The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Trooper John Booth

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: Joseph John William Booth

Ancestor's date of birth: 11/02/1881

Ancestor's date of death: 1960

Cause of Death: Not stated

Service Number: Not on record - Boer War service is based on WW1 record, not a contemporary listing

Colony or State of enlistment: Not applicable Place of Enlistment: South Africa

Unit: Driscoll's Scouts

Rank attained in Boer War: TPR, Date Effective: On enlistment

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): PTE, Date Effective: 15/11/1917

Murray Page: Not applicable, did not serve in an Australian unit.

Contingent: Not applicable

Ship: in South Africa for private reasons

Memorial details: Detail not provided

Awards/Decorations: QSA with SA 1901, SA1902, Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal clasps. BWM, VM.

Personal Characteristics: Born in Norwood UK. A decorator by trade. Height 165 cm, weight 70 kg (1917), fair complexion, brown hair, blue eyes.

Reasons to go and fight: Detail not provided

Details of service in war: Driscoll's Scouts was raised, on a modest basis as regards numbers, about the time Lord Roberts landed at Cape Town. Their leader, Captain Driscoll, was a British resident in Burma, who made his way to the front, and whether his motives were love to do something for the mother country, ambition, or mere love of adventure, he most certainly did work of the highest value throughout more than two years' hard campaigning. The unit took part in General Brabant's operations in February and March 1900 for clearing the north-eastern portion of Cape Colony; and when Colonel Dalgety occupied and defended Wepener, 3 officers and 52 men of Driscoll's Scouts were with him. During the siege Lieutenant Weiner and about a dozen non-commissioned officers and men were wounded. After Wepener was relieved the unit was attached to the Colonial Division under General Brabant, and were in the advance through the east of the Orange River Colony to the line Senekal to Hammonia; the right or eastern end of that line being largely left to the keeping of the Colonial Division during June and July 1900, when the operations for surrounding the enemy were in progress. The unit was present at the severe engagement fought by General Rundle at Biddulphsberg on 29th May. They had several casualties in this action and in the fighting during June and July before Prinsloo's force was surrounded. In a telegram dated 12 July the 'Daily Telegraph' correspondent said: "Captain Driscoll, leader of the Scouts bearing his name, captured four armed Boers single-handed and brought them prisoners into camp. This was a splendidly plucky feat. Driscoll's Scouts are rendering General Rundle most valuable service". Another correspondent mentioned that at the time Captain Driscoll was quite alone. He had been taking coffee at the door of a store, when he saw four armed Boers go round the house. In a second he had 'covered' them, and they agreed to hand over their arms. He then marched them to his men some miles away. Sir Archibald Hunter, in his despatch of 4 August 1900 regarding the surrender of Prinsloo, said, para 26: "The following day, the 26th, I entered Fouriesburg with my mounted troops, and found that the town had already been occupied by a portion of Sir Leslie Bundle's Division, headed by Driscoll's Scouts, after a forced march from Commando Nek of fourty kilometres". The unit was very highly thought of by Sir Leslie Bundle, and he kept them as scouts for his division when the bulk of the Colonials were taken north to the Transvaal on the trail of De Wet. The unit was for a time under Major General Hector MacDonald in the Bethlehem district, and in October they were attached to a column based on Harrismith under Brigadier General Campbell. Under these leaders they did a great deal of marching and skirmishing. In November and December they were with Bruce Hamilton, under whom they had constant hard work, which they performed to the general's satisfaction. He frequently complimented them. In the second phase of the war the unit was greatly augmented in numbers; having done well and made a name, it got recruits. The despatch of 8th July 1901 shows that the strength in May was 422 men and 489 horses. At that time, and for some months previous, they had been operating in the Orange River Colony both east and west of the railway, along the Vaal river, and in the south of the Transvaal. Early in February they were engaged near Ladybrand, and had some casualties. On the 24th they lost 2 killed and 6 wounded, and on the 26th had further losses in the Winburg district. On 4 March Lieutenant Moss was severely wounded near Jagersfonteiii in the south of the Orange River Colony. On the 2nd a party of 50 had been sent to join a column. They were surrounded by 300 Boers, but about 35 got into a kraal, which they held for twenty-four hours until relieved. On 16 March Lieutenant MacMinn and several men were wounded. Driscoll's Scouts were for a considerable time in the column of Colonel Western, who was frequently credited in the despatches with useful captures made chiefly in the neighbourhood of the Vaal. Near Parys, on 19 April 1901, Lieutenant Norman Breslin was severely wounded. In August Western's column was taken to Cape Colony, and operated for a short time against Myburg about Jamestown. In September the unit was taken to the south-east of the Orange River Colony, where for about four months they operated under General Knox, Colonel Rochfort, and Colonel Western. In the despatch of 8th January 1902 Lord Kitchener remarked that Colonel Rochfort's troops, under Lieutenant Colonel Western and De Moulin and Major Driscoll, were moved to the west of the railway in pursuit of straggling bands of the enemy. In the despatch of 8 February 1902 Lord Kitchener said: "On the 26 January Major Driscoll, whose column had called at Petrusburg to obtain supplies there, learned that on the previous evening Nieuwhoudt's commando had been seen in the vicinity of Makaw's Drift on the Modder. He at once started in pursuit, and crossing at the drift, came up with the Boer force, which was in movement on the Boshof road about eight miles to the north of the river. A short engagement ensued, in which Major Driscoll was successful in capturing 17 prisoners, including 2 field-cornets, 12 waggons, 69 riding-horses". Driscoll was then sent to the extreme south-west of the Orange River Colony. The despatch of 8 March 1902 mentions that in February Western and Driscoll's troops moved north towards Boshof; Driscoll's Scouts had an engagement on the way at Simon's Valley, capturing 6 prisoners, 180 horses, mules, some cattle, waggons, and ammunition. The enemy having been very aggressive in the south-west of the Transvaal in February and the first half of March, Driscoll's Scouts, acting as one of Colonel Rochfort's columns, were taken to the valley of the Vaal. About 11 April they crossed the river, and paid some surprise visits to various likely resorts of the enemy. A forced march on the 15th resulted in a successful surprise near Schweizer Reneke, when 57 prisoners were taken, including two of De Wet's staff. Other efforts also met with success. After this Driscoll's Scouts took part in the final great drives in the Western Transvaal under General Ian Hamilton, which Lord Kitchener said were extremely successful. []

Service and life after the Boer War: He came to Australia in 1906 married Catherine, served in the militia. Joined the AIF on 15 November 1917 to 19th August 1919, serving in France with 34 Battalion. Died at the South Sydney Hospital in 1960.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Albert Booth, Swansea NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Son


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields