A proper memorial for Lieutenant Colonel Charles Umphelby

Dear members and friends of Military History and Heritage Victoria, the campaign to establish a proper memorial for lieutenant Colonel Charles Umphelby has raised the needed funds and the work has begun.


Further updates will be posted on mhhv.org.au

Lt Colonel C Umphelby died of wounds received in action at Driefontein on 12 March 1900. He was buried along with other British Army fatalities from the temporary field hospital a few hundred metres away from the building which still stands, in one of the most isolated areas of rural South Africa. He was Australia’s highest ranking officer to die in the South African War.


Lt Colonel C Umphelby
Lt Colonel C Umphelby

This burial site was never maintained and when It was located by Dr Benneyworth in 1990 it was overgrown, which remained the case for most of the time since then. A recent inspection in November 2017 identified that animal burrowing into the graves has exposed and pushed to the surface skeletal remains.

Dr Benneyworth made contact with the Director of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGB) SA Directorate, who have undertaken to restore the burial site to that of a war grave cemetery. However as UK financial involvement in colonial era graves in South Africa is minimal and the SA Government involvement is zero, that means that a permanent war memorial listing the personal particulars and details of what happened at this site would have be covered from private donations.

The quotation from the CWGB to erect the memorial does not include the cost of engraving the names on the monument, nor does it allow for any interpretive signage to explain the significance of the site. The full estimate of monument production, transport, erection, engraving and signage is approximately 33,000 ZAR. Given all these factors we are seeking a total of no more than $3,500 AUD to cover all the necessary expenses.

The funds raised will be paid to the CWGC who in turn will pay the contractor. All coordination of this project in terms of liaison and site works would be undertaken by Dr Benneyworth, who is based at the Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley, 90 minutes’ drive from Driefontein.

Military History and Heritage Victoria has undertaken to collect the donations from any and all interested parties and make the subsequent payment to the CWGC when the $3500.00 has been reached. Any residual amount left over from the $3500.00 will be directed towards the establishment of interpretive panels for the graves and nearby battle site or refunded to donors.

Umphelby was well known throughout South Western Victoria as a junior officer and as Commanding Officer, Fort Queenscliff. He was in South Africa on secondment as a Special Service Officer. Dr Benneyworth’s background article is published in the Journal of Australian Colonial History in 2011, and available to read by going to:- http://www.une.edu.au/about-une/academic-schools/school-of-humanities/research/journal-of-australian-colonial-history/jach-contents?a=44347

If you would like further details regarding this project, including how the expenses have been quoted,  contact Jason McGregor via email info@mhhv.org.au or call him on +61 419 256 681

Thank you

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