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Forgotten soldier gets a fitting farewell

Tuesday, 23rd April, 2013

The Salvation Army’s Ross Mawby reads the Lord’s Prayer over the grave of Edward Wallace. The Salvation Army’s Ross Mawby reads the Lord’s Prayer over the grave of Edward Wallace.

By Kurtis J Eichler

Boer War trooper Edward Wallace's rifle skills and abilities as a horseman ultimately cost him his life.

Wallace was a part of the third NSW Imperial Bushmen in the second Boer War, fought in South Africa between October 11, 1899 and May 31, 1902.

Five years after his return from the war he died aged just 30 and was buried as a "pauper" in an unmarked grave at the BH Cemetery.

Yesterday an intimate memorial service paid homage to the young soldier's short life and his efforts in defending Australian soil.

Wallace's grave was found after a yearlong search by the BH Historical Society's Margot White and RSL secretary Des Kennedy.

Just a mound of dirt before, the grave now has a fence, and a bugle, slouch hat and name plaque on top of it.

"Edward Wallace through his ability as a good shot and a good horseman to go and fight in a foreign land for his queen and for the empire," Salvation Army's Ross Mawby said, before reading a prayer over his grave in front of 20 people.

Past president of the RSL John Bacich recited the Ode of Remembrance before bugler Peter Keenan played a rousing version of the Last Post.

Mr Kennedy thanked those who attended the service, describing it as "magic".

"He died as a pauper and no one wanted to bury him," Mr Kennedy said after the service.

"All we wanted to do was give him some recognition as a Boer War veteran."

Mr Kennedy, a Vietnam veteran, said it could take years to find out how the young man died.

He suggested the memories of conflict could have led him to develop an alcohol addiction.

"What they used to talk about was shellshock because there were a lot of atrocities on both sides over there.

"I'm only surmising. We are still trying to trace the family tree but it's not going to take five minutes."

Mrs White said it was possible there were more Boer War soldiers buried in inconspicuous graves in the different religious areas.

"We've been searching for Boer War veterans and there are about half a dozen in marked graves," Mrs White said.

"There's a couple at the moment that we're trying to find out where they are.

Many of the troopers who returned would have been living in the bush and been buried in Broken Hill.

"It's a work in progress. There wouldn't be too many I don't think in Broken Hill."

But Ms White said little was known about Wallace's personal life.

"We didn't have time for that."

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