About This Unit
FIFTH AND SIXTH (IMPERIAL) CONTINGENTS:
ALTHOUGH these Contingents were separately enrolled and despatched, yet they amalgamated into one battalion in South Africa, so that the latter was more in the nature of a fully-officered draft for the former than a separate corps. The Fifth was established under authorization from the South Australian Government, published in General Order No. 2, 1901, 10th January, 1901; and
a Military Board was appointed to select members of the Contingent. A local Military Board was also appointed to assist in the preliminary selection of men living in the Mount Gambier, Naracoorte, and Millicent Districts.
Selection was regulated by the following conditions :—(1) All returned soldiers of good character, and passing medical examination were accepted; (2) members of local forces fulfilling all conditions had preference over civilians; (3) all things being equal, single men preferred to married men; (4) men over 12 stone in weight not accepted, except to complete the number; (5) men between 18 and 27 years of age preferred, all else being equal; (6) after selection, men to be medically examined and tested in horsemanship and rifle ehooting. A Board was appointed
to purchase horses. A local solicitor proffered his services for making, gratuitously, the Wills of men joining; and arrangements were effected accordingly.
The Sixth Contingent was raised under similar conditions (General Order No. 4, 1901). Both Contingents contained a proportion of officers and others that had already served in the war.
For pay, &c., vide p. 341.
The Fifth consisted of two and a half squadrons, "C," "D" and "E," and was officered as follows :—2 captains, 1 lieutenant-adjutant, 1 lieutenant-quarter-master, 15 lieutenants, 1 medical officer, 1 veterinary officer—the two latter appointed for the voyage only. Other ranks—1 regimental sergeant-major, 2 squadron sergeant-majors, 2 quartermaster-sergeants, 1 farrier-sergeant, 21 sergeants, 21 corporals, 20 lance-corporals, and 227 others; total, 19 officers, 295 other ranks.
The Sixth comprised "F" squadron, containing—1 captain, 6 lieutenants, 1 lieutenant transit-officer, 1 medical officer (voyage only), 1 veterinary-lieutenant, 1 sergeant-major, 1 quartermaster-sergeant, 5 sergeants, 6 corporals, 5 lance-corporals, 1 saddler, and 107 others; total, 9 officers, 126 others.
Additional men were enrolled in South Africa.
Departure and Return.
The Fifth Contingent left on 9th February, 1901, comprising—21 officers, 295 other ranks, with 320 horses. One officer, 20 others died or were killed. Number struck off in South Africa not known.
The Sixth left on 6th April, 1901, at a strength of 10 officers, 126 others, with 146 horses. Six died, or were killed. Number struck off not known. Twenty one N.C.O.'s and men of the two Contingents were left in hospital in South Africa. The balance of both Contingents returned to Australia.
Lieutenant J. R. B. O'Sullivan, to Captain.
Lieutenant S. C. Macfarlane, to Captain.
For promotions of N.C.O.'s and men, vide nominal roll.
The Fifth Contingent embarked at Port Adelaide in the transport Ormazan, on 9th February, 1901, called at Albany and Cape Town, and disembarked at Port Elizabeth on 23rd March. They proceeded to the Kroonetadt district, where they joined Colonel De Lisle's Column.
The Sixth Contingent left Port Adelaide on the transport Warrigal, on 6th April, 1901, and disembarked at Durban on 25th April. They proceeded at once to join the Fifth, which in the meantime had
already trekked 291 miles. They were formed into one regiment under Major Shea, Indian Staff Corps, with Majors Wilson and Hurcombe, formerly Fourth Contingent.
The regiment came under Lieut.-Colonel R. Fanshawe's command, and was in General E. Locke Elliott's division. From May, 1901, to May, 1902, Colonel De Lisle's Column did outstanding work in the north-eastern corner of the Orange River Colony.
On 25th May, Captain Hipwell died of enteric, and Lieutenant O'Sullivan was promoted in his place.
On 6th June, 1901, a composite force of 100 mounted infantry, and the same number of South Australians, made an early morning march and captured the whole of De Wet's convoy with six months' supplies.
For four hours 160 men held out against the notable Boer leader and between 300 and 400 burghers, who attempted to re-capture it; eight men being killed and six wounded. The Boers
lost heavily; 15 dead and a number of wounded being picked up.
From the Harrismith district, trekked to Klerksdorp, and from thence to Bloemfontein. An attack waa made upon General Smut's laager at Grootvallier. Lord Kitchener, in his despatch of the 8th August, stated that—" Broad wood on the 29th July, made a night march on Bothaville, which resulted in his driving a number of Boers into the arms of Colonel De Lisle's South Australians, who captured 18 prisoners and 12 wagons. Major Shea, with 200 South Australians, made a gallant attack on Smut's commando at Grootvallier, Farm, near the Vet River.
Wire fencing, unseen in the darkness, prevented complete success of the plans, and enabled the Boers to escape, despite the fact that the South Australians pressed forward on foot, with fixed bayonets. Five Boers were left dead and 11 captured, including Field-Cornet Wolmarans, of Potchefstroom. By the 6th and 7th, Colonel De Lisle had accounted for 40 prisoners, 147 stand of arms, 600 horses, and 2,000 cattle."
Three separate convoys were captured. Colonel De Lisle on 2nd August, congratulated the regiment on the successful night enterprises, and said that "the very dashing night attack at Grootvallier was worthy of the best traditions of Australian troops in the war."
After leaving Bloemfontein in August, trekked along the Basuto border, taking a number of prisoners, in addition to capturing the convoy of the Ficksburg commando. For the next two months they scoured the south-eastern portion of the Orange River Colony, then went north, where fighting and night marches were experienced. Then proceeded to Standerton, and from thence sent to relieve
the late Colonel Benson's force after the Brakenlaagte disaster. The South Australians were the first to get to that place, after riding 75 miles in 22 hours.
In October, Captain Cornish was invalided to Australia, and Lieutenant Macfarlane promoted to succeed him. The blockhouses were completed by February, and the Columns, abandoning
the former system of operating individually, adopted the plan of moving together and driving the enemy on the railway or blockhouses. This involved hardships and trying work, long marches, and the digging of entrenchments along the front. The duties of keeping watch on the always alert enemy became so arduous that even the officers were ordered by the General to take their turns on sentry.
In the first drive 405 Boers were captured; and, in the second, which Lord Kitchener himself directed, no less than 1,100 of the enemy were accounted for, including General Jan Meyer and Jacobus De Wet's son. The next drive was from Harrismith to Wolvehoek, but owing to the inefficiency of the blockhouses the Boers crossed the line in two places and escaped.
On 18th March, at Kroonstadt, orders were received to mobilize for home.
The men had not been three consecutive days in one place. In conjunction, the two Contingents trekked 3,825 miles. The men caught, and broke in for themselves, 867 veldt ponies; in addition, they received 630 remounts, so that it was a rarity for a man to be dismounted longer than a day or two.
The Contingents embarked at Cape Town on 27th March, 1902, in the transport Montrose, and proceeded to Durban, where they transferred to the transport Manchester Merchant. Left Durban on 5th Aprü, called at Albany, and disembarked at Port Adelaide on 27th April. Subsequently disbanded.
War Services and Honours.
Hipwell, Captain M. G. P.—Operations in Cape Colony. Died of enterio at Kroonstadt, 25th May, 1901.
Watt, Captain J. A.—Operations in Cape Colony and Orange River Colony between April, 1901, and March, 1902. Despatches, London Gazette, 15th November, 1901. D.S.O. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
O'Sullivan, Captain J. R. B.—Operations as stated. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Richman, Lieutenant-Ad jutant E.—Operations as stated. Queen's Medal with three clasps.
Gleeman, Lieutenant-Quartermaster T. W.—Previous service with First Contingent. Operations as stated Queen's Medal with five clasps. King's Medal with two clasps.
Lanjley, Lieutenant E. J. F.—Previous service with Second Contingent. Operations as stated. Despatches, Lonion Gazette, 2nd July, 1901. D.S.O. Queen's Medal with five clasps. King's Madal with two clasps. He served subsequently as Captain in 8th Australian Commonwealth Horse.
Carter, Lieutenant A. C, and Priestly, Lieutenant P. H.—Operations as stated. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Shearer, Lieutenant J. H.—Previous service with First Contingent. Operations as stated. Despatches, London Gazette, 29th July, 1902. Queen's Medal with five clasps. King's Medal with two clasps.
Midi. Lieutenant A.—Operations in Transvaal and Orange River Colony Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Ferguson, Lieutenant C. C.—Operations in Transvaal, Cape Colony, and Orange River Colony. Queen's Medal with five clasps.
Edmunds, Lieutenant W. H., and Fotheringham, Lieutenant R. S.—Operations in Cape Colony and Orange River Colony. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Muir, Lieutenant F. B.—Previous service with First Contingent. Operations as stated. Despatches, London Gazette, 29th July, 1902. Queen's Medal with five clasps. King's Medal with two clasps.
Cudmore, Lieutenant R. H.—Operations as stated. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Tolmer, Lieutenant H. A.—Previous service with Second Contingent. Operations as stated. Queen's Medal with five clasps. King's Medal with two clasps.
Ayliffe, Lieutenant G. G.—Operations in Cape Colony. Queen's Medal with two clasps.
Brock, Lieutenant D. W.—Previous service with Second Contingent. Operations in Cape Colony and Orange River Colony. Queen's Medal with three clasps. King's Medal with two clasps.
Campbell, Lieutenant N.—Operations in Transvaal and Orange River Colony. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Smith, Captain (Medical Staff) W. R.—Principal Medical Officer, Plague Administration, Cape Town. Queen's Medal with two clasps.
Desmond, Lieutenant (Veterinary) J.—War Service. Queen's Medal with one clasp.
Cornish, Captain A. F.—Operations in Transvaal and Orange River Colony.Queen's Medal with three clasps.
Macfarlane, Captain S. C—Operations as stated. Despatches, London Gazette, 29th July, 1902. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Bagot, Lieutenant C. G. S.—Operations as stated. Queen's Medal with clasps.
Waite, Lieutenant W. C. N.—Previous service with Third Contingent. Operations as stated. Despatches, London Gazette, 29th July, 1902. Queen's Medal with five clasps. King's Medal with two clasps.
Nunneley, Lieutenant W. A —Previous service with SeconH Contingent. Operations as stated. Queen's Medal with five clasps. King's Medal with two clasps.
Harvey, Lieutenant A. K. Le R.—Operations as stated. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Blue, Lieutenant S.—Previous service with Second Contingent. Operations as stated. Queen's Medal with four clasps. King's Medal with two clasps.
Cossins, Lieutenant G. H.—Operations as stated. Severely wounded, 6th June, 1901. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Stirling, Lieutenant (Veterinary) N. W.—Operations as stated. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Extracted from - Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa,
compiled and edited in 1911 by Lieutenant-Colonel P.L. Murray, R.A.A. (Ret.). pp, 364-367