NORTHERN TERRITORY DEPLOYMENT 44 YEARS APART

In 1942, 8th Cavalry Regiment (Victorian Mounted Rifles) moved to Northern Territory and took over responsibility for airfield defence from 2/7th Divisional Cavalry Regiment. Forty-four years later, 1988, ‘A’ Squadron 8th/13th Victorian Mounted Rifles deployed to Northern Territory during its annual camp to train for the defence of Tindal Airfield.

8th Cavalry Regiment (Victorian Mounted Rifles) in Northern Territory 1942.

8th Cavalry Regiment (Victorian Mounted Rifles) in Northern Territory 1942.

8th Cavalry was equipped with Bren Gun Carriers, 8th/13th with M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers, but the climate, terrain and the task remained the same.

Soldiers of the 8th Cavalry Regiment (Victorian Mounted Rifles) on patrol Northern Territory 1942.

Soldiers of the 8th Cavalry Regiment (Victorian Mounted Rifles) on patrol Northern Territory 1942.

‘A’ Squadron soldiers carried out dismounted and mounted patrols becoming familiar with the conditions especially noting the likely changes between wet and dry seasons. Patrol reports prepared by Captain Colin Carrington can be found on our Victorian Collections catalogue.

Captain Colin Carrington, ‘A’ Squadron 8th/13th Victorian Mounted Rifles, left front, with his patrol near Fergusson River, Northern Territory 1988.

Captain Colin Carrington, ‘A’ Squadron 8th/13th Victorian Mounted Rifles, left front, with his patrol near Fergusson River, Northern Territory 1988.

NEWSPAPER CUTTING 'Border Morning Mail', 30 April 1948

8/13 REGIMENT

Postings to Albury Squadron

Lieut-Colonel C.J. Fogarty of Melbourne, commanding officer 8/13 armoured regiment will be in Albury at 2 o'clock on May 10, to interview officers and NCO's for posting to the unit.

The 8/13 Regiment is to be composed of squadrons raised at Sale, Melbourne, Wangaratta-Benalla and Albury. Capt. N.G. Whitehead of Urana is to command the Albury squadron, the establishment of officers for which is one major, two captains and five lieutenants. More than eight officers however will be accepted as provision is made for holding them on a regimental supernumerary list.

Captain Whitehead saw service as second-in-command and then as officer-commanding an armoured squadron. He will come to Albury next Monday for preliminary discussions should officers or NCO's desire to see him. Anyone interested is invited to apply for information at the drill hall. 

 

8/13 VICTORIAN MOUNTED RIFLES (RAAC): A BRIEF HISTORY

Original Source: 8/13 VMR Information publication, circa 1970. Updated 3 June 2012 and 13 April 2018.

The Victorian Mounted Rifles was raised from the North Eastern Victoria and New South Wales border districts. For one hundred and thirty-three years the Regiment has served the community in both peace and war. Its history is that of five generations of Australians from these districts, whose heritage it was the duty of the Regiment to protect and preserve. This duty has now passed to the 8/13 Victorian Mounted Rifles Regimental Association.

The South Melbourne Mounted Rifle Corps was the first Mounted Rifles unit raised in Victoria on 2nd October 1860. In March 1885, owing to the very real fears of a future war with Russia, the Victorian Government decided to form a corps of Mounted Rifles to increase the military forces available to the colony. Consequently on 1 May 1885 the Victorian Mounted Rifles (VMR) was formed under the command of Lieutenant Colonel B. B. (Tom) Price. Sub units were raised in Geelong, Colac and Kyneton in June 1885. Later other sub-units were raised in Sale and Woodend. By December the Victorian Mounted Rifles had 45 sub-units in 9 companies. These were formed into two battalions on 18 June 1891.

Enlistment then, as it is today, was voluntary and parades were held on two evenings per week, each of two hours duration. Each trooper was issued with a limited amount of equipment and clothing, but was required to provide his own horse and saddle. He received no pay for his services; however, the Regiment received an annual grant of one pound for each effective soldier. Armament consisted of a Martini-Henry rifle and sword-bayonet for the rank and file.

Colonel Price's zeal resulted in the rapid expansion of the Victorian Mounted Rifles. Having served in India and in the 103rd Foot (Dublin Fusiliers), he had the reputation of being an exceptional judge of man and horse. The voluntary part time training under his clear direction was soon to prove invaluable when the Regiment first saw active service in the South African War. The Victorian Mounted Rifles provided all Victorian cavalry from 1899-1902.

Proof of its effectiveness in this campaign is evidenced by the fact that Colonel Price himself was later given command of the 2nd Australian Contingent, and is preserved by the battle honours emblazoned on the Regimental Guidon. An officer of the Victorian Mounted Rifles, Lieutenant Maygar, was awarded the Victoria Cross in this campaign.

Following the end of the South African War and Federation, the Australian Defence Forces were completely reorganised. From this point, the history of the 8/13 Victorian Mounted Rifles, is that of the 7th Light Horse (Victorian Mounted Rifles), 8th Light Horse (Victorian Mounted Rifles) and 10th Light Horse (Victorian Mounted Rifles). In 1912 a further reorganisation occurred and the 7th LH became 15th Light Horse (Victorian Mounted Rifles), the 8th LH became 16th Light Horse (Indi) and the 10th LH became 13th Light Horse (Gippsland)

Voluntary enlistment and part-time training continued in the intervening period leading up to World War I (WWI) when the regiments were called on to fill the ranks of the AIF regiments. They saw active service in many widely spread campaigns: Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine, and the Western Front. A total of 31 Battle Honours were awarded and emblazoned on the Guidons presented to the post war regiments, 8th,(Indi), 13th (Gippsland) and 20th (Victorian Mounted Rifles) Light Horse which had replaced the pre-war 16th, 13th and 15th Regiments.

World War Two brought big changes to the regiments. Many officers and soldiers volunteered for the AIF and filled many postings in the Armoured Division and the Divisional Cavalry Regiments. The remainder converted from horses to mechanised transport and a variety of roles.

The 8th Light Horse became 8th Reconnaissance Battalion then in July 1942, became 8th Cavalry Regiment serving in Northern Territory and as the Japanese threat to the mainland declined the regiment was disbanded in March 1944. The 13th Light Horse became the 13th Armoured Regiment, but it too was disbanded in October 1943.

In December 1941, 20th Light Horse became 20th Motor Regiment and in February 1944 was deployed in Merauke, Dutch New Guinea. Upon return to Australia in February 1945 the regiment was redesignated 20th Pioneer Battalion and was disbanded at the end of that year. The 20th Light Horse was the only one of the three regiments to serve overseas in WWII and was awarded the Battle Honour ‘Southwest Pacific 1944-45’.

In 1947, the Australian Government took the decision to raise the Citizen Military Forces (CMF) as an integral part of the Australian Military Forces and accordingly on 1 May 1948, 8th/13th Armoured Regiment was raised as part of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps (RAAC) under the command of Lieutenant Colonel T Fogarty, a former member of 2/8th Armoured Regiment AIF. The regimental title was changed almost immediately to 8th/13th Victorian Mounted Rifles Regiment and the Regiment was equipped with Mk3 General Grant tanks, these were replaced by Centurion Mk 3 tanks in 1955. Service was again voluntary with weekly evening parades and one weekend a month.

Training depots were located in Melbourne, Regimental Headquarters and HQ Squadron; Albury, A squadron; Wangaratta/Benalla, B Squadron and Sale, C Squadron. Members were paid for their training time.

The National Service Scheme was introduced in 1951 which expanded the ranks of the Regiment massively and changes were made to depot locations. In 1952, C Squadron moved from Sale to join A Squadron in Albury. Three years later, Regimental Headquarters moved from Melbourne to Wangaratta and so in 1955 the 8/13 VMR had finally returned home to the districts which for so long had provided its officers and men. The National Service scheme ceased in 1959 and numbers in the regiment declined as National Servicemen completed their training obligation.

In 1970, the Regiment moved Regimental Headquarters from Wangaratta to Albury and changed its role from an Armoured Regiment (Tank) to a Reconnaissance Regiment (Mechanised Cavalry) and back to tank in 1966.

 Between 1965 and 1972 the Regiment again participated in the revived Nation Service scheme and again changed roles from tank to armoured reconnaissance equipped with M113A1 light reconnaissance vehicles (LRV).

In October 1976, as part of a general re-organisation of the Army Reserve, the Regiment became an Independent Reconnaissance Squadron titled A Squadron 8/13 VMR. In January 1988 the unit was again re-organised as an Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron under the command of 4th Brigade.

As a result of a Force Structure Review in 1990, A Sqn 8/13 VMR and 4/19 PWLH Regiment were linked on 1 April 1991 to form a new two squadron reconnaissance regiment entitled 4/19 PWLH Regiment. By direction one squadron was to be known as "4/19 PWLH Squadron" and the other "8/13 VMR Squadron"