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Harold McIntosh (1868–1917)

by Peter Burness

This article was published:

Harold McIntosh (1868-1917), grazier and soldier, was born on 14 June 1868 at Bathurst, New South Wales, eighth child of John Nepean McIntosh, solicitor, and his wife Mary Ann, née Black, both Australian born. He was educated at All Saints' College, Bathurst, where he was a good student and a gifted sportsman; in his final year, 1885, he was school captain. After graduating from the University of Sydney (B.A., 1889) he served his articles with his father's firm, McIntosh & Co., before going on the land at Rockley, near Bathurst.

When a half-company of the New South Wales Mounted Rifles was raised at Bathurst in 1895 McIntosh was one of the local horsemen to join. In 1897 he accompanied a privately funded detachment from the regiment to England to compete in military tournaments and to train with British Army regiments. The tour culminated in the military celebrations for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. He was a sergeant two years later when he joined the regiment's special service squadron raised for active service in South Africa.

'A' Squadron, New South Wales Mounted Rifles, embarked from Sydney in November 1899 and was one of the first Australian units to arrive at the front. Sergeant McIntosh took part in all its major operations including the relief of Kimberley, the action around Paardeberg, the entry into Bloemfontein and the capture of Pretoria. He was commissioned lieutenant while on service and returned to Sydney in January 1901. He went back to South Africa as a lieutenant in the 2nd New South Wales Mounted Rifles in April. This regiment served for one year, mostly in the Transvaal, during which time McIntosh was promoted captain.

On 5 October 1904 he married Florence May Lee at All Saints' Cathedral, Bathurst. Returning to his family's property, Bunnamagoo, which he managed, in 1907 he was elected a local shire-councillor and was three times president. He was also active in his school's old boys' activities.

McIntosh enlisted as a captain in the Australian Imperial Force on 4 May 1915 and on 1 June was appointed to command 'B' Squadron of the 12th Light Horse Regiment with the rank of major; he embarked for Egypt that month. On 29 August the regiment landed at Gallipoli where it was broken up to serve as reinforcements for other light horse units. Next day he was wounded in the thigh and evacuated and eventually sent to England to recuperate. The 12th L.H.R. was being re-formed in Egypt when McIntosh rejoined it. He was appointed second-in-command in February 1916 and commander in June; his promotion to lieutenant-colonel was confirmed on 11 August. The regiment operated in Egypt and Sinai and in October took an active part in the sharp action against the Turks at Maghara.

Early in 1917 the 12th L.H.R. became part of the reorganized 4th Light Horse Brigade and prepared for action on the Gaza-Beersheba front. McIntosh led his regiment in the 2nd battle of Gaza where on 19 April it was heavily committed at Atawineh Redoubt. During the battle the diminished 4th Brigade captured an enemy position at Two Tree Farm and soon afterwards came under heavy fire while advancing dismounted. In the face of increasing shell and machine-gun fire the 11th and 12th Regiments were forced to halt and flatten themselves in barley crops gay with red poppies. McIntosh was hit by shrapnel, a pellet severing an artery in his groin. He was evacuated for treatment but on 24 April his wound reopened as he lay in a hospital train at El Arish and he was found dead in the morning.

A leader in civic affairs, Harold McIntosh was also an outstanding soldier who had risen through the ranks to command a regiment on active service. He 'was a daring leader, much loved by his men' and his death 'cast a gloom over the whole of Bathurst district'. He was buried in Kantara war cemetery and was survived by his wife.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Defence Department, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1911)
  • H. S. Gullett, The A.I.F. in Sinai and Palestine (Syd, 1923)
  • W. A. Steel and J. M. Sloman, The History of All Saints' College, Bathurst, 1873-1934 (Syd, 1936)
  • Bathurst Times, 28 Apr 1917
  • private information.

Citation details

Peter Burness, 'McIntosh, Harold (1868–1917)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

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