Topic: BW - WA - 4WAMI
4th West Australian Mounted Infantry
Map illustrating the activities of the 4th West Australian Mounted Infantry in South Africa, 1900-1901.
[From: Chamberlain, M., The Australians in the South African War 1899-1902, Canberra, 1999.]
In 1911, Lieutenant-Colonel P. L. Murray, produced a marvellous Boer War reference detailing all the contingents sent from Australia to South Africa, giving a brief history of the formation and finally, listing all the soldiers who saw service in South Africa with that unit. The book was called, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa. It is now the standard reference and starting place for any person interested in pursuing information about Australian involvement in the Boer War.
Murray, P. L., Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, pp. 413 - 414.
Fourth (Mounted Infantry) Contingent.
By the Western Australian Government Gazette of 16th March, 1900, it was notified that the formation of a fourth Company of Mounted Infantry had been authorized, with an establishment of 7 officers and 125 of other ranks. This was the first Western Australian Contingent of Imperial Bushmen. For pay, clothing, equipment, conditions of enrolment, and service, etc., vide Imperial Bushmen, New South Wales or Victoria.
By Army Order 150 (Imperial), July, 1900, it was intimated that N.C.O: s and men of Australian and other Colonial Contingents in receipt of ordinary Army rates of pay, would obtain a gratuity of £5 when discharged medically unfit, or on account of their services being no longer required, or on the termination of their engagements. In the event of death during service, the gratuity would be credited to the estate. This gratuity was, also, to be in addition to the gratuity (if any) given to the troops at the end of the war.
Departure and Return
The Contingent left on the 8th May, 1900, comprising-7 officers, 120 others, with 132 horses. Three were killed; 1 officer promoted from the ranks; 3 officers, 35 others were struck off in South Africa; 5 officers, 81 others returned to Australia.
Captain J. Rose was promoted Major, 15th March, 1900. Lieutenant C. A. C. Newland, promoted Captain, 15th March, 1900.
Lieutenant E. Vernon, promoted Captain (Sap.), 1st April, 1902, attached to 6th Contingent.
Lieutenant E. R. Williams, promoted Captain, 8th March, 1901, and appointed to 6th Contingent.
Quartermaster-Sergeant H. N. Venn, promoted Lieutenant, 2nd March, 1901.
Corporal L. L. Reid became a Lieutenant in 8th Australian Commonwealth Horse.
For promotions of N.C.O.'s and men, vide nominal roll.
The squadron left Fremantle by the transport Manhattan on the 8th May, 1900, and arrived at Beira on the 28th. After having touched at Durban, the Contingent was landed at Port Elizabeth on 19th June, and was at ones taken to the Kroonstadt district. They served with General Clements' Column; and they were present at Bethlehem, Rhenoster Kop, and Wittebergen.
On 23rd June they joined a force under Colonel Brookfield, which was to we some very severe fighting during the ensuing three weeks. They also formed part of the 4th Regiment of Imperial Bushmen, consisting of the 4th South Australians, the 4th Western Australians, and the 4th (or more properly 3rd) Tasmanians, under Lieut.-Colonel J Rowell.
On the 3rd July, General Paget had a stiff engagement with the enemy at Leeuw Kop. In the course of the fighting the guns had been taken to the road; and, during a pause in the action, the escort had been removed to the rear. The Boers, with great skill and secrecy, delivered a sudden and furious counter-attack, in which they gained temporary possession of the guns. Captain Budworth succeeded in rallying the Australians, who had retired, and promptly brought them back. For some time there was cause for anxiety; but the period of imminent danger did not last long; it was over from the moment when, under the firing of the Australians, the Boers left the disabled guns and retreated. Colonel Rowell, having broken a rib through his horse falling, was unable to be present, and Major Rose commanded the Bushmen.
At the taking of Bethlehem, 7th July, 300 Bushmen, mostly South and Western Australians, joined in the attack, and behaved excellently. They were in the pursuit of Do Wet from Bethlehem through Oliphant's Nek. On 4th November, the regiment, which had been split up, was together again, under Colonel Rowell. It was long in General Plumer's Force, and did very good work in the operations north of Pretoria and in the Eastern Transvaal.
Upon De Wet's intention to attempt an invasion of Cape Colony being manifested about the end of January, 1901, General Plumer's troops were entrained from Brugspruit in the Eastern Transvaal to Cape Colony; and it was in a great measure due to them that the Boer General was driven out. There were many casualties in the numerous rear-guard engagements with the commandoes. After pursuing the remnant northward, Plumer's men were again entrained at Brandfort for the district north of Pretoria, and took part in the expedition to Pietersburg.
On the Pietersburg trek, and after the occupation of that place, the 4th Imperial Bushmen contributed largely to the success of operations generally in advance of Plumer's Force ; they took many prisoners and wagons, and one gun. Some of the 4th Imperial Bushmen were in the escort for a convoy which was sharply attacked by some 400 of the enemy, on the Bethal-Standerton-road, 25th May, 1901. “The escort under Colonel Galway fought with great gallantry, and completely confuted the enemy's repeated efforts to press into close quarters." (Lord Kitchener's despatch, 8th July).
On the 5th July, 1901, the Contingent departed from Cape Town in the transport Britannic, and arrived at Albany on the 20th. Disbanded on the 14th August.
War Services and Honours.
Rose, Major J.- Operations in the Transvaal and Orange River Colony between June, 1900, and July, 1901, including actions at Bethlehem, Rhenoster Kop, and Wittebergen. Queen's Modal with three clasps.
Newland, Captain C. A. C.- Operations and actions as stated. Queen's Modal with three clasps.
Barnes, Lieutenant C. A.- Operations as stated. Actions at Eland's River, Bethlehem, and Wittebergen. Queen's Medal with three clasps.
Vernon, Lieutenant E.- Operations as elated. Actions at Bethlehem, Rhenoster Kop, and Wittebergen. Police duty, under Military Governor, Pretoria. Queen's Modal with three clasps; King's medal with two clasps.
Lieutenants F. G. Hume, B. R. Williams, and H. N. Venn, and Captain (Medical Staff) W. Gibson, participated in the operations and actions generally, and obtained the Queen's Medal with clasps. Lieutenant Williams was promoted Captain, 8th March, 1901, and served with 6th Contingent, vide operations of that Contingent.
Further Reading:Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920
Citation: 4th West Australian Mounted Infantry, Outline