1st Queensland Mounted Infantry

About This Unit

The Regiment was formed on the 27th of February 1860 when the first Governor of Queensland, Sir George Ferguson Bowen proclaimed and approved the Rules and Regulations of the Brisbane Mounted Rifles. In 1864 the unit was renamed the Queensland Light Horse. Under the 'Defence Act of 1884' there was a reorganisation and the unit name changed in 1885 to Moreton Mounted Infantry.

In 1891 the Shearers Strike occurred in Queensland and a State of Emergency was declared. The Queensland Defence Force was called-out to re-establish and maintain civil order and discipline. One of the units called-out was the Moreton Mounted Infantry. The troops were placed on full time duty for five months and served in the Barcaldine, Clermont, Longreach and Charleville districts. One of the Mounted Infantry officers who served at this time was Captain Harry George Chauvel - later to become General Sir Harry Chauvel.

As the strike wore on the light horsemen found themselves deployed on patrol in western Queensland for weeks on end. To maintain their mounted skills they took to chasing the emus that abounded in the region. To prove their horsemanship the light horseman were required to ‘pluck’ the darker and smaller chest feathers of the emu while riding alongside it in full flight. The troopers would then place the feathers in the puggaree of their felt hats. When they returned home after the strike the Queensland Government allowed the Mounted Infantry to wear the emu plume in recognition of their service during the strike. At first it was solely a Queensland decoration, but in 1903 the privilege was extended to Tasmanian and South Australian regiments and finally, in 1915, to all the regiments of the Light Horse. It was also at this time that the emu was incorporated in the unit badge.

In 1897 the Mounted Infantry were reorganised as the Queensland Mounted Infantry consisting of 11 companies. By 1901 the Queensland Mounted Infantry had been organised as a Brigade of four Battalions of some 20 companies with strength of 1200 officers and men. On the 10th July 1899 the Premier of Queensland, the Honourable J.R. Dickson, offered troops to help Great Britain against the Boers in South Africa. This was the first offer of assistance made by any of the Australian Colonies. It was accepted and one company of Mounted Infantry was detailed for duty. In October 1899, the 1st Contingent of the Queensland Mounted Infantry (QMI) enlisted, outfitted and trained for service in the Boer War in South Africa.

On the 28th of October 1899, the QMI marched through the City of Brisbane before departing for the War on the 1st of November 1899. On New Year’s Day 1900, a number of four man horse mounted reconnaissance patrols were scouting to the front and flanks of the main body to prevent an enemy ambush. Lieutenant Aide led one of these patrols consisting of Privates Herman, Butler, Rose and Jones. While riding along in open country, the patrol saw four Boers riding on their right. As Lieutenant Aide audaciously ordered the Boers to surrender twelve more enemy soldiers appeared and opened fire. Private Victor Jones was shot and died instantly. Lieutenant Aide was shot twice and his horse killed from under him. As the rest of the patrol came to his rescue, the Boers wounded another soldier and killed his horse. The small patrol struggled back to the main body in time to join the attack that was to become known as the Battle of Sunnyside. Amazingly, they had prevented a Boer encirclement. The major significance of this event is that Private V.S. Jones and Private D.C. McLeod, killed in Battle of Sunnyside, were the first Australian soldiers to die in battle.

In the period following the Boer War the State forces were amalgamated to form the Commonwealth Military Forces. In the changes all cavalry and mounted units were converted to Light Horse; the four battalions of the QMI were reformed as the 13th, 14th and 15th Australian Light Horse Regiments (Queensland Mounted Infantry).