Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Findlater’s men

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Shane Smith, Naracoorte Community News

This is my 5th and latest book on the military history of Naracoorte. The book is titled Findlater’s Men. Consisting of 319 pages, over 20 photos and full nominal roll, it covers the formation of the Naracoorte Half Squadron South Australian Mounted Rifles 1900/12.

The book is titled after Daniel Findlater who was a prominent member of the Naracoorte community and who owned land out on the Messamurray Road. He instigated the formation, raised and was the commanding officer of the Naracoorte Mounted Rifles from 1900 to 1910.

The members of the Naracoorte Mounted Rifles were part time soldiers, very similar to today’s Army Reserve.

Enlistment age was 18 to 35. Members had to be a minimum height of 5ft 6 inches and enlist for a period of three years, then every three years after that if they wished.

The strength of a mounted rifles squadron was 72 men but this varied. The Naracoorte squadron consisted of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd troops, each troop consisting of 18 men.

The members had to attend a minimum of 16 parades and training to qualify for pay. They were paid eight shillings a day while training, on parades and at military camps. Members had to supply their own horse and were paid an allowance by the military for its upkeep.

The Naracoorte Squadron trained twice a week at day and night parades. It was also compulsory to attend the Easter Military Camp held in the Adelaide Hills over three to five days.

They had to attend a school of instruction every three months and a half yearly rifle shooting accreditation. They also had four kit inspections a year.

The squadron trained at the Naracoorte show grounds until 1904 when they had a purpose built military hall located Smith Street.

In 1903 all the Mounted Rifles had a name change Australia wide to Light Horse Regiments.

The Naracoorte Squadron was highly regarded by other Light Horse Regiments in South Australia. They had one of the highest attendance for training and military camps between 1900/12.

Members of the Naracoorte unit served in the Boer War 1899-1902 and the 1914/18 war.

While undertaking research for the book, I uncovered one of our forgotten Boer war veterans, Frederick Rackham from Bool Lagoon. He was an original member of the Naracoorte Mounted Rifles and volunteered for service in the Boer War 1902. He became very ill while in South Africa and after his return to Australia in January 1903, never fully recovered and died from war-related illness in the Naracoorte Hospital on 29 January 1903.

A total of 244 men served with the Naracoorte unit.

People should not confuse these men with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment. The 3rd Light Horse Regiment Militia was not formed until 1919 in South Australia.

Naracoorte Community New 19 July 2023

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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