The Way of the Horse—Duntroon (continued)

By the late 1930s and the return to Duntroon from Sydney in 1937, the horse was on its way out. Although the 1937 Journal does note, “… possibly the rural atmosphere is also responsible for the increased enthusiasm for riding. Long weekend treks through difficult country have become commonplace”. But the 1939 RMC Journal has this: “1939 has passed with its hunts, and gymkhana ... this means a sad parting as mechanisation, camp and city life will take from them the opportunity of feeling a horse between their knees probably for many years”. The last cavalry trek was held in December 1939 and the last gymkhana on Duntroon grounds was held in August 1940.

It was not only military staff who could be good horsemen Two academic staff had close associations with Duntroon horses over many years. Professor C.E. McKenzie was the author of the RMC Journal 1940 article. “Where Shall We Ride Near Canberra” and clearly he is good with horses. “What a choice we have ... the rolling plains, lanes and stock routes offer a diversity of rides not equalled elsewhere in Australia”. He gives much practical advice also suggesting many day rides around Canberra. He retired in 1948 and was patriarch of eight McKenzie RMC graduates—three sons, four nephews and one grand nephew.

Professor F.W. “Doc” Robinson was one of the staff riding with General Legge on the Bimberi trek in 1921. He began in 1913 at the RMC as a lecturer and after war service returned in 1920. His enthusiasm for the national capital led to his book, Canberra’s First Hundred Years and After, published in 1924. The ADFA Library has his first edition personal copy. In early 1923 Robinson was appointed lecturer Languages at the University of Queensland retiring in 1958. He has an Australian Dictionary of Biography entry.

RMC Journal 1927, p. 18— photos of the November 1926 trek.

After the war, in March 1946 Army made a major decision to not keep any horse units on establishment strength. As the end of an era, 26 remount RMC horses were sold off at auction in Queanbeyan in June 1946.

But not quite the end. The ‘one light draught horse’ in the 1946 auction was not sold and performed duty for a further six years pulling the RMC cricket pitch roller. Literally the last horse standing.

Footnote

[1] This Major Nimmo was R.H. Nimmo (1915), Sword of Honour winner and now on RMC staff. His wife was from the local Lanyon property. As Lieutenant General Nimmo CBE he commanded the UN Military Observer Group in Kashmir from 1950 until his death in 1966. This is still the longest ever UN operational command. His younger brother Major J.R. Nimmo was well known as the longest serving Medical Officer at the RMC from 1939 to 1960. Ed

From a 1926 film showing cadets doing lance work with Molonglo River flats in the background.

Cadet riding lessons 1936. R.V. Rushton (1936) and

D.G. Rice (1936). RMC Archives.