The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra
|Trooper George Gibson|
Ancestor's Name: George Henry Flood (Harry) Gibson
Ancestor's date of birth: 02/06/1870
Ancestor's date of death: 16/08/1900
Cause of Death: Killed in action near Ottoshoop, Finally buried Zeerust after previously being interned in Bultfontein and Sendelingpos. In 2009 Max Gibson (his nephew) recounted the story of Harry's death, as told to him by his farther Charles (Harry's brother): "Mortally wounded during a horse charge over open country, Harry was riding one handed and holding his rifle in the other hand and was shot through the wrist with the bullet passing on and into his upper body, subsequently bleeding to death". This account is well supported with references contained in official reports and newspaper articles of the events during the participation in the defence of the Elands River Post and during the relief of the garrison. The incident in which he was killed occurred during the arrival of the relieving forces.
Two extracts from Newspaper clips published in 1900
"A Letter From The Front - The Affair at Ottoshoop - Trooper Gibson, of Fairfield, Shot Dead" In a letter dated Ottoshoop, South Africa, August 29th, Lance Corporal E McKinley, of the Imperial Bushies, thus writes to his brother:- "At present our regiment is here 18 miles east of Mafeking, and I can tell you we have had some lively times. You have no show whatever with these Boers, as you never see them and never know where they are. On one or two occasions, though, we have made things pretty warm for them with the guns, artillery being what is wanted for them. The most that have been killed since I have been here was 26:- most of them killed by shells with the loss of three New Zealanders, and Captain Hardie*. I came up with the second brigade shortly after it was over. The kopje is now called "Hardie Kopje". Captain Hardie was ordered to take this kopje, which he did, and not being satisfied by doing what he was told, he tried to take the other one opposite and lost his life. On capturing the first kopje, he saw the Boers going for their lives, and he and his men followed them with the result that he was shot fair through the forehead. The saddest part of it was that young Gibson, poor fellow, was shot dead (Trooper Gibson of the NSW Bushmen's Contingent, from Fairfield - En. C.A.) Poor little Freddy** came up just in time to see him buried."
* Captain Hardie/Hardy - New Zealand Regiment.
** "Freddy" was Harry's brother Frederick Gibson a member of the Imperial Bushmen; his unit being part of the group that relieved the Elands River post.
"With General Carrington's Force - (From our correspondent)"
General Carrington left Mafeking at 2.30 pm on Tuesday, August 14, with 2,500 men and a large convoy of provisions in all about 310 wagons. The column reached the frontier the same evening. An early start was made next morning, and, as the Boers were supposed to be in force in the neighborhood, the road was well scouted on both flanks by the N.S.W. Bushmen. Nothing, however, was seen of the enemy until the advance guard came within a mile and a half of Ottoshoop, when the Boer outposts opened fire; this was replied to, and after ten minutes the Boers were seen in full retreat on the Zeerust road. They were followed up by a squadron of Bushmen for three miles, when they came upon them again holding strong positions on each flank. After a couple of hours' of sniping our men retired to Ottoshoop, where the General had made camp. The town was occupied at 3.15 pm, and was immediately searched, but only a couple of suspects were found, who were made prisoners, the majority of the Boers having passes given from the Captain left in charge of the town when first occupied after the relief of Mafeking. On the following day the scouts were sent out early, and at 6.45 am we discovered the enemy holding the same kopjes as the night before. On receiving information from the scouts, General Lord Erroll brought up the first brigade, and the 88th Battery R.A. immediately shelled a kopje on the left which was held by the enemy and drove them out at 8 45 am; but it was not considered advisable to send men to hold the position, which would have been somewhat difficult to support, as the enemy held a high kopje in front which commanded the approach to it. Two guns were despatched to shell a kopje on the right where the enemy could be seen, and on their evacuation the position was taken and held by Paget's Horse. Soon after the enemy opened a heavy fire from a small bushy kopje on the right of the road, and the details under Captain Baker extended down the from the hill and opened a steady fire on them. Two guns were brought up and soon silenced the fire, the enemy retreating to a kopje immediately behind, leaving one dead man and three loose horses, which were taken later. Captain Baker then ordered Captain Rigall to mount one troop and send them across to hold the position. In order to do this, the men had to gallop over a long valley, and were exposed to a heavy fire from the second kopje. During this charge Trooper Gibson, N.S.W. Bushmen, was killed and one horse wounded."
Service Number: 127
Colony or State of enlistment: NSW, Place of Enlistment: Parramatta
Unit: NSW Citizens' Bushmen
Rank attained in Boer War: TPR, Date Effective: 24/02/1900
Highest Rank attained (if served after war): Did not survive war
Murray Page: 77 and 204
Contingent: 3rd New South Wales
Ship: Atlantian or Marplemore, Date of Sailing: 28/02/1900
Memorial details: Zeerust - previously buried Bulffontein and Senelingspos, Boer War Memorial Parramatta
The Parramatta Boer War Memorial and Trooper Gibson's mention thereon.
Decorations: Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps.
Personal Characteristics: A devoted family man born and bred on the family property "Wallengambone" in Western NSW. He was an accomplished stockman well skilled for the hard living of rural NSW of that time. He spent some years as a drover and in the late 1800's moved to live in Fairfield where he was married and had one child. Around 1885 he and his brothers Frederick and Charles joined the NSW Mounted Police where they served a short period immediately leading up to the Boer War.
Reasons to go and fight: Harry's wife of three years died of complications, following a swimming outing in the Parramatta River, in April 1897. With an infant daughter in the care of his sister, now a widower, one can imagine his feelings and ambitions being in disarray; he certainly fitted well the profile of a call to arms being made by the NSW Citizens Bushmen. (Murray page 70 - "The New South Wales Contingent of Citizen's Bushmen was raised in the first instance by public subscription; whence the name. The object was to enroll a regiment of countrymen acquainted with the vicissitudes of bush life; good shots, good riders, and sound physique - such a class of men, in fact, as would be fitted to cope with the enemy, according to the methods of the latter. Preference, therefore was given to men who had previously served in South Africa, and those having experience of country work in Australia, management of horses, and bush traveling".
Details of service in war: April 1900 - August 1900 in Rhodesia under General Carrington, west Transvaal including part of the group, Staff (Headquarters) and "A" Squadron under General Plumer at the relief of Mafeking, then as a member of General Plumer's Brigade in General Baden-Powell's column in the relief of Rustenburg, and as a member of "A" Squadron which was assisted by 50 men of other details, defended Eland's River post (4-16 August 1900), against De La Rey who had 1000 men and guns, for 13 days, refusing to surrender on any terms. The garrison was eventually relieved by Lord Kitchener's force on 15 August, and Lord Methuen's column arriving from the north 18 August 1900. (Murray pages 70 -71)
Service and life after the Boer War: Did not survive war