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Victorian Naval Forces Muster

for the Colony of Victoria. (muster range 1853-1910)*


Last Name:Colquhoun
First Name:William Jarvie
Rank:Lieutenant Commander
Birth Date: 19-02-1859
Branch:Victorian Navy

William Jarvie Colquhoun

Lieutenant Commander



On board HMVS Cerberus
Photo by Wilfrid Russell Grimwade,


Cmdr Colquhoun wearing the DSO & Queen's South Africa Medal.
Photo from The Australasian October 1902,
courtesy of Frank Noonan


The Argus issue of the 11th inst. quotes: "Mr Goshen, the first Lord of the Admiralty, speaking in eugilistic terms of the services Lieutenant Commander Colquhoun H.M.V.N., serving at the front with the Naval Brigade. This naval officer performed the duties of Transport Officer to the Defence Department, and accompanied the first contingent to the seat of the war, and volunteered for active service, after carrying out the embarkation and disembarkation of the contingent in a most satisfactory manner. The Argus, 12 May 1900

Lieutenant Commander Colquhoun, of the Cerberus, who is returning with the South African Contingent, has received the distinguished service medal for special service. Since he has been in South Africa he has been serving in the Imperial Naval Brigade. The Argus, 10 November 1900

Page 138 of Volume 1 of A BIOGRAPHICAL REGISTER states :-

COLQUHOUN. William Jarvie (1859-1908). Naval officer. Vic. and Qld. b. Dumbarton, Scot., 19 Feb. 1859; d. Syd. 13 Aug 1908; m. 1887 Emmie Kelly.

Began career in mercantile marine: offr with U. Ss Co. : mbr Vic. permenant naval forces 1888; trnsf. to Cw. 1900: served S. African War; cmdr and commandant Qld.

A/sian 22 Aug. 1908 p. 484, 488 (poer); Syd. Mail 26 Aug. 1908. p. 538; Johns* 1906-08; WWW* 1897-1916, Brit. A/sian (Lond.) 29 Oct. 1908 p.23; Cw. PP 1901/2 1 p. 714; Vic. LA PP 1891 5 no. 132 p. 4; BR file.

Page 150 of WHO WAS WHO, 1897-1916 states :-

COLQUHOUN, Commander William Jarvie, D.S.O.; Victorian Navy; b. Dumbartonshire, 19 Feb 1859; m. 1887, Emmie, d. of William Kelly of Blackheath; 2 s. one d. Served with Naval Brigade in South Africa, 1899-1900; present at Paardeberg (S.A. medal 5 clasps, despatches twice, D.S.O.); Naval A.D.C. to Govenor - General of Australia; Special Naval Correspondant for the Times in the Russo-Japanese war, 1904. Address: The "Cerberus" Melbourne. (Died 18 Aug 1908.)

Page 95 of THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER 1886-1923 states :-

COLQUHOUN, WILLIAM JARVIE, Lieut., Victorian Navy, was born in Dumbartonshire 19 Feb. 1859. He served in the South African war, with the Naval Brigade, 1899-1900, and was present at Paardeberg. He was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 6 Nov. 1900]: "William Jarvie Colquhoun, Lieut., Victorian Navy. In recognition of services during the war in South Africa." The Insignia were sent to the Admiralty, and were presented on 31. Jan. 1901, at Hong - Kong, by the Rear - Admiral, Second - in - Command on the China station. He also received the Queen's Medal with five clasps, and was Mentioned in Despatches. He was Naval A.D.C. to the Governor - General of Australia. In the Russo - Japanese War of 1904, he acted as Special Naval correspondent for the "Times." He died at Sydney, New South Wales 17 Aug. 1908. Commander Colquhoun married, in 1887, Emmie, daughter of William Kelly, of Blackheath, and they had two sons and one daughter.

Pages 136 and 137 of THE AUSTRALIANS AT THE BOER WAR states :-

Lieut - Commander W.J. Colquhoun, of the Victorian Naval Defences, also - served as a Special Service Officer at Paardeberg. When he first arrived in the country Colquhoun found himself tied to a transport office post at the cape before he managed to become attached to the Naval Brigade on the western front. He arrived in time to join the batteries shelling the Magersfontein ridge.

On the drive with French to Kimberley Colquhoun commanded one of the 12-pounder naval guns in the action on the Modder at Klip Drift, where the gun he was working was hit by a shell which smashed one of the wheels. The wheels and the carriage had been hastily improvised at Simonstown. Not to be beaten Colquhoun surprised everybody, including Lieutenant Dean of the Royal navy who commanded the other 12-pounder gun, when at the end of 12 hours solid work and improvising in the field he succeeded in modifying the wheels of a buck wagon sufficiently to fit them to the gun carriage. The gun was ready for action again.

The naval guns were in action quite early at Paadeberg participating in the shelling of Kitchener's Kopje and in the bombardment of the larger. The day before the surrender both the 12-pounder guns became immobilised through wheel troubles.

Under instructions to get the guns to the depot at Cape Town, a mission that would have taken some weeks, Colquhoun chose to do a daring thing. He decided to vary the orders by taking the guns to Kimberly. At Kimberly he appealed to Cecil Rhodes for assistance. Rhodes placed De Beers engineering shop at his disposal. The Australian scrounged around Kimberley and managed to find wheels that could be used. Soon the guns were mounted for service again. Colquhoun got both guns back to the army at Paardeberg in time to join the column about to set out for Bloemfontein. The naval guns took part in every action right up to the entry into Bloemfontein.

The resourcefulness shown by this Australian officer was praised by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. G.J. Goschen, in announcing the award of the Distinguished Service Order to Lieut-Commander Colquhoun. Colquhoun later visited London and was decorated personally by Queen Victoria.

Pages 13 and 14 of


Note 4 - Medal presented by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Bars: Paardeberg, Driefontein, Belfast, Relief of Kimberly, Cape Colony
4 Colquhoun W.J. lieut
Duplicate Medal:
* Colquhoun W.J. Lieut
* This duplicate medal was returned
THE COMMONWEALTH NAVY LIST, dated 1st July 1904 states :-
Name and Rank COMMANDER m Colquhoun, William Jarvie, I.W.S., D.S.O.
Date of Birth 19.5.59
Appointed as Officer and Rank. Sub-Lieut., 8.5.88
Sub.-Lieut. 8.5.88 Lieut. 30.1.89
Lieut. Commander 8.2.99
Commander 28.12.00
Remarks A.D.C. to His Excellency the Governor-General

London Gazette, 6 November 1900

 Mentioned in the Victorian Government Gazette dated 22 March 1901 as being placed temporarily in command of the Victorian Naval Forces.

 died: 17-8-1908

Victorian Navy Monument, Williamstown Cemetery
Erected by the Officers, Petty Officers and Men of the Permanent Naval Force of Victoria
In Memory of their Deceased Comrades
Large Monument surmounted by Large Anchor

courtesy of Helen Harris, OAM


The Argus, 19 August 1908


Some extra detail regarding Colquhoun's disobeying orders appeared in the Argus newspaper in 1900.

On reaching the Modder River he obtained leave to try and get the guns mended at Kimberley. Through Lord Methuen's aid he was introduced to Mr Rhodes, who took him to the De Beers' works, where two complete new carriages were built in two days. The Argus, 12 June 1900




The Argus, 8 August 1900

* 1853 is given as the commencement date for the Victorian Navy as this is the year that Commander Lockyer (RN) went to Britain to superintend the building of HMCS Victoria.
Although the Victorian Navy ended in 1901 the career of Cerbeus etc continued. In 1910 the new ships started arriving & manning levels increased.

Information & photographs of men who served in the Victorian Naval Forces is eagerly sought. Please contact the webmaster.