The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Boer War Day 2023

By Peter Wilmot, President, Boer War Association Victoria

This year it was raining with a very cold wind which meant the service had to be held inside the Shrine Sanctuary. 250 attended with 153 view the service by the Shrine of Remembrance streaming service for the 121st Anniversary to honour Australians and New Zealanders who fought in the Boer War. They Served Again Victorian Boer War Veterans became Anzacs.

The parade assembled at the lower forecourt of ANZAC Parade under parade commander National Serviceman Sam Ciche. The parade was led by the Rats of Tobruk Pipes and Drums followed by 4th - 8th Light Horse Troop, Boer War re-enactment group, Flags and banners of the Victorian Boer War Association Victoria, distinguished guests including Scouts, Girl Guides and contingent of descendants.

Marching past the Eternal Flame and the Cenotaph up to the steps of the shrine, we then made our way up to the sanctuary where we were crammed into this space where the service was held at midday. Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Neil Smith AM the Master of Ceremonies. The Commemoration address was given by Lieutenant Colonel Murray Duckworth CSM.

Twenty seven distinguished guests which included Wendy Baden-Powell, the granddaughter of the first Lord Baden-Powell of Mafeking, Chaplain Colin McMillan Salvation Army, Mr Dean Lee CEO Shrine of Remembrance, Colonel John Coulson OAM RFD ED (Retd) Governor-Shrine of Remembrance, Sub Lieutenant Agnieske Keenan representing the New Zealand Defence Force, John Berger MP Eastern Metropolitan Legislative Council representing, The Hon Natalie Suleyman MP Member for St Albans Minister for Veterans, Mr Keith Wolahan MP Federal Member for Menzies, Dr. Robert Webster OAM, President, RSL Victoria, Mr Ross Newton OAM Order of Australia Association, Dr John Hall Acting Chairman Friends of Gallipoli Inc., Cr Andrew Bond Deputy Mayor City of Port Phillip, Councillor Philip Le Liu City of Melbourne, Mr. Michael Galea MP South Eastern Metropolitan Legislative Council, Mr. Lee Tarlamis OAM MP South Eastern Metropolitan Legislative Council, Major General Jim Barry AM, MBE, RFD, ED (Retd) Patron - Boer War Association Victoria, Brigadier P. Alkemade RFD President, DRA Victoria, Colonel Jan McCarthy ARRC (Retd) Returned Nurses Sub-branch ANZAC House, Lieutenant Colonel G. Lockwood OAM RFD ED, Sonya Boloski President New Zealand RSL Sub Branch Caufield RSL, Michael Pianta President Coburg RSL Sub-Branch, Mr Nick Wakeling City of Knoxfield District Scouts, Melbourne Grammar Students William Oscar, Froomes Barnett, Teacher Adrea Fox Melbourne Grammar, Geelong College students James Naylor, Head of Humanities Greg Naylor.

After the service the Salvation Army provided warm food.

Lest we Forget

They Served Again

The Boer War attracted many Australian volunteers in the period 1899 to 1902. It is known that some 16,000 served with Australian units but it is guesstimated that there were as many as 8,000 more who were to serve in South African Colonial units and the Imperial forces. As an example, it is known that over 200 Australians served in Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry (a South African Colonial unit). There were many who served who lied about their age when they enlisted. We have examples (few admittedly) of 15 and 16 year olds but 18 to 20 year olds were two for a penny. These lads would have been in their early 30s when the First World War broke out. It was no problem for 40+ men to declare themselves to be in their 30s when they enlisted in that period 1914 to 1918.

We have a rough figure of from 25 to 30% of Boer War veterans who served again in World War 1. These men were welcome for they had had experience of being under fire and it was not surprising that many were accepted into the ranks as NCOs or officers, and this ‘spine’ of experience was to prove invaluable at Gallipoli and the Middle East as well as on the Western Front.

There were many men who continued serving in the federal militia units after service in the Boer War. The restructuring of the federal armed forces in the period 1903 to 1913 with its emphasis on the newly created Light Horse Regiments attracted many men with Boer War experience for by the end of the Boer War only artillerymen and mounted infantry were being accepted into the ranks of the Australian forces. The concept of the mounted infantry as a fighting force had been strengthened by the excellent reputation gained by Australian horsemen in the Boer War and this legacy was reflected in the Light Horse regiments that were to be created in every state of the Australian Commonwealth. It did help of course that the major military figures who were to make decisions regarding the structure of the new federal Army, were serving officers who had made a name for themselves in the Boer war. Notable figures such as John Hoad and Tom Price, both with early commitment to the Colony of Victoria's contribution to the Boer War, were major figures in the post-Boer war restructuring of the Australian Army.

Experience as leaders in war was a valuable credit to one's status and as Europe began to drift into a series of competing military alliances from 1903 divisions began to harden between the emerging military powerhouse of Germany and the 'western allies' - France, Russia and Great Britain. By 1914 there were two distinct military blocs: Germany and its allies of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire opposed by Britain, France, Russia and Italy. With the German invasion of Belgium in August 1914 the Great War of Europe was to begin.

The State of Victoria was to provide its fair share of Boer war veterans. The numbers are too large to name everyone who had dual service but a sample of those who served twice will suffice. Among the most notable was Lieutenant Colonel Lancelot Fox Clarke, of Emerald Hill (South Melbourne), who had taken over command of the 4th Victorian Imperial Bushmen Contingent from Nicholas Kelly in the Boer War, and aged 57 when in command of the 12th Infantry Battalion, AIF, at Gallipoli, was killed at Russell's Top on the day of the landing at Anzac Cove. Another notable figure in World War 1 who had served with distinction in the Boer War was Leslie Cecil Maygar, born at Dean Station near Kilmore in 1868, and who as a Lieutenant with the 5th Victorian Rifles (5VMR) had earned the Victoria Cross saving one of his men who had been unhorsed while fighting off a Boer ambush at Geelhoutboom in the Transvaal. Arthur Short, the man he had rescued, also served as a saddler in the 3rd LHR in the 1st World War, and was to survive the war. Maygar was not so fortunate. Commanding the 8th Light Horse in Palestine and distinguishing himself at Gaza where he was awarded the DSO for gallantry, Maygar died of wounds received in the fighting at Beersheba in October 1917.

A further Victoria Cross winner who had served in the Boer War with the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles (5VMR) who was to lose his life in WW1 was Lieutenant William Dartnall, born in Collingwood in 1885, who despite his tender age of 16 when he enlisted, was able to get away with it. Dartnall went to England to enlist when the Great War broke out and was accepted as a Lieutenant with the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, better known as the Legion of Frontiersmen and commanded by an ex-Boer war commander, Colonel Daniel Driscoll of Driscoll Scouts fame. This unit was sent to East Africa where in September 1915, 30 year old Dartnall, commanding a small patrol, was ambushed and in the fighting that followed, Dartnall was wounded in the leg. He endeavoured to get his men away and bravely remained behind to hold back the enemy while his men escaped. He was finally overwhelmed and was awarded a posthumous VC, which can be seen in the AWM today.

A famous figure, a familiar Victorian to many, who served in both the Boer War and World War 1, was Harold Edward Elliott, better known as 'Pompey' Elliott, a Ballarat boy, born in 1878, who earned a Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery at Sea Cow River in the Cape Colony in March 1901, when he snuck into a Boer encampment at night while the Boers were sleeping and drove their horses out of their camp. Under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Dallimore, the Victorian Bushmen patrol then forced the Boers to surrender. Dallimore, born at Lake Gillear, near Warrnambool, in 1871, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for this engagement. Pompey Elliott finished his degree at Melbourne University and took up law after he returned from the Boer war. In 1914 he enlisted with the AIF as Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 7th Battalion. He was at Gallipoli and had a very distinguished career in the Middle East and later in Europe. He was very popular among his men. He was Mentioned-in Dispatches seven times, was wounded (gunshot wound to the foot) and was awarded the DSO for gallantry, made a Commander of the Bath (CB), and a Commander of St.Michael and St.George (CMG), and awarded the Croix-de-Guerre and the Russian Order of St.Anne. He rose to become a Brigadier General and when the war had finished he returned to his job as a solicitor but something snapped: he suffered through ill health compounded by financial difficulties and after an attempted suicide finally succeeded by slitting his wrist while in hospital in 1931. He was living at Camberwell, Victoria, at the time.

Lieutenant Robert Gartside, ex-3rd Victorian Bushmen, born in Gisborne, Victoria in 1862, who had played a prominent role in the defence of the Elands River Post in the Transvaal in August 1900, was also at Gallipoli with the 7th Battalion, AIF. He had enlisted in WW1 as a Major and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel shortly before he was killed in the fighting for Krithia in May 1915.

Yet another member of the 7th Battalion in the Great War was Lieutenant Charles Mason, ex-4th Victorian Imperial Bushmen, born in Carlton in 1878, wounded in the successful attack on Philipstown in the Cape in February 1901, but who recovered and was appointed ADC to Lieutenant-General Lord Methuen. When WW1 broke out Mason enlisted as a Captain with A Company, 7th Battalion, and was promoted Major while on Gallipoli where he was wounded in the groin by a gunshot. Invalided to Australia he returned to the war when his unit was in Europe. He was transferred to the 59th Battalion with the temporary rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Awarded DSO for his work at Polygon Wood in 1917. After the war remained in the UK where he took up the legal profession. In 1921 he was appointed by Lord Northcliffe as Special Correspondent for the Daily Mail at the Imperial Conference. He returned to Australia in 1932 and died in1949.

Another ex-Victorian Imperial Bushman had a distinguished career in both the Boer War and World War 1. Promoted from Captain to Major for good work in the field (particularly in taking Philipstown from the Boers in February 1901) and as a consequence being awarded the DSO, 35 year old Edwin Tivey from Inglewood, was also handsomely rewarded for his service in WW1. Given command of the 8th Infantry Brigade in 1915 he sailed for the Middle East and was given the responsibility for the defence of the Suez Canal. When he went to the Western Front as commander of the 8th Infantry Brigade (29th, 30th, 31st and 32nd Battalions) he was soon pitched into the fighting. He was wounded three times and Mentioned-in-Dispatches six times. He was awarded the CB and the CMG and rose to become Major-General. After the war he settled down in Kooyong Road, Toorak, where he continued as a stockbroker. He died in 1947 and is buried in Brighton cemetery.

Leslie Mullen was the youngest of three brothers who all served with the 5th VMR. All were in C Company. Les was born in Williamstown in 1882, despite claiming he was born in 1880. He was a Private with the Right Wing so missed the disaster at Wilmansrust. When WW1 broke out he was appointed Lieutenant with the 12th Battalion and joined his unit on Gallipoli. He remained there till the withdrawal and was sent as CO with his unit to join the BEF on the Western Front. Shortly after arriving he was transferred as CO to the 9th Battalion and appointed temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. He was wounded by a gunshot to the right shoulder at Ypres in October 1917. He rejoined the unit shortly before the armistice. He was awarded the DSO and the Belgian Croix-de-Guerre.

Private Frank Reid Tubb, ex- 2nd VMR, was born in Longwood in 1880 but lived for many years in Euroa. He also had a second stint, serving as a Corporal in the 2ACH. In WW1 he and his younger brother Frederick Harold Tubb, enlisted into the 7th Battalion, AIF. Both were at Gallipoli. Frederick was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Lone Pine in August 1915. Frank was made a Lieutenant in August 1916 when the battalion was sent to France. Frank was wounded by shellfire in 1916 but returned to his unit two months later where he earned himself the Military Cross by completing defences in the face of heavy shell and rifle fire. He was wounded yet again on this occasion. He was invalided home in April 1918. His brother Frederick was killed in 1917. There is a lifelike memorial to Frederick in Euroa.

Another Ballarat boy who distinguished himself was Lieutenant Charles Stanley Coltman of the 4th Victorian Imperial Bushmen. Born in 1877 he commanded D Squadron and later was transferred to the 5thVMR as a Captain. He was in the contingent that represented Victoria at the coronation of Edward VII in August 1902. He moved to NSW and when WW1 broke out he was accepted as Captain of H Company in the 5th Battalion, AIF. Shortly after arriving at Gallipoli he was transferred to the Machine Gun Detachment and it was in this unit that he was awarded the Military Cross at Lone Pine in August 1915. He was promoted Major shortly after this, but sad to say died of pneumonia in a Cairo hospital in January 1916. His older brother Percy was killed at Pozieres in France seven months later while serving with the 22nd Battalion.

Lieutenant Theo Serjeant of the 1st Victorian Contingent was also born in Ballarat and as a temporary Captain served as commander of the 3rd Company, VMR in Colonel Henry's 4th M.I. Corps. In 1911 he went to England with his family and when WW1 broke out, aged 43, he enlisted with the British Army, serving in France as Lieutenant-Colonel of the 15th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, earning an OBE. His son Robert Serjeant, serving with the 8th Battalion, AIF, died at Gallipoli. Theo returned to Victoria in the 1930s where he died in 1933. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Fawkner cemetery and despite every effort to have him recognised for his colonial service the Commonwealth War Graves refuses to acknowledge him as a serving Australian, claiming that his service with the British Forces in WW1 does not allow him to be commemorated in this way.

Vale Michael Baden Powell

Michael Baden-Powell 11 December 1940 - 3 July 2023. His involvement in the National Boer War Project. By Peter Wilmot President Boer War Association Victoria.

In 2006 the National Boer War Memorial project was formed with Sub committees in each state and Territories. The Right Honourable Lord Michael Baden-Powell was of great help in the early days of the project serving as chairman of the Victorian committee raising funds for the National Boer War Memorial in Canberra.

In 2008 ANZAC Day was the first time since the closure of the association in the 1970's that descendants of the Boer War Veterans marched behind the two new banners of the association, led by Michael Baden-Powell. Michael continued to lead the association in these marches up to 2011.

Michael was the driving force in October 2010 to have a Memorial Tree Dedication at the Shrine of Remembrance. The same year saw the first Boer War Commemoration service held at the shrine.

Michael resigned as Chairman and from the committee in 2012 as his scouting commitments became more demanding. As Chairman, Michael and I kept in contact on the progress for the Memorial in Canberra. Michael was unable to attend the Dedication of the National Boer War Memorial in Canberra in 2017 because of his scouting commitments and he expressed his disappointment of being unable to attend.

Between 2018 to 2021 Michael attended the ANZAC Day marches and Boer War Day services at the Shrine, he welcomed the descendants of the Boer War Veterans and members of the public that wish to commemorate the day.

He was respected by all scouts and guides that attended the service with many photos taken with Michael. 2018 Michael held the position of the association Ambassador up to his death.

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