John Robertson (Jack) Edney

Summary information

Name John Robertson Edney
known as Jack
Date of birth 20 January 1873
Place of birth Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
Died 3 December 1924
Place of death -
Mother Elizabeth Welsh
Father James Brown Edney
Siblings Martha Simpson Edney
Elizabeth Webster Edney
James Welsh Edney
Mary Welsh Edney
Barbara Robertson Edney
David Edney III
William Murray Edney
Helen Douglas Edney
Jesse Anderson Edney
George Harrison Edney I
Walter Scott Edney
Alexander Chalmers Edney
Spouse -
Date of marriage -
Place of marriage -
Children -
Occupation Farmer, soldier, policeman

Other information

Jack became a farmer at an early age.

By the time the Boer War began on 11 October 1899, the patriotic enthusiasm in Wagga Wagga, as elsewhere in New South Wales, was overwhelming.1 Many young men, anxious to fight for the mother country and eager for adventure, responded to the call to volunteer for military service. The first men to volunteer in Wagga Wagga were Jack Edney; William Thomas (‘Will’) Anderson, Silvio (known as ‘Siv’ or ‘Sid’) Palazzi, Alfred Thomas Twyford; and Ernest Sawtell. Jack was 26 at the time.

These six men were farewelled at a ‘Smoke Special’, attended by over 200 residents, held in the Town Hall on 23 October 1899. Military songs were sung and, according to the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, the burst of cheering ‘shook the roof’. Their farewell the following day was equally impressive. G Company, the Town Band and St Michael’s Band all assembled at the drill hall and marched to the Oddfellows Hall. Cheering crowds lined the streets and nearly 1,000 people squeezed into the hall (which had a capacity of about 800) to hear the farewell speeches chaired by the Mayor, George Coleman. The six volunteers, accompanied by G Company Staff-Colour Sergeant, John W Nicholson, joined the procession headed by the two bands down Fitzmaurice and Baylis Streets to the railway station. A couple of thousand people gathered at the station to farewell them. The National Anthem was sung and ‘ringing cheers went up’.

On their return to Wagga Wagga, the men were given rousing receptions. They returned to Wagga Wagga on 15 January 1901, were met at the station by the Mayor, several aldermen and executive members of the Citizens’ Reception Committee. The streets had been decorated and an arch built at the lagoon bridge with Welcome to Our Boys written on one side and Hail, Soldiers of the Queen on the other. A procession preceded an official reception at the Town Galls Gardens and a Smoke Concert.

The locals read the news of the war with great interest. When they heard that the protracted siege of Mafeking had been lifted, the towns ‘hooter’ was sounded and firebells round town were rung. A crowd of 1,000 people assembled in Fitzmaurice Street to celebrate, while the Town Band paraded the streets for several hours playing patriotic airs, Rule Britannia, ons of the Seal and Soldiers of the Queen.

One Wagga Wagga recruit did not return. Joe Palazzi had been killed about 2pm on Thursday, 19 July 1900 at Palmerfontein on the Rhenoster River near Midley and Reitz. A Palazzi Memorial Fund was initiated and a monument erected in Newtown Park to perpetuate his memory. It was unveiled by the Mayor, George Rudd, on 7 December 1901. This monument remains as the only reminder of Wagga Wagga’s participation in the Boer War.

Notwithstanding, in 1902 Jack enlisted to serve again in the conflict, where Australia was now fir the first time in war as its own nation: the Commonwealth of Australia. While about a thousand of the 16,000 troops involved in the war served a second tour of duty, it is not clear whether Jack actually returned to South Africa, as the war was over by May that year.

Following the war, Jack is recorded as being a police officer, and died in 1924.


1902 Enlistment
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