Peter Joseph HANDCOCK

HANDCOCK, Peter Joseph

Service Number: 488
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Shoeing-Smith
Last Unit: 1st New South Wales Mounted Rifles
Born: Peel, New South Wales, 17 February 1868
Home Town: Bathurst, Bathurst Regional, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Shoesmith
Died: Executed (firing squad), Pretoria, South Africa, 27 February 1902, aged 34 years
Cemetery: Church Street Cemetery, Pretoria, South Africa
Memorials: Bathurst Boer War Memorial
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Boer War Service

1 Oct 1899: Involvement Private, SN 488, 1st New South Wales Mounted Rifles
21 Feb 1901: Involvement Australian and Colonial Military Forces (Boer War / Boxer Rebellion), Lieutenant, Bushveldt Carbineers (BVC)
28 Feb 1901: Involvement Australian and Colonial Military Forces (Boer War / Boxer Rebellion), Shoeing-Smith, SN 488, 1st New South Wales Mounted Rifles

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Biography

Peter Handcock was infamously the colleague of Harry "The Breaker" Morant.  Former members of Australian Colonial contingents, both subsequently enlisted in the Bushveldt Carbineers, a scratch British force comprised mainly of Colonial "Bushmen" volunteers who took irregular warfare to the Boers.

Handcock and Morant were both arrested tried and executed for the murder of a Boer pastor.

The circumstances of their arrest trial and execution remains controversial to this day.  Were they scapegoats or perpetrators?

The experience of having two Australian volunteers executed by the British in this way had a lasting impact on Australian Defence Policy.  Never again would Australia cede the power of life and death over its soldiers to a foreign military power; even 'mother England'.

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