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Category: Conflicts/WW1/Lt Horse

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  •  Victorian Mounted Rifles;

  •  8th Light Horse Regiment; 

  • 13th Light Horse Regiment; 

  • 20th Light Horse Regiment; 

  • 8th (Indi) Light Horse; 

  • 13th (Gippsland) Light Horse; 

  • 20th (Victorian Mounted Rifles) Light Horse;

  •  8th Cavalry Regiment (AIF);

  • 13th Armoured Regiment; 

  • 20th Motor Regiment (AIF);  

  • 2/8th Armoured Regiment (AIF); 41st, 

  • 42nd  and 43rd Aust Landing Craft Companies ; 

  • VMR Sqn, 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse

The 8/13 Victorian Mounted Rifles was raised as a CMF Armoured Regiment in May 1948. It formed part of the 2nd Armoured Brigade which had as its formation sign a black battle axe in an armoured hand on a yellow  background.

Col Tom Price-1t_n.JPG (9309 bytes) The Regiment was part of a lineage dating from 1885 when Colonel Tom Price, on instructions from the government of the Colony of Victoria formed  the Victorian Mounted Rifles, a mounted militia with companies across the  state.
Contingents drawn largely from the VMR served in South Africa between 1899 and 1902. 

Lieutenant Leslie Maygar won a Victoria Cross while serving with the 5th Contingent VMR.

Following Federation, the mounted troops in Victoria were reformed into Light Horse Regiments. 

The numbering of the regiments changed from time to time, but their regional distribution makes it possible to trace the  lineage of the current regiment.

During WWI three light horse regiments were raised in Victoria for the AIF,  the 4th ALH (see the history of the 4th/19th Prince of Wales's Light Horse Regiment), the 8th ALH and the 13th ALH. 

These regiments served with  distinction at Gallipoli, in the Middle East and on the Western Front.

C. 1903. A studio portrait of Lieutenant (Lt) Leslie C. Maygar VC DSO. Lt Maygar was the first Victorian to be awarded the Victoria Cross. He won his VC at Geelhoutboom in South Africa on 1901-11-23 serving with the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles. 

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917-10 whilst commanding the 8th Light Horse Regiment. Lt Colonel Maygar was killed in action during the battle of Beersheba on 1917-10-31.

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This portrait was taken after 1903 and before 1914 as Lt Maygar is wearing the 1903 Commonwealth pattern full dress uniform. The 'rampant' horse badge of the 8th Light Horse Regiment (a militia badge pre 1903), the colour patch of the 8th Light Horse Regiment first AIF (on the left sleeve) and the ribbon of the DSO have been added to the portrait by the artist.  (Donor H. Kerr)
  • 1885-1890; uniforms, rifle; dismounted officer of VMR (drawing of uniform is oversimplified and inaccurate), with horse wearing military bridle pattern 1885 and officer's saddle, the VMR was a volunteer body, and members supplied their own horse, saddlery and uniforms

1889; company of VMR riding through bushland during training

Charles Edward Williamson >> enlisted in the 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment on 8 September 1914, aged 30. A British subject, he had already served in the Lancashire Hussars and Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was promoted to Corporal in 'A' Troop within a month of joining-up.

The 8th ALH took part in the courageous, but ill-fated charge at the Nek  on 7 Aug 1915. 

It later served in Palestine and Syria as part of the 3rd LH Brigade. On 30 Apr 1917, the 8th ALH charged Turkish positions covering Es Salt, drove the defenders out and captured the town. 

The attackers failed by a few minutes to capture the HQ of the Turkish Fourth Army, but were successful in destroying a large quantity of stores and equipment.

The 13th ALH was the only complete Australian LH regiment to serve in  France and Belgium. The 13th was the Corps Cavalry Regiment of the  Australian Corps and took part in every battle involving the Australians. "A" Troop from C Sqn played a vital role in the recapture of Villers-Bretonneux on 25 Apr 1918. The Regiment was prominent in the 1918 battles of Amiens, Albert and the Hindenburg Line where it was deployed as the advance guard  of the Australian Divisions.

After the war, the Militia in Victoria was reorganised to reflect the AIF  organisation. Regiments were given territorial titles to foster regional affiliations. Three of these regiments were the
  •  8th (Indi) LH based on NE Victoria, the 
  • 13th (Gippsland) LH based in central and east Gippsland, and 
  • 20th (Victorian Mounted Rifles) LH based on the Goulburn Valley and  Southern NSW.

These three regiments soldiered through the years between the wars, maintaining the skills and esprit de corps of their AIF predecessors. At  the outbreak of war in 1939, the 8th, 13th and 20th LH were horse  regiments, close to full strength, and with well trained and experienced  officers and men.

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A Trooper from Indi Light Horse. Note the marksman's badges of crossed rifles and Hotchkiss gunner on his lower sleeve. (Donor C. Weetman)

The war brought rapid change. Many of the officers and men enlisted in the  2nd AIF. As an example, between March 1940 and January 1941, 575 members of  the 700 strong 20th LH went to the AIF. The regiments put their horses out  to graze and converted to vehicles. By 1943 the three regiments had become the 8th Cavalry Regiment (AIF), the 13th Armoured Regiment , and the 20th Motor Regiment (AIF). All were engaged in the defence of the Australian   mainland and were stationed in Queensland and Northern Territory.

As the direct threat to Australia lessened, further changes occurred. The  13th Armoured Regt was disbanded and its members transferred to other units. Similarly in 1944, the 8th Cavalry Regt was broken up with many of its members going to Independent Companies and "Z" Force units. The 20th Motor Regt was retrained as an infantry battalion and in February 1944 posted to Dutch New Guinea where it served till the end of the war.

The 2/8th Armoured Regiment (AIF) was raised in Victoria in December 1941 as part of the 1st Armoured Division. The regiment took its title from the 8th ALH which served in WWI. The Regiment was raised from AIF volunteers, and many former light horsemen took the opportunity to rejoin a mounted  unit. The first Commanding Officer was Lt Col W G Hopkins who had commanded  both the 13th (Gippsland) LH and 20th (VMR) LH prior to the war.

The 2/8th Armoured Regt served in northern Australia and New Guinea. In  February 1944, the Regiment returned to Australia where it was disbanded   and converted by squadrons to Water Landing Craft Companies. The 41st, 42nd and 43rd Aust LC Coys trained in Nth Queensland then served in  Bougainville, Dutch New Guinea and Borneo.

The 8th/13th VMR is a linking of the 8th, 13th and 20th LH Regts. Its  title combines the numerical designation of the first two regiments and the  territorial title of the third, the 20th. The Regiment is the custodian of  the guidons of the three regiments which contain battle honours from the  Boer War, WWI and WWII. The regiment's traditional depots are at Albury,  Wangaratta, Benalla and for a period, Cobram.

The Regiment's first Commanding Officer was Lt Col Tom Fogarty and the  first RSM WOI Arch Martin. Both were former members of the 2/8th Armoured Regt.   Other WWII veterans who joined the Regiment included Major Norman Whitehead   MC, Major Bev McGeoch and Major Reg McDermott. One of those who joined as a   trooper in 1948 was John Neale (ex RAN). Colonel Neale went on eventually  to command the Regiment and finally to conclude his service in 1992 as  Honorary Colonel.

Centurion tank at speed

The 8th/13th VMR was initially a tank regiment equipped with General Grant  tanks. In 1957 these were replaced by Centurion tanks (photo above)

In 1959, the regiment changed its role to reconnaissance and was equipped with Ferret,   Saracen, and White scout cars. Through the decades from 1960 the role of  the regiment changed periodically from tank to reconnaissance to APC, and  its major equipment eventually became the M113 tracked vehicles.

In November 1976, the regiment was reduced to an Independent Squadron: A  Sqn 8th/13th VMR, and continued to train as such till 1992 when it was  linked with the 4th/19th Prince of Wales's LH Regiment. The traditions of  the VMR continue to be carried on by the VMR Sqn, 4th/19th PWLH with HQs at  Buna Barracks  Albury, the 8th/13th VMR Regimental Association, and the VMR  Museum also at Buna Barracks, Albury.


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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces