The statement supplied by the Premier of New South Wales to the War Commission, Appendices to Evidence, p 177, shows that the 6th Imperial Bushmen, which was raised in New South Wales, had a strength of 757 with 800 horses. It was under the command of Colonel the Honourable J A Kennett Mackay. They sailed from New South Wales on the Armenian on 23rd April 1900.
The corps landed at Beira, crossed Rhodesia, and operated in the north-west of the Transvaal. Under General Carrington they advanced to the relief of their noble Colonial brothers at Elands River and, having seen the enemy, took part in the very inglorious retreat. When the Elands River garrison, having been relieved, was marching to Mafeking, they found the 6th Imperial Bushmen at Zeerust, and the latter are said to have expressed themselves very freely at the humiliating role they had been forced to play. They had suffered some very trifling losses, but would gladly have borne much to have had the credit of relieving Hore. The Reverend J Green, who was at Elands River (see Rhodesia Regiment), said the 6th were very sick at being in the "inglorious attempt to pull us out of the fire ... No one felt the humiliation like Lord Cecil"; and again, the evacuation of Zeerust was inexplicable. "Cecil broke down and wept like a child". The son of Britain's great Prime Minister had been one of the noble band who had held Mafeking for seven long months. He doubtless felt what a falling off in spirit was now come. Throughout August the regiment saw a good deal of skirmishing. On the 27th they had several casualties, including Sergeant Major Messenger wounded. After General Carrington had gone home the regiment did excellent service under Lord Methuen and other leaders in the Western Transvaal, and their good work was frequently recognised. On 9th September the 6th had half a dozen men wounded. In Lord Roberts' telegram of 12th September, he said: "Methuen reports that Douglas was attacked yesterday morning when marching on the road from Ottoshoop to Lichtenburg. After some hours' fighting Douglas drove the enemy off and captured a quantity of grain and other stores. His casualties were — wounded, Captain Bryce, Australian Bushmen, severely in shoulder, 2 men severely, 2 slightly"; and on 18th September he wired, "Methuen reports, Douglas came across a body of the enemy on the 12th near Lichtenburg. He captured 39 prisoners, 10 waggons, and some sheep and oxen. His casualties were—Lieutenant R J White, 6th Imperial Bushmen, severely wounded and taken prisoner: a man of the regiment has died of wounds received on same occasion". At Lichtenburg on 28th September the regiment had 7 men wounded, 3 of whom died of their wounds. In Lord Roberts' telegram of 12th November 1900 he spoke of the "excellent work" of both the NSW Bushmen and New Zealanders, then under General Douglas. The corps had several casualties about the 25th and 26th December, including Lieutenant D F Miller wounded.
During the first four months of 1901 the 6th Imperial Bushmen, or the greater portion of them, were with Lord Methuen and General Babington in the Western Transvaal (see New Zealand - 4th Contingent), and their work was most highly spoken of in despatches and by the correspondents. During February the corps was frequently engaged, and did many trying marches.
Major W E O'Brien, Lieutenants Thomson and Doyle, and many non-commissioned officers and men, gained mention on the 23rd and 24th March 1901, when General Babington and Colonel Grey had a most successful action with Delarey, in which they took 3 guns, 6 maxims, and many prisoners. It was very fortunate that the regiment got, and made such a fine use of, this grand opportunity, before their term of service came to an end. Some of the regiment were still in the field in June, and on the 4th of that month Lieutenant A E G King was severely wounded in the north-west of the Transvaal. The appendix to the despatch of 8th July 1901 puts the strength of the 6th Imperial Bushmen with General Babington, in May, at 193: detachments were employed at other parts of the Transvaal at that time.
Colonel Mackay and his contingent sailed for home on 26th June 1901.
Click on the icon to read the account of this unit from Lt Col P L Murray's 1911 'Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa'