State: Queensland, Australia
Issued on: Return
Date of presentation: 21/03/1901
Number issued: 1


Gold medal, suitably inscribed, to:

Queensland Contingent (unknown unit) –
???? Trooper JOHNSON

Presentation made by Mr Tooth, M.L.A., in the Lamington Hall, Howard.

Medal with the 2nd Regiment crest & motto, and an inscription similar to that on the sword of honour presented to Major Rankin: "Presented to __________ by the inhabitants of Howard, on his return from the Boer War. 30th [sic] March, 1901".

Johnson also received a silver matchbox.



Brisbane Courier, 25/03/1901
Maryborough Chronicle, 23rd March 1901


On Thursday night last the citizens of Howard entertained two residents lately returned from the South African War — Major Colin RANKIN and Trooper JOHNSON — at a banquet in the Lamington Hall. As a further mark of appreciation of the loyalty of their two townsmen, they decided to make each the recipient of a suitable present. The order was placed with Hardy Bros., of Brisbane, and was executed in that firm's best style. For Major RANKIN a handsome silver-mounted major's sword, beautifully chased, had been procured. It has two scabbards, one of steel and one of leather. The blade and a plate on the leather scabbard bears the inscription: — “Presented to Major C.D.W. Rankin, officer commanding 2nd Regiment, Q.D.F., by the inhabitants of Howard, on his return from Boer War. 30th March, 1901”. Trooper JOHNSON received a silver matchbox and a gold medal, with the 2nd Regiment crest and motto on one side and an inscription similar to that on the sword on the reverse. A committee had been hard at work arranging for the affair, and consisted of the following gentlemen: — Messrs P. McKenna (chairman), W. Wilson (vice chairman), H. Mole, J. Middleton, A. Shaw, R. Harris, senr., R. Harris, junr., Barney Kenny, Stephen Ward, J. Lewan, W. McDonald, D.V. Anderson, Geo. Barber, J. Farrell, D. Roderick (secretary). The hall was tastefully decorated with greenery and flags, and four long tables arranged to seat the guests, who numbered about 150. For hard work in this direction the committee desire special mention to be made of Mr Stephen Ward. By 7 o'clock the hall was filled, and loud cheers greeted the entrance of Major RANKIN and Trooper JOHNSON, Mr Tooth, M.L.A., and Mrs Rankin, senr. — both of whom came from sick beds — and other members of the family.

Mr P. McKenna occupied the chair, having on his right the guests of the evening, and on his left Mr Tooth, member for the Burrum, and Mr and Mrs Rankin, sen. After ample justice had been done to the various good things served up by host and hostess Steley in a manner that would have done credit to any of our town caterers, the principal business of the evening was proceeded with.

The Chairman proposed “The King”, which was loyally received, and a verse of the National Anthem being sung.

The Chairman expressed his pleasure at seeing so many present, and called upon Mr Tooth, M.L A., to make the presentation.

Mr Tooth had a hearty reception, and said he had great pleasure in being present that night and being called upon to perform such an important duty. He claimed that he was one of the oldest Defence Force men in Queensland, having put in 26 years solid service in the regiment Major RANKIN now commanded. He (Tooth) had entered as a private, and worked himself up to the command of the regiment. He had taken particular care to have good officers under him and the regiment had gained a certain amount of prestige — that it was second to none. Under Major RANKIN it still retained that prestige. The defence force was different then from what it was now, when it was said they were merely playing at soldiers; but now it was recognised that they are ready and efficient when called upon. He referred to remarks made under cloak of the House that the Australians volunteering for South Africa were swashbucklers, and held that men like Major RANKIN and Troopers JOHNSON and WATKINS had proved they were not so. Federation had placed Australia among the nations of the world, and she must be prepared to defend her shores when called upon, and it was to the defence force they would look in time of danger. Coming to the business of the evening he had much pleasure in handing the Major the sword of honour, which was the highest honour a soldier could receive. (Loud and continued applause). He was certain that if ever Major RANKIN was called upon to use the sword he would give a good account of it. He also had great pleasure in handing to Trooper JOHNSON a gold medal and silver match box on behalf of his fellow citizens.

Major RANKIN in reply said — “It is extremely difficult to express one's feelings on an occasion like this. The many kind things you have said about me, and above all this handsome sword which you have thought fit to present to me makes the task of replying very hard. In going out to South Africa I only did what I considered was my duty to my Queen and country, and that I have been able to return is a matter for thankfulness. As you will remember it was just after the black weeks of December, 1899, when the shadow of Magersfontein, Colenso, and Stormberg still hung heavy over the nation when the sons of the Empire from far and near were rallying round the old flag in Table Bay, that I bade you good-bye in this very building. Only some fifteen months have passed since then, and yet to some of us it seems an age, for after all life is not made up of months or years as of events, and the last year has certainly been an eventful one. Of my own work in Africa I do not wish to speak; I simply did my duty to the best of my ability, which I am quite sure each of you would have done under the same circumstances. The Boer war marks an epoch in the history of the British Empire. Never before in the history of the world has an army so varied in its composition taken the field in support of a common cause. From the back woods of Canada, the sunny island of Ceylon, the bush of Australia, and the distant back blocks of New Zealand, each vied with each in their efforts to show not only their loyalty to the Throne, but their determination to see the flag of freedom flying over South Africa. It was, indeed, an inspiring spectacle to see these men brought up under such different surroundings sink all parochial feeling in the time of a great national trouble. It made one proud of one's country and race, and proved an object lesson to the nations of the world.

And here let me say just a word about our Australian soldiers. It would be difficult to find a better body of men than those who have gone from these shores. That their work has been appreciated is shown by Lord Roberts in his remarks about them, and by Lord Kitchener in his request for further drafts; and I trust that the sacrifice made by Australians in the war may not only strengthen the ties of friendship between us and the mother land, but may also be the means of knitting closer together the bond of brotherhood throughout Australia. I hope it may also be the means of stimulating the enthusiasm of our Australian soldiers, and that no effort will be spared to train our troops, so that should the necessity arise they should be able to give a good account of themselves. It is very pleasant to come back and be received by you in this way. I know perfectly well that this presentation and banquet has cost you a great deal of thought and work, and I only regret that I am so imperfectly able to express the gratitude which I feel so deeply. The sword, which is indeed a handsome weapon, will be treasured by me as a priceless heirloom, marking my first return from active service”. He further expressed his pleasure in meeting his old commanding officer, Major Tooth, one of the oldest soldiers in the district, and to receive the token of his follow-townsmen's esteem at Major Tooth's hands, and trusted the sword would never be drawn in an unrighteous cause.

Trooper JOHNSON was also heartily received, and briefly returned thanks. They had received a good many receptions, but this was the best of all. He trusted they would have long life and prosperity.

Mr Wilson proposed the “Army and Navy” referring to the necessity for these two branches of the service being efficient. He also dwelt upon the abilities of the sailor as a land fighter, and the excellent results achieved by Australian troops in South Africa.

Captain Thomson replied, and thought that as far as the navy was concerned we could leave ourselves safely in their hands. The work recently done by the navy in China showed what they were capable of. His connection with the defence force had been principally with the cadet corps, but took a great interest in volunteer matters. He referred to the work of the Australian troops in South Africa, and how they had disproved the statement that they would be fit only for guarding railways and bridges. He reminded them that it was the Queenslanders at Sunnyside who gave the first gleam of sunshine to the war so far as the British were concerned. He had a firm belief in rifle clubs and advocated the establishment of one at Howard. In conclusion he thanked them heartily for their toast.

Mr Blisset proposed “Howard and its industries”, referring principally to the coal industry on which so many persons were dependent. He wondered that the management did not go in for manufacturing coke. Still the managing director had done Wonders in increasing the coal industry. Another important industry was orange growing, and there was also some cane.

Mr Rankin, in replying spoke principally on the matter of coke manufacture. A number of people had urged him to take it up, but he believed in hastening slowly. His inquiries had showed him that the Maryborough demand was amply met by the local supply, and by manufacturing coke he would only tend to cut the price. If he took the matter up he would do it properly, and that would require an expenditure of from ten to twelve thousand pounds. If he could see the prospect of a demand not for one or two years but for ten to twenty he would advise the building of ovens, but he did not intend throwing the money away.

Mr Watkins, in responding, spoke highly of the way in which Mr Rankin had faced the great difficulties encountered in working the coal trade up to its present important condition.

Mr Shaw also spoke in high terms of the managing director, and remembered how he had brought the output from five or six trucks a day to fifty or sixty.

Mr Tooth asked permission to say a few words, and stated that he had asked — practically demanded — that the Government should make a proper geological survey of the Burrum fields, and that a bore should be put down on each side of the river — (Mr Rankin: A thousand feet) —to ascertain the extent of the field.

Mr Rankin proposed the “The Visitors”, and Mr Blisset responded.

Major RANKIN gave “The Ladies”, in a graceful and witty speech, and Messrs R. and C. Rankin replied.

Mr Roderick proposed “The Press”, and Messrs Dunn and Blue acknowledged.

Then in appreciation of the success of the evening, the healths of Mr and Mrs Steley, also the committee were drunk, and the proceedings terminated with “Auld Lang Syne”.

Daring the proceedings, songs and pianoforte selections were rendered, the contributions being — Misses Buffy and Mole, duet; Mr Jas. Thompson, “The Scout” and “Maid of Athens”; Mr W. Wilson, “The Midshipmite”; Miss Barker, “The Song that will live for ever”; and Mr A. Blue, “Soldiers of the Queen”, and “The Sea is England's Glory”.