- Map of Lutwyche Cemetery
- Aerial Photo of War Graves in Lutwyche Cemetery
- Plaques Monument
- No. 1 Burials Plaque
- No. 2 Burials Plaque
- Off Site Burials & Cremations
- The Cross of Sacrifice
- The White Sentinels of the Militrary Cemetery
- Isolated War Grave
- War Cemetery - Lawn Section
- First Burials in Lawn Cemetery
- William Edward (Billy) Sing in Portion 7
- Report of Billy Sing's Funeral May 1943
- Chinese in Wartime
- Billy Sing Commemorative Services
- Private William Edward Sing's Medals from the Great War
- 2013 Billy Sing Commemorative Service with a Light Horse Guard
- Augustus (Gus) Davies, Aboriginal Serviceman, served in two World Wars
- Soldiers From Other Countries.
- Veterans in the General Cemetery - WWI
- Veterans in the General Cemetery - Boer War
- The Three Carbineers - Morant, Handcock and Witton
- Lieutenant George Ramsdale Witton
- Post Script to the Court Martial
- Ironic End Piece
Map of Lutwyche Cemetery
The War Cemetery is located in the middle west of Lutwyche Cemetery. Portions 7, 8 and 9 are reserved for veterans. Those who died during the war are buried in the War Graves part of Portion 7 which is cared for by the Commonwealth Graves Commission. Those who die after their war service can be buried in the lawn sections which comprise the remainder of the three portions.
Some veterans are buried in the other parts of the cemetery and their graves are marked.
Aerial Photo of War Graves in Lutwyche Cemetery
The War Graves are found in Portions 7,8 & 9 of Lutwyche Cemetery. The photo shows from the right Portion 7 and part of Portion 8. Portion 7 is divided into the War Graves with the rows of headstones in ranks and a Lawn section with flat plaques marking each grave.
The following is a copy of text on the the top Plaque in Lutwyche War Cemetery.
AUSTRALIA IN THE TWO WORLD WARS
In the First World War more than 400,000 and in the Second almost 1,000,000 men and women served in the Australian armed forces.
In the First World War Australian troops fought far from home especially in Egypt, Gallipoli, Palestine, France and Flanders. In 1940 and 1941 they went to fight in the Western Desert, in Greece and Crete and in Syria. After the loss of Malaya in which campaign an Australian division took part, Australian troops were recalled from the Middle East for the defence of the home country now threatened by the Japanese conquest of the Netherlands East Indies, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Australia's principal war effort was directed to the recapture of these territories and the battle honours wont there will be remembered equally with those gained by the original Anzacs at Gallipoli and Flanders.
The Royal Australian Navy's first action in November 1914 brought the German cruiser Emden, which had created havoc on the eastern shipping routes, to strike her colours to HMAS Sydney. Thereafter, in both world wars ships of the Royal Australian Navy served alongside those of the Royal Navy in many parts of the world, from 1941 to 1945 they played an important part with the United States Navy in operations in the South West Pacific and in 1940 in the Mediterranean another HMAS Sydney sank the Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleone.
From 1916 the Australian Flying Corps, later to become the Royal Australian Air Force, flew in the campaigns of Sinai and Palestine and on the Western Front. In the Second World War, Australian airmen, serving both in the Royal Australian Air Force and on attachment to the Royal Air Force flew in the defence of Australia and Britain against an attack as well as in the campaigns in the Western Desert, Italy and North West Europe and in the strategic bombing offensives against German Occupied Europe.
Australian war dead in the First World War was nearly 62,000 and in the Second almost 40,500. Most of them are buried in war cemeteries or commemorated on memorials in the country where they fought and fell, but in Australia itself 12,448 Commonwealth war dead are commemorated in cemeteries or on memorials to those cremated or to those whose graves are unknown or unmaintainable; of this total 12,164 (3,856 of the First and 9,308 of the Second World War) were from the Australian forces.
Brisbane's port facilities made it an ideal naval base during the Second World War. Upon Japan's entry into the war, fixed defences were established in the city and large American Forces were brought in to strengthen the position. As the closest capital to the action in the Pacific, Brisbane contained the Allied Air Force Headquarters, a Central Intelligence Unit and the Headquarters of the General Officer Commanding the Australian Military Forces. In July 1942 the American Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the South West pacific moved his headquarters from Melbourne to Brisbane so as to be nearer the scene of the campaign in Papua and New Guinea.
The Lutwyche Cemetery contains 387 graves of the Second World War comprising 2RN, 14RAN, 2 Royal Netherlands Navy, 297 Australian Army, 2 RAF and &70 RAAF.
There are 9 Australian burials of the First World War
The Queensland Cremation Memorial, sited in Lutwyche Cemetery commemorates 36 Australians of the Second World War.
THIS PLOT WAS CONSTRUCED AND IS MAINTAINED BY THE COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION
No. 1 Burials Plaque
The servicemen and women whose names appear on these two plaques are not buried in the War Cemetery or the Lawn Cemetery section. They are buried in the General Cemetery, perhaps in family plots or, in the case of the World War I veterans, because they died before the War Cemetery was created.
No. 2 Burials Plaque
Off Site Burials & Cremations
The Cross of Sacrifice
The Cross of Sacrifice at Lutwyche Cemetery was erected and paid for by the Imperial War Graves Commission. The work was carried out by P J Lowther & Son Monumental Mason and the stone used is freestone (Limestone) from Helidon. It was completed in 1950.
The cross of Sacrifice is found in Commonwealth (British Empire) cemeteries which contain 40 or more graves of service men and women who died on active service or during a war. It is a freestanding Latin cross of white stone with a bronze sword point down signifying peace in this place. The Cross represents the Christian faith of most of the occupants while the Sword signifies they were military personnel.
The Cross is also found in the Great War cemeteries in France and Belgium where so many British and Commonwealth soldiers were buried where they fell.
There is a Cross of Sacrifice in Arlington National Cemetery USA for those US citizens who enlisted in the Canadian military in the Great War before the US declared war in 1917. (With thanks to Wikipedia)
The White Sentinels of the Militrary Cemetery
Isolated War Grave
Pte. E. N. O'Connor of the Army Service Corps was buried on the 5th December, 1947 aged 34. The headstone is inscribed "Dearly loved and sadly missed by his loving wife and son." He is buried in Portion 10 which is beside Portion 7 of the war graves.
It is possible that he was part of the Allied Occupation Forces in Japan after WWII and hence was on active service. But why bury him in a War Grave cared for by the Commonwealth Graves Commission outside of the War Graves section?
Recently the Editor received an email from a reader who proposed an answer to the above question:
It is of my knowledge that this particular burial of the fallen 'PTE. E. N. O'CONNOR', 05/12/47, has obviously occurred after the end of WWII, and he has either died post-war as a result of war related injuries, or as you mentioned above, died on active duty as part of Japan's occupation. Furthermore, the War Cemetery may have been 'closed' off to more burials, promptly after the end of WWII, as I know that only after further lobbying of the government and relevant agencies, were post-war deaths accepted as official commemorations (but perhaps after the War Cemetery was officially closed off)?
I hope this helps with your research and clarifies a few things.
Thank you Reader.
War Cemetery - Lawn Section
There are three Lawn Sections in the War Cemetery, one to the east and the other two to the west of the Military section.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION OF VETERANS GRAVES.
The eastern section, Portion 7, seems to be the earliest with veterans from the Great War 1914-18. In some burial plots spouses are also interred.
Portion 8 seems to start with burials in 1949 at the eastern end.
Portion 9 seems to start with burials in 1957 at the eastern end. Although there are vacant sites in the other two Portions.
First Burials in Lawn Cemetery
Private J. Walsh must have served in World War I and was buried on 10th December 1942. If he had died in WWII he would have been buried in an overseas war cemetery or in the War Graves section of Lutwyche.
The concrete slab has room for another plaque but it has not been used.
William Edward (Billy) Sing in Portion 7
'Billy Sing' - William Edward Sing (1886-1943)
Billy was born at Clermont, Queensland and became a champion shot as a kangaroo shooter and in the local rifle club.
He served as a sniper at Gallipoli and then on the Western Front in France for the duration of the conflict. While on Gallipoli he managed to kill a Turkish sniper who had been brought to the front specifically to kill Billy.
While the sniper's job was to pick off unwary personnel, including civilians, behind enemy lines the enemy took great pains to pick off any snipers. The sniper had to be well camouflaged and prepared to move to a new position before the enemy found him; once a sniper had been located the artillery would be called in to blast him out.
The sniper had to be more than a good shot; he had to be able to detect minute changes in the landscape and find any telltale signs of new human activity. The sniper used to set up his rifle ready and protruding from the hide or 'pozzie' before dawn each day. At first light the spotter started his long vigil to find a target through the periscope. Once found the sniper has seconds to find the same target, allow for the wind speed and direction, aim the rifle and pull the trigger; the victim would not even hear the bullet. If he did, then he might survive. It all had to be done speedily or the sniper could become the target.
Officers and specialist soldiers were favourite targets.
A much more detailed record of Billy's service and the way he operated as a sniper is given below via the link with the Light Horse Assn. Website.
According to a report in Wikipedia Sing's tally was between the Regimental Record of 150 confirmed kills and about 300 unconfirmed kills according to Major Stephen Midgely; a confirmed kill is one seen and recorded by the spotter. General Birdwood, who reportedly spotted for Sing on one occasion, estimated about 200 kills.
Officially he was credited as killing 150 enemy soldiers and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal as well as being mentioned in dispatches (MID).
Woe betide the sniper who was taken prisoner; he did not have much of a future.
Billy's later life was marked by the breakup of his marriage and he died in 1943, alone and almost penniless, in a Brisbane boarding house room.
- Australian Light Horse Association Website - This website is a very detailed account of Billy Sing's service in the Great War. It is very graphic and tries to bring the dedication and discipline with which Billy always worked. He had to do this otherwise another sniper would have killed him.
Report of Billy Sing's Funeral May 1943
Worker (Brisbane, Qld. : 1890 -1955) Journal of the Australian Workers Union
Previous issue Monday 24 May 1943
Last Call For Old A.W.U. Warrior
William Edward ("Billy") Sing, a brave old member of the A.W.U., with a distinguished record in the last war (31st Batt., A.I.F.), answered the last call when he died suddenly in Brisbane last Wednesday night. "Billy" was a crack shot, and as a sniper at Gallipoli his former commander (Brigadier-General L. C. Wilson) credited him with a bag of 150 Turks. For this he was awarded the D.C.M. Later, in France, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. "Billy" was not so very old (57), but he had had a hard life for many years as miner in the Clermont district, shearer, timber-getter, kangaroo shooter, and other outback occupations. Through it all he was faithful to the A.W.U. and the Labor Movement generally. He assisted actively in the election campaigns of Messers. Bulcock and Foley, and other Labor Ministers and members. Old comrades of the last war and the union gave him a suitable farewell at his funeral at Lutwyche Cemetery on Friday, when a military salute was fired, and the "Last Post" was sounded.
According to Obituaries Australia Billy died of a ruptured aorta.
Chinese in Wartime
From the late 19th century, children of Chinese settlers took their place in Colonial society and grew up as Australians. Some demonstrated their loyalty to their new homeland by serving in the Militia during the Boer War (1899-1901).
From 1909 until 1948, for the Army, and until 1951 for other services, Defence Regulations discriminated against many patriotic citizens of Chinese ancestry by preventing them from enlisting in the armed forces on the grounds of not being 'substantially of European origin or descent'.
In World War 1, Chinese-Australians, possibly unaware of these restrictions, were among the first to volunteer and many enlisted to support the British cause. They served with pride. However, some were prevented because the recruiting or medical officers enforced the regulations. Private Caleb James Shang and Trooper William Edward (Billy) Sing, both born in Queensland, served with distinction.
In World War1l, the decisions of recruiting and medical officers were variable in judging if applicants were 'substantially of European descent'. Many Chinese-Australians were successful in enlisting in the services to fight for and defend Australia, but many applicants were denied. Those who were refused contributed in numerous other ways on the home front. Arthur (Tiger) See Hoe, of Innisfail, was not eligible to enlist, but he and his truck were commandeered by the Civil Construction Corps to assist in building airfields in North Queensland. Due to the shortage of labour, he worked as a cane cutter in the season.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, Australia provided refuge for Chinese aliens from New Guinea and Nauru. More than 2,000 Chinese seamen were stranded in Australia, and were employed by the United States Army Services of Supply building barges at Bulimba. Another 250 seamen were employed.
During World War1l, Australian Security Services monitored Chinese restaurants as part of their Japanese espionage activities. Restaurants were considered as distributing centres, meeting places and focal points for residents and overseas travellers.
As civilians and members of the armed services, Chinese immigrants and Australians of Chinese descent have proved themselves willing to serve their adopted country. Life in the services for Chinese-Australians was less discriminatory than in civilian life.
@ Chinese-Australian Historical Association Inc. Ray Poon, President.
Billy Sing Commemorative Services
For some years Billy Sing's grave has been marked by a small Australian flag and wreaths. I have no idea who provided these tributes to Billy.
The first Commemorative Service was held on the 19th May 2009 On the 66th anniversary of his death. The Chinese consul-general, Ren Gongping, RSL office bearers and community leaders laid wreaths at his grave during a short ceremony at Lutwyche Cemetery in Brisbane.
(For a more detailed description of the Commemoration from the Brisbane Times see Item 8 in the Side Bar.)
The second Commemorative service was held on 19th May 2010. It was organised by the Chinese-Australian History Society Inc and attended by representatives of the Kedron-Wavell RSL, Brisbane City Council Marchant Ward and the Chermside & Districts Historical Society Inc.
The third service was held on the same date in 2012 and organised by the 31st Infantry Battalion Association, Brisbane Branch. Although Billy enlisted in the Light Horse he served in the 31st in World War 1. Assisting were the four organisations mentioned above. About 60 plus people attended the impressive service which commenced at 10am
The fourth Commemoration was held 19th May 2013 with the same organisation as memtioned above. This time the Queensland Mounted Infantry Historical Troop took part and mounted guard over the grave.
The people who came to honour Billy Sing were mostly in the upper age bracket, the photographer being in his early eighties.
They came to honour an ordinary stockman, bushman, kangaroo shooter who lived in the outback and was suddenly caught up in the malestrom of the Great War. By using his unique skills with the rifle he was able to maintain his 'cool' and contribute to the final victory in a rather spectular fashion.
While many forgot Billy, this group of people didn't forget him or his mates.
Post Script: There was at least one young person present. She was a student from Wavell Heights High School and she came to sound the Last Post. She performed very well and did the school proud. Thank you.
Address in honour of Tpr William Edward (Billy) Sing DCM, Belgian Croix de Guerre, MID (Mentioned in Dispatches)
(19th May 2012)
Distinguished Guests and Members of:
• 31st Infantry Battalion Assoc. (Brisbane Branch)
• Chinese Australian Historical Association Inc
• Chermside & District Historical Society Inc
• Kedron Wavell Sub Branch RSL Inc
Ladies & Gentlemen
My thanks to the 31st Infantry Battalion Assoc. (Brisbane Branch) for their kind invitation to participate in today's ceremony to honour:
Tpr William Edward Sing DCM, Belgian Croix de Guerre, MID, (1886 - 1943) - Popularly known in history as the Assassin of Gallipoli
Late of the 5th Light Horse and the 31st Infantry Battalion 1 AIF
I congratulate the organisers of today's ceremony to acknowledge and pay tribute to the life and service of Billy Sing as he has become known.
Not long after the outbreak of World War 1, Billy Sing (then aged 28yrs) rallied to the flag to serve his country and enlisted in the all-volunteer 1 AIF, doing so at Bowen on 26th October 1914.
This would be his first big challenge in the Army: enlisting.
Billy Sing was of Chinese and English decent and the Regulations governing the enlistment into the Australian Military at that time explicitly stated that enlistees had to be "Substantially of European origin or descent". Against that regulation Billy got through to successfully enlist and to serve his country and become a national and international hero.
This bloke from Clermont, North Queensland, at that time was:
• working as a stockman;
• a competent horseman;
• an excellent shooter (worked as a kangaroo hunter); and
• a member of the Proserpine Rifle Club (quasi-military training).
These were all attributes that he would draw upon during his war service and they would place him in good stead to confront the many challenges that would come his way during this "war to end all wars".
During his tour of duty in the Middle Eastern and European theatres he would face many challenges.
He was wounded three times, gassed and hospitalised on numerous occasions due to his wounds and illness. He was:
• wounded at Gallipoli in November 1915
• seriously ill and hospitalised in Egypt 1915
• wounded again at Polygon Wood in March 1917
• gassed at Passchendaele in October 1917
• wounded a third time at Messines in February 1918
He faced numerous challenges on the battlefield and came through with flying colours'
His bravery on the battlefield was formally recognised three times:
1. January 1916 - awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for
"Conspicuous gallantry from May to September 1915, at ANZAC, as a sniper. His courage and skill were most marked, and he was responsible for a very large number of casualties among the enemy, no risk being too great for him to take".
2. Belgian Croix de Guerre (this medal can only be awarded to foreign nationals for acts of heroism conducted on Belgium soil) - awarded for "conspicuous gallantry in the field at Polygon Wood".
3. MID (which he was awarded in lieu of a Military medal which we know that Billy was recommended for in recognition of his leadership of an anti-sniper fighting patrol at Polygon Wood during the 3rd Battle of Ypres on 2nd October 1917).
I am indebted to Colonel Alastair Kennedy (retd), late of the British Army, for the photograph of Billy Sing's medals. Alastair is completing a book on Chinese Australians in the Australian Military forces and through his research has played a large part in tracking down the location of Billy's medals to the AWM in Canberra.
Explain the medals (also mention: Gallipoli Medallion)
Billy faced many, many, challenges in the Army throughout the First World War and came through with great credit and distinction.
He would face many other challenges in his post war life back on northern and central Queensland and then later in Brisbane:
• soldier-settler sheep farmer
• gold miner
He died here in Brisbane on 19th May 1943 at the age of 57. Today marks the 69th anniversary of his death.
He was buried here in an unmarked grave that remained so until the combined efforts of four gentlemen whose initiative and drive during the early 1990s are behind the reasons why we are standing here today. I would like to acknowledge the work of:
i. Brian Tate - early Billy Sing Historian and whose article in the Courier Mail on the eve of ANZAC Day 1993 brought this injustice to light;
ii. Don Cameron - then a federal member of Parliament;
iii. Alby Smith - a Senior Technical Officer with 4 Armaments Engineering Unit in Melbourne who had developed a new Sniper Rifle for the Army and unsuccessfully proposed it to be called the "Billy Sing"; and
iv. Don Smith - Billy Sing's great nephew.
Rest in peace Billy Sing
You overcame many challenges in the Army and throughout your life
You served your country with honour and distinction
Today we honour you with the acknowledge that you rightly deserve
You will never be forgotten.
Lest We Forget
Major General Darryl LOW CHOY, AM, MBE, RFD, (retd) PhD
19th May 2012
Darryl LOW CHOY
Professor - Environmental & Landscape Planning
Urban Research Program
School of Environment
Don Cameron, a long serving Federal Member of Parliament, recalled that in 1993 an article, written by Brian Tate, was published in the Courier Mail outlining the career of Trooper William Edward Sing in World War I. Brian co-operated with Alby Smith who had done a great deal of research on Billy's live over a period of 35 years
A month later an anonymous donor had a bronze plaque fixed to the Carpet Warehouse at 304 Montague Road which occupies the site of the boarding house where Billy Sing died in 1946.
At that time Billy's grave was unmarked and, in 1994, four people, inspired by Brian's article, donated $125 each to have the bronze plaque made and fixed on his grave.
Private William Edward Sing's Medals from the Great War
The Distinguished Conduct Medal Awarded January 1916 for "Conspicuous gallantry from May to September 1915, at ANZAC, as a sniper. His courage and skill were most marked, and he was responsible for a very large number of casualties among the enemy, no risk being too great for him to take".
The 14-15 Star Campaign medal signifying his service in those years.
The British War Medal Campaign medal for his service during the 1914-1918 World War I.
The Victory Medal and Mentioned in Dispatches Oak Leaf "which he was awarded in lieu of a Military medal which we know that Billy was recommended for in recognition of his leadership of an anti-sniper fighting patrol at Polygon Wood during the 3rd Battle of Ypres on 2nd October 1917."
Belgium Croix de Guerre (Belgium Cross of War - this medal can only be awarded to foreign nationals for acts of heroism conducted on Belgium soil) awarded for "conspicuous gallantry in the field at Polygon Wood".
Details from the Address to Billy Sing by Major General Darryl Low Choy AM, MBE, RFD (Ret'd) PhD
2013 Billy Sing Commemorative Service with a Light Horse Guard
The 2013 commemoration was orgainsed by the 31st Infantry Battalion Association with the Queensland Mounted Infantry Historical Troop mounting guard at the ceremony.
After the two speeches were made the Prayer was led by Padre Keith Briggs and the congregation joined in The Lord's Prayer.
Five official wereaths were laid from:
31st Infantry Battalion Association,
Kedron-Wavell Sub-Branch of Returned & Services League of Australia,
Queensland Mounted Infantry Historical Troop,
Chinese-Australian Historical Association Inc,
Chermside and Districts Historical Society Inc.
When the wreaths were laid the Wavell State High Choir sang Soldiers of the Queen which is the quick march song of 31st Infantry Battalion.
This is the most solomn part of the ceremony where Billy, and by default, his comrades are saluted and honoured.
The Last Post was sounded by Bugler Anna McGregor, the Ode was recited, one minutes silence was observed and Anna sounded the Rouse.
Wavell State High Choir sing "We Are Australians" in which many quietly joined.
The Closing Prayer was led by Padre Keith Briggs and all joined in the singing of the National Anthem to close the ceremony.
'The Captains and the Kings depart' leaving the silent graves and their occupants resting in peace.
At solem funeral processions for service personell, the coffin may be carried on a gun carriage followed by a riderless horse with reversed boots. President J. F. Kennedy's funeral was one such occasion.
Augustus (Gus) Davies, Aboriginal Serviceman, served in two World Wars
Acknowledgement: The data on Gus was supplied by the Sandgate Historical Society.
Note: Aboriginals and Asiatics were officially not wanted in the Australian Army during World War I. Their only hope of joining was to find a Medical Officer at a Recruiting Centre who was friendly and willing to 'bend the rules'.
Born: About 1883
Married: Wife came from Scotland
Unit: 7th Light Horse - embarked for Egypt 14-6-1917
Volunteered for service in the 41st Battalion and served in France till the end of World War I
Awards: Military Medal
Post War: Took up portion 201 on the Western side of Deep Water Bend. This was in the Wyampa Road Soldiers' Settlement at Bald Hills. He was one of only two Aboriginal servicemen who received land after World War I.
Gus Joins Up Again in WWII
World War II: on the 10-6-1940 he enlisted in the army but because he was over 57 years old, he was not sent overseas. He spent the next four years in the 1st Garrison Battalion at Gaythorne. He was discharged on medical grounds on 11-10-1944.
He was a long-time member of the RSL and used to regularly march in the Anzac Day procession at Sandgate and then travel by train into the city for the main march of the day.
Death: At the age of 74 Gus suffered a heart attack on 20-8-1955 and drowned in the Pine River. He is buried in the Anzac Lawn Section of Lutwyche Cemetery.
Location of grave: Part -ANZAC; Portion 8; Section 13; Grave Number 23.
Gus Davies Grave Plaque
Gus is buried in the Lawn Cemetery along with other diggers, some with their wives, who died after the wars ended.
The Anzac section was considerably renovated in 2014 but for some reason the part where Gus is buried has not been done yet (October 2015).
Gus Davies Park
I will insert the photo of Gus' park sign when I get it.
Soldiers From Other Countries.
Israel Joseph Mendoza of the Royal Sussex Regiment was buried on 20th April 1946 aged 60 years.
Although a portion of the Monumental cemetery had been set aside for ex-Imperial (British) soldiers very few were buried there. This could be because it was set up before the Lawn Cemetery and the old soldiers preferred the Lawn.
The memoial is one of the few that are non metallic, being cut from red granite.
Veterans in the General Cemetery - WWI
In the Great War those who died in Queensland were buried in the General Cemetery even if they died during the war. There was no War Cemetery until WWII.
Ewan Ledlie was the last of five to be buried in the family double grave. Unfortunately the two headstones have both fallen and broken into three pieces while the graves are in a state of collapse; not surprising after almost a hundred years.
Some soldiers still choose to be buried with their families.
The grave of J. T. Daniels is well kept and has a bronze plaque to mark his resting place along with his status as a soldier of the Great War.
Why the difference in the maintenance of the two graves?
Veterans in the General Cemetery - Boer War
Probably the earliest veterans are from the Boer War 1900-1901 and they are not marked in any way. The few that we have discovered have come from newspaper articles written in the early part of the 20th Century.
The following news item appeared in the Courier Mail 14.8.1948 page 4
Boer War man dead
Mr. Ernest Allan, of Cullen Street, Windsor, a Boer War veteran, has died aged 66. He was well known in mining circles in Central Queensland and the Dawson Valley. Queen Victoria presented him with his Boer War Queen's Medal in 1901. He will be buried at Lutwyche Cemetery this morning.
Unfortunately his details are not available on the Boer War Nominal Roll at present. This could be explained if he was in the British Army or a Unit raised in South Africa.
An email from the War Museum in Canberra noted that:
• many locally raised irregular units such as the Bushveldt Carbineers or the Scot's Horse were raised in Cape Town or surrounding areas and we know that many Australian servicemen chose to enlist in these units rather than return home with their original contingent.
• Unfortunately, there are a great many veterans of the Boer War for which we have little or no information. The majority of the Australian contingents' records have not survived, meaning that we effectively have no way of checking for omissions and errors in the nominal roll.
Thus the only record we have of Earnst Allan's service is the newspaper report of his death.
The Three Carbineers - Morant, Handcock and Witton
These three Australian Lieutenants in the Busveldt Carbineers figured in one of the most newsworthy stories to come out of the Boer War. At least that was how it appeared in Australia and it contributed to the Australian Army never again accepting British Army justice, in cases involving its soldiers.
The three men were sentenced to death by a British court martial for killing Boer prisoners. While Morant and Handcock were shot, Witton had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment by Lord Kitchiner. He was released and sent home in 1904.
Lieutenant George Ramsdale Witton
Lieutenant George Ramsdale Witton (1874-1942) came from a farm near Warrnambool in Victoria and enlisted in the Victorian Imperial Bushmen to fight in the Boer, or South African, War. Later he joined the British Army and became an officer in the Bushveldt Carbineers which fought the Boer Farmers on their own terms; a long distance mounted strike force, the first Australian commandos; they could ride and shoot.
In the course of the war he was accused, court martialled and found guilty of killing Boer prisoners; his co-accused were the better known Lieutenants Peter Handcock and Harry Morant (the Breaker). They were condemned to death by firing squad but Witton's sentence was commuted by Lord Kitchener to life imprisonment. The others were shot on 27th February 1902.
He served three years in an English prison but, after many protests including an 80,000 signature petition, from Australia, he was released and returned to Australia arriving on 12th November 1904, but he was never pardoned nor was the verdict overturned. He became an embittered man and continuously worked and wrote to explain his case which was that the three were only carrying out Lord Kitchener's orders.
From 1913 to 1934 the Electoral Rolls register him as a farmer on Dundarrah at Biggenden which is about 100km west of Maryborough Qld. In 1913 he married Mary Louise Humphrey who died in 1931 and is buried in Lutwyche Cemetery. George later married Carolyn Ellen Stranger in 1932 and she outlived him. While living in Biggenden he was a Justice of the Peace and a director of the Biggenden Cheese factory.
When the Great War broke out and Andrew Fisher made his famous statement that Australia was with Britain "to the last man and the last shilling" Witton volunteered to be the last man.
There is a gap in the record after 1934 untill 1942 when George died on 14-8-1942, at a Private Hospital in Camberwell, Melbourne. He was cremated at the Falkner Crematorium on Saturday 15-8-1942. When the Supreme Court of Queensland granted probate of his will on 14-10-1942 he was listed as late of 41 Malting Road, Canterbury, Victoria, retired Estate Agent.
The Brisbane City Council records show that Witton's ashes were interred in his first wife, Mary's grave in Lutwyche Cemetery on 1-10-1942. However his name does not appear on the monument.
Information from: Wikipedia and William (Bill) Woolmore author of The Bushveldt Carbineers and the Pietersburg Light Horse (2002, Slouch Hat Publications Australia) ISBN 0-9579752-0-1;
The Boer War Memorial Site
Brisbane City Council City Cemeteries
Genealogical Society of Queensland
Trove Newspaper Articles
Post Script to the Court Martial
Post Script: In October 2009, Commander Jim Unkles, RANR, a military lawyer and civilian prosecutor, (including military courts martial) decided to initiate a review through the British and Australian Governments. He has submitted two petitions calling for a review of the original sentences, one to the Queen and one to the Australian Government. Both petitions have been sent to the British Government which is considering them but has not yet announced a review but they were discussed in the House of Commons on 15th March 2010
This photo taken 13-11-2014 is in stark contrast to the above earlier photo taken some two years previously. The change is due to the work of Jennifer Witton Sands and her husband Peter; Jennifer is a great great niece of George Witton.
- http://g.co/maps/6mfsj - Link to Google Map of Coalstoun Lakes which is near Biggenden
George Witton Plaque
The plaque is issued by the Australian Army for George's service in the Australian Army where his rank was Corporal. At the end of his service he joined the British Army in the Bushveldt Carbineers where his rank was a Lieutenant.
Ironic End Piece
The names of George Witton and Lord Kitchener were irretrivably linked in life.
Now they are again linked in death.
Field Marshall Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener was drowned on the 5th June 1916 when the warship, HMS Hampshire, on which he was travelling to Russia, struck a German mine west of the Orkney Islands, Scotland. He was 65 years old and died like a soldier, his grave is the North Sea.
Lieutenant George Ramsdale Witton died on the 14th August 1942 as a civilian aged 68 years. His grave is in Lutwyche Cemetery, Brisbane which is bounded on the north side by Kitchener Road.
Two old soldiers who came from the ends of the earth!!