As it is my habit to poke my nose into other people’s blogs I told John I would send him a photograph of the Boer War Memorial in Ballarat. This memorial specifically relates to Victoria’s involvement although it is a bit confusing because mention is made of soldiers from other colonies who died. Whether they were serving with Victorian Units I don’t know.
At the time we are looking, Australia was a collection of independent British colonies with each having its own military forces. On 1 January 1901, the colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia united and became a Federation, known as the Commonwealth of Australia.
The statue depicts a mounted soldier stopping to help a fellow who has lost his own horse. I will talk more about that in a subsequent article. We know the soldier is from a mounted contingent because he is wearing spurs.
I did not photograph that plaque which you can see on the base – I don’t know why – but the plaque at the other end is seen below.
The view of the men from the front is here:-
The soldier seated on the horse is wearing the iconic Australian Slouch hat. Today I would say that the brim is turned up on the wrong side. This ‘turn-up’ is there so that the brim is not interfered with during drill movements. In today’s Army this is the case. But back in 1890, State military commandants had agreed that all Australian forces, except the artillery corps, should wear a looped-up hat of uniform pattern that was turned up on the right side in Victoria and Tasmania, and on the left side in all other States to allow for different drill movements.
On the long sides of the memorial are the names of those who died.
For those of you who like incidental bits of information have a look at the last name on the bottom right.
The following taken from the Australian War Memorial Website. On that site the appears to be a mistake but I haven’t included that here.
Some further particulars are to hand of the circumstances under which Mr W. J. Lambie, the war correspondent of the Melbourne Age, was killed in this affair between the Australians and the enemy near Rendsburg. The gallant pressman was shot in the head, but his would not prove instantly fatal. Mr Lambie surviving for about 15 minutes. He was buried on the field, where he died. The Boer Commandant, Delarey, forwarded particulars to the British camp and expressed his regret at the unfortunate death of a non-combatant.
Mr. Lambie had been shot by his men, mistaking him for an officer, as he wore a helmet and khaki suit. The Boer general very much regretted that the accident had occurred, and it would oblige him very much if the correspondents would bear a message from him to Mr. Lambie’s wife to that effect. He had returned all the dead man’s effects found on him, and his men buried him 6ft deep, where he fell. His men showed us the grave. The correspondent proceeds:-” He shook hands with us when we had expressed our thanks, and mounting our horses we rode out, accompanied by half a dozen Boers, to the grave of our late colleague, who was actually the first man in or with an Australian regiment to be killed. When they came to the grave the Boers took their hats off, and several of them uttered expressions of sorrow for the poor wife. We marked the spot, so that a headstone could be erected over it, and two of our escort rode with us close to our lines, where we parted with cordiality, and expressed the hope on both sides that we would meet again after the war was over. The correspondent adds that the Boers’ courtesy was ” absolutely flawless.”