Blyth, Bert (Sergeant Major)

Place Asia: China
Accession Number 3DRL/2181
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement 3 wallets: 8 cm; 1 flat item; 3 oversize custom boxes
Object type Papers, Records, Roll
Maker Blyth, Bert
Various
Place made China, South Africa
Date made 1900-1901
Access Open
Related File This file can be copied or viewed via the Memorial’s Reading Room. AWM315 419/019/002
Conflict China, 1900-1901 (Boxer Uprising)
Copyright

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Source credit to This item has been digitised with funding provided by Commonwealth Government.
Description

Collection relating to the Boxer Uprising service of Sergeant Major Bert Blyth, Marine Light Infantry, New South Wales Naval Contingent, Australia and China, 1900-1901.

Wallet 1 of 3 contains two folders.

Folder 1 of 2 - Contains a squad book initially issued to Bert Blyth for service with the 3rd Contingent in South Africa but subsequently repurposed for service in China. The first half of the squad book outlines printed general duties for various ranks and associated instructions relating to guard duties and dress rules. The remainder of the squad book contains preliminary nominal rolls for the 3rd Contingent in preparation for service in South Africa that records individuals who subsequently served in South Africa, others who served in China and a number that did not embark for service in either conflict. The squad book also includes handwritten instructions and miscellaneous notes.

Folder 2 of 2 - Contains two files. The first file contains crime reports and related documents concerning three members of the Marine Light Infantry attached to the New South Wales Naval Contingent, namely Private's Reginald Lea, Frank Morris Foster and John McConnell, written during the period 17 October 1900 to 5 January 1901 while the detachment was stationed in Peking. The second file contains a subscription list raised to defray the cost of erecting a memorial stone to Private Thomas Joseph Rogers, the first Australian to die on service in China with the Australian Naval Contingent. The list records the ratings, names and amounts given by the subscribers and the total amount raised as of 5 February 1901.

Wallet 2 of 3 - Contains a bound book that includes an alphabetical nominal roll, daily reports and ration returns for the Marine Light Infantry attached to the New South Wales Naval Contingent during service in China. The nominal roll records service details and personal particulars of members of the detachment including regimental numbers, ranks, names, ages, heights, dates of enlistment, occupations, crimes and punishments, dates and reasons of discharge and associated remarks. The book also records daily reports and ration returns for the Marine Light Infantry during the period 1 January to 12 March 1901 while the detachment was stationed in Peking.

Wallet 3 of 3 - Contains a bound book of nominal rolls, daily reports and ration returns for the Marine Light Infantry attached to the New South Wales Naval Contingent during service in China. The first nominal roll records service details and personal particulars of members of the detachment such as regimental numbers, ranks, names, ages, heights, dates of enlistment, occupations and next of kin details while the second roll outlines arms, accoutrements, clothing and equipment issued to members of the detachment. The book also records daily reports and ration returns for the Marine Light Infantry during the period 23 October to 26 December 1900 while stationed in Peking.
Oversized Wallet 1 of 1 - Contains a nominal roll for the Marine Light Infantry attached to the New South Wales Naval Contingent for service in China. The roll records regimental numbers, ranks and names of members in the detachment and contact details of relatives or friends.

The collection also includes seven volumes of a military training manual titled "Military Training Syllabus for the Resolute Divisions of the Huai Army" c. 1860s, described separately under records 3DRL/2181.002.001 - 3DRL/2181.002.007.

History / Summary

In the collection of Sergeant Major Bert Blyth is a Chinese military training manual that he souvenired during the Boxer Uprising in China from 1900 - 1901. The book is titled A Military Training Syllabus for the Resolute Divisions of the Huai Army.

Australia became involved in the Boxer Uprising in August 1900 when 570 troops were despatched as the Australian Naval Contingent to join troops from eight other nations already serving in China. The Australian Naval Contingent comprised of 263 men from the New South Wales Contingent, 199 men from the Victorian Contingent and 108 men from South Australia serving on the HMCS Protector.

During service in China the Australian Naval Contingent was primarily engaged in garrison duties and police work in Peking and Tientsin and occasionally worked as railway men and fire-fighters. The crew of the HMCS Protector engaged in survey work and carried despatches. The HMCS Protector returned to Australia on 8 January 1901, the New South Wales and Victorian Contingents arrived in Sydney on 25 April 1901.

Like all servicemen serving in a foreign country, the Australian Naval Contingent returned with variety of souvenirs and trophies as mementoes of their time in China. Some of these included a bronze temple bell, dated 1715; a double handed executioner's sword; a two-metre long, three-man blunderbuss; a chopping spear and the plait of a Boxer soldier, cut off before his execution.

The training syllabus was published in the mid 1890's as a training manual for the instructors and officers of the Wuyi Jun or Resolute Divisions of the Huai Army. The Huai Army was raised by Li Hongzhang in 1862 to combat the Taiping rebels who controlled the region of the Yangtze River around Nanjing. The Huai Army was raised from Li Hongzhang's native province of Anhui on the Huai River, thus giving the army its name. Although the Taiping rebellion was crushed in 1864 the Huai Army continued to exist and the Resolute Divisions of the Huai Army were formed in 1866. When troops from Britain attacked the city to relieve the siege of the Peking legations, the Resolute Divisions of the Huai Army fought against them. It is possibly during this time that the training syllabus was first souvenired.

It is clear from the training syllabus that the Resolute Divisions of the Huai Army received thorough training in the use of modern western weapons and tactics. The training syllabus is comprised of ten chapters, or Juan, which are bound in seven thin volumes.