"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
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"H" Coy, 2nd Btn, VMR and the 1893 Queensland Flood Topic: Militia - LHV - 11/20/4
11th/20th/4th Australian Light Horse
The Queensland Flood Appeal, 1893
In February 1893, "H" Company Second Battalion, Victorian Mounted Rifles was located in Hamilton, western Victoria. The town of Hamilton had heard the calamitous news about a massive flood in Queensland. Below is an exchange which illustrates the Australian ethos of helping out the people in need at a time of crisis.
The first item is a story published in the The Brisbane Courier on Friday, 3 February 1893, while the event was still unfolding. The reason for this is to illustrate the immediate nature of the commentary in the article. The reporting of the event is only a few hours old and told by a person who was witnessing the events as they were occurring.
The Brisbane Courier, Friday, 3 February 1893
A transcript of the article follows:
FLOODS IN SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND.
Any hopes that may have been entertained as to an improvement in the weather yesterday were doomed to disappointment, for the rain in Brisbane proved heavier than on any preceding day since it began. During tho twenty-four hours ended at 9 o'clock yesterday morning 3.18in. were registered at Wickham-terrace Observatory, but at Bulimba the record was 4.80in, and at Bowen Park 4.41in. At 9 o’clock last evening Wickham-terrace reported 2.66in. for the preceding twelve hours, and the rain was then falling at the rate of 0.35in. per hour.
The most serious aspect of last evening’s news lay in the reports of heavy rains and high floods in the Upper Brisbane and its tributary the Stanley. As will be seen from tho telegrams published below, the high flood mark of 1890 must have been reached if not exceeded, and the water was still rising. Every preparation must, therefore, be made for a severe flood in the city, as a few hours will bring these waters past our doors. The only relieving feature appears to be that the Bremer and other southern tributaries of the Brisbane are not likely to swell the volume of flood waters so much as they sometimes do. In Brisbane yesterday morning the tide was only 18in. above high-water springs; but every preparation was made by wharf owners and others as far as possible to remove property beyond reach of the water. In the Booroodabin Division Mr. Leney, tho board's clerk, went round last evening and warned tho people in threatened localities. He was able, through the kindness of Mr. G.C. Horstmann and Mr. H.J. Oxley, to offer them shelter in vacant houses on high ground, and some availed themselves of the offer last night. It may be hoped that the example thus set will be followed while there is yet time, and that much suffering may thus be avoided. Many owners of vacant houses on high land would, doubtless, be glad to place them at the service of tho local authorities in such a time of need.
The heaviest rain appears to have been experienced oh the coast between Moreton Bay and Keppel Bay, and the high figures of the preceding day at Yandina and Landsborough were thrown into insignificance by the record of 20in. in twenty-four hours at Yeppoon. Ten inches wore registered at Emu Park.
Gympie, Maryborough, and Bundaberg have all suffered more or loss severely, but tho state of the telegraph lines makos it impossible to get details at present. Mr. Wragge's experiences on board the Buninyong off the Northumberland Islands, between Mackay and Keppel Bay, are thus described in a telegram sent by him to Brisbane yesterday:-
"Passed through centre of terrible hurricane when off Northumberland group of islands; barometer at sea level and corrected about 28.6in. Providential escape, due to most skilful navigation; never seen such awful weather before."
The response from Hamilton
Following the floods, committees all around Australia sprang up to donate funds to assist the stricken Queenslanders. Eventually over £50,000 was raised throughout Australia within the month.
We then travel to Hamilton, a small town in the western portion of Victoria. The letter needs little explanation as the details of their activities are clearly spelt out.
"H" Company Second Battalion, Victorian Mounted Rifles letter of Monday, 27 February 1893.
[Click on letter for larger version.]
A transcript of the letter follows:
Headquarters "H" Company Second Battalion VMR 27/2/93
From the Officer Commanding "H" Company To the Adjutant, VM Rifles
At a meeting held in the Town Hall last Thursday evening to consider what steps should be taken to assist the sufferers in the great flood in Queensland.
It was resolved that each Club, Society and Station be written to asking them to do their share in making the contribution as large as possible.
"H" Company of Mounted Rifles wish to do what they can in the matter by holding a Tournament in aid of the above object, but their efforts would be useless unless free passes were issued to outside competitors, as we have to depend on the other branches of the force to make it a success.
Could this not be made a special case and passes granted to bonafide competitors from a distance?
I have the honour to be Sir Your Obedient Servant RA Algie Sgt Major For Officer Commanding "H" Coy 2nd Battalion VMR.
Dates referred to in letter
Thursday, 23 February 1893
Monday, 27 February 1893
"H" Company Second Battalion, Victorian Mounted Rifles. In 1903 it became 4th Squadron, 11th Australian Light Horse Regiment and then after 1912, "C" Squadron with the 20th Australian Light Horse Regiment.
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