AUSTRALIA ~ The Antipodes

AUSTRALIA ~ The Antipodes
I love a sunburnt country / A land of sweeping plains / Of ragged mountain ranges / Of droughts and flooding rains / I love her far horizons / I love her jewel-sea / Her beauty and her terror / The wide brown land for me / ~ Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968)


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Drayton Grange" Shame

23,000 Australians served in the Boer War of 1899-1902 out of a then population of 3.5 million - a large proportion of young souls.
Yet this is the only substantial memorial for them on the peninsula (or anywhere?) - apart from a sign in Memorial Park, Mornington.
It is at Sorrento cemetery on the southern end of the Mornington Peninsula.
And this is really a memorial symbolising shame and drama - after the Boer War.
The SS Drayton Grange was The Last Boer War Troopship Home.
(The Drayton Grange was originally launched as a frozen meat freighter in 1901!)
42 officers and 1918 troopers rushed on board without medical checks.
It was a vermin-infested, crowded ship with no disinfection available.
Lieutenant Colonel Lyster had no control of the troops.
The weather was continually wet and cold; ventilators were kept closed for warmth.
In short, the ship was a sea of chaos.
The ship was refused landing in Albany Western Australia - could not deal with the range of sicknesses - and so finally landed at Fort Franklin, Portsea.
By the time the ship landed finally in Sydney, 15 troopers had died.
(All belonged to the Commonwealth Horse Units - from various states - and were in the Transvaal and Natal regions of Africa. No one from these units died from war injuries in Africa.
Ref: Australian Contingents to the Boer War.)
The situation sparked a Royal Commission, but senior officers were not compelled to give evidence.
No one was blamed.

Sign near the memorial

Of the names mentioned on this memorial:
Edward Percy Barton was a drover from Charleville, Queensland.
Archibald Humphries and Henry Sherringham were both labourers from Comnock via Molong, New South Wales. Ref: Remember Them: A Guide to Victoria's Wartime Heritage
Yet on the sign above, it states that 4 were troopers in the Victorian battalions, and only McFarlane came from a N.S.W. battalion.

On March 2, 2012, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a Boer War national memorial has finally been designed.
It will be built in Canberra.
The $4million cost has still to be met.

NOTE: Fort Franklin is now Portsea Camp or Lord Mayor's Children's Camp.
Original barrack buildings have been retained.
It is spread over 3 hectares.

Discarded spirits
Disorientated souls
Wait for some respect

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Maude Lynn said...

What a tragedy!

Sylvia K said...

Such a sad story and unfortunately all of our countries have had similar things happen at one time or another to those who serve. A very moving post for the day, Gemma!


hamilton said...

As time marches on, the community at large tends to forget about these wars that were not WWl or WWll. There was a considerable contribution of Australian and Canadian willing to fight in these wars of our infancy as nations.

Jim said...

Great post.

Sallie ( said...

So sad -- like our country, we have some sad history to remember and rue.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

An unfortunate tale to be sure.

biebkriebels said...

A sad story as all war stories are in a way. A waste of lives which had to be lived in peace. And it goes on and on, it never stops. People don't learn of the past.

Julie said...

I had not heard of the tragedy of the 'Drayton Grange' prior to this, Gemma.

You query (I think) if there are other memorials to veterans of the Boer War. I can think of three in Sydney, all of which are outside cemeteries, and do not have graves attached.

There is one on South Head to an individual soldier. I have shots of this somewhere, so will go hunt them out.

There is another on Observatory Hill overlooking the harbour bridge which is a tribute to all categories of resource that Australia contributed to the fighting.

A third memorial to this war is within Centennial Park and is two guns that were used by troops during the war.

I have shots of all three ... somewhere. I will sus them out and see what I can come up with.

O h ... just thought. There is another. There are plaques down on the sandstone escarpment which rings the Opera House forecourt (and ontop of which runs the Tarpeian Way). These plaques pay tribute to the troops who left from this spot to go to the Boer War.

Thanks for this opening of my eyes, Gemma.

Gene said...

A sad bit of history. The Boer Wars rarely make it into American history books for schools, even as a passing mention.

Unknown said...

Edward Percy Barton was my Great Uncle and Archibald Humphries is I think my wife's Great Uncle,her maiden name was Humphries. I only discovered that they were both on the memorial while researching my uncle and noticed the name Humphries. We were married seventy years after the tragedy of the Drayton Grange. D.Simonsen



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