The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Major (Later Colonel) William Patterson

Ancestor Details

Name of Ancestor: William George Patterson

Ancestor's date of birth: 02/09/1862

Ancestor's date of death: 19/05/1916

Cause of Death: Stroke following honorarble medical discharge from Military service with war related stress, concussion and ongoing headaches

Service Number: Officer - no number

Colony or State of enlistment: VIC, Place of Enlistment: Melbourne

Unit: 4th Australian Commonwealth Horse

Rank attained in Boer War: MAJ, Date Effective: 28/12/1900

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): LTCOL, Date Effective: 01/10/1911 (Hon Colonel - 1/05/1916)

Murray Page: 21C

Contingent: Second Australian

Ship: Templemore, Date of Sailing: 26/03/1902

Other Boer War Service: Much of William's early time prior to and during the Boer War was spent as permanent Adjutant of the Victorian Mounted Rifles training the troups at Langwarring Military Base and then at the Showgrounds prior to their departure to the front. This role was in his position as a Captain and later Major in the VMR. In 1902 he was promoted to Second in Command of the 4th Commonwealth Battalion and he served with this group for less than six weeks before returning home on the Norfolk on 07.08.1902. During his time with the VMR and up until his return from the Boer War he lived with his wife and family at the Victoria Barracks in St Kilda Road. In September of 1902 William was appointed Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General for Victoria - he moved out of the Barracks at this time into private accommodation.

Memorial details: Melbourne General Cemetery, Victoria, Australia

Decorations: Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps

Personal Characteristics: Foirmerly a real estate agent and auctioneer prior to joining the VMR William developed a good understanding of management and attention to detail. Strongly committed to both his troops and family - when away from home ensured his family were supported by other senior family members.

Reasons to go and fight: William's younger brother Charlie was involved in the VMR as was his brother-in-law William Braithwaite who was a LieutenantColonel in the VMR at the time.

Details of service in war: Due to the brief time he spent in South Africa little is known of what combat he was involved in. Basically his task immediately prior to the commencement of the Boer War was to ensure the VMR troops who were sent were well drilled and trained for the job ahead of them. In this role he appears to have done a good job and received regular promotions through the ranks prior to sailing for South Africa a couple of months before the peace treaty being signed.

Service and life after the Boer War: Deputy Quarter Master General for Victoria September 1902. in 1906 he was selected by Military Board for special course in instruction in England and India leaving on 3rd July of that year aboard RMS Orient. Stationed at Barossa Barracks at Aldershot attached to the 1st Yorkshire REgiment in the 3rd Brigade under General Pilcher and the 2nd Division of the Aldershot Army Corps under General Sir Bruce Hamilton. in India he served with the 8th Division at Lucknow and the 4th Division at Quetta. Worked in Department of Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General. Sent to Brussels in December 1906. 1907-1910 William sent to South Australia as Depty Assistant Quarter Master General for that state. In 1910 he commenced service as Staff Officer to the Inspector General of the Commonwealth Forces in Melbourne, Major- General G M Kirkpatrick. Promoted to Lieutentant Colonel on the Administration and Industrial Staff. Worked with Captain Blamey to arrange funeral for Colonel Tom Price. Retired in 1913 aged 50 but was recalled from retired list as temporary Lieutenant Colonel on 05.08.1914 and sailed with 1st Division as Quarter Master General - he was the only Australian trained for that position and ranked 5th on the Staff of the Division Headquarters. In March of 1915 William was under Major-General Bridges in Egypt with Headquarters out of the Mena House Hotel. By 24th April 1915 William was at Lemnos; from here he sailed to Turkey on board the Prince of Wales which landed at ANZAC COVE the following day. After three days of heavy shelling he was ordered to leave for Alexandria suffering from concussion and mental exhaustion. During this time he kept diary notes of his time at the front - his breakdown affected him deeply and he felt the need to return to the front. Six weeks later he was invalided home leaving Suez on SS Ballarat on 5th July still experiencing severe headaches. The Medical Board in Melbourne finally retired William on the grounds of ill health with the honorary rank of colonel on 1 May 1916. William George Patterson suffered a stroke later that month and died at the Base Hospital in St. Kilda Road on 19th May 1916. He was buried with full Military Honours next day - thousands of people lined the streets as the cortege travelled to the Melbourne General Cemetery with each branch of the Military Services represented at the funeral.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Pamela Hore, Burwood East VIC
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Niece


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields