Boer War

 While there was much public celebration of colonial involvement in what we now call the Boer War, no public activity to celebrate sending the Beecroft young man, David Willis, [1] to fight in the Boer War. [2]

 Upon the receipt of news about the death of David Willis at the very next meeting of the Progress Association it was decided to send a letter of condolence to his family and to call a public meeting “as he was the only one in the village to volunteer to assist the Imperial troops in South Africa.” [3] A public meeting was held in Miss Ogden’s hall [4] on 29 October 1900 and chaired by William Abram. It determined to erect a suitable memorial and to raise public funds to do so. [5] At a meeting of the committee on 17 December 1900 it was decided to erect a drinking fountain and tenders were called.

 Little progress appears to have been made on this work which might be because the Committee Secretary, Mr Joseph Lovell, sold his orchard and moved to Marsfield: retaining as his only continuing local commitment his membership as secretary to the Willis Memorial Committee. [6] However work did eventually commence and the memorial was then built by Frank Smith of Rookwood and unveiled by Frank Farnell, the Local Member, on 24 November 1901. It was originally located in the Village Green, just north of the intersection with Wellham Street on the other side of Beecroft Road.

 Also in this same year another young man from Beecroft, Sydney Norfolk Barnaby left for South Africa with the 2nd Regiment of Mounted Rifles under Colonel Lasseter. He was given a rousing farewell on 2 March 1901 with over 200 people present at the Beecroft Cricket Ground and the local member, Edward Terry presented him with an inscribed gold watch and chain. [7] He was fortunate and survived the war. He was given a welcome home party in Miss Ogden’s school room on 11 July 1902.[8]

[1]        For the story of David Willis  click Link Willis Family

[2]        For a history of Australian involvement in the Boer War see: L M Field The Forgotten War (Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1979)

[3]        Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate 13 October 1900 p10

[4]        For this hall generally see the entry on this website under Education for Miss Ogden’s School

[5]        Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate 3 November 1900 p11

[6]        Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate 20 April 1901 p 10

[7]        Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate 9 March 1901 p10

[8]        Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate 12 July 1902 p 10

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