The 1st Light Horse Brigade was a mounted infantry brigade of the First Australian Imperial Force, which served in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. In 1914, the brigade formed part of the New Zealand and Australian Division but during the Gallipoli Campaign served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). After being withdrawn to Egypt they served in the Anzac Mounted Division from March 1916 as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, taking part in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign until the end of the war.
The 1st Light Horse Brigade was raised in response to a promise made by the Australian Government to supply a division of 20,000 Australians comprising infantry, artillery and cavalry to be used at the discretion of Britain. It was part of the 1st Contingent that was hastily put together in the middle of August 1914, and consisted of 1,560 men organised into three regiments – the 1st, 2nd and 3rd – each of approximately 520 men, under the overall command of Brigadier General Harry Chauvel. The 1st Light Horse Brigade was primarily raised from recruits currently serving in the various militia light horse formations created as a consequence of the Kitchener Report 1910 and the introduction of Universal Training. The brigade's personnel were drawn from the states of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.
This Regiment was recruited exclusively from the various New South Wales militia regiments. "A" Squadron was recruited mainly from 5th Australian Light Horse (31 men) and 6th Australian Light Horse (59 men). "B" Squadron came mainly from 7th Australian Light Horse (41 men) and 11th Australian Light Horse (62 men). "C" Squadron was recruited mainly from 9th Australian Light Horse (49 men). During the course of the war, this Territorial connection was maintained regarding the reinforcements.
This regiment was recruited exclusively from the various Queensland militia regiments. "A" Squadron recruited mainly from 2nd Australian Light Horse (50 men); "B" Squadron recruited mainly from 3rd Australian Light Horse (34 men); and "C" Squadron recruited mainly from 4th Australian Light Horse (64 men) and 27th Australian Light Horse (30 men).
This regiment was a composite formation recruited from various militia regiments with South Australia providing two squadrons and Tasmania one squadron. "A" Squadron recruited mainly from the 23rd Australian Light Horse Regiment; "B" Squadron recruited mainly from 24th Australian Light Horse; "C" Squadron recruited exclusively from the 26th Australian Light Horse within Tasmania.
Initially, each regiment within the brigade raised their own machine gun section which consisted of two troops and two Maxim machine guns. This situation remained from 1914 until in July 1916, when all regimental machine gun Sections were excised and brigaded to form a Machine Gun Squadron. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Machine Gun Sections were combined to form the 1st Machine Gun Squadron under the command of the Brigade. The 1st Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron was armed with 12 machine guns.
The 1st Signal Troop was composed exclusively from the Victorian Militia 10th and 21st Signal Troops.
The 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance was formed with two sections: "A" Section recruited in Melbourne which included some 20 students from the Richmond Agricultural College; and, "B" Section recruited in Sydney and composed to a greater extent by Militia members from the 28th Light Horse Field Ambulance.
The 1st Light Horse Brigade Train was primarily recruited around Brisbane and trained at Enoggera. After Gallipoli, this unit underwent some name changes from 1st Supply Section in February 1916 to 32nd Australian Army Service Corps Company in February 1917.
Prior to 1916, each regiment maintained their own Veterinary Section, usually consisting of half a troop. After the formation of the Anzac Mounted Division in 1916, the three individual Regimental Veterinary sections were brigaded to form the 6th Mobile Veterinary Section.
After the formation of the Anzac Mounted Division in 1916, artillery support was provided by British batteries. The first British battery attached to the brigade was the Leicestershire Battery of III Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery (T.F.). This battery remained until the re-organisation of February 1918 when the Leicester Battery was replaced by the Somerset Battery of XVIII Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery (T.F.).
The 1st Light Horse Training Regiment was formed in Egypt during March 1916, tasked with training incoming reinforcements while allowing the wounded and sick a place to recover before returning to active service. The Training Regiment contained three squadrons, each duplicating the regiments within the brigade to whom it supplied the reinforcements. The Training Regiment was disbanded in July 1918 to be replaced by the Anzac Light Horse Training Regiment when recruits were no longer tied to a regiment but placed in a general pool of reinforcements called the General Service Reinforcements.
The 1st Light Horse Double Squadron was formed in Egypt on 6 July 1916 from 1st Light Horse Brigade reinforcements. It was officered and administered by the 1st Light Horse Brigade. The Double Squadron was broken up in November 1916 with its personnel being transferred to the newly formed Imperial Camel Corps battalions.
The brigade embarked to Egypt during the months of September and October 1914. In Egypt, additional training was undertaken at the Mena Camp. Subsequent embarkations of reinforcements occurred as and when sufficient recruits were gathered and prepared for movement to a war theatre.Brigadier General Harry Chauvel (15 August 1914 – 6 November 1915)
Brigadier General Charles Frederick Cox (6 November 1915 – 13 March 1919)
Sinai and Palestine Campaign
The brigade was disbanded at Kantara in March 1919 when the various regiments within the brigade embarked for Australia, following the conclusion of the fighting.