‘Colonel Tom’s Boys’ by Robin Droogleever

A regimental history of the 1st & 2nd Victorian Contingents in the Boer War (including a biographical roll of all the men who served)This history focusses on the raising, equipping, despatch and subsequent service of the 514 young colonials who served in the first two Victorian contingents, which were sent in response to Britain’s request for aid when the South African or Anglo-Boer War broke out in October 1899.

Note that it also completes William Reay’s record of the contingents in Australians at War, by continuing their campaign beyond Bloemfontein to the end of their contract.

After heavy fighting near Rensburg in February 1900 during which time the 1st Contingent took substantial casualties near Hobkirk’s Farm, the first two Victorian contingents were placed under their own popular and controversial commander, Colonel Tom Price, who had founded the Victorian Mounted Rifles in the 1880s. They became an active part of the main army of Lord Roberts and for five months were engaged in all the confrontations with the enemy (referred to as the Boers), during the epic march to Pretoria, the Transvaal capital, and then all the way east to the border with Portuguese East Africa where the Boers dispersed and shortly afterwards began a hit-and-run style of guerilla warfare which lasted for the remainder of the war.

The 1st Contingent returned home shortly after the Portuguese border was reached but most of the 2nd Contingent remained to fight against Boer guerillas who were operating in the Magaliesberg region to the west of Pretoria. They would only leave in April 1901 after an adventurous campaign.

Included in this history are 120 pages of biographies on the men who served with the two units. There is also a 64 page Photo Gallery made up of photos received from families of the men who served and which provide a wonderful social history of a previous generation. Over 250 illustrations and 35 maps enhance the text. The book runs into 634 pages and only 500 copies will be printed. Cost will be $55. Melbourne locals can arrange to pick up from me, Rob Droogleever. Postage in the red 3kg bag will be an extra $10. Should you wish to order more than one copy please contact me for the postal rate on 03-9891-6032 or email me on: jerwfd@optusnet.com.au

Cheques and money orders to be made out to Robin Droogleever please, and send the order to R.W.F. DROOGLEEVER, P.O.BOX 42, BULLEEN, 3105, VICTORIA. Cash may be sent and although we have an honest postal system (I have not had any money go missing yet!), the risk of non-delivery is the sender’s. Please make sure you provide a mailing address and if you would like any inscription let me know.

Contact Robin Droogleever about this article.

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