The regiment that would eventually become the 8th Light Horse Regiment was formed at Broadmeadows camp in Victoria on 23 September 1914 as the 6th Light Horse Regiment. A reorganisation of the rapidly expanding AIF in early October resulted in the 6th being renumbered the 8th, and it became part of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade. It sailed from Melbourne on 26 September 1914 and arrived in Egypt on 2 April 1915.

The light horse were considered unsuitable for the initial operations at Gallipoli, but were subsequently deployed without their horses. The 3rd Light Horse Brigade landed in late May 1915 and was attached to the New Zealand and Australian Division. The 8th formed the first two waves for the Brigade’s disastrous attack on the Nek on 7 August and suffered heavily. Exhausted and under-strength, the regiment then played a defensive role until it finally left the peninsula on 20 December 1915.

Back in Egypt, the 3rd Light Horse Brigade became part of the ANZAC Mounted Division and, in March 1916, joined the forces defending the Suez Canal from a Turkish drive across the Sinai Desert. The Turks were turned at Romani. Although it didn’t take part in the actual battle, the 8th Light Horse participated in the advance that followed the Turks’ retreat back across the desert.

By December 1916, this advance had reached the Palestine frontier and the 8th was involved in the fighting to secure the Turkish outpost of Maghdaba on 23 December, which was captured at bayonet point. The next Turkish stronghold to be encountered was Gaza. The 3rd Light Horse Brigade, now part of the Imperial Mounted Division (later re-named the Australian Mounted Division), was involved in the two abortive battles to capture Gaza directly (27 March and 19 April 1917) and then the operation that ultimately led to its fall - the wide outflanking move via Beersheba that began on 31 October.

With the fall of Gaza on 7 November 1917, the Turkish position in southern Palestine collapsed. The 8th participated in the pursuit that followed and led to the capture of Jerusalem in December. The focus of British operations then moved to the Jordan Valley. In early May 1918 the 8th was involved in the Es Salt raid. It was a tactical failure but did help to convince the Turks that the next offensive would be launched across the Jordan.

Instead, the offensive was launched along the coast on 19 September 1918. The mounted forces penetrated deep into the Turkish rear areas severing roads, railways and communications links. The 8th Light Horse took part in the capture of Tiberius on 25 September and Sasa on 29 September. It entered Damascus on 1 October, and was resting in Homs when the Turks surrendered on 31 October. While waiting to embark for home, the regiment was called back to operational duty to quell the Egyptian revolt that erupted in March 1919; order was restored in little over a month. The 8th sailed for home on 3 July 1919.

Glossary

Battle Honours

Battle Honours source: Australian Army Orders (112), 1927. Army Head-Quarters, 9 March 1927. 'Award of Battle Honours for the Great War to Cavalry and Infantry Units.'

Casualties

  • 302 killed, 675 wounded

For more information please see the Roll of Honour, Wounded and Missing, First World War Nominal Roll and Embarkation Roll databases.

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • 3 DSO
  • 8 MC
  • 10 DCM
  • 13 MM
  • 36 MID
  • 3 foreign awards

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

Collection Items

Search for related collection items

References

  • AWM4/10/13/1: May 1915 unit diary
  • C.V. Simpson, Maygar's boys: a biographical history of the 8th Light Horse Regiment AIF 1914-19, (Moorooduc: Just Soldiers, Military Research and Publications, 1998).