Light Horse Regiment
Patria et Libertas (Country and Liberty)
The Light Horse Regiment is a cohesive, well-trained, senior South African Reserve Regiment; demographically balanced rich in history and steeped in tradition. The ingrained dedication and professional attitude of our members will give us the edge in serving South Africa from under the Crossed Flags.
To provide a well trained, combat ready, dedicated armour reconnaissance Regiment to the SA Army Armour Formation and SANDF; with exemplary levels of loyalty, discipline and esprit de corps; who will respond to every legal call to arms to protect the sovereignty of the RSA and its people; and to keep the peace wherever deployed.
The values of the Light Horse Regiment are:
The Light Horse Regiment (LHR), formerly the Imperial Light Horse (ILH), is an Armoured Car Reconnaissance Regiment of the South African Army. As a Reserve Force unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a British Territorial Army unit or United States Army National Guard unit. It is part of the South African Army Armour Formation and is based at Mount Collins in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Formation and Second Anglo-Boer War
The unit was raised in Johannesburg for service in the Second Anglo-Boer War by Major Aubrey Woolls-Sampson, Major Walter Karri-Davies, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and Captain Charles Mullins, it was named the Imperial Light Horse with the approval of Queen Victoria. First muster of the Regiment took place in Pietermaritzburg on 21 September 1899. Informally known as the Reformers Regiment, after the 10 later ILH officers that served on the Reform Committee, more commonly referred to as the Uitlander Regiment by the Transvaal Government and ZAR Forces.
The first Officer Commanding of the Regiment (consisting of 444 officers and men, chosen from 5000 volunteers) was Colonel John James Scott-Chisholme, who led the unit at its first engagement - at Elandslaagte on 21 October 1899. During this battle two Victoria Crosses were awarded to the ILH (to Captain Charles Herbert Mullins and Captain Robert Johnston). Colonel Scott-Chisholme was killed whilst leading from the front during this battle. The Regiment subsequently saw service at the Siege of Ladysmith (where another Victoria Cross was awarded - to Trooper Herman Albrecht at Wagon Hill), Colenso, Spioenkop and the Relief of Ladysmith. The ILH was then specially selected to join the Mafeking Relief Column under Colonel Mahon. In late 1900 a second battalion - the 2nd Imperial Light Horse (2 ILH) - was formed, under Major Duncan mckenzie.
Both Regiments then went on to fight in the South African Republic and the Orange Free State Republic until the end of the war. A fourth Victoria Cross was awarded - to Surgeon Captain Thomas Joseph Crean, for his actions at the Tyger Kloof Spruit near Bethlehem in 1901.
In December 1902 the Regiment was re-organised at Johannesburg as two Wings in the Transvaal Volunteers, but in 1904 the left Wing was separated and re-designated the Western Rifles. A Squadron from the ILH served with the Transvaal Mounted Rifles in 1906 during the Zulu Rebellion in Natal and Zululand.
The next action the Regiment took part in was the First Rand Revolt in 1913 when it, together with other military units, was mobilised to assist the South African Police during a general strike and rebellion. On 1 July 1913 the Regiment was re-designated as the 5th Mounted Rifles (Imperial Light Horse) and transferred to the Active Citizen Force of the Union Defence Force.
World War I
The Regiment took part in the German South-West Africa Campaign as the 5th Mounted Rifles as part of South Africa's contribution to World War I, where the battle honour Gibeon was won by the 2nd ILH. Individual members served in the German East Africa campaign, in Egypt, Palestine and France. After the end of the war, the Regiment was placed on reserve until the Second Rand Revolt of 1922, when it was again mobilised to assist the South African Police and fought in the Battle of Ellis Park.
World War II
At the outbreak of World War II the 1st ILH was brought up to strength and the 2nd ILH reformed. Although both units were infantry battalions, 2 ILH was soon transferred to the South African Tank Corps in order to form the 13th Armoured Car Company, which in turn was amalgamated with Royal Natal Carbineers in order to create the 6th Armoured Car Regiment. This unit later amalgamated with the 4th Armoured Car Regiment to form the 4th/6th Armoured Car Regiment. The 1st ILH sailed from Durban to Egypt on 10 April 1941, as advance guard of the South African 2nd Infantry Division.
Less than a year later the Regiment, as part of the 3rd Brigade of the South African 1st Infantry Division, played a crucial part in stopping Rommel's Afrika Korps during the First Battle of El Alamein. The unit subsequently took part in other fighting in North Africa, including the Second Battle of El Alamein. The Regiment was subsequently shipped to South Africa where it was re-organised - 1 and 2 ILH Regiments were amalgamated with the Kimberley Regiment to form the Imperial Light Horse/Kimberley Regiment (ILH/kimr). This composite Regiment sailed for Egypt again in September 1943 to join the South African 6th Armoured Division in the role of a motorised battalion.
In April 1944 the Division sailed for Italy, where the ILH/kimr was attached to the 12th South African Motorised Brigade, which was operating on a front in the mountains above Monte Cassino. After a series of battles north of Rome the Regiment entered Florence on 4 August 1944. The South African 6th Armoured Division was then placed under the command of the United States 5th Army and was given the task of attacking the Gothic Line, which culminated in the capture of Monte Porre Del Bagno in September 1944. During the heavy fighting almost a quarter of the Regiment was killed or wounded. After taking part in other actions, including breaking through the German defences at Bologna, the Regiment fought its last serious engagement at Finale south of Venice. The ILH Band led the Allied victory parade at Monza.
The Regiment was reformed as an armoured regiment in South Africa's Citizen Force and equipped with Sherman tanks in 1949. In October 1959 the then Minister of Defence, Frans Erasmus, proposed a defence reorganisation plan, which included the disbandment of the Regiment. However, a cabinet reshuffle took place soon afterwards and the new Minister of Defence; Jim Fouché rescinded the decision in January 1960. During the same year the Union of South Africa became the Republic of South Africa and left the Commonwealth and thus the decision was taken to change the name of the unit to the Light Horse Regiment.
The Regiment went on to serve the South African Defence Force as an armoured car Regiment. In 1975, when the unit's strength reached about 2000, a decision was taken to split the Regiment into 1 Light Horse Regiment and 2 Light Horse Regiment. These two Regiments formed part of 72 Motorised Infantry Brigade and 81 Armoured Brigade respectively. Both Regiments took part in the South African Border War in Northern South-West Africa and Angola and were also deployed in South Africa's townships in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After the first fully-democratic South African elections in 1994, the then newly formed South African National Defence Force (SANDF) embarked on a rationalisation campaign, as a result of which 1 LHR and 2 LHR were reformed into a single Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment - The Light Horse Regiment - in March 1997.
Light Horse Regiment (LHR)
PO Box 439
Telephone: 27 11 444 6908
Facsimile: 37 11 444 5508