Sebastopol resident Valda McKenzie is determined to ensure that her grandfather’s role in history is recognised, along with the other 23,000 Australians who served in the Boer War.
The Reserve Forces Day Council, on behalf of the Boer War descendents, is campaigning for a national Boer War memorial in Anzac Parade, Canberra.
Ms McKenzie said descendents were trying to raise $150,000 by November 30 to commission the memorial, to ensure its completion in time for the Anzac centenary in 2015.
Ms McKenzie said 1000 Australians died in the Boer War.
“These men have no memorial in Anzac Avenue, where all other wars are represented,” Ms McKenzie said.
Her grandfather, Herbert James Cooke, born in Ballarat in 1870, enlisted with the 1st Victorian Contingent and sailed for Cape Town from Port Melbourne in October, 1899.
One of three Victorians to win a Distinguished Conduct Medal, he returned to Melbourne after peace was declared in May 1902.
He died in The Alfred hospital on March 28, 1942.
About 16,000 Australians volunteered to fight for Britain against the Dutch-Afrikaner, or Boer, settlers in South Africa from 1899 to 1902.
Another 6400 were either working in South Africa at the time or travelled at their own expense to take part in the war, which remains Australia’s third-worst conflict in terms of casualties.
The war was seen as an opportunity for Australia to show its commitment to Britain and to define its identity.
Ms McKenzie said she felt passionate about raising funds for a national memorial to ensure those who fought were recognised for their sacrifice.
“They never received a pension when they returned, their graves were forgotten and some of them were lost,” she said.
“They’ve just been completely forgotten.”
The Boer War is the only major war not to be commemorated on Anzac Parade although a site has been reserved leading up to the Australian War Memorial.
For information on how to donate visit the Reserve Forces Day Council website at