Distinguished Conduct Medal: Trooper Francis Arthur Groom, 1st Tasmanian Imperial Bushmen

Place Africa: South Africa, Transvaal
Accession Number REL50023.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Silver
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1901
Conflict South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)

Distinguished Conduct Medal (Edward VII). Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

History / Summary

Awarded to Trooper Francis Arthur Groom who was born in the Argentine Republic in 1874 to Francis Charles and Mitty Groom. At the age of twelve his family settled in Tasmania. In March 1900 the Government of Tasmania called for volunteers to join the Tasmanian Imperial Bushmen to serve in South Africa. Nine hundred men volunteered to join the unit and Francis Groom was one of the 122 that was selected to serve. The unit left for South Africa on 26 April 1900.

On 1 September the commander of the unit, Major Richard Lewis, was asked to provide twenty men to assist Captain Brooke of the Army Service Corps with rounding up some Boer cattle in the area west of Warmbad. The patrol moved into a narrow pass surrounded by rocky hills, where Boer commandos were waiting in ambush. As the first eight men of the patrol entered the area the Boers opened fire. Within a few minutes five of the men had been wounded, and another two had had their horses shot out from under them. Trooper Peter Clark gave his horse to wounded Trooper Samuel Willoughby and ran out beside it.

Several men from the patrol attempted to enter the ambush to assist the eight men, among them Francis Groom. He was one of the last to enter, riding to assist Lieutenant Guy Wylly. Although wounded himself Wylly had given his horse to Corporal Edward Brown who had been severely wounded in the leg. Whylly, who had been shot in the arm during the initial ambush, and was now attempting to cover the withdrawal with his rifle from while sheltering behind a rock. Upon reaching Wylly, Groom dismounted and helped him onto his horse. Groom ran beside the horse for a few metres before jumping up behind Whylly and escaping the Boers. For this action the first two Victoria Crosses were awarded to Australian infantrymen, Lieutenant Wylly and Trooper Bisdee. Troopers Groom and Clark received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for their role in the action.

Groom continued to serve with the Tasmanian Imperial Bushmen until July 1901. After his return to Tasmania 106 he married Mabel ‘Madge’ Ockerby in 1906. They raised four sons at their family farm near Penguin, Tasmania. Francis Groom died on 3 June 1964.