New South Wales Citizens Bushmen

The New South Wales Citizens’ Bushmen consisted of four mounted rifle squadrons and underwent several name changes, from the New South Wales Citizens’ Bushmen, to the Australian Bushmen Contingent, and then finally the 1st Bushmen Regiment. The unit was raised in early 1900 and funded by public subscription, hence “citizens’” in its title. The objective was to enlist a regiment of men from the country who were “acquainted” with the “vicissitudes of bush life” - good shots, good riders, and good physiques. Preference was give to men who had previously served in South Africa, as well as to those who had lived and worked in rural Australia.

The New South Wales Citizens’ Bushmen was the third contingent sent by New South Wales to the war in South Africa. The contingent consisted of 30 officers and 495 other ranks, with 570 horses. The unit left Sydney on 28 February 1900, on board the transports Atlantian and Maplemore, and arrived in Cape Town on 2 April. The ships then proceed to Biera, where they disembarked on 12 April and proceeded to Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

The regiment’s staff and A Squadron served under General Plumer and participated in the relief of Mafeking in May. Still under Plumer’s command, they subsequently also served as part of General Baden-Powell’s column in the relief of Rustenburg in July.

The rest of the regiment, B, C, and D Squadrons, took part in a heavy engagement at Koster’s River on 22 July, in an attempt to relieve the Eland’s River garrison. A Squadron was part of a force which defended the Eland’s River post against a Boer force of about 1,000 men for 13 days. They were eventually relieved by Lord Kitchener’s force on 15 August and Lord Methuen’s column also arrived three days later.

In 1901 the bushmen continued to serve under Plumer, operating in the Transvaal and the advance on Pietersburg.

The regiment embarked at Cape Town and returned to Australia on 9 May, disembarking in Sydney two days later.

Casualties

  • 17 killed or died of wounds, 13 died of disease

For more information please see the Roll of Honour and Boer War Nominal Roll databases.

Decorations

  • 1 CMG
  • 4 DSO
  • 3 DCM

For more information please see Honours and Awards database