The draft of Lancers which from force of circumstances was the first to go to the front from Australia represented the senior cavalry regiment of New South Wales, now the 1st Australian Light Horse (New South Wales Lancers). It was raised in 1883, first as Light Horse, but in 1885, after the return of the Contingent from the Soudan, it was converted into Lancers, as a compliment to the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, which were encamped with the New South Wales Artillery at Handoub. The uniform of that regiment was also adopted with slight variations; but a few years later it was relinquished for the distinctive drab with scarlet plastrons.
A squadron of 100, under Captain C. Cox, had proceeded to England in 1899, to take part in the annual military tournament at Islington, and for training at Aldershot; the expense of which was defrayed entirely by the regiment. Upon the war breaking out, permission to volunteer was cabled for and acceded to. The detail, with their horses, then proceeded to Cape Town, where they were enthusiastically received, equipped with the service uniform and accoutrements, and despatched to the scene of hostilities.
The subsequent drafts were supplied with horses, but in many instances spare chargers were taken.
Rates of pay (as sanctioned by G.O. 107, 21.10.99) " for members of Partially-paid or Volunteer Forces," were as follow :—Buglers and privates, 2s. 3d. per day, with 2s. 3d. deferred pay ; corporals, 4s. 9d. and 2s. 3d.; sergeants, 5s. 9d. and 2s. 3d.; company sergeant-majors or colour-sergeants, 6s. 3d. and 2s. 9d.; staff-sergeants, 6s. 6d. and 3s. 6d.; warrant officers, 7s. 6d. and 4s.; lieutenants, 16s. and 3s. deferred pay ; captains, 20s. and 3s. 6d.
N.C. officers and men of the Permanent Forces would receive, from date of landing, Imperial rates of pay in addition to existing rates.
"Separation allowance" was also granted to wives and families of N.C.O.'s and soldiers serving in South Africa, at varying rates according to rank. If in occupation of quarters or drawing lodging allowance, the wife received 4d. per diem ; for each girl under 16 years l|d. per diem ; each boy under 14 years, l|d. per diem. When not in occupation of quarters or receipt of lodging allowance, payment was made at rates varying from warrant officers' wives 2s. 3d. per diem, to privates' wives, Is. Id.
Pay was issued by the Imperial Government after the landing of Contingents at Imperial rates. These varied from lieutenant-colonel, 25s. per diem and 4s, field allowance, to subaltern, 15s. and 2s. 6d.; and from 9s., R. sergeant-major, to 5s. privates. Buglers, saddlers, and farriers, 1s. per diem extra.
The following was the establishment authorized for Lancer Contingent, in the first instance :—1 major (temporary), 1 captain, 3 subalterns, 1 Sq. S.M.,
1 Sq. Q.M.S., 2 staff-sergeants, 4 sergeants, 2 sergeant-farriers, 2 shoeing smiths,
2 buglers, 8 corporals, 97 privates, including cooks and batmen, 1 saddler. Total, 125.
Men volunteering were required to be from 20 to 40 years of age, preferably single, and good shots. Horses brought in had to be for M.I. work, and pass veterinary examination.
References to Orders.
Formation G.O., N.S.W 107/99
Pay 107/99, 112/99
Conditions of Service 107/99
Embarkation G.O., N.S.W 8/00, 22/00
Separation allowance 88/00
Clothing, Arms, Etc.
Uniform consisted of brown F.S. jacket and pants, with, puttees and hats. Arms and equipment: M.E. carbines, swords, shoulder bandoliers, waistbelt, and braces.
Fully horsed and provided with saddles. Also provided with regimental transport.
The first draft arrived at Cape Town from England on 2nd November, 1899 ; it consisted of 2 officers and 69 sergeants and rank and file, with their horses. Of these, 2 were killed or died, 2 were transferred to S.A.C., leaving 2 officers and 65 others, who returned.
The second draft left New South Wales on 28th October, 1899 ;*it consisted of 5 officers, 36 others, with 160 horses. Three were killed or died; 1 was transferred, 1 was commissioned in Imperial Army ; 4 officers and 32 others returned.
The third draft left New South Wales on 17th January, 1900 ; it consisted of 17 sergeants and rank and file, with 15 horses; 1 man was killed or died, 16 returned.
The fourth draft departed 16th February, 1900; it comprised 1 officer and 40 others. Total: 8 officers, 162 others, with 246 horses.
The squadron arrived home on 6th December, 1900, and 8th January, 1901.