The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

 
 
Private Arthur Richards

Ancestor Details

Name of Ancestor: Arthur Richards

Ancestor's date of birth: 20/05/1878

Ancestor's date of death: 12/06/1942

Cause of Death: Heart attack.

Service Number: 1272

Colony or State of enlistment: VIC, Place of Enlistment: Port Arlington

Unit: 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles

Rank attained in Boer War: PTE, Date Effective: February 1901

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): PTE, Date Effective: February 1901

Murray Page: 293

Contingent: 5th Victorian

Ship: Orient, Argus or City of Lincoln, Date of Sailing: 15/02/1901

Memorial details: VMR Memorial Melbourne

Decorations: Queen's South Africa medal and 3 clasps (CC OFS & Tvl.)

Personal Characteristics: Detail not provided

Reasons to go and fight: Detail not provided

Details of service in war: The 5th contingent enrolled for the Second Boer War in February 1901, leaving for South Africa in mid-February. The regiment was mobilised at Pretoria between 24 March and 4 April 1901. It saw considerable action during the Second Boer War when it was used to combat the guerilla warfare tactics of the Boers. It came into controversy after an attack on their camp at Wilmansrust. The 5th saw heavy casualties with the Regimental surgeon, and 18 NCOs and men killed; 5 officers and 36 NCOs and men were wounded. The General in charge of the column, General Beeston, was not satisfied with the actions of the Victorian Mounted Rifles and was quoted as saying: "I tell you what I think. The Australians are a damned fat, round shouldered, useless crowd of wasters . . . In my opinion they are a lot of white-livered curs . . . You can add dogs too"[1] He charged three men (Troopers James Steele, Arthur Richards and Herbert Parry) of the VMR for cowardice and after a summary Court Martial, he sentenced them to death. This sentence was commuted by General Kitchener who was in charge of all allied forces. The reduced sentences were debated in both the Australian and British Parliaments and were eventually commuted.

When the 5th VMR departed from South Africa, Lord Kitchener sent the CO this telegram:

"11 March 1902,
Cape Town,

Please Convey to your Australians my warm appreciation of their gallant and arduous service in this country. In the name of the Army in South Africa, I wish them good luck and God speed."

Service and life after the Boer War: Married with 4 children.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Shannon James Richards, Canberra ACT
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Great Grand Uncle


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields