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Friday, 20 February 2004
Off to the war, Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1899
Topic: BW - Boer War

Australian Contingents for South Africa

Embarkation of the NSW Contingent, October 1899


The troops marching along Oxford Street, Paddington.

[From: The Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1899, p. 39.] 


The following is an extract from the newspaper Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1899, p. 13.





The steamer Kent embarked 131 passengers on Saturday, including 38 of the Lancers and 91 of the Army Medical Corps, but there could not have been more enthusiasm if the occasion had been the sending off of a whole army corps. This demonstration seems out of proportion if we look at the mere practical side of the matter, for, of course, the sending away of 129 soldiers is a small affair when compared with the size of the forces engaged in the war, but the people have not looked at the question in the cold light of numbers. It is a matter of emotion, and the actual efficacy, of the small number is thus lost sight of. It has been thought the proper thing to express sympathy with Great Britain in the war in the Transvaal, and if the Home authorities had chosen to fix the number at ten times what they did the response would, no doubt, have been cheerful and complete. The demonstration on Saturday was, therefore, of significant value as a sign of public approval of the action of Parliament in sending the troops.

The troops were formed up at the Victoria Barracks. Altogether there must have been 1500 men on the ground. Major Bayly formed them up in regimental rotation. First came the R.A.A. (Field and Garrison), the New South Wales P. P. Artillery. (Field), the Lancers, the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Regiments; the Submarine Miners, the Engineers, the National Guard, the Army Service Corps, and the Army Medical Corps. With the Permanent Artillery Band in the centre of the ground, the rest of the troops were ranged round the asphalted parade ground, with the men of the Lancer contingent and the Army Medical Corps, who were to embark on board the Kent nearest to the Barrack gates. After them came the Police Band, and then the rest of the troops.

Just as 2 o'clock had struck a loud cheering was heard at the gates. The Governor, accompanied by Mayor Lindsay, A.D.C., the Archbishop of Sydney, with whom were the Rev. North Ash (chaplain to the forces), the Rev. Wallis MO, the Rev. J. Rose, the Rev. Dill-Macky, the Rev. Mr. Wilkinson, and the Rev. E. T. Beck, Mr Lyne, Mr. Wise, Mr. O'Sullivan, and Mr. See (Minister for Defence) drove onto the ground, where Colonel Mackenzie, Colonel Airey and Colonel Bayly received them. It was a most brilliant spectacle that must have caught the eyes of the visitors. The black square, embroidered with a deep fringe of scarlet, blue, yellow, and reddish-brown, edged with steel, tossing plumes, the shine of brass instruments, and at the back of it all the darker edge of civilians, was quite metamorphosed from its ordinary severe aspect.


The heavy squall drenched everyone and flooded the streets.

[From: The Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1899, p. 39.] 


But, just as the distinguished party took up a position near the Artillery Band, immediately in front of the contingent in honour of which all this was being done, a heavy squall of wind and rain began to drive across the ground. In a minute everyone without a coat or umbrella was wet to the skin, and very few had coats. The Governor in a light suit, with an umbrella, fared just as badly as the ordinary onlooker with ditto. The ladies in white dresses (from the High school) suffered severely. Even as the rain commenced they presented the silver bugle to the Lancers - and did it with the most seeming promptitude, too. Major Lee briefly acknowledged the gift, and said it would always remind his regiment of the esteem and admiration of their fair friends in Sydney. Giving the bugle to a bugler, the latter blew long, clear, and loud, the Lancers' call to action.

The band struck up the hymn, "O, God! Our Help in Ages Past," and many of the onlookers joined in. Verse succeeded verse, while the pitiless rain fell, and turned everything to misery. The troops were wet through; most of the spectators were in a similar condition, and still the hymn went on. At last the A.A.G. could stand it no longer. Riding forward he held up his hand and the band stopped. "I told you twice before to stop!" he shouted above the rain and wind. Two long prayers and a lengthy harangue to those about to depart followed, till even the Governor, who was sheltering the form of the Archbishop beneath his umbrella, looked volumes. For the rain abated not a jot.

At last the Archbishop himself advanced, and in a voice of great emotion, pronounced the beautiful and solemn "Benediction." Then followed "God Save the Queen," sung by everyone.

Then, at last, the troops moved off, headed by the Governor in his carriage; the band of the R.A.A. stepped out manfully to "Soldiers of the Queen;" then came the Lancers, their light-brown uniforms dark with moisture, and the pennons on e lances hanging limp and sullen. Followed the Army Medical Corps; then came the Permanent Artillery, the P.P. Artillery (all companies), and the Police Band. Their tune was "The Union Jack." Next came more Lancers, and recently another band, that of the 1st Regiment, laying "Take Off Our Hats to the Queen." Third Regiment followed; then came the band of the 2nd Regiment ("Britannia the Pride of the Ocean"), then the 2nd Regiment; next the Submarine Miners and Engineers, and then the Scots pipers. Their band (silent) came next, followed by the Scots College boys, under Captain Levitus, and then the "Dandy Fifth" themselves. The Australians (6th) succeeded (the band playing "Sons of the Sea"), and close up came the 7th, with the Old Tune of the Old Line-"The British Grenadiers."


The Scottish Rifles.

[From: The Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1899, p. 24.]  


The 8th (Irish) Regiment followed, and was succeeded by the National Guard, headed by Sir George Dibbs. The Army Service Corps brought up the rear of the procession, that must have been over a quarter of a mile long - and the very last man who stepped, through the gate was Major Bayly, with a wet jacket, but also with a load of responsibility off his mind. And then the city took up the tale.

Though the day was wet the streets were crowded. The troops left the Victoria Barracks precisely at 3 o'clock, and the appearance of the contingent was the signal for loud cheering, which, indeed, was continued almost unceasingly along the line of route - Oxford Street, by way of Bourke, William, and Park Streets to Pitt Street, and thence to the Quay. In several places in Oxford and William streets strings of bunting, dampened by the pouring rain, drooped across the roadway, while
several private houses made loyal displays of British colours.

During, the several hours which preceded the time set down for the embarkation, crowds gathered around the approaches of the Quay, at the lower end of Pitt Street. From the middle of the Quay thoroughfare to the large iron gates of the German Steamship Company's Wharf, picket fence barricades had been erected, so that the crowed, thus restrained, formed an avenue, through which the soldiers could march to the roadway which skirts the wharves. By half-past 1 o'clock, many thousands had gathered, while thousands more were making their way to the spot from all approaches. All the available coigns of vantage on surrounding high buildings were availed of. The roof and windows of the fire station, at the corner of George Street, were crowded. So were the hotel balconies in the neighbourhood. The high platforms on the wharves, the fences which surrounded them, every ledge, in fact, which would bear the weight of or furnish foothold for a human being had its living freight. The long wait was, under the circumstances, somewhat tedious.

At last the troops arrived, and there was wave after wave of cheering. The departing troops lost no time in getting aboard, and there were then the unavoidable farewell scenes to be got through. At last these were finished, and the steamer moved from the wharf, on her way down the harbour. She cast anchor off Double Bay, and got finally away at 6 a.m. on Monday.


The Australian Rifles.

[From: The Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1899, p. 24.] 


The total of passengers on board the Kent is 131, being 38 of the Lancers, 91 of the A.M.C., a Veterinary surgeon (Veterinary-Surgeon Lieutenant F. W. Melhuish), and a war correspondent (Mr. A. B. Paterson., of the "Sydney Morning Herald"). The total of horses is 152, being 131 for the Lancers, 49 for the A.M.C., and 2 for the war correspondent. There was also an uncontemplated passenger. Mr. S. Hordern, of Darling Point, kindly placed four pigeons belonging to himself and Mr. J. Wright, of Sussex-street, members of the Homing Pigeon Society, on board the Kent on Sunday, taking them in his yacht. One of the pigeons returned to Mr. Wright's place at Sussex Street about 8 o'clock on. Monday morning, with the following message from the ship:-

"Kent, 7.15 a.m.-Strong head wind, fairly heavy sea, vessel very steady, horses doing well. P.M.O. reports all well. Stowaway discovered on board -West, 14, Hurstville, apprentice Biddell Brothers, under bunks since Saturday, no food. He wishes to find his mother, who is a nurse in England, and is going with troops to Africa. P.M.O. suggests he" is the 'Little Boy at Manly." Fittings of ship, are apparently perfect, and horses right forward and aft are travelling well. Old mare that left sick now improving. All well on board. Consider we have made auspicious start. No ill effects from Saturday's wetting. Men send best wishes to those who are to follow."

A luncheon was given by Mr. Cox, one of the directors of the agents of the Kent, in the North German Lloyd's shed., Circular, Quay, at which over 500 persons were present, including the Governor, Premier, Mayor, and Primate. Patriotic speeches were made, and the toast of "The New
South Wales Contingent" was duly honoured.

Following is the personnel of that portion of the contingent which departed by the Kent:


The NSW Lancers Contingent.

[From: The Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1899, p. 27.] 



Captain and Temporary Major G.L. Lee.
Lieutenant G.H. Allan.
Lieutenant C.W.F.P. Roberts.
Lieutenant R.M. Heron.
W.O. C.E. Fisher.
S.S.M. W. Winch.
Sergeant C. Williams.
Sergeant A. Livingston.
Trumpeter A. V. Taylor.
Trumpeter W. Papworth.
S.S. W. Mullard.
Trooper E. Lee.
Trooper C. Fiaschi.
Trooper R.M. Johnson.
Trooper G. Whittington.
Trooper W. G. Moon.
Trooper L.D. Tunks.
Trooper J.W. Muir.
Trooper A.W.G. M'Millan.
Trooper H.A. Artlett.
Trooper A.B. Pettigrew.
Trooper G.W. Davey.
Trooper W. Stewart.
Trooper G.E.L. Ramsay.
Trooper J.A. Weston.
Trooper J. Elliott.
Trooper K. M'Pherson.
Trooper L. Fetting.
Trooper C. Lamb.
Trooper A. A. Burgin.
Trooper E. Wilson.


Trooper H. Sandon.
Trooper A. Robinson.
Trooper G. Bell.
Trooper W. M. Ellis.
Trooper W. Chapman.
Trooper L. H. Griffiths.
Trooper A. T. Bowman.


The New South Wales Army Medical Corps Contingent.

[From: The Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1899, p. 27.] 



Colonel W.D.C. Williams.
Captain and Temporary Major T.H. Fiaschi.
Captain R. Roth.
Captain T. A. Green.
Captain A. E. Perkins.
Lieutenant T. M. Martin.
W.O. P. Mason, Permanent A.M.C.
Sergeant R. Eberling, Permanent A.M.C.
Sergeant J. Rose, Permanent A.M.C.
Sergeant T. Render, Permanent A.M.C.
Private H. Rigden, Permanent A.M.C.
Private J. Harrison, Permanent A.M.C.
W.O. J. Bond, Permanent Staff.
Q.M.S. J.H. Mills, A.M.C.
Sergeant Major D. Hadfield, A.M.C.
Sergeant A.J. Hindmarsh, A.M.C.
Bugler A. Blair, A.M.C.
Bugler W. Davis, A.M.C.
Private W. Cousens, A.M.C.
Private P.F. Walker, A.M.C.
Private G. Daggar, A. M. C.
Private E. M'Kinley, A. M. C.
Private F. Kenny, A. M. C.
Private A. S. Tait, A.M.C.
Private F. Goodhall, A.M.C.
Private R. Parkhill, A.M.C.
Private F. Aitken, A.M.C.
Private J. Hannah, A.M.C.
Private H. Longbottom, A.M.C.
Private E. Widgery, A.M.C.
Private A. Midgley, A.M.C.
Private H.P. Legge, A.M.C.
Private O. Levido, A.M.C. (Reserve).
Private F. Blackall, A.M.C. (Reserve).
Private G. Newton, A.M.C. (Reserve).
Private A.F.W. Maters, A.M.C. (Reserve).
Private G. Stratton, A.M.C. (Reserve).
Sergeant W. Walpole, R.A.A. (Field).
Driver J. H. Easby, R.A.A. (Field).
Driver H. Norris, R.A.A. (Field).
Driver F. Timmins, R.A.A. (Field).
Driver J. Green, R.A.A. (Field).
Driver W. Gill, R.A.A. (Field).
Driver Colbourne, R.A.A. (Field).
Driver W. Goole, R.A.A. (Field).
Driver J. Maund, R.A.A. (Field).
Driver G. Rose, "C" Battery, N.S.W.A. Regiment.
Driver D: M. Cronin, "C" Battery, N.S.W.A. Regiment.
Driver W., T. C. Colliver, "B" Battery, N.S.W.A. Regiment.
Driver G. Downey, "C" Battery, N.S.W.A. Regiment.
Driver J. Louden, "C" Battery, N.S.W.A. Regiment.
Driver A. Inman, "C" Battery, N.S.W.A. Regiment.
Private F. Harkness, R.A.A. (Garrison).
Private J. Riglesford, R.A.A. (Garrison).
Private E. Hitchens, R.A.A. (Garrison).
Private A. Russell, R.A.A. (Garrison).
Private L. Strong, R.A.A. (Garrison).
Private W.D. Lewis, 1st Regiment.
Private J. Oram, 2nd Regiment.
Private A. Shapter, 2nd Regiment.
Private J. Connolly, 2nd Regiment.
Private F. Tawnley, 2nd Regiment.
Private J. Healy, 2nd Regiment.
Private R. Walton, 2nd Regiment.
Private O. Stanton, 3rd Regiment,
Private A. Dargin, 6th Regiment.
Private J. Fraser, 5th Regiment.
Private E. M'Namara, A.S.C.
Private A. J. H. Gray, A.S.C.
Private W. Collins, N.B.
Private M'Naughton, N.B.
Private H. Warren, N.A.V.
Private G. Willey, R.A.A. (Field).
Private F. Smith, R.A.A. (Field).
Private G. Dart.
Private J.S. Howarth.
Private A. Matheson, R.A.A. (Garrison).
Private W. Blestowe.
Private C. White, R.A.A. (Garrison).
Private J. Donnellan.
Private G. Schofield, Police.
Private E. Chamberlain, Police.
Private J. Henry, Police.
Private G. Selmes, Police.
Private I. Goodsell, Police.
Private A. Justin, Police.
Private C. Lindfleld, Police.
Private H.I. Ranson, Submarine Miners.
Private T. Cox, Submarine Miners.
Private C. Harrison, A.M.C.
Private F. C. Airey.

Loading the horses onto the Kent.
[From: The Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1899, p. 39.]



Further Reading:

Boer War, 1899 - 1902 

South African (Second Boer) War, 1899 - 1902, Australian Forces, Roll of Honour 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Off to the war, Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1899

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 27 April 2010 11:17 AM EADT

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A note on copyright

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre is a not for profit and non profit group whose sole aim is to write the early history of the Australian Light Horse from 1900 - 1920. It is privately funded and the information is provided by the individuals within the group and while permission for the use of the material has been given for this site for these items by various donors, the residual and actual copyright for these items, should there be any, resides exclusively with the donors. The information on this site is freely available for private research use only and if used as such, should be appropriately acknowledged. To assist in this process, each item has a citation attached at the bottom for referencing purposes.

Please Note: No express or implied permission is given for commercial use of the information contained within this site.

A note to copyright holders

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has made every endeavour to contact copyright holders of material digitised for this blog and website and where appropriate, permission is still being sought for these items. Where replies were not received, or where the copyright owner has not been able to be traced, or where the permission is still being sought, the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has decided, in good faith, to proceed with digitisation and publication. Australian Light Horse Studies Centre would be happy to hear from copyright owners at any time to discuss usage of this item.


Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

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