Saw that this day at lunch. The "medals" are actually plaques; usefully identified as Australian by being engraved with the badge of the Australian Commonwealth Horse (which neither Morant or any of his motley crew actually wore) and apparently each plaque bearing the name of the recipient. The newspaper article mentioned that military authorities no longer issue Boer War medals.
I came across the below press statement dated yesterday, 15th November 2021, on-line when searching random Boer War research material. I thought out of interest that I would post it for all and see and what other relevant material that I could find -
On November 8th, it was announced that Morant, Handcock, and Witton would be posthumously awarded the service medals to which they were entitled. It only came 120 years after the fact and was due in large part to the efforts of retired military attorney James Unkles.
"I am pleased to announce on behalf of the descendants of Morant, Handcock and Witton, medallic recognition that they rendered loyal and exemplary service to the Colonial Contingents during the Boer War.
Australian and British authorities no longer issue medals for service in the Boer War – however replica medals can be sourced for descendants once details of service are confirmed.
There is no legal impediment to such medals being issued to the descendants of these men."
A presentation was made to Brian Turley as a descendant of Lt. Witton. It recognized his service with the 4th Victorian Imperial Bushmen. Presentations will be made to descendants of Morant and Handcock at a later date.
(Richardson, J., [2021, November 15]. Breaker Morant Trio Get Service Medals.)
I have also located a relevant radio interview (approx. 12 mins) dated 2 November 2021, presented by Liam Bartlett of 6PR (Western Australian Broadcast) who interviews James Unkles with regards to medal presentations and potential future independent inquiries with regards to the court proceedings and outcomes that were delivered to Morant, Handcock and Witton. Please click on the link to
Further current reading on this subject matter can be found in the recent on-line edition of
, the newsletter of the Military History Society of NSW, Number 45, Autumn 2021. The article starts on page 7.
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Rory, that's an interesting question. Now, I understand they murdered at least 26 South Africans. I wonder which were eligible for the ABO?
- Six surrendered Boer men and boys (killed 2 July 1901)
- Trooper B.J. van Buuren (killed 4 July 1901)
- Floris Visscher, (20 yrs) a wounded Boer POW (killed 11 August 1901)
- Four surrendered Boers and four Dutch schoolteachers (killed 23 August 1901)
- Three Africans who witnessed the murders of the above (killed 23 August 1901)
- Reverend Carl Heese (killed 23 August 1901)
- Rev. Heese's African driver who witnessed the murder of the above (killed 23 August 1901)
- Two Boer children aged 5 and 13 (killed 5 September 1901)
- Roelf Petrus van Staden (56 yrs) and his sons Roelf junior (25 yrs) and Christiaan (13 yrs) (killed 7 September 1901)
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
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Interested Forum members
For years there has been an undercurrent in OZ concerning the fate of Morant and his motley co-accused - and quite some ink has been spilt on the subject. More than enough, really, in my opinion.
Reference has been made to the "award" of small named plaques to descendants. Who exactly is "awarding" these plaques? Certainly not the Australian Army medals office. Certainly not the British army. A private initiative? Whatever form they are in, they are not service medals.
And there was no official entitlement to such. Looking at the Medal Roll for 2nd South Aust. M.R., Cpl. Morant is noted as being on the "Black List" and was not to be awarded any clasps. (WO100/292). Furthermore, on the Medal Roll for the PLH (formerly BVC), Lt. Morant's entry is clearly marked "NO MEDAL" (WO100263). Similar endorsements are found on the rolls for Handcock and Witton. Seems pretty clear. Even a replica medal looks inappropriate to me.
There is no doubt that Morant and his crew did murder quite a number of surrendered Boers, Africans and civilians and even one of their own men. He was not covered by "orders". He was out of control. He and his crew were tried by a valid FCM; which spent an unusual amount of time hearing and deliberating the matters before it.
To conclude, regarding the legacy of Australian soldiers serving in South Africa ,Craig Wilcox, author of "Australia's Boer War", comments that "No great art came from their experience, just a myth that turned a murderer into a martyr".
Regards to all
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