S A Armour Corps





SOUTH AFRICAN
ARMOUR COMMUNITY



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IMPERIAL LIGHT HORSE
History | Officers Commanding | RSM | Insignia | Customs
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The unit was raised in Johannesburg for service in the Second Anglo-Boer War on 21 September 1899 by Colonel Aubrey Woolls-Sampson, Major Walter Davies, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and Captain Charles Mullins, it was named the Imperial Light Horse with the approval of Queen Victoria. First muster of the Regiment took place in Pietermaritzburg. Informally known as the "Reformers Regiment" after the 10 later ILH officers that served on the Reform Committee, or more commonly the Uitlander Regiment by the Transvaal Government and ZAR Forces.

The first commander of the Regiment (consisting of 444 officers and men, chosen from 5,000 volunteers) was Colonel John James Scott-Chisholme, who led the unit at its first engagement, the Battle of Elandslaagte on 21 October 1899. During this battle two Victoria Crosses were awarded (to Captain Charles Herbert Mullins and Lieutenant Robert Johnston) and Colonel Scott-Chisholme was killed, leading from the front

The Regiment subsequently saw service at the Siege of Ladysmith (where another Victoria Cross was awarded - to Trooper Herman Albrecht at Wagon Hill) Colenso, the Battle of Spion Kop and the Relief of Ladysmith. At Spioenkop, the ILH was successful in capturing Commandant Hendrik Frederik Prinsloo, the commander of the Carolina Boer Commando. The ILH was then specially selected to join the Mafeking Relief Column under Colonel Mahon. Eight men under Major Karri Davies of the ILH were the first to enter Mafeking on the night of 16/17 May 1900 to break the siege, followed up by the joint relief columns the following morning. 209 men who had been involved in Relief of Ladysmith and 33 who had been besieged there were in Mahoon's Column as were 420 men who had been in the Defence of Kimberley.

In late 1900 a second battalion - the 2nd Imperial Light Horse (2 ILH) - was formed, under Major Duncan McKenzie. Both Regiments then went on to fight in the South African Republic and the Orange Free State Republic until the end of the war. A fourth Victoria Cross was awarded - to Surgeon Captain Thomas Joseph Crean - due to his actions at Tyger Kloof Spruit near Bethlehem in 1901.

Inter-War

In December 1902 the Regiment was reorganized at Johannesburg as two Wings in the volunteer Transvaal Army, but in 1904 the left Wing was separated and redesignated the Western Rifles.

A Squadron from the ILH served with the Transvaal Mounted Rifles in 1906 during the Zulu Rebellion in Natal and Zululand. The next action the Regiment took part in was the First Rand Revolt in 1913 when it, together with other military units, was mobilized to assist the South African Police during a general strike and rebellion.

On 1 July 1913 the Regiment was redesignated as the 5th Mounted Rifles (Imperial Light Horse) and transferred to the Active Citizen Force of the Union Defence Force.

World War I

The Regiment took part in the German South-West Africa Campaign as the 5th Mounted Rifles as part of South Africa's contribution to World War I, where the battles honor Gibeon was won by the 2nd ILH. Individual members served in the German East Africa campaign, in Egypt, Palestine and France. After the end of the war, the Regiment was placed on reserve until the Second Rand Revolt of 1922, when it was again mobilized to assist the South African Police and fought in the Battle of Ellis Park.
World War II

At the outbreak of World War II the 1st ILH was brought up to strength and the 2nd ILH reformed. Although both units were infantry battalions, 2 ILH was soon transferred to the South African Tank Corps in order to form the 13th Armoured Car Company, which in turn was amalgamated with Royal Natal Carbineers in order to create the 6th Armoured Car Regiment. This unit later amalgamated with the 4th Armoured Car Regiment to form the 4th/6th Armoured Car Regiment.

The 1st ILH sailed from Durban to Egypt on 10 April 1941, as advance guard of the South African 2nd Infantry Division. Less than a year later the Regiment, as part of the 3rd Brigade of the South African 1st Infantry Division, played a crucial part in stopping Rommel's Afrika Korps during the First Battle of El Alamein. The unit subsequently took part in other fighting in North Africa, including the Second Battle of El Alamein.

The Regiment was subsequently shipped to South Africa where it was reorganized - 1 and 2 ILH Regiments were amalgamated with the Kimberley Regiment to form the Imperial Light Horse/Kimberley Regiment (ILH/KimR). This combined Regiment sailed for Egypt again in September 1943 to join the South African 6th Armoured Division in the role of a motorized battalion under command of Colonel R. Reeves-Moore, DSO, MC.

In April 1944 the Division sailed for Italy, disembarking at Taranto on 21 April where the ILH/KimR was attached to the 12th South African Motor Brigade, which was operating on a front in the mountains above Monte Cassino. After a series of battles north of Rome the Regiment entered Florence on 4 August 1944, then as part of the 11th South African Armoured Brigade.

The South African 6th Armoured Division was then placed under the command of the United States 5th Army and was given the task of attacking the Gothic Line, which culminated in the capture of Monte Porro del Bagno in September 1944. During the heavy fighting almost a quarter of the Regiment was killed or wounded. After taking part in other actions, including breaking through the German defences at Bologna, the Regiment fought its last serious engagement at Finale south of Venice. The ILH Band led the Allied victory parade at Monza on 14 May 1945. The ILH/KimR were then occupied with guarding duties in northern Italy and returned home in August 1945 for demobilization.


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