3rd Western Australian Imperial Bushmen
The 3rd WAMI was raised in mid-February 1900 and trained throughout the rest of February and the month of March. It departed Fremantle on the 13th March 1900 aboard the Maplemore and arrived in South Africa on the 18th April. It was the first of 2 bushmen units raised in Western Australia. Bushmen units were made of men who mostly had no previous military service and were usually from regional areas. It was led by Lieutenant Colonel Harry G Vialls.
The unit arrived in Portugese East Africa on the 18th April 1900. It marched through Rhodesia and Bechuanaland until it finally reached south-western Transvaal in early July. It began offensive operations immediately and within 3 weeks was engaged in its famous battle of Koster’s River. It remained in a resting posture in august and September before again going back on the offensive in October and November seeing action at Rhenoster Kop. In December and January the unit was assigned to guard the area around Rhenoster Kop and saw action at Klep Klop Drift.
Throughout February and March the 3rd WAMI took part in the pursuit of General De Wet throughout the Orange Free State and the Cape Colony including the battle of Wolventein. The unit then saw its last action in the Northern Transvaal at De Burg’s Pass. The squadron left South Africa via Cape Town on the 8th May 1901.
The 3rd WAMI returned home in May 1901 after 12 months in the field. It had differed much from the previous contingents as rather than fighting pitched battles it was mostly focussed on combating guerrilla warfare. In its deployment it suffered 6 Killed and 13 non-fatal casualties. Members of the unit received 1 Companion of the order of the Bath, 1 Distinguished Service Order, 2 Distinguished Conduct Medals and 4 Mentioned in Despatches.
1. Koster’s River 22/7/00
2. Rhenoster Kop 29/11/00
3. Klep Klop Drift 6/1/01
4. Wolventein 14/2/01
5. De Burg’s Pass 7/4/01
Timeline Of The 3rd WAMI
16/2/00: The unit is officially created.
16/2/00-13/3/00: The unit does around 3 weeks of training.
13/3/00: The 3rd WAMI departs Fremantle aboard the Maplemore for service in South Africa.
2/4/00: The Maplemore reaches Cape Town but is ordered to unload the 3rd WAMI at Beira, Portugese East Africa and departs immediately.
18/4/00: The Maplemore arrives at Beira and the 3rd WAMI disembarks.
18/4/00-21/6/00: The unit initially catches a train to Bamboo Creek, then again on train to Marandelles and then by march to Buluwayo, all within Rhodesia and Bechuanaland and without enemy contact. The entire ordeal takes 2 months.
21/6/00: The 3rd WAMI is absorbed into the 3rd Australian Regiment, Rhodesian Field Force which is placed under the command of a West Australian, Lt Col Vialls while the squadron is placed under the command of Cpt Hurst.
9/7/00: The unit finally marches into the south-western Transvaal passing through Mafeking, Ollorsdorp, Yeemet, Eland’s River and arriving at Rustenburg on this date.
22/7/00: After 2 weeks of no action the 3rd WAMI takes part in the legendary battle of Koster’s River in which they played the decisive role in bringing victory for the day. Casualties in the battle were 7 men wounded and 64 horses killed, the high casualties for the horses was the result of a lack of cover.
16/8/00: A platoon of West Australians under the command of Lt Thunder, including 9 men from the 3rd WAMI took part in the historic siege of Eland’s River which lasted for 2 weeks and consisted almost exclusively of Australian Forces.
August – September 1900: The main part of the 3rd WAMI does not see much action and moves towards Pretoria in the central Transvaal. During this time the 3rd WAMI became part of Colonel Nicholson’s Australian Bushmen Brigade consisting of 12 squadrons of which the 3rd WAMI made up just 1. The 3rd WAMI often fought alongside the 4th WAMI and the Victorian Bushmen.
1/10/00-22/10/00: The brigade does only garrison duties around Pienaar’s River.
22/10/00 – 2/11/00: The 3rd WAMI is attached to General Plumer’s Force and begins a march on Jericho. Sees light skirmishing at Synkop on the 26th, and a small skirmish at Koster’s River on the 30th.
8/11/00: Small engagement at Burtersboek in which the 3rd WAMI does a good job in repelling an attack on the allied rear by De La Rey.
8/11/00-27/11/00: The march continues with only a small skirmish at De Wagen Drift on the 25th.
27/11/00-29/11/00: Continuous fighting around Rhenoster Kop. The 3rd WAMI along with the 4th showed great initiative and were spared from the heavy casualties suffered by the English and New Zealanders.
29/11/00-31/1/01: For 2 months the squadron remains around Rhenoster Kop only seeing light skirmishing including at Klep Klop Drift on the 6th January.
31/1/01-3/2/01: The 3rd WAMI leaves by train for the Cape Colony to pursue De Wet’s Army. Leaves Pretoria on the 31st and arrives at Naauwpoort on the 3rd.
10/2/01: The march begins.
12/2/01: Hamelfontein is reached.
14/2/01: Massive engagement at Wolventein, The West Australians with the Victorians play a crucial role in the battle and push back the enemy with a gigantic charge. Lt Col Vialls launched this charge without permission and due to his quick action it succeeded. The battle resulted in the loss of most of De Wet’s supplies.
19/2/01-21/2/01: Lt Col Vialls leads a search expedition for the enemy for 3 days straight resulting in the horses becoming exhausted by the end of it.
23/2/01: Light skirmishing at Wilgefontein and the capture of 2 enemy artillery pieces.
26/2/01: The march in the Cape Colony stops and the 3rd WAMI rests for a week.
2/3/01: The squadron catches a train to the Springfontein in the Orange Free State and immediately begins operational duties again.
15/3/01: The 3rd WAMI departs the Orange Free State for Pretoria in the Central Transvaal.
22/3/01: Arrival at Sunnyside outside of Pretoria, it is the first time since Mafeking (9 months ago) that the 3rd WAMI got the luxury of sleeping in tents.
26/3/01: A march begins to the Northern Transvaal.
30/3/01: Light skirmishing around Warmbad.
5/4/01: Battle at De Burg’s Pass resulting in Pte Angel being killed and 2 soldiers (including Pte Angel) receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal for their actions.
7/4/01: Final action for the 3rd WAMI when the advance guard came under hot fire a few minutes around Pietersburg.
10/4/01-17/4/01: The 3rd WAMI undertakes reconnaissance duties.
18/4/01: The 3rd WAMI leaves the front for Pretoria.
8/5/01: Departure from Cape Town aboard the Morayshire. Captain Hurst remains behind and joins G Battery, Royal Horse Artillery where he is wounded at the battle of Boochbult 31/3/02.
28/5/01: Arrival in Fremantle.
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