Members of the 41st Battalion at Tabulam Centenary, October 5, 1985
Members of the 41st Battalion at Tabulam Centenary, October 5, 1985

Tabulam's central position in formation of 41st Battalion

ON October 5, 1985 an important army ceremony was held at Tabulam.

People came from far and wide to see the soldiers parade and to watch the ceremonies.

What was the reason for this celebration, and why was it held at the rural village of Tabulam?

The story goes back to the establishment of volunteer army units in our area, to the proud history of the Australian Light Horse and the Lancers, both overseas and in Australia, to its descendant, the Byron Scottish Regiment, and to the present-day 41st Battalion based in Lismore.

The man who established the local units was Captain C.H.E. Chauvel, owner of Tabulam Station.

Captain Chauvel had been in the Indian Army before settling in Australia.

When the units were formed he became their leader and four of his sons were also members, including Lt. Gen. Harry Chauvel who led the Light Horse in the First World War.

Harry Chauvel is said to have been Australia's greatest cavalry leader, and possibly the world's greatest.

The original troop was established in 1885 and soon several other troops were established at various towns throughout the Northern Rivers Area.

Regular parades were held as well as annual camps when the units vied with others from around the state.

Many trophies were won by local men and some even participated in competitions and ceremonies in England.

When the Boer War began local men volunteered.

The First World War saw Harry Chauvel and his men at Gallipoli, fighting as infantry, and then in Palestine.

They were involved in many battles but perhaps the most famous event was the Charge of Beersheba.

This was later immortalised in the film 40,000 Horsemen, produced by Harry Chauvel's nephew, Charles Chauvel.

Many of the local men serving in the regiment at that time participated in the Beersheba scene.

Lismore-based architect and soldier Lt. Col. Frederick Johnson Board was the commanding officer of the local Light Horse/Lancers from 1912-16 when he was put in charge of the 41st Battalion.

He was wounded in early 1918 at Messines Ridge and invalided home.

Most local men were in this Queensland-based Battalion.

After the War Board resumed his role and remained in charge of the local unit until 1923.

The 41st Battalion fought with great distinction in the war and it was presented with a King's union flag at Lismore Showground in 1924.

The presentation was made by Sir Harry Chauvel who, by that time, was Chief of General Staff.

In 1927 the local unit was renamed The Byron Regiment and in 1937 a link was made with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

In 1949 the name was again changed, this time to Byron Scottish Regiment and the unit had the right to wear kilts - one from the famous Black Watch Regiment.

The Second World War saw further changes. The horses were replaced with tanks and armoured carriers, and eventually the old name of 41st Battalion returned.

Lismore was proclaimed battalion headquarters and over the years it has became a solid part of the local community, especially in times of flood.

Local military history is, however, long and involved.

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