30th December 2021

Mounted Troops

It is easy to be confused as to the differences between cavalry, yeomanry, mounted rifles and mounted infantry. Cavalry were soldiers that fought entirely on horse back (and today fight in armoured vehicles). Yeomanry was a British term for volunteer cavalry (“the yeomanry” were free men, above labourers but below the gentry). Mounted rifles (a.k.a. dragoons) were originally infantry who rode to battle before dismounting, but by the 19th century were “half cavalry”, able to fight on horseback or on foot as necessary. Mounted infantry were essentially mobile infantry, who rode to the site of the battle, but fought entirely on foot.


NSW Mounted Rifles

The first volunteer group named the New South Wales Mounted Rifles existed only from 1860-1862. The second regiment of this name was formed in 1893 from the  NSW Mounted Infantry that had started in 1888.

Evening News (Sydney), 20th July 1893 page 2.

In late October 1899 New south wales sent a contingent consisting of men from the Lancers, Mounted Rifles and the Army Medical Corps to the Transvaal. The Mounted Rifles became part of the 1st NSW Mounted Rifles, A Squadron. Two more regiments, the 2nd and 3rd, were to join them in South Africa. Following the war in 1903 they were renamed the 2nd Light Horse regiment (New South Wales Mounted Rifles), and in 1908 the 9th Light Horse. After several reincarnations and namings, it was merged into the Royal NSW regiment in 1960.

Weekly Times (Melbourne), 11th November 1899 page 3.

I was puzzled as to the identity of the animal face on the uniform buttons of the regiment. It appeared to be a spotted cat. Cheetah? Leopard? Wild cat?

While articles in the ‘Queenslander’ newspaper in 1931 described this as a tiger’s head, I was not convinced; unless the tiger had measles. Finally I found a reference:

The Tenterfield Intercolonial Courier and Fairfield and Wallangarra Advocate (NSW), 31st March 1903 page 2.

Interestingly, on page 7 of Cossum is a 1902 (with a King’s Crown) version of the regiment’s button bearing a ‘rampant lion’ and the motto ‘Pro Rege’ (For the King) and the letters M. and R. I presume it is rare as it was only used for one year.

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