The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Trooper Beecher Espie

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: Beecher AKA Robert or Bob Espie

Ancestor's date of birth: 11/11/1881

Ancestor's date of death: 26/07/1947

Cause of Death: Believed to be Pneumonia

Service and Life Before the Boer War: 7th child of 10 born to an American (1853 gold rush) immigrant and a young Australian widow. The family farmed at Russell's Creek and Tangil in Gippsland, VIC. All did (gold) prospecting as well, as part of their occupations. He met my grandmother when prospecting for gold and working in new Norfolk, Tasmania, where he stayed.

Service Number: 122

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

Unit: 3rd New South Wales Imperial Bushmen (Riverina Bushmen (21 Feb, 1902 "Narrandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser" article.)

Rank attained in Boer War: TPR, Date Effective: 1901

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): No evidence of post Boer War promotion.

Murray Page: 152

Contingent: Fifth New South Wales

Ship: Manhattan, Date of Sailing: 02/04/1901

Memorial details: Detail not provided

Awards/Decorations/Commendations: Queen's South Africa Medal with Transvaal, South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902 clasps.

Personal Characteristics: Height 178 cm, weight 64 kg of ruddy complexion with grey eyes and brown hair. He died when I was aged two years and 9 months. My only memory is a happy one of sitting on a park bench with him. However, my mother often recounted how he, when arriving to visit, after knocking, knew something was wrong & had talked to me through the locked door of our flat. She had fallen prostrate and violently ill with ptomaine poisoning. He told me to get a kitchen chair which I was told I dragged to the door and climbed up on, where he then successfully explained to a 2 year old, how to unsnip/unlock it and turn the knob to let him in. My mother was taken to hospital via ambulance, where she recovered. He was said to be very strict, but fair. An obituary headed "Boer War veteran dies at new Norfolk" was published in "the mercury" on 29 July 1947.

Reasons to go and fight: Probably because his elder brother Daniel had already enlisted in home state of Victoria (5th Mounted Rifles). Family story is that he "ran away" to NSW to enlist, so his mother wouldn't know. He is said to have written a letter from South Africa to tell her where he was.

Details of service in war: May 1901 - May 1902 in west then east Transvaal then west Transvaal.

Service and life after the Boer War: Returned to Australia: 11 August 1902 on the Drayton Grange. Tried to enlist for WW1, 14 September 1914 in Brighton Tasmania. Digital copy shows Australian Medical corps. Enlisted for service overseas. I was unable to interpret records, and am unclear as to what his actual service was and if he went outside of Tasmania. Was an attendant at the new norfolk district hospital for the rest of his working life.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Wynnette Marjorie Ford; Merrimac QLD
Relationship to Ancestor: Grand Daughter


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields