Anglo-Boer War Anniversary
|About this Item||Subjects||Ex-Servicemen; Australia: History; Maitland
||Speakers||Price Mr John
||Business||Private Members Statements
Mr JOHN PRICE (Maitland) [12.17 p.m.]: I advise the House of a most important event that occurred in the electorate of Maitland last weekend. It was a celebration of the anniversary of the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa. On 29 May an anniversary dinner was held at Easts Bowling Club in Maitland. It was quite a night. The Premier asked me to represent him at the function, and I was delighted to do so. The dinner was a culmination of a tremendous amount of work by the Maitland RSL sub-branch in refurbishing one of the few memorials to the Boer War at Maitland Park, which is a famous park in the Hunter region. The dinner was certainly unusual in as much as it had an Afrikaans menu. We were treated to food that would have been eaten by the Afrikaans and mainline forces in Africa during the war. It was not bad tucker. If the soldiers had eaten food of the quality we enjoyed at the dinner they would have been very happy.
On Sunday 30 May there was a dedication of the refurbished and extended Anglo-Boer War Memorial, which included the re-establishment of the Transvaal Fountain and the construction of a new memorial wall, bearing the names of 275 volunteers from Maitland and the surrounding Hunter Valley area, including the 44 towns and villages from which they came. The guest of honour was Major General Warren Glenny, AO, REF, ED Ret., who rededicated and opened the memorial. The memorial was blessed by Father Roy Wotton, the oldest living Anglican padre from the Second World War, who lives on the Central Coast. Roy's presence was quite an event for local RSL members, some of whom remembered him from campaigns in Papua New Guinea. Another important guest was Cliff Savage, the RSL State branch country councillor. The Light Horse regiments that constituted most of the New South Wales contingent in the Boer War used a breed of horses, known as "Walers", which are still bred and sold in the Hunter Valley.
There are two Boer War memorials in Maitland. The other memorial at the Maitland Town Hall is a plaque and crossed rifles and it commemorates the memory of Trooper Avard. The Avard family were present at the function, as were a number of other descendents of people whose names appeared on the memorial wall. The family historian, the author Mr Lesley H. Perritt, produced an excellent book about his relative that contained other important facts associated with the New South Wales contribution to the conflict. A number of books were presented at the dinner on the Saturday night. We were reminded of the contents when he spoke again on the Sunday. Representatives from the British High Commission and the Boer community also attended the event. Although Britain is not proud of its part in the Boer War, we have since all learned to live together in South Africa. The change of government in our lifetime has resulted in a much chastened and different community.
I particularly congratulate the sub-branch of the Maitland Returned Services League and its president, John Fenwick, the memorial restoration chairman, Fred Goode, and the Maitland City Council on their financial support. I extend personal thanks to Premier Carr for his involvement by providing a significant grant from his discretionary fund. The grant was provided because the contingent left the country as a New South Wales contingent and returned as part of the Australian Army. Federation occurred during that conflict and circumstances changed. It was a great event for the local community and particularly for the returned servicemen. I give credit to all those involved.