The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Trooper Hobart Cato

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: Hobart Edward Cato

Ancestor's date of birth: 1883

Ancestor's date of death: 1967

Cause of Death: Age related

Service and Life Before the Boer War: Believed to have been born in Wellington, New Zealand and resident in Melbourne at the time of the Boer War. He was a mechanic by trade. It is not clear how he got to South Africa but it is highly likely that he was a passenger on the SS Brittanic in August 1901

Service Number: 35502 and 4302

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

Unit: 1st Scottish Horse

Rank attained in Boer War: TPR, Date Effective: 11/09/1901

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

Murray Page: Not registered

Contingent: Not applicable

Ship: Brittanic, Date of Sailing: 20/08/1901

Other Boer War Service: There is a strong possibility that he was conscripted into the Australian Commonwealth Regiment formed at Newcastle, Natal in September 1901. All passengers on the Brittanic had this happen even though they had already agreed to serve in other units. He apparently had a second number 4302 which can not be found in records of the Scottish Horse, When ACR was disbanded as a unit after Baakenlaghte in October 1901 all personnel were permitted to join their chosen units. The receiving units were required to back date their service to arrival in South Africa to avoid the need to construct a special medal roll. His enlistment date of 11 September 1901 supports this.

Memorial details: Buried Clare, South Australia

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

Personal Characteristics: Had a great love of adventure

Reasons to go and fight: Detail not provided

Details of service in war: He enlisted in 1st Scottish Horse 11 September1901 and was discharged on 22 March 1902 on completion of service. In the early months of 1902 the regiment was constantly on the trek and fighting. At Gruisfontein, on 5 February 1902, the whole of Sarel Albert's commando was captured. As to this action, Lord Kitchener, in his despatch of 8 February, said: "During Major Leader's advance he came upon and captured a Boer picket, from which he ascertained that General Delarey had already moved his camp, but that Commandant Sarel Albert's laager was for that night at Gruisfontein, which he reached just before daybreak. Our men charged the enemy's laager with great dash, the Scottish Horse taking the main share of the attack, and as most of the Boer horses had been stampeded by the fire of Major Leader's pompom, the gallantry of the attacking force was rewarded by an unusually large measure of success; 7 Boers were killed, 132 prisoners taken, 11 of whom were wounded, together with 130 rifles, 2800 rounds of ammunition, and a large number of horses, mules, cattle, and waggons were taken. Our casualties were 2 officers (Captain Ian R McKenzie and Lieutenant W Tanner) and 6 men wounded, all belonging to the Scottish Horse". In his telegram of 5 February Lord Kitchener said: "Leader reports that the Scottish Horse behaved with great gallantry". The regiment was in the column of Colonel Kekewich and the brigade of General Walter Kitchener in the last great drives in the Western Transvaal. In the drive which started from the Klerksdorp blockhouse line on 23 March, and came back to that line on the 24 March, the troops covered 120 kilometres in twenty-four hours. To the 1st Scottish Horse chiefly belonged the credit for the capture of three 15-pounder guns and two pom-poms. He may have been involved in the unit signals

Service and life after the Boer War: He married a British Army nurse Mary E Biddlesome in South Africa and seems to have stayed on after the war. It is not clear whether she too was a Boer War veteran. On return to Australia they settled in Clare. During World War One he was involved in the aircraft industry and may have served but it is not clear where. He developed several patents for aircraft equipment. Postwar he ran a mechanical repair garage as well as maintaining an interest in aircraft. In 1921 he was flight mechanic to Lieutenant Long in the record breaking flight Adelaide to Melbourne in a De Haviland Dove aircraft. He was also involved in the origins of motorcycle racing in Port Pirie. In 1926 he traveled 2066 kilometres through the distant outback of South Australia in a T model Ford claiming to have only used 145 litres of fuel (7.82 litres per 100 km) and 9.1 litres of oil. His daughter Helena was only the second woman to gain her pilots licence in South Australia. In 1940 he was a member of the RAAF recruiting and pre selection committee in the area.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: David Lloyd, Clare SA
Relationship to Ancestor: Grandson

Name of Descendant: Patricia Browne, Caringbah NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Grand Daughter


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