Light Horse Military Units
"Virtus in Arduis"
1. Australian Horse, 1898-1921
2. 7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F., 1914-19
3. Australian Horse, 1921-43
4. 21st Light Horse Regiment, 1912-43
5. 7th/21st Australian Horse
The 7th/21st Australian Horse, which disbanded in 1957, was successor to two light horse regiments of the Citizen Military Forces (CMF)- 7th Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse) and 21st Light Horse Regiment (Riverina Horse).
7th Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Force.
The following are the changes in designation of the above-mentioned light horse regiments of the C.M.F.:
1898 1st (Volunteer) Australian Horse
1900 1st Australian Horse
1903 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse)
1912 11th Light Horse (Australian Horse)
1918 7th Light Horse (Australian Horse)
1921 7th Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse)
1936 7th/21st Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse)
1937 7th Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse)
1942 7th Australian Motor Regiment
1912 28th (Illawarra) Light Horse
1921 21st Light Horse Regiment
(Illawarra Light Horse)
1929 (Amalgamated with 1st)
1st/21st Light Horse Regiment
(New South Wales Lancers)
1936 (Numerical designation linked with 7th)
7th/21st Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse)
1937 21st Light Horse Regiment (Riverina Horse)
1941 2nd Divisional Reconnaissance Battalion
1941 21st Reconnaissance Battalion
1942 21st Australian Cavalry Regiment (A.I.F.)
The reason for giving the number "7" to the 11th Light Horse in 1918 was in order to perpetuate the traditions and records of the 7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F. which had campaigned with honour and glory in World War One.
1. Australian Horse, 1898-1921
The driving force behind the formation of the Australian Horse was Lt-Col J. A. K. Mackay, (formerly a squadron leader in the NSW Lancers) who became its first commanding officer.
Approval to raise a cavalry regiment of bush volunteers (unpaid) was gazetted in August 1897 and the actual raising was carried out early in 1898, the name of the regiment being 1st (Volunteer) Australian Horse. The personnel were described by Colonel Mackay in a letter thus: ". . . the men being shearers, station hands, farmers or squatters and the officers, in nearly all cases, sons of old squatter families."
The unit, 402 strong, marched into its first camp at Easter 1898 at Milkman's Hill near Rookwood. The first consignment of their London-made uniforms and accoutrements had arrived in the Port of Sydney earlier in the same week, so the first issue was made in camp. The uniform was myrtle green in colour, of hussar pattern except for the head dress, which was a green slouch hat. Arms were swords and carbines.
The first 2nd-in-command was Major Ferguson, 2nd Life Guards, private secretary to the Governor and the first Adjutant was Lt R. R. Thompson, late 4th Dragoon Guards and NSW Lancers. The Governor of New South Wales, Lord Beauchamp, became Honorary Colonel of the Regiment.
In 1900, the 1st Australian Horse was placed on the Partially Paid establishment and by 1901 the squadron organization was:-
"A" Sqn: Murrumburrah, Cootamundra, Gundagai
'B" Sqn and Band: Goulburn, Braidwood, Araluen, Michelago-Bredbo, Bungendore
"C' Sqn: Mudgee, Rylstone, Lue
"D" Sqn: Scone, Belltrees, Muswellbrook
"E" Sqn: Gunnedah, Boggabri, Tamworth, Armidale
The regimental motto was "For hearths and homes". Badges and buttons were brass. The design of the badge was roughly: a shield on which was the badge of the Colony (St George cross carrying the four stars of the Southern Cross); across the face of the shield crossed musket and sword and a boomerang on which was the motto; the shield flanked by supporters, a kangaroo and an emu; centrally above the shield a waratah and across that from supporter to supporter a scroll showing "Australian Horse"; Waratah leaves as background for the legs of the supporters.
In October 1899, the establishment was 638 all ranks. When the South African War broke out, the Regiment quickly mobilized a detachment of 34 all ranks under Lt W. V. Dowling, which sailed from Sydney on 13th November, 1899. In Africa, they were attached at first to the New South Wales Lancers. Subsequently, a second draft of 105 all ranks, commanded by Capt R. R. Thompson, arrived from the Regiment to build the detachment up to squadron strength and the Australian Horse Squadron was from then on attached to the Royal Scots Greys. In addition, many other members enlisted and served in South Africa in other units (eg. Colonel Mackay, who commanded the Imperial Bushmen's Contingent of New South Wales).
The service squadron was engaged almost continually from 7th March until October 1900, where after it returned to New South Wales.
As well as many minor actions, the Australian Horse took part in 41 engagements. Sergeant Major H. Arnold was awarded the DCM. Casualties included 2 officers and 2 others killed in action and 6 other ranks died of disease.
As a result of Federation, the defence forces in New South Wales were taken over by the Commonwealth in 1903. The three existing mounted regiments (Lancers, Mounted Rifles and 1st Australian Horse) were expanded to six, 1st Australian Horse becoming 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse) with Col J. A. K. Mackay, CB still in command. "D" and "E" Squadrons, however, were taken to form the nucleus of 6 A.L.H. Regiment (Australian Horse) whose territorial title was changed in 1906 from "Australian Horse" to "New England Light Horse". Also, C Squadron was transferred to the NSW Mounted Rifles.
Headquarters of the 3rd were at Goulburn. The Honorary Colonel was as previously, Earl Beauchamp, K.C.M.G. By 1908, the Regiment's localities had become: Goulburn, Braidwood, Araluen, Bungendore, Michelago, Bredbo, Cooma, Bega, Pambula, Cobargo, Cootamundra, Murrumburrah, Gundagai and Tumut. Establishment was 310 all ranks.
For several years, the Regiment continued to use its own green uniforms, both field service and full dress but eventually took into use the standard khaki uniforms with white facings prescribed for the Australian Light Horse.
From 1903, all Light Horse Regiments throughout the Commonwealth were to be armed and trained as mounted riflemen and not as cavalry who carry a sword for mounted shock action. Arms were S.M.L.E., .303 inch rifles and bayonets, although in fact the bayonets did not become available for several years. Like the lancer regiments in New South Wales, the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment was permitted to retain its swords for ceremonial and tournaments.
In 1904, the Regiment received a Banner (erroneously called a King's Colour) in recognition of South African War service. In 1908, Military Order No 123 announced that His Majesty approved of the grant of the Honorary Distinction "South Africa, 1899, 1900" and explained that the Banner is not a King's Colour and that the Honorary Distinction was not to be borne upon it.
An affiliation between the six light horse regiments of New South Wales and King Edward's Horse (King's Colonials) was announced in 1908.
With the advent of Universal Training in July 1912, there was a re-organization of units, however, the only change for the 3rd was that its designation was altered to 11th Light Horse (Australian Horse). Although it took in a few universal (compulsory) trainees, the bulk of its personnel continued to be voluntarily enlisted.
World War One broke out in August 1914. Militia regiments were not sent overseas but fresh Light Horse Regiments were specially raised as part of the Australian Imperial Force to serve in any theatre. The 11th Light Horse, therefore, was drained of many who left to join the A.I.F. and it continued on a part-time basis and before 1918, militia training had tapered off to a minimum as the country's main effort was directed to the manning and equipment of its forces abroad.
In 1918 regiments were re-numbered in order to perpetuate the designations, records and traditions gained by the A.I.F. units in the War. The 11th thus was re-numbered 7th so that it would become the successor to the 7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F.
>From the end of the war to March 1921, no militia training of consequence was carried out.
2. 7th Light Horse Regiment A.I.F., 1914-19
After the outbreak of World War One, 7th Light Horse Regiment was formed at Liverpool and Holsworthy, near Sydney in October and November 1915, as part of 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade.
The first commanding officer was Lt Col J. M. Arnott of 11th Light Horse (C.M.F.) and Major G. M. Macarthur-Onslow of 9th Light Horse (C.M.F.) was appointed 2nd-in-command.
The Regiment arrived in Egypt on 1st February, 1915 and in May, the Brigade was ordered to Gallipoli as a dismounted force, the 7th disembarking on the 19th. From then on it was in the fighting until the evacuation of the Peninsula in mid-December. For a period, the squadrons were distributed to the battalions of 3rd Infantry Brigade; later the Regiment operated as a complete unit. It was at such historical places as Bolton's Ridge, Tasmania Post, Chatham's Post, Balkan Pits and Lone Pine.
During August, Lt Col Arnott was evacuated sick and was succeeded in command by Major (later Lt Col) Macarthur-Onslow.
After Gallipoli, the Light Horse were re-horsed in Egypt and 2nd Light Horse Brigade was allotted to Anzac Mounted Division, with which the 7th Regiment remained until the end of hostilities. In Egypt, Sinai and Palestine, it gained battle honours and the following remarks by Lt Gen Sir Harry Chauvel, who commanded the Desert Mounted Corps, are appropriate:
"At the Battle of Romani it was largely due to its stubborn defence and spirited counter-attack, under the leadership of Lt Col G. Macarthur-Onslow that the victory was so complete.
At the first Battle of Gaza, it was this Regiment that led the Anzac Mounted Division through the night to its position in rear of the city and which captured the new Commander of the Gaza Defence, who was on his way up to take his command. During the Battle of Beersheba and the pursuit which followed, the Regiment sustained the fine traditions it had already established for dash and gallantry. In the raids across Jordan and throughout the long summer of 1918 in the Jordan Valley, it bore its share of the fighting and the hardships, from the bitter cold of Gilead in mid-winter to the scorching heat of Jericho in July.
Under Lt Col J. D. Richardson, it played a brilliant part in the final victory which destroyed three Turkish Armies and brought Germany's Allied out of the War."
Decorations and awards gained by the Regiment were as follows: CMG - 2; DSO - 5; MC - 8; Order of the Nile - 4; DCM - 8; MM - 20; Serbian Medal - 5; Mentioned in Despatches - 41; Complimentary Mention (Anzac) - 1; Mentioned in Divisional Orders (Anzac) - 1.
A full narrative has been given in book form - "The 7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F., 1914-1919" by Lt Col J. D. Richardson, DSO; Publishers E. N. Birks, Radcliffe Press, Sydney.
The following are the Battle Honours awarded to the Regiment, only those in block letters being borne on the Guidon which was received in 1928 (see later): Anzac, DEFENCE OF ANZAC, Sulva, SARI BAIR, Gallipoli, 1915, ROMANI, EGYPT, 1915-17, GAZA-BEERSHEBA, El Mughar, Nebi Samwil, JERUSALEM, JORDAN (ES SALT), JORDAN (AMMAN), MEGIDDO, Nablus, PALESTINE, 1917-18.
3. Australian Horse, 1921-43
As already stated, 11th Light Horse had been re-numbered 7th in 1918.
Citizen Force training was resumed in 1921 and the Light Horse regiments were organized and armed the same as the British Calvary at that time. Arms were swords, .303 inch rifles, bayonets, a Hotchkiss light machine gun in each sabre troop and Vickers machine guns in the machine gun troops. As previously, the Lighthorse Man provided his own horse.
The 7th was placed in 4th Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. Regimental headquarters were at Goulburn.
Uniform was Khaki, of AIF pattern; badges used were Commonwealth, black oxidized. The colour patch of 7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F. was worn on tunic sleeves; it was rectangular, divided diagonally, the upper portion being black and the lower red, worn with the broad of the red to the front. In time, approval was received for the cavalry to wear plumes in their hats. About 1933, a new pattern of tunic was adopted and maroon became the distinctive facings colour for the light horse.
In 1928 a regimental guidon was consecrated at a Brigade camp at Liverpool and presented to the Regiment by Lt Gen Sir Harry Chauvel. Borne on the guidon are the honorary distinction "South Africa, 1899-1902" and the World War One battle honours of 7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F.
After the suspension of universal training in 1929, units were allowed to wear their own badges again. The 7th used the design of its former collar badge for both hat and collar - crossed musket and sword on a Waratah background, with motto on a boomerang across the intersection of the musket and sword.
The alliance with King Edward's Horse lapsed after World War One owing to the disbandment of that unit. It was superceded by one with The Queen's Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards).
In 1936, following re-organization of 1st/21st, the Nowra and Kangaroo Valley Troops of that unit were absorbed and the 7th became 7th/21st, raised as follows:
HQ: Goulburn, Sydney
HQ Sqn: Goulburn, Gunning, Yass
"A" Sqn: Braidwood, Kangaroo Valley, Nowra
"B" Sqn: Young, Harden, Grenfell
"C" Sqn: Canberra, Cooma, Bombala
However, in 1937, 21st was reformed as a separate regiment, "Riverina Horse" and the Australian Horse reverted to the designation of 7th Light Horse Regiment.
After the outbreak of World War Two, once again many of the personnel left to join the A.I.F. and the 7th became part of the Home Defence Force. In 1942 it was converted and redesignated 7th Australian Motor Regiment and was called up for full-time duty. In 1943, it was disbanded, as were a number of other Citizen Force units owing to the drain made on man-power by the A.I.F.
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