Queen's Scarf : Private A H Du Frayer, 1st New South Wales Mounted Rifles

Unit 1st New South Wales Mounted Rifles
Place Africa: South Africa, Orange Free State, Bloemfontein
Accession Number OL00429.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Berlin Wool
Location Main Bld: Soldiers of the Queen Gallery: Corridor: Navy
Maker Queen Victoria
Place made United Kingdom
Date made 1900
Conflict South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)

Khaki woollen crocheted scarf with a fringe at each end. Width 16cm (width is uneven and although the number of repeats per row should be six, this is not always the case); length (including fringe) 183cm. Queen Victoria's eyesight was poor when she made the scarves. Her granddaughter-in-law, the future Queen Mary, then Duchess of York, recalled having to unpick rows to correct the stitching.

History / Summary

Alfred Henry Du Frayer was born in Victoria on 20 September 1871. He was educated in Melbourne at Brighton Grammar School from 1884 to 1889. He worked on his uncle's property in Queensland, and then at Narrandera in New South Wales before enlisting in the 1st New South Wales Mounted Rifles for service in the Boer War.

103 Private Du Frayer was assigned to C Squadron. In South Africa he saw action at Poplar Grove, Dreifontein, Karee Siding, Vet River, Zand River, Pretoria and Diamond Hill. He was awarded the Queen's Scarf for bravery for an action which took place on 11 April 1900. The action was described in detail by Captain Hilliard, commander of C Squadron, and printed in the Sydney Mail on 22 September 1900: "when the regiment was on outpost duty near Karee [Siding, near Bloemfontein] a reconnoitering patrol was sent out early in the morning in charge of Captain Legge. When approaching a farmhouse flying the white flag every precaution was taken, but seeing no one about, the men numbering about 12 rode within the stone fence enclosure when they were immediately fired upon by a party of Boers concealed in a donga on the veldt. The gateway was only 150 yards from the farmhouse but Du Frayer dismounted, shook Private Clark into a semi-conscious state and, mounted again, got Private Clark up behind him and finally out of danger. Private Du Frayer was exposed to a heavy fire from both quarters previously mentioned".

Five months later, Du Frayer was invalided to Australia after suffering from enteric fever and pneumonia. He arrived in Sydney on 17 September 1900, and was discharged from service three days later. He later re-joined the NSW Military Forces and was commissioned a second lieutenant.

In the last year of her life, Queen Victoria crocheted eight scarves from deep gold Berlin wool. In a corner of each of the scarves she embroidered the Royal Cipher 'VRI' in red silk thread. The first four had been completed by April 1900. It was believed that Queen Victoria intended to present her scarves to soldiers for gallant conduct in the field, however, she died before she could do so. Of the eight scarves made, four were intended for British soldiers, and the other four were to go to men serving in the Colonial Forces. Four distinguished private soldiers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa were selected: Private R Thompson, 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, Trooper J Chadwick of the South African irregular unit Robert's Horse, Private H Coutts of the New Zealand Mounted Infantry, and Trooper Du Frayer. The other four recipients were soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 2nd British Division. Some of the recipients of the Queen's Scarf later claimed it was of equal standing to a Victoria Cross, although this was not the case, nor were they entitled to use 'QS' [Queen's Scarf] as a post-nominal.

In May 1901 His Royal Highness the Duke of York, the future King George V, visited Australia. He presented Du Frayer with his scarf at a military revue in Centennial Park, Sydney. The length of the scarf lent itself to being worn in the same way as a sergeant's traditional sash, over the right shoulder with the fringed ends secured over the left hip. Du Frayer was photographed wearing the scarf on two separate occasions, once with the scarf over his right shoulder and once with it over his left shoulder.

From 1902, having noticed the serious depletion in cattle numbers while he was in South Africa, Du Frayer organised and accompanied a number of shipments of well-bred Australian cattle to South Africa. He subsequently married and settled there. Du Frayer enlisted with the South African Special Service Company during the First World War, serving as a major in south-west and east Africa. As a result of his service he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire early in 1919. Du Frayer later moved to Tanganyika (now Tanzania), where he died in 1940. He was buried with military honours at Old Shinyanga in the Lake Province.