s.s. Euryalus goes to war.

Euryalus leaving the Port Melbourne Railway Pier with the 2nd Victorian Rifles on board

On Thursday, December 21st 1899, the Victorian Cabinet decided to accept the offer of Messrs. A. Currie and Company, of the steamer Euryalus, 3800 tons, to take the 2nd Victorian Rifles to Capetown. This was to be Victoria's contribution to the 2nd contingent sent to the 2nd Boer War from Australia. It should be remembered that this is prior to federation so each of the colonies had their own defence force and defence minister.

The men were roused in the camp at 4.a.m Friday (12.01.1900) and rode out of the camp at 9.a.m. . The members of the 2nd Victorian Mounted Rifles then rode through Melbourne, on, their way to the Euryalus. There was a fair crowd of people in the streets who cheered lustily as the contingent passed. The men rode four abreast, but as some of them were in charge of lead horses and the majority had difficulty in controlling their own mounts, which, being country bred, did not view the trams with much favor, and exhibited a tendency to back away from them on the footpath, their formation was anything but perfect.

On arrival at Port Melbourne the troops lined up in front of the railway station. Then, the men having dismounted, the horses were led in single file along the pier to the side of the vessel. They were then divested of their saddles and equipment, and a commencement was made to walk them on board. From the side of the ship to the pier a strong gangway had been erected, so that the horse could walk straight on to the vessel's deck. It was then that the real difficulty of the embarkation began. The horse had little objection to walking up stair's, but he usually entered a vigorous pro- test against walking into the hold of the ship by running backwards down the incline which he had just climbed.

It did not take many experiences of this sort to teach the four riflemen detailed to shove the horses on board that some means would have to be taken to prevent the animals from accomplishing a successful backward rush. The difficulty was now over come in a singularly effectual manner. As soon as the horse reached the summit of the incline the four men rushed in from behind and, seizing hold, of the animal's hind quarters, lifted him bodily on to the down ward pathway. As long as the horses kept going there was no need to adopt these forcible measures, but as soon as a block occurred the obstructionist was hustled along the gangway in no half-hearted way. With the horses now loaded the men embarked to spend the night on Euryalus.

The enire compiment of the Barracks turned out for the parade, the troops left Victoria Barracks in St Kilda Road shortly after 2 p.m. and made their way to the gates of Government house (in those days the entrance was opposite Victoria barracks) where they were reviewed by the retiring Victorian Governor Lord Brassey, His Lordship and Lady Brassy's coach then led the parade as the contingent marched through the city. The parade passed through Swanstan Street, left into Collins Street, left again into Market Street, across the Queens Bridge and down Queens bridge street, before turning right to make their way to Euryalus at The Port Melbourne Railway Pier (now Station Pier), the entire route being lined by thousands of people. Lord Brassey who was leaving that very day went aboard his personal yacht "Sunbeam" to start his voyage home.

At 4.45 the steamer Euryalus, under the command of Capt Colin McDonald, cast off. As the band played Auld Lang Syne, the troops on the wharf cheered and presented arms, the vessel gradually drew away from the pier taking 15 Officers, 250 other ranks, 305 horses and 6 wagons off to war.

Euryalus was escourted down the Bay by the steamer Pateena bearing the members of the Ministry and of both Houses of Parliament. Many other vessels and yachts joined in by lining both sides of the channel while the Sunbeam, Euryalus, Cerberus, and accompanying vessels passed between them.

On Sunday the 14th Euryalus signaled the lighthouse keeper at Cape Nelson, "Thanks for adieus. All well. Goodbye."

On January 18th Euryalus unexpectedly called in to Albany at 5 p.m., and anchored in the Sound. She landed two men, Trooper Ratcllffe who had been discharged for insubordination (refusing to be vaccinated), and Trooper Wilkinson, who was suffiering from rheumatism and was taken to the hospital. Mail was also landed then Euryalus resumed her voyage.



Euryalus at the Port Melbourne Railway Pier loading the 3rd Victoriam Bushmen


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