Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Remount Units - World War I

Recently I was checking the record on Discovering Anzacs for David Mullett, an Aborigine from Healesville who enlisted in the First Remount Unit No. 2 Squad on 6 November 1915.

The First World War Embarkation Rolls show that Private David Mullet (service number 500) left Melbourne aboard the HMAT Orsova A67 on 12 November 1915. The digitised record shows that David was 44, was a labourer before enlisting and that his wife was Emily Maude Mullett. The address was c/- of the Healesville Post Office. His religion was listed as C of E.
Remounts in Egypt 1915
The First Remount Service had been formed in Melbourne on 21 September 1915. Members were also from Western Australia. South Australia and Tasmania. Members of the Remount Service were usually older men like David, some having served in the Boer War. Maximum age for the unit was 50. The unit was based in Egypt but in 1917 remounts were taken to Palestine for the Palestine campaign. Members of the Remount Service looked after, and trained, the horses acquired to be used by the army before they were sent overseas and also while the horses were overseas.

The Yea Chronicle published an article about the Victorian Remount Unit on 21 October 1915. The unit was stationed at Maribyrnong and the article describes the make-up of the unit and the initial training before the unit travelled to Egypt where further training would be undertaken.

The Australian War Memorial website has a video of the Army Remount Depot at Maribyrnong which shows the men handling the horses. There is also a collection of 108 photographs relating to Remount Units in Australia and overseas, including some during World War I.

The area were the Remount Depot was stationed was known as Remount Hill. A statement of significance of the area has been prepared by the National Trust. The Australian Heritage Database also contains a statement of significance for the area. The Australian Heritage Places Inventory prepared a report of the area.

The Australian Light Horse Association has a forum which includes posts about the Remount Unit. Another useful resource is the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre which contains several articles about the Remount Section. These include an article about the Training of a Remount, an article by Andrew Banjo Patterson who was a Lieutenant in the Second Remount Service plus an article about the whalers (horses).

There has always been concern about what happened to the horses at the end of the First World War.  The Australian War Memorial has published an article in Wartime No. 44 - They shot horses - didn't they? - which describes what really did happen to most of the horses. Only one of the horses, Sandy, actually made it back to Australia. He returned to live the remainder of his life at Remount Hill at Maribyrnong.

David Mullet remained overseas until he left Port Said for Australia aboard the City of Poona on 9 April 1919. The ship arrived in Melbourne on 14 May 1919 and David was discharged from the AIF on 7 July 1919, classed as medically unfit. By this time he would have been 48.

A letter dated 20 March 1938 shows that David Mullett and his family had moved to Bega in New South Wales. He died later that year aged 64.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Vicki, this site may be of interest http://www.ourmobserved.com/ It is a survey of indigenous Australians with military service from Boer War to 2000