3rd Light Horse Regiment (Australia)

The 3rd Light Horse Regiment was a mounted infantry regiment of the Australian Army during the First World War. The regiment was raised in September 1914, and by December as part of the 1st Light Horse Brigade had moved overseas. The regiment only fought against the forces of the Ottoman Empire, in Egypt, at Gallipoli, on the Sinai Peninsula, and in Palestine and Jordan. After the armistice the regiment eventually returned to Australia in March 1919. For its role in the war the regiment was awarded nineteen battle honours.

During the inter-war years, the regiment was re-raised as a part-time unit based in the state of South Australia. It was later converted to a reconnaissance squadron during the Second World War but was disbanded in early 1943 without having been deployed overseas. In the post war period, the regiment was re-raised as an amalgamated unit, designated the 3rd/9th Light Horse (South Australian Mounted Rifles), which is currently part of the Australian Army Reserve.

3rd Light Horse Regiment
3rd light horse badge
3rd Light Horse Regiment hat badge
Country Australia
BranchAustralian Army
TypeMounted Infantry
Part of1st Light Horse Brigade
EngagementsFirst World War
3rd Light Horse Regiment v2


On 17 August 1914, the 3rd Light Horse Regiment was raised in Adelaide, South Australia and in Hobart, Tasmania.[1] It had an establishment of twenty-five officers and 497 other ranks serving in three squadrons, each of six troops.[2] Each troop was divided into eight sections, of four men each. In action one man of each section, was nominated as a horse holder reducing the regiment's rifle strength by a quarter.[3] Once formed the regiment was assigned to the 1st Light Horse Brigade serving alongside the 1st and 2nd Light Horse Regiments.[1]

All Australian Light Horse regiments used cavalry unit designations, but were mounted infantry armed with rifles, not swords or lances,[4] and mounted exclusively on the Australian Waler horse.[5]

Operational history

3rd Light Horse Palestine
3rd Light Horse Regiment in front of Bethlehem


In October 1914, the regiment left Australia, bound for the Middle East. After arriving in Egypt in December, they took part in the North African campaign defending the Suez Canal. They remained there until May 1915, when they left for the Gallipoli campaign with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).[1] The regiment left their horses in Egypt, and arrived at the Gallipoli peninsula on 12 May 1915.[1] Here regiment fought in the Landing at Anzac Cove, and the Battle of Sari Bair, but spent most of the campaign in a defensive posture. The regiment left Gallipoli for Egypt in December 1915, by which time they had earned four battle honours.[1]

Sinai and Palestine Campaign

3rd Light Horse snipers
Two snipers from the 3rd Light Horse Regiment

After its return to Egypt, the regiment – along with the rest of the 1st Light Horse Brigade – became part of the ANZAC Mounted Division, and was given responsibility for the defence of the Suez Canal from raiding Senussi Arabs. On 4 August 1916, they fought in the Battle of Romani, before being withdrawn to rest and refit.[1] The regiment rejoined the brigade in November and took part in the battles of Maghaba and Rafa in December 1916 and January 1917. This was followed by defeat in the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917, and then the successful Battle of Beersheba and the Third Battle of Gaza in October and November.[1]

The regiment followed up the retreating Ottoman forces and fought in the Battle of Mughar Ridge, the Battle of Nebi Samwill, the Battle of Jerusalam, the Battle of Jaffa, the capture of Jericho, the attack on Amman, the attack on Es Salt and finally, in September and October 1918, the Battles and Megiddo and Nablus.[1]

The Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice of Mudros on 30 October 1918, bring the war to an end. No longer required, the regiment sailed for Australia in March 1919 and subsequently disbanded. Their campaigns in the First World War cost them 158 men killed and 653 men wounded.[1]


In 1921, the decision was made to perpetuate the honours and traditions of the AIF by reorganising the units of the Citizens Force to replicate the numerical designations of their related AIF units.[6] As a result, the 3rd Light Horse was re-raised as a part-time unit based in the 4th Military District,[7] which encompassed the state of South Australia and part of New South Wales. Adopting the designation of the "South Australian Mounted Rifles", it assumed the lineage of several previously existing militia units, including the 22nd Light Horse (South Australian Mounted Rifles) that had been formed in 1912. This unit traced its lineage back to the 16th Australian Light Horse Regiment (South Australian Mounted Rifles), which had been formed in 1903 as part of the amalgamation of Australia's colonial forces into the Australian Army after Federation.[8]

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the 3rd Light Horse was assigned to the 4th Cavalry Brigade, which was part of the 1st Cavalry Division.[7] In December 1941, the regiment was re-organised as a reconnaissance company, adopting the designation of the 3rd Reconnaissance Company (South Australian Mounted Rifles), although this was changed in May 1942 to the 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron.[9] In early 1943, as the Australian Army undertook a partial demobilisation, the unit was deemed surplus to requirements and was disbanded without having seen operational service during the war.[9]

In the post war period, the regiment was re-raised in 1948 equipped with armoured cars.[10] It was initially designated the 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment (South Australian Mounted Rifles), but the following year it was amalgamated with the 9th Light Horse and re-designated the 3rd/9th Light Horse (South Australian Mounted Rifles).[11] The 3rd/9th remains part of the Australian Army Reserve and is currently part of the 2nd Division.[10]

Commanding officers

The following officers commanded the 3rd Light Horse Regiment during the First World War:[1]

Battle honours

The 3rd Light Horse Regiment was awarded the following battle honours:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "3rd Light Horse Regiment". First World War, 1914–1918 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  2. ^ Gullett 1941, p. 54.
  3. ^ Horner and Williams, Chapter: Setting up the Light Horse
  4. ^ Gullett 1941, p. 29.
  5. ^ Gullett 1941, p. 38.
  6. ^ Grey 2008, p. 125.
  7. ^ a b Finlayson 2012, p. 190.
  8. ^ Festberg 1972, p. 40.
  9. ^ a b Festberg 1972, p. 41.
  10. ^ a b Finlayson 2012, p. 313.
  11. ^ Festberg 1972, p. 15.
  • Festberg, Alfred (1972). The Lineage of the Australian Army. Melbourne, Victoria: Allara Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85887-024-6.
  • Finlayson, David (2012). Green Fields Beyond. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Department of Veterans' Affairs. OCLC 799180097.
  • Grey, Jeffrey (2008). A Military History of Australia (3rd ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521697910.
  • Gullett, Henry (1941). The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, 1914–1918. Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918. Volume 7 (10th ed.). Sydney: Angus and Robertson. OCLC 220901683.
  • Horner, David; Williams, Dr Peter (2010). Australia's Military History For Dummies. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-1-74246-894-5.

Further reading

  • Smith, Neil (1993). The Third Australian Light Horse Regiment 1914–1918: A Short History and Listing of Those Who Served. Gardenvale, Victoria: Mostly Unsung Military History, Research and Publications. ISBN 9780646134871.
1st Light Horse Brigade
2nd Light Horse Brigade
3rd Light Horse Brigade
4th Light Horse Brigade
5th Light Horse Brigade
Australian Corps troops

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