1887 Colonel Price and Victorian Mounted Rifles


An illustration from the "Illustrated Australian News" of 1887. The artist was George Rossi Ashton (1857-1942). Ashton was born in England and emigrated to Australia in 1879. A painter and illustrator, he covered many topical events of the period including the capture of Ned Kelly in 1880. He worked for the 'Illustrated London News', the 'Illustrated Australian News' and, from 1888 to 1893, as staff artist for the 'Bulletin'. The younger brother of Julian Rossi Ashton, he returned to England in 1893 with his wife (Blanche Brooke, daughter of George Coppin) and their two sons.

In this image we see Colonel Tom Price (Thomas Caradoc Rose Price CB (21 October 1842 [Hobart] - 3 July 1911 [Warrnambool]) addressing a group of soldiers from the Victorian Mounted Rifles. Price was an experienced soldier who raised the Victorian Mounted Rifles in 1885, an early version of the Light Horse concept. He chose khaki uniforms instead of the more British scarlet and blue jackets, and also adopted the slouch hat as part of the uniform. Colonel Price was nearly 58 when he lead the Mounted Rifles into battle in the Second Boer War between February 1900 and September 1900. He must have been an outstanding leader and soldier, because he was placed in charge of all mounted infantrymen in April 1900, including both the Imperial and Colonial forces. He was rewarded with his efforts by being made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB). Price is buried in Melbourne General Cemetery, just to the east of Burke & Wills.

It is interesting to note that the soldiers are wearing an early version of the slouch hat, which was first introduced into the Australian military uniform when the Victorian Mounted Rifles was formed in 1885. In 1890 the various colonies of Australia met to agree on a standard for military uniforms, and the slouch hat was adopted as an official hat for all Australian infantry forces, except for the artillery. Victorian and Tasmanian forces would wear the hat with the right brim held up by a clip or badge (as depicted in this print), with the other states having the brim up on the left. When Federation occured in 1901, the slouch hat was standardised and became the official Australian Army hat.

The Victorian Mounted Rifles served (along with many other contingents from the other Australian colonies, as well as many other British Empire forces) during the second Boer War (1899-1902). The experience and training that these troops gained during this conflict proved invaluable when Australia was called on a decade later to help restore peace to the world in the Great War.

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The notes from the State Library tell us that this image "Shows group of soldiers being addressed by Colonel Price".

This is a digitally retouched reproduction of the original held by the State Library of Victoria. All prints are reproduced without the HOTPRESS watermarks.

Our team of conservators have worked on a high resolution digital image in order to remove blemishes and artifacts such as stains, mould, scratches and damage caused by the handling of the original. We strive to provide authentic representations of the original work that are suitable for enlargements that retain the tones and character of the original.

Further reading :

[1] Wikipedia - Thomas Price

[2] Australian Dictionary of Biography - Thomas Price

[3] Wikipedia - Victorian Mounted Rifles

[4] Australian War Memorial - The Slouch Hat

Collections: Australians At War

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