Expert rough-riders – Australian Light Horse
By 1914 Australian horsemen had proved themselves as expert rough-riders and good shots in wartime. Untrained colonial cavalry had distinguished themselves in the Boer War, and Australia had 23 regiments of volunteer cavalry at the outbreak of WW1. Many men from these regiments joined the Light Horse Regiments of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Some are seen here in training with their horses, and in a military parade. Troops are also shown departing on the troopship A2 Geelong, farewelled by a huge crowd as the ship leaves the dock.
A troopship departs for Albany, 1914
When Australia entered the First World War in support of Britain, ships were urgently needed to transport troops to the distant battlefields. The hastily refitted ships also had to carry the troops’ horses and military stores, plus wool, metals, meat, flour and other foodstuffs, mainly for the armies of Britain and France. This film shows the loading and departure of troops and horses aboard HMAT (His Majesty’s Australian Transport) A20 Hororata from Port Melbourne, Victoria on 18 October 1914. Troops move up the gangplanks of the transport ship while horses are taken up another gangplank. A tug then tows the Hororata out of port and it joins other ships in the convoy to head out to sea.
The naming of the capital
Australia’s federal capital was purpose-built from 1909, since neither Sydney nor Melbourne would agree to the other city becoming the capital. The new capital was named ‘Canberra’, apparently from the name of the indigenous people of the area. The capital’s name was kept a secret until it was read out by the Governor-General’s wife, Lady Gertrude Denman.
This film shows the ceremony on 12 March 1913 when the new-born federal capital was formally named. Governor-General Lord Denman and PM Andrew Fisher are seen proceeding to the saluting base where the Australian Light Horse, field battery and lance regiments and Royal Cadets are lined up for inspection. Many of the men in this footage would not return from Gallipoli, the Western Front and other battlefields.