Light Horse Military Units
THE 7TH AND 21ST LIGHT HORSE REGIMENTS 1898 - 1957


"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.:

Australian Horse
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
(Australian Horse)

Riverina Horse
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.


4. 21st Light Horse Regiment
The 21st was originally the 28th (Illawarra) Light Horse which was formed in 1912 of -
Berry-Robertson Squadron - Shellharbour - formerly attached NSW Lancers
Ulladulla - formerly attached NSW Lancers
Canterbury - formerly attached NSW Mounted Rifles
It's first CO was Captain C. D. Fuller. Headquarters were at Albion Park but later were removed to Kogarah and during the latter part of World War One to Ashfield.
The badge was a horse rampant in a circle on which was the unit's title; above the circle was a crown and below it a scroll with the motto "Virtus in Arduis".
The 28th was classified as Corps Mounted Troops and was attached to 3rd Light Horse Brigade (7th, 9th and 11th Regiments).
During the war years, Capt P. Connolly was temporarily in command. Lt Col S. J. Shillington, V.D. commanded from 1919 to 1926.
In the re-organisation of 1921, the unit became 21st Light Horse Regiment (Illawarra Light Horse). The unit"s colour patch was a white triangle with a blue centre.
There were a number of charges in sub-unit localities from 1921 to 1929, within the area bounded by Arncliffe, Milton and Moss Vale.
The Regiment's Guidon received in 1928 bore the honorary distinction "South Africa, 1899-1902" but no World War One honours as there was no 21st Light Horse in the A.I.F.
However, in 1936, the following distinctions were approved to be borne on the Guidons of the several regiments which had no A.I.F. "parent": ANZAC, GALLIPOLI, 1915; EGYPT 1915-17; PALESTINE, 1917-18.
Amalgamation with 1st Light Horse Regiment (NSW Lancers) occurred in July 1929, the composite regiment being 1st/21st Light Horse Regiment (New South Wales Lancers). Four troops of 21st were disbanded, Mittagong troop was transferred to 7th and four troops were retained in 1st/21st.
New South Wales Lancers badges, with the designation, Ò1st/21stÓ, were used.
On 3rd June, 1935, the title "Royal" was bestowed on the NSW Lancers so the unit's designation became 1st/21st Light Horse Regiment (Royal New South Wales Lancers). Then in November 1936, the Regiment was motorized and became 1st Light Horse (Machine Gun) Regiment. The number Ò21Ó was then linked with 7th which thus became known as 7th/21st. At the same time, Nowra and Kangaroo Valley Troops which had been part of 1st/21st were transferred to 7th/21st.
The 21st was reformed as a separate unit, 21st Light Horse Regiment (Riverina Horse), in July 1937, with Headquarters in Wagga Wagga. The other sub-unit locations were:
HQ Sqn: Cootamundra, Stockingbingal, Sydney
"A" Sqn: Narrandera, Griffith, Barellan
"B" Sqn: Holbrook, Urana, Culcairn
"C" Sqn: Tumbarumba, Gundagai, Tarcutta
The 1st became Divisional Troops and 4th Cavalry Brigade now comprised 6th, 7th and 21st Regiments.
The badge ensign adopted by 21st was that of Illawarra Light Horse but with the new designation, "Riverina Horse", and white metal was used instead of brass.
During the early part of World War Two, there were considerable changes of personnel as many left to join the A.I.F. and others were taken in to fill the gaps in the Regiment.
At the end of September 1941, the 21st was placed on full-time duty and in December 1941, it was mechanized and re-designated 2nd Divisional Reconnaissance Battalion, which title was changed shortly afterwards to 21st Reconnaissance Battalion and again in September 1942, to 21st Australian Cavalry Regiment (A.I.F.)
It was transferred from 1st Cavalry Division in December 1941 and its subsequent service, partly in New South Wales and partly in Queensland, was successively with 2 Aust. Div., 1Aust. Div., 3 Aust. Div., 2 Aust. Corps, 3 Aust Armd Div. In May 1943 came the order to disband it and form the personnel into five carrier companies. As it turned out, two infantry battalion carrier platoons were also formed from personnel of HQ Sqn (Carrier Companies were to infantry divisions, tropical scale, what Divisional Cavalry Regiments were to infantry divisions, normal scale).
Some of these units were sent to New Britain, New Guinea and Torres Strait.

5. 7th/21st Australian Horse

After World War Two, Citizen Force training was resumed in 1948. The 7th/21st Reconnaissance Regiment (Australian Horse) was raised as a unit of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps and was allotted to 2nd Division. Sub-unit locations were as under:
HQ Sqn: Cootamundra, Temora
'A" Sqn: Wagga Wagga
"B" Sqn: Leeton, Griffith
"C" Sqn: Young, Tumut

The principal equipment was Staghound armoured cars and Canadian scout cars. Enlistment's were voluntary.
In 1949, the designation was altered to 7th/21st Australian Horse. The badge adopted for the unit was the same as that of the Riverina Horse (21 LH Regt) but with the title "Australian Horse" in place of "Riverina Horse". It was of white metal.
National Service (NS) was introduced in Australia in 1951. This led to the strength of the Regiment being considerably increased due to large intakes of N.S. men: the strength rose from approximately 140 active members (volunteers) in 1950 to approximately 1300, mostly N.S. men, in 1956.
In 1951 the role of the Regiment was changed from reconnaissance to anti-tank defence.
By 1953 the sub-unit locations had become:
HQ Sqn: Cootamundra, Temora
"A" Sqn: Wagga Wagga, Tumut
"B" Sqn: Wagga Wagga, Junee
"C" Sqn: Young, Cowra
Then, in 1956, there was a major re-organization and thenceforth the unit was raised only in and around Wagga Wagga. It became an Anti-Tank Regiment, R.A.A.C. and was still part of 2nd Division. Its primary equipment was changed from armoured and scout cars to 6-pr anti-tank guns towed by 1-ton trucks.
As from 14th September 1956, 7th/21st Australian Horse was disbanded, its personnel being absorbed into 4th Battalion and other units.
Additional information on South African War service may be obtained from - Records of Australian Contingents to the War in South Africa, 1899-1902Ó (Official) "Australian Cavalry" by Frank Wilkinson (Angus and Robertson, 1901).


COMMANDING OFFICERS

Australian Horse, 1898-1943

Col J. A. K. Mackay, CB 1898-1904
Lt Col G. de L. Ryrie 1904-1911
Lt Col J. E. Jackson 1911-1913
Lt Col J. M. Arnott 1913-1914
Maj W. U. Alley (temporarily) 1914-1919
Col J. M. Arnott, CMG, VD 1919-1921
Lt Col A. J. Mills, DSO, VD 1921-1922
Lt Col J. F. Donnelly, DSO, VD 1922-1928
Lt Col E. Twynam, VD 1928-1932
Lt Col G. H. L. Harris, MC, VD 1932-1937
Lt Col R. G. Woods, ED 1937-1939
Lt Col J. R. Broadbent 1939-1940
Lt Col T. L. F. Rutledge 1940-1942
Lt Col R. N. Peverill 1942 (May/Oct)
7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F.
Lt Col J. M. Arnott, CMG 1914-1915
Lt Col G. M. Macarthur-Onslow, CMG, DSO 1915-1918
Lt Col J. D. Richardson, DSO 1918-1919
Illawarra Light Horse
Capt C. D. Fuller 1912-1914
Capt P. Connolly 1914-1919
Lt Col S. J. Shillington, VD 1919-1926
Lt Col H. I. Johnson 1926-1929
Riverina Horse
Lt Col G. F. Wootten, DSO 1936-1939
Maj A. L. Rose 1940
Lt Col K. B. Rogers-Harrison 1940-1943
Australian Horse, 1948-1957
Col D. A. Cormack, ED 1948-1951
Lt Col W. P. Nicholas 1951-1955
Lt Col F. D.A. M. Williams 1955-1956
Lt Col S. A. Sly, ED 1956-1957


Courtesy of Bob Gunning, Qurindi


Historic Battles and Military Engagements, Histories on historical and current Light Horse Military Units, Anecdotes and some Personal Histories of Light Horsemen, Military stories and personal recollections, Existing Light Horse Re-enactment Units, Existing Light Horse Museums and their locations, Links to similar sites, Contact and Feedback page, Information on the Light Horse Association Ltd. Website by russ@powerup.com.au