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Leslie Cecil Maygar, VC, DSO, VD

23 NOV 1901: The Boer War and Lieutenant Edgar Leslie Cecil Willis Walker Maygar, 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles, originally from Kilmore, Victoria, is awarded the Victoria Cross at Geelhoutboom, Natal.

Maygar was born on 27 May 1868, at Dean Station, near Kilmore, Victoria. The seventh child of Edwin Willis and Helen Maygar (née Grimshaw). Both of his parents were originally from Bristol, England, although his father’s family were originally political refugees from Hungary.

Educated at state schools in Kilmore and Alexandria, his family moved north to the Strathbogie Ranges region of Ruffy when he was about 20 years old, where he worked on his father’s property. In March 1891 he enlisted in the Victorian Mounted Rifles.

Following the outbreak of the Second Boer War, Maygar unsuccessfully attempted to volunteer for active service on several occasions with the first and second contingents of the Victorian Mounted Rifles that were departing for South Africa, but was prevented from doing so due to a decaying tooth.

He was later accepted into the fifth contingent and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. He arrived in Cape Town in March 1901.

Maygar’s unit was constantly in action for the next 12 months, seeing service north of Middelburg, East Transvaal, then at Rhenoster Kop, Klippan, Kornfontein and Drivelfontein, before being transferred to Natal in August.

He was 29 years old, and a lieutenant in the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross:

On 23 November 1901 at Geelhoutboom, Natal, Maygar galloped out and ordered men of a detached post, which was being outflanked, to retire.

The horse of one of the men was shot under him when the enemy were within 200 yards and he dismounted and lifted the man on to his own horse which bolted into boggy ground, making them both dismount.

As the horse could not carry two, Maygar again put the man on its back and told him to gallop for cover at once, while he himself went on foot. All this took place under very heavy fire.

Maygar’s award was presented by Lord Kitchener and he was later also mentioned in despatches. He returned to Australia in March 1902.

Maygar worked as a grazier at Euroa, while continuing to serve in the 8th Light Horse, Victorian Mounted Rifles, and was promoted to captain in 1905. In July 1912 he transferred to the 16th (Indi) Light Horse Regiment.

Following the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, lowering his age by four years in order to do so.

Appointed as a captain in the 4th Light Horse Regiment on 20 August 1914, he sailed for Egypt in October. He later fought at Gallipoli, and was promoted to major. On 17 October 1915 he was given temporary command of the 8th Light Horse Regiment, with his promotion to lieutenant colonel being confirmed in December.

During the evacuation he commanded a small party of forty men, with instructions to hold the trenches at all costs until early morning, in order to allow the successful embarkation of the remainder of the force.

Following the withdrawal, Maygar commanded the 8th Light Horse Regiment during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign throughout 1916 and 1917.

He also temporarily commanded the 3rd Light Horse Brigade on three occasions. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in June 1917, and was mentioned in despatches on three occasions. He qualified for the Volunteer Officers’ Decoration in July 1917.

Maygar was wounded during the Battle of Beersheba by a German aircraft on 31 October 1917 and died in hospital in Karm, Palestine, on 1 November. He is buried in the Beersheba War Cemetery, now in Israel. More;

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