Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Trove Tuesday – WC Francis in Quarantine

The eldest son of the William Francis I wrote about in my last Trove Tuesday blog went to the Boer War with the Victorian Mounted Rifles / the 4th Imperial Contingent. 
His name was William Collier FRANCIS (1864-1946).

It seems when these country lads returned from the war, probably anxious to get home to their families and farms, they faced a delay as their ship was quarantined.

My great uncle, WC Francis’ son told me that his father got off the ship in Albany and walked to the goldfields in Kalgoorlie.

Luckily (for me) W C Francis was in the 4th contingent and not the 5th contingent that went to the Boer War the following year. The 5th suffered the worst casualties of any Australian contingent in the Boer War, and large numbers did not get to come home at all.
It wasn’t until four years later, in 1905, that William married my great grandmother.

These articles in local Gippsland newspapers of the day showed me it pays to search across a couple of titles. 

The first I found, in the Traralgon Record on the 9 July 1901 was really faint and very hard to read. 

Continuing to search, I found an identical article in the Morwell Advertiser three days later that was in nice bold print - only the names of the soldiers have been moved around. 
It was clear to see the reason for the quarantine – an outbreak of measles and scarlet fever.

The Victorian Mounted Rifles were the first to wear khaki uniforms and the slouch hat. They were a voluntary force that formed in about 1885 in Gippsland and established the mounted infantry model that was adopted by other colonial forces.
Victorian Mounted Rifles activities included learning musketry, mounted and dismounted parade drills, and in later years, they also had sham fights, tournaments, local and inter-company encampments and shooting competitions interspersed with social evenings, smoke nights, and concerts.

William Collier Francis, third from left kneeling


  1. Great photo Jackie. The men look like they are out camping but are very smartly attired!