Wednesday 30 January 2019

The Mounted Infantry goes to war

...continued from last week.
In October 1899, the British Empire went to war against the Boers of South Africa, and Captain John Antill was selected as Adjutant in Command of the Mounted Rifles. The first squadron departed for South Africa on November 3rd, 1899. They saw action in Cape Colony, Free State and Transvaal. Several more contingents of Mounted Rifles followed soon after.
Among the Campbelltown Volunteers were Private Michael Bourke, and Lance Corporal Thomas Lees, who were invalided home 10 months later, and Private Charles Spooner who was also invalided home in December 1900. Lieutentants Joseph and William Newman, Warrant Officer Richard Holman, and Private Frank Axam had 'stuck together' whilst overseas, and returned together in January 1901.

Private Frank Axam - left with the first contingent in 1899
(Town and Country Journal, January 1900

All soldiers were welcomed back to Campbelltown with great fanfare and honour. Joe Newman said "Everywhere we went we met Campbelltown boys, and I believe, that in proportion to population, this town sent more men to South Africa than any other place".
Welcome home parade at Campbelltown Station, 1900, for the soldiers returning from the Boer War.
(Photo: CAHS)
The NSW Mounted Rifles would evolve into the legendary Light Horsemen of World War I.

A more detailed account of the Campbelltown boys can be found in Jim Munro and Jeff McGill's excellent book "Campbelltown and the Boer War".

Written by Claire Lynch
Bicentennial History of Campbelltown - Carol Liston
Campbelltown and the Boer War - Jim Munro and Jeff McGill
Australia's Boer War  - Craig Wilcox
Town and Country Journal

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