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"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.

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Sunday, 15 March 2009
Peitang, China, September 25, 1900
Topic: BatzO - Peitang


China, 25 September 1900


Peitang, the only combat operation involving Australian troops sent to northern China at the time of the Boxer Rebellion, was fought on the shores of the Gulf of Chihli (now called the Bohai Wan) 40 kilometres east of Tientsin on 25 September 1900. The Australians were members of a naval brigade offered to Britain in June, at the time that a multi-national force was being assembled to lift the siege of foreign embassies in Peking (now Beijing) by a Chinese cult of extreme nationalists nicknamed `Boxers'. The brigade, comprising 200 men from the naval forces of Victoria and another 260 from those of New South Wales, arrived on 8 September and was absorbed within the British contingent of the international field force, with their quarters at Tientsin.

By this stage, however, most of the fighting was already over. Troops of the eight participating powers had landed on the China coast in mid-June, captured Tientsin a month later, and relieved the besieged diplomatic missions in the capital a month after that-whereupon military resistance from the Boxers quickly dissipated. Not until a fortnight after their arrival did the
Australians have any prospect of seeing action. On 24 September, 300 men of the brigade (150 from each colony) formed part of a four-nation force of $,000 men-1,700 provided by Britain-which was ordered to move against the Chinese fort at Peitang.

Moving initially by lighter down the waterways towards the coast, the next day the Australians were obliged to travel the last 30 kilometres by foot. Urged on by the sounds of battle• ahead and the sight of rising pillars of' smoke, they covered the remaining distance in a gruelling forced march. All this effort proved wasted when, coming across a Russian field hospital at E, p.m., they learnt that the Russians had gone ahead and stormed the fort on their own an hour earlier. The only consolation to be had was that the Chinese had chosen not to hold the position in strength, but left a single four-man gun crew to delay the attackers; this they had achieved, at the cost of their lives, while the Russians suffered seven men killed and 30 wounded.

During the following month the Victorians took part in a similar expedition to capture par,-zing fu (now Baoding), the capital of Chihli Province situated about 115 kilometres south-west of Beijing. This also did not see any Australians come under fire, as on the forces approach Chinese officials surrendered the city without offering any resistance. Thereafter the Australians filled only garrison duties at Beijing and Tientsin until their return home.

Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 86-87.


Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:

Bob Nicholls (1986) Bluejackets and Boxers, Sydney: Allen & Unwin


Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Peitang, China, September 25, 1900

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 5 April 2009 11:55 AM EADT
Hartebeestfontein, South Africa, February 18 to March 21, 1901
Topic: BatzB - Hartebestfontn


South Africa, 14 February-21 March 1901


Hartebeestfontein, an action fought on J 8 February 1901 (during the Second South African War) about 25 kilometres north-west of Klerksdorp in western Transvaal On receiving information on the 17th that scattered bands of Boers from several commandos were concentrating on the village of Hartebeestfontein, Lieut.-General Lord Methuen moved out to attack them with a column of 900 men which included Victorian Bushmen. He was not aware until he approached the enemy position, occupying the Cyferlaagte ridge north of the town, that the burghers originally reported there had been reinforced by a roving force under General J.H. De la Rey and now numbered 1,300 - 1,400 men. Undeterred by his inferior strength, Methuen resolved to press ahead with his planned attack.

The assault which was begun at 8 a.m. initially made no impression on the Boer defence, even after reinforcements (including the Victorians) were sent to bolster the pressure applied against the enemy's right flank. At 11 a.m. De la Rey made a counter-attack against the British left which was also unsuccessful. Later that afternoon he decided to abandon his positions, leaving eighteen dead on the field. The sharp little action had cost Methuen 49 casualties, three of the dead and eleven of the wounded being Victorians.

A month later, the area around Hartebeestfontein was the scene of further clashes between two British columns pursuing De la Rey, after the latter had staged a raid on Lichtenburg in the north on 3 March. A party of New Zealanders and Australian Bushmen from the column led by Major-General J.M. Babington reportedly fought an action on 21 March which was notable for entailing an 'old-fashioned cavalry charge' which forced the Boers to flee in terror. While details of this incident are difficult to verify, the New Zealanders and Bushmen undoubtedly played a leading role in chasing down De la Rey's Boer wagon train three days later at Wildfontein, taking 140 prisoners, several guns and large quantities of rifles and ammunition.

Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 89-90.


Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:

L.S. Amery, (ed.) The Times History of the War in South Africa 1899-1902, Vol. 5 (1907), London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co.

MH Grant, History of the War in South Africa 1899-1902, Vol. 4 (1910), London.

John Stirling (1907) The Colonials in South Africa, 1899-1902, Edinburgh: W. Blackwood & Sons. 

R.L. Wallace (1976) The Australians at the Boer War, Canberra: Australian War Memorial & Australian Government Publishing Service.


Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Hartebeestfontein, South Africa, February 18 to March 21, 1901

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 5 April 2009 4:27 PM EADT
The Egyptian Rebellion, Egypt, 13 March to 10 April 1919
Topic: BatzO - Egypt 1919

The Egyptian Rebellion

Egypt, 13 March -10 April 1919.


Most of the light horse regiments before their campaigning was over were employed in the unhappy work of suppressing the rebellion in Egypt, which broke out early in 1919.

The story of that rising does not come within the scope of this volume. It had been carefully fostered by the malcontents, and demonstrations by Cairo students early in March were the signal for widespread rioting. Native civil servants at once contributed to the trouble by declaring a general strike; and the position of the British was made difficult by the suspension of most of the railway and telegraph services. Within a few days the outbreak had spread through all the lower provinces and extended to Upper Egypt.

At that time the Anzac Mounted Division (less the 1st and 2nd Light Horse Regiments) was still at Rafa, but the Australian Mounted Division had been moved by sea from Tripoli to Moascar. All units had handed in their equipment, and were awaiting embarkation to Australia. No. 1 Australian Flying Squadron and the 1st and 2nd Light Horse Regiments had already sailed. There were no large forces of British troops in Egypt. As the efficient organisation and the ugly temper of the revolt were disclosed further embarkations for Australia were arrested; horses and equipment were rapidly assembled, and within twenty-four hours the 3rd Light Horse Brigade under Wilson was on the march across the desert for Zagazig. The whole-hearted response of the troopers was impressive; they abandoned without a murmur their dreams of Australia, and went out gaily on a new enterprise the probable duration and seriousness of which were uncertain. All the regiments of the two Dominions, with the exception of the 1st and 2nd, were soon in the saddle, and their zone of activity extended from Upper Egypt to the Delta. So urgent at the outset was the call for the mounted men that even the convalescents from the hospitals were enlisted. There was no actual organised fighting, but a few sharp decisive brushes with the rioters cost the Australians about twenty casualties. Seven of the twelve regiments, under the capable command of Wilson, were based on Zagazig, three on Damanhur, one at Cairo, and one in Upper Egypt (Minia), and other small columns were commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel W. J. Foster and Lieutenant-Colonel Olden.

The Egyptians lost their nerve at the sight of the horsemen, and soon most of the leading spirits were in prison, while others at the firm bidding of the soldiers were strenuously mending the broken railways, and generally were as emphatic in their expression of loyalty as a few days before they had been turbulent in revolt. The Australians and New Zealanders formed the great part of the British force employed, and owing to their mobility, their reputation, and their decisiveness, they were undoubtedly the dominant factor in temporarily restoring tranquillity to Egypt.

Within a month all present danger had passed, but before embarkation the mounted troops, engaged in patrolling and other light work, comfortably billeted and with an abundance of fresh rations, passed several pleasant weeks beside the Nile.



H.S. Gullett (1944) The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, Appendix 1.


Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Egyptian Rebellion, Egypt, 13 March to 10 April 1919

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 5 April 2009 11:57 AM EADT
605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 8 to 17 May 1916
Topic: Gm - Bk - 605 MGC

German 605th Machine Gun Company (MGC)

War Diary, 8 May to 17 May 1916 


605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 8 to 17 May 1916


The entries



By 2 p.m. the balance was loaded and at 4.45 the train moved off from Kulek Boghaz to Adana. At 6.30 p.m. we were given tea at the main railway station by the German Colony at Adana. After that we went on to Mamoure. We arrived at 10.30 p.m. and had to spend the night at the railway.


We pitched camp early this day and in the afternoon part of the company helped to unloaded. The three meals were issued a.m.., noon, and p.m.


Nothing new today. Breakfast a.m., dinner noon, coffee evening. With the 4d. coming to us the company bought eggs and distributed them to the men.


For dinner to-day we got fresh mutton from the local L of C depot. Part of the company had to go on guard and another part had to help unload. The three meals were duly received.


To-day another unloading fatigue party had to be furnished. The field kitchen got mutton for the dinner to-day.


From to-day onwards dinners were issued in the evening and coffee at noon. To-day the company had to detach two men (L.C. Beuster and Pte. Haake) to Islahije on guard duty.


No now events to-day. The company furnished a working party.


No events to-day.


No events to-day.


Today we received orders that everything was to be packed up as us are to move off early tomorrow.


Previous Page: 605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 3 to 8 May 1916

Next Page: 605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 17 to 19 May 1916


Further Reading:

German 605th Machine Gun Company (MGC) , Contents 

The Battle of Romani

Light Horse Battles

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: 605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 8 to 17 May 1916

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 April 2009 7:22 PM EADT
Query Club, 26 May 1915
Topic: Gen - Query Club

The Query Club

26 May 1915



The large scale of the Great War often gave people a sense of alienation from the activities of the government and the army. To overcome this, newspapers of the day commenced columns called Query Club or similar names, where ordinary people could clarify their understanding of the complex processes. They also provide us, the historians, an insight into witnessing first hand, the responses of the various bodies to public concerns. The end product is a window into a society now almost out of living memory.

This is the Query Club from the Sydney Mail, 26 May 1915, p. 30.




Admiral Jellicoe is a native of Ryde, Isle of Wight. He was born in 1859. His father was Captain John Henry Jellicoe.



New South Wales has contributed well in the matter of horses for the Australian troops, but no figures are available.



The Queen Elizabeth, the principal warship engaged at the Dardanelles, displaces 27,500 tons. She cost over £2,000,000. Her main armament is 15-inch guns.



The exact range of the German monster howitzer is uncertain; but it is known to be over 20 miles. In the case of the shells recently dropped in Dixmude they are said to have come from a battery 23 miles off - believed to be composed of 17-inch howitzers.


"A.M.P." asks if the guns captured by the Allies can be used by them.

In the cases where guns are abandoned they are rendered useless to those who take them by the removal of important parts. Even where these can be replaced it is necessary to have suitable ammunition. The explosives used in Britain and Germany are different, so that neither, unless it captures a supply, can use the other's guns.



If you are unfit for the infantry it is not likely that you will be acceptable for the Light Horse. If you possess all the other necessary qualifications, however, and it is only your light weight that prevents you joining the foot soldiers, you may be able to enlist as a horseman. The fact of your providing your own horse and being a good rider is certainly and important consideration, but nothing will count against unfitness.



It was the German-Australian steamer Elsass that damaged the Domain Baths, Sydney, when clearing out of Woolloomooloo Bay on August 4 last, just before Britain entered the war. Australia did not formally declare war on Germany; that was unnecessary. We were not bound by any except moral ties to support the Motherland. If we refused to allow our navy to participate Great Britain would not have forced us.



When an Australian soldier leaves for the front the separation allowance that was provided for his wife automatically ceases, but in place of it she is granted three-fifths of her husband's pay. If he cares to give her more he can do so but the authorities insist on a minimum of three-fifths. In most cases this works out better for the wife than receiving the separation allowance.



Quite a number of factories in England that, prior to the war, were engaged in textile and other industries are now manufacturing ammunition. All available men are given employment, the Government controlling the works. We cannot publish the name of any factory. If you are an expert and are prepared to offer your services, you should communicate with the defence authorities here. If you went to England you would have no difficulty getting a situation at the prevailing rate of wages, but as there is a great need for experts in Australia you would be well advised to serve your country at home.



The Major General Sir George Arthur French who at one time was State Commandant of Queensland, and later of New South Wales, belongs to a different family from Field Marshal Sir John French. He was born (1841) in Roscommon (Ireland), whereas Sir John French (born 1852) is a native of Kent (England). After considerable experience in England and Canada Sir George French was appointed to fill the Queensland command in 1883. He held the post till 1891, when he returned to England to take command at Dover. Later he was appointed Chief Instructor at Shoeburyness, the, in 1894, went to India as Brigadier General Royal Artillery, Bombay. Two years later he was appointed Major General commanding the New South Wales forces. He remained here till 1902, when he retired.


Further Reading:

The Query Club


Citation: Query Club, 26 May 1915

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 12 April 2009 9:11 AM EADT

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