The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

 
 
Sergeant Arthur King

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: Arthur King

Ancestor's date of birth: 25/08/1873

Ancestor's date of death: 06/04/1955

Cause of Death: age related kidney failure

Service and Life Before the Boer War: Born in the UK, he became a professional soldier joining the 2nd battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He served in India prior to the Boer War. At the time of the war the battalion was in Gibraltar.

Service Number: 3676

Colony or State of enlistment: Not Australia, Place of Enlistment: London

Unit: 2nd Bn Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

Rank attained in Boer War: SGT, Date Effective: Detail not provided

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): SGT, Date Effective: Detail not provided

Murray Page: Not applicable did not serve in an Australian unit.

Contingent: Not applicable'

Ship: SS Pavonia, Date of Sailing: Not known, sailed from Gibraltar.

Memorial details: Detail not provided

Awards/Decorations/Commendations: Queen's South Africa Medal with Relief of Ladysmith, Orange Free State, Tugela Heights and Cape Colony clasps.

Personal Characteristics: Detail not provided

Reasons to go and fight: Detail not provided

Details of service in war: The 2nd Battalion sailed from Gibraltar on the Pavonia, arrived at the Cape about 18 November 1899, and was at once sent round to Durban. Along with the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers, they formed the 6th or Fusilier Brigade under Major General Barton, which was originally intended to be part of the IIIrd Division under General Gatacre, but the stress of events necessitated the breaking up of that division.

The brigade was present at Colenso and formed the right of the infantry advance, otherwise the flank nearest to Hlangwane Mountain.

It appears from the orders issued by General Clery on the 14 December 1899 that General Buller and he had not quite made up their minds whether Hlangwane would be attacked or left alone. Colonial Irregulars did make some advance up its steep sides, but they were not supported.

In his despatch of 17 December General Buller says, "The mounted troops under Lord Dundonald, supported by two guns of the 7th Battery RFA and two battalions 6th Brigade, were heavily engaged with a considerable force that attacked my right flank, and which they repulsed". Unofficial accounts rather give one the impression that the attack was by the British, and that, perhaps because of the gun entanglement, it was not pushed home. According to Mr Bennet Burleigh , the Royal Fusiliers were on the extreme right. As they had almost no losses they could not have been heavily engaged.

When General Buller moved west towards the Upper Tugela, about 9th January, General Barton was left to guard the rail-head at Chieveley, and with his small force made various demonstrations to keep the enemy at Colenso. At the end of January a portion of the brigade, including the Royal Scots Fusiliers, was taken to the main army.

When Sir Redvers Buller had come back to Chieveley, and determined to make a fourth attempt via the Boer left, the Fusilier Brigade were the first infantry employed. On 12 February Lord Dundonald seized Hussar Hill, his force being the South African Light Horse, Composite Mounted Infantry, Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry (or what was left of them after Spion Kop), the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, a battery of Colt guns, and a battery RFA. The hill was taken for the purpose of reconnaissance only, and the force retired, having a few casualties in that process. On the 14th the hill was again taken and occupied, the Welsh Fusiliers being the first infantry regiment and the Fusilier Brigade being part of the garrison of the hill. The brigade took part in practically all the fighting between the 14 and 27 February 1900.

On the fourteen days' fighting the battalion's losses were 1 officer and 3 men killed, 4 officers and 70 men wounded. One officer and 10 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned by General Buller in his despatch of 30 March, of the latter being recommended for the distinguished conduct medal.

After the relief of Ladysmith the 5th and 6th Brigades, now called the Xth Division, were placed under Lieutenant General A Hunter, and in preparation for the relief of Mafeking and the occupation of the Western Transvaal the Division was brought round to Cape Colony. The 5th Brigade, still under Major General Fitzroy Hart, was utilised to assist in the relief of Wepener, which was effected on 24th April. In the meantime the 6th Brigade had been gathering at Kimberley, and on 5th May General Hunter attacked and defeated the enemy at Rooidam, west of the Kimberley-Warrenton line, the Fusilier Brigade having all the work.

The battle of Rooidam enabled the Mafeking relief column to get a clear start. The column comprised four guns M Battery RHA, two pom-poms, the Kimberley Mounted Corps, the Imperial Light Horse, and an infantry company made up of four sections specially selected from each of the four battalions in the Fusilier Brigade. Under the very skilful leadership of Colonel Mahon the column joined hands with Plumer on 15 May, the enemy was defeated on the 16th, and Mafeking entered on the 17th.

General Hunter, having been joined by Hart, occupied Lichtenburg on 2nd June, Klerksdorp on 9 June 1900, and he marched thence and arrived at Johannesburg on 22 June, and joined hands with Clery and the old Natal comrades at Vlakfontein on the Natal-Johannesburg Railway on 5 July. About the 21 June the Fusilier Brigade was split up. General Barton remained with the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers and the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Krugersdorp, while the Royal and Royal Irish Fusiliers were sent to the east of Pretoria, and these two regiments took part in many operations in the Eastern Transvaal. The Royal Fusiliers along with the Connaught Rangers were put into a column under Colonel Mahon. This column supported Ian Hamilton, who with a full infantry brigade marched on the north of the railway in the general advance eastwards, and upon 24 July 1900, along with other troops, occupied Bronkhorst Spruit.

Twelve officers and 15 non-commissioned officers and men of the battalion were mentioned in Lord Roberts' final despatch.

The Royal Fusiliers remained in the Eastern Transvaal under various brigadiers, including General Paget, till February 1901, when they were railed to Rosmead, in Cape Colony, where rebels and raiders were then causing Lord Kitchener no little anxiety. Here they had a worrying life, not very fruitful of glory. The enemy was more elusive than ever. In May 1902, just as the curtain was about to drop, the battalion had another sea voyage, being taken round to Port Nolloth, on the west coast of the colony, to assist in the relief of Ookiep, which was successfully carried out.

Service and life after the Boer War: Detail not provided

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Gordon Robert King, Alstonville NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Grand Son

 


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields