According to the official publication 'Australia and New Zealand', Sydney, 1904, p 440, the contribution of the colony to the army in South Africa was 78 officers, 1450 men, and 1524 horses.
The 1st contingent, which, by the desire of the War Office, was limited to one infantry unit, 127 all ranks, sailed on the Medic on 31st October 1899, and arrived at the Cape on 26th November. Captain F H Howland was commander, and Captain G R Lascelles, Royal Fusiliers, was adjutant. The contingent was on arrival sent to the De Aar-Modder River line of railway, and was employed occupying posts, first at Belmont, and after 10th December at Enslin, to protect the line. At the end of January the South Australians were, along with the remainder of the Australian regiment, converted into mounted infantry and taken to Naauwpoort, where they received horses and joined the force of General Clements, who was holding a long line opposite the Boers' positions at Colesberg. The contingent took a prominent part in the severe fighting which occurred in this district during the last three weeks of February 1900 (see Victorian Mounted Rifles). Lieutenant J Powell was killed on the 12th, the day on which the Boers, in very strong force, attacked the whole of Clements' extended line. Fortunately, the Worcestershire Regiment, on the extreme right, and the Victorians and other troops on the left, held the ground with admirable determination, although at both flanks the losses were heavy. Twenty of the South Australians, under Powell, were in the garrison of Pinkhill, the attack on which was most fierce and persistent.
The result of the action on the 12th was to convince General Clements that he must retire to Arundel. During the movement, which commenced at midnight, 13th and 14th, the South Australians formed the rearguard, a position of honour and great responsibility, seeing that General Clements' men had been without rest or sleep for nearly forty-eight hours. Notwithstanding these great exertions, Captain Lascelles, of the South Australians, on arriving in the neighbourhood of Arundel, went back with a mixed body of volunteers, mostly Australians, to endeavour to bring in or assist some infantry who had been left behind (see 1st Victorian Contingent and 2nd Victorian Contingent). Competent judges have said that the withdrawal of the force to Arundel was one of the best-managed operations undertaken during the campaign. On the 20th the Boers again attacked Clements, but were driven back. During the next eight days there was constant fighting, in which the South Australians took their share. On the 21st Trooper W E Smith was killed. On the 24th Captain Lascelles took out two squadrons of Prince Alfred's Guards in order to ascertain whether the enemy was still holding his positions in strength. The little force got into a place where they were subjected to an extremely heavy fire for three hours. Ultimately they withdrew with the loss of a few wounded and taken prisoners. Captain Lascelles and his men were complimented by General Clements. In the advance from Arundel on the 28th the South Australians again formed the rear-guard. When Clements was preparing to cross the Orange River the South Australians were sent forward on 8th March to the front at Norvals Pont, where they were in contact with the enemy until the 15th, when the force crossed. During the march through the Orange Free State the squadron was in the right column under Major Dauncey of the Inniskillings.
Continued in the history of the 2nd Contingent.