Light Horse Regiment

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Light Horse Regiment
SANDF Light Horse Regiment emblem
Active 21 September 1899 -
Country  South Africa
Type Armoured Car Regiment
Part of South African Armoured Corps
Army Conventional Reserve
Garrison/HQ Mount Collins in Sandton, Johannesburg
Motto Patria et Libertas
(Country and Liberty)[1]
Lt Col. Heinrich E. Janzen
Beret Colour Black
Armour Squadron emblems SANDF Armour squadron emblems
Armour beret bar circa 1992 SANDF Armour beret bar

The Light Horse Regiment (LHR), formerly the Imperial Light Horse (ILH), is an armoured car reconnaissance unit of the South African Army. As a reserve unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a British Army Reserve 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.


Imperial Light Horse Memorial on Platrand Ladysmith (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) — at the location of the Battle of Wagon Hill in which 30 men from the regiment died and whose names are engraved on the monument.[lower-alpha 1]

The Imperial Light Horse was raised by the British in Johannesburg on 21 September 1899 for service in the Second Boer War. Its initial strength was 444 officers and men. It was informally known as the "Reformers Regiment" as many of its officers served on the Reform Committee, or more commonly the Uitlander Regiment by the Transvaal Government and the Boer Commandos.[1]

The Light Horse was engaged through much of the war and fought its first battle at Elandslaagte 21 October 1899. The Regiment was present at the Siege of Ladysmith, battle of Wagon Hill), Colenso, the Battle of Spion Kop (where they captured Commandant Hendrik Frederik Prinsloo, the commander of the Carolina Boer Commando[2]) and the Relief of Ladysmith.[1][3][4]

After the successful raising of the siege of Ladysmith the Light horse join the Mafeking Relief Column and were the first to enter the town on the night of 16/17 May 1900.[5]

In late 1900 a second battalion – the 2nd Imperial Light Horse was raised and embodied. Both battalions then went on to fight in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State Republic until the end of the war. In total the members of the Regiment won four Victoria Crosses during the war:[1]

After the Boer War the regiment was reorganised into two wings and in 1904 its left wing was re-designated the Western Rifles, both as voluntary units in the Transvaal Volunteers.[1][6] A squadron of the Regiment fought with the Transvaal Mounted Rifles in the Bambatha Rebellion (1906). It served as a support unit to the South African Police during a general strike and First Rand Revolt in 1913.[1]

With the new amalgamation of the British colonies into the Union of South Africa in 1910 the separate colonial forces were combined into new organisations. The Regiment was re-designated as the 5th Mounted Rifles (Imperial Light Horse) on 1 July 1913 and transferred to the Active Citizen Force (the reserves) of the Union Defence Force.[1]

The Regiment took part in operations during World War I first in the South-West Africa Campaign in what is today Namibia and afterwards in Egypt, Palestine and France.[1]

During the Interbellum the Regiment was placed on the reserve but was briefly mobilised in 1922 to support the police during the Second Rand Revolt and fought in Battle of Ellis Park.[1]

At the start of World War II the Regiment was bought up to strength and a second battalion reconstituted as infantry battalions. However the two battalions were soon separated and fought different wars.[1]

The second battalion was soon re-designated as the 13th Armoured Car Company in the South African Tank Corps. The 13th was amalgamated with Royal Natal Carbineers to create the 6th Armoured Car Regiment and later that unit combined with the 4th Armoured Car Regiment to form the 4th/6th Armoured Car Regiment.[1]

The 1st Battalion joined the 3rd Brigade of the South African 1st Infantry Division and fought in the North African Campaign and fought in the first and second battles of El Alamein.[1]

Returning to South Africa the 1st Battalion along with the 2nd were reorganised and amalgamated with the Kimberley Regiment to form the Imperial Light Horse/Kimberley Regiment. In September 1943 the regiment sailed for North Africa and joined the South African 6th Armoured Division in Egypt as a motorised battalion[1] under command of Colonel R. Reeves-Moore, DSO MC.[7] On 21 April 1944 the Regiment disembarked in Taranto as part of the 6th Armoured Division to join the British 8th Army in the Italian Campaign.[8] The Regiment was assigned to the South African 12th Motorised Brigade which was detached from the 6th Armoured Division (which initially formed part of the reserves) and move up to Isernia and relieve the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade in fighting in the mountains above Monte Cassino. They held these positions until after the fall of Monte Cassino and the breakout from the Anzio beachhead, when they withdrew and were reunited with the 6th Armoured Division.[1][9] The Regiment then advanced with the 6th Division as part of the Canadian I Corps until they were north of Rome. The Regiment entered Florence on 4 August 1944, then as part of the 11th South African Armoured Brigade.[1]

After a short period of rest and refitting, on 22 August 1944, the South African 6th Armoured Division was then placed under the command of the United States 5th Army. The army took part in the attack on the Gothic Line in which during heavy fighting around Monte Porro del Bagno almost a quarter of the Regiment were either killed or wounded before the breakthrough was achieved. The Regiment remained in the line and after breaching German defences at Bologna, the Regiment fought its last large engagement at Finale south of Venice, after which the Regimental band led the Allied victory parade at Monza on 14 May 1945.[1][10] The Regiment remained in northern Italy for about three months before returning to South Africa in August 1945 where they were demobilised shortly after arriving back home.[1]

The Regiment reformed in 1949 as an armoured regiment equipped with Sherman tanks in the Citizen Force.[1] In 1960 when South Africa left the Commonwealth and the Union became the Republic of South Africa the Regiment was symbolically retitled the Light Horse Regiment abandoning the inclusion of Imperial in its name.[1]

The Regiment, now equipped now armoured car, prospered during the next 15 years reaching a strength of 2,000 by 1975 when it was split into two the 1 Light Horse Regiment formed part of the 72 Motorized Brigade while the 2 Light Horse Regiment formed part of the 81 Armoured Brigade.[1] Both regiments saw action in the South African Border War (1966–1989) in Northern South-West Africa (now Namibia) and Angola, and were also involved in security operations policing the South Africa's townships in the late 1980s and early 1990s.[1]

After the first free election and the return of the first ANC government in 1994, following the defence review by the newly formed South African National Defence Force, in March 1997 the two regiments were amalgamated into The Light Horse Regiment and designated an armoured reconnaissance regiment.[1]

Regimental symbols

The Regimental device for both headdress and collar dogs are a set of crossed flags mounted on lances. The flags are those of the RSA and the Regiment.


Battle honours

In total 31 battle honours have been awarded to 1 LHR and 2 LHR, 23 of which are currently displayed on the Regimental Colour:

The Battle Honours Elandslaagte and Relief of Mafeking, which the regiment had assumed, were disallowed when pre-Union battle honours were reviewed by the SA Defence Force in the 1960s.

See also


  1. At the British Cemetery on the northern side of Wagon Hill (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) there is another obelisk monument to the in the Imperial Light Horse it bears the epitaph:

    Tell England, ye who pass this Monument,
    We, who died serving her, rest here content.[11]

    There is also another obelisk monument to the Imperial Light Horse at the Intombi Cemetery in Laydsmith (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.). It states "This monument is erected by their comrades in memory of NCOs and Troopers of the Imperial Light Horse who are buried in this Cemetery" and lists fourteen names. It too bears the same epitaph, written by Edmund Garrett who was inspired by the famous epitaph of Simonides at Thermopylae.[12][13]
  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 SAAA staff 2011.
  2. NYT staff 1901.
  3. Nevinson 2005, pp. 211–218.
  4. Churchill 2004, The Relief of Ladysmith.
  5. Medal Roll of the Queen's South Africa Medal- Defence of Mafeking Bar
  6. Miller 2009, pp. 254–255.
  7. Englebrecht 2011.
  8. Orpen 1975, p. [page needed].
  9. Klein 1946, p. 234.
  10. Orpen 1975, p. [page needed].
  11. Jebb 1907, p. 423.
  12. Vandiver 2010, p. lxii.
  13. Markham 1913, p. 88.


  • Churchill, Winston (23 December 2004) [1900], "XXVI – The Relief of Ladysmith", London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, Project Gutenberg<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Englebrecht, Leon (7 January 2011), "Fact file: Light Horse Regiment",, DefenceWeb, retrieved 27 October 2014<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jebb, Caroline (1907), The Life and Letter of Sir Richard Claverhouse Jeb O.M., Litt.D. by his wife., Cambridge University Press, p. 423<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  • Markham, Violet Rosa (1913), The South African Scene, London: Smith, Elder & Company, p. 88<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Miller, Stephen M., ed. (2009), Soldiers and Settlers in Africa: 1850 - 1918, History of warfare, 56, BRILL, pp. 254–255, ISBN 9789004177512<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Nevinson, Henry (2005) [1900], Ladysmith – The Diary of a Siege, Project Gutenberg<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • NYT staff (31 March 1901), Gen. Prinsloo Captured.; Is Made a Prisoner by the Imperial Light Horse., New York Times, retrieved 2009-02-12<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Orpen, N (1975), Victory in Italy, Cape Town: Purnell<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> — Also see overview of this book at for overview of the book
  • SAAA staff (2011), Light Horse Regiment, South African Armoured Association, archived from the original on 12 July 2011<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Vandiver, Elizabeth (2010), Stand in the Trench, Achilles: Classical Receptions in British Poetry of the Great War Classical Presences, Oxford University Press, p. lxii, ISBN 9780191609213<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links