The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Sergeant Major James McGillray

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: James McIntosh McGillray

Ancestor's date of birth: 30/01/1851

Ancestor's date of death: 21/07/1901

Cause of Death: Killed in Action

Service and Life Before the Boer War: James the son of James and Mary Mac Gillivray was born in Oban Scotland in 1851 and arrived in Portland, Victoria in 1853 with his parents. After working as a shepherd his father took up land and young James was educated by a tutor on the family property Maaoupe Park and later managed his parents second property Aberfoyle Park near Lake Mundi, Victoria. He was a crack shot with both rifle and shotgun. He enjoyed soldiering and served with the Victorian Mounted Rifles for six years then moving to South Australia joined the Adelaide Volunteers as a Sergeant. He married 3 February 1881 Sophia Campbell Patterson. He moved to Mt Gambier in 1884 and joined the local squadron of the Mounted Rifles. In 1887 he was selected to attend the Queens Golden Jubilee in London. Whilst there he was chosen to shoot in the Queens Shoot at Bisley.

Service Number: 9 and 419

Colony or State of enlistment: SA, Place of Enlistment: Adelaide

Unit: 1 South Australian Mounted Rifles

Rank attained in Boer War: SMAJ, Date Effective: 01/02/1901

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): Did not survive the Boer War

Murray Page: 344 and 368

Contingent: First South Australian Contingent

Ship: SS Medic, Date of Sailing: 02/11/1899

Ship: Ormazon, Date of Sailing: 09/02/1901

Other Boer War Service: Served as no 419 RSM 5 South Australian Imperial Bushmen.

Memorial details: Originally buried at Olifantsvlei now at Bothaville, North Terrace memorial Adelaide, Bay Rd Mount Gambier and in the name of Macgillivray Airstrip, Coonawarra, which was part of the original family property. Australian War Memorial Canberra.

Awards/Decorations/Commendations: Queen's South Africa Medal with Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Belfast, South Africa 1901, Queens Jubilee Medal (1897).

Personal Characteristics: Remembered by contemporaries as a born soldier, hardy, healthy, and brave to a fault, with all the dash and recklessness of the Celtic race

Reasons to go and fight: A serving soldier

Details of service in war: He enlisted as a corporal in 1SAMR but was soon promoted to Sergeant. Formed part of the Australian Regiment under J C Hoad. Operations at Rensburg, Maeders Farm, Hopkirks Farm. Took part in the advance to Bloemfontein. Joined 2SAMR at Bloemfontein. For the remainder of their service they were part of Huttons Mounted Infantry Brigade. Operations at Karee Brandfort, Johannesburg,Pretoria, Diamond Hill and Belfast Returning as RSM 5SAIB part of De Lisles column. In June the unit captured de Wets supply column and held out his attempt to retake it. 14 July at Graspan the unit killed 16 and took 51 prisoners, 71 wagons, 43 other vehicles, 77 rifles, 7000 rounds of ammunition, 4250 head of cattle, 3500 sheep. Also in the haul were 93 women, 342 children and 29 native servants. 7 days later on 21st July 1901 on an attack on Boer wagons at Vankollensfontein he was fatally shot in the back supposedly after the convoy had surrendered. A 17 year old girl, Johanna Gelenhuis was charged with murder but acquitted as some witnesses reported seeing a young man ride away.

Service and life after the Boer War: Did not survive the Boer War.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Fred Pegler, Mt Gambier SA,
Relationship to Ancestor: Grand Son


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields