The story be­hind Boer War soldier Ge­orge Rams­dale Wit­ton

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS -

GE­ORGE Rams­dale Wit­ton, born in Vic­to­ria on June 28, 1874, went on to be­come a lieu­tenant af­ter en­list­ing in the Boer War. Fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent, lieu­tenants Harry ‘Breaker’ Mo­rant and Peter Hand­cock, along with Wit­ton, were tried and con­victed by Bri­tish Mil­i­tary court mar­tial for ex­e­cut­ing Boer pris­on­ers of war in South Africa.

While Mo­rant and Han­dock faced a fir­ing squad, Wit­ton’s sen­tence was com­muted to life im­pris­on­ment. He was kept in English prisons and treated as a com­mon crim­i­nal, not a soldier. Their fam­i­lies and the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment were never of­fi­cially in­formed of the court mar­tial and the sad out­come. Wit­ton re­turned to Aus­tralian soil on Novem­ber 12, 1904. He was re­leased from prison af­ter a pe­ti­tion was pre­sented to King Edward VII signed by more than 80,000 Aus­tralians. While in prison he hadn’t re­ceived the let­ter in­form­ing him of his fa­ther’s death.

Af­ter re­turn­ing home to Vic­to­ria, he wrote the book Scape­goats of the Em­pire. The movie Breaker Mo­rant was based on this book.

In 1910, Wit­ton se­lected the first of his Coal­stoun Lakes blocks where he grew pineapples and later be­came a dairy farmer.

He was a found­ing mem­ber of the Dun­dar­rah Cheese Fac­tory.

He mar­ried Mary Louise Humphreys on Jan­uary 7, 1913 but sadly she died in 1931. In her mem­ory, Ge­orge do­nated a bap­tismal font to the lo­cal church that is still used to­day.

The first house Wit­ton built was for the cheese fac­tory man­ager while he built him­self a larger, more grand style of home at the end of what is known to­day as Wit­ton Rd.

In 1939-40 he sold his farm and re­turned to Vic­to­ria, where he died of a heart at­tack while crank­ing his car on Au­gust 14, 1942, aged 68 years.

On the 100th an­niver­sary of Mo­rant, Hand­cock and Wit­ton’s court mar­tial, a me­mo­rial was un­veiled in the Coal­stoun Lakes Hall grounds as a trib­ute to Wit­ton and other Boer War vet­er­ans.

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