« October 2009 »
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
You are not logged in. Log in

Search the site:

powered by FreeFind
Volunteer with us.

Entries by Topic All topics  
A Latest Site News
A - Using the Site
AAA Volunteers
AAB-Education Centre
AAC-Film Clips
AAC-Photo Albums
AIF - Lighthorse
AIF - ALH - A to Z
AIF - DMC - Or Bat
AIF - DMC - Anzac MD
AIF - DMC - Aus MD
AIF - DMC - British
AIF - DMC - French
AIF - DMC - Indian
AIF - DMC - Italian
AIF - DMC - Medical
AIF - DMC - Remounts
AIF - DMC - Scouts
AIF - DMC - Sigs
AIF - DMC - Sigs AirlnS
AIF - DMC - 1 Sig Sqn
AIF - DMC - 2 Sig Sqn
AIF - DMC - Eng
AIF - DMC - Eng 1FSE
AIF - DMC - Eng 2FSE
AIF - 1B - 1 LHB
AIF - 1B - 6 MVS
AIF - 1B - 1 LHMGS
AIF - 1B - 1 Sig Trp
AIF - 1B - 1 LHFA
AIF - 1B - 1 LHR
AIF - 1B - 2 LHR
AIF - 1B - 3 LHR
AIF - 2B - 2 LHB
AIF - 2B - 7 MVS
AIF - 2B - 2 LHFA
AIF - 2B - 2 LHMGS
AIF - 2B - 2 Sig Trp
AIF - 2B - 5 LHR
AIF - 2B - 6 LHR
AIF - 2B - 7 LHR
AIF - 3B - 3 LHB
AIF - 3B - 8 MVS
AIF - 3B - 3 LHB Sigs
AIF - 3B - 3 LHFA
AIF - 3B - 3 LHMGS
AIF - 3B - 3 Sig Trp
AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
AIF - 3B - 9 LHR
AIF - 3B - 10 LHR
AIF - 4B - 4 LHB
AIF - 4B - 4 Sig Trp
AIF - 4B - 9 MVS
AIF - 4B - 4 LHFA
AIF - 4B - 4 LHMGS
AIF - 4B - 4 LHR
AIF - 4B - 11 LHR
AIF - 4B - 12 LHR
AIF - 5B - 5 LHB
AIF - 5B - 10 MVS
AIF - 5B - 5 LHFA
AIF - 5B - 5 Sig Trp
AIF - 5B - ICC
AIF - 5B - 14 LHR
AIF - 5B - 15 LHR
AIF - 5B - 1er Regt
AIF - 5B - 2 NZMGS
AIF - Aboriginal LH
AIF - Badges
AIF - Cars
AIF - Chinese LH
AIF - Double Sqns
AIF - Engineers
AIF - Fr - 22 Corps
AIF - Fr - 13 LHR
AIF - Honour Roll
AIF - HQ - 3rd Echelon
AIF - Marching Songs
AIF - Misc Topics
AIF - NZMRB - Sig-Trp
AIF - Ships
AIF - Ships - Encountr
AIF - Ships - Una
AIF - Wireless Sqn
BatzA - Australia
BatzA - Broken Hill
BatzA - Liverpool
BatzA - Merivale
BatzB - Boer War
BatzB - Bakenlaagte
BatzB - Belmont
BatzB - Bothaville
BatzB - Buffels Hoek
BatzB - Coetzees Drift
BatzB - Diamond Hill
BatzB - Driefontein
BatzB - Elands
BatzB - Graspan
BatzB - Grobelaar
BatzB - Grootvallier
BatzB - Hartebestfontn
BatzB - Houtnek
BatzB - Karee Siding
BatzB - Kimberley
BatzB - Koster River
BatzB - Leeuw Kop
BatzB - Mafeking
BatzB - Magersfontein
BatzB - Modder River
BatzB - Onverwacht
BatzB - Paardeberg
BatzB - Palmietfontein
BatzB - Pink Hill
BatzB - Poplar Grove
BatzB - Rhenoster
BatzB - Sannahs Post
BatzB - Slingersfontn
BatzB - Stinkhoutbm
BatzB - Sunnyside
BatzB - Wilmansrust
BatzB - Wolvekuil
BatzB - Zand River
BatzG - Gallipoli
BatzG - Anzac
BatzG - Aug 1915
BatzG - Baby 700
BatzG - Evacuation
BatzG - Hill 60
BatzG - Hill 971
BatzG - Krithia
BatzG - Lone Pine
BatzG - Nek
BatzJ - Jordan Valley
BatzJ - 1st Amman
BatzJ - 2nd Amman
BatzJ - Abu Tellul
BatzJ - Es Salt
BatzJ - JV Maps
BatzJ - Ziza
BatzM - Mespot
BatzM - Baghdad
BatzM - Ctesiphon
BatzM - Daur
BatzM - Kurna
BatzM - Kut el Amara
BatzM - Ramadi
BatzN - Naval
BatzN - AE1
BatzN - Cocos Is
BatzN - Heligoland
BatzN - Marmara
BatzN - Zeebrugge
BatzN - Zeppelin L43
BatzNG - Bitapaka
BatzO - Other
BatzO - Baku
BatzO - Egypt 1919
BatzO - Emptsa
BatzO - Karawaran
BatzO - Peitang
BatzO - Wassa
BatzP - Palestine
BatzP - 1st Gaza
BatzP - 2nd Gaza
BatzP - 3rd Gaza
BatzP - Aleppo
BatzP - Amwas
BatzP - Ayun Kara
BatzP - Bald Hill
BatzP - Balin
BatzP - Beersheba
BatzP - Berkusieh
BatzP - Damascus
BatzP - El Auja
BatzP - El Buggar
BatzP - El Burj
BatzP - Haifa
BatzP - Huj
BatzP - JB Yakub
BatzP - Kaukab
BatzP - Khan Kusseir
BatzP - Khuweilfe
BatzP - Kuneitra
BatzP - Megiddo
BatzP - Nablus
BatzP - Rafa
BatzP - Sasa
BatzP - Semakh
BatzP - Sheria
BatzP - Surafend
BatzP - Wadi Fara
BatzS - Sinai
BatzS - Bir el Abd
BatzS - El Arish
BatzS - El Mazar
BatzS - El Qatiya
BatzS - Jifjafa
BatzS - Magdhaba
BatzS - Maghara
BatzS - Romani
BatzS - Suez 1915
BatzSe - Senussi
BatzWF - Westn Front
BW - Boer War
BW - NSW - A Bty RAA
BW - NSW - Aust H
BW - NSW - Lancers
BW - NSW - NSW Inf
BW - Qld
BW - Qld - 1ACH
BW - Qld - 1QMI
BW - Qld - 2QMI
BW - Qld - 3ACH
BW - Qld - 3QMI
BW - Qld - 4QIB
BW - Qld - 5QIB
BW - Qld - 6QIB
BW - Qld - 7ACH
BW - SA - 2ACH
BW - SA - 4ACH
BW - SA - 8ACH
BW - Tas
BW - Tas - 1ACH
BW - Tas - 1TIB
BW - Tas - 1TMI
BW - Tas - 2TB
BW - Tas - 2TIB
BW - Tas - 3ACH
BW - Tas - 8ACH
BW - Vic
BW - Vic - 1VMI
BW - Vic - 2ACH
BW - Vic - 2VMR
BW - Vic - 3VB
BW - Vic - 4ACH
BW - Vic - 4VIB
BW - Vic - 5VMR
BW - Vic - 6ACH
BW - Vic - AAMC
BW - Vic - Scot H
BW - WA - 2ACH
BW - WA - 3WAB
BW - WA - 4ACH
BW - WA - 8ACH
BW Gen - Campaign
BW Gen - Soldiers
BW General
Cavalry - General
Diary - Schramm
Egypt - Heliopolis
Egypt - Mena
Gen - Ataturk Pk, CNB
Gen - Australia
Gen - Legends
Gen - Query Club
Gen - St - NSW
Gen - St - Qld
Gen - St - SA
Gen - St - Tas
Gen - St - Vic
Gen - St - WA
Gm - German Items
Gm - Bk - 605 MGC
GW - 11 Nov 1918
GW - Atrocities
GW - August 1914
GW - Biographies
GW - Propaganda
GW - Spies
GW - We forgot
Militia 1899-1920
Militia - Area Officers
Militia - Inf - Infantry
Militia - Inf - 1IB
Militia - Inf - 2IB
Militia - Inf - 3IB
Militia - Inf - NSW
Militia - Inf - Qld
Militia - Inf - SA
Militia - Inf - Tas
Militia - Inf - Vic
Militia - Inf - WA
Militia - K.E.Horse
Militia - LH
Militia - LH - Regts
Militia - LH - 1LHB
Militia - LH - 2LHB
Militia - LH - 3LHB
Militia - LH - 4LHB
Militia - LH - 5LHB
Militia - LH - 6LHB
Militia - LHN - NSW
Militia - LHN - 1/7/1
Militia - LHN - 2/9/6
Militia - LHN - 3/11/7
Militia - LHN - 4/6/16
Militia - LHN - 5/4/15
Militia - LHN - 6/5/12
Militia - LHN - 28
Militia - LHQ - Qld
Militia - LHQ - 13/2
Militia - LHQ - 14/3/11
Militia - LHQ - 15/1/5
Militia - LHQ - 27/14
Militia - LHS - SA
Militia - LHS - 16/22/3
Militia - LHS - 17/23/18
Militia - LHS - 24/9
Militia - LHT - Tas
Militia - LHT - 12/26
Militia - LHV - Vic
Militia - LHV - 7/15/20
Militia - LHV - 8/16/8
Militia - LHV - 9/19
Militia - LHV - 10/13
Militia - LHV - 11/20/4
Militia - LHV - 19/17
Militia - LHV - 29
Militia - LHW - WA
Militia - LHW-18/25/10
Militia - Military Orders
Militia - Misc
MilitiaRC - Rifle Clubs
MilitiaRC - NSW
MilitiaRC - NT
MilitiaRC - Qld
MilitiaRC - SA
MilitiaRC - Tas
MilitiaRC - Vic
MilitiaRC - WA
Militiaz - New Zealand
Tk - Turkish Items
Tk - Army
Tk - Bks - Books
Tk - Bks - 1/33IR
Tk - Bks - 27th IR
Tk - Bks - Air Force
Tk - Bks - Yildirim
Tk - POWs
Wp - Weapons
Wp - Hotchkiss Cav
Wp - Hotchkiss PMG
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
Open Community
Post to this Blog
Site Index
Education Centre
LH Militia
Boer War
Transport Ships
LH Battles
ALH - Units
ALH - General
Aboriginal Light H
Ottoman Sources

"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.

Sunday, 1 November 2009
The Australian Light Horse, Light Horse Duties in the Field, Part 4, A Criticism of the Article
Topic: AIF - DMC - Scouts

The Australian Light Horse,

Light Horse Duties in the Field, Part 4

A Criticism of the Article


Light Horse Scout in the Sinai, 1916


The following essay called Light Horse Duties in the Field was written in 1912 by Major P. H. Priestley, who at that time was on the C.M.F. Unattached List. The article appeared in the Military Journal, March 1912.

Prior to that Priestley served in South Africa 1901-2 with the 5th South Australian Imperial Bushmen in Cape Colony and Orange River Colony and was awarded the Queen's South African Medal with four clasps. During the inter war years he served with the South Australian Mounted Rifles 1900 - 1910 when he was placed on the unattached list. At the outbreak of the Great War, he enlisted with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment and embarked with "A" Squadron. He was Killed in Action on 3 May 1918.

The following is a 3 part series of this article. A fourth part was attached as his article was critiqued by Major F. A. Dove, D.S.O., A. and I. Staff, in the  Military Journal, May 1912. Both articles give valuable insights in the basic thinking around the use of Light Horse scouts, detailing both theoretical ideas peppered with experience wrung from the recent war in South Africa.

Dove, FA, Light Horse Duties in the Field - A Criticism of the Article, Military Journal, May 1912, pp. 430 - 433.


Light Horse Duties in the Field - A Criticism of the Article


In dealing with the above subject, Major Priestley gives first place, rightly, I think, to the subject of scouting. There are already alleged authorities who assert that the rise of the aeroplane has reduced the importance of scouting. Such ideas, if allowed credence, will most seriously affect the efficiency of our Light Horse. Strategical reconnaissance perhaps will soon depend more on the aerial fleet than on the cavalry corps. But as every unit in the field is responsible for its own protection against surprise, it would take an enormous number of aeroplanes to provide every division, brigade, and regiment with flying scouts. Besides, the anti-airship armament will effectually prevent those low, near-the-earth flights which alone would give satisfactory results in tactical reconnaissance anywhere except on an open plain.

Scouting is certainly the first duty of Light Horse in the field, but is often taught last, or not at all.

As it is a pet subject of mine, I welcome Major Priestley's article, and, while agreeing with the great bulk of it, must join issue with him on certain of his conclusions which are not in accordance with the lessons of my experience and study.

The following remarks are merely submitted with a view to arouse interest in a very important branch of Military Training.

Throughout the article (which deals with protective scouting only), the author insists that the scouts must never be out of sight of their troop-leader. In my opinion, scouts who cannot be trusted out of sight of their leader are not scouts at all, but mere useless appendages to the troop, pushed out as a matter of form. It follows, if they arc' to remain in view of the troop that in almost every case the enemy sees scouts and troop at the one time.

Major Priestley contemplates (apparently) using single scouts only for screening work. I found this in practice weak and wasteful of men. Two scouts acting in co-operation did better work than four acting independently. It was found in South Africa better for all purposes to send out scouts in small groups (patrols) of two, three, or four men. As long as the troop-leader can see one of the group, or a connecting file between him and them, he is "in touch" with his scouts, and the latter are not tied down to limited frontages or definite lines of advance. Scouts more than any other soldiers must have free play for initiative. If many restrictions are placed upon them, they will be constantly occupied in considering what they ought not to do instead of what is best to he done.

The necessity of working scouts in groups rather than singly is the greater in proportion as the men are less trained. In protective scouting practically every trooper has to take his turn, so that high individual efficiency in scouting is not to he expected, even in the very best squadrons. Men who are specially adapted for the work and who have studied and practised assiduously sometimes prefer to go out alone, but such men are not employed in the business we are discussing.

The author treats of the capture of his scouts (in full view of the troop leader, of course) in a matter-of-fact sort of way. Now, it is not permissible for a scout to be captured without his making a clash for liberty and a fight if cornered.

I have frequently seen determined scouts get away scatheless after riding up to almost the muzzles of the Boer rifles. Though the business of the scouts is not to fight little battles on their own, it would be a fatal mistake to let the enemy know that they have no sting. On the contrary, war is “a game for keeps," as the schoolboys say, and our scouts should be essentially combative and aggressive in dealing with the enemy's scouts and patrols in order to establish a moral superiority as soon as possible. In the early part of the war in South Africa the British scouts appeared paralysed, and really were demoralized on account of the frequency with which they were cut tip by the Boers. It will be better for us to constantly instruct our Light Horse that they should never let a chance pass of killing, capturing, or frightening the enemy's scouts, unless some very important purpose is served by permitting them to escape. Once our scouts have demoralized those of the enemy we have taken the best of all steps to protect our own farm and to facilitate the acquisition of information about the enemy.

It must be clearly understood that I am dealing only with the ordinary routine scouting in connexion with advanced, flank, or rear guards or the protection of any formed body of troops when moving.

The scouting solely for information will, I take it, is undertaken by selected and specially trained men whose work is carried on wholly or mostly far away from support, and is of a secret, stealthy nature, concealment from the enemy being almost essential to success. The writer's suggestion (page 179) for dealing with a hill difficult of ascent rather beyond the scope of a flank troop of the vanguard, and yet within long range rifle fire of the column, does not appear to me to be sound. In fact, it would cheerfully be the means of cashiering the troop-leader who would pass such a feature unsearched.

The troop-leader must take a large view of the country within his sphere of operations. Such a feature as mentioned would be observed from afar and duly considered; the troop-leader would know whether his scouts should or should not venture so wide, and if not, he would send a non-com and two or more men as a patrol to search the dangerous ground, climb to the; top if found unoccupied, and stay there until the near approach of the flank guard assured its safety.

I am not quite clear as to how Major Priestley proposes to form his screen, but the impression is of a number of troops moving abreast each with its own frontage to watch and providing for its own safety.

Personally I would have the screen composed as a rule of small patrols furnished by one or two whole troops, maintaining touch and direction from a common centre, and the remainder of the squadron in support. With a little training and practice the squadron leader can manoeuvre his whole command in a flexible formation and be in “touch" with every part, though many of his men will be constantly out of view. I have seen the type of squadron leader and even regimental commander who could not bear to have any of his men out of his own sight. Whenever a patrol was hidden by an intervening feature, he got on “pins and needles" and generally sent off another patrol to look for the first. Such a man lacks the equanimity essential in one who aspires to be a successful leader.

Coming now to part 3 of the article, dealing with the flank guard, here again I am not sure as to the methods he favours, but apparently (vide pages 181, 182) he proposes, to establish a complete chain of men 50 yards or so apart, some singly, some in troops, from the outer edge of the advanced guard to the corresponding portion of the rear guard. I do not know where he is going to get sufficient men for such a formation, which, even if completed, is absolutely weak in defensive power and fearfully wasteful of numbers. The plan was tried by both regular cavalry and yeomanry in South Africa in easy country (being clear and undulating), but always with bad results. The flank guard finally resolved itself into a procession of single troopers or groups sternly intent on following exactly behind the unit next in front and at the prescribed number of paces; scouting was out of the question, and fighting the real business of a flank guard was impossible. Further, if one man lost connexion with the scout he was following, all the hundreds coming behind might be led in a false direction. With anything more than a single regiment on the march such a system, requires too many men to be effective. A mixed brigade with guards out to front and rear would cover a length of at least 6 miles from the advanced to the rear patrols in average country. With a screen 6 miles wide in front and a similar one to the rear there would be a perimeter of 24 miles. It is easy to calculate the number of single scouts required in this case at 100 yards intervals or distance as the case may be-say 400, add the necessary supports and then the main guards, and you basically run to 2,000 men - too many to detach from a force of 4;000 to 5,000 all told.

The work of a flank guard can ordinarily be done best by the seizing and holding with just a sufficient force of a succession of defensible points on the flanks of the column. The O.C. flank guard requires to study the map before he marches out, and then both the map and the ground as his troops move along. He is only concerned with the protection of the main body; he has no direct concern with the advanced or the rear guard, and he need not keep touch with them, though if he can do so by use of signalling all the better. As all the detachments are (or should be) in constant communication with the main body, the O.C. flank guard will be informed of such happenings to front or rear that necessitate action or preparation on his part.

I hope the second paragraph on page 185 is not meant to imply that our protective troops should be content to merely watch hostile scouts who ride along parallel to and observing us. If so, it is not war. These prying gentlemen should be sent off with a “flea in their ear" in double time. I would again repeat that protective scouts should be aggressive, and not hesitate to tackle scouts or patrols not superior in numbers that attempt to bar their way or whom they can surprise. When there is time the senior scout of the patrol should inform the troop-leader of the situation before opening fire; but no hostile scout should be allowed to escape because the officer is not present to order the men to shoot. It is a mistake to think that protective troops are only intended to act defensively. The best defence always is attack.

F. S. Regulations, page 101, say

"Tactical reconnaissance is one of the most important duties of the protective cavalry, who when touch with the enemy is gained will assume a vigorous offensive, drive in the enemy's advanced troops and discover his dispositions and intentions."


Previous: Part 3, Scouts, Pointers, and Connecting Files of the Flank Guard

Next: Brigade Scouts


Further Reading:

Brigade Scouts

The Light Horse

Australian Light Horse Militia

Militia 1899 - 1920

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Australian Light Horse, Light Horse Duties in the Field, Part 4,  A Criticism of the Article

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Thursday, 10 December 2009 10:23 PM EAST

View Latest Entries

Full Site Index

powered by FreeFind
Let us hear your story: You can tell your story, make a comment or ask for help on our forum.

Desert Column Forum

A note on copyright

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.


Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

eXTReMe Tracker