Topic: BW - WA - 2WAMI
2nd West Australian Mounted Infantry
Map illustrating the activities of the 2nd Western 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. 403 - 404.
Second Mounted Infantry Contingent.
On 20th December, 1899, the formation of a second Company of Mounted Infantry for service in the war, was sanctioned by the Western Australian Government. Period of engagement, one year, but subsequently extended (Western Australian Government Gazette, 8th March, 1901). Establishment -One captain, 3 subalterns, and 50 other ranks. Clothing, kit, etc.., as before, but adapted to mounted men ; also rates of pay, except that there was an addition of staff sergeants, 10s. per diem, and warrant officers, 11s. 6d. per diem. It was further notified that pensions to widows of officers and warrant officers, and compassionate allowance to their children, pensions for wounded, etc., would be such as might be considered and allowed by the Imperial Government from Imperial funds ; and that officers, warrant officers, N.C.O.'s, and privates had no claim on the Western Australian Government in such respect.
An increase in the establishment to 125 of all ranks was sanctioned on 8th January, 1900. Men between the ages of 20 and 34 were qualified for enlistment.
Departure and Return.
The Company departed on 3rd February, 1900, comprising - 8 officers and 97 others, with 125 horses, 1 spring cart, and 1 wagon. Five officers, 21 others, were struck off in South Africa; 5 officers, 72 others, returned to Australia. (Four officers promoted from ranks.)
Captain H. L. Pilkington to Major, 21st December, 1899; to Lieut.-Colonel, (local in South Africa), 15th August, 1900.
Lieutenant R. T. McMasters, to Captain, 10th March, 1900.
Lieutenant S. Harris, to Captain (local in South Africa), lot March, 1900.
Lieutenant S. A. Oliver, to Lieutenant, lot March, 1900; to Captain, 25th. February, 1901. Joined South African Constabulary, 12th April, 1901.
Lieutenant L. D. P. Potter, Sergeant, ___; Lieutenant, 1st March, 1900. Joined South African Constabulary.
Sergeant A. H. Barclay, to Lieutenant, 29th May, 1900.
Sergeant J. S. Duffy, to Lieutenant, 25th March, 1901.
Corporal P. C. Collins obtained a Lieutenancy in South African Constabulary, 7th March, 1901.
Corporal J. A. Bullock, promoted Lieutenant, Bush Veldt Carbineers, 7th March, 1901.
Private C. W. Williams, to Lieutenant, 11th December, 1900; served in 5th Contingent.
Private S. S. Reid, to Lieutenant, 8th March, 1901; served in 6th Contingent.
Quartermaster-Sergeant G. St. G. R. Beresford became Lieutenant, 8th Australian Commonwealth Horse, 5th May, 1902.
Private R. D. W. Esdaile became Lieutenant, 4th Australian Commonwealth Horse.
For promotions of N.C.O.'s and men, vide nominal roll.
This Contingent embarked in the transport Surrey on 3rd February, 1900, at Fremantle, and arrived at Cape Town on the 24th. They proceeded to the Prieska district in March, and were amongst the troops engaged in dealing with an organized disaffection. The rising having been put down, some of the Western Australian force continued to operate in that district during part of April.
The 2nd Western Australians were with General Pole-Carew's Column from the advance from Bloemfontein to the engagement at Belfast ; and with Colonel De Lisle's Column after engagement at Belfast during the remainder of their term. It is rather difficult in some respects to disassociate their service from that of the 1st.
The Company arrived at Bloemfontein in time to take part in the advance to Pretoria in May. At Bloemfontein they were attached to General Pole-Carew's 11th Division, in which they served from let May to the end of October, with the exception of a few weeks about the end of June and beginning of July, when they were detached to assist on the lines of communication in the Orange River Colony, The 2nd were in action at Brandfort, 3rd May ; Vet River, 4th; Zand River. 9th and 10th; Vaal, 26th; Johannesburg, 28th, 29th, 30th ; 6-Mile S raft, 4th June ; Silverton, 8th ; Diamond Bill, 11th and 12th June ; and Belt, 27th August.
The Westralians were heavily engaged at Diamond Hill. In his telegram of the 16th June, Lord Roberts said. said. --" Botha's army has retired, believed to MiddeIburg. His rearguard was surprised and thoroughly routed by Ian Hamilton's Mounted Infantry, chiefly Western Australians, and the 6th Battalion."
On the 16th July, a party of the 2nd Western Australians at Pienaar's Pont, on the left of General Pole-Carew's position east of Pretoria, successfully repelled a Boer attack.
The 2nd took part, under General Pole-Carew, in the advance from Pretoria to Komati Poort, starting about the 23rd July. They had fighting in the Belfast district on 27th August, and frequently thereafter. In his telegram of 13th September, Lord Roberts remarked that the Western Australian had been seeming in front of Pole-Carew's Division. They were said to have been the first to discover much railway material and other valuable stores near the Poort. They were present at a review on a large scale held there on 28th September. After their stay in that neighbourhood, they were employed about Machadodorp, where they suffered some casualties throughout October.
On the 7th November the Company left Cape Town in the transport Woolloomooloo, and arrived, on the 8th December, at Fremantle. Disbanded on 7th March, 1901.
Note:- Although the bulk of the Company left as stated, some remained and were employed in Cape Colony, assisting to drive out the invaders. At Klipplaat, on 5th February, 1901, Lieutenant Oliver had been sent in command of a small force of twelve of the 7th Dragoon Guards, twelve Western Australians, and three Cape police, to carry despatches from Colonel Haig to another leader. The little party was surprised by several hundred of the enemy. They kept up a steady fire, as occasion served, from 11 a.m. until sundown, but eventually were all overpowered. Four dragoons were killed, and Lieutenant Oliver and several others wounded.
The last of the Contingent appear to have steamed for Australia, under Lieutenant Duffy, on 31st March.
Further Reading:Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920
Citation: 2nd West Australian Mounted Infantry, Outline