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By the start of the 20th century, mounted infantry was believed to provide a mobile, effective force in modern warfare. Australian mounted infantry served superbly during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. Australian bushmen, used to the rigours of drought, endless dry plains and heat, and confidently self-reliant, won the respect of the Boers. Victoria sent eight contingents of mounted infantry to the Boer War. Such units later were transformed into the Australian Light Horse regiments of WW1.


Victoria also provided 250 recruits for the Marquis of Tullibardine's Scottish Horse,
the Second Battalion Australian Commonwealth Horse, the Fourth Battalion Australian
Commonwealth Horse and the Sixth Battalion Australian Commonwealth Horse. Thirty-one
Victorians served with the Commonwealth Army Medical Corps.

Victoria's proud cavalry, dragoon and light horse traditions reached far into the State's European history. The Prince of Wales Light Horse, with troops at Bacchus Marsh, Kyneton and Geelong to begin with, began in 1860, but there were smaller, earlier mounted units. The Victorian Mounted Rifle Regiment commenced in 1885. The regiment's soft felt hat turned up on one side started the tradition of the rakish slouch hat which is worn with such pride by Australian soldiers today.

It was from these traditions--and the blooding gained in the Anglo-Boer War--that Victoria's strong contribution to formation of the the Australian Light Horse Regiments, when they were formed after Federation, began.

Light Horse at Flemington, Victoria, during the 1908 Military Review.
Photo of CEW  Charles Edward Williamson
enlisted in the 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment
on 8 September 1914, aged 30.  A British subject,
he  had  already served in the Lancashire  Hussars
and  Royal  Welsh  Fusiliers.  He was promoted to
Corporal in 'A' Troop within a month of joining-up.
Part of his enlistment papers.
On his enlistment papers, Charles Williamson accepted that as a married man he was not entitled to any special
allowance.  Required  to allot  not less than  two-fifths  of his  pay to his wife (Ada), he altered the figure to read
three-fifths of his pay. Williamson may have been a medical casualty of Gallipoli. The 8th Australian Light Horse
were  landed  there  on  20   May  1915,  and he was admitted to hospital on the 24th June with influenza.  The
next day he had contracted myalgia and was admitted to No 15 MS hospital at Mudros on the nearby island of
Lemnos. In early July, he had developed enteric (typhoid), and was transferred to No 17 General  Hospital  at
Alexandria, Egypt, ending up at an English hospital near Birmingham in September.   He was finally returned to
duty in August 1916.
     After further hospitalisation, he joined the 3rd Light Horse Training Regiment in Egypt in 1917, receiving a
gunshot wound to the left knee barely a month later. Photo and enlistment/service records provided by his proud
grand-daughter Loraine Padgham.
Photo of A J Sutton         Photo of spur         
Alfred James 'Snowy' Sutton of the 13th Australian
Light Horse Regiment in 1914. He served in Egypt
and France where he later joined the Field Ambul-
ance. He was wounded by a bomb and repatriated.
He died in the 1950s. (Right) a closeup of his boot
and spur. Photo provided by his proud grand-nephew,
Lee Power.
1935 Xmas card (photo)  1935 Xmas card of the 13th Australian Light Horse
Regiment Association to its members. War comrades shared special bonds that often
lasted a lifetime.Photo provided by Lee Power.
photo of 13th ALH  A 13th Light Horse team displays its prowess in the
saddle over jumps at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds in the 1930s. Photo provided by Lee Power.

This photo is supposed to show the famous charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade at Beersheeba on 31
October 1917. But some historians consider it to be a re-enactment staged for a movie cameraman after
the event. In any event, the title of the photograph -- `Thunder of a Light Horse Charge' -- captures the
power and shock of a mounted charge. Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial (AWM AO2684).


Albert George Owen was so upset at seeing injured soldiers disembarking after returning from Europe that he enlisted as a reinforcement in the 2nd Australian Light Horse Field Ambulance. Bert left for the Middle East on board the troopship Commonwealth in November 1917. On arrival in Egypt three weeks were spent in the isolation camp before travelling in open train wagons to Gaza. Until the end of the war Bert and his pal Bridget (his horse), above right, traveled throughout Palestine and Syria and at some point was promoted to corporal. After returning to Australia in 1919 Bert discovered that a local bank was displaying a photograph of his unit posing for the camera in Richon, Syria. He could not remember the photograph being taken but obviously obtained a copy of it. Although the 2nd Light Horse (and its Field Ambulance) had been raised in Queensland, Bert Owen, born and raised in Victoria, enrolled as a member of the June 1917 reinforcements...

  Cpl. Albert George Owen.
All photos provided by his proud grandson, John Rogers.

During World War One, the Australian Light Horse, many members of which had served during the searing battles of the Boer War, performed prodigious feats in WW1 at Gallipoli and in the Holy Land at Beersheba, and during the struggle for Damascus. The 4th, 8th, (part of the 9th) and 13th Regiments of Light Horse were raised in Victoria. Machine Gun Squadrons formed part of each Light Horse Regiment. Part of the 3rd MG Squadron (attached to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, ANZAC Mounted Division) and part of 4th MG Squadron (attached to 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade, Australian Mounted Division) comprised Victorians.

Without Farriers and Vets the Light Horse would have been unable to operate
for long on the far-off battlefields of the Holy Land and the Western Front.
Farrier and Quartermaster Sergeant Daniel McNaughtan of the 4th Light Horse
(centre) posed for this photo at Heliopolis in 1916. He was transferred to Regimental
Headquarters in July 1916. Daniel later served in the 2nd ANZAC Mounted Regiment.
Born at Rupunyup, Victoria, in 1876, he enlisted for WW1 at Broadmeadows.
Photo kindly provided by his proud grandson, John Forster Holt.

(in 3rd and 4th Light Horse Brigades)
  • 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment
  • 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment
  • 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment*
  • 13th Australian Light Horse Regiment
  • ________
    * A combined Victorian/South Australian unit
  • Raised Melbourne, 1914. Served in Australia and Egypt.
    Principal WW1 battles: Gallipoli, Beersheba, Western Front

    Books about the Australian Light Horse Regiments

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