Boer War 'fever' remembered

Like many of the Australians who fought in the Boer War in South Africa, Sergeant Peter Murrie did not die of wounds.

The disease typhoid fever, which thrived in the insanitary conditions of the barracks, took Sergeant Murrie’s life and accounted for half the deaths of Australians in that war.

At Gladstone on Sunday, as the kookaburras sang in nearby gum trees, about 120 people marked Remembrance Day, particularly the fallen of the Boer War, at the war memorial.

Two honour rolls – one for Gladstone and the other for Georgetown – were unveiled to honour the memory of Boer War soldiers.

Sergeant Murrie was a former Burra Record newspaper editor and once ran the general store at Georgetown before joining the Imperial Bushmen, the forerunners of the Australian Lighthorse Regiment. 

According to his grand-daughter Gwenyth Lodge, 83, of Ardrossan, Sergeant Murrie signed up in Gladstone.

“He died of the awful typhoid fever over in South Africa on June 9, 1901, at the age of 39 and was buried at Standerton in that country,” she said.

“He left behind a wife and four young boys.”

She said that at the time Australia was part of an empire “and we were fighting for the empire – he was young and wanted a bit of excitement”.

One of Sergeant Murrie’s great-grandsons, Andrew Thomas Murrie, of Clare, said Gladstone had been a recruitment centre for the Boer War.

“There was no Australian Army at that stage. We were all just colonies,” he said,

Reverend David Thompson told the crowd that 1500 South Australian men signed up in three years.

“You had to have a horse and be able to shoot from the saddle,” he said.

Cooper Smith and Thomas Oates, both 12, of St Joseph’s Parish School, laid a wreath.

“It is just great to see so many people come to celebrate this event,” Cooper said.

Grand-daughter of Sergeant Peter Murrie, Gwenyth Lodge, with his great-grandsons Peter, left, and Andrew Murrie. Gwenyth unveiled the honour roll for Georgetown soldiers who died in the Boer War.

Grand-daughter of Sergeant Peter Murrie, Gwenyth Lodge, with his great-grandsons Peter, left, and Andrew Murrie. Gwenyth unveiled the honour roll for Georgetown soldiers who died in the Boer War.

Imperial Bushman Sergeant Peter Murrie.

Imperial Bushman Sergeant Peter Murrie.