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Photographs supplied by John Huth

The graves commemorates the soldiers who returned from the South African War on the ship Drayton Grange and died at the Fort Franklin Barracks.

The SS Drayton Grange, a 6600-tonne steamer was the subject of Australia's first ever Commonwealth Royal Commission and the reason the Royal Commissions Act 1902, one of the earliest pieces of Australian law, was enacted.

The Drayton Grange was a troopship chartered to return Australian soldiers from the Boer War in South Africa. With more than 2000 aboard, she was wildly overcrowded and in the unsanitary conditions, compounded by bad weather and inadequate medical facilities, disease spread.

By the time the ship docked in Melbourne on August 7, 1902 at the end of the month-long voyage, five were dead and another 12 died in ensuing weeks. It was an immediate scandal.

Although the Governor-General could launch an inquiry, there was no Commonwealth power to ensure witness turned up and answered questions. That was speedily corrected, with the Royal Commissions Act enacted on August 8, 1902. Drayton Grange letters patent were issued on August 12 and the final report released on October 9, 1902. 

A solemn, and somewhat unique, ceremony took place at the local ceremony on Thursday, the 27th ult., when the Rev. Edwin Rodda unveiled the monument which has been erected over the graves of the soldiers who came from South Africa in the Drayton Grange, and died at Fort Franklin. Sir John Madden was expected to be present to perform the ceremony, but, owing to his late illness, was prevented from doing so. A number of soldiers were brought by the launch Mars from Queenscliff and Fort Franklin. They marched to the cemetery by the Back Beach and Melbourne-roads, preceded by the band of the Royal Australian Artillery, which discoursed sad, sweet music as they marched. They were under the command of Lieutenant Innes, who, at the graves, stood with drawn sword inside the open square of men. Mr Rodda gave an address before the unveiling, stating that the monument was the burial place of the soldiers, victims of the Drayton Grange.  Not in the field of battle they perished, but after the fight. Belonging to the 5th Company, they went in full health, passed through the conflict, and died within sight of their homes. We deplore their loss, and sympathise with their relatives.

Sergeant Flattley and Messrs Grant and Morley took the matter in hand to raise a monument, and well had they carried out the work. At many places in the State, monuments have been erected to the memory of the dead, but the right place for a monument is over the remains. In this respect, this is unique in Victoria, as five men lie here awaiting the Resurrection. In years to come visitors to Sorrento would note that the residents had, with the aid of others, paid a tribute to their memory, which formed a connecting link with the South African struggle for British supremacy, and a lasting testimony to the willingness of Australia to give the choicest of her youth to help the Mother Country in time of need. The band played the Dead March after the unveiling. Mr George Dowe, of Melbourne, carried out the design, and Mr Morce, of Sorrento, the contract. The monument has a limestone basement, surmounted by an upstanding slab of blue stone, on which is a marble scroll, inscribed with the following :-" In Memoriam, returned soldiers from South Africa by 'Drayton Grange'  who died at Fort Franklin Barracks, Portsea, August, 1902. A. Humphries, 9th August, 1902; H. Sherrington, 12th August, 1902; J. Green, 9th August. 1902; E. R. Barton, 14th August, 1902; W. Macfarlane, 20th August, 1902." An iron fence is required to complete the work.
Mornington Standard (Vic), 6 May 1905.


Address:Normanby Road, Sorrento Cemetery, Sorrento, 3943
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -38.342113
Long: 144.727823
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:Conflict
Actual Event Start Date:11-October-1899
Actual Event End Date:31-May-1902
Designer:George Dowe (Melbourne, VIC)
Monument Manufacturer:Mr Morce (Sorrento, VIC), contractor


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 27th April, 1905
Front Inscription

In Memoriam

Returned soldiers from South Africa by "Drayton Grange" who died at Fort Franklin Barracks Portsea  August 1902. 

A. Humphries 
9th August 1902.

H. Sherrington
12th August 1902.

J. Green
9th August 1902.

E. P. Barton
14th August 1902.

W. Macfarlane
20th August 1902.

G. Dawe Melbourne

Erected by public subscription

Unveiled April 21st 1905

Reconstructed 1949

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