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 The History Of The Umvoti Rifles.

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PostSubject: The History Of The Umvoti Rifles.   Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:35 pm

"The Umvoti Mounted Rifles had their beginning as the Greytown Mounted Rifles, formed in October. 1864, the first commanding officer being Captain Commandant Ashe Smyth Wyndham, The original strength was 32. Two years later were raised the Natal Hussars also with headquarters at Greytown and comprising two troops, one at Greytown and the other at Noodsberg. the commanding officer being Major T. F. Eastwood and the original strength 82. Successive commanders were Captain John Kirby of the Greytown Mounted Rifles, 1866; Major T. F. Eastwood, 186S; Captain R. Paris, 1869. In 1869 the Greytown Mounted Rifles and the members were absorbed into the Natal Hussars. Major T. F. Eastwood remained in command till 1870, followed by Captain P. J. E. Hellett, 1869; Captain J. \V. Shepstone. 1872; Captain T. B. Hill, 1873; Captain P. Norton, 1877. In 1877 the Natal Hussars ceased to exist as such upon amalgamation with the Natal Carbineers of which they becime the Left Wing under Captain T. Menne who had previously commanded the Natal Hussars. In 1893 the Left Wing seceded from the Natal Carbineers and adopted the designation Umvoti Mounted Rifles with Captain H. von Bulow as commanding office.- who, in 1898, was succeeded by Major George Leuchars. The latter, afterward Colonel Sir George Leuchars, K.CMG., was followed by Lieut.-Colonels S. Carter, 1907; H. Wayne, 1922; E. Royden Turner, 1929; O. M. Solomon, 1932; V. G. Fannin, 1934; and G. E. l'Estrange, 1937.
As a result of the coming into effect of the S.A. Defence Act of 1912, the Umvoti Mounted Rifles and the Zululand Mounted Rifles were amalgamated under the title 4th Mounted Rifles (U.M.R.) under Lieut.-Colonel S. Carter but in 1934 the pre-Union title, Umvoti Mounted Rifles, was restored. The headquarters of the regiment arc at Greytown.

The original uniform of the regiment was of a reddish-brown moleskin with black braid on collar, cuffs and in a stripe down the trousers, with a leather cap. This was re placed by dark veld green till 1894 when khaki was adopted with kepi cap with white cover and the felt hat with brim turned up on the left. When the unit became U.M.R. they adopted maroon facings on their khaki uniform, brass buttons with monogram and collar badges. The smasher hat carried the letters U.M.R. in monogram form on the turned-up brim. The badge of the regiment was two galloping wildebeeste with the motto Toujour Pret. The Wolseley pattern tropical helmet, khaki, was adopted in 1915, carrying the flash on left side and monogram in front. The unit has a war cry, "Hubu, hubu, hubu, hubu." It is not clear when and where this originated, but it is a startling and fearsome cry when shouted together by hundreds of men.

Up to 1875 the Natal regiments were armed with the muzzle-loading Enfield rifle and sword. In that year the Terry carbine replaced the Enfield rifle. The Swinburn-Henry carbine followed, then the Martini-Henry carbine .303 calibre. In 1898 the Lee-Metford rifle was adopted, with revolver, and after the Anglo-Boer War the magazine rifle replaced the last with bayonet, the revolver being discarded except for officers, trumpeters, machine gunners and some staff details.

Up to 1899 regiments had their own medical, veterinary and signalling officers and detachments, but in that year this was changed and officers with detachments from the Medical, Veterinary and Signalling Corps were attached to combatant units in war time.

The Umvoti Mounted Rifles have taken part in the following campaigns and operations.

(1) Zulu War, 1878 — 1879.

The unit, then the Natal Hussars, was mobilised on 25th November, 1878, and with other Natal Mounted volunteer corps operated with the column of Colonel Pearson of the Imperial forces along the coastal road in southern Zululand. The force was engaged in the action of Inyenzane on 22nd January, 1879, and proceeded to Eshowe whence, after a few days when the news of the disaster to British arms at Isandhlwana was received, the Natal volunteers were hurried back to Natal where they were joined by the Isipingo Mounted Rifles and were employed till the end of the war guarding the Natal-Zululand border along the Tugela River. During this period the only fighting participated in was a skirmish at Middle Drift with a Zulu force endeavouring to raid into Natal but was there checked and driven back.

(2) Anglo-Boer War, 1899—1902.

Under Major Geo. Leuchars the U.M.R. took part in the Relief of Ladysmith. The regiment was employed holding the Tugela drift north of Greytown and there held and checked the Boer force endeavouring to raid Natal behind the main British force about Colenso further westward. After the Relief of Ladysmith the U.M.R. joined the Natal Volunteer Brigade under Major-General John G. Dartnell north of Lady-smith in April, 1900. The Brigade formed part of the British force which advanced northwards culminating in the battles of Ingogo and Langs Nek and the expulsion of the Boers from Natal. After reaching Volksrust the Brigade was sent back to the Dundee district and was employed on duties of guarding the frontiers of Natal and in operations in the adjacent eastern Transvaal until the end of October, 1900. The Natal Volunteer force was then demobilised leaving a composite mounted regiment in the field till the end of the war, the Natal Volunteer Composite Regiment under Lieut.-Colonel Robert Winter Evans of the Natal Mounted Rifles. The U.M.R. contributed its fair quota of volunteers to that unit which saw considerable fighting during its life, mostly in the eastern Transvaal. Major Leuchars was awarded the D.S.O. and promoted Lieut.-Colonel and at an official banquet held in Pietermaritzburg on 17th November, 1900, he was thanked by General Sir Redvers Buller, V.C., for his services. In September, 1901, the regiment was again mobilised during a critical month when Natal was threatened by a second invasion of the Boer forces. The Natal forces, however, were not called upon to fight as the enemy was checked and driven back by the Imperial force at Itala in northern Zululand."

Source: The Anglo Boarwar forum
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The History Of The Umvoti Rifles.
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