1st Australian Light Horse Regiment


The 1st Light Horse Regiment was raised, from recruits from New South Wales, at Rosebury Park in Sydney in August 1914. It was one of three regiments of the 1st Light Horse Brigade - the first mounted formation committed by Australia to the First World War. The regiment sailed from Sydney on 19 October and disembarked in Egypt on 8 December.

The light horse were initially considered unsuitable for the Gallipoli operation, but were soon deployed without their horses to reinforce the infantry. The 1st Light Horse Regiment landed on 12 May 1915 and was attached to the New Zealand and Australian Division. It played a defensive role for most of the campaign but mounted an attack on the Turkish position known as "the Chessboard" as part of the August Offensive on 7 August - 200 men were involved, 147 became casualties. The regiment left Gallipoli on 21 December 1915.

Back in Egypt, the 1st Light Horse Regiment joined the ANZAC Mounted Division. Between January and May 1916, it was deployed to protect the Nile valley from bands of pro-Turkish Senussi Arabs. On 14 May, it redeployed with its parent brigade to join the forces defending the Suez Canal. The 1st Light Horse Brigade played a significant role in turning back the Turkish advance on the canal at the battle of Romani on 4 August. In ensuing days the regiments of the Brigade participated in the immediate follow-up of the defeated Turks, but were soon withdrawn to rest.

The 1st Light Horse Regiment rejoined the Allied advance across the Sinai in November 1916 and was subsequently involved in the fighting to secure the Turkish outposts on the Palestine frontier - Maghdaba on 23 December 1916 and Rafa on 9 January 1917. A stint of protective duty along the line of communications through the Sinai followed. The 1st Light Horse Regiment's next major engagement was the abortive second battle of Gaza on 19 April. Gaza finally fell on 7 November, after a wide outflanking move via Beersheba, in which the regiments of the 1st Light Horse Brigade played a part.

With the capture of Gaza, the Turkish position in southern Palestine collapsed. The 1st Light Horse Regiment participated in the advance to Jaffa that followed, and was then committed to operations to clear and occupy the west bank of the Jordan River. It was involved in the Amman (24-27 February) and Es Salt (30 April-4 May) raids and the repulse of a major German and Turkish attack on 14 July 1918.

The final British offensive of the campaign was launched along the Mediterranean coast on 19 September 1918, with the ANZAC Mounted Division taking part in a subsidiary effort east of the Jordan aimed at Amman. Turkey surrendered on 30 October 1918. The 1st Light Horse Regiment sailed for Australia on 12 March 1919 without their horses, which were either shot or transferred to Indian cavalry units.