of the outstanding military figures in Australia
around the time of Federation was Thomas Caradoc
Rose Price (1842-1911), who was generally known as
Colonel Tom Price.
He was born on 21st
October, 1842 at Hobart, Tasmania, the son of John
Price, who himself was very famous in Australia’s
early history, not as a soldier but as a prison
administrator. Young Thomas gained an early
education in Hobart and then in 1854 moved to
Scotch College Melbourne and from there to a
military college in England.
In 1861, he was commissioned in the
Madras Infantry. He served in India till 1883,
when he retired with the rank of lieutenant
colonel and returned to Australia to undertake
farming at Heidelberg in Victoria. He organized a
number of rifle clubs in Victoria (how different
was the climate for such things from today!) and
came under the notice of Sir Frederick Thomas
Sargood, the then Victorian Minister for Defence.
Price was appointed in 1885 to form
and command the Victorian Mounted Rifles,
(afterwards known as the Light Horse), and
continued on, inter alia, with the spread of the
rifle club movement. One other enduring legacy of
his influence was the design and adoption of the
slouch hat, as mentioned in the February
A vigorous, outspoken and somewhat
fiery personality, he created many admirers and
more than a few enemies, but is readily
acknowledged as the father of the mounted rifles
A time to put theory into practice
came when Price was appointed to lead the Second
Victorian Rifles Contingent to South Africa in
1900. He and his men were engaged in a number of
actions in the Orange Free State and the
Transvaal. He was mentioned in dispatches in
1901, previously being created a CB (Companion of
the Bath) in 1900.
Upon his return, he was appointed
as the commander of the Commonwealth Military
Forces in Victoria and was appointed to the
corresponding command in Queensland in July, 1902.
He retired from the army in 1904
and lived out the rest of his days at Warnambool
in Victoria. His health, unfortunately, had been
impaired by his service in India and South Africa
and he passed away on 3rd July, 1911.