The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Private Charles Cuthbert

Ancestor Details

Name of Ancestor: Charles Davenport Cuthbert

Ancestor's date of birth: 28/12/1866

Ancestor's date of death: 06/12/1945

Cause of Death: Not Stated

Service Number: 1599

Colony or State of enlistment: Not Applicable, Place of Enlistment: South Africa

Unit: Johannesburg Mounted Rifles South Africa

Rank attained in Boer War: PTE, Date Effective: On enlistment

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

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

Contingent: Not applicable

Ship: Was already in South Africa

Memorial details: Anglo-Boer War Memorial at the Museum of Military History, Johannesburg South Africa

Decorations: QSA with Wittebergen, Cape Colony and Transvaal clasps.

Personal Characteristics: Born on 28 December 1866 at St. Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, a son of Charles Davenport Cuthbert and Sarah Jane (nee Cunningham). Cuthbert was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne (1881-83) coming to Scotch from Rai Rai, Suva, Fiji, and at Melbourne University. He trained as an engineer and architect with Nathaniel Billing in Australia, and then practised on his own for seven years in Melbourne, New South Wales and Fiji. He was an associate of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects.

Reasons to go and fight: Detail not provided

Details of service in war: The Johannesburg Mounted Rifles was founded on 12 December 1900, and soon two battalions were recruited. They had the good luck to get as commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel H K Stewart, Reserve of Officers, and under him did much valuable service. The greater portion of the corps was in the early part of 1901 stationed in the Springs district, where they always had the enemy near them and used worthily the opportunities they got. They had casualties at Springs on 6 January 1901 and on several other occasions during the three following months. In March and April two companies were in Colonel Colville's column, based on the Standerton line, and were said to have done good work particularly in an affair at Roberts' Drift. Both battalions afterwards did much column work. Early in 1901 part of the corps was sent to the Zululand border, a district in which they saw much arduous service. Towards the end of April 600 were with Colonel Stewart in a column working from about Volksrust. Colonel Stewart had also under him Gough's Mounted Infantry, 600; the Commander-in-Chief's Bodyguard, 1000; the 74th Battery Royal Field Artillery, and a pom-pom. In July 1901 the two battalions were put together, and under Colonel Stewart operated as a column, which did much trekking and skirmishing generally in the east of the Transvaal and about the Zululand border. A Standerton telegram of 5th August mentioned that by a night raid on Amersfoort the JMR had captured a laager and 20 prisoners. Much of the work of the corps and of the columns which worked in conjunction with Colonel Stewart's is described in 'Two Years at the Front with the Mounted Infantry', being the diary of Lieutenant B Moeller, who had gone out with the City Imperial Volunteers, and who was afterwards mortally wounded at Holland, in the Eastern Transvaal, on 18th December 1901. In September 1901 Colonel Stewart, with his own corps and Gough's Mounted Infantry, was operating to the north of the Natal Border. Gough, who, as stated in Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8 October 1901, was in advance, decided on 17 September to push on towards the Blood River in order to gain touch with the enemy about Scheeper's Nek. Gough, thinking he had about 300 of the enemy in front of him, galloped his force to seize a commanding ridge, but the enemy were at least 1,000 strong, and the three companies of Mounted Infantry and two guns of the 69th Battery Royal Field Artillery were surrounded, and after a fierce fight, in which Gough's force suffered very severe casualties, were forced to surrender. Colonel Stewart, having to protect the baggage of both bodies, fell back on De Jager's Drift, thus at same time covering Dundee. In his despatch Lord Kitchener said: "Lieutenant Colonel Stewart, in falling back when he did, showed great judgment and a sound appreciation of the situation in a position of considerable difficulty". The Boers had collected in the Vryheid district in great strength to attempt a re-invasion of Natal, and on 26 September made most determined attacks on Forts Itala and Prospect, which were repulsed. Major Gough had on many occasions proved himself a fine soldier and most capable leader of mounted infantry. Towards the close of 1901 and during the first quarter of 1902 the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles were chiefly employed in the Ermelo district of the Transvaal. In May 1902 they crossed the Vaal and had some skirmishes in the Frankfort district of the Orange River Colony. Down to the close of the campaign they did service which proved them a most useful and well-led body. On 17 June 1902, after peace had been declared, the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles, Imperial Light Horse, Kitchener's Fighting Scouts, and the Scottish Horse had the honour of marching past and being inspected by the Commander-in-Chief in Johannesburg. Lord Kitchener referred to the fine service of these splendid irregular regiments, and indicated that there was a prospect of permanent volunteer regiments being formed which would be successors to the work, traditions, and organisation of each of them. (

Service and life after the Boer War: It would appear my grandfather Charles Cuthbert enlisted in the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles. He travelled to South Africa prior to the War to practice as an Architect and enlisted there. After the war he married in Johannesburg in September 1903 and practised as an architect with Goodwin,Small and Cuthbert in Johannesburg and King William Town. He returned to Australia with his family in 1907 taking up a position with the public works in Sydney.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Alan Cuthbert, Terrigal NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Grandson


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