The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

 
 
Trooper William Henshaw (Casey)

Ancestor Details

Name of Ancestor: William Murray Henshaw (Casey)

Ancestor's date of birth: 06/11/1879

Ancestor's date of death: 11/03/1940

Cause of Death: Throat cancer 1 year 6 months, marasmus (flesh and strength wasting) 9 months.

Service and Life Before the Boer War: I have not as yet discovered how or when my grandfather William Murray Casey arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, although it was before July 1901, or when he arrived back in Sydney; It was before the 5th of January 1905. William enlisted in the Anglo Boer War in the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles after July 1901 through to his disbandment on the 7th of July 1902.

William Murray Casey was born on the 6 of November 1879 at 41 Canning Street, Victoria Ward, in the City of Melbourne, County of Bourke, Victoria, Australia. William's father was Francis Murray (Frank) Casey and his mother was Sarah Sanderson. Witnesses to William's birth were J. D. Tweeddale, Mrs. Poulson and? William's birth was registered by his father F. M. Casey on the 21 of November 1879 at Carlton, Victoria.

William was a second generation Australian whose parents were of Irish / English ancestry.

William was a little over two years old when his father Frank Casey died at their residence in Colac, Victoria, aged 23 years from Valvular disease.

William's mother Sarah Sanderson married James Henshaw in 1885, in Melbourne, moving that same year with six year old William to Narrandera, New South Wales.

William was educated in Narrandera where his stepfather James Henshaw owned a store William worked as a stationer in Narrandera. James and Sarah Henshaw were well respected pioneers of the Narrandera Township.

According to my mother Jean Louise Wilhelmina Jurd (nee Casey), her father William enlisted in the Anglo Boer War against his stepfather and mother's wishes.

Service Number: 2279

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

Unit: Johannesburg Mounted Rifles

Rank attained in Boer War: TPR, Date Effective: 01/06/1901

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): TPR, Date Effective: 07/08/1902

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

Contingent: Not applicable

Ship: Unknown, travelled privately to South Africa

Memorial details: Anglo-Boer War Memorial at the Museum of Military History, Johannesburg South Africa

Awards/Decorations/Commendations: Queen's South Africa Medal with Transvaal, SA 1901 and SA 1902 Clasps, issued on 1 Oct 1902.

Personal Characteristics: William Murray Casey was described as 168 cm tall, of medium to solid build, sallow complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, clean shaved, the top of his little finger had been amputated; At 50 years of age he looked younger.

He was educated in Narrandera, New South Wales, worked as a Stationer, and was an accomplished pianist. later in his life he was 'Verger' at the Church of England at Waverley, New South Wales.

Reasons to go and fight: Unknown

Details of service in war: The Johannesburg Mounted Rifles In July 1901 the two battalions were put together, and under Colonel Stewart operated as a column, which did much trekking and skirmishing generally in the east of the Transvaal and about the Zululand border. A Standerton telegram of 5 August mentioned that by a night raid on Amersfoort the JMR had captured a laager and 20 prisoners. Much of the work of the corps and of the columns which worked in conjunction with Colonel Stewart's is described in 'Two Years at the Front with the Mounted Infantry', being the diary of Lieutenant B Moeller, who had gone out with the City Imperial Volunteers, and who was afterwards mortally wounded at Holland, in the Eastern Transvaal, on 18th December 1901. In September 1901 Colonel Stewart, with his own corps and Gough's Mounted Infantry, was operating to the north of the Natal Border. Gough, who, as stated in Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8 October 1901, was in advance, decided on 17 September to push on towards the Blood River in order to gain touch with the enemy about Scheeper's Nek. Gough, thinking he had about 300 of the enemy in front of him, galloped his force to seize a commanding ridge, but the enemy were at least 1,000 strong, and the three companies of Mounted Infantry and two guns of the 69th Battery Royal Field Artillery were surrounded, and after a fierce fight, in which Gough's force suffered very severe casualties, were forced to surrender. Colonel Stewart, having to protect the baggage of both bodies, fell back on De Jager's Drift, thus at same time covering Dundee. In his despatch Lord Kitchener said: "Lieutenant Colonel Stewart, in falling back when he did, showed great judgment and a sound appreciation of the situation in a position of considerable difficulty". The Boers had collected in the Vryheid district in great strength to attempt a re-invasion of Natal, and on 26 September made most determined attacks on Forts Itala and Prospect, which were repulsed. Major Gough had on many occasions proved himself a fine soldier and most capable leader of mounted infantry. Towards the close of 1901 and during the first quarter of 1902 the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles were chiefly employed in the Ermelo district of the Transvaal. In May 1902 they crossed the Vaal and had some skirmishes in the Frankfort district of the Orange River Colony. Down to the close of the campaign they did service which proved them a most useful and well-led body. On 17 June 1902, after peace had been declared, the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles, Imperial Light Horse, Kitchener's Fighting Scouts, and the Scottish Horse had the honour of marching past and being inspected by the Commander-in-Chief in Johannesburg. Lord Kitchener referred to the fine service of these splendid irregular regiments, and indicated that there was a prospect of permanent volunteer regiments being formed which would be successors to the work, traditions, and organisation of each of them.
(angloboerwar.com)

Service and life after the Boer War: On the 17th of June 1902, after peace had been declared, the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles, Imperial Light Horse, Kitchener's Fighting Scouts, and the Scottish Horse had the honour of marching past and being inspected by the Commander-in-Chief in Johannesburg. Lord Kitchener referred to the fine service of these splendid irregular regiments, and indicated that there was a prospect of permanent volunteer regiments being formed which would be successors to the work, traditions, and organisation of each of them.

On the 5 of January 1905 at 26 years of age, William Murray Casey married Louisa Esther (or Estelle) Tams, at St. Luke's Presbyterian Manse, Redfern, New South Wales, Australia. At that time William and Louisa's residence was at 146 Devonshire Street, Sydney.

William's wife Louisa Estella died on the 26 of July 1911 only six years after they were married. William registered Louisa's death (from Pernicious (fatal) Anaemia) and the birth of their fourth child, baby Louisa Estelle Henshaw, on the 31 of July 1911 eight days after the baby's birth and four days after his wife Louisa's death.

William was an accomplished pianist who played the background music for silent movies, which included interval entertainment in the leading Sydney Movie Theatres throughout the 1910's - 20's. Jean (my mother) accompanied her father to Sydney theatres for many of those years.

As a young man living in Sydney in the 1910's - 1920's and into the 30's William had a close friendship with the much-loved Australian comedian vaudeville entertainer Roy Rene, or 'Mo', that spanned two or more decades. Roy was born Henry van der Sluys on the 15 of February 1892, in Adelaide. William, Jean, Roy and his wife Winnie (Winfred Taylor) shared many meals with each other. William and Roy likely worked together in the theatre.

William had worked in his early life as a stationer (accountant) as his stepfather James Henshaw had. He worked for as short time as a barman in Sydney hotel's in the late 1920's. William continued to play the piano until the end of his life. For many years William was the verger in the Church of England, at Waverley, up to the time of his death in 1940. A verger is an official who takes care of the interior of a church and acts as attendant or an official who carries the verge or other symbol of office before a Bishop, Dean, or other dignitary. William also played the organ for church services and weddings.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Leslie (John) Jurd, Gunnedah NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Grandson

Name of Descendant: Melanie Rhonda Jurd, Tamworth NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Granddaughter

Name of Descendant: Lucinda Marie Jurd, Northampton WA
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Granddaughter

 


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