Lieutenant John Chard:What's our strength? Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead Seven officers including surgeon commissaries and so on Adendorff now I suppose wounded and sick 36 fit for duty 97 and about 40 native levies Not much of an army for you.
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This photograph taken when he was in the 7th Regiment prior to his transfer to the 80th. [Mac & Shad] (Isandula Collection)
The Battle of Isandlwana: One of The Worst Defeats of The British Empire - Military History

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 No.3 Troop Cape Mounted Rifles

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Posts : 2
Join date : 2013-08-20

PostSubject: No.3 Troop Cape Mounted Rifles   Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:12 am

My ancestor Harry Clement Varley served in this regiment & was stationed in Umtata (now Mthatha) in 1883. Can anyone tell me about the regiment and their role at the time please
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Brett Hendey


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PostSubject: Re: No.3 Troop Cape Mounted Rifles   Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:53 am


The CMR began as the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police in 1853, specifically as a paramilitary body in the Eastern Cape frontier region. It was renamed the CMR in 1878 and took part in the frontier troubles in 1878/79. It was next on active service in the Basutoland Rebellion of 1880/81.

I know of no specific action that took place in the Umtata area in 1883, so I expect your ancestor was simply in a garrison there 'keeping the peace'.

If you have not already made use of the Cape Archives, pm me your e-mail address and I will put you in a touch with a man who is very knowledgeable about relevant contents of the Archives. He may be able to provide you with more information on Varley.

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PostSubject: Re: No.3 Troop Cape Mounted Rifles   Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:33 am

Hello Joanne

There were two separate successive regiments of that name.

To distinguish them, some military historians describe the first as the "imperial" Cape Mounted Riflemen (originally the "Cape Regiment"), and the second as the "colonial" Cape Mounted Riflemen.

The "imperial" Cape Mounted Riflemen (originally the "Cape Regiment") is a very nice unit with a nice uniform in the 8th Cap War...

He was formed by the Dutch administration of the Cape Colony in 1793, to enlarge its garrison because of the threat posed by the war in Europe.

It was originally called the Corps van Pandoeren, i.e. "Corps of Pandours", and consisted of Khoisan and Coloured men under White officers,with a tier of black before the 8th War Cap, but the black desert for abuse and join the Xhosa during the 8th Cap War...

The British retained the unit after taking over the colony in 1795, and renamed it the Cape Regiment.

When the Dutch resumed the administration in 1803, they changed the name to the Corps van Vrye Hottentotten, i.e. "Corps of Free Hottentots" and again, in 1805, to the Hottentot Ligte Infanterie, i.e. "Hottentot Light Infantry".

Cape Mounted Rifles under Captain Carey charging the enemy at Waterkloof on 14 October 1851 during the 8th Frontier War

After British rule was reinstated in 1806, the unit was called the Cape Regiment again.

The regiment had its headquarters at Simonstown and formed a key component of the Cape's frontier defences, repeatedly distinguishing itself in the early frontier wars.

In 1817, it was divided into mounted and infantry sections, and was renamed the Cape Corps of Cavalry and Infantry, or "Cape Corps" for short.

In 1827, the infantry section was disbanded, leaving only the mixed-race cavalry unit.

The resulting exclusively-mounted corps was renamed Cape Mounted Riflemen.

The unit was deployed in several operations and campaigns: the 4th Frontier War (1811-1812), the 5th Frontier War (1818-1819), the 6th Frontier War (1834-1835), the siege of Durban (1842), the 7th Frontier War (1846-1847), the 8th Frontier War (1850-1853), and the Basuto War 1850-1852.

The CMR were disbanded in 1870.

In 1915 the earlier name, "Cape Corps", was revived for a unit of Coloured soldiers.

The name Cape Regiment was revived for another Coloured unit, in 1986.

Cape Mounted Riflemen

The Cape Colony government founded the second, so-called "colonial", in 1855, as the para-military Frontier Armed and Mounted Police (FAMP).

Frontier Armed and Mounted Police (1855-78)

The function of this locally-recruited multiracial force was to maintain law and order in the districts along the colony's frontier with the Xhosa kingdoms in the Transkei.

A new constitution that prohibited discrimination on the basis of race and instituted the non-racial Cape Qualified Franchise partially assuaged some of the Xhosa people's grievances, leading to a period of relative peace on the frontier.

Nevertheless, conflicts did erupt over the following decades, and the FAMP played a central role in policing them.

The FAMP was operationally deployed in the Transkei in 1858, against the Koranna in 1869, in apprehending the  chief Langalibalele in 1873, in Griqualand West in 1875, and in the 9th Frontier War (1877-1878).

When the Cape attained "Responsible Government" in 1872, its new Prime Minister John Molteno shifted the focus of government policy to internal development, rather than territorial expansion.

Nonetheless, his government expanded the FAMP, whose efficiency and military capacity Molteno had a very high opinion of.

The new government was also of the opinion that a competent FAMP force would remove the need for any outside British intervention in the region.

Consequently by 1876, the FAMP had grown to have units stationed at Komga, Queenstown, Palmietfontein,Kingwilliamstown, Peddie, Butterworth, Kenhardt, Fort Murray, Ealing Post and Kokstad.

An artillery unit was added in 1874.

The FAMP were also re-organised  for rapid mobility; lightly-equipped and possessing considerable local knowledge, they formed a very effective police force for the rough and mountainous frontier terrain.

Cape Mounted Riflemen (1878-1913)

Finally in 1878, the FAMP were fully militarised, as a unit of the Colonial Forces, and renamed Cape Mounted Riflemen.

In 1879, the CMR fought in the Moorosi campaign, where they gained much distinction.

They also fought in the Basutoland Gun War (1880-1881), the Matabeleland campaign (1893-1894), the Bechuanaland campaign in 1897, and the Second Boer War (1899-1902).

During these wars, the CMR came to comprise the dominant portion of the whole of the Cape Forces.

As before, during peacetime the CMR served as a police force.

1st South African Mounted Riflemen (1913-26)

In 1913, the CMR were incorporated into the new Union Defence Forces as the 1st South African Mounted Riflemen.

In World War I they fought in the German South West Africa campaign (1914-1915).

In 1922, they were deployed in operations to crush the Rand Revolt on the Witwatersrand.

The 1st SAMR were disbanded in 1926, for financial reasons.



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PostSubject: No3 Troop Cape Mtd Rifles    Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:54 am

Hi Rascal .
What about the Cape Mounted Yeomanry they also took part in the attack on Morosi's mountain . Salute 
Cheers 90th
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PostSubject: Re: No.3 Troop Cape Mounted Rifles   Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:01 am

Yes it's true Marsupial Very Happy 

The Cape Mounted Yeomanry was a military force created on a militia basis by Act 5 of 1878 in the Cape Colony, with a strength of 3,000 in three regiments, to act in conjunction with the Cape Mounted Riflemen on the eastern frontier.

About 600 men were put into the field for the Basuto Rebellion in 1880.

Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Southey commanded the Cape Mounted Yeomanry during the Basuto Gun War.

26 year old Surgeon John Frederick McCrea was a Surgeon in the 1st Cape Mounted Yeomanry during the Basuto Gun War. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 14 January 1881, at Tweefontein, Basutoland.

In this action, the burghers had been forced to retire under a most determined enemy attack, with a loss of 16 killed and 21 wounded.

Surgeon McCrea was the only doctor present and notwithstanding a serious wound on the breast bone, which he dressed himself, he most gallantly took the casualties into shelter and continued to attend to the wounded throughout the day.

Had it not been for this devotion to duty on the part of Surgeon McCrea, there would undoubtedly have been much greater suffering and loss of life.

Eleven members of the 3rd Cape Mounted Yeomanry died as a result of enemy action at Morosi's Stronghold on 29 May 1879.

Sixteen members of the 1st Cape Mounted Yeomanry were killed in action at Morosi's Stronghold 5 June 1879 along with seven members of the 2nd regiment.

Three hundred and six members of the unit received the Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal.

Captain AL Chiapini and Trooper E McGuire received the medal with all three clasps i.e. Transkei, Basutoland and Bechuanaland.

The Cape Mounted Yeomanry was disbanded in 1881.


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PostSubject: Cape Mounted Riflemen   Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:03 pm

Thanks guys for the information. I cannot send private replies yet as this site says a new member has to wait 7 days.
I have since learned that my ancestor's rank was a Private & he received the Cape of Good Hope Service Medal for his part in the Basutoland battle. His family lived in Yorkshire, England & I have no idea as a 20 year old as to why he was in South Africa at that time & why he joined the colonial CMR. Any ideas?
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PostSubject: Re: No.3 Troop Cape Mounted Rifles   Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:01 am

Hi Joanne

You should also look in the book

"Fogotten Heroes ,Zulu & Basuto Wars, Including Complete Medal Roll 1877-8-9" by Roy Dutton.

Many who go to Africa at this time, go there to escape the misery or to further enrich ... Many can not find jobs, so they engaged in the colonial troops, it is sometimes the kind of stories ...


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PostSubject: No 3 Troop CMR.   Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:12 am

Hi Rascal .
I dont think the Dutton book is much different to the Forsyth Medal Roll 1877-78-79 . Joanne states her relative was in the CMR in 1883 !.

Hi Joanne .
I checked the '' South African War Medal 1877-78-79 , The Medal Roll '' by D.R. Forsyth in case your relative was in the CMR Rolls for any of the 1877-78-79 conflicts , he wasnt listed .
Cheers 90th. You need to study mo 
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PostSubject: Re: No.3 Troop Cape Mounted Rifles   Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:43 am

Hi Marsupial

Here it may be, she will find it in the the Dutton book Very Happy 


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PostSubject: Re: No.3 Troop Cape Mounted Rifles   Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:54 pm

Good discussion. Well done! We learn something new everyday. Salute 
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