Boer War
 
  
SA4609 Lance Corporal (Joe) Joseph William Brown – 7th Contingent, New Zealand Mounted Rifles
 
Joseph William Brown was a single 22 year old man when he signed his enlistment papers, on 3rd April 1901, for service in South Africa. Joseph (Joe) Brown’s enlistment paper note that he was an unemployed labourer living at Porirua as was his sister Janet who was listed as his next of kin.[i]
Porirua School records list the Brown family, Andrew, James and Janet starting at the school in 1873 with a William (Joe) starting in 1885.[ii]
 
Joe sailed for South Africa on 6th April 1901 as SA4609 Trooper Joseph William Brown, 26th Company, 7th Contingent.  Also sailing with the 7th Contingent were SA4657 Trooper Leonard (Lou) Lewis Gestro from Paremata, SA4650 Trooper George Styles from Pauatahanui, SA 4207 Charles Robinson and SA 4643 Trooper Charles Robinson from Tawa,
SA 4645 Farrier Leonard Retter and his younger brother SA 4644 Farrier Darcy Retter from Johnsonville.
 
On arrival in South Africa the 7th New Zealand and the 6th Queensland Contingent were assigned to Colonel Garratt’s column operating in the Eastern Transvaal and north-east of the Orange Free State. During June 1901 there was constant skirmishing with the Boers with casualties inflicted on both the 6th and 7th at places like Blesboxspruit, Kaffir’s Spruit. In July 1901 they captured a Boer commando at Koppjiesfontein which resulted in 11 Boers killed or wounded, 25 captured along with 34 wagons, 31 carts and 1240 cattle.
More successful captures of material and men continued in August 1901 at Bulfontein, Spannerberg. These clearing operations continued to seriously weaken the Boers. The final major contact was on 23rd February 1902 where the British forces attempted the capture of the key Boer leader De Wet. 
 
In one of these sweeps the 7th Contingent captured four Boers. One of the prisoners captured was wearing a British issued khaki uniform. As this was against the rules of war and he was court marshalled and sentenced to death. The photo below shows the man paraded before the 7th Contingent before facing a firing squad.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This battle at Langverwacht is also known as the Bloody Battle of Bothasbergat.[iii] It was in this battle that 23 men of the 7th Contingent were killed including SA4645 Farrier Len Retter. 
 
 
After a year of operations, the 7th Contingent, in late March, started their journey to Durban and the return to New Zealand. In Newcastle the 7th Contingent was addressed by the New Zealand Premier Mr Richard Seddon. The 7th Contingent sailed from Durban, South Africa on the 22nd May 1902.
At some stage during service in South Africa, SA4609 Trooper Brown was promoted to Lance Corporal and military papers completed on his return to New Zealand noted the new rank.[iv]
Following a medical inspection in July 1902, Lance Corporal Brown was granted two months sick leave and he was provided treatment for a ‘slight cold’ at Wellington Hospital before he was discharged from the army. The 13th September 1902 discharge papers noted that his intended residence was Porirua, although subsequent correspondence to Joe was sent to him at Tawa Flat.
Joseph William Brown made Tawa Flat his home, he married Jemima Long in 1908[v] and they had a son and two daughters. A marriage notice in 1939 celebrated the wedding of Mimie, second daughter of Mr & Mrs J W Brown of Tawa Flat.[vi]
Joseph William Brown died in 1950.[vii]
 
Notes:
See the stories of other local men for more details on the actions of the 7th Contingent NZMR in South Africa.
Private and Trooper are both used in military papers and newspaper items, Trooper has been used for consistancy in Porirua District stories. 
 
References:
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: SA4609 Lance Corporal Joseph William Brown
Papers past Online
Centenary of Porirua School 1863 - 1963
NZ Units in South Africa 1899 – 1902: NZ History online
 
Photos:
Boer prisoner prior to execution: National Library ref ¼-060154-F
Background  7th Contingent breaking camo early in their campaign: NZ History Online
 
 
[i] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: SA4609 Lance Corporal Joseph William Brown
[ii] Centenary of Porirua School 1863 – 1963
[iii] Boer War – 7th Contingent: NZ History online
[iv] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: SA4609 Lance Corporal Joseph William Brown
[v] Marriage Brown-Long, 1908/8435, New Zealand BDM
[vi] Marriages Carmine-Brown (23rd December 1939) Evening Post
[vii] Death Joseph William Brown, 1950/26157, New Zealand BDM       
 
 
  
 
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Men of the 7th Contingent break camp early in their campaign   (1901)