The 7th/21st Australian Horse, which disbanded in 1957, was successor
to two light horse regiments of the Citizen Military Forces (CMF)- 7th
Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse) and 21st Light Horse Regiment
(Riverina Horse) and
7th Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Force.
The following are the changes in designation of the
above-mentioned light horse regiments of the C.M.F.:
1898 1st (Volunteer) Australian Horse
1900 1st Australian Horse
1903 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse)
1912 11th Light Horse (Australian Horse)
1918 7th Light Horse (Australian Horse)
1921 7th Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse)
1936 7th/21st Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse)
1937 7th Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse)
1942 7th Australian Motor Regiment
1912 28th (Illawarra) Light Horse
1921 21st Light Horse Regiment
(Illawarra Light Horse)
1929 (Amalgamated with 1st)
1st/21st Light Horse Regiment
(New South Wales Lancers)
1936 (Numerical designation linked with 7th)
7th/21st Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse)
1937 21st Light Horse Regiment (Riverina Horse)
1941 2nd Divisional Reconnaissance Battalion
1941 21st Reconnaissance Battalion
1942 21st Australian Cavalry Regiment (A.I.F.)
The reason for giving the number "7" to the 11th Light Horse
in 1918 was in order to perpetuate the traditions and records of the
7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F. which had campaigned with honour and
glory in World War One.
1st Aust. Horse
1. Australian Horse, 1898-1921
The driving force behind the formation of the Australian Horse was
Lt-Col J. A. K. Mackay, (formerly a squadron leader in the NSW
Lancers) who became its first commanding officer.
Approval to raise a cavalry regiment of bush volunteers (unpaid) was
gazetted in August 1897 and the actual raising was carried out early
in 1898, the name of the regiment being 1st (Volunteer) Australian
Horse. The personnel were described by Colonel Mackay in a letter
thus: ". . . the men being shearers, station hands, farmers or
squatters and the officers, in nearly all cases, sons of old squatter
Hat badge as
worn on the slouch hat of 1st Australian Volunteer Horse.
The unit, 402 strong, marched into its first camp at Easter 1898 at
Milkman's Hill near Rookwood. The first consignment of their
London-made uniforms and accoutrements had arrived in the Port of
Sydney earlier in the same week, so the first issue was made in camp.
The uniform was myrtle green
in colour, of hussar pattern except for
the head dress, which was a green slouch
(see above) Arms were swords and
The first 2nd-in-command was Major Ferguson, 2nd Life Guards, private
secretary to the Governor and the first Adjutant was Lt R. R.
Thompson, late 4th Dragoon Guards and NSW Lancers. The Governor of New
South Wales, Lord Beauchamp, became Honorary Colonel of the Regiment.
Trooper's Uniform of the First Australian Horse
In 1900, the 1st Australian Horse was placed on the Partially Paid
establishment and by 1901 the squadron organization was:-
"A" Sqn: Murrumburrah, Cootamundra, Gundagai
'B" Sqn and Band: Goulburn, Braidwood, Araluen, Michelago-Bredbo,
"C' Sqn: Mudgee, Rylstone, Lue
"D" Sqn: Scone, Belltrees, Muswellbrook
"E" Sqn: Gunnedah, Boggabri, Tamworth, Armidale
The regimental motto was "For hearths and homes". Badges and
buttons were brass. The design of the badge was roughly: a shield on
which was the badge of the Colony (St George cross carrying the four
stars of the Southern Cross); across the face of the shield crossed
musket and sword and a boomerang on which was the motto; the shield
flanked by supporters, a kangaroo and an emu; centrally above the
shield a waratah and across that from supporter to supporter a scroll
showing "Australian Horse"; Waratah leaves as background for
the legs of the supporters.
In October 1899, the establishment was 638 all ranks. When the South
African War broke out, the Regiment quickly mobilized a detachment of
34 all ranks under Lt W. V. Dowling, which sailed from Sydney on 13th
In Africa, they were attached at first to the New
South Wales Lancers. Subsequently, a second draft of 105 all ranks,
commanded by Capt R. R. Thompson, arrived from the Regiment to build
the detachment up to squadron strength and the Australian Horse
Squadron was from then on attached to the Royal Scots Greys.
addition, many other members enlisted and served in South Africa in
other units (eg. Colonel Mackay, who commanded the Imperial Bushmen's
Contingent of New South Wales).
<< Pill-box cap badge.
Collar badges were identical design but smaller.
The service squadron was engaged almost continually from 7th March
until October 1900, where after it returned to New South Wales.
As well as many minor actions, the Australian Horse took part in 41
engagements. Sergeant Major H. Arnold was awarded the DCM. Casualties
included 2 officers and 2 others killed in action and 6 other ranks
died of disease.
As a result of Federation, the defence forces in New South Wales were
taken over by the Commonwealth in 1903. The three existing mounted
regiments (Lancers, Mounted Rifles and 1st Australian Horse) were
expanded to six, 1st Australian Horse becoming 3rd Australian Light
Horse Regiment (Australian Horse) with Col J. A. K. Mackay, CB still
in command. "D" and "E" Squadrons, however, were
taken to form the nucleus of 6 A.L.H. Regiment (Australian Horse)
whose territorial title was changed in 1906 from "Australian
Horse" to "New England Light Horse". Also, C Squadron
was transferred to the NSW Mounted Rifles.
Headquarters of the 3rd were at Goulburn. The Honorary Colonel was as
previously, Earl Beauchamp, K.C.M.G. By 1908, the Regiment's
localities had become: Goulburn, Braidwood, Araluen, Bungendore,
Michelago, Bredbo, Cooma, Bega, Pambula, Cobargo, Cootamundra,
Murrumburrah, Gundagai and Tumut. Establishment was 310 all ranks.
For several years, the Regiment continued to use its own green
uniforms, both field service and full dress but eventually took into
use the standard khaki uniforms with white facings prescribed for the
Australian Light Horse.
From 1903, all Light Horse Regiments throughout the Commonwealth were
to be armed and trained as mounted riflemen and not as cavalry who
carry a sword for mounted shock action.
Arms were S.M.L.E., .303 inch
rifles and bayonets, although in fact the bayonets did not become
available for several years. Like the lancer regiments in New South
Wales, the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment was permitted to retain
its swords for ceremonial and tournaments.
In 1904, the Regiment received a Banner (erroneously called a King's
Colour) in recognition of South African War service. In 1908, Military
Order No 123 announced that His Majesty approved of the grant of the
Honorary Distinction "South Africa, 1899, 1900" and
explained that the Banner is not a King's Colour and that the Honorary
Distinction was not to be borne upon it.
An affiliation between the six light horse regiments of New South
Wales and King Edward's Horse (King's Colonials) was announced in
With the advent of Universal Training in July 1912, there was a
re-organization of units, however, the only change for the 3rd was
that its designation was altered to 11th Light Horse (Australian
Horse). Although it took in a few universal (compulsory) trainees, the
bulk of its personnel continued to be voluntarily enlisted.
World War One broke out in August 1914. Militia regiments were not
sent overseas but fresh Light Horse Regiments were specially raised as
part of the Australian Imperial Force to serve in any theatre. The
11th Light Horse, therefore, was drained of many who left to join the
A.I.F. and it continued on a part-time basis and before 1918, militia
training had tapered off to a minimum as the country's main effort was
directed to the manning and equipment of its forces abroad.
In 1918 regiments were re-numbered in order to perpetuate the
designations, records and traditions gained by the A.I.F. units in the
War. The 11th thus was re-numbered 7th so that it would become the
successor to the 7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F.
From the end of the war to March 1921, no militia training of
consequence was carried out.
2. Australian Horse, 1921-43
As already stated, 11th Light Horse had been re-numbered 7th in 1918.
Citizen Force training was resumed in 1921 and the Light Horse
regiments were organized and armed the same as the British Calvary at
that time. Arms were swords, .303 inch rifles, bayonets, a Hotchkiss
light machine gun in each sabre troop and Vickers machine guns in the
machine gun troops. As previously, the
Light Horse Man provided his own horse.
The 7th was placed in 4th Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
Regimental headquarters were at Goulburn.
Uniform was Khaki, of AIF pattern; badges used were Commonwealth,
black oxidized. The colour patch of 7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F.
was worn on tunic sleeves; it was rectangular, divided diagonally, the
upper portion being black and the lower red, worn with the broad of
the red to the front. In time, approval was received for the cavalry
to wear plumes in their hats. About 1933, a new pattern of tunic was
adopted and maroon became the distinctive facings colour for the light
In 1928 a regimental guidon was consecrated at a Brigade camp at
Liverpool and presented to the Regiment by Lt Gen Sir Harry Chauvel.
Borne on the guidon are the honorary distinction "South Africa,
1899-1902" and the World War One battle honours of 7th Light
Horse Regiment, A.I.F.
After the suspension of universal training in 1929, units were allowed
to wear their own badges again. The 7th used the design of its former
collar badge for both hat and collar - crossed musket and sword on a
Waratah background, with motto on a boomerang across the intersection
of the musket and sword.
The alliance with King Edward's Horse lapsed after World War One owing
to the disbandment of that unit. It was superseded by one with The
Queen's Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards).
In 1936, following re-organization of 1st/21st, the Nowra and Kangaroo
Valley Troops of that unit were absorbed and the 7th became 7th/21st,
raised as follows:
HQ: Goulburn, Sydney
HQ Sqn: Goulburn, Gunning, Yass
"A" Sqn: Braidwood, Kangaroo Valley, Nowra
"B" Sqn: Young, Harden, Grenfell
"C" Sqn: Canberra, Cooma, Bombala
However, in 1937, 21st was reformed as a separate regiment,
"Riverina Horse" and the Australian Horse reverted to the
designation of 7th Light Horse Regiment.
After the outbreak of World War Two, once again many of the personnel
left to join the A.I.F. and the 7th became part of the Home Defence
Force. In 1942 it was converted and redesignated 7th Australian Motor
Regiment and was called up for full-time duty. In 1943, it was
disbanded, as were a number of other Citizen Force units owing to the
drain made on man-power by the A.I.F.
3. 7th/21st Australian Horse
After World War Two, Citizen Force training was resumed in 1948. The
7th/21st Reconnaissance Regiment (Australian Horse) was raised as a
unit of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps and was allotted to 2nd
Division. Sub-unit locations were as under:
HQ Sqn: Cootamundra, Temora
'A" Sqn: Wagga Wagga
"B" Sqn: Leeton, Griffith
"C" Sqn: Young, Tumut
The principal equipment was Staghound armoured cars and Canadian scout
cars. Enlistment's were voluntary.
In 1949, the designation was altered to 7th/21st Australian Horse. The
badge adopted for the unit was the same as that of the Riverina Horse
(21 LH Regt) but with the title "Australian Horse" in place
of "Riverina Horse". It was of white metal.
National Service (NS) was introduced in Australia in 1951. This led to
the strength of the Regiment being considerably increased due to large
intakes of N.S. men: the strength rose from approximately 140 active
members (volunteers) in 1950 to approximately 1300, mostly N.S. men,
In 1951 the role of the Regiment was changed from reconnaissance to
By 1953 the sub-unit locations had become:
HQ Sqn: Cootamundra, Temora
"A" Sqn: Wagga Wagga, Tumut
"B" Sqn: Wagga Wagga, Junee
"C" Sqn: Young, Cowra
Then, in 1956, there was a major re-organization and thenceforth the
unit was raised only in and around Wagga Wagga. It became an Anti-Tank
Regiment, R.A.A.C. and was still part of 2nd Division. Its primary
equipment was changed from armoured and scout cars to 6-pr anti-tank
guns towed by 1-ton trucks.
As from 14th September 1956, 7th/21st Australian Horse was disbanded,
its personnel being absorbed into 4th Battalion and other units.
Additional information on South African War service may be obtained
from - Records of Australian Contingents to the War in South Africa,
1899-1902Ó (Official) "Australian Cavalry" by Frank
Wilkinson (Angus and Robertson, 1901).
Australian Horse, 1898-1943
Col J. A. K. Mackay, CB 1898-1904
Lt Col G. de L. Ryrie 1904-1911
Lt Col J. E. Jackson 1911-1913
Lt Col J. M. Arnott 1913-1914
Maj W. U. Alley (temporarily) 1914-1919
Col J. M. Arnott, CMG, VD 1919-1921
Lt Col A. J. Mills, DSO, VD 1921-1922
Lt Col J. F. Donnelly, DSO, VD 1922-1928
Lt Col E. Twynam, VD 1928-1932
Lt Col G. H. L. Harris, MC, VD 1932-1937
Lt Col R. G. Woods, ED 1937-1939
Lt Col J. R. Broadbent 1939-1940
Lt Col T. L. F. Rutledge 1940-1942
Lt Col R. N. Peverill 1942 (May/Oct)
7th Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F.
Lt Col J. M. Arnott, CMG 1914-1915
Lt Col G. M. Macarthur-Onslow, CMG, DSO 1915-1918
Lt Col J. D. Richardson, DSO 1918-1919
Illawarra Light Horse
Capt C. D. Fuller 1912-1914
Capt P. Connolly 1914-1919
Lt Col S. J. Shillington, VD 1919-1926
Lt Col H. I. Johnson 1926-1929
Lt Col G. F. Wootten, DSO 1936-1939
Maj A. L. Rose 1940
Lt Col K. B. Rogers-Harrison 1940-1943
Australian Horse, 1948-1957
Col D. A. Cormack, ED 1948-1951
Lt Col W. P. Nicholas 1951-1955
Lt Col F. D.A. M. Williams 1955-1956
Lt Col S. A. Sly, ED 1956-1957
Courtesy of Bob Gunning, Qurindi