About the Troop
The Barossa Light Horse Historical Association is a military living history troop. The troop is based near in the Barossa Valley wine growing region only a short scenic drive from Adelaide. The troop conducts its training activities at several locations in the area depending on requirements. Training takes place on the fourth Sunday of each month and involves learning the World War One mounted and dismounted drills applicable to the light horse. If you are interested in attending contact the troop for directions.
The Barossa Light Horse Historical Association takes its name from the 23rd Light Horse Regiment, Barossa Light Horse. The 23rd was a South Australian militia regiment, comprising troops from Adelaide, Tea Tree Gully, Gawler, and Kapunda. The regiment formed part of the 8th Cavalry Brigade, of the 4th Military District. The 23rd was established in July 1912 and disbanded in May 1942.
The Barossa Light Horse Historical Association began to take shape in 1983 when a public meeting was held among like minded equestrians. In early 1985 the Barossa Valley Council provided access to an area of land, now Gower Reserve, for training. A constitution was soon agreed, and the group was finally established. In September of that year the Barossa troopers made their first public appearance at the Gawler country show. At this stage there were about ten mounted and four dismounted members. Some of those on foot were women dressed in the uniform of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corp.
Annually the Barossa troopers participate in city and regional ANZAC Day parades, the Adelaide City Australia Day parade, numerous regional Christmas parades, Reserve Forces Day parades and other Reserve Forces Day actives. Several members regularly lecture at schools. Over the last few years Barossa troopers have provided escorts for the Governor General, State Governors, Inspecting Military Officers, Politicians, Cobb & Co coaches and bridal carriages. Barossa troopers also provide static camp displays and dynamic “Dismount for Action” displays at several country shows.
Possibly the most significant and moving event that Barossa troopers have participated in was the funeral of Private Albert Whitmore. Private Whitmore was the last surviving Australian Light Horseman and the last surviving South Australian World War One veteran. The service took place on the 31st of October 2002, the 85th anniversary of the battle of Beersheba. The association was requested to provide a section with one horse having boots reversed. The funeral was at Barmera in the Riverland, several hours drive from Adelaide. The section led the funeral procession out of town, then formed up again at the cemetery entrance to salute Albert as the gun carriage carrying his casket passed by.
The association has only recently embarked on a project to develop a static display. The display theme is based upon Mitcham Camp. Mitcham was the principle training camp in South Australia during World War One.
To date the troop has had several bell tents and a canvas water trough fabricated, along with timber poles, post and pegs. The purchase of these items and other paraphernalia has been made possible by a grant obtained from the State Government of South Australia.
Our aim is for the display to be a “living history”; incorporating all facets of light horse activities, including rifle and bayonet drill demonstrations, signalling and horse care. The goal is to make the display as interactive as possibly and consequently our dependence on the use of reproduction items to allow public interface without having the worry of damaging much treasured items.
The Mitcham Historical Society, several local militaria collectors and various local and national museums have generously supplied loan items or provided sufficient details to allow replication. We have gained access to Army List of Changes, Tender Specifications, and Unit War Diaries etc all containing, drawings, photos or descriptive details. The two prime sources of this information have been the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia. Ideas for setting and arranging displays have come from the myriad of examples provided by the many European living history military groups. Most of these groups have been accessed via their Websites.
Barossa troopers have provided some research assistance in the restoration of a World War One General Service limber. The limber is owned by the Military Vehicle Preservation Society of South Australia and was restored under a Government assistance training scheme. The serial plates on the vehicles indicate that they are a matched set, which makes them a very rare find. As a side project the Barossa troop is endeavouring, together with the Military Vehicles group, to acquire a set of military pole draught harness. Several members are keen to revive the art of postillion driving, and pull the restored limber.