses affording wide views, a country of rocky kopjes and krantzes, and of open veldt intersected by deep nullahs and sloots. M, any years of surface denudation have produced special conditions. The low ground affords good going for the horseman, while the kopjes, and even the tops of gentle undulations, are entirely denuded of soil, and consist of rocky outcrop, affording good cover for the rifleman, but uncommonly bad going for his horse. It is of fighting in such a country that this article treats.
Then, again, the course of lectures, upon which the chapters of this essay have been based, were delivered to South African officers destined to train mounted troops of a special nature; not regulars, but citizen soldiers who receive about four years' cadet training, followed by three weeks' recruit training and three subsequent annual trainings, each of about a fortnight. Under these conditions it was considered that arme blanche tactics, mounted, would be quite out of place in the course of instruction.
Colonel Collyer treats his subject under two headings. Chapters I. to V. deal with the tactics of mounted riflemen, and Chapter VI with reconnaissance. Chapter VII, on the bayonet for use by mounted riflemen [The chapter in question has already been published as a separate article in the Commonwealth Military Journal (see p. 135 of the issue for January, 1914), and is therefore omitted.] on foot, has been added in order to put before others the result of several very interesting discussions at Bloemfontein during the year 1912. These discussions were spread over several weeks, and amongst the speakers were numbered many officers who led troops successfully on both sides in the late war. British officers, Boor generals whose names figure frequently in the histories, Staats Artillerie officers, and others took part and made their points for and against the bayonet. At the close of the discussion a proposal to arm the Citizen Mounted Riflemen of South Africa with the bayonet was put to the vote, and was carried with hardly a dissentient voice.
Taken as a whole, these chapters show the lines upon which the training of the mounted branch is being conducted in South Africa, and they should be of interest in other parts of the world, as well as in South Africa itself.
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Citation: The Australian Light Horse, Militia and AIF, Mounted Rifle Tactics, Part 1, Preface