The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra
|Pte Thomas Hotspur Angel DCM MID|
The name Thomas Hotspur Angel, No. 105, Private, 3rd Western Australia Bushmen is listed on the Boer War memorial in Perth’s Kings Park.
Records show that Angel was born in South Australia in 1869 and had been a cattle drover in outback Western Australia. He was dangerously wounded in an action at De Burgh’s Pass 7 April 1901 and died of enteric fever at Warmbad 24 April 1901. He was both Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. His name is also on the Honour Board in a Perth’s St Georges Cathedral and on the Pietersburg (South Africa) Central Memorial.
The simple facts hardly tell the story of this remarkable soldier. Angel, 31, an expert bush horseman and familiar with firearms, was attracted to the idea of being a volunteer soldier in a Bushmen company. He enlisted in Geraldton and took the train south to the Army Training base at Karrakatta, about ten kilometres west of the city of Perth.
Turning civilian into a soldier was brief, curtailed by the need for his unit, 3 WA Bushmen (7 officers and 109 men) to board the troopship Marplemore departing Fremantle 13 March 1900 to land 18 April at the Portuguese East Africa port of Beira, then by train to Rhodesia.
In Bulawayo the Western Australians joined Bushmen contingents from other Australian colonies to form the Bushmen Brigade. 3WAB joined the Victorians to form the 3rd Bushmen Regiment commanded by fellow West Australian, Major HG Vialls. Angel was in C Squadron.
The Bushmen Brigade was part of the large Rhodesian Field Force commanded by General Carrington in his sweep from Rhodesia south into Transvaal that included the relief of the garrison at Mafeking 17 May 1900 and the relief of the siege of the joint Australian-Rhodesians at the Elands River Post on 16 August 1900.
After these successes they were transferred first to Lord Methuen’s column, then General Plumer’s. Under both commanders the WA/Vic Busmen distinguished themselves by their willingness to take the fight up to the Boers in many actions between July and December 1900, to the extent that the unit received a special commendation from the supreme commander Lord Roberts, on 3 December 1900.
On 6 April 1901 in the Pietersburg district of northern Transvaal, Sgt W George took a patrol which included Pte Angel to scout De Burgh’s Pass which Boer soldiers were thought to hold. Sgt George evaluated the situation and decided to attack. Despite the patrol drawing heavy fire, Pte Angel dodged and weaved to considerable effect through the scanty cover to bring back a wounded comrade until he himself took a rifle bullet in the stomach.
The patrol later withdrew taking Pte Angel to a field hospital where he was stabilised and then sent by British Army ambulance to a larger hospital at Warmbad (warm baths). Whilst slowly recovering from his wound it appears that he caught the dreaded typhoid fever to complicate the recovery, and died on 24 April 1901.
For his bravery he was both Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.