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George G. Forsyth, 5th Contingent Queensland Imperial Bushmen - died 3.5.1902 8 months 2 weeks ago #75334

  • BereniceUK
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110 years after his death, George Given Forsyth's grave in Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane, was marked with a plaque.

Both photos by Greg Curtis, and used with permission.

....The following letter, dated June 27, has been received from Trooper George Forsyth (of the fifth Queensland contingent to South Africa), who, prior to writing, had been at Capetown: - "We have had some rough times on the trek, and we have had some good ones on the way. I am in the best of health. We had two fights on the way, and lost six men in two months. We have had bad luck with our men, but have had better luck this last week. W. Lucas is with me; we keep together all the way. I was in the hospital six days with my back, but I am out and well again. I like the country. South Africa is a nice place. We are all in hopes of the war being over in November, and we are all thinking we may be on our homeward march by December. The fifth contingent went on strike, and there was a row. We are going on a long 52 days' march. It has been very cold this winter out here. We go to bed at night, wake up in the morning and find the water frozen. You may know how cold it is when the ground is so much frozen that the horses cannot walk over it, and sometimes we cannot get a drink for them before 2 o'clock, and sometimes not till 4 o'clock. When the cold is over it will be a treat to us to see the bright warm weather. We are doing a lot of night work, and we are sick of it. P.S. - All the men are well and in good health and spirits, and you would be surprised if you saw us - such a jolly lot! They would not be Queenslanders if they were anything but jolly."
The Queensland Times, Tuesday 3rd September 1901

....On Tuesday last Mrs. Forsyth, of Newtown, received a letter from her son, Private George G. Forsyth, who is serving with the fifth Queensland contingent in South Africa. The following extract from the letter, which is dated October 27th, will be of interest to our readers: - "I am writing to you from the hospital. I had a fall from my horse and had my back hurt. I am getting on well, however, and hope to be on the march again before many weeks are over. We have had very heavy rains, in that it has been raining for nearly five weeks. Where the grass can be allowed to grow it looks grand, and is worth coming all the way to see. This country is a good one for those who are willing to work, and there is plenty of work to be done. Private William Lucas, of Purga, has been in the hospital for some time, but he will be soon out again. I have seen some of the Ipswich men Who came over with the sixth contingent. This was prior to my coming to the hospital. I was very glad to see them. Some of them did no know me, so I must have altered a lot. Remember me to all friend in Queensland.
The Queensland Times, Thursday 12th December 1901

....Private George Given Forsyth, a member of the Fifth Contingent, died at the General Hospital on Saturday evening. He contracted measles on boar the troopship St. Andrew, and upon the landing of the contingent was taken to the hospital. The deceased was a strapping young Queenslander, a native of the Big Mountain district, and was in his twenty-second year. He served only with the Fifth Contingent . . . Private Forsyth was the eldest son of Mr. William Forsyth, of Newtown, Ipswich, a colonial of thirty-eight years' standing............
The Brisbane Courier, Monday 5th May 1902

....We regret to report the death of Private George Given Forsyth, a member of the fifth Queensland contingent, just returned from South Africa, under exceedingly pathetic circumstances. Private Forsyth was the eldest son of Mr. William Forsyth, formerly of Peak Crossing district, but who, of late years has been residing at Newtown, near Ipswich, in somewhat failing health. Private Forsyth was the eldest of seven sons, and had barely reached his majority when he left with the fifth contingent to do service for the Empire in South Africa. He was a fine athletic young fellow, and his bearing in the various campaigns is spoken of in the highest terms by his comrades, with whom he was deservedly popular. While at the front he enjoyed excellent health, but contracted measles on board the troopship St. Andrew while returning to Australia, and died in the Brisbane General Hospital on Saturday evening last. Referring to the circumstances of his death, the "Courier" says: - The surroundings of his end were pathetic, and it seems needlessly so. We are informed that although he was, as has been said, taken to the hospital on Wednesday evening, his parents were not notified of the fact, and only heard casually from a comrade of the deceased on Friday morning of his illness. They immediately journeyed to Brisbane, and arrived at his bedside to find him unconscious, nor did he regain consciousness before expiring. They had been hourly expecting him home, and the mother's welcome had been prepared with natural pride and expectancy. The committee who are arranging for a public reception to be tendered to the local members of the contingent received intimation of the death of Private Forsyth while they were holding a meeting in the Council Chambers on Saturday night. The message came through telephone from Major W. T. Deacon, C.B., and was delivered to those assembled by Major C. A. H. Watson. Private Forsyth was known to many of those present, and the news of his untimely death was received with the deepest regret. On the motion of Mr. W. J. R. Maughan, seconded by Lieutenant Robinson, the secretary was instructed to forward a letter of condolence to the parents of deceased.
....Our Brisbane correspondent writes last night: - The remains of Private Forsyth were interred in the Toowong Cemetery to-day. Members of the contingent were present in considerable numbers, together with Major Toll (who commanded he force), Captain Dodds (adjutant), Lieutenants G. Koch and Ogg (the latter of whom has just arrived by a later boat than the main body of the contingent). Six men of deceased's company acted as pall-bearers. The band of the Q.R.R.A.A. headed the sad procession, and with muffled drums played on the way to the cemetery from the General Hospital, where Private Forsyth died. The Queensland Regiment, R.A.A., also provided a gun-carriage, on which the coffin, covered with a Union Jack, was carried. A firing party from the same corps was provided, under Lieutenant Macartney. The route of the procession was along Gregory-terrace to the Milton Bridge. At the graveside the service was conducted by the Rev. Dr. Nisbet, and the ceremony closed with the firing party's salute over the grave. Wreaths on behalf of the officers and men of the contingent were laid on the grave. Right along the route of the procession the funeral was watched by a large sympathetic crowd, particularly about the Exhibition Building corner.
The Queensland Times, Tuesday 6th May 1902

....The tragic story of an Ipswich digger will get the recognition it deserves - more than 110 years after his death. Boer War Memorial Association committee member Miles Farmer said arrangements had been made to install a bronze plaque at the final resting place of Private George Given Forsyth. Although he was an Ipswich man, Pte Forsyth was buried at an unmarked site at Toowong Cemetery following his death on May 3, 1902. Having bravely served his country in the Boer War, Pte Forsyth was on his way home on the troopship St Andrew when he became gravely ill.
....As the Queensland Times reported all the way back on May 6, 1902, the sick soldier was taken straight to the Brisbane General Hospital on his return to the country. He lived for only three more days.
....Mr Farmer said one of the great tragedies of his passing was that his parents had not been informed of their son's return from battle until he had lost consciousness. "He was buried with full military honours but his grave was unmarked," Mr Farmer said. "We have persuaded the Office of Australian War Graves to provide a bronze plaque."
....The plaque will be fixed to Pte Forsyth's grave on September 23, during a ceremony which will also include the rededication of a memorial dedicated to Brisbane Boer War hero Lieutenant Lachlan John Caskey.
....Lt Caskey was killed in action in South Africa while heroically leading a small party of 14 soldiers in a mission to catch a Boer position containing 200.
....Mr Farmer has appealed for any descendants of Forsyth to contact him ahead of the ceremony. "Forsyth and Caskey should get the recognition they deserve," he said.
The Queensland Times, 26th June 2012; by Andrew Korner
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George G. Forsyth, 5th Contingent Queensland Imperial Bushmen - died 3.5.1902 8 months 2 weeks ago #75341

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Good to see his grave marked suitably at long last. "103 Pte. George Given Forsyth" of the 5th QIB was originally from Noradjura, Victoria and was born in 1880 at Woolsthorpe; the eldest of eleven sons according to OZ-Boer database. Measles was a real scourge in those days and was not treatable until the 1960's when a vaccine was developed in the US.
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