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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.

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre site holds over 12,000 entries and is growing daily.

Contact: Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

Let us hear your story: You can tell your story, make a comment or ask for help on our Australian Light Horse Studies Centre Forum called:

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WARNING: This site contains: names, information and images of deceased people; and, language which may be considered inappropriate today.

Friday, 6 November 2009
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Mapping the 3rd LHR attack at Magdhaba
Topic: BatzS - Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba

Sinai, 23 December 1916

Mapping the 3rd LHR attack at Magdhaba


3rd LHR line of attack at Magdhaba, 23 December 1916

[AWM4, 10/8/25]


In order to present the real difficulties of attacking the Magdhaba Garrison, below is a hand drawn map from the 3rd LHR War Diary. It gets right down into describing individual features and problems faced by the attacking force.

This demonstrates the skill and tenacity of the men from that regiment in overcoming what would appear insummmountable obstacles in attacking the first redoubt. It is a strong testimony to the new found confidence of these men in their ability as soldiers.


Further Reading:

The Battle of Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, Australia and New Zealand

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Mapping the 3rd LHR attack at Magdhaba

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 10 November 2009 10:22 PM EAST
The Battle of Bothaville, South Africa, 6 November 1900, Outline
Topic: BatzB - Bothaville

The Battle of Bothaville

South Africa, 6 November 1900



Christiaan Rudolph de Wet,  7 October 1854 - 3 February 1922.


Bothaville, an action during the Second South African War, fought on 6 November 1900 around Doornkraal farm eight kilometres south of this town in the Orange Free State, between a Boer commando under General Christiaan de Wet and British forces commanded by Major-General C.E. Knox. During the previous afternoon, patrols from a mounted column led by Lieut.-Colonel P.W.J. Le Gallais had picked up the Boers' trail some sixteen kilometres east of the town and began following it. On nearing the village (which had been destroyed during an earlier British visitation), the troops came under fire from Boer guns positioned south of the Valsch River. Approaching darkness, however, prevented any action to follow up the enemy more closely until the next day.


Map of the area around Bothaville


Resuming their saddles at 4 a.m., Le Gallais' troops crossed the river and were steadily advancing south when at 5.30 a.m. the leading element stumbled across a Boer picket of five men fast asleep; these were captured, without a shot being fired. Realising that the enemy laager (camp) was close by, the officer in command despatched a message for the column's guns to be sent forward before leading the 70 men with him forward at the gallop to a low hill to their right front. On gaining this ground, the main Boer camp was found to lie no more than 300 metres beyond. Immediately taking up position along the crest, the troops opened a rapid fire with their magazine rifles into the sleeping laager, taking its occupants completely by surprise.

The majority of the Boers made no resistance but simply leapt upon the nearest available horses and fled, among them de Wet and President M.J. Steyn. Some 130 of the enemy were unable to find mounts, however, and took shelter behind the low stone wall of the farm's garden in an attempt to defend their own guns and camp equipment. The arrival of additional troops soon brought the number on the British side up to about 170, but this was none too many when de Wet began rallying his men who had escaped the commencement of the attack and began harrying the British flanks. A four-hour engagement followed, which only ended when Knox reached the scene at the head of another mounted column commanded by Lieut.-Colonel H.B. De Lisle which included the New South Wales Mounted Rifles under Colonel G.C. Knight and West Australian Mounted Infantry.

The New South Wales men were posted on the British left, while the West Australians were sent to the right to engage the Boer defenders of the garden and laager from the north. When De Lisle's last reserve - 80 men of the WAMI under Lieutenant H.F. Darling  were brought up at 9.30 a.m., these were ordered to join with men of the British 5th Mounted Infantry in charging the enemy position with tile bayonet. According to The Times History:

'But at the first flash of the steel a white flag went fluttering up, and amid the shouts of the victors, the Boers held up their hands and surrendered'.

They Boers had lost at least seventeen men killed in the action, along with 114 taken prisoner (of whom seventeen were wounded); British losses amounted to 38 killed and wounded, among them Le Gallais who died of wounds that night. Serious losses of materiel had also been inflicted on the enemy, including six field-guns, a Maxim and a pom-pom, all de Wet's wagons carrying gun and small-arm ammunition as well as clothing and other supplies. Despite this de Wet remained in the field, and within a fortnight struck back at the British at the head of 1,500 burghers.

Bothaville War Memorial

[From: nico fourie]

Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 87-88.


Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:

L.S. Amery, (ed.) The Times History of the War in South Africa 1899-1902, Vol. 4 (1906), London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co.

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


Further Reading:

The Battle of Bothaville, South Africa, 6 November 1900

The Battle of Bothaville, South Africa, 6 November 1900, Roll of Honour

The Boer War, A Short History

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Bothaville, South Africa, 6 November 1900, Outline

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Saturday, 6 November 2010 9:08 AM EADT
Thursday, 5 November 2009
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Mapping the Magdhaba Redoubts
Topic: BatzS - Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba

Sinai, 23 December 1916

Mapping the Magdhaba Redoubts


Map describing the action at Magdhaba from the Anzac Mounted Division War Diary, January 1917.

[AWM4, 1/60/11]


Until the ready availability of the Australian Light Horse War Diaries and the advent of Google Earth, the ability to gain a bird's eye view of the Magdhaba redoubt system built by the Ottoman Forces has been difficult indeed. Through the use of the technological tools available, it is possible to take the data from the hand drawn maps of the Magdhaba redoubts and place them upon a terrain profile provided by Google Earth. The results speak for themselves.

By courtesy of a fellow contributor, Dominic, the data regarding the  redoubts was extracted and placed upon an actual satellite picture of the landscape provided by Gooogle Earth. The result allows the observer to visualise the physical terrain facing the Anzac Mounted Division as the Commanders planned their attack.


Magdhaba Garrison Redoubts as at 22 December 1916.

[Graphics by courtesy of Dominic]


One view of this terrain leads the observer to the conclusion that the Ottoman forces chose their site well. Over a flat surface which provided no cover whatsoever for an attacking force, they dug their trenches in such a way as to produce mutually supporting fire bases. These interlocking defenses meant that any attacking force was always at a vast disadvantage.

While interlocking fire support was its strength, paradoxically, this system of defence was also its weakness. By breaching one redoubt, the others would be exposed to enfilading fire and rendering their continued resistance untenable. This proved to be the downfall of the garrison. 

One should never conclude that the taking of the Magdhaba garrison by Chauvel was a lay down mazere. It was not. Chauvel had already issued orders to call off the attack by 3 p.m.. Had his generals obeyed this order at that time, there would have been no victory to record. But one general refused to read the order and the rest was, as they say, history.


Further Reading:

The Battle of Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, Australia and New Zealand

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Mapping the Magdhaba Redoubts

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 10 November 2009 10:23 PM EAST
The Battle of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 25 April 1915, New Zealand Field Ambulance War Diary
Topic: BatzG - Anzac

The Battle of Anzac Cove

Gallipoli, 25 April 1915

New Zealand Field Ambulance War Diary 


War Diary account of the New Zealand Field Ambulance.


The following is a transcription of the War Diary of the New Zealand Field Ambulance, of their role in the landings at Anzac on 25 April 1915.


24 April 1915

Sailed late at night.

25 April 1915

Arrived at Cape Helles 6 am. Passed to Fisherman's Hut bay and landed 11.30 am. 1500 casualties reported - but it was decided to take care of wounded on ships.

26 April 1915

Roughly 500 wounded men.


War Diaries

All War Diaries cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy 


Further Reading:

The Battle of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 25 April 1915

The Battle of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 25 April 1915, NZEF Roll of Honour

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 25 April 1915, New Zealand Field Ambulance War Diary

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 13 April 2010 10:36 PM EADT
Remount Section, AIF, The Training of a Remount By Lieutenant SJ Hardy, Royal Scots Greys
Topic: AIF - DMC - Remounts

Remount Section, AIF

The Training of a Remount

By Lieutenant SJ Hardy, Royal Scots Greys


Heliopolis, Egypt, Trooper Herbert Grey Jay, 2nd Remount Unit, riding a buck jumping horse.



The following article, The Training of a Remount, was written by Lieutenant SJ Hardy, Royal Scots Greys, and appeared in the Military Journal, April 1912 edition. This article details the optimal techniques employed at a Remount Depot to bring a horse into shape for mounted service in the various military arms. This was best practice, although not necessarily followed during the Great War due to the huge need for trained horses on an immediate basis. Regardless of the practices that emerged at the various depots, this article gives a good grounding in the expectations.

Hardy, SJ, The Training of a Remount, Military Journal, April 1912, pp. 330 – 343.


“Horses are taught not by harshness but by gentleness." - Xenophon.

The horse is one of the most timid animals, and during the period of breaking must be treated with the greatest kindness. Once insure mutual confidences between man and beast, and the task of the breaker is comparatively simple.

"It only needs the gentleness of a woman to call into operation all equine good manners, whereas harsh words and cruel usage convert a timid and inoffensive animal into a vicious brute."

The making of the horse's temper, for good or evil, depends on man, who has the opportunity of making his slave either obedient with kind treatment or vicious by cruel usage.

Colts dread to approach objects they have never seen before, and are afraid of any objects that they anticipate may give them pain.

Rarey, an American, in 1858, trained horses most successfully on a system based on the three following principles:

Firstly. - That the horse is so constituted by nature that he will not offer resistance to any demand made of him which he fully comprehends if made in any way consistent with the law of his nature.

Secondly. - That he has no consciousness of his strength beyond his experiences, and can be handled according to our will without force.

Thirdly. - That we can, in compliance with the laws of his nature, by which he examines all things new to him, take any object, however frightful, around, over, or on him, that does not inflict pain, without causing him to fear.

Rarey always inculcated the doctrine of kindness to horses; he fully recognised their nature, and he attempted to allay their fears by bringing them in close contact with objects of their aversion, and by showing them that no injury or pain could be inflicted by them.

Let the horse once recognise there is no cause for fear, and he will become docile, and obey with pleasure the orders of his rider.

The great difficulty in training a horse is to make him, understand what we want him to do, which is no easy matter, because a horse, contrary to what is generally supposed, has only a small supply of intelligence, which does not include the power of reasoning.

It is only well-developed mental quality is his memory, which is particularly acute, and should therefore be specially utilized.

The horse is, of course, capable of great affection, and the obtaining of this plays all important part in his training.

The human voice has a great influence on a horse, but it is only the tone which he remembers.

In dealing with Army horses it must be remembered that from three to four years old is the average age at which a remount commences his training: and the class required is a deep, short-legged, short-backed, good barrelled horse, of the hunter stamp, with substance and quality, true action, and going quite clear of the joints.

Naturally we do not always succeed in obtaining for £40 horses of the above stamp. We must therefore take into consideration the conformation, condition, temperament, and intelligence of each individual horse.

Most remounts arrive in what is known as "dealer’s condition," which has the deceiving effect of making a horse look as if he was well built up, whereas he has probably never known what a decent feed of oats is like, or experienced regular exercise.

Thus it is essential to remember that, with horses in the above condition, their muscles are naturally to a great extent undeveloped. Careful feeding and grooming are therefore most important with the young horse.

Let us now consider the uses to which Army horses are put, for on that must be based our system of training.

A troop horse must march long distances with a heavy weight on his back, without losing condition. Then he must be used to exposure and privation; be capable of being ridden with only one hand at all paces and over all manner of country, in company and alone; be indifferent to the noise of firing, and able to stand still as well as gallop. In fact, we require the hardiness of a Basuto pony, the handiness of a polo pony, the steadiness of a good hack, and the spirit and energy of a hunter.

Having taken into consideration the physical and mental capabilities of the horse, the material available and the standard required, we can proceed with our system of training, the fundamental principle of which we can express in one word, “Progressive."

The physical and mental training must proceed conjointly. Individual study must be made of each horse, his capabilities realized, and his efforts rewarded. One must not expect too much of a horse, his education must advance step by step. Great patience is required, especially in the early training.

The education of a horse depends entirely on the manner in which the rider applies the principle of reward and punishment; the appropriate application of the latter being even more essential to success than that of the former. When a horse deserves punishment, he should receive it with an amount of severity proportionate to the offence. A horse's intelligence enables him to connect his action with the punishment it provoked. On this account, if punishment is not administered at the precise moment the fault is committed, it will lose all its good effect, and will be an element of confusion in the memory of the animal. It is better not to punish him than to do it too late.

One should always try and discover the motive for disobedience; it will either be caused by pain or viciousness.

Just as punishment should promptly follow disobedience, so also reward should promptly follow obedience. All horses, even the most impatient, accept a pat on the neck.

"Making much of the horse gives him confidence, by placing the rider in direct contact with him otherwise than by impulsion." (Fillis)

As the body is gradually built up, so must the exercises be gradually increased, both in duration and scope, until the horse is ready for the "finishing" which will fit him to enter the ranks after a course of training lasting from eighteen to twenty-four months, according to his rate of progression.

But fundamentally and behind all theories it is the trainer and not his system that makes a horse a good or bad one.

This human element enters very deeply into the training of young horses, and it is sometimes lost sight of. Yet it is the most important, though the least tangible, of all the things which go to educate an animal.

In considering a system of training, however, we should not legislate for the "horseman born." Such a man can no doubt train his horse on any, or no, method. But it is quite certain that the majority of people are not born horsemen.

And it is equally certain that almost any one with patience and practice can learn to train a horse. And, when trained, the average man's horse is more suitable to the indifferent horseman than the horse trained by the brilliant horse man, whose animals are often too highly sensitive for any one not equally skilled.

It is for this reason that it is a good thing to have a regular and systematized method of training.

We therefore wish to emphasize the necessity of a uniform method of control; this is especially important in connexion with military horses and men, where both are continually changing.

A system carefully thought out is bound to defeat haphazard methods in the end.

But before entering into the details of his training, it might be as well to note some of the characteristics required of a successful trainer.

We use the word “trainer," and not "breaker," because the "horse breaker," as he is often with justice called, is a man who drives out, with whip and spur, all the good equine qualities, and converts a naturally quiet and kind animal into a brute.

Although the horse is a timid animal, he must be controlled by a man of courage. Timidity must not be approached with timidity, for, if such takes place, the notion of dread is at once communicated to the young horse, whose perceptive faculties are always on the alert to protect himself against mischief.

Men without nerve are useless as trainers.

It is equally important for trainers to have patience, determination, and tact. The better their hands and seat and the more practical their knowledge of the horse's temperament, characteristics, and capabilities, the better their chance of being really successful trainers.

The system of schooling horses of the late William Sherley, of Twickenham, one of the most celebrated horsemen of his day, was comprised in one word "kindness".



Every horse varies considerably in age, condition, education, conformation, soundness, character, and temper; for this reason the trainer should at once set to work to study the nature of his remount, so that he can realize what it is reasonable for him to expect of it.

The training is commenced by handling the horse, leading him about on both sides, accustoming him to the sound of your voice, educating his brain by showing him as much as you can, in the fields and on the roads.

During this stage it is an excellent plan to give your horse sugar, or handfuls of corn, every now and then.

In the early training of a remount the use of the voice is invaluable.

A horse quickly learns to obey sharp, distinct words of command, such as "Whoa," "Trot," "Walk," &c., if given in the same tone of voice, this being most essential.

The voice has a calming effect on a horse: and when once a horse gets to know your voice, you can, by using it in the above manner, not only make him obey certain commands, but also steady and calm him when nervous or excited.

Just as a dog does, he will soon be able to distinguish between your tone of voice when pleased or angry with him.

It is therefore most important that you should accustom your remount to the sound of your voice.

During this period the horse should be trained with an ordinary jointed snaffle in his mouth, the reins tied in a. knot and allowed to lie on the neck, the trainer leading him about by means of a leather rein attached to the lower ring of the back strap.

By adopting this method there is no danger of causing injury to his sensitive mouth, when a horse plays up or attempts to break away, according to the usual custom of young horses.

As soon as your horse has grown accustomed to being led about on both reins, to being handled, and becomes quiet, and has learnt to stand still and walk on, then his training may be advanced a step further. But the next stage depends on the nature, condition, and age of your horse.

For horses that are too weak to carry a man at this period, a course of "Long Reining" is advisable. But for those which are strong enough, and sufficiently tractable, this period may be dispensed with, and “Backing " may be proceeded with.

But as most remounts come under the former category, and not the latter, we propose to proceed with our training by making use of the "long reins." This stage may be divided up into four periods, as follows:

The "roller" is now put on, care being taken not to buckle up too tightly, and a sharp look-out kept for possible galls. The long reins are fastened to the head collar, and the horse lunged on either rein.

It is essential that the rein should be constantly changed and an equal amount of work done on each.

The trainer must never work his horse too hard, or keep him trotting round and round on a circle; this only sickens him and makes him feel giddy. Practice at halting, standing still, and moving on to the word of command must also constantly be carried out.

The horse should be, frequently made much of, and rewarded with lumps of sugar occasionally.

Every five or ten minutes, allow the horse to stand still and rest.

The work should only be done at the walk and trot, and the horse should never be sweated.

After a few days of this, the time depending, as it does throughout the whole of his training, on the progress of the horse, the next period may be commenced.

The long reins are now attached to the snaffle, so that great care must be taken to avoid injuring or deadening his sensitive mouth.

Similar exercises may be carried out as in the first period, though the duration may be slightly increased, say, to about an hour and a quarter.

The saddle may now be put on with the roller over it, the same precautions being taken to avoid galls. The outside rein is passed over the horse's neck, and the training proceeded with. We can now do a certain amount of forward work, which has the great advantage of teaching your horse to move straight forward, a point that will be dealt with later on.

The stirrups are allowed to hang down, and the outside rein passed over the back and round the quarters. We can now make him change from one rein to the other on the word “Change" being given.

Up to this point, our training should take place out of doors as much as possible, providing that the weather is suitable. The Riding School deadens the intelligence of the horse, whereas out-of-door work gradually develops his brain and improves his education.

The advantages and disadvantages of the long reins can now he discussed. The use of the long reins has a disciplining effect. Throughout the various periods the horse is taught to obey, and to realize the complete mastery of his trainer.

They also to a certain extent balance the horse, the pressure of the outward rein preserving him for the use of the leg. But perhaps the great advantage of them lies in their power of advancing the training of the horse, until he is strong enough to bear the weight of a man on his back.

But long reins must be properly used otherwise they do more harm than good.

Unless they are in the hands of an experienced man, the horse is apt to lean on the snaffle, swing his quarters out, and turn his head in.

The reins are heavy (leather reins weigh: 4 lbs., web over 2½ lbs., and rope is unsuitable for the purpose, as it is liable to gall a horse and your fingers, especially if he breaks away), so that mechanical means should be resorted to in order to keep the animal's head in the correct position (passing the reins through the turret, or even through the stirrups, certainly lightens the weight on the mouth).

There are certain hints which may be found useful in long rein driving, a few of which are enumerated below:

(a) The driver should never wear spurs, owing to the danger of catching the reins in them.

(b) The whip, if used at all, should always be halo point downwards in the, opposite hand to which the horse is working.

(c) Never use the whip unless the horse refuses to move on and even then the sight of it will generally be sufficient to make him move forward. If he refuses to do so, touch him lightly and carefully behind, because any roughness or abruptness is apt to make him resist.

(d) Never order a horse to halt, walk, or trot when he shows signs of doing so; make him do it when you want him to, and not when he wants to.

(e) When you wish to handle the horse go up to him quietly, drawing in the reins as you do so; never allow him to come to you

(f) Always accompany the horse, and never follow him. Place yourself so as always to keep the horse between the lunging rein in front and the whip behind, thus forming a triangle. The hands and reins constitute the apex and sides respectively, and the horse the base.

(g) Hold one or two coils of the reins in the hand to which the horse is working.

(h) Wear good stout gloves, or you will cut your fingers badly. As soon as you can consider your horse fit to carry your weight, and “perfect on either hand, and no cloth set his trot comely and stately, you may venture to put the saddle on him.'' Browne, 1624)



We should now take the horse into the Riding School and commence to "back him." To do this the trainer should have at least one assistant, if not two.

Providing that the horse is quiet, the best method is to proceed as follows

One assistant holds the head by a rein attached to the back strap, the other assists the trainer to gradually raise his weight off the ground on to the horse's hack, until the laxly is gradually in its place au the saddle. The horse should be made much of and talked to in a soothing voice throughout the proceedings, and it is advisable to give him a handful of corn.

If he shows any disinclination to move forward, he should be turned either to the left or right; everything should be done to keep on friendly terms with him.

As De Mauleon remarks, if he will not do a thing in one way, another should he tried.

As soon as he goes quietly the rider should dismount very gradually by taking lamb feet out of the stirrups and lowering himself slowly on to the ground.

In the case of a very timid horse, which will not allow the trainer on his back, it is a good plan to adopt Rarey's method of strapping up one of the forelegs with a stirrup leather, and then either placing a dummy on his back, or the trainer himself. In any of the methods for backing a horse, the great point to remember is that, whatever happens, don't allow your horse to throw you. This has a very bad moral effect on the horse, and will put him back in his work; if once he finds he can get rid of you, he will always be liable to repeat the experiment.

For the first few lessons the rider should only be mounted for a few minutes at a time, in order that the muscles may gradually become accustomed to the great and unusual strain placed upon them.

Whilst working on the long reins the horse has to a certain extent been taught to balance himself. The additional weight f the rider now being placed on his back, he finds that the balance which he acquired is to a certain degree lost, and muscles which came into use in acquiring that balance have a fresh strain put upon them.

We must therefore content ourselves with making the horse walk straight forward, using the legs only for putting him in movement, and keeping him straight, and up to the snaffle.

We shall thus give him time to get accustomed to carrying the additional weight of the rider's body, and gradually adapt his balance to suit the new conditions.

It would be as well to say a few words on this most important subject of balance.

The colt instinctively learns to balance himself from birth; by raising or lowering his head and neck he shifts his weight backwards and forwards, and does not feel it any more than we do ours; but when he is ridden, some fifteen stone weight is placed over and behind his centre of gravity, and lie has to adjust himself to the new conditions: this, and the undeveloped state of the muscles of his back and limbs, account for his awkward gait when first mounted.

Our object therefore is to make the horse carry his head in the best position for balancing his weight at all paces, or, in other words, "placing the horse's head."

This work is carried out through the combined action of the legs and hands. The legs, by compelling the horse to move forward, drive and keep him up to the bit. The pressure of the leg should be lively and springy, and applied with the leg drawn back, behind the girth. The rider must endeavour to preserve the sensibility of the horse to the leg, by avoiding anything in the nature of a dull, clinging pressure.

If the trainer is quite certain that a horse is lazy, and that the laziness is not due to weakness or indisposition, an early introduction to a blunt spur is advisable - -otherwise it is best not to wear spurs.

A light flexible cane may be carried to supplement the use of the leg, rather than as a means of punishment.

The hands, through the reins and snaffle, regulate the position of the horse's head and neck, by bringing pressure to bear on the tongue, the bars of the mouth, and the corners of his lips.

This pressure should, of course, be as light as possible, or the mouth becomes bruised or injured, and eventually callous.

The best way to raise his head is as follows: Place the reins one in each hand, passing through the fingers, and with a gentle upward and jerky movement combined with the forward pressure of the legs, gradually raise his head, relaxing the pressure as soon as he has done so, only retaining sufficient feeling on the mouth to make him maintain this position.

Then reward him, give him his head, and allow him to rest the muscles of his neck, on which an unaccustomed strain has been placed.

When the horse carries his head as required at the walk, a little trotting and circling may be attempted, care being taken to make the circles large or the turns wide, with the hindquarters following in the track of the fore-limbs.

Always make your horse stand still when mounting or dismounting; the earlier this is accomplished the better. Remember that it is just as important a part of his training as any other exercise.

As much work as possible should be (lone in the open, though it is advisable to keep in the School until the rider is satisfied that his horse will not attempt to get him off. Work on the roads is good for young horses, but very little trotting should be done or splints will result.

Elementary jumping may now be commenced, but the whole subject of jumping is dealt with in the Appendix.

Though it is impossible to lay down a fixed time, it will probably take from six to nine months to arrive at the stage where the horse's head has come into place and he goes freely tip to the snaffle.

We can now proceed with the third stage.



We can now lengthen the duration of our lessons, say, up to two hours, and work further away from stables. With the exception of, say, half-an-hour in the School for two mornings in the week, all the work should, so far as the weather permits, be carried on out of doors.

Mr. Fillis' motto, "Toujours en avant," should always he borne in mind. The objects of training your horse moving straight forward and on good going are as follow:-

(1) That most of the work which you require your horse to do will be moving forwards, not sideways, backwards, or on the circle.

(2) That it is easier and quicker to train a horse whilst moving forward, for he is less liable to try and "play up"; every time this happens much valuable time is wasted.

(3) That it is simple, and therefore you are less likely to upset his, temper.- thus man and horse quickly get into sympathy and on good terms with one another.

(4) That it is easier for the horse while advancing to balance his own weight and that of his ruler.

(5) That you are training his mind as well as developing his physical powers; continually advancing over fresh ground accustoms him to new surroundings and makes him more sure-footed.

(6) That your horse is less liable to go unsound during the course of training by working him to his front -

(a) He is not so liable to knock one leg against the other.

(b) He is less liable to strain or twist the joints or tendons.

(7) That it is easier to preserve and maintain the natural high carriage of the head, and thus from the commencement he learns to carry his own head instead of relying on his rider to carry it for him. Undoubtedly one of the reasons he carries his head better is due to the fact that he is taking an interest in the continual change of surroundings, and therefore does not get tired of his work. Notice how a horse, old or young, pricks his ears and lifts hip head when he sees, a pack of hounds.

(8) That you are less likely to spoil his mouth and temper owing to the simplicity of the work.

(9) That you balance and collect him naturally by going up and down gentle inclines. This assists the free movement of the shoulders, develops and builds up muscle in the right places.

(10) That you teach him the leg by keeping him from sniping about under you, gradually pressing him forward with your legs, and induce him to walk straight with the lightest feeling on the mouth.

In Conclusion, let it he clearly understood that the above remarks are in no way intended to depreciate the usefulness of work in the School or open Manege.

But too much of this work has a deadening effect on the intelligence of both men and horses. Too much circling and turning has a cramping effect on the horse's action.

For the above reasons, therefore, the training in our opinion should be carried out on these lines, and with that idea we can now commence the important stage of mouthing.

Mouthing consists of:

(1) Supplying the head and making it turn from the boll of the neck.

(2) Making the head turn to one side or the other, the neck remaining straight.

In both cases the bend must be accompanied by a yielding of the jaw.

If the bend is towards the withers, the flexion is called “Direct," if to one side, “Lateral."

Great patience is essential in making a horse mouth. Some never will on the snaffle, in which case you must wait until they are bitted. Very few horses’ mouth correctly at first and you can only make them by proceeding very gradually on the following lines. First keep his ruck straight by means of the left rein in the case of right flexion and both reins in direct flexion. As soon as the horse relaxes his jaw, the mouth loses its sensitiveness, and he becomes in hand, and quickly learns that obedience is rewarded.

It must be remembered that the mouth is extremely sensitive, and that mouthing will at first cause, at all events, a feeling of discomfort. While if a steady strain is kept on the reins in the hope of making the horse relax his jaws, the mouth soon loses its sensitiveness, becomes hard, and the horse leans on the hand.

In the flexions, too, the horse's head and neck are required to take positions which are not natural to them, and if the muscles called into play are kept too long in constrained positions a spirit of opposition is aroused, which may affect the horse's temper. This is especially the case with horses which have the head and neck set on wrong.

Always perform the flexions on the move, or the horse will not go freely up to his bit.

The horse, having now learnt the flexions, can be readily “collected," and in this condition should be frequently worked both at the walk and trot, and whilst turning and circling, but only for a short time, and he should frequently be given his head and allowed to walk free.

The term “collected” has been defined as follows:-

The halt. - Standing up to attention with all four legs underneath him, with his weight equally distributed, ready to move in any direction as directed by the rider.

On the move. - Limbs well under him, and in such a way that, although on the move, he is ready to act in all)- way in obedience to an altered desire of the rider.

We can now commence the canter, but, until the horse is bitted, the canter cannot be expected to be very collected. The best way to make a young horse canter is from the “trot short," by applying in rather an exaggerated manner the aid for canter.

At first the canter should be made on the straight, and afterwards in large circles. Never make your horse canter by increasing the pace of the trot. But always try to make him strike off on the application of the aid. It is too early to expect him to canter from the halt, or to change the leg; that must come later on.

A little reining-back is a useful exercise; by bringing him back on the haunches it lightens his forehand, but little should be done owing to the strain on the hocks.

The best way to teach him is to dismount and rein him back on foot, a few steps at a time, treading on his coronets if necessary to make him pick his feet up, the voice being used to assist.

Half-halts or checks, followed by forward movements, are also most effective, and the bending lesson may be taught.

All these exercises must gradually be increased both in duration and standard, the period varying from six to nine months.

No fixed rule can be laid down as regards the time at which a horse should be bitted, but as soon as he moves freely and collectedly at all paces, does a figure of 8, and flexes on the snaffle, carries his head high, if anything on the high side (as the bit tends to lower the head, and, once this has been done, it may take months to correct the fault), we may proceed to bit him.



We will suppose that we have decided to bit the horse.

If a light double-bridle is not available, take the regulation bit, with the reins on the snaffle-ring and top bar.

Certainly don't use a curb for the first few days, during which you should not ask too much of your horse. Just a few simple forward movements, until the horse accustoms himself to the new bit.

You must be very careful to be as light as possible with the hands, and avoid giving him any pain with the increased power which you obtain.

If the horse takes kindly to it, you may put the curb chain on, but only very loosely at first, keeping a sharp look-out for pinches, chafes, or bruises. (On the other hand, if you think it wiser, put him back for a little on the snaffle.)

You can now gradually ask more of the horse, and perform the following exercises:-

Cantering and circling,



figure of 8,


regulation paces,

elementary skill-at-arms, &c.

The more you train your horse on the “Toujours en avant" principle, the freer your horse will move both as regards going up to the bit, and moving in a collected and balanced manner. Beware of your horse getting cramped in his ham, especially at the canter. To avoid this, ride him tip and down hills, occasionally give him a nice steady gallop, but never race him.

Take him out in the country, ride him up and down steep banks, to bring him back on his hocks; show him strange sights, take him into farm yards, villages, &c.; ride him over rough ground; all these exercises develop his brain, strengthen his body, and improve his cleverness, making him handy and sensible.

Every other day or so take him into the School, for not more than half-an hour, gradually bringing him on to what we shall call the finishing stage.

It is a good plan to commence lessons with a good ten minutes' trotting. Firstly, it gets their backs down. Secondly, it starts them straight and brings them back to the hand. Thirdly, this gait suppler a horse best, and the legs are stretched without straining them.

Such exercises as are enumerated below are best done to commence with in the School, though half of every lesson should be carried out in the open.

1. Bending lesson; the horse being bent from the poll in the direction in which he is going.

2. Half-passage and passage, flexing on the bit.

3. Striking off at the canter, changing the leg, figure of 8, and serpentine.

4. Turning on the haunches and centre, reining back.

5. Ladies' chain.

6. Accustomed to firing, motors, aeroplanes, crowds, cheering, flag-waving, &c.

7. Simple troop drill, leaving and passing through the ranks, measured distances, led horses.

8. Skill-at-arms, dummy-thrusting, revolver shooting.

9. Galloping in pairs and then in line.

The above are a few of the many exercises through which the remount should be put, and according to the age and condition of the horse the advisability of working him in the squadron depends.

If possible, it is desirable to train your horse to cover comparatively long distances, accustoming him to the weight of a fully-equipped military saddle, providing that the work be such as would improve his condition and not prematurely break him down.

If opportunities exist, the horse might be practised in swimming, and taken out with the hounds.

All horses that are sent to the ranks before they, are six years old should be saved as far as possible, and left at home on long field-days or manoeuvres.



"If the head of a horse is well regulated, you may afterwards manage him as you please, provided his nature and strength will admit of it, for should you not secure his head, it is impossible ever to make him a complete horse, since you have only your hands and heels to manage him, otherwise, the most essential parts will fail you." (Duke of Newcastle)

In training a horse for the Army, two points must be remembered:-

1. The average stamp and quality of a remount.

2. The object aimed at, i.e., a horse capable of being ridden with only one hand by an average horseman, under every conceivable condition.

With these points in view, some practical and progressive system, such as has been outlined, is essential.

Naturally no fixed rules should be laid down, but a system based on sound principles must be carried out, varying in its method of application according to the age, nature, and condition of each individual horse.

Firmness, patience, and common-sense are essential qualities in a trainer.

There are periods of the training in which great perseverance and patience is required. But providing that too much is not asked of the horse, time will, in nearly every case, fully reward one.

He who wishes to succeed as a trainer must be prepared to meet with many disappointments, and possibly accidents.

There is a “conclusion" at the end of the Duke of Newcastle's famous book, and we cannot do better than copy it verbatim, with apologies.

“You ought to be, well informed that the art of horsemanship cannot be collected together in a proverb; nor can there be one universal lesson, as many desire in this art, any more than a universal medicine is an ointment for all wounds. For my part, indeed, I am very sure that there is nothing universal in horsemanship, nor in anything else that I know. If this work pleases you, I shall he thoroughly well satisfied; if not, I shall be content in my own mind; because I know certainly that it is very good, and better than anything that you have had before of the hind."


First of all, don't overdo it. Remember that a horse must be gradually built up, and his muscles are not strong enough at the beginning.

Secondly, endeavour to make your horse like jumping, and then he will not cause trouble through refusing.

Lord Harrington, at Elvaston, teaches his yearlings to jump by making them pop over a low rail to get to their food increasing the height of the rail as their strength and age progresses.

So with remounts, we can send them either singly or in pairs (making them follow an old horse, who is a good performer, is an excellent practice) down the jumping lane, rewarding them at the further end by a handful of oats or a carrot.

In this way we can teach the horse to associate jumping with pleasure and not with pain.

If you use a whip at all, use it sparingly. Avoid frightening.

Never ask him to do more than lie is capable of. Make your jumps small at first, even a pole laid on the ground is sufficient, and gradually increase the obstacle.

Horses can be lunged over small jumps with sliding wings, great care being taken not to job or injure their mouths. As soon as the horse jumps freely and is fit to stand it, the trainer may ride him over small jumps, endeavouring to make the horse go slowly and collectedly up to the jump, and take off from his hocks.

You will find at first that the horse will pitch on his forehand.

To enable him to get back on his hocks, and jump correctly, it is a good plan to move on circles near the jump, then take him up to the jump, rein back a few lengths, and then set him at it.

This method has the double advantage of making him jump off his hocks, as well as preventing him from rushing.

We may now dispense with the wings; this is important, as the horse is thus taught that he must take the place selected by his rider.

Various other forms of jumps can now be used, such as a wall, open ditch, stile, gate, &c.

In the case of a young horse shaping badly at his jumping, we should always try to arrive at the cause.

It is very often due to some weakness or injury, so that jumping actually causes him pain. In which case it should at once be stopped, until the hurt is remedied.

The whole course of jumping must run progressively and in unison with the remainder of his training.

The trainer must realize the temperament of the horse, as his jumping depends a great deal on it.

Some won't jump in cold blood, and others will.

Lastly, remember that the two chief causes of a horse refusing or jumping badly are

1. Jumping is associated with pain, either in the mouth or through some physical weakness.

2. Lack of determination in the rider.

" 'Osses are queer critturs, they know when you are frightened as well as you do." (Surtees.)


Further Reading:

Remount Section, AIF

The Light Horse

Australian Light Horse Militia

Militia 1899 - 1920

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Remount Section, AIF, The Training of a Remount By Lieutenant SJ Hardy, Royal Scots Greys

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 11 December 2009 3:13 PM EAST

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