East Griqualand Mounted Rifles

The East Griqualand Mounted Rifles were raised in 1892 in East Griqualand as a district defence force against trouble periodically arising, or threatened, in those uneasy times on the part of the turbulent mixed tribes of natives and bastards of many mongrel types known by the generic name of Griquas.

The regiment consisted of troops centred at Kokstad, under Captain James Barclay; at Matatiele, under Captain Hugh Nourse; at Umzimkulu, under Captain Robert Strachan; at Newmarket, under Captain W. F. Raw; at New A main, under Captain C. R. B. Bovil; at Mpatoane, under Captain C. R. Rennie; and at Droevig, under Captain G. Wedderburn. The troops were more or leas independent and autonomous units. They varied considerably in strength, according to the European population of their centres. The Kokstad troop was dismounted and served as town garrison.

Colonel Sir Walter Stanford was in command of the regiment and Kokstad was its headquarters.
Members provided their own horses against an annual grant; also their own saddlery and some articles of equipment. Government provided arms and ammunition and some field equipment.

No regular uniform was worn up to the time of the Anglo-Boer War, but members were distinguished by wearing brown smasher hats, with a blue and white puggaree and white metal block letter EGMR on the turned-up left brim of the hat. At the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War the universal khaki uniform was issued, together with the kepi cap and the letters were then worn on the shoulder-straps as well as on the hat. No badge or motto was adopted.

The unit was originally armed with the Martini-Enfield .450 rifle. In 1900 these were changed for the Lee-Metford .303 magazine rifle.

The regiment took part in the suppression of the Lefleur Rebellion of the Griquas of 1897, the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, and the First Great War, 1914-1918. In the second it was largely used in the duty of guarding its western borders against inroads of Boer raiding parties, largely Cape rebels in composition, which constituted a standing menace to the country. In the fighting engaged in by the regiment during its existence a number of casualties occurred, one of these being to Captain H. Drummond Elliot of Kokstad, wounded.

No individual decorations were gained by members.

The E.G.M.R. became virtually moribund after the First Great War, and most of the younger members became absorbed into the East London squadron of the Transkei Mounted Rifles, under Captain Elliot Stamford. They served in that unit till 1926, when the whole of East Griqualand came within the recruiting area of the Natal Mounted Rifles. The squadron then came over to the NMR, bringing with it Captains le Rous and Fi'rebrace, the former being the Commander after Capt. Stamford. The remainder of the EGMR, mostly time-expired members, then retired. During the First Great War the regiment was used as a standing force in East Griqualand against any eventualities which might have arisen.

Source: Short History Of The Volunteer Regiments Of Natal And East Griqualand, Past and Present. Compiled by Colonel Godfrey T Hurst, DSO OBE VD, Honorary Colonel of the Natal Mounted Rifles.

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