Title: In the Footsteps of the First – 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment
Author: Flood, Anne
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 2012
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 188 pages
Comments: The history of the 1st Light Horse Regiment AIF during the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign.
With the impending 100th Anniversary of the Landing at Gallipoli on 25th April, 1915, it is timely that this book, the first in a series of two, provides an in-depth record of the campaign fought by the First Light Horse Regiment who, under Commanding Officers Lieutenant Colonel John Baldwin Meredith and Major Hugh Venables Vernon, fought and died at Pope’s Post and No.1 Outpost in the defence of the Gallipoli Peninsula.
‘In the Footsteps of the First’ is written by Anne Flood whose grandfather Frederick Henry Wood of Glebe NSW was a Trooper (Driver) No.67 in the 1st Light Horse Regiment Machine Gun section. Trooper Wood was wounded on 1 June 1915 together with mate Trooper (Driver) George Herbert (Herb) Puckett No. 53 of Yass, NSW, both reporting being hit by a single gunshot whilst working in pairs as sharpshooters on a night patrol in Monash Valley North (NZ Valley).
‘In the Footsteps of the First’ traces the movements of the 1st Light Horse Regiment of NSW from the formation of the Regiment in August 1914 to training in Egypt as a Brigade under Colonel Harry Chauvel. The Firsts were committed to the campaign at Gallipoli and landed without horses on 12 May, 1915, fighting at Pope’s Post and No.1 Outpost and withdrawing without casualties on 21st December, 1915.
The 1st Light Horse Regiment consisted of around 500 men eager for adventure and to defend the Fatherland who came from Sydney and rural towns and cities in NSW including Hunter Valley, North-Western NSW, Central West, North and South Coast and the Riverina towns of the author, including Wagga, Tumut, Yass, Gundagai, Adelong, Cootamundra, Cooma, Batlow, Albury, Harden, Murrumburrah, Deniliquin and others.
The book tells the story of such men as Captain James Moffat Reid of Tenterfield, NSW who, in the words of WW1 Historian Charles Bean, led ‘A’ Squadron on the August 7 attack on The Chessboard [and] “being hit in the right hand, changed his revolver to his left, and, although entreated to go to the rear, continued to lead his men. He was last seen amid the bomb-smoke in the enemy trench.”. Also Lieutenant Geoffrey Lavincourt Harris from Tumut, NSW who led his troop into the attack on The Chessboard on 7 August and, although wounded continued to lead his men. He was awarded The Military Cross.
The book is an accurate record of the day by day grind and horror of the 8-month campaign through the eyes and words of the commanding officers who penned the Regimental War Diary day by day in the trenches of Gallipoli. Each chapter records usually one month in the 15 month campaign from the declaration of war in August 1914 to the Evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula in 19 – 21 December, 1915 and the return to Heliopolis Camp in Egypt on 23rd December, 1915. From late December, 1914 to 5 May, 1915 excerpts from the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade Diary portray the daily activities and Camp Orders for the Firsts as part of the larger Brigade under Colonel Harry Chauvel. From 12 May, 1915 the story is told in the exact words of Lieutenant Colonel John Baldwin Meredith and Major Hugh Venables Vernon who penned the Regimental War Diary in the Gallipoli trenches with the inclusion of narration by the author when needed. Each chapter records the names and details of every man who paid the ultimate price on the day that they died with details from the Nominal Roll, including the 7 August Offense when the Regiment committed 200 men to the attack from Pope’s Post on the Chessboard with 157 casualties and 60 deaths.
This book complies with the requirements of a Military Unit History in recording all Commendations as they were declared and inclusion of the Nominal Roll for the 1st LH Regiment and Reinforcements that gives details including name, age, occupation, next of kin, religion and date of joining of all servicemen who embarked with the 1st LH Regiment from Sydney NSW for service from October 1914 to October 1915. As such it is an invaluable resource for family historians and others who interested in the Gallipoli campaign. The story is personalised and enhanced by individual anecdotes and family stories, sketches and art works by the author and photographs courtesy of AWM of the men and the places that the Regiment fought and died to hold.
This book not only commemorates the service of those whose bodies rest in the dusty earth and bleached sands of The Peninsula but also highlights the sacrifice and commitment made by each and every man who, like my grandfather and his mate Herb, typified the spirit of the Australian Digger. This book also recognises the sacrifice made by the women of Australia who waited for them to come home. It is written to tell the story of the 1st Australian Light horse Regiment to the half million descendents whose lives have been enriched through a heritage of courage and strength, tempered with humour and a selflessness and commitment to stand by a mate and to fight for freedom.
Includes Nominal Roll and Roll of Honour