The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Boer War Soil Samples

Boer War Soil Samples at the Anzac Memorial Sydney

The Anzac Memorial Sydney was constructed at the height of the economic depression of the 1930s. It was never fully completed. So as a tribute to those from New South Wales lost in past and present conflicts, the Memorial was completed in time to be opened to the public on 11 November 2018, centenary of the armistice that ended World War 1.

Included in a new and magnificent gallery were soil samples. The wall decked with samples collected from all the towns and cities in New South Wales, the floor with samples from battle sites where service personnel from New South Wales fought. I was involved in collecting the Parramatta sample as representative of the Royal New South Wales Lancers, and offered to collect samples from Boer War battle sites when guiding a Battlefield History Tour in 2018.


The photos show:

• The gallery with the samples in the wall and battle site samples in the floor.
• Koster River sample being taken by Ross Taylor assisted by Mary Jane Lawrie.
• Diamond Hill sample being taken by Ross Taylor assisted by John Elton.
• Stinkhoutboom (near Vredefort, where Lieutenant Neville Howse won Australia's first VC) sample being taken by Mary Jane Lawrie assisted by Ross Taylor.
• Elands River sample being taken by Ross Taylor assisted by Pheelo of Johannesburg.
• Langverwacht sample bring taken by Alan Lackey of Georgia USA, right, assisted by John Elton.
• The Hon David Elliot MP and students from Parramatta High School taking that city's soil sample.
• The Parramatta sample in the wall.

In taking the South African soil samples, tourists from the group I was guiding with ancestors who fought in the battle or had another connection to the site were given the honour of collecting the sample. The non-Australians were Alan Lackey and Pheelo (sorry, I did not get beyond first names). Alan collected the Langverwacht sample as Langverwacht was a New Zealand engagement the tour group nconsidered a non-Australian, in this case US, tour guest should have the honour of collecting the sample. Pheelo, our highly competent South African driver was involved in collecting the Elands River sample to honour the fellow Zulus who died in that engagement.

The tour group not make it to a couple of sites, Brigadier General Pieter Swart (Retd) a South African colleague collected the additional samples.

John Howells

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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields