The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Lieutenant Colonel (later Major General) James Macarthur-Onslow VD MID

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: James William Macarthur-Onslow

Ancestor's date of birth: 07/11/1867

Ancestor's date of death: 17/11/1946

Cause of Death: age related

Service and Life Before the Boer War: James Macarthur-Onslow was born on 7 November 1867. Educated at Sydney Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., LL.B., 1890), he returned to Australia in 1891 and in February 1892 was commissioned captain in the Camden squadron of the New South Wales Mounted Rifles. In 1894-95 he was selected by Major General (Sir) Edward Hutton for special training in India with the 11th Hussars, the Royal Artillery, and the 1st Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps, with which he served in the relief of Chitral expedition including the storming of Malakand Pass and the action at Khar. For these actions he received the Chitral medal with the Malakand clasp. Back in Australia he was promoted major in February 1896 and in 1897 accompanied a detachment of Mounted Rifles to England for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee celebrations. In April 1898 he was promoted lieutenant-colonel.

Service Number: Officer - no number

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

Unit: 5th Australian Commonwealth Horse

Rank attained in Boer War: LTCOL, Date Effective: 01/04/1898

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): MAJGEN, Date Effective: 07/11/1925

Murray Page: 195

Contingent: Third Australian Commonwealth

Ship: SS Manchester Merchant, Date of Sailing: 19/05/1902

Other Boer War Service: During the South African War he went as a special service officer to Cape Town at his own expense, arriving on 11 April 1900. After a period on the staff of the 7th Division(Gen. Tucker ) he served as aide-de-camp to Hutton from June to October(1st Mounted Brigade),Served at the Vet and Zand Rivers in OFS and at Belfast, Pretoria and Johannesburg in the Transvaal, visited England and returned to Australia in March 1901.

Memorial details: Camden Park

Awards/Decorations/Commendations: Chitral Medal with Malakand Clasp. Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal. Queen's South Africa medal with four Clasps. 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal. Volunteer Decoration, Mention In Despatches.

Personal Characteristics: Height 182 cm, weight 78 kg (1916).

Reasons to go and fight: Always interested in serving his country.

Details of service in war: He took the 5th Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse, to Durban in July 1902 as its commanding officer, but the war had ended and on arrival back in Sydney in August the unit was disbanded. For service in the South African War he received the Queen's medal with four clasps and was mentioned in dispatches;

Service and life after the Boer War: In 1902-09 he was ADC to the governor-general. He commanded the 2nd Light Horse Regiment from July 1903 and in December 1907 was promoted colonel in command of the 1st Light Horse Brigade. From January 1910 he was on the unattached list. Between August 1915 and February 1917 Colonel Macarthur-Onslow made several voyages in the Sea Transport Service of the Australian Imperial Force between Australia, the Middle East and Britain. He was ADC to the governor-general again in 1917-20 and on 7 November 1925 was placed on the retired list with the honorary rank of major general. Macarthur-Onslow, who had been a prominent supporter of the National Federal Party of (Sir) Edmund Barton, represented Waverley in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1907-13, Bondi in 1913-17 and Eastern Suburbs in 1920-22. Claiming to represent the Liberal interest and later the National Party, he opposed socialism, the Saturday half-holiday and the abolition of capital punishment. In usually short, forthright speeches, he was fond of airing his learning by adverting much to English history. He told the House: 'I shall vote according to my convictions irrespective of party or whip'. In 1922 he was nominated to the Legislative Council where he was usually inactive or on leave; he did not seek election to the council when it was reconstituted in 1933. He was a member of the Australian and Union clubs (Sydney) and the Travellers' Club in London. Gardening and fly-fishing were his chief recreations. James Macarthur-Onslow, for many years chairman of directors of Camden Park Estate Pty Ltd, did much to promote the dairy industry through the breeding and showing of dairy cattle. He lived at Gilbulla, Menangle, and, after exchanging houses with his sister Sibella in 1931, at Camden Park.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Mrs I H Hayman, Mandemar NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Grand daughter


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields