About Time

Unlocking the secrets of Glenthorne’s military history

See the PDF presentation here (2mb)

This recent About Time History Festival event at Glenthorne was booked out and described by one visitor as a ‘sensational day’.

Did you know that over 17,000 horses were shipped to overseas battle fields during World War 1, and most of the horses and their riders were trained at Glenthorne, the Australian Army’s No. 1 Remount Depot? The No.9 Remount Depot at Glenthorne was purchased by the Australian Army in 1913 and horses were trained there for the next twenty five years – the period spanning the two world wars. Although horses were no longer used for warfare by the World War II, mules were trained and sent to New Guinea.

Mr Gordon Keane, who lived at Glenthorne as a child, recalled that it was an exciting place for a child to live with a blacksmith, farrier, regular gymkhanas and horses being broken in and trained. The men were billeted in the stately three storey house, Glenthorne, built by the Porter family soon after they purchased the property in 1878, while the officers and their families lived in a number of new houses built for them on the farm. Glenthorne House was destroyed by fire in 1932 and Shirley Sincock, who also lived on Glenthorne as a child, still recalls that night.

The site of Glenthorne House was excavated in 2004 by Dr Keryn Walshe (formerly with Flinders University and now Archaeologist with the South Australian Museum) and Dr Pamela Smith (now a Senior Research Fellow, School of Humanities, Flinders University) and artefacts from the excavation were on display at the Open Day. Also on display were historic artefacts on loan from the Australian Army Museum at Keswick, including a historically significant periscope manufactured by hand from ration cans in the trenches of Gallipoli and a Light Horse uniform on loan from the Yankalilla RSL.

In her presentation, Dr Smith lamented the loss of almost all tangible evidence of the No. 9 Remount Depot, noting that ‘only the ghosts of riders past and the munitions store on the hill remain’. Dr Walshe led visitors on a tour of Glenthorne’s Heritage Precinct and the state heritage listed ruins of outbuildings constructed by Major O’Halloran between 1839 and the 1860s, and then to the impressive revegetation areas planted by the Friends of Glenthorne and the munitions store on the hill.

The guest speaker, retired Lieutenant Colonel Reg Williams was the highlight of the day with his fascinating account of the last battle of the Australian Light Horse in the desert of Bethesda and his impressive collection of slides. The local community was also involved in the day and the Sheidow Park Primary School mounted a display of their students’ projects about the No. 9 Remount Depot and its horses and men. A Lion’s Club sausage sizzle, several dozen ANZAC biscuits with afternoon tea and the loan of a 1915 Dodge by Mr and Mrs Schumacher, all contributed to the success of the day.

The Open Day, was organised by the Friends of Glenthorne to commemorate the centenary of World War 1 and to recall this important period in South Australia’s past when Glenthorne was a vibrant community making a significant contribution to South Australia between 1913 and 1946.

Glenthorne is now a significant area of open space on the corner of Majors Road and South Road at O’Halloran Hill. It is owned by the University of Adelaide and run as a sheep farm.

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