New South Wales Infantry Company
The New South Wales Infantry Company was the only infantry contingent sent from New South Wales to the Boer War. The contingent was raised from New South Wales's colonial infantry regiments, who were part-time soldiers, and three men from the Field Artillery, who were to work as transport drivers. The recruits had to be of "good character", between the ages of 20 and 40, and preferably unmarried. They needed to measure 5 foot 7 inch or taller and have a chest measurement of 35 inches or larger. They also needed to have completed the previous year's musketry course, as either a "marksman or a first-class shot". The company consisted of five officers, 121 sergeants and other ranks, with a machine-gun, horse, and cart.
The company left Sydney on board the steamship Aberdeen on November 1899. A Squadron, New South Wales Mount Rifles, was also on board. Aberdeen reached Cape Town, South Africa, on 6 December and disembarked the next day, where upon the company joined the First Australian Regiment.
At the start of February 1900, while the company was at Naauwpoort, the unit was converted into a mounted rifles unit. Serving as part of Major General Clements' column, from February to March the unit took part in the relief of Colesberg and then, from March to April, in the advance on Bloemfontein. In April the unit joined General Ian Hamilton's column, as it advanced from Bloemfontein to Diamond Hill, in June. Already fighting as mounted unit, in May the company became "E" Squadron of the 1st Regiment, New South Wales Mounted Rifles.
The squadron continued to serve in the Orange Free State and Transvaal for the rest of the year. It was involved in actions around Bethlehem, Palmietfontein, Vredefort, and Lindeque Drift in July, and in the march to Pretoria, via Rustenburg, in August. Thereafter, it was involved in a number of operations and skirmishes in the northern Orange River Colony, at Witkoppies and Reitzburg, and in the capture of Potchefstroom.
A and E Squadrons returned to Australia with the rest of the regiment, on board the transport Orient. Orient left Cape Town on 13 December 1900 and, following stops at Albany and Melbourne, reached Sydney. The squadrons disembarked on 8 January 1901.
The unit's commander Captain (later Lieutenant General) James Gordon Legg continued in military service. During the First World War he raised the 2nd Division and commanded it on the Western Front in 1916. Legg subsequently served as Chief of General Staff.
|Conflict||South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)|