Samuel Grau HUBBE MID


HUBBE, Samuel Grau

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 28 February 1900, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: 3rd South Australian Bushmen's Contingent
Born: Macclesfield, South Australia, 1 August 1848
Home Town: Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College & Fellenberg's Commercial School
Occupation: Surveyor
Died: Killed in Action, Ottoshoop, South Africa, 12 September 1900, aged 52 years
Cemetery: Zeerust Cemetery
Reintered from Malmani Cemetery
Memorials: Adelaide Boer War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Macclesfield ANZAC Memorial Gardens, North Adelaide St Peter's Cathedral Boer War Honour Roll
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Boer War Service

1 Oct 1899: Involvement Australian and Colonial Military Forces (Boer War / Boxer Rebellion), Captain, SN Officer, 3rd South Australian Bushmen's Contingent
1 Oct 1899: Involvement Captain, 3rd South Australian Bushmen's Contingent
28 Feb 1900: Enlisted Australian and Colonial Military Forces (Boer War / Boxer Rebellion), Adelaide, South Australia
7 Mar 1900: Embarked Australian and Colonial Military Forces (Boer War / Boxer Rebellion), Captain, SN Officer, 3rd South Australian Bushmen's Contingent, Maplemore

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Postuhumous MiD, London Gazette 16 Apr 1901 p.2608 by Lord Roberts for Meritorious services performed.

Samuel Grau Hübbe and his twin sister Martha were born in Macclesfield to Urlich and Martha Hübbe. Urlich Hübbe was a noted lawyer, historian, publicist and negotiator from Hamburg who immigrated to South Australia in 1842. He is best known for drafting the Real Property Act along with Robert Torrens which was commonly referred to as the Torrens Title system. Whilst Urlich was trying to establish himself in the new colony he attempted to take up farming at Macclesfield, but this was an occupation to which he was not suited.

Samuel was sent to St Peters College to do his schooling, and in what was maybe a sign of things to come he was expelled for striking a master, who was beating a small boy over the head with a slate. He then completed his education at Fellenberg’s Commercial School in Pultney St before taking on an apprenticeship as a blacksmith at the Adelaide Iron Foundry. Following this Samuel headed north and took on work on a number of stations in the far north as a drover and stock overseer, including a stint with the Overland Telegraph Line project between 1870-1872. This then led to work for a time moving cattle to Adelaide from Queensland and New South Wales.

In 1879 Samuel joined the Government Survey Department as a sub-inspector for the Rabbit Districts, and was then promoted to Inspector of Vermin Districts and also appointed the Government Arbitrator. In 1885 he married Edith Agnes Cook, an intelligent woman who was the first woman to matriculate for entry into the University of South Australia. She would go on to take up teaching and even opened her own school at Knightsbridge across the road from the couples new home whilst raising their five children. In the same year Samuel joined the Eastern Suburbs Rifle Company and was appointed senior Lieutenant of the company. After three years he was promoted to Captain and commanded the company for six months.


By now Samuel had developed a wide ranging skills set including knowledge of the bush, leadership of men and controlling stock in the vast landscape. These skills were exactly what the Government wanted when they wished to establish a stock route from the railhead at Oodnadatta to the goldfields in Western Australia and establish a meat trade. So in 1895 Hübbe was tasked to take a small team equipped with camels to chart a route across the outback that provided adequate water, vegetation and food sources for future parties to drive the valuable cattle to the booming townships around Coolgardie. Apart from some mixed encounters with some aboriginal tribes and finding more salt water than fresh the expedition proved to be fruitless. After taking 375 days to complete the trek he could only report that the land for the suggested route was useless for the task as the environment would not sustain the stock over such a journey. Upon returning from his exploration mission Samuel returned to his post as Inspector of Improvements and Vermin, which now included being in charge of Wild Dog Destruction Parties.

In 1899 the Colonies in Australia committed troops to the war in South Africa in which the British were in conflict with the Dutch Boers. The South Australian Government had already sent two contingents when in January 1900 the citizens of Sydney decided to raise a Bushmen’s Corps and asked the Mayor of Adelaide to support the venture. A selection of prominent gentlemen were gathered and they voted to raise a force but due to the Government being reluctant to fund such a force, a committee was established to raise the funds from the community through public subscription. Within a short few weeks enough money was raised to enlist, equip, feed, transport and pay the force for South Africa. It was also the responsibility of the committee to purchase the horses and select the men. One of the most important selections was to be that of the Commanding Officer. With his well established skills set Samuel was nominated and widely accepted, despite some murmurings due to his German name.


By 7 March Hübbe boarded the Maplemore with his force of 100 men and 120 horses at Port Adelaide and sailed for South Africa as the 3rd Contingent South Australians Bushmen’s Corps. They landed on 11 April and began patrolling around the areas of Mafeking and Elands River District. Their first major action came at the battle of Buffelshoek in mid August, in which the British troops including the Bushmen took a Boer position equipped with a Maxim machine gun after riding up to the position, dismounting their horses and charging the Boers with bayonets fixed.


A month later on 12th September the 3rd Bushmen were again in action, this time at Ottoshoop. Trooper Robert Hayward of the 3rd made a diary entry of the events of this day;


Grim war has again played its part, for on Wednesday September 12th 1900 we went forth to battle with a light heart led by our brave old skipper, Captain Hübbe, who said when leaving camp, “I hope we will have a good cut in today boys”. All the lads said, “I hope we will too”. And everyone had their wish fulfilled for we had more than enough. We fought a good fight with the enemy who was strongly entrenched on the surrounding kopjes. We fought for several hours and then we got the order to charge and charge we did with mad fury. And although the bullets fell in our midst quick as lightning and thick as hail, we most successfully took the position without any loss of life. Only had two men wounded, one horse killed, and several wounded. After taking the position we got the order to retire and had to move out again under a terrible heavy fire. We carried out the order without losing any men. But after the fighting was over for the day and we were just about to retire, our brave old skipper fell victim to a deadly Mauser bullet. We were just moving off when he exclaimed, “I got it”. He fell from his horse with a heavy thud, tried to rise, staggered and fell again, and in a few minutes he was dead. Two horses fell in the retreat and badly hurt the riders, and one of the retreaters looking back saw that one of the fallen men was trying to rise into the sitting position. He galloped back under heavy fire, dismounted and gave the wounded comrade his horse. When the Captain saw the movement he galloped back and picked up the man who had given away his horse to a fallen comrade. So the last deed the captain did upon earth was an heroic one. We buried him the next day in the Malmani cemetery.


The death of their Commanding Officer was felt hard in the unit, his body was left on the battlefield where he fell that night and recovered the next morning, where he was wrapped in his blanket and buried in the town cemetery. His possessions were collected and in an old soldiers tradition they were auctioned off  amongst the unigt and raising £75 to be sent to his widow. Captain Hübbe was later to be awarded a Mentioned in Despatches by Lord Roberts for ‘Meritorious Services Performed’. After the war his body was re-interred in the Zeerust Cemetery and a headstone of marble was sent from South Australia to furnish his final resting place.


Samuel Grau Hübbe had led a full life in his fifty two years. He had been a blacksmith, stockman, explorer, arbitrator, soldier and a leader of men. His knowledge of survival in the bush, as well as how to deal with man and beast had won him praise and admiration. From his humble beginnings on a Macclesfield farm through countless hardships and trials to the battlefields of a foreign land, when that Boer bullet pierced his heart it took from South Australia a great man.