W Woolmore Collection - Singles


Lot 3552    SESSION 8 (2.00PM THURSDAY 30TH JULY)    W Woolmore Collection - Singles

Estimate $2,200
SOLD $2,400

QUEEN'S SOUTH AFRICA MEDAL 1899, (type 3 reverse), - two clasps - Natal, Transvaal. 637 Pte A.Wright. Durban L.I. Impressed. Toned, good very fine.

637 Pte Alexander Wright confirmed on the nominal roll for Durban Light Infantry; served 29Sep1899 to 31Dec1901. He received a gunshot wound to the head and was captured during the armoured train engagement near Ladysmith in mid-November. He was among a group, including Winston Churchill, taken as prisoners by the Boers.

The following was reported in The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW) on Tuesday 2 January 1900, p5.


Private Alexander Wright, whose portrait we give herewith, is an Australian who, as a member of the Durban Light Infantry, distinguished himself in company with Winston Churchill and others, in the gallant defence of an armoured train on November 15. Private Wright was commended by his superior officers for the coolness he displayed on the occasion referred to. He is said to have "fired from the knee in the regulation position, and, in a cool and collected manner, cracked jokes to keep his comrades from becoming excited," while pieces were being "flicked" from his right ear and his clothing.

Born in Pitt-street, Sydney, between Moore and Hunter streets, on the site of Gibbs, Shallard and Co.'s old premises, on the 14th March, 1876, he had not the advantage of that "Jackeroo" training which settles the muscles and moulds the determination of the bushman, and fits him for a soldier's duty in the rough country of the Transvaal. He was reared in the city, learned his trade here, and only lived a few years outside its boundaries, and then at Bathurst - "a city of plains." Here it was that his first training in military matters took place, and, evincing a liking for drill, he rose to the rank of sergeant of the Bathurst B Company.

Glowing accounts of South Africa attracted his attention, and on July 5th, 1898, he quitted the colonies for Durban, where he almost immediately joined the Light Infantry. After a nine mouths' sojourn at this place, trade becoming dull, Wright left for Johannesburg, and severed for the time being his connection with his regiment. From Johannesburg be subsequently journeyed to Krugersdorp, where he worked at his trade in the neighbourhood, and upon one of the richest of South African mines. Eventually these were shut down in view of the present trouble, and Private Wright, with the intention of placing his services at the disposal of his country, returned to Durban, arriving on a Friday afternoon in a coal truck, and at a critical period of the hostilities. His first act was to enrol in his old regiment, which step he took next morning, and that evening he was on his way to the front, with Colenso Bridge as his destination. The defence of the armored train is now a matter of history, and one of the regrettable features of it is that Wright, who fought so pluckily in the face of overwhelming odds, is now a prisoner.

Mrs. Millar, Private Wright's mother (that good lady having been twice married), in the course of a chat with a "Daily Telegraph" reporter, at her residence, George-street, Redfern, on Saturday afternoon, supplied the foregoing particulars. Mrs. Millar is amazed at the coolness displayed at a trying moment by her son, for he was an impulsive lad.

"My boy went to Africa to better himself," said Mrs.Millar, with a smile, "and if he has not made his fortune he is getting a grand lot of experience, any way. Oh, yes, I'm proud of him - all mothers ought to be proud of their sons, and especially those sons who are offering themselves for the service of their country."

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