General Lee's Diary
Website of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Lancer Barracks and Museum
Honorary Major General George Leonard Lee CMG, DSO enlisted as a trooper in the Regiment in 1889 and four months later was commissioned. Three years later he joined the Permanent Forces and was appointed Adjutant of the Regiment. He later became Commandant of the Cavalry School of Instruction.
With the rank of Major he sailed with the first draft of reinforcements from NSW for the Aldershot Squadron of the Lancers who were serving in the South African War and after reaching the Squadron, of which he took command, on 1st December, 1899, he was present at every action of the Squadron except Brandfort in May 1900. He was specially mentioned for distinction by Field-Marshal Lord Roberts and received the DSO and Queen's Suoth Africa Medal with six clasps.
From the time the first reinforcement draft was assembled until its return to Australia the then Major Lee kept a diary. In it he recorded administrative notes, accounts, correspondence, and some descriptions of actions the Squadron took part in. As he travelled with AB (Banjo) Patterson on the SS Kent to South Africa, the account includes poems by Patterson, and others, some in the original handwriting of the author.
The diary is part of the Museum's collection, and due to the excellent work of Captain Ian Hawthorn (Retired), it has been restored, and photographed. It is the photographs (by the Australian Photo Restoration Service) that are used for the online display.
For the most part in neat copperplate, it is a unique source of information on the Boer War and the Regiment's participation therein. You will find that the running account starts from the front, correspondence, poetry and accounting from the back; there are 105 pages in all. Just use the buttons below to browse the detail.
On his return Major Lee was appointed AAG and Chief Staff Officer in Victoria later, promoted Colonel, he was Commandant of several Military Districts.
In 1916 he was appointed a temporary Brigadier-General and in 1918 an Hon Major General. He was ADC to H.E. the Governor-General from 1915 to 1920.
He passed away on 14 April 1939 leaving his diary with its contemporary view of what happened in South Africa as a legacy for us all.
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