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Boer War Battle Honours awarded to Australian Units.

Battle Honours are awarded to arms units for distinctive service in any particular war. This is a long standing British tradition which has been continued by the Australian Army to the present day. Traditionally they are awarded to Infantry and Cavalry units on a unit or regimental basis. These units carry Colours (Infantry) or Guidons (Cavalry). Today Cavalry is represented by units of the Armoured Corps. Armoured units carry a single Guidon (more than one if units have been amalgamated) on ceremonial occasions whilst the infantry carry two Colours – a National or Sovereign’s Colour and a Regimental Colour. Each Colour or Guidon carries the most important battle honours that the unit has been granted and so represents the history and honour of that particular regiment. The Artillery is regarded as a single regiment, they carry no colours as their guns are considered their honours, but have a single battle honour UBIQUE-Latin for ‘everywhere’ on their hat badge. Contrary to corps tradition, A Battery was presented with a King's Banner in 1904. This was subsequently updated in 1971 with this time a Queen's banner, making it the only Commonwealth sub unit (or unit for that matter) to be so honoured.

To receive an honour a substantial part of that unit must have been involved in the actual fighting, usually this is held to be at least a force of Squadron or Company level. Whilst a number of Australian units had forces of that size involved in the war (eg NSW Lancers) it was determined after the war that no Australian unit would be awarded any one of the nineteen specific battle honours from the Boer War. Instead a Representative honour would be awarded to those units on the Australian Order of Battle who were regarded as having made significant contributions to volunteers to the various State and Federal Contingents. Even the Australian Commonwealth Horse Battalions were regarded as being formed through existing State units. Those representative Honours are shown below

Second Boer War 12 Oct 1899-31 May 1902

SOUTH AFRICA 1899-1902
NSW Lancers,
NSW Mounted Rifles,
1st Regt NSW Infantry
2nd Regt NSW Infantry
3rd Regt NSW Infantry
Victorian Mounted Rifles
1st BN Infantry (Vic)
2nd BN Infantry (Vic)
4th BN Infantry (Vic)
5th BN Infantry (Vic)
Victorian Rangers,
Queensland Mounted Rifles, (Queensland Mounted Infantry)
South Australian Mounted Rifles,
1st Regt 1st and 2nd BN (Active Force) South Australian Infantry
1st & 2nd BN Western Australian Infantry
1st BN Tasmanian Infantry Regt
2nd BN Tasmanian Infantry Regt

South Africa 1899-1900
Australian Horse (NSW)

South Africa 1900-1902
4th Regt NSW Infantry
5th Regt NSW Infantry
6th Regt NSW Infantry
3rd BN Infantry (Vic)
1st Queensland (Moreton) Regt, Queensland Rifles
3rd BN Tasmanian Infantry Reg

South Africa 1901
8th Regt NSW Infantry
3rd Queensland (Kennedy) Regt

South Africa 1901-1902
7th Regt NSW Infantry
2nd Regt 1st and 2nd BN (Reserve Force) South Australian Infantry,
3rd and 4th BN Western Australian Infantry

South Africa 1902
5th BN Western Australian Infantry

‘A’ Field Battery RAA (NSW) served South Africa 1900-1901

With the exception of the Artillery, the above units were granted a King's Banner in recognition of their service in the Boer War. In addition a King's Banner was presented to the Australian Army Medical Corps in recognition of the service rendered by the Corps in the South African Campaign. The banners presented in 1904, were replaced by new ones in 1924 in recognition of services rendered in the first world war. In 1926, Light Horse unit banners were replaced by Guidons, in the case of the Infantry, the King's Banners became the National Colour, and an additional Regimental colour was presented. Since that time the Guidons and Colours have been replaced as the old ones have worn, and additional battle honours have needed to be included for subsequent conflicts (WW1 to Afganistan). National Colours are now based on the national (Australian) flag rather than the union flag.

Due to expansions and amalgamations of units in the Australian Army throughout the period of time since the Boer War the following units regular and reserve still existing on the Order of Battle carry the honour South Africa 1899-1902 in recognition of their descent from the units above. It should be noted as well that some dormant units (that is those units no longer actively on the Order of Battle) of the Australian Army also carry the honour South Africa.

The following Armoured Corps units

1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers
12th/16th Hunter River Lancers (New South Wales)
4th/19th Prince of Wales' Light Horse (Victoria)
3rd/9th South Australian Mounted Rifles
2nd/14th Light Horse (Queensland Mounted Infantry)
10th Light Horse (Western Australia)

The Royal Australian Artillery

The Battalions of all the following Infantry Regiments

The Royal New South Wales Regiment
The Royal Victorian Regiment
The Royal Queensland Regiment
The Royal South Australian Regiment
The Royal Western Australian Regiment
The Royal Tasmania Regiment

The Royal Australian Army Medical Corps
 

© National Boer War Memorial Association Inc ABN 29 293 433 202