In the Footsteps of the First
1st Australian Light Horse Regiment
Wagga Wagga, N.S.W.: Triple D Books, 2012
Paperback 188pp RRP $39.99
Reviewer: Neville Taylor, September 2020
Frederick Henry Wood first showed his three year-old granddaughter Anne the scar on his leg from a bullet wound suffered in Monash Valley on Gallipoli on 1 Jun 1915. In fact the bullet passed through George Herbert Puckett’s arm before striking her Pop’s leg. The wounds resulted in both cavalrymen being repatriated back to Australia and created a life-long friendship between them. Wood marched in the Sydney’s first Anzac Day March in 1916 and was still carrying his unit’s sign (1ARH) in the late 1960s.
The accuracy of the account of the First Light Horse Regiment’s history from its formation to its tour on Gallipoli is beyond reproach as it is based upon the war diary of its higher formation – the First Light Horse Brigade until 11 May 1915 and the First’s Regimental Diary after landing at Anzac Cove (without horses) on 12 May 1915. A battlefield tour of the Gallipoli Peninsula in 2010 saw Dr Flood seeking to walk in her grandfather’s steps in Shrapnel Gully, Monash Valley and Pope’s Hill where the First were posted 13 May until 2 September. The First suffered 157 casualties and 59 deaths in the 200 who charged on 7 August onto The Chessboard. The Regiment moved to No.1 Outpost 2 September and were among the last to evacuate The Peninsula 20 December 1915 and returned to Heliopolis where they were immediately refitted for further duty around the Suez Canal.
The Introduction includes a brief family history that mentions ‘Pop’ undergoing ‘a minor name change and the creation of a later birthdate’ to facilitate him seeing active service with his four sons in World War II. A six-page Chronology of the Gallipoli Campaign list all significant dates and neatly compliments the Index that only includes personnel and ships. A chapter is devoted to each month from the declaration of war to the evacuation from Gallipoli in December 1915 with, where necessary, personal anecdotes including principal actions being succinctly recorded in the War Diaries. Each day lists the casualties suffered and includes the names of those killed or died of wounds or illness. A separate Honour Roll has been included for the 7 August battle. The embedded maps are uncluttered and make it easy to follow the actions described. There have been a generous number of both historic and current (some of the author’s own) photographs included. Endnotes conclude each chapter. Perhaps the most important feature is the 22 pages of very detailed Nominal Rolls that include those who transferred into the Regiment in the five batches of reinforcements following its initial embarkation for Egypt.
This most readable work, dedicated to the author’s grandfather and father, provides an invaluable source for those researching their forebears in the Great War or military historians seeking detail of unit’s histories, and it deserves a place in every military history library.
[In 2019 Dr Flood self-published the final four years of The First’s war in In the Footsteps of the First: The History of the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment AIF 1916 – 1919.]
Copies of this publication are available directly from Dr Flood:
Mobile: 0407 219 741
The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the author for providing this work for review.