The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Sergeant Joseph Brown

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: Joseph Patrick Brown

Ancestor's date of birth: 07/09/1877

Ancestor's date of death: 07/12/1944

Cause of Death: Age related

Service and Life Before the Boer War: It is believed that he was born in the Cowra area. He was living in Cowra when he took himself to South Africa it is believed in 1901 to enlist. His wife remained in Cowra.

Service Number: 2928

Colony or State of enlistment: Not Australia, Place of Enlistment: Durban, South Africa

Unit: 1st Imperial Light Horse

Rank attained in Boer War: SGT, Date Effective: 10/12/1901

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

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

Contingent: Not applicable

Ship: Travelled privately to South Africa

Memorial details: Buried North Rocks NSW

Awards/Decorations/Commendations: Queen's South Africa Medal with Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902 clasps

Personal Characteristics: He had black hair, blue eyes and was 179 cm tall.

Reasons to go and fight: Detail not provided.

Details of service in war: The despatch of 8 January 1902 describes further operations under General Elliot, in some of which the ILH took part. When returning to Eland's River Bridge General Dartnell was hotly attacked. "After leaving Bethlehem on the morning of 18 December the latter officer found himself opposed by a large force of Boers under De Wet, who, occupying a position along the Tyger Kloof Spruit, disputed his further advance, whist he vigorously assailed General Dartnell's flanks and rearguard; sharp fighting was maintained throughout the day. Every successive attack was gallantly repulsed by the two regiments of the ILH until the approach from Bethlehem of the column under Major-General B. Campbell, who had established signaling communication with General Dartnell during the progress of the fight, finally compelled the enemy, about 3 pm, to beat a hurried retreat" in the direction of the Langberg. In this engagement Surgeon-Captain T Crean, Captain G T Brierley, Captain W Jardine, Lieutenant J O'Hara, and 7 men were wounded. It was in this engagement that Surgeon-Captain Crean gained the Victoria Cross. A few days after this, before dawn on the morning of the 25th December, the enemy surprised and captured the camp of a battalion of Yeomanry at Tweefontein, inflicting great loss. As soon as the disaster was known the ILH were ordered to the spot, but the Boers, who had got a good start, were not overtaken. It says a very great deal for the watchfulness and care of the ILH that they were so long in this difficult country, surrounded by a cunning enemy in great strength, but without giving that enemy a chance of doing damage by surprise.

The despatch of 8 February 1902 detailed further operations in the same district, which took place about the end of January, in which substantial loss was inflicted on the enemy. During these some great marching was done; the 2nd Battalion Mounted Infantry (Regulars) covered 82 miles in thirty four hours, the ILH and other troops performing similar feats of endurance. Between 25th and 29th January 1902 there were some casualties about Newmarket, 3 men being killed and Lieutenant Bamford and several men wounded.

The despatches of 8 March and 8 April describe the great combined drives in the north east of the Orange River Colony, in which a large number of prisoners, over 1500, were captured. The work of the ILH was specially singled out in the account of the Press Association correspondent. They stopped one very determined rush, when the enemy tried, in the darkness, to break through the line at their part. The 1st lost 4 killed. In the drive from the Vaal to Harrismith about 520 prisoners and 1400 horses fell into the hands of the 1 ILH.

In the despatch of 1st June 1902 Lord Kitchener details the operations undertaken in the Western Transvaal to clear that district after the disasters suffered by Lord Methuen. Troops were taken from "other districts, and the ILH recrossed the vaal. On 11th April Colonel Kekewich had heavy fighting. Soon after starting in the morning the advance guard under Von Donop was attacked: the enemy "advanced rapidly to close quarters in very compact formation, the Boers riding knee to knee, and in many places in two ranks, whilst their attack was supported by a heavy fire from skirmishers on both flanks. Many of the men of our advanced screen in forward positions were ridden over by the enemy, who pressed on rapidly to within 700 yards of the main body and convoys, keeping up an incessant magazine-rifle fire from their horses as they approached. Here, however, they were checked by Lieutenant Colonel Greenfell's troops which were at the head of the main body, the Scottish Horse, 5th IY, and South African Constabulary dismounting and moving forward steadily on foot to meet the coming charge. This was the crisis of the fight, and it was one which terminated quickly with the complete repulse of the Boers and the death of their Commandant, Potgeiter, who was conspicuous in leading the attack until he fell, only 90 yards in front of our troops. So far, however, it was only a repulse, but the arrival of Lieutenant Colonel Briggs with the ILH, detached upon the enemy's right flank from Sir H.Rawlinson's force, turned the repulse into a rout". Colonel Briggs, hearing the heavy firing, of his own initiative took the ILH to the scene of the action. Fifty-one dead and 40 wounded Boers were found on the ground, and in the subsequent pursuit by the 1st ILH and troops of Colonel Kekewich two 15-pounder guns, one pom-pom, some vehicles, ammunition, and 36 unwounded prisoners were captured.

Further successful drives took place in the south west Transvaal in which the ILH were engaged. Thus from Elandslaagte to the very last stage of the war did this splendid Volunteer Regiment keep steadily at work. Throughout the whole war they had done nobly; no regular troops could have reached a higher standard, and if they were largely men who had a personal stake in the Transvaal, they did all that men could to assist the mother country in the struggle for the maintenance of British sovereignty in South Africa.

Peace was declared on 1st June. On the 17th, both regiments having been brought into Johannesburg marched past Lord Kitchener, who complimented them and some other distinguished Colonial corps also present. The Commander-in-Chief expressed the hope that he would be able to make arrangements for keeping up the ILH as a permanent volunteer corps. Joseph Patrick Brown enlisted in Durban 10 December 1901 and was discharged 13 June 1902. His job was as a Farrier Sergeant.

Service and life after the Boer War: After the war he moved to Parramatta NSW where he lived out the rest of his life.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Sidney Brown, Binnaway NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Grand Son


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields