5th & 6th Western Australian Mounted Infantry
Although these 2 contingents were raised, trained and departed separately it was decided to merge them throughout their tour in South Africa. These contingents were double the size of previous contingents each and combined numbered 449 Men and officers. The 5th WAMI left on the ship Devon 6th March 1901 and arrived 22 days later. The 6th WAMI left on the ship Ulstermore on the 10th April 1901 and arrived 19 days later. The 5th WAMI was under the command of Captain Herbert F Darling who had been an officer in the 1st WAMI. The 6th WAMI was under the command of Captain John Campbell (1st WAMI).
After their arrival in South Africa, the 5th & 6th WAMI immediately began conducting operations in the eastern Transvaal from May to July. During this time the squadrons suffered heavily at Carolina and also took part in actions at Bosman’s Spruit, Renshoogte, Strankodspuit and Brakpan where Lieutenant Frederick Bell received the Victoria Cross. From August to December the contingents shifted their focus to the south-east Transvaal border with some operations into Natal. After a brief period in the Northern Transvaal in January the 5th & 6th WAMI spent the rest of their tour back in the Eastern Transvaal from February until April. The 5th & 6th WAMI then left for home via Cape Town on the 7th April 1902 and arrived in Fremantle 23 days later.
The 5th WAMI suffered 10 Killed and 10 Non Fatal Casualties. The 6th WAMI suffered 15 Killed and 11 Non Fatal Casualties. The 5th WAMI received 1 DSO, 1 DCM & 1 MID while the 6th WAMI received 1 VC, 2 DSO, 1 DCM & 3 MID.
Timeline of the 5th & 6th WAMI
December 1900: The 5th WAMI is created and begins training.
January 1901: The 6th WAMI is created and begins training.
6/3/01: The 5th Contingent departs Fremantle for South Africa aboard the Devon.
10/4/01: The 6th Contingent departs Fremantle for South Africa aboard the Ulstermore.
14/4/01: The 5th WAMI which has already arrives suffers the death of Pte Solomon who was treacherously shot at Jankanisteke Farm.
2/5/01: The 6th WAMI arrives in Durban and merges with the 5th WAMI.
3/5/01: The 5th & 6th WAMI embark on train to Pretoria.
8/5/01: Arrival in Pretoria.
9/5/01: The contingents arrive in Middelburg and are subordinated to Kitchener’s Column.
12/5/01: The march begins and the West Australians arrive at Rondebosch.#bwwamifiveandsix
13/5/01: First contact against the enemy at a farmhouse, only a light skirmish. West Australian forces occupy the farm.
14/5/01: A group of 20 soldiers under the command of Captain Campbell ambush a Boer supply line at Bosman’s Spruit. killing 6 enemies and capturing 500 cattle whilst suffering no casualties.
15/5/01: Deadliest West Australian engagement at Carolina near the farmhouse, 7 are killed and 7 are wounded when the Boers launch a surprise ambush.
16/5/01: Action at Brakpan, Lieutenant Bell receives the Victoria Cross for his actions.
17/5/01: West Australian forces evacuate the area as they come under heavy sniper fire and march towards Carolina.
1/6/01: Carolina is reached.
2/6/01: Arrival in Mooifontein.
9/6/01-22/6/01: Continuous skirmishing with the enemy in the area.
23/6/01: Deadly engagement at Renshoogte, losses are 3 killed and 2 wounded from the 6th WAMI.
30/6/01: West Australians link up with British forces after a skirmish on the 25th.
1/7/01-11/7/01: Marching from farm to farm and eliminating small groups of Boers.
15/7/01-22/7/01: Scouting operations.
22/7/01: Half of 6th WAMI detaches to join General Blood’s Eastern Transvaal Scouts under the command of Captain Campbell.
5/8/01: 25 West Australians launch a brilliant surprise attack against some enemy Boers and capture 25 of them without a shot being fired.
5/8/01-10/8/01: Hard forced march to Ermelo.
16/8/01: Engagement at Bladplaat, Boers quickly surrender but due to a misunderstanding they open fire and kill Private Delahunty before quickly surrendering again. 5 Boers were killed, 27 captured and 17 wagons captured. West Australian casualties were 1 killed.
3/9/01: Arrival at Pan.
12/9/01: Arrival at the destroyed town of Ermelo.
20/9/01-9/10/01: Advance into Natal.
9/10/01: Engagement at Standerton, 1 wounded and 4 horses killed.
13/10/01-17/10/01: West Australians lead the advance guard of the reconnaissance for the entire division as per usual.
21/10/01-27/11/01: Little of note, but occasional firing.
27/11/01-7/12/01: Fighting at Bethel and Ermelo, 10 wagons and 1,000 cattle captured.
10/12/01: Another Boer hideout found and engaged, the West Australians with support from some New South Welshmen and Hussars, managed to dislodge the enemy killing 7, capturing: 128 men, 4,000 cattle, 32 wagons & carts, 150 guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
10/12/01-19/1/02: continuous marches in rainy conditions.
1/2/02: Engagement in which 1 Boer manages to escape, killing 3 pursuing West Australians from the 5th WAMI and wounding another.
3/2/02: Engagement at Rolspruit with Lieutenant Morris being killed.
Early February 1902: Another 90 Boers captured in a successful manoeuvre.
February- April 1902: continuous trekking for 8 whole weeks with only minor action.
7/4/02: The 5th & 6th WAMI embark upon the Columbian at Cape Town for home.
30/4/02: Arrival back at Fremantle.
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