My great grandfather, William Collier FRANCIS was born in Australia on 27 April 1864 to Welsh-born parents. He was a farmer at Yinnar, Gippsland, Victoria and later a salesman.
He married late, at 41 years to Geelong-born Florence May PEARSON (1875 – 1947). My grandmother Mary Waveney Kathleen FRANCIS was their third child.
He died just before his 82nd birthday in 1946. My Dad remembers him as “an old man who used to sleep in the built-in verandah. He wore blue and white pyjamas and had a mass of white hair”.
William was a member of the 4th Victorian Contingent (Victorian Imperial Bushmen) and served in South Africa in the Boer War from May 1900 to Jun 1901. His son, my Uncle Jack, told me “he came home via Albany in Western Australia and walked to the goldfields in Kalgoorlie”. His medal has the battles on bars on the band - Transvaal, Orange Free State, Rhodesia, Cape Colony, South Africa 1901.
An amazing find on Trove has enabled me to ‘hear the words’ of my great grandfather by way of a letter published in his local newspaper, the Morwell Advertiser in May 1901. (I have transcribed it below the articles.)
As an aside: The Victorian Mounted Rifles were the first to wear khaki uniforms and the slouch hat, and established the mounted infantry model which was adopted by other colonial forces.