The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Private William Devitt

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: William Francis Devitt

Ancestor's date of birth: 22/06/1871

Ancestor's date of death: 20/02/1955

Cause of Death: Congestive heart failure

Service and Life Before the Boer War: William Devitt was born at Ennistymon in Co. Clare, Ireland, and immigrated to Queensland with his parents in 1890. He worked as a labourer. He may be the Private Devitt, No. 133 serving in the Darling Downs Mounted Infantry in 1894 & 1895.

Service Number: 36

Colony or State of enlistment: QLD, Place of Enlistment: Warwick

Unit: 5th Queensland Imperial Bushmen

Rank attained in Boer War: PTE, Date Effective: 05/02/1901

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

Murray Page: 494

Contingent: Fifth Queensland

Ship: Templemore, Date of Sailing: 06/03/1901

Memorial details: Detail not provided.

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

Personal Characteristics: He has been described as having a breezy personality. His enviable good humour and witty discussion on current affairs made him a general favourite. He was an active trade unionist.

Reasons to go and fight: Contributing circumstances may be his appearance and conviction in the Warwick Police Court, on the day before his enlistment. On being sentenced, he indicated that he had no goods, and consequently he was to be jailed. His fine must have been paid by another person, perhaps conditional on his enlistment.

Details of service in war: April 1901 - March 1902 in east Transvaal, Free State including defeat at Mokari Drift (27 September 1901), and Natal border campaign including stand at Onverwacht (4 January 1902) where 13 died and 17 wounded.

Service and life after the Boer War: William Devitt married Kate Ryan in Warwick in 1906. They had eight children, of whom three died as infants. Their only surviving son, William Francis Devitt (1914-1960), served as a Flying Officer in the RAAF 1942-1946. He was employed by Queensland Railways from 1911 until about 1932, firstly as a labourer and later as a rolling-stock examiner.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Patricia Mary Haley, Stafford Heights QLD
Relationship to Ancestor: granddaughter


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields