Title: The Featherbed Soldiers – The New South Wales Lancers in the Boer War 1899 – 1902
Author: Smith, N C and Simpson, C V
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 2001
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 135 pages
Comments: The unit history on the New South Wales Lancers during the Boer War.
The New South Wales Lancers was raised in 1883 as a light horse unit but, following the return of its contingent from the Sudan that had served with the New South Wales Artillery in 1885, it converted to a lancer unit. In 1899 a squadron of 100 officers and men from the Lancers, under the command of Captain C. Cox, travelled to Britain, where it participated in a military tournament at Islington and undertook training at Aldershot.
The contingent was to have returned to Australia but, when war in South Africa broke out, two officers and 69 non-commissioned officers and men volunteered for service. In October they and their horses travelled on board the Nineveh to Cape Town, arriving on 2 November. Theirs were the first Australian unit to arrive in South Africa.Men volunteering for service were required to be between 20 and 40 years of age, preferably unmarried, and be “good shots”. Horses needed to be suitable for mounted infantry work and had to pass a veterinary exam.
Over the course of the following four months, the lancer received three drafts to reinforce and support the contingent. The second draft consisted of five officers, 36 other ranks, and 160 horses and left Sydney on board the Kent on 28 October 1899. The third draft of 17 sergeants and men and 15 horses left New South Wales on the Moravian on 17 January 1900. The fourth and final draft, of an officer and 40 other ranks, left on 16 February 1900 on the Australian.From November 1899 to December 1900 the unit served in the northern Cape Colony, the Free State, and in east Transvaal. In February 1900 it served as part of General J.D.P. French’s cavalry division, forming part of the 1st Cavalry Brigade, from the relief of Kimberley to the sweep to Heidelberg in October.At the end of 1900 the lancers prepared to return to Australia. The squadron embarked at Cape Town on the transport Harlech Castle on 11 November and the Orient on 13 December. The first group arrived in Sydney on 6 December and the second on 8 January 1901.