The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Soldiers of the Boer War

Thanks to a number of historical sources we are able to look into the lives of some of the soldiers who served in the War.

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Sister Julia Anderson, A member of the Victorian Nursing Contingent.

Private Thomas Angel DCM MID the drover from Western Australia who won the Distinguished Conduct Medal and was Mentioned in despatches for the great bravery he showed in the Boer war; a war he did not survive.


Lieutenant (Later Lieutenant Colonel) Fred Bell A clerk with the Western Australian Customs Service who went to war as a Private in the Western Australian Mounted Infantry.  Soon commissioned as a Lieutenant, he won the VC.  Later he served in World War I, and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. 

Captain (Later Brigadier) Alfred Bessell-Browne DSO, CB, MID, VD A clerk in the Western Australian patent office who served with brilliance and bravery in the Boer War, then went on to command 1 Div Arty in World War 1, and the Western Australian Volunteer Defence Corps in World War 2.

Lieutenant (later Commander) John Biddlecombe, A China and Boer War Veteran.

Matron Martha Sarah Bidmead, Head of the South Australian Nursing Contingent, Royal Red Cross recipient.

Trooper (Later Lieutenant Colonel) John Bisdee VC The first Australian born soldier serving in an Australian unit to win a VC.

Trooper Francis Birtles A young merchant sailor who jumped ship in Cape Town to serve in the South African irregular forces, who then went on to explore Australia by bicycle and motor car, setting many records.

Trooper Jack Bond Jack is currently the first known Aboriginal serviceman to be presented a medal for military service in a foreign country and the first Aboriginal serviceman to serve two tours of active duty, 18 months at the front, entitled to both the Boer War service medals.

Warrant Officer (Later Major) John Bond A member of the New South Wales Army Medical Team who made a major contribution to the development of surf life saving in Australia; credited with devising the surf reel.

Private Frederick Booth Fred served with 2 VMR, he was an avid diarist. His diary features on the Copper wall in the foreground of the Memorial.

Midshipman (later Rear Admiral Sir) Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle, KCVO, CMG, DSO. Australian Naval Officer and Boer War Soldier.

Major (later Major General Sir) William Throsby Bridges KCB, CMG Artillery staff officer in the Boer War and later inaugral commandant of RMC Duntroon and the AIF.

Trooper Reginald Brodie A warrior who fought with the mounted troops in the Boer War and in WWI and policed the wild tribesmen in New Guinea.

Private John Brooks A soldier of West Indian descent and served with great bravery and deserved a "Mention in Despatches".

Private Alfred Button One of the first Tasmanians to die in the South African conflict.


Lieutenant  (Later Commander) William Jarvie Colquhoun - Naval Officer and Decorated Soldier of the Boer War.

Lieutenant George Cory did not see active service in the Boer War.  He was a member of the Third Australian Commonwealth Horse, and arrived too late for fighting.  His grandson Peter has assembled his amazing life story, and included a photo album of his time in South Africa.

Lieutenant Colonel (Later Major General) Charles Cox CB, CMG, DSO, VD The young captain who through his own efforts was able to land the first Australian soldiers in South Africa and engage in combat, he later went on to successfully command the First Light Horse Brigade in Palestine in World War 1.

The Creer Twins Reginald Charles Ferrers (1881-1958) and Herbert Victor Creer (1881-1969). Twins in the RAN and the Boer War.


Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Walter Karri Davies 4xMID Maverick Uitlander as well as Boer War unit commander.

Trooper (Later Senior Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) DSO, MC, DCM, MID) Walter Dexter the merchant seaman who became Australia's most decorated chaplain.

Special Correspondent Edith Dickenson, the war correspondent who accompanied Australian nurses to South Africa, and whose critical reports dealing with the concentration camps were undoubtedly the cause of some controversy.

Trooper (later Lieutenant) Alfred Du Frayer One of four "colonial" soldiers awarded a scarf personally knitted by Queen Victoria in recognition of their bravery.

Lieutenant Willoughby Dowling The commander of the Australian Horse Squadron from Singleton seriously wounded at Slingersfontein.

Lieutenant Dugald Drummond DCM The stock and station agent from Ulmarra NSW whose "bravery under fire" won him the DCM, at the time he was a corporal, thus he received the award that is only second to the Victoria Cross.  Commissioned, he returned to South Africa for a second tour of duty, and fought again with the Light Horse at Gallipoli.


Major (Later Colonel) William Eames CBE The General Practitioner from Newcastle and part-time soldier who served with the New South Wales Medical Corps in South Africa then nominally too old to serve in the Australian Army went on to command a volunteer hospital in France that was taken into the British Army.

Trooper Frederick Edwards A soldier who served with the South Australian Imperial Bushmen and left us the legacy of his detailed diary.

Corporal (later Major General CB, CMG, DSO, DCM, VD) Harold Edward Elliot DCM The universtiy student from Melbourne who ultimately became, the co-victor at Villers-Brettoneux in April 1918 when two Australian brigades, one commanded by the then Brigadier-General Elliot halted the German Operation Michael offensive.


Major (later Brigadier-General) Thomas Fiaschi DSO The brilliant physician and surgeon immigrant from Italy who became the first to wear the uniform of the Lancers in battle (1896),  who served his adopted country in the Boer and First World Wars.

Sister Penelope Frater The nurse from New England in NSW who after her Boer War Service became head sister at 3rd Australian General Hospital in WWII.

Major General Sir George Arthur French, KCMG (1841-1921), Commandant of NSW during the Boer War


Lieutenant (Later Major General Sir William) Thomas W Glasgow DSO A young Queensland Mounted Infantryman who showed great qualities in the Boer War, being awarded a DSO, and who then went on to be the co-victor at Villers-Brettoneux in April 1918 when two Australian brigades, one commanded by the then Brigadier-General Glasgow halted the German Operation Michael offensive. 

Superintendent (Later Principal Matron RRC) Julia (Nellie) Gould  The young nurse from Wales who was educated in Portugul and visited Australia in her 20s, trained as a Nurse in Sydney and was chosen to lead the NSW Army Nursing contingent to South Africa.  Later still in her 50s she served in WW1.

Chaplain James Green (Later Chaplain Colonel, CMG, DSO, VD, 2xMID The chaplain with the NSW Bushmen who later served in Gallipoli amd France, rising to senior OPD chaplain in the Army.

Lieutenant Gideon Grieve The special service officer from NSW who died leading a company of the Black Watch.


Lieutenant Peter Handcock The Blacksmith from Bathurst executed by the British under controversial circumstances with Harry Morant.

Trooper Malcolm Haynes (enlisted as Malcolm Stewart) A young man who served with the New South Wales Imperial Bushmen and wrote home regularly.  His family kept the letters and had them transcribed for you to peruse.  A great contemporary account of the actions and attitudes of the men at the front.

Sister Frances Hines The first Australian woman to die on operational service.

Sister (later Matron) Eliza Hoadley A Nursing Sister from central New South Wales who saw service in the Boer War, Middle East and India.

Lieutenant Rupert Hornabrook  A Health Officer in the Johannesburg mines in Transvaal when the Boer War broke out who joined the Natal Volunteer Medical Staff.

Captain Samuel Hube MID The Surveyor from South Australia killed by a stray bullet at 2,000 metres in September 1900.

Sister Beatrice Huston, the girl from the small town of Clermont (just north of Emerald in Queensland), the first Queensland Sister to the Boer War.

Captain (Later Major General) William Holmes, The water board clerk who served gallantly in the Boer and First Worls Wars and had a major Sydney traffic artery named after him.

Captain (Later Major General Sir) Neville Howse VC The country doctor who won the first Australian VC then went on to revolutionise battlefield medical practice in the first world war.

Midshipman Cymberline Huddart CSC (RN) Possibly the first Australian to die in battle.

Major General (later Lieutenant General) Sir Edward Thomas Henry Hutton, KCMG, KCB, MID (12) Leader of Australians in the Boer War and Maverick First Commandant of the Australian Army.

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Sister Julia Bligh Johnston The daughter of a farmer from what is now western Sydney who had a distinguished career as a nurse on the Boer War and World War 1.

Trooper Victor Jones The first Australian soldier to die in action in an Australian uniform.


Lieutenant Alured Kelly, Masterful soldier and saboutaged recruiter.

Corporal Fred Kilpatrick the Sydney schoolteacher who became the first New South Wales Lancer to die in battle.


Captain George Lawson A General Practitioner from Rooty Hill NSW who served with the NSW Imperial Bushmen in the Boer War and in two subsequent wars.

Lieutenant (Later Colonel CBE) Edwin Leane MID The insurance manager and part time soldier from Adelaide who served with the South Australian Imperial Bushmen then in World War II served with great distinction along with family members.

Major (Later Major General) George Leonard Lee CMG, DSO the New South Wales permanent forces officer who was serving as adjutant of the New South Wales Lancers when he was sent to South Africa with the first reinforcement draft to take command of Lancer Squadron. The diary he kept is a definitive contemporary source for all those interested in the Boer War.

Captain (Later Lieutenant General) James Legge the New South Wales school teacher who commanded a company of the NSW Mounted Rifles who wrote the "Kitchener Report" on Australia's defence then went on to be a successful Divisional commander and penultimately Chief of the General Staff then Commandant RMC Duntroon.

Major (Later Lieutenant Colonel) Bob Lenehan VD the Commanding Officer of the Bushveldt Carbineers.

Trooper William Luff a trained heavy cavalryman who on return from the war fathered a dynasty of like minded soldiers who served their nation  as cavalrymen in WWII and Vietnam.

Lieutenant (later Major, DSO, MID) James Loynes, a distinguished Soldier of two wars


Sister Agnes Macready, Journalist, Nurse, War Correspondent and Political Activist.

Lieutenant (Later Brigadier General) Leslie Maygar VC the Victorian grazier who became the first Victorian to in the VC.

Lieutenant Colonel (Later Major General) James Alexander Kenneth Mackay, Boer War Regiment commander, Author, Politician

Dame EMMA MAUD McCARTHY was a Australian nursing sister and British army matron-in-chief who began her military service in the Boer War.

Private Fergus George (Rogie) McFadzen A young drover who enlisted under age, was wounded in action and invalided to Australia, was imprisoned on St Helena (Moreton Bay) for a few years for a little cattle stealing, then he married and lived a quiet life in the Mackay (QLD). district.

Captain Douglas Mclean A Queenslander who became a prominent rower and died in Johannesburg when serving with the Imperial Yeomanry.

Major Hatherley Moor MID the English Artillery Offiecer who valiantly commanded the 1st Western Australian Mounted Infantry and was killed in action at Palmietfontein in the Orange Free State.

Trooper Tom Morris The first Australian to be nominated for the VC (never awarded) who went on to become a Sergeant of Police.

Lieutenant Harry Morant The English con-man who became a master of living in the Australian countryside and was ultimately executed by the British under controversial circumstances.

Chaplain Matthew Mullineux MC The captain of the English Lions who became an Australian Chaplain in the Boer War, and a New Zealand Chaplain in World War I.

Midshipman Cecil Egan Murnin, (Later Lt Comdr C E Murnin VD) China Contingent, Boer War officer and a Wallaby


Trooper Wylie Nation The man who survived the Boer War who became a policeman extraordinaire. 

Lieutenant (later Colonel DSO, CBE, MID) Frank Newton A young Queenslander who served under Sir Harry Chauvel in the Boer and First World Wars.

Matron Mary Ann Nicolay, Nightingale Trainee and Boer War Nurse from Western Australia.

Sister (later Matron) Elizabeth Orr The Tasmanian Nurse who made her way privately to South Africa to serve, and was later a Matron in World War 1.

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Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Parrott VD, the Sudan veteran responsible for the Mounted Engineers in the Boer War.

Private Walter Parker, the First Australian Aboriginal Soldier to Die on Overseas Military Service

Special Correspondent (Later Major) Andrew (Banjo) Patterson, the great Australian Balladeer.

Sister (later Matron RRC) Mary Pocock, Nursing sister in two Wars.

Trooper Walter Pope The young police constable from NSW who chronicled his South African experience in a series of must read letters to his parents.

Colonel Tom Price of the Victorian Mounted Rifles.


Captain Fletcher Quintal MID Norfolk Island's most senior soldier and descendent of Bounty Mutineers.


Nursing Superintendent Marianne Rawson RRC MID, A nursing sister form Victoria appointed Superintendent of ten Victorian nurses to accompany the Third Victorian Bushmen's Contingent to South Africa.

Lieutenant Stanley Spence Reid MID Victorian Football League Player, Clergyman and Western Australian Soldier who made the supreme sacrafice for his patriotism.

Captain (Later Major General Sir, CMG, CB, KCMG, VD) Granville Ryrie, grazier, politician and soldier


Private John Searle, one of the very few (nine identified so far by Peter Baaker) Australian Aboriginal soldiers recorded as having served in the Boer War.

Sister Rose Shappere, the nurse from Ballarat who served on both sides of the conflict.

Sergeant (later Captain VC, MC) Alfred Shout MID, A New Zealander who served with the British in South Africa, then won a posthumous VC at Lone Pine.

Trooper Edgar Spender A knock-about young man who joined the 3rd South Australian Citizen's Bushmen.  He wrote a detailed diary of his experience; it is available, all 196 pages for you to access in the original copperplate script.


Major James Thomas, The solicitor from Tenterfield who served valiantly as the commander of the NSW Citizens' Bushmen, then defended Morant, Handcock, Whitton and Lenehan at their courts martial.

Padre Francis Timoney, Fighting Padre and Whistle Blower.

Sister Janet Toshack, a Humanitarian Worker in the Boer Concentration Camps


Private (later Lieutenant) Charles Unwin A South Australian born linesman with Brisbane Tramways who served in the Boer and Furst World Wars.


Major Henry Vialls CB, MID British immigrant former soldier and war veteran who took the Western Australian Citizen's Bushmen to the Boer War.


Trooper George Wall, The story of a trooper who served in the Boer War then when he returned home fell on hard times, passing away in unfortunate circumstances. His unmarked grave to be marked by a headstone in 2017.

Major Archibald Watson, Eccentric and Bohemian Professor of Anatomy, Military Surgeon and Pathologist.

Bernhard Wegener, A shunter on the Natal Government Railways who was pressed into service as a bicycle courier during the siege and recorded the experience in a detailed diary.  After the war he emigrated to Australia.

Trooper (Later Warrant Officer) Ashley Whitney, The young man from Prospect NSW who trained with Lancer Squadron in the UK, served in South Africa, then in the Lancers for 37 years, retiring as the Army's senior Warrant Officer; and of whom we have a video interview where, shortly before his passing, he personally recounts his experience.

Sergeant (later Captain DSO, MC) Arnold Wienholt. The Eton educated pastoralist from Queensland who fought with the Queensland Bushmen in the Boer War, then in East Africa during WW1 and WW2.  Killed in action aged 62.

Trooper Alfred Whye, An Aboriginal man, one of nine identified by Peter Bakker so far as having served in the Boer War. After giving exemplary service in the war, he migrated to New Zealand and worked for New Zealand Railways.

Lieutenant George Witton, The dairy farmer commissioned in the Bushveldt Carbineers.  Tried with Morant and Handcock, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Lieutenant (Later Colonel) Guy Wylly VC The son of an Indian Army Officer who departed with the Tasmanian Mounted Infantry, won a VC in South Africa, then transferred to the British Army.

Captain (Later Major) George Watkin Wynne, Journalist come Naval Officer and later Army Officer in the Boer War.

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