The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Private Alexander Aberline

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: Alexander Matthew McFarlane Aberline

Ancestor's date of birth: 14/09/1880

Ancestor's date of death: 04/10/1900

Cause of Death: Died of wounds Lichtenberg

Service and Life Before the Boer War: Station hand/Labourer born in Warnambool, Victoria

Service Number: 1225

Colony or State of enlistment: NSW, Place of Enlistment: Hay

Unit: F Squadron, NSW Imperial Bushmen

Rank attained in Boer War: PTE, Date Effective: 01/03/1900

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): Did not survive the Boer War.

Murray Page: 104, 204

Contingent: Fourth New South Wales

Ship: SS Armenian, Date of Sailing: 23/04/1900

Memorial details: Lichtenberg Municipal Cemetery South Africa, Hay Boer War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Canberra.

Awards/Decorations/Commendations: Queen's South Africa Medal with Rhodesia and Transvaal clasps

Personal Characteristics: Had large blue eyes and was a good bushmen

Reasons to go and fight: Detail not provided

Details of service in war: May 1900 - Oct 1900 in Rhodesia and west Transvaal. He took his dog with him. It was claimed that he had been shot down after a white flag had been raised and he walked forward with others to take the surrender. The Boers suddenly realising how few Australians there were, picked up their weapons and started firing. He was wounded 28 September 1900 at Reit Kuil and died of wounds Lichtenberg 4 October. The Nurse that looked after, Alexander Aberline, was Edith Matthews who was extremely kind caring for Alex and wrote to Alex's Mother after Alex died on 4 October 1900 and tended his grave for many years putting fresh flowers on the grave. We never did find out if Alex's dog was ever brought back to Australia - one of the men (the only one left) had the dog and was going to try to bring the dog back.

A letter from Private Aberline shortly before he died tells his story:

Ottoshoop, 6th September.

Things are only very middling over in these parts with the Boers. They are really troublesome lately on account of their always sniping at us whenever we go out scouting. It was while out scouting that poor Bert Kilgour was shot clean through the arm. A couple more out with the same party were wounded, and one was captured, we also had two horses shot. I was in that lot, but thank goodness I was not injured in any way, although a couple of bullets went pretty close. Some of the old Bushmen have joined the police in South Africa. They have all been offered land to settle on, but the terms, I believe, are not too good, at least as far as I know. We have been transferred from General Carrington's column to Lord Methuen's, and are starting on Friday for Pretoria, which is about 240 kilometres from here. When we start, they say, we will have to fight our way clean through to our destination, but we do not take much notice of what we hear. Seven Victorians and five Now Zealanders were wounded yesterday between here and Mafeking, and about 20 horses were killed; but the party killed 14 Boers, and took 16 prisoners.

The old Bushmen are split up all over the place, and a few days ago, when we went to relieve them at Elands River, but had to retreat, they had 19 killed and 60 wounded besides losing every horse they had except two. When Lord Methuen [relief column was led by Kitchener] relieved them, and brought them on, the poor beggars were all rags and tatters they also had to live on biscuit and water for over three weeks, owing to their being surrounded by the Boers, who numbered 3000.

Things are awfully quiet as far as news is concerned; we hear nothing from Australia. There are only one or two of the Hay lads left now, for those of them who are not wounded are in the hospital with malarial fever, which nearly every one takes who lives over here any length of time. The English doctors are going to send anyone who gets it bad back home, because if you got it once over here they say it gets into your system, and you never ; got rid of it as long as you live.

P S Written by moonlight

Service and life after the Boer War: Did not survive the Boer War.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Beverley Aberline, Doncaster VIC
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Niece in law


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields