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Flag - Australian Flag (Union Jack) 1900

From the Collection of Lara RSL Sub Branch McClelland Ave Lara Victoria

Cotton Union Jack flag approx 221cm wide by 109cm tall with small repair patches and center section cotton deteriorated.
Approximately 221cm wide by 109cm
Object Registration
boer war, union jack flag, south africa, wilmansrust, 5th victorian mounted rifles, f coy, private fredrick james smith, service number 1229, february 1901, april 1902, south africa china old veterans association
Historical information
There is a Union Jack brought back from South Africa by 1229 Trooper Fredrick James Smith.
Between 1899 and 1902, around 16,500 Australians served in South Africa during the Boer War. This was the largest international deployment of troops from the Australian Colonies before Australian Federation.
Of the 16,500 men who served in South Africa, 606 were killed in action or died of diseases. The Australian War Memorial records that the fighting conditions in South Africa extremely hard on men and horses.

Australians fighting in South Africa were doing so as part of Colony based Regiments such as the Victorian Mounted Rifles, New South Wales Lancers, Queensland Mounted Infantry as well as units from the other states. Australians were awarded six Victoria Crosses during the campaign along with many other decorations.
In May of 1902 the treaty of Vereeniging was signed officially ending the Boer War. The Boer War is commemorated in many Towns and Cities around Australia.

The Lara RSL Sub Branch holds some memorabilia from the Boer War. There is a Union Jack brought back from South Africa by 1229 Trooper Fredrick James Smith. He was a resident of Lara and was a member of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles. It was reported that he carried this flag into battle. The Lara RSL also holds the flag staff of the China, South African and Old Veterans Association. Both these items are of national significance. Both the flag and flag staff were used in marches in Geelong each year until 1916 when Anzac Day commenced. The flag and flag staff were donated to the Lara RSL sub Branch when he joined in 1928.

Fredrick James Smith was born at Lara in 1879, the son of Mr/Mrs Smith from Lara. He was a farm hand from Horton Vale, Anakie when he joined F Company of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles at the beginning of February 1901. Two weeks later, he left for South Africa on the 15th February. Before leaving, he purchased the flag from W. Libby & Son Geelong.
Frederick Left for South Africa on the 15 February 1901 on the Orient. He saw service between March 1901 - March 1902 in east Transvaal and Natal frontier under the British Major General S. Beatson then Pulteney, including the defeat at Wilmansrust where 18 soldiers were killed and 42 wounded (12th June 1901 - heaviest casualties of any Australian contingent,); and the successful intervention at Onverwacht on the 4th January 1902. The 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles suffered: 36 killed or died of wounds, 13 died of disease of a contingent of 46 Officers, 971 Other Ranks and 1099 horses. They returned to Australia on the 26th April 1902 on the Custodian after sailing from Point Natal in South Africa on the 5th April.

On his return, Tropper Smith (Saddler Private) joined the South African Soldiers Association of Victoria – Geelong Branch, and after 1928, he joined the Lara RSL. He was buried in Western Cemetery on the 19th June 1968 at the age of 89.

Enrolled February 1901
Departed for South Africa on 15 February 1901 Establishment: 46 Officers, 971 Other Ranks with 1099 horses
Mobilised at Pretoria: 24 March -- 4 April 1901 Typical company: 1 Captain, 4 Lieutenants, 1 company sergeant-major, 1 company quartermaster-sergeant, 1 sergeant-farrier, 1 sergeant-saddler, 5 sergeants, 6 corporals, 3 shoeing-smiths, 3 saddlers, 1 bugler, 99 privates. Total in company: 126 with 131 horses.
Engagements: Rhenoster Kop, Klippan, Kornfontein, Drivelfontein, Wilmansrust, Kambuladraai, H'Lobane, Luchiel's Nek, Loch's Kraal, Vryheid, Onverwacht, Johnston Hoek
Killed in action (or died): six Officers, 48 Other Ranks
VC Winner: Lieut. L. C. Maygar

News article Leader (Melbourne) Saturday 31st May 1902, page 42 - Dear Cinderella. — This is the second time I have written to you. I was very sorry at not seeing my first letter in "The Leader". But I hope to say, that this one will be in. The last time I wrote to you I told you that my brother (Fredrick Smith) went to the Boer War in South Africa, and that he was supposed to be killed in the Wilmansrust disaster. But this time I am going to tell you about his return, and the grand welcome he got from the residents of Lara. Mother, Father, and my Brother, went down to Melbourne, to meet the boat. You can just imagine how rejoiced we all were to see him back again. The railway station was decorated some thing beautiful with flags of all description all the colours you could think of. He has bought a lot of Boer curios home and some Kaffir bracelets. They are such funny looking things. The residents of Lara, also gave my brother a grand social and ball there were over four hundred people present, They presented him with a hand some gold chain, and locket suitably inscribed, and a pair of gold sleeve links, they were magnificent. The ball was very nice. . I had a few dances. I enjoyed myself grand. I think this is all I can tell you this time. I must conclude with love. I remain yours sincerely - BESSIE SMITH. Age 14-years.
This flag is of national significance as it was used in the Boer War by Private Fredrick James Smith (SN:1229) of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles, F Company in their deployment to South Africa between 1901 and 1902. The flag was taken into the Wilmansrust engagement in which 19 soldiers died and 41 were wounded. On return to Australia, the flag was used in marches by the South Africa, China Old Veterans Association - Geelong. This flag represents a unique part of Australian history from which the movie, Breaker Morant was taken.
It is of spiritual significance as the Boer War was where the first Australian received the Imperial Victoria Cross, and the spirit of Anzac was conceived, giving birth in World War 1. The Flag represents the spirit of Australians who fought and died in South Africa.
Inscriptions & Markings
Has the word "Lara" inscribed in black on bottom part of the flag heading.
Has the flag makers name "W.Libby & Son" on the top part of the flag heading.
Last updated
13 Feb 2020 at 11:22AM