In 1899 the battalion was reorganized and the company at Mackay was converted to a mounted infantry unit.At the same time the 3rd Queensland (Kennedy) Regiment was brought up to an establishment of six companies, one each at Townsville, Ravenshoe and Cairns and three more at Charters Towers collocated with the battalion headquarters.At the same time Queensland raised a contingent to send to South Africa to contribute to the other Australian colonial forces being sent there to assist the British in fighting against the Boers. As a part of this force, many members of the 3rd Queensland (Kennedy) Regiment served as part of the first and second contingents of the Queensland Mounted Infantry.Due to their contribution to the Boer War, the Kennedy Regiment received its first battle honor and was presented with the King’s Banner.
The Australian climate and geography were far closer to that of South Africa than most other parts of the empire, so Australians could adapt quickly to service in the war. Initially the British army wanted trained foot-soldiers from Australia rather than mounted infantry.From 1899 to 1901 the six separate self-governing colonies in Australia sent their own contingents with the New South Wales Lancers being the first. The colonies formed the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, and the new federal government sent “Commonwealth” contingents to the war. The Boer War was thus the first war in which the Commonwealth of Australia fought. Australia provided the largest number of colonial troops to the war. Enlistment in all Australian contingents totaled 16,175, though about a thousand men did a second tour of duty. A total of 267 died from disease, 251 were killed in action or died from wounds sustained in battle. A further 43 men were reported missing.
Mounted Infantry in the Anglo – Boer War, 1899–1902
The Boer War (1899–1902) acted as the next stimulus to large scale recruitment. The QMI was reformed into four battalions which from thence forward, outlined the territorial divisions of the militia formation. From this the 1st Battalion, QMI, encompassing the Moreton Bay region was formed in 1900. Its territorial boundaries remained consistent throughout its various permutations until disbandment in 1943.
Since the QMI was formed specifically for local defence, there were no legal provisions allowing the mobilization of these units for overseas expeditionary service to South Africa. To overcome this hurdle, separate units were formed in Queensland which also bore the name QMI and initially the 1st QMI was recruited mostly from volunteers from the Militia. Three contingents consisting of four companies were raised exclusively through this method. However, the QMI that served in South Africa had no legal nor historical ties to the Militia QMI.
The financial burden on such a government whose revenues were devastated by depression, drought and then Federation, could no longer afford to send men to South Africa while maintaining a partially paid Militia. To solve this problem, the Imperial Government pledged to fund in toto additional units raised in Queensland. After overcoming the problem of pay (Imperial rates of pay for a private was 2/6d per day while the Australian pay was generally 5/- per day, or double the Imperial rate) which almost scuttled this scheme, three Bushmen contingents were raised and saw service in South Africa.
Federation in 1901 brought with it a remodelling of the Australian defence forces on 1 July 1903 when this unit was given the name 13th (Queensland Mounted Infantry) Australian Light Horse (13th (QMI) ALH). A re-organisation of Australian defences as a consequence of the 1910 Kitchener Report led to the creation of Military Districts. Queensland was designated as the 1st Military District. Military units renamed throughout Australia using Queensland as the beginning numbers and so the 13th (QMI) ALH became the 2nd (QMI) ALH