King's South Africa Medal: Lieutenant Colonel Harry George Vialls, 3rd Western Australia Bushman

Accession Number REL45671.004
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medal
Physical description Silver
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1902
Conflict South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)

King's South Africa Medal with clasps, 'SOUTH AFRICA 1901' and 'SOUTH AFRICA 1902'. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

History / Summary

Awarded to Major Henry (Harry) George Vialls, who was born in Devonshire, England on 7 November 1859. After attending the Royal Military College, he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the 14th Regiment of Foot (West Yorkshire Regiment) in 1879. Posted to India from 1879 till 1884, Vialls served as a transport officer in the Second Anglo-Afghan War and was present at the battle of Mazina in May 1880. He migrated to Australia in 1894.

On 13 February 1900 Vialls was promoted major in the Western Australian Military Forces and given command of the 3rd Western Australian Bushmen, which was to leave for South Africa in March. Upon arrival there the unit was joined with the 3rd Victorian Bushmen to form the 3rd Australian Bushmen Regiment, under Viall's command. The Regiment was part of the Rhodesian Field Force under the Command of General Frederick Carrington. In July 1900 they it was involved in an action at Koster River during the engagement Vialls took command of the situation, earning a reputation for himself for being cool under fire.

When the 3rd Western Australian Bushmen returned to Australia in April 1901 Vialls was asked to remain in South Africa and was given the local rank of lieutenant colonel. He held numerous commands under Colonel Herbert Plumer, including command of the mounted infantry corps of Major Vallentin, who had been killed during the battle of Onverwacht. This corps included the 5th Queensland Imperial Bushmen. For his service in South Africa Vialls was made Companion to the Order of Bath.

During the First World War Vialls was chosen to command the 16th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, however his health prevented him from taking up the posting and he remained in Australia. He died of heart failure on 16 May 1918.