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History Corner: Historic memorial in Bellerive Village

By Reg A. Watson

 

IN the historic village of Bellerive is situated the interesting Boer War Memorial.

It is an island caught in the road system.

Although still an impressive memorial, it has seen better days.

It was unveiled in 1903 by Colonel Cyril Cameron in memory of Edward Frank Morrisby who served under him during the South African War (1899-1902) while serving with the 1st Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse.

This was his second enlistment and his rank was Quarter Master Sergeant.

Morrisby died 25 June 1902 – one of the last Tasmanians to die.

It is said he died from falling off a horse two days after peace was declared.

This is wrong.

He died more than three weeks after peace was proclaimed and from hepatic abscess of the liver.

Whether such a death can result from failing from a horse, I don’t know.

His cousin Bernard Morrisby also died during the war.

The memorial was designed by noted stonemason Samuel Watson and was originally topped off by a gas lamp and surrounded by a fence.

Its iron column was cast by Richard Brown of Bellerive.

Memorial money was raised by subscription.

In April 1926, the memorial was visited for the first time by a group of South African veterans in honour of their comrade Morrisby, and a wreath was laid.

Annually, a small number of dedicated historians hold a brief service on the anniversary of the start of the war on 11 October 1899.

More than 600 Australians died in total, with 42 of them being Tasmanian.

Caption: Unveiling of the Boer War Memorial in 1903, with Colonel Cyril Cameron officiating.