2nd South Australian Mounted Contingent Boer War

About This Unit

2nd SA Contingent

On the 29th December, 1899, the Executive Council of the South Australian Government announced that it had appointed Captain Charles James Reade, of the Jamestown Mounted Rifles, to command the 2nd South Australian Contingent. No difficulty had been experienced in getting the contingent together. As with the 1st Contingent, the cost of raising the contingent, and the payment of the men, to be borne by the South Australian Government. The 2nd South Australian Mounted Rifles consisted of a squadron enrolled and organised under the same principles (so far as they were applicable to mounted men) as that which had preceded it to the war, and which it joined in South Africa. Those men selected for the 2nd Contingent went into camp at the Old Exhibition Ground.

The Officers and NCOs to be as follows—1 Captain; 4 Subalterns; 1 Medical Officer; 2 Warrant-Officers; 1 Quartermaster-Sergeant; 6 Sergeants; 2 Farrier-Sergeants; 6 Corporals; 4 Lance-Corporals; 3 Shoeing-Smiths; 1 Saddler; 2 Trumpeters.[“Adelaide Observer” 27.1.1900]

The 2nd contingent, 8 officers and 113 other ranks, commanded by Captain C J Reade, embarked on the Surrey on 26th January 1900, arrived at the Cape on 25th February, and at De Aar on 6th March. Here they at once marched off as a portion of a column designed to put down the rebellion about Prieska (see Orpen's Light Horse). Some very hard riding was done, but the squadron managed to bring back their horses in fair condition to De Aar. Here they entrained for Norvals Pont and marched thence to Bloemfontein, where they joined the 1st contingent and the main army. A party of Nursing Sisters from the colony also joined the army at this time.

In the advance from Bloemfontein to Pretoria, which commenced on 3rd May, the South Australians, commanded by Captain Reade, along with the Victorian MR, Tasmanians, and a battalion of regular mounted infantry, formed the 4th Corps of Mounted Infantry under Colonel St G C Henry, which acted as the screen and scouts of the centre of Lord Roberts' army. Their task entailed much hard riding, and they had fighting on many occasions, particularly between the Vaal and Pretoria. The work of Henry's corps in these engagements was much praised. At Johannesburg the South Australians were first into the fort. Henry's corps was engaged at Diamond Hill 11th-13th June, and thereafter held posts east of Pretoria. On 21st July the South Australians had a rather warm skirmish. On the 28th they set off in the eastern advance, still as part of Colonel Henry's corps.

The South Australians had severe fighting and some casualties about Belfast on 7th September; thereafter they marched to Komati Poort. Near that place they discovered some of the enemy's abandoned guns. They were in the big review at the Poort on 28th September. On 9th October the two contingents entrained for Pretoria. Soon after this the 1st contingent and 25 of the 2nd entrained for Cape Town, and arrived at Adelaide on 30th November. The remainder of the 2nd were attached to Alderson's column, which was one of those employed in February and March 1901 in a big sweep through the Eastern Transvaal. On 29th March they sailed for home.