The Defending Victoria website has been online since 1997. It is updated regularly.
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        Image kindly provided by Domenico Sansotta

 Enrolled February 1901
Departed for South Africa on 15 February 1901
Establishment: 46 Officers, 971 Other Ranks with 1099 horses
Mobilised at Pretoria: 24 March -- 4 April 1901
Typical company: 1 Captain, 4 Lieutenants,
1 company sergeant-major, 1 company quartermaster-sergeant,
1 sergeant-farrier, 1 sergeant-saddler, 5 sergeants, 6 corporals,
3 shoeing-smiths, 3 saddlers, 1 bugler, 99 privates.
Total in company: 126 with 131 horses.
Engagements: Rhenoster Kop, Klippan, Kornfontein,
Drivelfontein, Wilmansrust, Kambuladraai,
H'Lobane, Luchiel's Nek, Loch's Kraal,
Vryheid, Onverwacht, Johnston Hoek
Killed in action (or died): six Officers, 48 Other Ranks
VC Winner: Lieut. L. C. Maygar
(Geelhoutboom, Natal, 23 November 1901)

Lord Kitchener's telegram of farewell:
To Officer Commanding, 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles
11 March 1902, Cape Town
Please Convey to Australians my warm appreciation of their gallant and arduous service in this country. In the name of the Army in South Africa, I wish them good luck and God speed.
Photo of Col. Otter Colonel A. E. Otter (left) Commanded the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles
until 18th May 1901. He was awarded the Queen's Medal with three clasps.


Born near Kilmore, Victoria, Leslie Maygar grew up to be a fine horseman. At nearly 6ft, he sported a Kitchener moustache and lean, good looks. He joined the Victorian Mounted Rifles in 1891. Among the first Victorians to volunteer for the Boer War, he was turned down because of dental problems. But he managed to joined the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles. He won the Victoria Cross on 23 November 1901 when he rescued a fellow Victorian under heavy enemy fire.

He became a grazier at Euroa after the war, but also served in the Victorian Mounted Rifles in the 8th (later 16th) Light Horse. He was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain in 1905. When the 1st World War broke out in 1914, he was appointed as Captain in the 4th Light Horse. At Gallipoli, he was promoted to Major, and, in 1915, was given command of the 8th Light Horse. During the epic withdrawal from Gallipoli, he was left in command of the last forty men to be left in the trenches. This he felt was just part of his `usual good luck'.

Maygar VC led the 8th Light Horse during the Sinai and Palestine campaigns. On the same day as the famous Beersheba charge of the Light Horse (31 October 1917), now an acting Brigadier-General, he was bombed and machine-gunned by an enemy aircraft. Not found until after nightfall, he was weakened by loss of blood and died the next day.

L. C. Maygar was affectionately known by his men as `Elsie' Maygar.


Uniform of the Victorian Mounted Rifles  Uniform of the Victorian Mounted Rofles, 1897.
From a sketch by Lt-Gen. Sir Carl Jess in Uniforms of the Australian Colonies:
(Festburg and Videon): Hill of Content Publishing, Melbourne: 1971. Used here
with permission.

 Private Mark Lowenthal's son

Private Mark Lowenthal (No. 1353) served in the Boer War with the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles. His service was unremarkable, but he survived the war, without being wounded, and returned to Melbourne.

His son William Lowenthal, however, had a distinguished career as a Melbourne footballer. William played for The Bombers (Essendon) between 1930-35 and 1937 -- 73 games, 14 goals. He played for Fitzroy in 1937, 13 games, one goal. He was rated as one of the best half-back flankers of his time. He represented the State of Victoria in the 1933 Carnival [The encyclopedia of League Footballers].

Information kindly supplied by Frank Noonan.

Soldier Profile: No. 973, Shoeing-Smith Fred Martin

John Frederick Martin was born at Cressy, Tasmania in late 1874 or early 1875. When he was five, the family moved to Melbourne in 1881. Fred, after the death of his father and family difficulties,was sent to live with a family atTalbot in the goldfields district.

He later became a blacksmith. He was a handsome 26-year-old when the Boer War broke out, and he enlisted in the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles as a Shoeing-Smith. In South Africa he was mainly based at Dundee, Natal. At that time the column to which 5VMR was attached patrolled between Vryheid and the photo of J. F. MarinTransvaal. The Contingent, like many other Australian units suffered from the harsh conditions. Shoeing-Smith Martin endured sleeping in mud and bogs without blankets or a tent. He contracted rheumatic fever and was returned to Australia on a hospital ship, arriving on the day the war in South Africa ended -- 31 May 1902. He was discharged on 14 July 1902 and returned to Talbot.

His health never recovered. He worked for a time as a wood merchant. Always looking for work and on the move, the family moved to Forrest, the small time logging town in the Otways.

Fred developed Tuberculosis, and the family had to move to various Melbourne addresses. He died in 1916 at the age of 42. He is buried with his wife Josephine (who survived him until 1943) at the Coburg Cemetery.

This information provided by his proud grand-daughter Vivienne Jones, who says: `Unfortunately there is no one left alive today who knew him personally'.

No. 1552 Private Percy Dargie, and Private John Edge

Photo of Percy Dargie 
Privates Percy Dargie (seated)
and John Edge of 5VMR at
Vryheid in 1901. Photo provided
by Dargie's proud grand-daughter-
in-law Brenda Dargie.

Captain (later Major) Charles Hutton
Served in operations in Transvaal, Orange River Colony and Cape Colony 1901-2. Queen's medal with four clasps. He commanded the Right Wing of the Regiment at Vryheid, H'lobane, and Reit Vlei and during the move into Zululand.
Captain Hutton   Charles Hutton

Captain Charles Hutton in South Africa. Immediately prior to departure for Australia, he was promoted Major and placed in command of the Regiment. Photos provided by his proud grandson, Andy Hutton. Charles Hutton also served in WW1. John Battista, another proud grandson, in 2010, identified his grandfather, Pte. Albert Winter No. 869, from a family photograph identical to the one above (left), as the soldier holding the Captain's horse.


No. 1275 Private Charles Watson Hedley
        Charles Heldley
Underaged Charles Hedley enlisted
using his older brother John's name.
He was then, on 24 January 1901,
a labourer living at 78 Arden Street
North Melbourne. The photo was
taken at Edwardtown, South Africa. I
nformation provided by his proud
great great grand neice Ann-Maree

No. 1245 Private J.V.O'Farrell
John O'Farrell photo    
John Victor O'Farrell. He earned
a QSA medal (shown here) and
KSA, with clasps for Transvaal,
Orange Free State & Cape Colony.
Photo provided by his proud grand
neice Lynette Prislan.

Monument to 5VMR

The largest Boer-War Monument in Australia commemorates the service
of a single unit---the Victorian 5th Contingent, Victorian Mounted Rifles.
The unit suffered the worst casualties of any Australian Contingent. Most
of these occurred in the disastrous action at Wilmansrust, Central Transvaal.
Falsely and foolishly accused of cowardice, three members of the unit later
were court-martialled and sentenced to death for refusing to serve under their
principal accuser British Major-General S. B. Beatson. Supreme Commander
Lord Kitchener had to intervene and commute the death sentences.
Photo of detail of monument.
The inscription on the monument reads "Erected by members of the 5th
Victorian Contingent, VMR, in memory of their FALLEN COMRADES
in South Africa, 1901-2".
Thus a proud Contingent, tainted and stung by unfair criticism, erected
this grandest of memorials to their fallen mates.
It is located on the eastern side of St Kilda Road, South Melbourne,
adjacent to Victoria Barracks.
Photo of memorial                Detail of memorial
Boer War memorial to Sgt Maj Albert Houghton at Inverleigh, out of Geelong
on the Hamilton Highway. Photos provided by Brad Storey.
About the Fifth Victorian Mounted Rifles
Australian War Memorial

National Archives of Australia (Victoria)

Public Record Office Victoria

Books about Australia's part in the Boer War
(have a peek without leaving this site)


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