May 11 - 17, 2014: Issue 162

  Mona Vale Training Grounds: From Lancers on Horses to Lasses on Transport Courses

'Brock's' circa 1906-1907, showing what would become the Barrenjoey Road.

 Looking north, "La Corniche", Mona ValeDigital Order Number: a105575 - from album Scenes views and interiors of "La Corniche", Mona Vale, N.S.W., Sydney & Ashfield : Broadhurst Post Card Publishers, courtesy State L:ibrary of NSW.

 Mona Vale Training Grounds - From Lancers on Horses to Lasses on Transport Courses

There is an ancient train of thought which states that any warrior must not only be trained to optimum fitness in physical form and in how to use their tools, they must also be educated in how to think, how to best utilise their taught skills to defend the land they stand upon. Fliers must defend the air, sailors the seas, but it is the infantry, the lancers and in Australia – the evolution of the A.I.F. , that stood at the perimeters of where sea and air become the land beneath your feet.

Training in the field in exercises that will test the fitness, knowledge and skills imparted, and how well these come together in an individual and in a team, has ever been part of this ancient creed.

The valley of Mona Vale, and its perimeters, have been used as training grounds on several instances. The Oaks, or La Corniche (II) were used extensively during World War II, first as a bivouac area for those being trained and then as a place to recuperate and heal. Prior to that conflict the landscape, with flats, hills and water, the fields of Mr Brock’s ‘polo’ ground, were utilised by succeeding Army corps to test and train to fitness. As with every place the fields and the horses gave way to roads and vehicles and those who lived here were part of what occurred.

The few records shared below illustrate these rapid changes and may even make you wonder what a few score of horses thundering over Tumbledown Dick Hill may have sounded like. The reports also name several of the men who were responsible, in the years following Australia becoming a nation in 1901, for setting up what was to become Australia's Army - the A.I.F.

Short biographies on some of these gentlemen are included under Extras:


The Sydney and Parramatta squadrons of the New South Wales Lancers were engaged on Saturday and part of yesterday in some interesting fluid operations in the neighbourhood of Rock Lily and Newport. The parade was also the last of the year.

The Sydney squadron, numbering 69, under Captain King, was as supposed to represent the advance party of au enemy which had landed at Bongan Bongan Beach, near the entrance to Broken Bay. The squadron left the city at 8.30 a.m., and bivouacked at 1 p.m. at Narrabeen. The lauding party, by arrangement, commenced to make its dispositions at 2 p.m. from the Rock Lily Hotel, and the idea, was that the telegraph lines should be tapped in order to prevent reinforcements of the defending force coming from Hornsby.

The Parramatta, squadron of Lancers was ordered to find out the strength of the enemy that had landed at Bongan Bongan Beach. According to the plan of operations the road via the Spit was held to be untenable, so that the detachment had to proceed via Pymble. The Parramatta men mustered 72, and were under the command of Captain Mackenzie. They left Parramatta at 8a.m. and reached Tumble-down Dick, near Pymble, in time for lunch. Lieutenant-Colonel James Burns, officer-commanding, accompanied them, and at Pymble Brigadier-General Finn, Major A. P. Luscombe, D.A. Q.M.G., and Lieutenant Macartney, A.D.C., joined the party with a view to witnessing the manouvres.

A start was made at 2 p.m. from Tumbledown Dick to ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy, and very rough country was encountered, but trooper's and horses got over the ground capitally. The enemy's landing party not having time apparently to achieve its object, its officer-commanding threw out a line of outposts extending from the Rock Lily Hotel to a little point near Newport. Shortly alter 3 p.m. the Parramatta squadron got into touch with the outposts about two miles from the hotel, and after some good work on both sides the evening's advance guard, according to the prearranged plan, was driven back to the reserve near the beach.

Owing to this reverse and the weather becoming thick and stormy the landing party was supposed to be unable to re-ombark by boats on board of the cruisers, consequently a position was taken up on Bongan Head. In this phase of the operations, however, the Sydney squadron no longer represented the enemy, but joined the Parramatta men. The enemy's position on Bongan Head was represented by eight canvas targets, which had been erected under the supervision of Major M. Hilliard, D.S.O., and Captain P. C. Timothy. Four of these were located about 500 yards from the main road and the other f our about 900 yards distant, but the ranges were unknown to those who subsequently took part in the firing. It was decided that the attack on this position should be made shortly after daybreak on the following day by the entire body of Lancers representing the home force.

The two squadrons a little after 5 p.m. reached Mr. George Brock's Mona Vale estate, where Captain Timothy had arranged with the owner for the whole force to bivouac for the night. The troops were here joined by Colonel H. D. Mackenzie, A.A.G., Captain J.  Purves, and Captain J. S. Brunton, the two latter travelling by motor car. The Lancers band also came down by a coach provided by the officers, who also contributed the commissariat supplies.

The State Commandant addressed the officers and N.C.O's. during the evening, and said that he was well pleased generally with the tactics, intelligence, and conduct of the troops. The men had shown their efficiency as skilled horsemen in very rough country, and he complimented them on their mobility. The outpost work was creditably performed, but at times rather humid. After tea a camp-fire concert was held, in which the band figured conspicuously, and Mr. Brock' rendered valuable assistance. A boxing bout between two amateur champions, Troopers Parbury and R. Baker, proved exciting, as were also some smart singlestick tourneys.

At daybreak yesterday the reveille sounded, and the Lancers at 5.45 a.m. were on the way to attack the enemy's position, indicated by the canvas targets on Bongan Head, forty rounds of ball cartridge were fired per man in the attack, which was at unknown distances. The shooting was good. One target had about 200 hits on it. The weakness of the attack, according to Brigadier-General Finn, lay in the fact that the men were too prone to expose themselves and rush forward in large numbers instead of in twos and threes. These were defects apparent in all sham fights, however, and only corrected by a taste of the " Real thing."

The troops returned to camp at 8.16. After morning "stables " a bathing parade was held, in which nearly every Lancer participated on his horse. Mr. Brock was thanked for his kindness in quartering the forces, and route march was then taken via the Spit for the Sydney Squadron and via Pymble for the- Parramatta men. - The Sydney detachment reached the city in the afternoon. MILITARY INTELLIGENCE. (1902, December 15). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from

For more information see:


On Monday last the Sydney Squadron of Lancers returned from a three days' staff ride in the vicinity of Pittwater. The work was undertaken on a tactical scheme connected with the landing of an enemy, the whole being under the command and supervision of Lieutenant M'Mahon. Organised as a complete regiment, the squadron left Sydney about 9 a.m. on Saturday, on a rapid march on Bay View, two squadrons travelling via Gordon and Tumbledown Dick Mountain, and two via Manly and Narrabeen, the advanced partios, by means of signalling communication, coming simultaneously Into touch with each other in the scrub behind Rocklily. All ranks had duties of a higher nature than their existing rank, particular attention being paid to the issue of written orders, the forwarding of reports, and sketches In the field. Tents were not taken, the intention being to camp in the open, but owing to the wet weather, the men were billeted in one of Mr. Brock, of Mona Vale's, buildings, the 90 horses being picketed in the rear. MILITARY. (1906, October 4). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from


The Volunteer Rifle Club, known as the National Reserve, established in 1913 by Lieutenant-Colonel C. F. Cox., C.B., and a number of ex-members of the defence forces, goes into camp this week at Mona Vale, near Narrabeen, under the Acting Commanding Officer, Captain Forsyth Cheffins. Of the regiment 100 members have Joined the Expeditionary Forces, and 280 are now either officers or non commissioned officers at the front. The members bear their own expenses, subsidised by donations from patriotic citizens. A plain khaki uniform, costing about 16s, is supplied to members, but its use is optional. All the members are sworn in for defence as a rifle club, and shooting at Randwick takes place every second Saturday.

Owing to the camp this week there will be no drill either at Prince Alfred Park or at North Sydney (where a strong contingent of the reserve is being formed), but drills will be resumed again at St. Thomas's School Hall, McLarcn-street, North Sydney, at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, February 3, and at the Cleveland-street State School, Prince Alfred Park, on Saturday, February 6, at 3 p.m.
As the State Commandant, Colonel Wallack, C.B., will Inspect the reserve tomorrow at the camp at Mona Vale, it is urgently requested that all members who are unable to attend the camp for the week will come to Mona Vale on Tuesday next. NATIONAL RESERVE. (1915, January 25).The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 4. Retrieved from 

Lord Roberts shortly after the South African war founded, for purposes of home defence, a corps of ex-service men, under the name of the "National Reserve." Some ten years later-I.e., when reviewed two years ago by his Majesty the King, this force numbered 30,000 men In London alone. Some of their number, we hear, have recently been doing active home defence work.
In Great Britain it has long been realize what this body of hardy and experienced volunteers stands for in her midst. Their enthusiasm is great, and it spread over the Empire till In August, 1913, ex-service men in New South Wales, tired by their example, formed themselves into a body upon the same lines, under the command of Colonel Charles Cox, C.B., V.D., now commissioned In Egypt.
Originally the corps was formed of ex-service men exclusively, but now Its ranks; are open to all men of good character and passable physique who wish for strict military training and are willing to pay their own way, and sacrifice time and pleasures for their country's welfare. Their leaders are men who have seen active service, and among their ranks is many an enthusiast who cannot leave wife and family or home responsibilities to enlist, but, nevertheless, instead of laying down his arms, wishes to do his share (and perhaps his brother's, too)by keeping In training for "home defence," or in preparing others to take their places on the foreign field.
The National Reserve is, in brief, a body of men who want to serve their country, and, being in earnest, have found a way. They are not a part of our regular military, though they are officially recognised as a "ride club," and are the only corps In which members are trained strictly to military regulations and in which instruction can be received in mounted drill and manoeuvres. Infantry work, engineering, army service, army medical work, and army nursing.
They have already prepared over 250 men for the expeditionary forces that we have sent away, and, as a result of this training, more than 70 per cent, of those men obtained non-commissioned rank.
It is difficult to keep tally of their numbers, as the reservists are called upon as need arises, and those who are left are for the most part busy city men who must fit military duties Into their free hours and holiday time; still, it Is perhaps safe to say that there are among the National Reservists in Sydney at least 500 men who have gained experience In action, and are giving this experience, with their time and energy, loyally and freely to train others in readiness for their country's call.
A visit to the N.R.'B eight days' voluntary camp at Mona Vale gives one a very Instructive glimpse Into military life and methods on the field, and brings home to one with a new force the great necessity for perfect training, unflinching discipline, and heroic self-sacrifice on the part of our men, if those who are left, and those who return may still hope to hold with honour their heritage of British freedom and British right.
Captain Forsythe-Scheffin (acting O.C) selected for his men an ideal camping ground on the much-guarded road to Barranjoey. 

It is the quiet little bay of Mona Vale (Manx named), one of the few spots between Narrabeen and Newport that have not yet been desecrated by Saturday and Sunday holiday-makers. There, in a dip between the road and the beach, part of Richards' Beach Estate, lent by the owner, some 20 tents were pitched one night, and Instantly, It seemed, a military settlement of 200 men sprang into being mounted infantry under Lieutenants P. Renton and P. V. Ryan; infantry under Captain Pertersen (Highlanders) and Lieutenant Westbrook (regulars); engineers under Lieutenants Fisher and Sullivan; Army Medical Corps under Lieutenant Corcoran, Intelligence under Lieutenant Arthur, and so on.
With the promptness of men of action, the British flag was hoisted, then the site surveyed by Government Surveyor Wilson; a spring was discovered (perhaps by the Intelligence Department) In a neighbouring stream, and the water tested by the medical officer, and divided, in descending sections, into drinking, horses', and washing "basins," each marked with its particular flag- -white, blue, and red respectively. A bridge over the stream was constructed far easy transit from motor to camp; entrenchments were dug for rifle practice "under cover," a heliograph station established, electric light installed, and telephone connection with Victoria Barracks made. Not one of the 200 was idle, as regular Instruction continued while various sections were at work upon Invention and construction.

The site offered raw material, but the conveniences, or, rather, necessities, of camplife had to be improvised at command by volunteers; and never was a bare stretch of land more quickly made habitable. An adjacent clump of trees was encircled by ropes for the horses; shallow trenches were dug to serve as fireplaces, iron bars laid across the trench to hold pots and pans, and a camp oven constructed with bricks, Commandeered from their only neighbour, "Thorberg." A few large frying-pans wore obtained locally, but the engineers had to be requisitioned again to rapidly construct other cooking vessels out of petrol tins-deep vessels for water, shallow ones for baking, etc.; and no Jagged bits and no rough edges were seen-all was finished in neat military style.

At 6 p.m. work ceases, at 10 all lights are extinguished, and between these hours no one passes the boundaries of the reserve without the commanding officer's sanction. From 6 to 6, day and night, sentries pace the ground, and challenge whoever comes within their range. The clink of arms, the military halt, and the whizz of an occasional bullet may be heard with treble clearness in the dead of night by late-comers or unwary travellers on the high road above the camp: It Is then or when mingled with Interrupted dreams and imaginings, that the deep significance of the military atmosphere is felt.

Soon after dawn the bugle sounds, and a squad is marched by the sergeant-major for an early dip In the surf or new council baths. Ten men In their folding "mat beds" (the officers have collapsible stretchers) sleep feet to feet in a bell tent, guns reared up against the central pole.
Cooks (chosen daily from volunteers) are busy early, preparing breakfast-tea and bread, chops and chip potatoes-and just before 8 some l8 or 20 orderlies draw up in line by the trench fire to receive rations for their respective tents. Each man provides himself with an enamelled cup and plate, a knife and fork and two spoons; but the orderly must carry an Improvised bucket and dish for his tent's supply. The dole is given in strict military fashion, while an officer on duty stands by. A stated ration Is allowed, but those whoso appetites exceed the limit may buy, at Sydney prices, from the camp store. All served, the orderlies march In line to the centre of the square, when the band (drum and bugles and rare Scotch pipes) strikes up, and a halt is called.

Buckets and dishes are dropped while officers and men stand "at reverence" to hear the National Anthem. In this simple setting the anthem is heroic-more "heroic" than on grander occasions. Everything here bears the mark of simplicity that suggests active warfare. The men are In undress uniform; the breakfast already well earned seems forgotten by all, and the attitude of the whole camp is one of grave and earnest meaning. It is a fine touch, a "grand interruption," this early morning Introduction of the anthem. There is something Imperial about It, And here Is our little Australian corps following Britain's lead, and preparing itself for-whtaf Look for a moment at the setting. There, as background, is a typical stretch of Australian coastline, with its beautiful waters dissolving into a blue haze of distance: as foregrounds hastily pitched military settlement. And these are our men, typical, too, we venture to hope, who have volunteered to guard that coastline for love and life, if the need come, and who are ready now to face death on the other side to guard It still for their Empire.

The National Anthem is an epic In this setting, It is well for us to see these men, when we think of the great sacrifices that are being made all the world over to-day for our future and the world's peace. It is well to see the earnestness of this volunteer movement, the willingness of it to learn and to Instruct. It If, good to see that discipline, so well established among them, of which Colonel Wallack spoke after his review on Tuesday, as the "only foundation on which the success of the army can be built."

It is good to know that Sydney has a body of men practising voluntarily on the lines of the Imperial National Reserve, and to know that It forms a complete unit of nine sections, known to the public under the modest name of a "rifle club."

The army nursing corps (one of Its divisions), under W O. Brain and Matron Thompson, was also present at the camp on Tuesday for Colonel Wallack's  review, and observed the same excellent bearing and discipline as other sections. This division has only been attached for the past three or four months, but already numbers 22 nurses, who are taking an "army nursing course," which will extend over 3 years. Last, but not least, the grand little band of native-born Scotch bagpipers. In gorgeous plaids and sporan, which lends a colour and sound Interest to the encampment, gave a picturesque finish to the gravity of the review on Tuesday.

The N.R. Volunteers In Sydney work with the discipline of long-trained men and the enthusiasm of amateurs, and It is said that since the formation of the force there has never yet been a feeling of strained relationship between its officers and men.
A FORCE IN RESERVE. (1915, January 30). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from


This was attended last week by 146 men, representing infantry, light horse, engineers, army medical corps, transport, nursing, and cyclist corps. A number of them had seen service in South Africa.

Colonel Wallack, the State Commandant, taking the salute in the march past. NATIONAL RESERVE RIFLE CLUB. (1915, January 31). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 14 (SUNDAY EDITION). Retrieved from 

La Corniche and its extensive grounds continued to feature as a place for training people. During World War II La Corniche was used as a Red Cross centre for wounded soldiers. In World War II "La Corniche" was commandeered by the Air Force during and used as training ground for recruits. Some sources state it was also used by the Army as an Infantry Training School for NCO's. La Corniche - [Occupation by Australian Military Forces of premises known as 'La Corniche' in Mona Vale, the property of Mr GJ McPhee. Includes claim for compensation] Australian Archives Military Records. Property files for sites in NSW hired or acquired for the Department of Defence during World War II
Visit: The Oaks- La Corniche - Mona Vale history page 

Of then:

I was ordained in 1941, the beginning of `41, and appointed as a curate in the parish of St Faith's, Narrabeen. I was then just two days beyond my twenty-third birthday. The war had commenced, and, during my first appointment at Narrabeen, army camps were being formed in the area, because the threat of invasion was feared. I can recall fences being erected along the sides of the road, so that places like Palm Beach or Bayview could be shut off if need be, and then, when the threat of the Japanese came, the more intense development of army troops in that area. And Canon Tugwell then asked me to become a part-time chaplain to those troops in that area.

The parish of Narrabeen in those days went from Collaroy down to Palm Beach. There were main residential settlements at Collaroy, Narrabeen, but when you went out beyond that to Mona Vale you had mainly twenty-five acre small farms, many glasshouse tomato producers. Beyond Mona Vale, Newport was ... just one hotel in Newport, and mainly accommodation for people coming down to holiday use. Beyond Newport, at Bilgola and at Avalon, and then at Palm Beach, there were just mainly holiday homes, very few permanent residents.

My appointment was to help commence a ministry in that northern part. So I boarded with an old Boer war veteran and his wife, a Mr and Mrs Wilson, who lived in Fermoy Avenue, Bayview. And from there would conduct services in the store at Avalon, where there was little tea-rooms behind the store, and in an estate agent's office at Palm Beach. Subsequently a family by the name of Byle lent us their home for the service at Palm Beach.  And my other ministry there was to the troops, which were then being trained by the army, and they had an officers' training unit in a big home at Mona Vale, and my responsibility was to conduct services, and then to have discussions or what they called padre's hours with the intake of recruits.

Canon Charles Henry Sherlock, Chaplain RAAF, interviewed by Gail Winkworth for the Keith Murdoch Sound Archives of Australia in the War of 1939-45 

DAWN "ATTACK." University Regiment. DEFENDING BEACH.
Tactical military exercises, including a beach defence scheme followed by a withdrawal of troops, were carried out by the Sydney University Regiment yesterday. The terrain of operations lay between Castle Hill and Mona Vale.
Wearing full military equipment, more than250 members of the regiment turned out at midnight, and dashed in motor buses to Mona Vale to repel an "enemy." They dug trenches in the sand, mounted guns and met the 'enemy" with a counter-attack at dawn.
Later in the morning, a landline was effected at Manly by the "enemy." The regiment then retreated to a better defensive position. The strategic withdrawal of troops continued through Dural, defensive positions being taken by the regiment on the way.
All moves were carried out by motor transport, and realism was given to the exercises by Vercy lights, loudspeakers, and arms. Lieutenant-Colonel W. J. V. Windeyer commanded the regiment. DAWN "ATTACK.". (1938, August 19). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved from

The photographs that form part of these reports are, in their originals, now part of the Mitchell Library - NSW State Library collection; we have used these as the quality of Mr Hood's excellent images in the library's online records is better than those in Trove. There are several of these images available but those we use, to honour the original report's history, are the same.

Realistic military manoeuvres were performed by more than 260 members of the Sydney University Regiment, who were called upon to meet a theoretical enemy landing at Mona Vale early yesterday morning. The top picture shows a Vickers gun position on the beach at Mona Vale, and in the lower picture, two of the men are training their rifles upon the "invaders." UNIVERSITY REGIMENT REPELS "INVASION.". (1938, August 19). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved from

Dawn attack at Mona Vale - Date of Work 8/1938, Image No.: hood_18864h, courtesy State Library of NSW.
Dawn attack at Mona Vale - Date of Work 8/1938, Image No.: hood_18852, courtesy State Library of NSW.
The Sydney University Regiment (SUR) is an officer training regiment of the Australian Army Reserve. The University Volunteer Rifle Corps was raised on the 17th of November 1900, as part of the colonial Military Forces of New South Wales. In 1903, the UVRC changed its name to the Sydney University Scouts and the establishment had by then doubled to two rifle companies. When universal conscription was introduced in 1911, the Scouts numbers increased and it became a militia battalion. 

On the outbreak of the Great War, over sixty percent of the Scouts enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Members of the Scouts served widely within the AIF; as newly qualified doctors. In mid 1918 a University Company was recruited from students at the University of Sydney for active service in the AIF. The war ended before it mobilised for service.

We close with a small opener from the ladies:
N.D.L. Transport Corps.
THERE were scenes of great activity yesterday at Winjijimmi Point, Mona Vale, when an advance party of members of the National Defence League Transport Corps wont into camp for more than 50 women who will be in camp there from to-day until Sunday.
The 13 members of the advance party, wearing slacks and shirts of khaki drill, were employed erecting tents and digging water trenches, building fireplaces, and assembling the equipment. Mainly concerned with the provisions was the quartermaster, Mrs. C. P. Wymark, who has planned the meals for the camp. The menus for the day included cereals and eggs for breakfast, a hot midday meal with plenty of vegetables, and a cold evening meal of meats and salads.
Organised Training.
WHILE they are in camp the members will receive training in many branches of their studies. These include map reading-, signalling, first aid, morse, stretcher drill, convoy work, military transport drill, infantry drill, physical training, and they will have organized games to promote the team spirit.
Their mechanics instructor will be Miss E. Perry, one of the 30 members of the Transport Corps, who has passed an advance course in mechanics, which is conducted tinder the auspices of the Technical College. The commandant is Mrs. Murchison Kater, and the 2I.C. is Miss Pat Godhard, both of whom were in the advance party. (See pictures on page 13.) ADVANCE PARTY IN CAMP. (1941, January 9). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from
Mrs. Murchison Kater, the commandant of the League Transport Corps and Miss Norma Dunlop at Mona Vale. Morse Keys and code sheet seen in foreground. National Defence League - 1941, Image No.: H99.201/5082, courtesy State Library of Victoria.

MRS. RONALD TRAILL, the Adjutant of the National Defence League Transport Corps, and the Quartermaster, MRS. C. F. WYMARK, were busy members of the advance party in camp at Mona Vale yesterday.

MISSES ESME VOST, AALETHA ANCHER and PAT GODHARD erecting a tent at the camp established yesterday at Mona Vale by an advance party of the National Defence League Transport Corps, of which Miss Godhard is the 2 IC.
MRS. MURCHISON KATER, the Commandant of the National Defence League Transport Corps, and MISS NORMA DUNLOP, members of the advance party, discussing camp plans at Mona Vale yesterday. The unit's Morse keys and code sheet can be seen in the foreground.

(Above)MEMBERS of the "chain gang" packing stores into the quartermasters’ tent.

(Left) GIRL GUIDES. PREPARING dinner for a hungry 30 Guiders at the Training Camp. At the fire is MISS B. HOWELL, while doing the other jobs are MRS. F. DRURY (Milthorpe), and MISSES K. SOLOMON, E. JONES (Bowral), M. HOLMES and G. COLES (Forbes) Note the racks made for washing up and for holding fruit and vegetables: the racks are made from wood found on the property, lashed securely together with stout string. WAR WORKERS IN CAMPS—CLOTHES FOR BRITISH CHILDREN. (1941, January 9). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved from


Extras and References:

12th Australian Light Horse Regiment Embarkation Book Prior to embarkation, the first 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF, produced a photographic record of the Regiment. Since there are no other official photographs existing of this Regiment, this has become the best reference for that unit.  12th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF, embarked from Sydney, New South Wales on board HMAT A29 Suevic, 13 June 1915 and HMAT A44 Vestalia, 22 June 1915.

For a complete listing of the contents of the album, go to: 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment Embarkation Book Album Contents
For information about the 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment in general, go to: 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF

Mr. F.P.J. Gray President,of the Pharmaceutical Society, in making the presentation, said that the moneys were collected by ladies connected with pharmacy and special thanks were due to them. Colonel Wallack said it gave him great pleasure to accept the gift on behalf of the military authorities. Colonel Fiaschi as representing the Army Medical Service said the gift would be most welcome, and most serviceable, and would be forwarded to Melbourne for shipment to the front on the earliest opportunity. A GIFT BY THE PHARMACISTS OF NEW SOUTH WALES. (1915, January 22). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from

Back Again.
Colonel E. T. Wallack, of the Commandant's staff of the Tasmanian Defence Force, returned to Hobart on Thursday last, and yesterday a representative of "The Mercury" waited upon him at the Military Barracks, and had a conversation with him on his movements in South Africa during his absence from Tasmania. The Colonel looked remarkably well  indeed, younger and better than when he left - but he still carries with him the dregs of the malarial fever, which he acquired at Beira, and that again attacked  him while on his way from South Africa to England. However, he never surrendered to the malaria, even when hardest pressed by the enervating disorder, and now he mentions the sickness only in passing, and as an incident.

Imports for Rhodesia.
Colonel Wallack left Hobart for Capetown on March 5, 1900, by the transport Atlantian, whose visit to this port will be vividly remembered. Eight days after his departure, Field-Marshal Roberts occupied Bloemfontein ! That was the beginning of the end - the first act in the practical defeat of the Boers. Colonel Wallack took to South Africa the First Tasmanian Bushmen Contingent. He reached Capetown on April 1, 1900, and presented credentials, addressed by the then Governor of Tasmania, Viscount Gormanston, to the High Commissioner for South Africa, Sir Alfred (now Lord) Milner. He then placed himself at the disposal of Major-General Sir Forestier Walker, the General Commanding the Lines of Communication, and was ordered to Beira, a sea-port in Portuguese South Africa, to join the headquarters staff of Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Carrington. It will sur-prise most people to read of a British General having his headquarters in the territory of a neutral Power. But, under a treaty between Great Britain and Portugal, General Carrington was to land a British force of 5,000 men at Beira. Colonel Wallack went by steamer from Capetown to Beira, and arrived at the latter place on. April 9. Some of Sir Frederick Carrington's forces reached the Portuguese territory with Colonel Wallack, and it now became his duty, as staff officer, to land General Carrington's forces at Beira. In the steamer by which Colonel Wallack went to Beira there were 600 men, all of whom were Australian troops. During the few days immediately follow-ing April 9, further transports arrived, and altogether 2,000 men passed through Colonel Wallack's hands at Beira, 85 per cent, of whom were Australasians. The Bushmen whom Colonel Wallack had brought to South Africa wereon their arrival transferred to the immediate command of Captain Riggall, another Tasmanian officer. A few days after Colonel Wallack's arrival at Beira he was joined there by Captain Riggall. The Colonel remained at Beira nearly a month, during which time he organised the landing of the troops, horses, mules and stores, and passed them across country to the base camp at Marandellas, in Rhodesia.
Portuguese Civility.
Colonel Wallack says he experienced the greatest courtesy and received every assistance in his work, from His Excellency the Portuguese Governor at Beira, Senhor Meyrelles do Canto e Castro, who, with his wife and daughter, graciously entertained the British officers passing through the Portuguese territory, and made easy his work, which might have proved very unpleasant.  
Teaching "The Magazine."
His mission at Beira fulfilled, Colonel  Wallack joined General Carrington's headquarters staff at Marandellas, and took up the position of Staff Officer for English troops of the Rhodesian field force. He also assisted the Chief Staff Officer, Colonel Jenner, of the Rifle Brigade. While at Marandellas he was told off to instruct the Fourth and Fifth New Zealand Contingents in the use ofthe magazine rifle. He also materially assisted to raise the Rhodesian Field Artillery, by inducing nearly 300 colonial troops to join the batteries, which at that time were practically unmanned.
Off to Mafeking.
In June and July the troops were gradually passed up to Mafeking. The distance from Bulawayo, in Rhodesia (from which they started), to the beleaguered town was 750 miles. Mafeking was reached by a tram journey of 400 and a march of 350 miles. Three thousand men were thus sent up towards Mafeking, and they included the Canadian Artillery and some of the Queensland Mounted Infantry, who were actually in time to take part in the relief. Colonel Wallack says that Sir Frederick Carrington deserves credit for the rapid manner in which he pushed those troops across Rhodesia.
Relief for Hore.
Early in June, General Carrington and a large part of his force arrived at Mafeking, and on the 1st August crossed the frontier of the Transvaal, marched to the Elands River, 90 miles distant, and on the 5th August attempted the reliefof the garrison there, under Colonel Hore, which was besieged by General De laRey. Unfortunately, the attempt fail-ed. Colonel Wallack was present with General Carrington in the active operations at Elands River, and in the retreat back to Mafeking. Indeed, he was with Sir Frederick Carrington in all the fighting that took place in the Marico district (in which the Elands River is), and at Ottoshoop (20 miles from Mafeking),from the 5th up to the 30th August. Then, when General Carrington left for Rhodesia, Colonel Wallack was attached to the Staff of Brigadier-General the Earl    of Erroll, and was present with him in the active operations all round Ottoshoop up to the 23rd October, 1900. Lord Methuen, with the First Division, then joined Erroll's force, which was absorbed by the First Division. Colonel Wallack was attached to the staff, and was pre-sent at all the active operations in the Marico and Lichtenburg districts till thelast day of 1900.
With Methuen at Kimberley.
In January of the present year, Colonel Wallack was appointed staff officer of the Mafeking district, and on the 27th February was sent to Capetown, on duty in  connection with colonial troops. On the29th March he rejoined Lord Methuen at Kimberley. He was then selected totrain the new Imperial Yeomanry Brigade at Doornfontein, on the border of the Orange River Colony, close to Warrington. Early in May, he was placed by Lord Methuen in command of the Imperial troops at Cowan's Farm, on the  
Transvaal frontier, nine miles from Mafeking. On the 24th June he obtained leave to go to England, and on the way thither was taken seriously ill with malaria, and was invalided. Curiously enough, he went to England in the Atlantian, the same transport which, eighteen months before, had taken him from Hobart to Capetown.
His Mother and His King.
He was landed at Southampton, andlost no time in making his way to Lon-don, and to his mother's house. There a meeting took place between mother and son, after a separation of eighteen years. In London honours awaited the Tasmanian soldier. At St. James's Palace, at an installation of the Bath, Colonel Wallack, and nine other officers, were created Companions of the Bath by His Majesty the King, in person. On the same occasion, Lieutenant Wylly, another Tasmanian officer, received the Victoria Cross, and several officers received theDistinguished Service Order. A fewdays later. Colonel Wallack received from His Majesty, at Marlborough House, the South African War Medal, with threeclasps. He spent ten weeks in England, part of which time he was with his mother in London, and the rest with his wife's relatives in Shropshire.
Back to the Cape.
Then Colonel Wallack returned to Cape-town in the s.s. Avoca, in command of 300 troops, a "mixed lot," who were accompanied by a number of nurses and doctors. On reaching Capetown, he was found to be too ill to return to the front, and was sent on to Australia by the s s. Wilcannia, and landed at Melbourne last week. Thence he returned to Hobart byway of Launceston. At Melbourne, Launceston, and Hobart, Colonel Wallack was warmly received and entertained by his comrades. He returns to his old quarters at Hobart an experienced soldier, having seen much  service, and witnessed the whole working in the field of the forces to which he was attached The fortitude and energy of Colonel Wallack is shown in the resolute way in which he ignored his illness at Beira. Though suffering from malaria and dysentery, he refused to "give in"  and did the work allotted to him faith-fully.
Methuen and Carlington Speak.
On Colonel Wallack's arrival at Hobart he found awaiting him at his house letters from Lord Methuen and Sir Frederick Carrington, praising the services rendered by him to those distinguished generals. In addition to this valued testimony, Colonel Wallack has been mentioned in despatches-one of the highest forms of praise which can be conferred on a soldier.
The British in South Africa.
Colonel Wallack declares that the feel-ing of the "foreign" element in South Africa is "dead against" the British. The animosity against England, which prevails in the continental countries of Europe exists amongst the people of the same nationalities in South Africa. Cape Colony, he says, is practically a Dutch colony. Beaufort West is a typical place. There is a population of 4,500, there are only 18 English families in the town.  The language of the place is Dutch. The Dutch exist and flourish everywhere in that British possession. The population of Cape Town is, he says, "one mass of Dutch."
The Future Policy.
The feeling of the British settlers in South Afnca is-Colonel Wallack declares-that a strong hand must be kept on the Boers when the war is over. A very strong garrison must be kept in British South Africa for some time to come. It would not be safe at present, or in the near future to confer even a small measure of representative government on the recently acquired States. They must be simply Crown colonies for an indefinite period. But, he hopes that in the long run the bitterness against England now prevailing will disappear that the Boers will be assimilated to British institutions and become valuable subjects of the King.
A Word for the Dutch.
Colonel Wallack has a good word to say for the Dutch in South Africa. He says he knew many. They were straight forward men, and good fighters. On many occasions, he received the greatest kindness from them. He never saw anything done by the Boers to which exception could be taken. They invariably treated the British wounded with the greatest kindness, and he felt, all the time, he was engaged against a brave enemy.
British "Luck" and Boer Mistakes
Speaking of the war in general terms Colonel Wallack declared that the British had had a lot of "luck" in the contest. He has heard Boers say that if they had had well-trained officers and disciplined men, who had done what they were told, things would have been far different. They said "We ought never to have besieged Mafeking or Kimberley, but rushed our troops into Cape Colony, where all the Dutch would have risen. You had no troops to meet us and we should have marched into Cape Town." Colonel Wallack agrees with this view, and says that if such a plan had been carried out, things would have been very serious for Great Britain.
Spoils and Souvenirs.
Colonel Wallack has brought back from the war a quantity of ínteresting spoils and souvenirs. He became possessed of two 71b. shells, fired from a French gun, which did not explode and these have been mounted in brass, and converted into a handsome pair of candlesticks which stand on his drawing-room mantelpiece. He has brought back a Manser rifle, bearing the name of the Boer owner and it was Bart! He has also in his possession a great number of photographs of places and incidents in the war and groups of soldiers (some of them noted),  in which he appears. One group includes Colonel Wallack and a Boer soldier (now a Commandant), who had come in with a flag of truce. Another group shows the British officer who made the gun at Mafeking that did astonishing execution among the Boers outside. But the best souvenir of the war is Colonel Wallack himself who has come back with plenty of experience to use with effect in the Defence Force of the Commonwealth.  A TASMANIAN SOLDIER. (1901, December 18). The Mercury(Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from

Henry (Harry) Finn (1852-1924), soldier, was born on 6 December 1852 at Tenterden, Kent England, son of Samuel Finn, tailor, and his wife Elizabeth Frances Austen, née Hilder. He was educated at Tenterden and joined the British Army on 11 May 1871 as a private in the 9th (Queen's Royal) Lancers at Aldershot. During the Afghanistan War of 1878-80 he participated in severe fighting, was mentioned in dispatches, and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery.  When he was buried, with full military honours in South Head cemetery, the funeral cortège was so large that it took two and half hours for the last mourners to arrive at the cemetery. A beautifully sculptured white marble Celtic cross, funded by public subscription, was erected over his grave.

Coming to Australia in the prime of his life, Finn made a strong impression as a professional soldier; among British officers who served in the Commonwealth his influence was second only to that of Major General Sir Edward Hutton (first organizer of the Australian Army). Finn was remarkable for his era as being one of the few men to have risen through the ranks of the British Army from private to major general. He was known for an informal and direct manner which made him well liked by the men he commanded. He did much to infuse enthusiasm into young and inexperienced troops and set an example of soldierly bearing and conduct. In this way he was prominent among the small group of professional officers who did much to lay the foundations upon which the reputation of the Australian Imperial Force was built.

Reference:  A. J. Hill, 'Hutton, Sir Edward Thomas Henry (1848–1923)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published in hardcopy 1983 - Major General Henry Finn, circa 1906, State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 49555


The death of Major-General Finn, C.B., D.C.M., removes one of Britain's most distinguished military officers. From the lowliest position in the British Army General Finn rose to the high rank of Major-General, and during his long and distinguished career he rendered signal service to the Empire. General Finn had been in ill-health for some time past, and about three weeks ago he became an inmate of St. Luke's private hospital. He passed away suddenly at 6 o'clock yesterday morning.

A son of Mr. Samuel Finn, of Tenterden, Kent, General Finn enlisted in the Army as a trooper when nineteen years of age. He won rapid promotion, and in 1881, ten years later, he became a second-lieutenant of the 21st Lancers. During the previous two years he had served with distinction in the Afghan War as a non-commissioned officer, and received the D.C.M. for distinguished conduct in the field.  

Among the most notable military leaders with whom General Finn was associated during his career were Sir Hector MacDonald and Lord Kitchener. In the Afghan War General  

Finn, as a lancer, was associated with Sir Hector, who was then a Gordon Highlander.  General Finn was also with Lord Kitchener  at the Battle of Omdurman. He led the left wing of the 21st Lancers, and was mentioned in despatches, and received two medals with  clasps for his part in this historic event.  

General Finn came to Australia as commandant of the military forces of Queensland in 1900-1, and of New South Wales in 1902-4;and in 1905-6 he was Inspector-General of the  military forces of Australia. During these last two years he was Australian representative on the Imperial Defence Committee.  

Upon his retirement in 1906, he engaged in business in London, until he was nominated  by the late Mrs. Walter Hall as secretary of the Walter and Eliza Hall Trust, Sydney, and entered upon his duties in December,  1912. He continued in this position up to the time of his death. Last October General Finn was appointed Private Secretary to the Lieutenant-Governor (Sir William Cullen).

General Finn was married in 1886 to the eldest daughter of the late Mr. W. Scott, of Leeson Park, Dublin, who survives him. There are also two daughters and a son. The eldest daughter is assistant secretary of the Walter and Eliza Hall Trust, and the son, John, is engaged in engineering in China.  

The funeral of the late General Finn, which will take place to-day, will be accorded full military honours. It will be preceded by a short service at his late residence, "Ashmore," Point Piper, and will leave for South Head  Cemetery at 2.30 o'clock. A gun-carriage will be provided by the 1st battery of the Royal Australian Field Artillery. The artillery salute of 13 guns, the regulation number in  the case of the death of an officer of the rank  of major-general, will be fired by a firing party from the Royal Australia Field Artillery, and the Last Post will be sounded by trumpeters from the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) and the Military Board will be represented by the District Commandant (Major- General Brand).  The District Commandant desires that all  officers, warrant-officers, and men attending  the funeral should wear service uniforms and medals.   GENERAL FINN. (1924, June 25). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved from


Colonel Sir James Burns., M.L.C., founder of Burns, Philp, and Co., Ltd., is the son of David Bums, a merchant of Edinburgh, where  he was born on February 10, 1848. He is managing director of Burns, Philp, and Co., Ltd., and a director of a number of financial and commercial institutions, being also largely interested in pastoral pursuits. He was appointed a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales in 1908. For 10 or 12 years he commanded the New South Wales Lancer Regiment, and subsequently, for about five years, the first Australian Mounted Brigade, comprising about 1000 men, retiring nine years ago with the rank of colonel. He assisted largely to send mounted troops to the Boer war. For the past 14 years he has been president of the Highland Society of New South Wales. He practically founded the Burnside Presbyterian Orphan Homes, for which he gave the land, and towards the maintenance of which he very largely contributed. He is chairman of the board of control, and spends every Saturday morning at the homes in personally supervising the work.

Colonel Burns came to Australia in company with an elder brother, when he was 16, landing at Brisbane in 1862. He at once made his way into the back country, and for some years he was engaged gaining colonial experience on various station properties. Afterwards he joined his brother in a business venture in Brisbane. The discovery of gold at Gympie gave him an opportunity for displaying the commercial promptitude which has characterised his whole career. He was the first man to arrive at the goldfields from Brisbane, riding across country a distance of 120 miles, and before he attained his majority he was conducting the business of a general storekeeper at Gympie, One Mile Creek, and Kilkivan, all mining centres. He was associated in opening up some of the principal reefing claims on the field. In 1870, in consequence of the death of his  father, he revisited the old country, and disposed of his Queensland interests. Reaching Scotland during the Franco-Prussian war, he spent a couple of months in Paris during the Communist troubles. Eighteen months later he returned to Queensland and Townsville—then progressing because of the Charters Towers discoveries; he established large stores, and laid the foundation of the great business now known as Burns, Philp, and Co.

The prevailing fever having seriously affected Sir James Burns, he was advised to proceed south, which he did, after concluding suitable arrangements with Mr. (now Sir) Robert Philp (a subsequent Premier of Queensland), whereby the latter acquired a partnership in the business, and assumed control of it. Thirty-nine years ago Colonel Burns came to Sydney opening an office in Macquarie-place. Sir Robert Philp followed the course of progress at Townsville, and Colonel Burns inaugurated an era of progressive development and expansion from his new base in Sydney. First of all he started a line of regular sailing vessels between Sydney and Townsville, be-sides other North Queensland parts; these erelong were either supplemented or supplanted by an irregular steam service, which, in its turn, led to the formation of the Queensland Steam Shipping Company, Limited. More development followed. The Q.S.S. Company, Ltd., to cope with the ever-increasing traffic, had the steamers Barcoo, Maranoa, and Warrego built to their order.

It was an English corporation in which Sir James Burns acquired a considerable interest besides the representation of the agency at Sydney. A few years' keen rivalry on the coast secured to the Q.S.S. Company, Ltd., a signal victory over the Australian Steam Navigation Company, Sir James Burns being accorded the privilege of negotiating the terms and conditions upon which the Q.S.S. Company, Ltd., became the purchasers of the whole of the A.S.N. Company's fleet. A new amalgamation was thereupon formed in London, known as the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company, Ltd., which has since, at Sydney and various North Queensland ports, also been controlled by Burns, Philp, and Co.,Ltd., the head office of the A.U.S.N. Company, Ltd., being situated at Brisbane. Following the first shipping agency at Sydney—that of the Q.S.S. Company—Sir James Burns in rapid succession secured the representation of numerous important oversea lines to nearly all parts of the globe. He did not confine his energies to shipping alone, but as much with the object of providing tonnage for the agencies and enlarging the scope of his business generally, became largely interested in many other directions. Following the establishment of the Sydney business, Normanton, at the head of the far-away Gulf of Carpentaria, next claimed his enterprising attention, and the business of Messrs. Clifton and Alpin Bros., who had established themselves there in the early seventies, was acquired by him for £20,000.The early development in the Gulf bringing about a demand for tonnage induced Colonel Burns to run the first steam service to Normanton. The pioneer steamer, the Truganini, reaching there 34 odd years ago. With bases at Townsville and Normanton, the establishment of a third business in Queens-land, at Thursday Island, was but the addition of a link to the chain. In addition to opening up on introductory business with New Guinea, Sir James Burns' business soon became closely and increasingly identified with the working and trading of the Torres Straits fisheries. Burns, Philp, and Co., Ltd., acquiring very considerable interests in this important industry. In the meantime Sir Robert Philp had followed the same policy of expansion by extending his operations to Cairns, about 200miles north of Townsville, and also by acquiring an interest in a business at Charters Towers.

The point was then approached at which it was deemed desirable to amalgamate the five businesses, viz., Sydney, Normanton, and Thursday Island, hitherto carried on in the name of James Burns, and Townsville (comprising a subsidiary business at Charters Towers) and Cairns, carried on in the name of T Robert Philp and Co. The necessary amalgamation arrangements were duly completed, and as the result Burns, Philp, and Co., Ltd., evolved as a registered limited liability company, as from April, 1883. From this date the rise and progress of the business, with Sir James Burns as chairman of directors, became even more rapid, attaining its world-wide proportions of today. SIR JAMES BURNS, K.C.M.G., M.L.C. (1917, June 4). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from

Picture: Sir James Burns, n.d. from Pastoral Review, 15 September 1923

 Mona Vale Training Grounds - From Lancers on Horses to Lasses on Transport Courses - threads collected and collated by A J Guesdon, 2014.