The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Captain (later Colonel) John Watt

Ancestor Details

Name of Ancestor: John Alexander Watt

Ancestor's date of birth: 01/01/1856

Ancestor's date of death: 01/01/1937

Cause of Death: Parkinson's Disease

Service Number: Officer - no number

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

Unit: South Australian Imperial Bushmen

Rank attained in Boer War: CAPT, Date Effective: Detail not provided

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): MAJ, Date Effective: Detail not provided (reputedly Brevet Colonel)

Murray Page: 367

Contingent: Fifth South Australian

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

Memorial details: Buried Payneham Cemetery, Adelaide

Decorations: Distinguished Service Order (DSO), Mention in Despatches (MID), Volunteer Decoration (VD), Mention in Despatches (MID), King's South Africa Medal with 1901 and 1902 clasps.

Personal Characteristics: It was said that Capt. Watt "deserved all the encomiums that were passed upon him" "Nothing could be too good to say of him, he has proved himself a valuable officer and a really heroic and good fellow throughtout"  ."He was Nature's gentleman and a sportsman of the highest calibre where clean sport is concerned, is Capt. 'Jock' Watt Distinguished Service Order, Volunteer Decoration, who should have earned the Victoria Cross fighting for the flag during the Boer War. J.A. Watt a good judge of an equine and an expert horseman who in his early days emulate the deeds of Adam Lindsay Gordon. He is a soldier and a man"

Reasons to go and fight: A serving soldier since 1884.

Details of service in war: Commanded D Squadron 5th South Australian Imperial Bushmen. Served March 1901 - March 1902 in the Free State including defence of Graspan where five dead (6 June 1901) and charge at Grootvlei (2 August 1901); amalgamated with 6th SA Imperial Bushmen on May 1901.

Service and life after the Boer War: Major Watt had a military career extending over 36 years. He was in command of the Exhibition Base Light Horse Camp during the Great War. Major Watt began his army career under Sir Frederick Holder during the "Russian scare" in 1884. He commanded the Mounted Rifles at Burra for 10 yrs (he was an expert rifle shot and horseman) before organising a corps of Wallaroo and Kadina recruits While commanding the 5th South Australian Imperial Bushmen in South Africa he was mentioned by Lord Kitchener in dispatches for his "conspicuous bravery and fearless leadership" 1903 received decorations from the King. After his appointment as Staff Officer of Contingents he served with Wallaroo and Moonta Mines area on the advent of compulsory military training and later had charge of the Norwood division. Before his retirement in 1921 he was stationed at Mt Barker, Renmark, Berri, Stirling Strathalbyn & other areas. Major Watt died in 1937 and was given a military funeral which left the Keswick Barracks for the Payneham Cemetery Major Watt was made a Brevet Colonel by the Duke of Gloucester (as Governor General) in Adelaide.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Kaye Lorraine Dwyer, Para Hills SA
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Grand Daughter

Name of Descendant: Alexander James Andrews, Happy Valley SA
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Grandson


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields