Topic: Militia - LHN - 1/7/1
New South Wales Lancers
History, 1900 to 1912
New South Wales Lancers [1885 - 1903]
1st (New South Wales Lancers) Australian Light Horse [1903-1912]
7th (New South Wales Lancers) Australian Light Horse [1912-1919]
1st (New South Wales Lancers) Australian Light Horse [1919-1929]
1/21st Australian Light Horse [1929-1935]
1st (Royal New South Wales Lancers) Light Horse Machine Gun Regiment [1936-1942]
1st (Royal New South Wales Lancers) Armoured Regiment [1942-1948]
1st Royal New South Wales Lancers [1948-1956]
1/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers [1956- ]
[The elephant's head used on the badges is taken from the family crest of Lord Carrington, Governor of New South Wales from 1885 - 1890 and was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Regiment from 1885 until 1928.]
Tenax in fide - Steadfast in Trust
Allied with: King Edward's Horse (The King's Overseas Dominions Regiment).
The following history is extracted from Vernon, PV, ed., Royal New South Wales Lancers 1885 to 1985, Sydney 1986, pp. 63 - 79.
Chapter 4 Reorganised 1900 to 1912
The opening of the new century found the New South Wales Lancer Regiment a unit widely known and held in high repute within and beyond the confines of its own State. The leadership of such men as Colonel M. M. Macdonald, Lieut-Colonel James Burns, Major W. L. Vernon, and other officers who were held in high regard in civil as well as in military life, had infused in the ranks a fine spirit of pride in their regiment, loyalty to their leaders and a readiness to devote much of their time to the service which they had chosen as their hobby. Moreover, the unit had had for some years the advantage of the experience of instructors from the British Army, most of whom had seen active service, and its training had benefited greatly from the work of these men. As an instance of the amount of time the trooper was expected to devote to regimental duties, the Parramatta Half-Squadron, in the late nineties, held two night parades per week which all ranks were expected to attend; in addition, on being admitted into the regiment as a trained soldier after his six months' training in the recruits, a man was expected to make himself available for parades whenever called. Public interest in the Lancers was comparatively high and many were the tournaments and displays expected of them, such as at the annual Sydney Highland Gathering on New Year's Day.
From about December 27 1900, the Lancers, as part of the Mounted Brigade, were encamped at what was then the Moore Park Rifle Range, Paddington, in connection with the inauguration of the Commonwealth and the attendant celebrations. On January 1 1901 there was a monster military procession from the Domain to Centennial Park where the first Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun, was to be sworn in. Interest and colour galore were added by the presence in the procession of representative detachments of 27 British and 24 Indian units and corps, each in their own particular full dress uniform. The Governor-General himself was escorted by a squadron of the N.S.W. Lancers, half from Sydney, half from Parramatta, under Major W. L. Vernon, Captains J. Spencer Brunton and F. H. King, and Lieutenant R. C. Mackenzie.
The overseas detachments included 155 British and Indian cavalrymen. As the Aldershot squadron had drawn 110 horses from the British cavalry for their training while in England, Colonel Burns saw an opportunity for a return gesture arid, on behalf of the regiment, offered to horse the visitors during the month they would be in Sydney. He was promptly backed by Captain Charley of Richmond who undertook to find 20 horses, Mr Tulloch of Scone, 10, and Major Taylor of Lismore, 12. For the remainder he looked to each half-squadron to bring extra mounts when they came to camp-mounts of not less than 152 hands; "if we get many light horses they will have to be given to the Indian cavalry who usually ride very light animals". Hopes of a profitable sale after the camp was over were apparently not realised; in a letter to the assistant adjutant-general Colonel Burns mentioned that "the regiment horsed nearly 200 of the visiting mounted troops at considerable expense", and elsewhere he referred to the "considerable loss".
In May 1901 the Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V) visited Melbourne to open the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. New South Wales and the other States sent military contingents to represent them in Melbourne, Major W. L. Vernon being in command of the N.S.W. Mounted Brigade's detachment of 215 all ranks, which included the Lancer band. Later, His Royal Highness toured New South Wales; in Sydney the Lancers provided escorts for him on several occasions as did the Australian Horse on others; also the Newcastle Half-Squadron of Lancers had a similar privilege when he visited their city.
In 1902, from March 28 to April 1, the regiment carried out continuous training in three groups. No. 5 (Lismore-Casino) Squadron camped at Lismore; No. 4 (Maitland-Singleton) Squadron, the Newcastle Half-Squadron and the band camped at Newcastle; Nos 1, 2, 3 and 6 Squadrons, with "A" Battery, constituted a "flying column", which after concentrating at Parramatta, carried out a trek for three days.
At this period Captain George L. Lee, who had commanded the active service squadron in South Africa with the rank of major, was staff officer (i.e. adjutant), N.S.W. Lancers. Captain Timothy was acting-adjutant while Captain Lee was overseas, and again for a period in 1902. Captain (Brevet-Major) M. A. Hilliard, D.S.O., was appointed staff officer as from September 12 1902.
The Lancers, less Nos 4 and 5 Squadrons and Newcastle Half-Squadron, camped at Clarendon Racecourse, near Richmond, with portions of the Mounted Rifles and Australian Horse Regiments from April 10 to 14 1903. The northern detachments held their camps again at Lismore and Newcastle.
In 1901 the responsibility for defence passed. from the States to the Commonwealth Government. But the complete reorganisation was not put into effect until July 1 1903. Formerly, some of the units had been Volunteers, receiving no pay for their services; some had been Militia, as they were known in Victoria, or Partially Paid Corps, as they were known in New South Wales. In the latter colony the Lancers and the Mounted Rifles had been on the Partially Paid List since 1890, and the 1st Australian Horse since 1900. From 1903 all the mounted regiments were placed on a militia footing. They became organised and trained as light horse, or mounted rifles, which type of unit had achieved great popularity during the South African War and was championed by Major-General Sir Edward Hutton, Commanding the Military Forces of the Commonwealth. The light horse role was the one to which most of the Australian regiments were already accustomed, exceptions being the Lancers and the 1st Australian Horse, which were both cavalry - the term "cavalry" here being restricted in meaning to "horsemen possessing, in addition to their fire-power, an 'arme blanche', and trained in shock action mounted". Prior to 1903 the designation "mounted infantry" had been used by some units which were really light horse. As these two terms are sometimes confused, definitions derived from Sir Edward Hutton's foreword to the Mounted Service Manual for Australian Light Horse and Mounted Infantry, 1902, are given:
Light Horse, or Mounted Riflemen -
horsemen trained to fight on foot. They are required (a) to fight on foot offensively and defensively, (b) to perform reconnoitring and screening duties, (c) to afford protection from surprise for all bodies of troops, both halted and on the march. To fulfil their role successfully they must be, among other things, daring and bold horsemen, careful horsemasters, and possessed of both cohesion and individuality.
Mounted Infantry -
infantry soldiers temporarily provided with increased powers of locomotion, organised either as sub-units of infantry battalions or as larger units so as to form adjuncts to an independent mounted. force for the performance of purely infantry service. The personnel must be carefully selected infantry soldiers who have been thoroughly trained in all respects as such. They will be required to carry out a limited amount of reconnoitring and scouting duties.
It is agreed that the term "light horse" in its most general application has a wider meaning than that in the definition above; for instance, it may include "light cavalry" and "light dragoons".
During 1902, while details of the new organisation were being worked out they were under much discussion and aroused considerable misgivings within the regiment, as shown by letters between squadron officers and between squadron leaders and Colonel Burns. There was apprehension about the name of the regiment being changed, the regiment being split into two and the assumed abolition of the lance due to the troopers having to carry rifles on their backs. The regiment did not see eye to eye with Sir Edward Hutton in these matters and Colonel Burns expressed his views strongly to Sir Edward. However, by the end of the year plans were fairly well settled and Colonel Burns wrote to his officers explaining the plans and reminding officers that it was their duty to carry out the wishes of the State and Federal general officers commanding. He went on: "A report has been received from Captain Purves [Captain J. M. Purves, quartermaster, an original member of the Sydney Light Horse, 1885.] who kindly attended the Commonwealth Clothing Board in Melbourne. If the present Lancer Regiment is retained in two battalions and we are allowed to follow the English lancer regiments in the carrying of the rifle, then the whole difficulty of the position disappears and I assume that all would gladly and loyally adhere to the regiment with which many of us have been so long and so happily associated." In Captain Purves's report he summarised a long conversation he had had with Sir Edward Hutton in Melbourne, in which a number of aspects of the reorganisation were touched on. ". . . I told him that we were all very much averse to the division of our regiment, which you in particular together with many others had done a great deal to bring to a high state of efficiency and which it must be allowed had made a considerable name for itself, and so sever a connection between the officers and men that was dear to us all; also that we were very much against the name being changed as in that way we would lose our identity.... If it was insisted that the rifle should be carried on the backs of the men we would lose a large proportion if not the majority of the troopers.... With regard to the sword he absolutely condemned it and I told him that as far as the Lancers were concerned we would be very willing to give it up." At that time Sir Edward had not decided how the rifles would be carried; he had the small mounted infantry bucket in mind - "It would depend very much upon the mode adopted by English cavalry."
In due course the expansion of the three regiments in New South Wales into six light horse regiments was effected, the primary weapons being Lee-Enfield magazine rifles and bayonets; for tradition's sake the Lancers retained lances and swords for ceremonial and tournaments, and the Australian Horse retained swords. The six regiments, with designations and headquarters as under, were grouped in two brigades, namely:
1st Australian Light Horse Brigade (Colonel J. Burns)1st A.L.H. Regiment (N.S.W. Lancers), Parramatta (Lieut-Colonel W. L. Vernon)
2nd A.L.H. Regiment (N.S.W. Mounted Rifles), Sydney (Lieut-Colonel J. W. Macarthur-Onslow)
3rd A.L.H. Regiment (Australian Horse), Goulburn (Lieut-Colonel J. A. K. Mackay, C.B.)
2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade (Colonel H. B. Lassetter, C.B., from 1904)4th A.L.H. Regiment (N.S.W. Lancers), Maitland (Major W. C. Markwell)
5th A.L.H. Regiment (N.S.W. Mounted Rifles), Lismore (Lieut-Colonel C. E. Taylor)
6th A.L.H. Regiment (Australian Horse), Armidale (Lieut-Colonel H. B. Lassetter, C.B.)
Territorial designations of the regiments in the 2nd Brigade were altered in 1907 to:
4th A.L.H. - Hunter River Lancers
5th A.L.H. - N.S.W. Northern Rivers Lancers
6th A.L.H. - New England Light Horse
Each of the three pre-Federation regiments thus lost some of its centres to the new units. The Hunter River and Northern Rivers squadrons of the Lancers went to the 4th and 5th A.L.H. Regiments respectively.
A standard pattern of uniform for each arm and service was introduced and the principle was that the soldier would be provided with a service uniform for general use, and a full or ceremonial dress, by the addition to the service dress of aiguillettes or breastlines, girdle, plastron (according to the type of unit) . For light horse the service uniform was brown with white facings, with which were worn bandolier equipment, 1903 pattern, and tan leather leggings. Photographs show, however, that the 1st A.L.H. Regiment was still using the old pattern of bandolier up to 1909. The new uniforms only gradually replaced the old Lancer service dress with red piping but by 1906 the regiment was equipped throughout with the new. The 3rd continued to use the Australian Horse myrtle green uniform and both the 1st and 3rd continued to use their existing regimental full dress which they maintained, in respect of other ranks, from regimental funds, while officers provided their own.
From 1903 the squadrons of the 1st were: No. 1, Sydney; No. 2, Parramatta; No. 3, Robertson and Berry; No. 4, Richmond and Windsor. The total establishment of headquarters and four squadrons was 310 of all ranks; in addition were the band at Parramatta and attached, from 1905, No. 5 (Albion Park - Shellharbour) Squadron of garrison mounted troops.
Camps of eight days' duration were held annually in March or April - 1904 and 1905 at Clarendon, 1906 at Liverpool, 1907 at Casula. Those in 1904 and 1907 were brigade camps.
On November 14 1904, on the occasion of the King's Birthday Royal Review in Melbourne, the Governor-General presented King's Colours by direction of His Majesty to each of the 18 regiments of Australian Light Horse, the Royal Australian Artillery and the Australian Army Medical Corps. The party which proceeded to Melbourne to receive the colours on behalf of the Lancers consisted of Brevet Lieut-Colonel C. F. Cox, C.B., Regimental Sergeant-Major G. E. Morris, D.C.M., and Squadron Sergeant-Major J. S. Dooley.
In 1908 His Majesty approved of the grant of the honorary distinction "South Africa" to a number of light horse and infantry regiments, and to the Victorian Rangers, with the years in which the unit was represented in that country during the war by not less than 20 men.
The following were included:
1st A.L.H. Regt (N.S.W. Lancers) – “South Africa, 1899, 1900-1-2".
2nd A.L.H. Regt (N.S.W. Mounted Rifles) – “South Africa, 1899, 1900-1-2".
3rd A.L.H. Regt (Australian Horse) - "South Africa, 1899, 1900".
4th A.L.H. Regt (N.S.W. Lancers) – “South Africa, 1899, 1900-1-2".
5th A.L.H. Regt (N.S.W. Mounted Rifles) – “South Africa, 1899, 1900-1-2".
6th A.L.H. Regt (Australian Horse) - "South Africa, 1899, 1900".
Military Order No. 123 stated: "Instructions have been received that the Banners presented to the Australian Light Horse Regiments, Royal Australian Artillery, the Victorian Rangers and the Australian Army Medical Corps are not King's Colours, but honourable insignia of valuable services rendered in South Africa in 1899 to 1902, and the Honorary Distinctions are not to be borne upon these Banners." The wrong term stuck, however, and in 1924, when the banner of the New South Wales Lancers was being deposited in St John's Church, Parramatta, it was officially and continually referred to as a "King's Colour".
At the Royal Review in Melbourne in 1904, already referred to, the Governor-General presented a challenge trophy to representatives of the Australian Light Horse regiments on behalf of the Prince of Wales, Colonel-in-Chief of the 18 regiments. This trophy became known as the Prince of Wales Cup. It was competed for first in 1906, in which year it was won by a troop of the Hawkesbury (4th) Squadron of the Lancers. The team consisted of Captain Brinsley Hall, a sergeant and 12 other ranks. The cup was not won again by the Lancers until 1931.
Lieut-Colonel Cox became commanding officer on 1 October 1906.
The annual band allowance had been cut down from £250 to £150 when the Commonwealth took over in 1903. This did not mean any lessening of enthusiasm, however, as the entirely voluntary attendance of the band members at the camp of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade (then under Colonel W. L. Vernon) at Anambah in 1907 amply proved. The bandmaster at that time was Sergeant Watters, and as neither he nor his men received any pay for their attendance all present felt that in spite of certain inevitable changes the true spirit of service remained unshaken in the regiment. At this Anambah camp there was an elimination contest to decide which troop would represent the 2nd Brigade in the Prince of Wales Cup competition. The Tenterfield Troop of the 6th A.L.H. was chosen and went on to win the final and the cup; it was commanded by Captain J. M. Reid who later served as a squadron leader in the 1st Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F., and was killed at Gallipoli.
In 1908 the Ulladulla Half-Squadron of garrison mounted troops, formerly attached to the 2nd Australian Light Horse Regiment, was attached to the 1st. Also in 1908 approval was given to raise a pom-pom section and a Colt machine gun section, which latter had its orderly room at Artarmon for a while.
The 1st and 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigades were to have gone into camp together at Liverpool from April 28 to May 7 1908. Owing to an exceptionally severe drought, however, the Railway Commissioners were obliged to notify the military authorities that the rolling stock necessary for the movement of troops would not be available, the trucks being required for starving cattle. This was very unfortunate for the light horse, as the dates of the camp had been fixed months before, and officers and men had made their business arrangements to enable them to get away for that period.
An extract from the Report on the Annual Continuous Training of the 1st and 2nd A.L.H. Brigades, issued with District Order 124 of 1908, reads:
An opportunity, however, of effecting the concentration offered itself soon after, when the announcement of the visit of the Fleet of the United State of America to Australia was made, and the General Officer Commanding, immediately called upon the Brigadiers to advise him whether the regiment under their commands would be enabled, at that time of the year (i.4 August) to muster for a period of twelve days Continuous Training. , The Brigadiers later informed the General Officer Commanding that the ... were assured of a good attendance....
The camp, therefore, was arranged for the period extending from August 11 to 22. But on the latter date the division was to route march to Sydney for the Fleet celebrations until August 25, so that the concentration really lasted for two weeks and one day.
With the exception of the Sydney, Parramatta and Hawkesbury Squadrons of the Lancers who marched in by road, the troops arrived during the night of August 10-11 by 14 troop trains.
Commanders and some of the staff personnel were:
G.O.C. Division: Brig.-General J. M. Gordon, C.B. (State Commandant).
A.A.G. & C.S.O.: Lieut-Colonel C. F. Bartlett.
D.A.A.G.: Lieut-Colonel C. G. H. Irving.
D.A.Q.M.G.: Major Wallace Brown.
Chief Instructor: Lieut-Colonel G. L. Lee, D.S.O. (late N.S.W. Lancers).
S.M.O.: Lieut-Colonel T. H. Fiaschi, D.S.O. (late R.M.O., N.S.W. Lancers).
P.V.O.: Major A. P. Gribbin.
1st AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE BRIGADE
Commander: Colonel J. W. Macarthur-Onslow, A.D.C..
Brigade Major: Major J. S. Brunton (N.S.W. Lancers).
Instructional Staff Officer: Captain R. C. Holman, D.S.O..
1st A.L.H.: Lieut-Colonel C. F. Cox, C.B..
2nd A.L.H.: Major A. J. Onslow Thompson.
3rd A.L.H.: Lieut-Colonel G. de L. Ryrie
2nd AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE BRIGADE
Commander: Colonel W. L. Vernon, V.D. (late N.S.W. Lancers).
Brigade Major: Major P. P. Abbott.
Orderly Officer: Captain F. C. Timothy (N.S.W. Lancers).
I.S. Officer: Captain C. H. Brand.
4th A.L.H.: Lieut-Colonel W. C. Markwell.
5th A.L.H.: Major F. G. Fanning.
6th A.L.H.: Lieut-Colonel the Hon. R. Carrington, C.V.O., D.S.O. [Lieut-Colonel the Hon. Rupert Carrington (Zulu War, 1879; South African War, 1901-02), brother of Lord Carrington, honorary colonel of N.S.W. Lancers, whom he succeeded in 1928 as the 4th baron.]
Localities from which the six regiments were drawn:
Attached (not in camp) -Albion Park
Attached (not in camp) -Canterbury
4th A.L.H.West Maitland
(No. 4 Squadron not yet formed)
The strength of the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment in camp was 285, and of all six regiments, 1,655.
The camp syllabus included, inter alias brigade drill, brigade tactical schemes and field firing, divisional tactical scheme, inspection by Governor-General on Macquarie Fields, August 17, field manoeuvres in which one brigade was pitted against the other, divisional drill and evening lectures to officers and non commissioned officers.
The field firing was part of the tactical scheme which was carried out by the two brigades on successive days. The ranges varied from 800 yards down to 650 yards for one regiment, to nearly 1,000 yards for another. The 1st Australian Light Horse gained the highest percentage of hits to rounds fired, though it must be stated that they shot under easier conditions. Finally, there was practice with the pom-poms and Colt guns then on issue. It was the first time these had been used by the light horse, and the performance left much room for improvement.
The review of the division by the Governor-General, attended also by the State Governor, Sir Harry Rawson, was a fine spectacle, but witnessed by only a handful of onlookers. It was a very raw day, and the wind blew the music back into the instruments of the massed bandsmen. At the conclusion of the review, Lord Northcote accepted an invitation to dine with Colonel Onslow and the officers of 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade, while Sir Harry Rawson had dinner with Colonel Vernon and the officers of the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade.
It is interesting to note that the Australian Horse (3rd A.L.H.) still held by their traditional myrtle green uniform for service dress, exchanging rifle for sword when in "review order", whereas the other regiments all used khaki.
The Prince of Wales (later King George V) being the Colonel-in-Chief of the 18 regiments of Australian Light Horse, the two brigadiers sent the following cablegram to him:
H.R.H. Prince of Wales, London.
New South Wales Brigadiers first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth regiments Australian Light Horse send loyal greetings to their Colonel-in-Chief and appreciate the affiliation of Empire Regiments.
Onslow, Vernon, Brigadiers, Sydney.
The reply received on August 18 read:
Brigadiers Onslow Vernon Australian Light Horse, Sydney.
My sincere thanks for kind greetings of my six regiments. George P.
The affiliation referred to in the first cable was the affiliation of the six New South Wales regiments with the "King's Colonials, Yeomanry", announced in the Commonwealth Gazette, June 20 1908. The King's Colonials, whose headquarters were in London, consisted entirely of colonials. The first regiment to affiliate was the 8th (Princess Louise's) Hussars of the Canadian Militia. Mr Crawford Greene of landra, Grenfell, who was largely responsible for the New South Wales affiliations, took advantage of this affiliation to train with the 2nd Brigade during his stay in Australia, and Colonel Vernon attached him to his staff during the 1908 camp.
On August 19 manoeuvres were carried out in which, for the first time in Australia, one mounted brigade was pitted against another. The manoeuvre area was bounded on the north and west by George's River, on the east by the South Coast Railway and on the south by the catchment area. The ground was a great rectangular area of, say, 200,000 acres, the whole being rough and rugged and intersected by a river and several creeks. The 2nd Brigade moved during the preceding day to bivouac sites at and near Helensburgh, while the 1st Brigade remained at Liverpool; the main bodies were thus 18 miles apart at the zero hour. The 2nd Brigade advanced according to plan and pressed back the forward parties of the 1st Brigade, despite a very good ambush laid by 3rd A.L.H. Regiment; later there were fierce encounters at close quarters and galloping melees. Blood was up on both sides and when the time limit was reached the 1st Brigade was spiritedly resisting the onslaughts of the 2nd Brigade, but the latter had won the day.
The next day was a quiet one in camp; the horses were in need of a rest. Of 800 horses in the 2nd Brigade, 150 were suffering from colds. Then followed, on August 22, a night march from Liverpool to Sydney, where the division re-encamped at Moore Park in connection with the United States Fleet visit.
Three escorts were provided on August 21, when the official landing and public reception to the U.S. Navy representatives took place in the Outer Domain. Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Poore, Commander of the Australian Squadron of the Royal Navy, was first to arrive, with an escort of Australian Horse. The Governor-General and State Governor followed with a New South Wales Lancer escort and, finally came Rear-Admiral Sperry, U.S. Navy, with Mounted Rifles escort.
The following day the review provided a fitting climax to the period of training which the six regiments had just undergone, and as a spectacle of its kind this review is never likely to be equalled in Sydney. A press report gives a glimpse of the scene: "On the right of the front line were the British tars in serviceable blue and the red marines. Then came the Commonwealth Naval Brigade and on their left the long line of Americans - 2,600 United States marines and sailors. In the centre of the line proudly waving in the breeze were the Star - Spangled Banner and the blue flag of the Admiral. Behind the visiting contingent stretched the long line of light horse. They had just completed a fortnight's hard training and looked fit for anything. But they were now out for show. On the flank the fluttering red and white pennons, red breast and puggarees and white pouch-belts showed where the 1st A.L.H. had been transformed into Lancers. In the centre of the line the myrtle green of the Third Regiment and the flashing sabres told where the Australian Horse had become cavalry by substituting swords for their rifles. On the right of the cavalry were the Australian Field Artillery. Behind were the four Australian infantry regiments, the R.A. Artillery, Garrison Artillery, Engineers, Signals, Army Medical and Army Service Corps. In the rear were the six regiments of volunteers - the red tunics and kilts of the Scottish Rifles, the khaki of the Australian Rifles, the red of the St George's Rifles, the green of the Irish Rifles, and the Sydney University Scouts." In front were the massed bands, including those of the N.S.W. Lancers and the Australian Horse.
The reviewing officer was the Governor-General, while the parade was commanded by Brigadier-General J. M. Gordon. The following figures are extracted from the Field State of the review:
1st Australian Light Horse Brigade - Brigade Staff - 4 men.
1st Australian Light Horse Regiment - 354 men.
2nd Australian Light Horse Regiment - 306 men.
3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment - 304 men.
2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade - Brigade Staff - 3 men.
4th Australian Light Horse Regiment - 293 men.
5th Australian Light Horse Regiment - 187 men.
6th Australian Light Horse Regiment - 306 men.
Total Light Horse - 1,757 men.
Grand total, all arms and services - 13,228 men.
After the whole parade had been inspected and had marched past, the light horse marched past at a trot and finally the dismounted troops advanced in review order. In the afternoon the mounted units marched through the city, and on the next day there was a military gymkhana at the Royal Agricultural Showground, at which the 1st Regiment won three out of five events open to the light horse.
When the new Governor-General, the Earl of Dudley, arrived in Sydney on September 9 1908, the Lancers provided the usual escort. In fact, the Sydney Squadron was so frequently called upon to provide a vice-regal escort that it could provide one at 24 hours' notice. It was only a matter of notifying the men, who were well drilled and needed no rehearsing.
In those days the militia were paid for eight days' home training and eight days in camp each year. As the Light Horse camp which was to have been held in April 1908 had been cancelled, the funds earmarked for it were paid back into the Treasury, and the Fleet camp in August was paid from the vote for 1908-09. As it was a longer camp than usual, a correspondingly less amount of money was available for home training during the rest of the year and the training suffered to some extent. Press cuttings show that there was a good deal of indignation at this. Many considered that the unspent money for the year 1907-08 should have been carried forward, and because of the shortage of funds the Light Horse had no camp from August 1908 until January 1910. Schools of instruction for N.C.O's, however, were held under Captain C. H. Brand, Instructional Staff.
Field Marshal Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, G.C.B., O.M., G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E., arrived in Australia in 1909, at the invitation of the Commonwealth Government, to inspect the existing military forces and system in Australia, and give the Government the benefit of his experience and advice regarding its latest scheme of defence. The main feature of this scheme was that every able-bodied citizen, within certain age limits, should be trained to defend his country. And in due course this principle was adopted.
Lord Kitchener visited military camps in every State. The assembly of troops in those camps was arranged to meet his convenience, and, although the season was not, perhaps, the most suitable for either the men or their employers, good musters were obtained everywhere.
The "Kitchener Camp" for New South Wales troops, excluding certain garrison units, was held at Liverpool from January 5 to January 12 1910. It was attended by the 1st and 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigades, field and garrison artillery, engineers, 1st Australian Infantry Brigade (four regiments), Intelligence Corps, Signal Corps, Army Service Corps, Army Medical Corps, Army Veterinary Corps and the Volunteer Automobile Corps. Special District Order No. 5, February 14 1910, records inter alia the following attendances:
1st Australian Light Horse Brigade Staff: Establishment - 4 men; Strength at date of camp - 4 men; Average daily attendance - 3 men.
1st A.L.H. Regiment: Establishment - 390 men; Strength at date of camp - 364 men; Average daily attendance - 325 men.
2nd A.L.H. Regiment: Establishment - 346 men; Strength at date of camp - 321 men; Average daily attendance - 262 men.
3rd A.L.H. Regiment: Establishment - 310 men; Strength at date of camp - 297 men; Average daily attendance - 262 men.
1st Australian Light Horse Brigade Totals: Establishment - 1,050 men; Strength at date of camp - 986 men; Average daily attendance - 852 men.
2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade: Establishment - 862 men; Strength at date of camp - 822 men; Average daily attendance - 636 men.
The normal establishment of a light horse regiment was 310, and there were four squadrons. In the case of the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment there were the attached garrison mounted troops making two extra squadrons (No. 5, Albion Park-Shellharbour; No. 6, Ulladulla), while the 2nd Australian Light Horse Regiment had Canterbury (garrison) , which accounts for their higher establishments.
Lord Kitchener spent two days in the camp. Arriving on the morning of January 6, he went almost immediately to see the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade at field-firing which was being carried out as a tactical exercise with the necessary attached troops, in the country towards Appin. Then he returned by motor car to the vicinity of the camp to watch the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade at drill, the infantry, artillery and others.
On the following day all units in camp combined in manoeuvres under the direction of Lord Kitchener. The general idea was that all available troops (a "Brown" force) were ordered to follow up the advantage gained on the previous day when the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade had pursued the enemy towards Eckersley. The "enemy" turned out at 2 a.m. to get into position; it comprised a convoy of transport waggons and its escort of one squadron 1st A.L.H. Regiment, two infantry companies and two guns. At 5.30 a.m. the "Brown" force main body left camp, advanced through the rough bush south of Greenhills and in due course attacked the reported convoy on each flank with a light horse brigade and frontally with the infantry. It was a good morning's training, with the usual accidents such as breakdown of lateral communications in the rough, broken country.
Lord Kitchener was noted for seeing all and saying nothing - or next to it. It has been said that the sphinx-like field marshal paid only one compliment on his first day in the camp. While the 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment was drilling he rode between the squadrons, watching the movements for a moment. "How long have these men been drilling together?" he asked Lieut-Colonel Markwell. "This is the first time since August 1908, sir," was the reply. "They are doing it excellently," he said, his wandering eye ranging far over the commanding officer's head, as he shook his horse into a canter.
An interesting experiment was carried out in conjunction with the tactical exercise of the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade on Monday, August 10. The project being tested in camps at this time was one by which it was hoped to overcome the serious difficulty of providing transport for the mobile divisions. It involved the enlistment of the sympathies of civilian owners of horses and carts in country military districts who would, for a nominal annual retainer, provide transport for the units of the defence force in their own localities. Each owner was to be asked to provide horses, vehicles and drivers, and to place them under the direction of the military authorities during the period of mobilisation for which they were engaged.
For the test at Liverpool, the small mixed convoy available was loaded up for the purpose of the trek with anything that came handy, from an engine boiler to half a ton of firewood or a few bags of forage. It first made a rendezvous with the 5th Australian Light Horse Regiment at Flat Rock Crossing on Harris Creek, and then, as part of the tactical exercise, worked its way back to Liverpool by a different route. Rough bush tracks with short, steep hills of sand and rock were negotiated. But some of the country drivers were used to worse than that. One lightly-loaded, four-horse waggon came to grief over a log, and a long delay occurred while a broken pole was patched up. On service, with an enemy in attendance, that waggon would have been a source of much trouble. This incident showed that civilian transport was too light in its make to stand up to service conditions. Had these waggons and carts been fully loaded, they would never have got up the Irving Avenue hill without assistance.
After this day's test it was decided that the civilian transport scheme would not, in practice, measure up to army requirements.
On the final day of the camp there were combined manoeuvres. The 1st Infantry Brigade and 1st A.L.H. Regiment had to defend Liverpool against the remainder of the two light horse brigades. The attacking force came from the direction of Eckersley, and some hot fighting ensued, especially around Greenhills. The work was instructive in so far as it gave the light horse a chance to operate in rough and unknown country. It also gave the infantry an opportunity to defend a four-mile front against an enemy of mobile mounted riflemen. But it finished unsatisfactorily. When the time limit was reached at 12.45 p.m., the invaders' main force had not come in contact with the defenders. Had the light horse started from the camp that morning at 4 a.m., instead of 6 a.m., there would have been time for a decision to be reached. Either the main body of the attackers, nearly five regiments strong, which was being thrown in a wedge against the defenders' centre, would have won through in their dash for Liverpool, or they would have been held by the defenders whose reserve, the 4th Australian Infantry Regiment, was in a handy position.
In February 1910 Lieut-Colonel W. C. Markwell, V.D., retired from command of the 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment after 25 years' service. He joined as a trooper at Maitland on August., 2 1885, and his son, Captain Jack Markwell, was in 1939 serving in the same regiment, the 16th Light Horse (Machine Gun) Regiment. Another old lancer relinquished his command when Colonel W. L. Vernon was transferred to the Unattached List or August 11 1910. He was succeeded as commander of the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade by Lieut-Colonel the Hon. Rupert Carrington C.V.O., D.S.O.
The officers of the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment in 1910 were:
Honorary Colonel: Earl Carrington, P.C., G.C.M.G.
Lieut-Colonel C. F. Cox, C.B.
Major R. McEvilly, V.D. (who was later offered command)
Major R. C. Mackenzie, Adjutant (C.O., 1911-14)
Captain Brinsley Hall
Captain James McMahon (C.O., 1914-21)
Captain F. E. Stowe
Captain C. D. Fuller (C.O., 6th L.H., A.I.F.)
Captain W. T. Charley
Captain E. A. K. Hudson
Captain E. A. Blow
Lieutenant J. D. Wood
Lieutenant R. Bruce Walker
Lieutenant J. Milling
Lieutenant L. D. Phillips
Lieutenant H. V. Vernon (C.O., 1921-26)
Lieutenant P. Connolly
Lieutenant A. J. Mills (C.O., 1926-27)
Lieutenant J. Dooley
Lieutenant J. H. Warby
Lieutenant H. F. R. Dunstan
Lieutenant K. L. Mackenzie
Lieutenant J. Raftery
Lieutenant W. Cox
Lieutenant C. R. Dunster
Lieutenant J. C. Allison
Medical Officer: Captain P. Fiaschi [Hon. Colonel P. Fiaschi, O.B.E., V.D., a son of Hon. Brig.-General T. H. Fiaschi.]
Mention should be made of the New South Wales Lancer Association which was formed in the nineties, and which was a flourishing institution up to 1914. Each squadron formed its own branch and every member was expected to become and remain a financial member. Its activities included the organising of social functions, the managing of a benevolent fund for the benefit of men injured during camps, and the provision of extra amenities during camps. One of its services was the engagement of the chef of Paris House, a Sydney restaurant of class, to cook for the men in camp; the chef would assume, for the duration of the camp, the name of some trooper who was unable to attend. The annual Lancer Ball of each respective squadron was a function of note in those days, those held at Paddington Town Hall (by the Sydney Squadron) and at Parramatta being of particular interest. Portion of "Bobs Hall" (so named after Lord Roberts) at the Lancer Barracks, Parramatta, was turned into a comfortably furnished "common room" for the "other ranks" with the assistance of the Lancer Association.
Regimental camps were held in 1911 and 1912 at Liverpool, and during 1911 troops were formed at Penrith and Luddenham. The organisation of the regiment then became:
1st Squadron - Sydney
2nd Squadron - Parramatta
3rd Squadron - Berry, Robertson
4th Squadron - Richmond, Windsor, Penrith
5th Squadron - Albion Park, Shellharbour, Ulladulla
6th Squadron - Penrith, Luddenham
During the camp of 1911, recalls Bandsman L. C. Wellings (later town clerk of Manly for 35 years) , it was customary for First Post to be announced by the firing of a field gun and Last Post to be sounded by the trumpeters. However on one night the gun, having been loaded, was fired by wireless from a distance of 50 yards or more, which in those times was a truly novel feat - so much so that some to whom the phenomenon was new were at first inclined to suspect trickery until an explanation was given. During the same camp there was another incident which was of historic interest. W. E. Hart, Australia's first certificated aviator, flew his aeroplane, a Bristol biplane, from Parramatta to the camp, which was the first flight made in connection with a military camp or operation in Australia. As a precaution against the possibility of a stampede all ranks were required to stand to their horses on the approach of the aeroplane.
On 1 October 1911 Lieut-Colonel C. F. Cox, C.B., was placed on the Unattached List and Major R. C. Mackenzie was given command of the regiment.
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Australian Militia Light Horse
Citation: New South Wales Lancers, Reorganised 1900 to 1912