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Victorian Mounted Rifles Memorial : 05-December-2011
Victorian Mounted Rifles Memorial : 05-December-2011

Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders

The monument erected by the 5th Contingent, Victorian Mounted Rifles commemorates their comrades who died in service or were killed in action in the South African (Boer) War.  The memorial which was erected in 1903 was unveiled 29th May 1904. 

The 5th Victorian Contingent was the largest of eight sent by the state. Some 228 Victorians were killed during the war, which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902.

Following the return of soldiers, the remaining members of the 5th Victorian Contingent erected this monument to honour their fallen comrades. It is a secular memorial, with traditional funerary symbolism on an elaborate and Gothic scale. Three bronze plaques list the names of the soldiers.  One face of the monument is oriented due west, as is common with memorials to lost soldiers.

The conflict in South Africa is generally divided into three phases: The early phase from October to December 1899, when the British armies, mainly infantry, were defeated or besieged by highly mobile Boer mounted troops; the second phase, from December 1899 until September 1900, which involved a British counter-offensive resulting in the capture of most of the major towns and cities of South Africa; the third and longest phase, from September 1900 to May 1902, when the war was mainly a guerrilla conflict between British mounted troops and Boer irregulars.

It is generally believed that 16,175 Australians fought in the Boer War, though this does not allow for double-counting of those who served in two contingents. There was also an unknown number of Australians already working on South Africa`s goldfields who served in local units, and a small number of Australians are known to have fought on the Boer side.

MELBOURNE, Sunday. The memorial erected on the St. Kilda road by the members of the 5th Victorian Contingent to commemorate those of their comrades who fell in South Africa, was unveiled by Brigadier-General Gordon this afternoon, before the Minister of Defence, Major-General Hutton, Major-General Downes, and other members of the Fifth Contingent, and general public. Captain Neville, president of the memorial committee, said that it was impossible to erect suitable monuments over the graves of those who fell in South Africa, as they were scattered over different parts of the country, and it was therefore the unanimous wish of the contingent that some memorial should be raised. Brigadier-General Gordon said that the Fifth Contingent consisted of 46 officers and 975 men.

After their arrival in South Africa they were sent to Middleburgh, in the North-East Transvaal, where they received their baptism of fire, and this continued for 12 months. One of the members of the contingent, but who was now an officer of the Australian Light Horse, was awarded the blue ribbon of the army—the V.C. He congratulated this gallant officer, and wished him good luck and long life. The statue was then unveiled amidst loud applause. Colonel Otter said that the Fifth Contingent had been disbanded, and the men scattered all over the Commonwealth, but should the Empire again require their services they would once more respond to the call, as they did in the month of January, 1901. (Cheers). 
Ballarat Star (Vic), 30 May 1904.


Address:St Kilda Road & Government House Drive, Kings Domain, Melbourne, 3000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.826036
Long: 144.971798
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Conflict
Actual Event Start Date:11-October-1899
Actual Event End Date:31-May-1902
Designer:G. De Lacy-Evans
Artist:Joseph Hamilton


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 29th May, 1904
Front Inscription


King and Empire


Erected by members of the 5th Victorian Contingent V.M.R.

In memory of their fallen comrades in South Africa. 1901-2

Left Side Inscription


[ Names ] 

Back Inscription


[ Names ] 

Right Side Inscription


[ Names ] 

Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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