Thursday, 27 August 2015

Herbert and Harold Waddell and the Boer War

Recently when undertaking research for another project I found references to the  involvement of members of the Waddell family from Singleton, New South Wales, in the Boer War.

Both Herbert William Waddell and Harold Henry Waddell were the grandsons of William Waddell who brought his family from Scotland to Australia in 1839. Herbert's father, Daniel Munro Waddell, was born in New South Wales in 1843 while his brother, William, Harold's father, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1836. Herbert was born in 1873 and Harold was born in 1876. Both families lived in Patrick Plains (Singleton).

When searching in Trove for information regarding the Waddell family I found an article containing a copy of a letter, written by Harold, published in the Singleton Argus 6 February 1900 recounting experiences in South Africa. The letter was written on 2 January 1900 from Rendsburg and recounts an encounter against the Boers where a number of the horses were killed or wounded but only three of the one hundred Australian and one hundred English involved in the incident were wounded. The letter ends with the words "It is wonderful how our men escape".

The Australian War Memorial provides a useful overview article on Australia and the Boer War (1899-1902).

 Harold was a member of the New South Wales Lancers while Herbert was a member of the New South Wales Citizen Bushmen. Information about these and other units can be found on the Australian War Memorial website in the War History section by selecting Units then name of the war or conflict - eg  South Africa 1899-1902 (Boer War).

Always check the links in the side bar. For example the Heraldry link in the New South Lancers page includes images of uniforms and medals for that unit.
Another useful Boer War website is Australian Boer War Memorial website of the National Australian Boer War Memorial Association.

The Australian War Memorial in their People section allows the searching for names of Australians who served during various wars and conflicts.

Searching the nominal rolls for the name Waddell and selecting South Africa 1899-1902 in the drop down list provides four names including the names of the two cousins.
Summary information is provided along with links to any digitised records.
Herbert Waddell was killed at Piennaar's River on 22 September 1900. A search in the Roll of Honor provides similar information and, in this case, a photograph of Herbert (photographs are not available for all records).
Trove provides additional information about Herbert William Waddell. The Australian Town and Country Journal 17 February 1900 contains an article listing the men from the Bushmen's Contingent about to leave for South Africa.

The Sydney Morning Herald for Tuesday 2 October 1900 reports the death of Herbert Waddell in South Africa on the previous Thursday. The Singleton Argus for the same date provided additional detail:
Word was received yesterday that Private Herbert Waddell, of Singleton, a member of the Bushmen's Contingent, was killed in a battle at Pienaars River. The deceased, who was a son of Mr D. R. Waddell, of Sedgfield, was a native of this district, and is the first Singletonian to lose his life at the front. Hitherto our local men have been attended with marvellous luck, but it has now come to this unfortunate young fellow's lot to lose his life for Queen and country, and he now fills a soldier's grave in South Africa. The family will be accorded the sympathies of every resident of the district in their sad bereavement.
A number of other newspapers also carried the news of the death of Herbert William Waddell and the effect of his death on the local community. The final intimation of the death of Herbert William Waddell was received by his father from Captain Eckford the previous day according to the Evening News 8 May 1901.
The Evening News 14 April 1901 reported on plans to build a memorial in the memory of Trooper Waddell.
Memorial in Burdekin Park
Unfortunately the erection and the unveiling of the memorial caused much controversy over the following years. Money for the project was collected by public subscription.  Trove contains a series of articles about the delay in erecting the memorial in memory of Trooper Waddell. The memorial was finally erected on 27 September 1903, three years after his death. The Singleton Argus 29 September 1903 provides a scathing article on the events leading up to the unveiling of the monument.

The Register of War Memorials in New South Wales website provides photos and details of the memorial. Additional information about the memorial is available on Dossier 48 website and also Singleton - Boer War and Herbert Waddell on Terry Callaghan's history & genealogy website.

The money left over from the public subscription to erect the monument was used to unveil a memorial tablet in St Andrew's Presbyterian Church (now Singleton Uniting Church) on 24 May 1903 (Singleton Argus 26 May 1903).

Harold Waddell's association with the Lancers did not end when he returned home from the Boer War as he remained a member of the Singleton section of the Hunter River Lancers (4th Australian Light Horse). An article in the Singleton Argus 13 December 1904 mentioned that he was to be a lieutenant (actually 2nd lieutenant). Another article in the Musswellbrook Chonicle 14 March 1906 announced his promotion to lieutenant. The Desert Column website lists him as being a captain on 21 January 1908.

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