The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Henry Vialls CB MID

VIALLS, Henry George, Major. Born Devonshire, 7 November 1859.

Henry Vialls was ex-British Army, having served in the West Yorkshire Regiment (14th Foot): 2nd Lieutenant, 22 January 1879. He fought in the Afghan War in 1880, having been present at the action at Mazina, and earned the service medal for Afghanistan 1879/80. Promoted Lieutenant, 13 March 1881, and Captain 25 October 1887. Keen polo player, representing his regiment. 

Placed on the Reserve List in 1887. Emigrated from England to Western Australia. The period that elapsed between his arrival in Western Australia and his re-enlistment in 1899 for service in the South African Wars his life is not easy to track.

Promoted Major, 13 February1900. Sailed for South Africa in the Maplemore in command of 3rd West Australian Bushmen's Contingent. When the West Australians reached Rhodesia they were placed under Major General Frederick Carrington and became C Squadron of the 3rd Australian Bushmen Regiment in the Rhodesian Field Force. Also in the 3rd Regiment was the 3rd Victorian Bushmen's Contingent, who made up A and B Squadrons. Vialls was given overall command of the 3rd Regiment, much to Victorian Major Dobbin's disgust. He commanded the 3rd Regiment until it was broken up, from April 1900 to April 1901. Vialls chose to remain behind when the West Australians went home. He commanded a number of Queenslanders in Plumer's Column (November 1901-January 1902), and fought at Onverwacht. He was given command of the 5th QIB in January 1902 after the disaster at Onverwacht where Major Toll and other officers were captured. He was mentioned in despatches for his work in the field and was made a Commander of the Bath. [CB]. Awarded Queen's South Africa Medal with 4 clasps: Cape Colony, Transvaal, Orange Free State and Rhodesia.

He returned to West Australia after the war and resided at Kalbarrup Ford, Lower Warren, Bridgetown, until his death.

When WW1 broke out he offered his services and was selected to command 16th Battalion, AIF. Unfortunately he was unable to pass the medical test and remained at Blackboy Camp until rejection.

He was downhearted. General Godley on hearing at Gallipoli of Lieutenant Colonel Vialls' rejection remarked: "Australia has left its best soldier behind".

He never married; died heart failure, 16 May 1918 in the Bridgetown Hospital. He is buried Blackwood cemetery.

On 2 June 2013, about 50 people attended a National Boer War Memorial Association service for Lt Col Harry Vialls. The Rev Don Cannon (Anglican Minister) conducted prayers, we ask Don because Harry was buried by Rev Davis in 1918 in the Anglican area of the Cemetery. The Bridgetown RSL sub-Branch Vice President welcomed everyone and gave a brief overview of the Boer War then Peter Lamb was asked to speak on the background of Harry and his exploits during his service in South Africa. A wreath was laid and the Bugler then played and the Ode was said.

Assembled from Robin Droogleever That Ragged Mob and a report on Bridgetown BWD graveside service 2 June 2013 by Terry Lyn.

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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields