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"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre site holds over 12,000 entries and is growing daily.

Contact: Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

Let us hear your story: You can tell your story, make a comment or ask for help on our Australian Light Horse Studies Centre Forum called:

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WARNING: This site contains: names, information and images of deceased people; and, language which may be considered inappropriate today.

Friday, 16 January 2009
The Battle of Slingersfontein, South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900, Roll of Honour
Topic: BatzB - Slingersfontn

The Battle of Slingersfontein

South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900

Australian Forces

Roll of Honour

 

Poppies on the Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra

 

The Roll of Honour contains the names of all the Australian men from the known to have served and lost their lives during the Battle of Slingersfontein, South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900.

 

Roll of Honour

 

Alfred BUTTON, 1st Tasmanian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 9 February 1900

 

Michael CONWAY, 1st West Australian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 9 February 1900

 

Atherly GILHAM, 1st Tasmanian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 9 February 1900

George Allman GRIFFEN, 1st Australian Horse, Killed in Action, 16 January 1900

 

Geoffrey Gordon William HENSMAN, 1st West Australian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 9 February 1900

 

John William POWELL, 1st South Australian Mounted Rifles, Killed in Action, 9 February 1900

 

Lest We Forget 

 

 

Further Reading:

The Battle of Slingersfontein, South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900

The Battle of Slingersfontein, South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900, Roll of Honour

South African (Second Boer) War

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Slingersfontein, South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900, Roll of Honour

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Monday, 17 January 2011 6:28 AM EAST
The Battle of Slingersfontein, South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900, New Zealand Forces, Roll of Honour
Topic: BatzB - Slingersfontn

The Battle of Slingersfontein

South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900

New Zealand Forces

Roll of Honour

 

Poppies on the Auckland Cenotaph plinth

 

The Roll of Honour contains the names of all the Australian men from the known to have served and lost their lives during the Battle of Slingersfontein, South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900.

 

Roll of Honour

 

Samuel Walker GOURLAY, 1st New Zealand Mounted Rifles, Killed in Action, 16 January 1900.

 

Lest We Forget 

 

 

Further Reading:

The Battle of Slingersfontein, South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900

The Battle of Slingersfontein, South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900, Roll of Honour

South African (Second Boer) War

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Slingersfontein, South Africa, 16 January and 9 February 1900, New Zealand Forces, Roll of Honour

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Monday, 17 January 2011 7:25 AM EAST
Thursday, 15 January 2009
Bert Schramm's Diary, 16 January 1919
Topic: Diary - Schramm

During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, 2823 Private Herbert Leslie Schramm, a farmer from White's River, near Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsular, kept a diary of his life. Bert was not a man of letters so this diary was produced with great effort on his behalf. Bert made a promise to his sweetheart, Lucy Solley, that he would do so after he received the blank pocket notebook wherein these entries are found. As a Brigade Scout since September 1918, he took a lead part in the September 1918 breakout by the Allied forces in Palestine. Bert's diary entries are placed alongside those of the 9th Light Horse Regiment to which he belonged and to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade to which the 9th LHR was attached. On this basis we can follow Bert in the context of his formation.

 Bert Schramm's Diary, 16 January 1919

 


Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 11 - 17 January 1919

[Click on page for a larger print version.]

Diaries

Bert Schramm

Thursday, January 16, 1919

Bert Schramm's Location - Tripoli, Lebanon.

Bert Schramm's Diary -  No news but a lot of unofficial rumours.

 

 

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Tripoli, Lebanon.

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 1000 - 1100 - Dismounted training.

 

Darley

Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.

No Entry

 

Further Reading:

9th Light Horse Regiment AIF War Diary - Complete day by day list

Bert Schramm Diary 

Bert Schramm Diary - Complete day by day list

 

Additional Reading:

Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.

 


Citation: Bert Schramm's Diary, 16 January 1919


Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Saturday, 17 January 2009 12:55 PM EAST
Philip Fargher
Topic: MilitiaRC - Rifle Clubs

Philip Fargher

 

Philip Fargher, 1912.

[From: Victorian Rifle Association Archives.]

 

Philip Fargher was born on 3 December 1859 at St. Marks on the Isle of Man.  He was one of a large family parented by a farmer, Philip Fargher and his wife Catherine (nee Brideson) of Greeba, who eked a living from the land and the sea.  After leaving home at 12 to become a cook on a “coaster” trading about the shores of the British Isles, in 1875 Fargher, aged 16, joined the crew of the tall sail “bluenose” [i.e., from Nova Scotia or having Nova Scotians as crew] ship Saxon King of 1,600 tons.  She sailed from Liverpool to Bombay and Calcutta.  A dispute with the ship’s captain in Calcutta led to the crew being fined, then docked a month of pay and given a month in a Calcutta jail. Discharged finally from the Saxon King, Fargher joined the crew of the Liffey, a big iron vessel with double topgallant yards and three skysails, bound for London via St Helena and Ascension Island.  He reached London after a voyage of 138 days from Calcutta.   

Fargher remained a deepwater sailor for a further 13 years after returning to England, visiting South America and Australia during that time.  His voyages included several ‘roundings’ of Cape Horn.  He left the sea in 1885 (a  newspaper report later gave the year as 1883), settling in Victoria after completing the first leg of a voyage. His first job was in charge of a mine winding engine on the Bendigo goldfields, at nights studying mechanical engineering at the Bendigo School of Mines.  Eventually he qualified as a steam engine driver, working at various mines in that capacity.   While in Bendigo, Fargher also volunteered for the Victorian Rifles militia.  After recruit probation he passed into "B" Company of its 4th Battalion, headquartered at Castlemaine, on 15 July 1885 (the 4th Battalion was retitled the 4th Victorian Regiment in 1890).    

In the Militia, Fargher quickly became known for his rifle-shooting skills – in fact he may have joined because of his ability with the rifle as the militia units were always on the lookout for marksmen to compete in their inter-company and inter-unit rifle matches.  Fargher was so good that by late 1886, as a Corporal, he was shooting in the VRA [Victorian Rifle Association] annual matches at Williamstown in Melbourne, where he was recorded as 68th out of 160 prize-winners that year and equal 23rd overall.  In late 1887 the now Sergeant Fargher (No. 531 Corporal Fargher was promoted after mid-year, 1887) was again noted as a prize-winner in the VRA annual matches, that year coming 53rd  out of 115 prize-takers and 16th overall.  On 22 May 1888, Sergeant Fargher transferred to the Reserve, effectively ending his uniformed service.  Many years later, in 1910, he would find himself in uniform once again – but never lost his military demeanour in the intervening years.

 

Shipboard Concert Card - Philip Fargher sings "Loris Low Sweet Song", 21 September 1897

[Click on page for larger version.]

 

In both 1889 and 1890, Fargher appears in the VRA annual report as a prize-taker – however as plain P. Fargher and with no mention of which Rifle Club he represented.  He may even have still been at Bendigo at this time.  As a reservist he could have still been shooting for the 4th Victorian Regiment, which was an active participant in the VRA team and inter-unit matches among militia and permanent forces (for example, it won the Representative Challenge Cup in 1889). In the 1889 VRA matches, Fargher was 8th out of 160 prize takers and in 1890, 26th out of 150.  In the early 1890s, he took a job as an engineer with the MTT (Melbourne Tramways Trust), which built engine houses and cables for Melbourne’s growing tram network. The purpose of the engine houses was to winch the underground cables that drew the trams along the streets.  Fargher worked in the tramway engine house at the corner of Gertrude and Nicholson Streets in Fitzroy for more than 10 years.  He also joined the MRC (Melbourne Rifle Club).

1892 saw Fargher reach personal success at rifle-shooting of the highest order when, shooting for the MRC at the annual VRA matches, he was the Victorian Queen’s Prize (with a score of 274 points) and Grand Aggregate Prize winner -essentially the best of all comers from Victoria, NSW, SA and Tasmania across the six nominated matches of the meet.  The Queen’s Prize, modelled on the British NRA prize of the same name, was an aggregated three stage match.  In 1893 he repeated his first prize in the Grand Aggregate, with 424 points, winning a second VRA Gold Medal. He also came second overall in the NRA Medal awarded to the highest aggregate scorer in the Representative Challenge Cup and first and second stages of the Queen’s Prize (he was 14th out of the Queen’s Thirty - the 30 riflemen to qualify for the third and final round). Adding to his laurels that year, he was a member of the winning Victorian team in the Inter-colonial match against NSW, SA, Tasmania and WA.  He top-scored for the team with 157, was the second prize-winner overall, 2nd outright out of 180 prize-takers and took home winnings of £44.   

Fargher married in 1894, the year he was the MRC Club Champion and just after his return from representing Victoria again in the Inter-colonial match.  His wife was Matilda Maude Blacker, a domestic also living in Fitzroy of Irish mother and English father from Morang, Victoria.  They married at St. Marks Church, Fitzroy on 12 December which was also Matilda’s 26th birthday.  “Tilly” and Philip set up house in Fitzroy where their children Eunice (1895) and Philip (1896) were born.  The family moved then to Northcote, north of Melbourne, where Douglas Brookwood Fargher (1899) was born.  From Northcote the family moved to North Carlton, an inner northern suburb of Melbourne where John Adrian (1901) was born.  With his birth the family moved yet again to Westgarth in Northcote where their last child, Lee William (1910) was born.   

 

 

Philip Fargher Diary entries for 7-9 June 1897

[Click on page for larger version.]

 

Rifle-shooting remained a real passion.  In the VRA matches of late 1895 he only won £8 in all but more important, he was elected a member of the VRA Council, beginning a long association with its governing body. In 1897 Fargher came 2nd in the VRA’s Queen’s Prize match.  That year and again in 1898 and 1902 he was chosen as a team member of the highly successful rifle shooting teams representing first Victoria, then Australia at the NRA matches at Bisley.  The Victorian team won the Imperial Challenge Cup (known as the Kolapore Cup after its donation by the Rajah of Kolapore as a prize in 1871) in 1897 and were runners-up in 1898.  The Australian team won in 1902, when matches resumed after the Boer War.  In 1902, following a highly credible 17th (out of nearly 2,000 competitors) in the Queen’s Prize match in 1897 and 16th in the Queen’s Prize shoot of 1898, Fargher also won a St. George Badge, which placed him among the very best rifle shots of the British Empire.  Between Bisley shoots, in 1899 he also won the NSW Grand Championship.  

Fargher supplemented his income as a part-time journalist and writer. A series of articles commissioned for the Advance Australia magazine describing the trip to Bisley in 1897 later became the basis for his 1898 book To Bisley and Back with the Kolapore Cup.  He also published seminal books on rifle shooting, his most well known being Hints on Rifle Shooting, published by Sands and Mcdougal in Melbourne and wrote a number of short story manuscripts including an account of his years at sea titled Deep Sea Sailor, which were never published.  With the Boer War, Fargher joined his fellow champion shot William Sloane in conducting a spirited newspaper correspondence on the issue of which rifle to re-equip the Victorian Forces and then the Contingents to South Africa. Meanwhile he kept up his skills with the rifle, becoming MRC Club Champion again in 1904 and winning a King’s Badge in 1901, 1902, 1903 and 1905.

An appointment in mid-1906 to the position of Secretary of the VRA at a salary of £250 a year (at a time when a workman’s wage was little more than £100 p.a.), in addition to his rifle shooting prizes, gave him a reasonable income.  It was also noted with pride back in the Isle of Man, where the Isle of Man Ramsey Courier and Northern Advertiser of 8 June 1906, quoting the Melbourne Argus, said:
 

Mr. Fargher, one of the most prominent rifle shots in Victoria, was appointed secretary to the Victorian Rifle Association, out of 182 applicants, at last night’s meeting of council …Mr. Fargher was born in the neighbourhood of Douglas and has several relatives resident there.  We have pleasure in congratulating our fellow countryman on his success, and will no doubt hear more about him.


The Fisher Labor Government introduced compulsory military training for all young Australian men in 1910 and Fargher was appointed Area Officer for the Northcote District with the rank of Lieutenant.  With the appointment, he was required to attend a School of Instruction for a period of six weeks (1 November to 15 December, 1910) at Albury, NSW. This new role also added a £150 p.a. allowance to his VRA Secretary’s income.  He held both posts until his death. With two posts to serve Fargher worked extremely hard in his usual way and, according to his son John, at home ‘drank very hard from a wicker-cased demijohn of whisky’.  

 

Draft by Philip Fargher for an article on subsidising rifle shooting.

[Click on page for larger version.]

 

Fargher’s sons all saw active service.  The eldest, Philip Fargher, who had joined the Victorian Railways’ Transportation Branch in 1913 as a junior clerk, enlisted in July 1915 after five years of service in Victoria with the 8th Militia Battalion.  He saw active service in France with the 6th Battalion.  He was wounded in action in 1916 and promoted to Company Sergeant Major, but then was gassed in June 1918 and died of his wounds soon after.  He was buried in France.  Another son, Douglas Brookwood Fargher (the name Brookwood after the train station near Bisley) enlisted in 1916 but was not allowed to leave Australia until he had turned 19.  He arrived in England in 1918 with reinforcements for the 39th Battalion and was deployed to France just after the death of his brother Philip.  He was wounded in action in 1918 but returned to Australia safely in 1919.  Douglas Brookwood Fargher served again in WWII including in New Guinea where he was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) and rose to Colonel.  His brother Lee William Fargher saw WWII service in the Middle East and the Pacific with Signals in the 7th, 4th and 3rd AIF Divisions. He was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire) and rose to Lieutenant-Colonel.  Another son, John Adrian Fargher, a railway engineer, became the SA State Controller of Air-raid Shelters during WWII – and later earned an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography for his engineering career and contributions to public life.  

It was while Philip Fargher (junior) was at the front in France during WWI that his father died after suffering poor health for several months.  Fargher died at Northcote at the young age of 56 on 1 October 1916 with occupations given as ‘Secretary and Military Officer’. Before his own death on active service, Fargher’s  son Philip in his 1916 diary reveals that he only learnt of his father’s death on 4th November.  Douglas Fargher wrote of his father in 1949:

(He) was a fine man of strong character (who) would never flinch from doing what he considered to be his duty.  He was strictly truthful and I was witness of many examples of his physical courage.  It was his habit to tell of his adventures (as a young boy and at sea) every Sunday night.  


There is no doubt that the worldly and strong-minded Fargher was highly regarded – not just as an expert rifleman but also for his leadership skills.  For example, he was one of the very few civilians appointed to Area Officer roles with military rank in 1910.  Fargher’s obituary in The Age  noted that his death: ‘removes one of the most prominent and popular exponents of the art of rifle shooting in Australia’ while The Argus recorded: ‘Always a hard, but fair, fighter in matters pertaining to the welfare of riflemen he was greatly esteemed by all with whom he came in contact.’  Fargher was provided a military funeral and buried at Northcote.  His wife Matilda (“Tilly”) lived on to 1943.


Acknowledgement:  Reprinted with permission of the author, Andrew J. Kilsby, from his book, The Bisley Boys - The Colonial Contingents to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee 1897 - The Victorian Rifle Team, (Melbourne 2008). Copies of this book may be obtained directly from Andrew who may be currently contacted at:

kilsbya at optusnet dot com dot au

On this same theme, Andrew is currently researching for a PhD at UNSW@ADFA under the title Australian Defence and The Rifle Club Movement 1850-1926.  He would be interested to hear from anyone with information or interest around this topic. Please feel free to contact him.

  

Further Reading:

William De Passey

Militia - Rifle Clubs 

 


Citation: Philip Fargher

Posted by Project Leader at 12:38 PM EAST
Updated: Thursday, 15 January 2009 5:36 PM EAST
William De Passey
Topic: AIF - Misc Topics

Lieutenant Colonel William De Passey

 

Lieutenant Colonel William De Passey

[From: De Passey Collection]

 

William de Passey was born William Passey at Kidderminster, Warwickshire in 1859.  In the 1861 English Census his father, Thomas Passey, was listed as an agricultural labourer and his mother Charlotte, as a farmer’s assistant, with five children including William, the youngest.  By the 1871 English Census the family appears to have moved from Kidderminster to the Habberly Valley, where they stayed, but neither William nor his brothers appeared to have been at home by that time. According to a later biography, he was educated at King Charles’ Grammar School, Kidderminster.

De Passey family lore has it that young William Passey was looking after a bloodline horse owned by a local wealthy landowner when a mishap occurred.  The horse, under Passey’s care, was injured and had to be destroyed. Passey enlisted in the 5th Irish Lancers and changed his name on enlistment to ‘De Passey’ to help hide from the wrath of the land owner.

ON 1 MAY 1876, William De Passey attested at Worcester for the 5th Irish Lancers Regiment at the stated age of 18 years 4 months and joined the Regiment at Aldershot on 3 May, with Regimental Number 1693.  Among other duties assigned to the new soldier was guard detachment to the Aldershot Military Prison in late 1877.  

On 10 February 1879 he was promoted Lance-Corporal, and then transferred to the 17th (The Duke of Cambridge's Own) Lancers on 27 May 1879, with Regimental Number 2380.  

 

William De Passey, 17th Lancers, c.1879.

[From: the De Passey Collection]

 

THE 17TH LANCERS took 65 men and horses from the 5th Lancers in February 1879 prior to embarking for Natal on the 24/25 February to join the campaign against the Zulus. De Passey followed with further reinforcements in time to take part in the last days of the campaign.  Although he does not appear on the Medal Roll for the 17th Lancers at the last great battle of the Zulu War – at Ulundi on 4 July 1879 - he almost certainly was there or close by.

At Ulundi, the 17th Lancers were positioned inside a very large British infantry square which was attacked on all sides by Zulu impis. When the Zulus wavered under heavy infantry, artillery and Gatling gun fire, the square was opened to let the 17th out to counter-attack.  The Zulus were routed, with heavy casualties.  

It was a decisive victory and effectively ended the campaign. The 17th returned to station in India later that year.   For his service in Natal Lance-Corporal De Passey was awarded the South Africa Service Medal with clasp ‘1879’.   

De Passey did not return to India immediately, instead attending the Equestrian School at the Cavalry Depôt in Canterbury.  The School trained the future Regimental Riding-Masters, thus ensuring a certain level of uniformity in the equestrian arts among the various Regiments of the British Army.  De Passey finished his course and rejoined his unit in India at Mhow and later Lucknow.  

WITH THE TERMINATION of his fixed period of limited engagement, with 12 years and 81 days of service, De Passey was discharged in Lucknow on 1 May 1888.   He left with written recommendations from his Troop Commander of 7 years and from the Riding Master at the 17th’s Riding School, where he served for his last three years.  The Riding Master, Captain McGee, commented:

‘I consider he was the best horseman in the 17th Lancers.’


He also left in apparently difficult circumstances.  In his memoirs of Boer War service years later, De Passey related how he visited his old regiment, the 17th Lancers, which was encamped nearby and met with some of his former officers. He wrote:

Another officer then came over to me; he was at this time second in command but was the officer who was the cause of me leaving the regiment.  He held out his hand and said “shake! Don’t you know me?” I said “I recollect you too well but don’t want to meet you or the old regimental sergeant-major again, you rotter!”  As he turned away the Col. Said “that serves you right, Fortescue, after the way you and Clarke treated him before he left the regiment.”   


The Hon. Major L.H.D. Fortescue was later killed in the battle of Diamond Hill.  De Passey wrote:

I felt very sorry, for death atones all injuries.


DE PASSEY ARRIVED in S.A. and on 10 September 1888, enlisted for five years in the Permanent Force Artillery as a Gunner with Regimental Number 82. He was quickly promoted to Bombardier (Corporal) and then just as quickly discharged on 31 October 1889 to take up an appointment as a Staff Sergeant with the SAMR (S.A. Mounted Rifles).   

In 1890, on 3 May, De Passey married Louisa Wegener, at St. Bede Church, Semaphore, near Port Adelaide.  They made a home in Kensington Park, with their son, Roy, who was born the same year.  

William de Passey (front centre laying on ground) Tea Tree Gully Mounted Rifles, c. 1897.

[From: AH Harris Collection.]

 

He continued in his chosen profession.  By the time he was selected as the Drill Instructor for the S.A. Contingent to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in London, he was a Warrant Officer First Class and was the Staff Sergeant-Major (drill instructor) to the SAMR.  His selection to the Contingent was popular, evidenced by the lengthy stories of his service in the newspapers, such as in The Advertiser, 23 April 1897.

ON HIS RETURN from England with his Diamond Jubilee 1897 Medal, De Passey was busy with a constant round of judging military sports, inspecting troops and conducting drills.  At Gumeracha, according to the Mount Barker and Southern Advertiser, 7 January 1898, De Passey acted as judge at the Gumeracha Military Sports and Picnic held on 3 January 1898.  

At Jamestown, in a report in The Agriculturalist and Review, 30 August 1898, De Passey shot with the Adelaide team against the Jamestown team in the morning, judged the competitions with Lieutenant [J.E.] Rowell in the day and in the evening, gave an exhibition of sword drill at the Grand Military Concert held at the Jamestown Institute.

A YEAR LATER the Boer War broke out.  De Passey was appointed as Instructor to the formation of the 2nd SAMR Contingent which was formed in December 1899 and served to May 1901.  De Passey went with it to South Africa as its Regimental Sergeant-Major.  He was commissioned in the field as a Lieutenant on 13 March 1901.

He was present at the whole fighting, including the operations in Cape Colony between de Aar and Priesca; took part in the advance from Bloemfontein to Komatapoorte; and was present at the actions at Brandtford, Vet River (5/6 May 1900), Johannesburg, Pretoria and Diamond Hill (11/12 June 1900); and the operations east of Pretoria, including the actions at Belfast (27 August 1900), Swatz Kopie, and Dulstrom.  

Captain Howland of the 1st S.A. Contingent, in a letter home from Koree Kloof on 1 May 1900 (not long after the 1st and 2nd S.A. Contingents joined up as part of one unit, The Australia Regiment), wrote:

Sergeant-Major De Passey was with me yesterday, and we were talking about our Mount Gambier dances, wishing we were at one again.


According to the Adelaide Observer, 22 February 1902, De Passey:

... served 15 months…..working on the veldt from Bloemfontein to Koomati Poort on Lord Robert’s march back to Pretoria, and afterwards in the Goswin Valley district, where he remained five months in charge of a detachment of South Australians at the front.  


De Passey’s memoirs recorded a curious incident at Komitia Poorte:

Just as we were leaving Komitia Poorte, Mr. Van Herden, General Botha’s private secretary, and his brother, came in and surrendered to us and we took them on with us in the train to Pretoria..... and [they] were released on parole.  I got a valuable memento of the War from Mr. Van Herden.  It was a Kruger Sovereign, one of 8000 struck and minted out of some of the last gold which left Johannesberg on the evacuation.  It was struck off at Machadorp and dated 1900 and was distributed among the Boer Leaders as a memento before President Paul Kruger left the Transvaal.  Mr. Van Herden had five of these sovereigns in his possession and he exchanged one of them with me for an ordinary Kruger sovereign…


For his service with the 2nd SAMR Contingent he was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with 5 clasps, with two further clasps being awarded after his second period of active service in South Africa.
ON 7 JUNE 1901 De Passey wrote a memo to the Commandant of the SAMF (S.A. Military Forces), requesting that he be allowed to retain his field rank of Lieutenant upon his return to Australia.  The memo noted his service as Drill Instructor and Staff Sergeant-Major for up to 12 years, with the whole training of the Mounted Branch under his supervision from 1889-1900.  Attached was a letter written on 11 August, 1900 by Major G.J. Reade, the Officer Commanding 2nd SAMR. This recommended De Passey:

...be granted a commission either just before or just after the return of the Contingent to the Colony.  


Initially it seemed that there would be no place for him.  A number of officers who had been commissioned in South Africa were also hoping to retain their rank, and there were not enough places for all of them in the new Commonwealth Military Forces.  When it appeared he would not be able to retain his rank some public sentiment weighed in.  The satirical magazine Quiz led on the subject with an article on 27 June 1901:

The staff office order which has been issued depriving Lt. W. De Passey of his commission is little short of rank snobbery.  Quite a howl has gone up in the ’dailies’ correspondence columns and Quiz trusts that the question will not be allowed to rest there.  It would be intensely interesting to know why Lt. De Passey has been deprived of his rank.  Is it on the score of an enemy or is it to forward the Federal preferment of military aspirants?  The two questions, of course, cannot be allowed to hang together…..Mr De Passey left South Australia as a Sergeant major and was made Lt. on the field of South Africa battle.  If he is fit to hold a Lieutenancy – and mind he gained it in a war – surely he is entitled to bear the honour when he returns home after the campaign…..What is good enough for the British Army on active service is not good enough for our khaki on a peace footing…..meanwhile it is a trifle nauseating to hear a lot of bloodthirsty stay-at-home, toothpick warriors who have never met a ball other than at Government House defending the action of the Staff Office…..   


By the time De Passey arrived back in Australia on the troopship Tongariro (after 1 year and 141 days away) during July 1901, the Staff Office caved in.  De Passey was commissioned as Lieutenant in the Military Forces of the Commonwealth of Australia from 24 July 1901. Colonel J.M. Gordon, the Commandant of the SAMF, was surprised to be commanded by the Duke of Cornwall during the Royal visit to Adelaide in July 1901 to give him information regarding the promotion of officers and others from Australia in South Africa.  The Duke especially mentioned De Passey:

…he appeared most anxious that the Warrant Officer and others promoted from the ranks…should not lose their commissions. 

This influence could not be ignored, although how the Duke came to know of De Passey’s case in particular is not known.

Receiving his Special War Gratuity and colonial officer gratuity of £137/10/- for service in South Africa, De Passey went back to routine soldiering.

The Border Watch 20 November 1901 noted Lieutenant De Passey as acting Staff Adjutant of the SAMR, visiting Mount Gambier to examine several candidates for N.C.O. rank in the Mount Gambier MR.  

ON 8 JANUARY 1902, De Passey was appointed for further service in South Africa with the 2nd ACH (Australian Commonwealth Horse).  He was selected to command ‘D’ Squadron, consisting of South Australians.  

The Adelaide Observer of 22 February 1902 said that De Passey:

‘…has the respect and esteem of every member of the force under his command, and is every inch a soldier.’  On his return to South Africa in late February 1902:

…..he served with the regiment until the conclusion of the war, taking part in Lieutenant-General Ian Hamilton’s last great drive, Lieutenant De Passey’s squadron taking the last prisoners of the war at Devondale, near Vryburg [in the Transvaal].


THE PROBLEM OF finding a position for De Passey occupied the minds of senior officers in the military establishment in Australia.  Again, his retrenchment as an officer was actively sought out by influential senior officers. De Passey’s interests in 1901 were saved by some high level interference and the support of Colonel Gordon.  Now some officers tried to discredit him personally.  While he was still in South Africa, De Passey was reported by the Commandant of Western Australia for being ‘under the influence’ at Port Fremantle on the day the 2nd ACH was leaving for South Africa.  An internal inquiry was conducted by Colonel J. Hoad, and Lieutenant-General Hutton, the G.O.C. (General Officer Commanding) the Australian Military Forces. They may have seen the report as an opportunity to have De Passey humiliated or at least retired early.  

 

The Minister of Defence, Sir John Forrest, points out the problems with the retrenchment of de Passey.

[Click on page for larger version.]

 

Subsequently, while still in South Africa, De Passey received a letter stating that he would have to retire on 31 December 1902: ‘…..consequent on the reduction ordered by the Government…..’ with a gratuity of one month’s pay for every year of permanent service. The letter made no mention of the Fremantle report.

However, the Commonwealth Minister for Defence heard of this and quietly intervened.  He called for a special report on De Passey.  The balance of this high authority interest in his impeccable war record, coupled with strong supporting letters defending De Passey and disputing the earlier reports of ‘conduct unbecoming’ from his Squadron officers, helped to scuttle the attack on his reputation.    

De Passey’s opponents did not give in to the Minister’s decision to retain De Passey without a fight.  As late as June 1903, objections were still being made.  Hutton, the G.O.C., objected:

I consider his retention in the military services of the Commonwealth to be distinctly detrimental to discipline.

Confidential reports on De Passey from Colonel J.M. Gordon (having to choose between De Passey and his General Officer Commanding, he chose the G.O.C.) and from Lieutenant-Colonel J.S. Lyster (‘…in my opinion he has not the sufficient educational qualifications or status to perform the duties of a staff officer.’) were made in support of Hutton’s rear-guard action. But they were to complain to no avail, especially when the Minister pointed out that it was Gordon who recommended De Passey so strongly for Lieutenant, so how could he now say that he was not suitable?  

Arriving home on the Norfolk in July 1902, De Passey was subsequently appointed as a Staff Officer to the Headquarters Staff, MR (‘provisionally’), was confirmed as a Lieutenant and Honorary Captain and as an Enrolling Officer in March 1903.  

IN MAY 1904, Lieutenant (and Honorary Captain) De Passey was appointed to the A&I (Administrative and Instructional) Staff of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth.  In July 1905 he was granted a two year extension of service on the A&I Staff, was promoted Captain on April 4, 1906, and granted a further extension of service in the A&I Staff from 1 July 1909.  He even gained a long entry in the prestigious Cyclopedia of S.A. in 1907, which in part informed:

He [is] a member of the Naval and Military Club, Adelaide, and … a past master of Moyston Lodge of Freemasons…

A medallion inscribed to Captain W. De Passey (‘Special School of Instruction Albury 1910-11 - Inauguration Universal Training’) gives another clue to his activities during the pre-WWI period. De Passey was subsequently promoted Major on 1 October 1911.  

WITH THE OUTBREAK of WWI, De Passey was placed, according to The Advertiser, 19 June, 1942:

‘…in command of the AIF camp [Mitcham] in South Australia.’ He was the swearing-in officer for S.A. enlistees in 1st A.I.F. and ‘Throughout hostilities Col. De Passey swore in no less than 38,000 men for service…’  


In WWI, his son Roy enlisted in October 1916 for the Tunneling Corps. Roy De Passey embarked for England in late 1917 and saw active service with the 3rd Australian Tunneling Company in Flanders.  He was made Lieutenant and returned to S.A. for discharge in July 1919.

IN NOVEMBER 1918, after several extensions of service beyond retirement age, De Passey was transferred to the retired list, with honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.  His rank was confirmed in 1921, with full Colonel following in his retirement year of 1922.

Little is known of his retirement years.  He took an active part in Anzac Day marches, visited his son and family in W.A. and no doubt kept an interest in the goings-on of military affairs in S.A. in particular.  He wrote his memoirs, but unfortunately only parts remain.  William De Passey, 81, of Kent Town, died 16 June 1942 and his wife Louise died, aged 82, on 5 February, 1947.

De Passey experienced a remarkable career.  He saw active service with the 17th Lancers in South Africa during the last Zulu War and in the Anglo-Boer War in S.A. and Commonwealth Contingents.  He fought staff and social prejudice to be commissioned on his merits. Above all, although controversial at times in the staff setting, he remained the consummate horseman and swordsman.  De Passey sensed his own importance in the scheme of things, yet he could also enjoy himself. Serving once more during WWI and achieving high rank, he proved himself to be a survivor who outlived most of his critics.  

 

Acknowledgement:  Reprinted with permission of the author, Andrew J. Kilsby, from Lions of the Day - The Colonial Contingents to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee 1897 - The South Australians, (Melbourne 2008). Copies of this book may be obtained directly from Andrew who may be currently contacted at:

kilsbya at optusnet dot com dot au

On this same theme, Andrew is currently researching for a PhD at UNSW@ADFA under the title Australian Defence and The Rifle Club Movement 1850-1926.  He would be interested to hear from anyone with information or interest around this topic. Please feel free to contact him.

  

Further Reading:

Philip Fargher

Militia - Rifle Clubs 

 


Citation: William De Passey

Posted by Project Leader at 11:21 AM EAST
Updated: Saturday, 17 January 2009 2:29 PM EAST

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