The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra
|Private Arthur Richards|
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" 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,
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.
Name of Descendant: Shannon James Richards, Canberra ACT
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Great Grand Uncle