Boer War Memorial Society WA
Welcome to our first Boer War Memorial Society WA ( BWMSWA) newsletter, Firstly thank you to our Secretary and Paul for producing a welcome read to our Alumni which provides a vehicle for our membership to keep in touch and allow the opportunity to disseminate further information and photos on the Boer War , especially Western Australian involvement.
That thousands of Australians volunteers crossed the Indian Ocean to fight in the Boer War of 1899-1902 is now viewed with puzzlement. Why should events in two Boer republics so concern them? And yet most Australians at the time believed that they had every reason to be concerned with what went on in up-country South Africa. One reason was simple. Many former Australians lived under Boer rule, a rule that most saw as oppressive. In fact, so many Victorians then lived in Johannesburg that Aussie Rules football briefly thrived there. Two later prime ministers of Australia, John Curtin and Ben Chifley, married women with South African connections. Australia’s once strong ties with South Africa havenow slipped from public memory.
On the 5 June 2016 the dedication service at the Boer War Memorial at Kings Park that is not only a
commemoration but also reconciliation was well attended. The interest and family connection among West Australians with the Boer War is gaining interest that has allowed the BWMS WA growth. The service was held with limited funds but this did not detract from the growing interest and patronage on the day. It was pleasing to see a growing number of politicians, dignitaries, related organisations, families with Boer War connection and new attendees. It is important to note that the Boer War was also the first significant war fought by people who called themselves Australians. It is now almost forgotten that South Africa, in a minor way, was a training ground for Gallipoli and other campaigns in the First World War. Indeed, one Australian soldier who had won the Victorian Cross in South Africa was to be severely wounded at Gallipoli in 1915, and another winner was to be killed at Beersheba in 1917.
On Sunday 4 June 2017 the commemoration and reconciliation shall be held, as customary, at the Boer War Memorial within Kings Park. The BWMS WA is extremely thankful to the Kings Park and Gardens Authority with the restoration and refurbishments that has been undertaken that shall ensure the memorial is a place of commemoration and dedication for future generations. I thank our Secretary whose persistent drive and sustained communication saw this to fruition. The completed restoration is superb and shall stand as an enduring monument for many years to come.
It is scheduled to have a rededication service on 4 November 2017 where we hope to see those that attend this year commemoration in June attend the rededication with increased patronage to attend an after event. This event is in planning and working towards holding at Fraser’s Reception centre which is close to the Boer War Memorial within King’s Park.
Prior to the West Australian commemoration, in June, on Wednesday, 31 May, 2017 a small contingent from WA shall attend the National Boer War Memorial Association to attend the opening of the National Boer War Memorial which shall end our long term commitment to raising funds for this vital monument. This also allows for the BWMS WA to continue on our great work and focus on fund raising to allow opportunities in, educating the general public, school incursions programs to educate our future generation on the Boer War and more importantly how it fits into the past West Australian landscape.
One of the many endeavours during 2017 is for the BWMSWA to secure a permanent home for the society. We have a few opportunities to secure a permanent home that requires further assessment and due diligence to ensure it is a good fit for the society. The critical issue is seeking funds and grants which is currently underway in earnest.
Finding a home for the society shall allow proprietorship and more importantly consolidating our
future growth. It is also important to find an ambassador for our society and a financial benefactor
who can support our cause which is also a task as the Boer War is not one that is openly recognisa-
ble. Within our membership and those we have connected with we need to broadcast for a likely
person, corporate body or business. There needs to be ongoing events that incorporate our mem-
bers, friends and descendants gathering more regularly through the year once we have secured a
static home or suitable venue.
Our secretary has been busy with spreading the word and seeking funds. With continued contact
with many RSL’s throughout Western Australia to have the Boer War commemoration as part of
their annual dedication program and inform the many RSL’s of our existence.
This year we have formally requested the Western Australia government proclaim and gazette the 31st of May as WA’s Boer War Day. The society has yet to receive any communication as yet.
The BWMS WA is fortunate in having a dedicated committee which I am privileged to be part of.
Their enduring commitment is commendable. The society is a Not For Profit organisation of like-
minded individuals in promoting the Boer War and through the BWMSWA. I thank then all for
their support and commitment. The WA society is always seeking members to join the committee so
please let us know if you are interested.
A fascinating story of life and war in South Africa during the Boer War the life and times of David
Walter Davies, “Karri” (1867-1926) Son of rich WA timber merchant , sent to Johannesburg to sell timber to mine companies, uitlander, leader and friend of Cecil Rhodes, raised Australian Corps during Jameson raid 1895-96 and for this goaled 1896-97, helped raise Imperial Light Horse September 1899, captain then major with Imperial Light Horse and on staff 1899-1902 , refused honours for war service , failed to prosper in post war South Africa , returned to WA, intelligence officer in British army during the Great War, probably the most influential Australian in the war , his Jewishness , economic interests, and political principles made him a firm enemy of the Boer government.
From the Secretary
ANZAC Day Trust Fund Grant Approved.
The WA Minister for Veterans, The Honourable Joe Francis MLA, has approved a grant of $2500.
to the BWMSWA to help meet the cost of running the annual Commemoration and Reconciliation service.
The Treasurer will promulgate the list of financial membership which will provide individual Mem-
ber Number. This Member Number should be used as future reference when renewing membership
fees in September of each year.
The Albany RSL Sub Branch at the initiative of its Vice President, Mr Laurie Fraser MBE, has permanently returned Boer War Day 31 May, to its commemorative calendar
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