The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

 
 
Lance Corporal James Roberts

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: James Eckersley Roberts

Ancestor's date of birth: 02/04/1878

Ancestor's date of death: 04/03/191962

Cause of Death: Bronchial Pneumonia

Service Number: 253

Colony or State of enlistment: VIC, Place of Enlistment: Volunteered in St Arnaud, while serving with Victorian rangers, but signed enrolment form in Melbourne.

Unit: 2nd Victorian Mounted Rifles

Rank attained in Boer War: LCPL, Date Effective: 10/04/1900

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

Murray Page: 229

Contingent: Second Victorian

Ship: Euryalus, Date of Sailing: 13/01/1900

Memorial details: Not known

Awards/Decorations: Queen's South Africa Medal with Cape Colony and Orange Free State clasps.

Personal Characteristics: An engine driver by profession.

Reasons to go and fight: A Victorian Ranger.

Details of service in war: From February 1900 in northern Cape Colony and Free State. Then caught Enteric Fever on road to Viljoen's Drift in May 1900. After recovery was invalided home on the SS Moravian, arriving in Melbourne on 17 October 1900. Was given a Civic Reception in St Arnaud, Victoria on his arrival home.


Letter from James E. Roberts [253] from the front, 20th February 1900: "Have had a fairly lively time of it these last few days. Went four miles out of camp to guard a pass over a range last Thursday [15th]and got no sleep and had to stop there 36 hours before we were relieved. Came back to camp last Saturday evening [17th] and I was just making up my mind for a good sleep when we were ordered out again. So we went out to another range. The ground was covered with hard round stones and we had to lie down on them and hold our horses by the head ropes, and a lot of sleep we got. The horses nearly stampeded one night and I woke up from a short doze in time to save myself. Had a good sleep last night. We are going to Colesberg this afternoon. Hope we get a chance to show them what we are made of.

Wednesday, 21st. We have started on horseback for Arundel. We had dry bread and tea for breakfast but nothing at all for dinner so far and it is nearly 4 p.m. It is amusing to hear the men wishing they were in different hotels in Melbourne. 'How would a stuffed goose go now?' says one. 'Oh shut up', says another, 'you ought to be hung for mentioning it here'.

February 26th. We were under fire for the first time on Saturday [24th]. About 2 in the afternoon a Boer shell came shrieking over our heads and burst just behind us, but the gunners who fired that shell had a lively time of it for the next 20 minutes, as shell after shell from our guns struck the spot whence the gun was fired. That Boer gun only fired thee shots during the afternoon and every time it fired it got well peppered from ours. The second shot hit the same place as the first, and the last fell short. They are very poor gunners indeed. I think they fired the gun and then ran away for their lives. We didn't do any rifle shooting on Saturday but remained in the hollow all day and at sundown it came on to rain so we started back to camp, but we got lost in the veldt till 12 o'clock, when we managed to get on the track again. If you saw this country you would not wonder why our troops get on so slowly. There are ranges of rocky kopjes every half mile or so and when the Boers are driven out of one they retire to another and have to be driven out of that again. We are occupying the hills we shelled the other day. There are a lot of dead horses on it, and the rocks are all torn and shattered with our shells." [Morwell & Yinnaar Gazette, 11/5/1900]


Service and life after the Boer War: Discharged 8 January 1901. Was in the Victorian Railways, eventually ending up as a Paid Clerk (Permanent Staff). Married in 1903.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Leslie (Les) Ian Roberts, Kaleen ACT
Relationship to Ancestor: Grandson

Name of Descendant: Kaye Lynette Bricknall, Drummond VIC
Relationship to Ancestor: Grand daughter

 


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields