LinneyI wrote: 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
Totally agree with your comments, and to further this thread, a letter . signed by no less than 15 members of the unit was sent to the district commander of Pietersburg which chronicled the concerns that Morants' own men had in relation to the activities that were being employed by Morant and his cohort. On the strength of that letter, the District Commander, Colonel Hall ordered an investigation into these concerns which led to the arrest and subsequent Courts Marshall of 6 Officers. most of what has been dramatized only ever focusses on the activities of Morant, Hancock & Witton.
I know not what Hall personally felt about the BVC activities (he appears to have been a very private person) and a little camera shy as very few photographs of him are known, but it is speculated that he played "with a straight bat" which was of serious concern to HQ in Pretoria to the extent that Kitchener dispatched him to India before the trial commenced, and it is thought that Hall would have provided evidence detrimental to the to the prosecution case and would have confirmed the order to shoot Boers wearing khaki.
I very proud to have the medals of colonel Francis Hall in my collection