Graham Brown, who will be taking part in the Parramatta Lancers Parade this Saturday. Photo: Sahlan Hayes
Standing adjacent a stock horse, more than 15 hands high, Graham Brown exudes the requisite confidence of the Australian Light Horse.
Albeit slightly older, and perhaps a little bulkier and bowed, than the young men who rode off to the Great War 100 years ago, the efforts of the retired Moss Vale cattle farmer and the other Light Horse enthusiasts goes beyond homage.
It is dedication to a cause, Mr Brown said, a celebration of the lives of horsemen, preserving their artefacts and conferring distinction on them to maintain a foothold in Australian history and folklore.
Australian Light Horse troops in training in New South Wales in 1916. Photo: Supplied
On Saturday, Mr Brown will ride in the Parramatta Lancers Parade through the Parramatta central business district, celebrating more than 125 years of the Royal NSW Lancers, featuring cavalry, tanks, armoured vehicles and the modern day regiment and band.
More poignantly, the parade marks the centenary of the declaration of World War I and the raising of the 1st Light Horse (Australian Imperial Force), substantially from the ranks of the NSW Lancers.
On August 4, Great Britain declared war on Germany and Australia pledged a force of 20,000 to be put at Britain’s disposal. The Lancers, and subsequently the Light Horse, became a fevered rallying point in the weeks and months that followed.
Mr Brown said the Australian Light Horse Association had up to 400 riding members nationally, with members trading in original bridles, spurs and rifles. He said children were transfixed by the uniforms and distinctive hat plumage of the Light Horse, and often mistakenly identified riders as the original veterans.
“The Light Horse Association does 12 to 15 parades a year,” Mr Brown said. “It’s a great part of my retired life and [I] have always worked with horses.
“The most important thing to me is my grandchildren can see what the Light Horse and the riders used to look like. They can pass onto another generation.
“The kids have no real comprehension of what our forebears 100 years ago looked like and what they did. But we aim to keep that alive.”
Parramatta lord mayor John Chedid said the parade commemorated the historical importance of the Lancers and their relationship with the city that began when Sir James Burns, founder of Burns Philp and Company, moved its regimental headquarters to western Sydney in the late 1800s.
Lancer Barracks is still an operational military barracks and remains the regimental home of the 1st/15th Royal NSW Lancers, although one squadron is based in Canberra.
The parade starts at Parramatta Park at 1.30pm on Saturday and proceeds along Macquarie Street and finishes at the Lancer Barracks, in Smith Street.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/ww1/light-horse-enthusiasts-charge-to-parramatta-to-take-part-in-lancers-parade-20140828-109ftm.html#ixzz3E19EjRJi