The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

 
 
The Memorial Story

This memorial represents a half section (4 troopers) of mounted riflemen on patrol on the South African veldt. The memorial core consists of four one and a half life size bronze statues realistically posed. The statues were executed by renowned Melbourne sculptor, Louis Laumen and cast in Cameron McIndoe's Fundere Studios foundry in Melbourne. The design work was undertaken by Group GSA with Ms Jane Cavanough, Artlandish Art and Design. The walling was undertaken by Misura Metal Design Studio and the construction was undertaken by Glascott Landscape and Civil. The NBWMA project manager was Major Steve Bain.

The patrol is shown in motion. In action one of the four would be the horse holder for the rest of the half section. The mounted rifleman is representative of the role that the bulk of the official Australian Contingents (16463, the total figure from Murray's Official Records) fulfilled during the war. (Please note that the term, 'Light Horse' was not used by Australia to describe its mounted units before 1903.) With the exception of the squadrons of the NSW Lancers and the Australian Horse regiments which were cavalry, all Australian Mounted Troops performed the role of Mounted Rifles. This meant that they were equipped as infantry but were expected to perform cavalry roles such as long range deep penetration, reconnaissance and patrolling. On some occasions they fought from horseback firing their weapons as they charged but also they dismounted and fought as infantry. These troopers were equipped with a Long Magazine Lee Enfield .303 rifle (not a carbine) and bayonet. Usually operating as 'Columns' of up to 1000 troopers, by the end of the Boer War campaign they were operating as fully mounted Australian brigades albeit under British commanders. The brigades were supported by artillery, automatic cannon (Pom Pom guns) and machine guns as well as ambulance wagons.

The dress of the troopers on the memorial is patterned after that worn by the Australian Commonwealth Horse regiments of 1902- Australia's first official national units. Spare equipment or soldiers excess personal equipment which could not be carried on horseback or was directed to be removed to ensure fast travelling, was carried on the units supply wagons. These wagons would rendezvous with the 'Fighting Column' at a prearranged time and location. Often all wheeled vehicles including weapons would be left behind if the column was transiting difficult ground or operating at night. Units were in the field for up to six weeks and often only resupplied once a week.

The set up of a soldier's gear was such that if for any reason he parted company with his horse, he took with him his weapon, ammunition, water bottle and emergency rations. Also carried on the horse would be grain rations for the horse supplemented from local sources where possible, as were spare horse shoes. Each squadron (about 100 soldiers) had a shoeing smith and saddler to re-shoe horses or repair bridles etc. The equipment shown includes saddlebags and wallets of various types, ropes and pegs for tethering the horses, greatcoats, blankets and feed bags. Individual soldiers often varied where these items were located.


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