Questions and Answers

Defending Victoria


This page last updated -- 19 April 1999

Avenues of Honour

Historian Brian Rough of Brisbane (Brian's e-mail address) has advised there are Avenues of Honour in Brisbane. Are there any in the other States or in New Zealand. Can any visitors to the Defending Victoria website advise?.

Boer War Memorials in Victoria

Defending Victoria visitor Phil Taylor has done a study of Boer War Memorials. He advises that
there are 53 'Civic' memorials in the State. If tablet memorials are included, there would be 103.
He feels there could be more. There are 47 Civic Memorials in New South Wales. Copies of
Phil's study are in the History Faculty, Monash Uni, and the Australian War Memorial.

Australia's first VC winners ?

Historian Mark Clayton (Mark's e-mail address) of Hawkes Bay, NZ, has been following up a lead via Defending Victoria that an Australian seaman, Samuel Mitchell, serving on HMS Harrier won a VC at Gate Pa, Tauranga, NZ in 1864.. Mark has also located a source suggesting that another Australian, Surgeon WGN Manley RA, also may have been awarded a VC during the same action. Mark is researching this further.

Ian MacFarlane adds this update: there is a group photo including Surgeon Manley VC, now serving with the 12th Regiment at Tauranga in 1866, in the Auckland Public Library (reprinted in Montague, Ronald: Dress & Insignia of the British Army in Australia & New Zealand 1770-1870: Library of Australian History: Sydney: 1981: p. 114).


A VC expert has sent the following information to Mark Clayton:

'Samuel Mitchell was born in Bedforshire. He received his VC from the Governor of NSW in Sydney in 1864. Some years later on the way to NZ he lost his sea chest in Sydney including the VC. He died in NZ in 1894. The VC turned up and was bought by the family. It is now with the Auckland Institute and Museum.

[Note: Great Grandson Peter Mitchell states "The VC today is in the West Coast Historical Museum in Hokitika on the West Coast of the south Island of NZ; not in Auckland as stated]. [April 1999].

'Manly was born Ireland in 1831 and died in England in 1901. No known Australian connection. HOWEVER, did win the Iron Cross during the Frano Prussian War!

'Lt (later Col) Mark Sever Bell was born in NSW on 15 May 1843 and won the VC with the RE in the Ashanti War in 1874. It is belived he left Australia as an infant and neither he nor his family have ever claimed to be Australian. He died and is buried in England.

'We listed him in the 1986 edition of They dared mightly in the appendix with one other VC born in Australia (Born Victoria 1896 and won VC Gallipoli) and about a dozen or more VC winners who lived and died in Australia.

'Another RN/Australia/Maori War connection is Edward St John Daniel. Won the VC in the Crimea. The only officer to have his VC forfeited. (Desertion (RUN) but really liberties with midshipmen). He found his way to Melbourne where he enlisted for the Maori Wars and was with the NZ Police when he died of DTs'

Thanks to this correspondent who seems to have settled the matter!.

Australia's first overseas KIA and WIA

Mark Clayton (see above) has a special interest in trying to find out who was Australia's first killed in action, and wounded in action..The likelihood is that these events took place in New Zealand during the Land Wars. There are some indications that at least one of HMCSS Victoria's Naval Brigade at Taranaki, NZ, may have been wounded in 1860-1861 Certainly, soldiers recruited in Australia, comprising the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Waikato Regiments in 1864, suffered casualties.

Ian MacFarlane notes that there was a Victorian Contingent that went with the British 40th Regiment from Melbourne to New Zealand in 1860. He also suggests that it is possible there was a similar contingent that went in 1845 from NSW to New Zealand (during the uprising led by Hone Heke) with the British 58th Regiment.

Frank Noonan (see below) has passed on an article by Charles Vivian that appeared in the Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine (January 1997, p. 14). The article is titled `Who Remembers Midshipman Cymbeline Alonso Edric Huddart? The first native Australian to die of wounds in action' (in 1899, Boer War, South Africa). He was in the Royal Naval Brigade at Graspan.

A University of Malta student is seeking information, particularly photos of HMVS Cerberus.

Wayne from Malta is interested in the ship Cerberus (now a rusting breakwater in Port Phillip Bay). He can be contacted with information by e-mailing him Here

Frank Noonan is trying to compile a database of all who served in the Victorian Navy.

Preferably, he needs documentary information. Do you have a discharge certificate, notification of promotion, letters or photos? Send him a photocopy and whatever details you have: Frank Noonan, D Block, Victoria Barracks, St Kilda Road, Southbank Vic 3006.

A kind visitor has left information about the Light Horse.

"An excellent book is:

"Hooves, Wheels and Tracks" "A history of the 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse Regiment and its predecessors." by David Holloway: Published by the Regimental Trustees, 4th/19th PWLH Regiment. 1990. Printed by The Book Printer ISBN 0 7316 9042 7.

"The book covers the history of the regiment and its predecessors back to the early 1850's. It is a very comprehensive history. The Regiment is still in existance and its museum is worth contacting. The address will be at the Simpson Barracks Watsonia. It is in the phone book.

"One thing I was going to mention also was the unusual distinction that the 4th LH had during WW1 was that it served in both the western front and the Palestine at the same time (as the 4th), details in the book".

-- Another thing mentioned was the State Library of Victoria's searchable picture index. Here is the gateway link:

Check the `What's New Page' for a source for the above book!

Another recommended source: re Frank McNamara VC.

McNamara VC: A Hero's dilemma: By Coulthard-Clark: RAAF Heritage Series: AGPS: $ 16.

Ian MacFarlane notes this book is not currently available (28 January 1998) at the Commonwealth Government Bookshop, 190 Queen Street, Melbourne, Vic, 3000. They can order it in, though.

A Bookshop in Holland needs information.

"We are a bookshop in the northern part of Holland that has specialised in books on fortifications, bunkers and artillery. We are constantly looking for new books to add to our catalogue. Do you know of any books, magazines, videos, etc. on Australian fortifications. Here in Europe we know very little about Australian fortifications and coast defences. We buy and sell books all over the world and we are very interested in hearing from you in Australia and New Zealand Hope to hear from you soon!"

Rene Roede

Fortress Books - Holland

Email Rene here.

A visitor says there are photos of CSS Shenandoah in The Argus in 1865.

There will be more information about this as it comes to hand.

A family in New Zealand needs information about a Queensland Nurse in the Boer War.

Can anyone add to my reply to them?

Try to check a copy of this book which details nurses in the Boer war:
    Bassell, Jan: Guns and Brooches: Oxford University Press: 1992
I note that Queensland nurses are not listed in:
    Murray, Lt-Col P. L.: Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War In South Africa: Govt Printer, Melbourne:: c. 1911
Perhaps you could contact Ian Smith who is head of the research centre at the Australian War Memorial: Write to him c/o Information Services Section, Australian War Memorial, GPO box 345, Canberra, ACT 2601.
Good Luck!
They replied (19 March 1998):
Thank you for your offer to post our query on the Defending Victoria Website.
We have obtained a copy of Jan Bassett's book "Guns and Brooches" and her article "Turning-point Australian Nurses and the South African War". In Guns and Brooches (page 11) Jan writes that Tasmanian and Queensland nurses also offered their services, but neither colony sent nurses. .. Undeterred, a number of nurses from these colonies, including Lydia Mansfield and Beartice Huston, paid their own fares to South Africa...".
The first chapter of R.D.Goodman's book "Our War Nurses: The history of The Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps" also covers Australian Nurses in the Boer War.
Sheila Gray has published a record of the service in South Africa of Military and Civilian Nurses, Laywomen and Civilians. The publication is titled "The South African War 1899- 1902: Service Records of British and Colonial Women".(ISBN 0-473-01926-4).
In a letter Mrs Gray informed us that nearly 2000 female nurses are believed to have served in South Africa and her publication presents what is known of the service records of over 1,700 of them.
She has informed us that the information on my grandmother Rebecca A. Hinton was taken from 3 separate entries in the War Office records held in the Public Records Office in England. R.A.Hinton is shown as being an Australian nurse from Queensland and being a civil sister locally engaged.
Two other Queensland nurses are listed in the publication:
A.M.Chatfield and Beatrice Huston.
Nurses Chatfield and Hinton left Durban on 11 February 1901 and travelled by train to the 2nd General Hospital in Pretoria. From there they went to the 17th Stationary Hospital Middelburg.
In the book, "Letters From The Veldt: An Account of the Involvement of Volunteers from Queensland At the War In South Africa (Boer War) 1899-1903" by Len Harvey (ISBN 0646 199188), a letter on page 39, written by Nurse Beatrice Huston and titled "A Medal From the King" mentions that the train taking nurses Chatfield and Hinton to Pretoria was blown up.
Rebecca A. Hinton arrived in Natal on 17 December 1899. We presume she served as a nurse in Natal from December 1899 to February 1901.
In 1903 she married John Cecil Berry in Pretoria. They left South Africa with their two chidren around 1907.
Rebecca had a brother, John Edward Hinton, who was with the Victorian Military force before transferring to the Queensland Defence Force. He was from 1882 to 1925 Superintendent of the Brisbane Metropolitian Fire Brigade.
Any information on Rebecca A Hinton when she was in Australia and South Africa would be greatly appreciated. We are also interested in learning about her family and the Boer war. John C.Berry was with Thorneycroft Mounted Infantry and the Railway Contingent.
If you consider it appropriate we would be grateful if you posted our query on the Defending Victoria Website.
Kind Regards
E-mail your help to them here

Graham J. Whitehead needs info about the Victorian Rangers' 3rd Bn., G Coy.

This unit was stationed at Cheltenham. Graham writes:

'The residents of Moorabbin erected a memorial to "perpetuate the noble deeds of our Moorabbin boys ... who volunteered and fought for the Empire in the South African War 1899-1902."

'The polished red granite memorial on a black basalt base is now found in the Cheltenham Park but was originally on the north west corner of Nepean Highway and Chesterville Road where it was placed in 1904 and unveiled by Sir Thomas Bent, at that time Premier of Victoria. Originally it had two handsome circular glass enclosed gas lamps and a bronze drinking fountain as part of its construction but these are now lost.

'There are forty seven soldiers named on the memorial and of those four died. One at Rustenburg, one at Elandshock and a third at Wilmansrust. The place of death of the fourth trooper is not given.. .'

E-mail Graham here

An artillery buff seeks old photos of WW1 Trophy guns.

E-mail him here

A Visitor needs information about the S.Af. Regiment 'Bethune's Mounted Infantry'.
I have been trying to trace my father's brother - Charles Griffiths. I understand he was in both the Boer War and WW1. I have his record for WW1 but cannot get any information on the Boer War. Wrote to the war office but they replied he was not with Australian troops.
He was working with Melbourne tramways and from the history they supplied, he was given leave of absence to go to the Boer war from 7.7.1900 to 5.12.01 when he returned showing a discharge certificate with rank of corporal. The family always understood he was awarded a gallantry medal whilst in South Africa. He served with Bethune's Mounted Infantry.
The only personal details I have are = date of birth, 9.11.1879, Bristol, England, migrating to Australia about 1889.
Would be wonderful if you could provide some information. Many thanks in advance.
Email Lawrie here
Ian MacFarlane replied (17 September 1998):
Got hold of a nominal roll for Bethune's Mounted Infantry:
Griffiths, Charles Regt No. 1160, A Squadron, Rank: Trooper (later Cpl.) enlistment 14 Aug 1900, Next of Kin: Harry Griffiths, 32 Berry Street, Clifton Hill, Victoria Australia.
Hope this is a good start.

A US Visitor needs help with an unusual query 
I am an American, 38 years old. I stand 6'10" tall. I get my height from my great grandfather who was 6'8" tall. His name is Peter J. Visser. I was told Visser was an officer in the Boer War. He carried a riding crop with him at all times. After the war he went to the States and was a sharpshooter in Annie Oakleys Wild West show. This is all I know of this man. Can you verify any of this information. Could you please provide me with any possible information leads.
Thank You,
Scott W. Doll
ianmac replied: Peter J. Visser is NOT listed in the index to the officers of Australian Contingents to the Boer War. There were, however, many British and Colonial regular and irregular regiments...
Email Scott here

A NSW Visitor needs help with a Cerberus query 
One of my correspondents has just mentioned that Cerberus, as she stands, or rests, whatever, only has three guns on board. My recollection is that there are/were four. Can you comment?
Email Bob here

Thanks a lot for your help re my query. Would you please go ahead & see if any one has any info.on the 5th Pioneer Bttn. on your visitors page. Also if you wouldnt mind letting me know if you could help re. HMAS Sydney . I have just started researching my Uncle who was on the Sydney when she was lost in 2nd War. His name was Donald Ross & he was a P.O.Steward. Do you have any clues ? Once again thanks for your interest.
Email James here

A US query about HMAS Australia.

Is the sunken battlecruiser Australia still on the sea floor , or was it later raised and scrapped ? I've read conflicting reports (seemingly not uncommon in the naval history world I inhabit !)

Email Brian here

A Visitor needs help with a Border Police query 
We need information about an ancestor James Campbell Cameron and his wife Theresa Henty. We understood that he had served with the Vic Police but more recently understand that the British Forces were often called the Border Police.
We know that the second child was born at Moama on the NSW/Vic border in 1854. Is it possible that James served with one of the regiments you describe and that we could get lists of those serving and where?
There is a family story that he was involved in the search for Mad Dog Morgan the bushranger, so that is another line of research that I will have to explore.
Ian MacFarlane replied that the Border Police existed in Port Phillip between 1839-1848, and that the force consisted mainly of British soldiers (including, later, some who had committed crimes punishable by transportation). He was unable to assist further. Can any visitor help?
Email Doug here

A South African Visitor needs help with Boer War postal items (posted Jan 1999)
I am trying to put together an interesting accumulation of postal history around the Boer War and would in particular like to purchase postal items from the Australian contingents as these are few. Any help will be appreciated. I am willing to pay market related prices Bernard du Plessis P.O.Box 1346 Alberton 1450 Republic of South Africa. 
Email Bernard here





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