Tasmanian Mounted Infantry

Unit Tasmanian contingents
Battle Honour South Africa 1899-1900
Commanding Officer South Africa 1899-1900
Decorations 1 CB; 1 DCM
Conflict South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Official records of the Australian military contingents to the war in South Africa(Melbourne : A.J. Mullett, Govt. Printer, 1911)
  • Wilcox, Craig, Australia's Boer War : the war in South Africa, 1899-1902(Melbourne : Oxford University Press, 2002)
Category Unit
Conflict South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Unit hierarchy

The First Tasmanian Contingent was an infantry company raised in October 1899 shortly after the start of the Boer War. The company was under the command of the Major C. St. Cameron, who had served under Lord Frederick Roberts in Afghanistan during the Second Afghan War (now the Second Anglo-Afghan War) from 1878 to 1881. The infantry company was established with four officers, one warrant officer, five sergeants, four corporals, two buglers, and 64 privates. Many of the men came from the local Tasmanian colonial forces.

This first contingent left Launceston on 27 October 1899 for Victoria and the next day left Melbourne on board the transport Medic. The transport arrived at Cape Town on 26 November. They were strengthened in February 1900 with a draft of one medical officer, two sergeants, and 43 rank and file, and left Australia on the transport Moravian.

Upon arriving in South Africa the company joined the Australian Regiment, and garrisoned Enslin and other areas protecting the railway. At Naauwpoort, Cape Colony, at the start of February, the company became a mounted unit and joined General Clement's force. They were engaged in operations around Colesberg, which was occupied on 28 February. The Tasmanians served with the Australian Brigade until April, when the brigade was broken up. They then joined the 1st and 2nd Victorian Mounted Rifles, and the 1st South Australian Mounted Rifles, as part of the 4th Mount Infantry Corps, at Bloemfontein, under the command of Colonel Henry.

The corps patrolled around Bloemfontein and the Tasmanians went into action at Hout Nek on 30 April. The advance to Pretoria began on 2 May and during the advance the mounted infantry corps rode out in front, as part of the screening force, in the centre and centre-left of the column. The riding was hard and they often covered 40 to 50 miles a day. The mounted infantry took part in a number of skirmishes and engagements, notably at Vet River on 6 May and Zand River, where Cameron was wounded (for the second time), on 10 May. The first time Cameron was wounded occurred at Bloemfontein in February, when he was also captured for a brief time.

After the occupation of Pretoria, the mounted infantry was stationed on the eastern front, participating in the battle of Diamond Hill and the actions at Balmoral at the end of July, and Belfast on 7 September. After "some very hard marching over rough country" Komati Poort was occupied on 24 September. In October the Tasmanians returned to Pretoria where they were inspected by Lord Roberts.

The Tasmanians thus participated in the operations around Colesberg, and took part in the advance from Bloemfontein to Pretoria, including the actions at Karee Kloof, Brandfort, Vet River, Zand River, Elandsfontein, Johannesburg, and Diamond River. They were then part of the advance from Pretoria to Komati Poort; including the actions at Belfast and the occupation of Kapsche Hoop.

The first Tasmanian contingent left Cape Town on the transport Harlech Castle on 3 November 1900 and, after visits to Albany, Adelaide, and Melbourne, reached Tasmania on 7 December.

Related information