The New South Wales Imperial Bushmen was one of a number of regiments raised in the Australian colonies in response to a request from the British government asking for “hardy bushmen” - men who could ride, shoot, and navigate in the bush. The idea was to find men who could employ the same type of guerrilla tactics as the Boer and beat them at their own game. Volunteers came from Cootamundra, Gundagai, Wagga, Young, Hay, Cooma, Moree, Cobar, Tenterfield, and Bourke. The New South Wales Imperial Bushmen was a mounted unit, consisting of six mounted rifle squadrons. Later, during its time overseas, the regiment’s name was changed to the 6th Imperial Bushmen.

The bushmen left Sydney, on board the transport Armenian, on 23 April 1900. The regiment originally numbered 40 officers with 722 other ranks, and 800 horses. They were the fourth contingent sent from New South Wales to the war. During 15 months in South Africa, the regiment served in Rhodesia and in west Transvaal.

From June to August the bushmen served with the 2nd Brigade, Rhodesian Field Force; then Lieutenant General Lord Methuen’s No. 2 Column, from September to December; the Mounted Brigade, under the command of the Colonel R.G. Kekowich, from December to January 1901; then finally the Mounted Brigade, under Major General J.M. Babington, from January to May 1901. During this time, from September 1900 to May 1901, the regiment’s D Squadron served as Methuen’s personal bodyguard.

Principal operations in which the contingent was engaged:

  • Relief of the Eland’s River garrison: 5 August 1900
  • Marico River: 6 August 1900
  • Occupation of Ottoshop: 14 August 1900
  • Buffel’s Hoek: 18-19 August 1900
  • Jacobsdal: 22 August 1900
  • Malmani: 27 August 1900
  • Wonderfontein: 10-11 September 1900
  • Manana and Lewerpan, where a 15-pounder and a pom-pom gun were captured from the enemy: 12 September 1900
  • Re-occupation of Lichtenberg: 28 September 1900
  • Oliphant’s Nek: 5 October 1900
  • Magatas Pass: 10 October 1900
  • Riekerton: 16 October 1900
  • Lead Mines: 24 October 1900
  • Kaffir Kraal: 1 November 1900
  • Re-occupation of Klerksdorp: 16 November 1900
  • Wittepoort and Bulkop: 26-27 December 1900
  • Syferfontein: 5 January 1901
  • Occupation of Ventersorp: 10 January 1901
  • Klip Drift: 17 January 1901
  • Valkfontein: 26 January 1901
  • Magalisburg Valley, where a 9-pounder and a pom-pom gun were captured from the enemy: 3 March 1901
  • Relief of Lichtenberg: 7 March 1901
  • Hartebeestfontein: 20-22 March 1901
  • Veldfontein, where nine guns and 142 prisoners were captured: 24 March 1901
  • Wittepoort, where two 15-pounders were captured: 14 April 1901
  • Hartebeestfontein: 18 April 1901
  • Geduld, where a 9-pound Krupp gun was captured: 3 May 1901
  • Palmietfontein: 8 April 1901

The regiment returned to Australia, on board the transport Orient, on 17 July 1901.

Casualties

  • 30 killed, died of wounds, or died of disease

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

Decorations

  • 1 CB
  • 4 DSO
  • 1 DCM

For more information please see Honours and Awards database