Major George Harris Heaney, VD

George Heaney

5th South Australian Imperial Bushmen

Commandant, Cape Town, Legion of Frontiersmen

Chief Organising Officer, Queensland Command, Legion of Frontiersmen

Article by Major Christopher Moon (late Royal Australian Engineers), Special Consultant to H&A.

Major G. H. Heaney was educated at Woolwich, Kent, England, and was for seven years in the Royal Arsenal under Colonels Tulloch and Clarke and was in the Construction School. At the early age of sixteen he was enrolled in the 10th, now the 3rd Kent Royal Arsenal Artillery and served for 5 years under Colonel Ellis, with Major Cheetham as Adjutant. Whilst with this Corps he had the honour of being one of the guards of honour to receive the Princess Alexandra at Gravesend prior to her marriage to the Prince of Wales.

Arriving in South Australia when the military spirit seemed to a great extent to have died out, he had no opportunity of being identified with the military movement until the formation of the National Rifle Association. Then in 1881 he formed the Yorke’s Peninsula No 2 Company and also the Minlaton and Curramulka Companies and was appointed Senior Lieutenant, Captain J Waddell being in command. Subsequently he was attached to the Quorn Company as the Adjutant of the North Battalion R V F. In 1887 by order of Colonel Owen, then Commandant in South Australia, he enrolled the Mounted Rifles in the North, forming the Hammond, Quorn, Booleunda, Port Augusta, Gordon, Wilmington, Carrieton, Eurelia, Johnsburg and Pamatta Divisions and was appointed Captain and Adjutant to the new force. He retained this Position until, after examination in Adelaide, he was promoted to the rank of Major.

Being appointed to the Local and Magistrates Courts of Port Pirie in conjunction with Major Catt of Gladstone, he formed the Port Pirie Mounted Rifles and Infantry Company, including Wandearah and Port Germain.

During the Russian War scare Major Heaney, then a Lieutenant, formed a troop of Mounted Rifles, the members being kangaroo or scalp hunters, who offered to serve with horses and arms, but the offer was declined on the grounds that, being at the Blinman, they were too far removed from the city and railway line, the latter being twenty-two miles distant.

As a rifleman Major Heaney is well known to the senior riflemen of South Australia as a leading shot and medal and prize winner. Adelaide Observer 3 Sept 1898 p16

Originally selected as an officer for the ‘voyage only’ for the Fifth SA contingent and led the administrative party for that contingent. Ship: Teviotdale, date of Sailing: 10/02/1901. He accepted a commission as a Lieutenant in Prince of Wales Light Horse to serve in the field and remain with his son.


Queens South Africa Medal, Clasps:

South Africa 1901

Orange Free State

Cape Colony


South Africa 1902

Volunteer Officers Decoration (VD)

Mentioned in Dispatches.

Details of service in war: OC (voyage only) 5 SAIB Admin Party, served with the Prince of Wales Light Horse (a South African Unit) 9 April 1901 to 10 November 1901 (joined PWLH as a Lieutenant with his son Roderick). Then served with Orange River Scouts 20 March 1902 to 30 June 1902.

Legion of Frontiersmen

In 1908, he was appointed Organising Officer, and subsequently Commandant of Cape Town Command, Legion of Frontiersmen.

After returning from the war, he moved to Ipswich in Queensland where in 1911 he was appointed Organising Officer for the Ipswich Command, then Chief Organising Officer, Queensland Command, Legion of Frontiersmen. He died on 13 March 1912.


Queensland Times, 10 November 1910. Personal. The Adelaide “Critic” of September,’ publishes the photograph of Major Heaney, V.D, his son (Sergt. Heaney; and his grandson Bugler Heaney) and three generations of a military family. The same paper says: Major Geo. H. Heaney, V.D, was born, at Woolwich, in Kent, England. He was enrolled in the 10th (now 3rd) Kent Royal Arsenal Artillery Volunteers in February 1861 and served till March 1866. During this service he had the honour of being one of the guards of honour to receive the Princess Alexandra (now the Queen’ Mother) on her landing at Gravesend in February 1803. He has been identified with the raising and training of our volunteer force, having formed the Yorke’s Peninsula rifle companies, in 1881, and subsequently, under General J. Owen, he raised the mounted infantry in South Australia in 1887, being appointed captain and adjutant, attaining the rank of major in 1896. As a rifleman he. is well known. Among other trophies he won the Devonshire Cup and the Challenge Shield in 1890. Proceeding to South Africa as a special service officer, he was attached to the Prince of Wales Light Horse, and was appointed provost marshal under Generals Knox, Elliott, and French, and served to the close of the war in the Imperial Orange River Scouts. Remaining in South Africa in 1902 with Colonel Stevens, he raised the Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Cape Peninsula Rifles and was appointed adjutant. Retiring at the age limit, he next, as Organising Officer for Cape Colony, formed the Regiment of Frontiersmen, which movement rapidly extended to the Free State and the Transvaal. In speaking of military service, we learn that four members of the family have the long service medal, and the younger branches are in a fair way to earn this much coveted distinction, as all are serving at the present time. Sergt. Heaney is the well-known secretary of the Military Band. And has over 30 years’ service, including infantry, field artillery, and the band, and his son is serving with D Company 10th Regiment as bugler. (Major Heaney is expected to arrive in Ipswich by tonight’s mail train on a visit to his daughter, Mrs. G. M, Summerfield.)

Queensland Times 15 July 1911. Personal. We are informed that Major Geo. H. Heaney, V.D., of Peak Crossing, formerly Organising Officer and Commandant of the Legion of Frontiersmen in Cape Colony, South Africa, has been appointed Organising Officer Queensland Frontiersmen for Ipswich and district. A committee will be formed, and arrangements made for a public meeting on an early date, when the conditions and necessary qualifications for membership will be described. 

Queensland Times, 2 August 1911. “QUEENSLAND FRONTIERSMEN, “IPSWICH COMMAND.” A meeting of the committee of the Ipswich Command, Queensland Frontiersman, was held on Friday evening at Stanmore House, Ipswich, the residence of Mr. G. M. Summerfield. Major G.H. Heaney, VD, occupied the chair. Mr. G. M. Summerfield was elected treasurer and Mr. G. Butt secretary. The question of uniform was fully discussed. It was resolved that the uniform as worn in South Africa be adopted, consisting of the Australian service slouched hat, blue serge bushman’s blouse, khaki riding breeches, and pullover leggings.

Telegraph, 16 September 1911. An executive council meeting of the Legion of Frontiersmen was held in the secretary’s rooms, on Thursday evening last. The meeting had the total attendance of the council members, namely 12. The following appointments were confirmed: Hon. Chief Organising Officer, Major G. H. Heaney, VD, assistant organising officer, for Ipswich and districts, J. A. Kairn; organising officer for Bundaberg and districts, Lieutenant J. White. The following members are appointed to the executive council. Major G. H. Heaney, VD, Deputy-leader, J. S. Hughes; hon. secretary, R. H. Cottam; hon. Treasurer.

Telegraph, 23 September 1911. A meeting of the Executive Council of the Legion of Frontiersmen was held on the evening of 21st September 1911. There were present Major Heaney,’ the secretary (Mr R.H. Cottam), Messrs. Stokes, Lloyd, Ricketts, Shaw, Townsend, Carter, Smart, Faloon, and Deputy-leader J. S Hughes. Encouraging letters concerning the spread of the legion movement were received from Lieutenant White (Bundaberg), Major Hogarth, and Mr. Ogg of Oakey. Colonel Chauvel had written thanking the Legion for congratulations on his appointment to the post of adjutant-general of the Commonwealth forces. Major Heaney reported that in the Ipswich, Boonah, and surrounding districts many men were coming forward for” enrolment. The deputy-deader, was instructed to write, to Colonel Driscoll, at headquarters of the legion, London, expressing the desire of the Queensland committee to become affiliated, and thereby, become part and parcel of this Empire wide movement.



The second annual general meeting of the Legion of Frontiersmen was held in the Royal Hotel on Saturday evening. In the absence of the president (Hon. F. Philip, Lieutenant J. S. Hughes occupied the chair and there were also present Major G. H. Heaney, V.D. Messrs D. Falcon, C. S. Smeltzer W. J. Townsend, C. E. Smartt, D. Stokes, Smith, A. Ricketts, R. H. Cottam (hon. secretary) and A. H. Stokes (assistant hon. secretary). Apologies for absence were received from the Hon. R. Philip, Major Pye (Australian Intelligence Corps), Rev, W. J. Stevens (Gatton), and Mr. F. Ray Charlton.

The report stated that 80 men had completed their membership at headquarters. In addition, over 50 members were returning to headquarters as locally enrolled in Benarkin, Blackbutt, Harrisville, Ipswich, and Bundaberg commands. The executive regretted there were so few honorary members and appealed for donations and subscriptions. A tribute was paid to Major G. H. Heaney V.D., chief organising officer for his work. In Cape Colony Major Heaney held a very high office as commandant of the Cape-town command, which turned out 500 strong. The reunion and smoke concert resulted in a loss of 25/. The balance sheet showed a credit of £6/1/7, a de-crease of about £2 since last year. Donations and subscriptions had amounted to £26/15/, and expenses to £28/15/9. The report and balance-sheet were adopted on the motion of Major Heaney, seconded by Mr. D. Falcon, and interesting speeches were also delivered by the chairman, and others.

The following officers were elected, subject to acceptance of office -Patron, Lord Denman (Governor-General of Australia), vice-patrons, his Excellency Sir William MacGregor, Colonel Venn King, president, Hon. R. Philp, vice-presidents, Colonels Moore, Hopkins, Spencer Browne, C. B. Deacon. C.B., Lt Col. Hubert Harris, V.D., Captain Pennefather, Colonel Koch; executive council, Major G. H. Heaney, Hon. R Philp, Messr W. J. Townsend, C. E Smartt, W. Lloyd, A. H. Stokes, George Summerfield, E. G. Carter, C. J Shaw, C. S. Smeltzer, A. Ricketts, J. McGovern, command leaders or their deputies, headquarters secretary, and treasurer to be members ex officio; leader, Major G. H. Heaney, V.D. deputy leader, Lieut. J. S. Hughes; chief organising officer, Major G. H. Heaney, V.D., hon. treasurer, Mr. W. Lloyd, hon. secretary, Mr. R. H. Cottam , assistant hon. secretary, Mr. A. H. Stokes; trustees, Messrs. R. H. Cottam and W. Lloyd.

The recommendations of the executive in regard to alteration of rules were accepted. In consequence thereof, from October the annual subscription for members will be 12/6. This includes fee of 2/6 for affiliation with London headquarters. Of country members’ subscriptions the Queensland headquarters retains 5/. All officers and non-commissioned officers shall bear the military title, with the letters “L.F.” after their rank. Every man who joins the Legion of Frontiersmen is to be invited to also join the rifle club and will be asked to go on the rifle club reserve, because if members do so the Legion will automatically become part and parcel of the military forces of the Commonwealth.

During the evening, the health of Major Heaney, leader of the Legion, was toasted. Major Heaney, in response, mentioned that he was first enrolled on May 2, 1861, and laid particular emphasis on the fact that the Legion was, recognised by the Imperial authority. “This is why we wear uniform,” he said, “although the military authorities in Australia do not recognise us officially at present”.


THE Members of the ROYAL SOCI ETY OF ST. GEORGE are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of MAJOR G. H. HEANEY, V.D., Father-in-law of their Vice-President (Bro. GEORGE M. SUMMERFIELD), to move from his late Residence, “Stanmore House;” Brisbane-street, at 3 o’clock TO-MORROW (FRIDAY) AFTERNOON. J. BELL, Hon. Sec.

IPSWICH TROOP, No. 2 SQUADRON, 13th A.L.H. THE Members of the above Troop are ordered to PARADE at the Drill hall, Ipswich, on FRIDAY AFTERNOON, the 15th instant, at 1.15 p.m., to attend the funeral of the late Major GEORGE HARRIS HEANEY, V.D, Dress: Drill order; Khaki Drill, E. GILMORE, Lieutenant. Adjutant 13th A.L.H. Regt. (Q.M.I)

LEGION OF FRONTIERSMEN. MEMBERS are requested to attend the Funeral of the late Major GEORGE HARRIS HEANEY, V.D., Chief Organising Officer, to move from the residence of Mr. George Summerfield. “Stanmore,” Thorn-street, on FRIDAY AFTERNOON, at 3 p.m. GEO. J BUTT, Hon. Secretary.

The Commandant (Colonel J. W. PARNEI.L) has granted permission to all Members of the Commonwealth Military Forces to attend the Funeral of the late Major George Harris Heaney, V.D., in uniform.

Major G. H. Heaney, V.D., passed away after a long illness at Mr. George Summerfield’s residence, Brisbane-Street Ipswich, his son-in-law. Major Heaney was for a lengthy period a resident of Adelaide, South Australia, and when the South African war broke out, he Volunteered to serve, and with his many years’ experience in the artillery in England, and with the South Australian forces, he joined the bushmen for South Africa, and continued service with the Prince of Wales Light Horse; was Provost Marshal, under Generals Knox-Elliott and French, and after the war continued under the orders of the Imperial Government. While holding a civil appointment at the Cape, he accepted the position of Sub-commission for Cape Colony, and Commandant, Cape Town Legion of Frontiersmen. Ultimately, arriving in Queensland with his family, he settled near Ipswich, still a keen soldier. At 66 years of age, he held the position as Leader of the Legion of Frontiers men here. The Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers’ decoration and the Queen’s Medal were the honours won while serving with the colours. His funeral will take place on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Ipswich, with military honours.

Queensland Times 16 March 1912. OBITUARY. MAJOR G. H. HEANEY. The late Major George Harris Heaney, VD, was born at Woolwich, in Kent, England. He was enrolled in the 10th (now 3rd) Kent Royal Arsenal Artillery Volunteers in February 1861 and served till March 1866. Previous to this he was one of the four court boys to the late Queen Victoria at the presentation of the officers’ medals for the Crimea by General Williams. During his service he had the honour of being one of the guards of honour to receive the Princess Alexandra (now the Queen Mother) on her landing at Gravesend, in February 1863. He was identified with the raising and training of volunteer forces, having formed the Yorke’s Peninsula rifle companies in 1881, and, under General Owen in 1887, he raised the mounted infantry in South Australia, being appointed captain and adjutant, attaining the rank of Major in 1896. In 1902, he raised the Prince of Wales’s own regiment of C.P. Rifles, in South Africa, (King George V. being Colonel-in-Chief) and was appointed as Adjutant.

In 1908, he was appointed organising officer, and subsequently Commandant to Cape Town Command of the Legion of Frontiersmen. In 1900 he went to South Africa as a special officer. He was attached to the Prince of Wales’s Light Horse (Welsh Regiment), and was appointed Provost-Marshal, under Generals Knox, Elliott, and French, and served till the end of the war in the Imperial Orange River Scouts. He was Mentioned in Dispatches and recommended for the V.C. As a rifleman he was well known. Among other trophies he won the Devonshire Cup in 1896 and the Challenge Shield in 1890.

We learn that four members of the family have the long-service medal, and the younger branches are in a fair way to earn this much coveted distinction, as all are serving at the present time. His son, Sergt. George Heaney is well known in South Australian military circles, and has over 30 years’ service, including infantry, field artillery, and the band, of which he is the secretary, while his grandson is serving as bugler in the 10th regiment in South Australia.

The body of the late Major G. H. Heaney (Chief of the Legion of Frontiersmen), who passed away on Thursday night last, was laid to rest in the Ipswich Cemetery yesterday. The deceased, who had been in active service – having distinguished himself during the Boer war-was accorded a military funeral. The cortege departed from the residence of the deceased’s son in-law, Mr. G. M. Summerfield, Thorn-street, and was headed by an escort of 10 members of the Ipswich Troop of No. 2 Squadron of the 13th Regiment of Australian Light Horse, under the charge of Lieut. E. J. Gilmore (area officer), and Sergt-Major J. J. Clancy. The pallbearers consisted of members of the Legion of Frontiersmen, namely Messrs. J. S. Hughes (Deputy-leader), D. Faloon (a member of the executive), Lieut. R. H. Cottam (honorary secretary), besides Sergt-Major Clancy. The first-named members of the Legion were decked with medals, & they all having seen active service in the Boer war. Sapper W. Savage, of the Australian Engineers, and who had also taken part in the South African war, marched with the pallbearers, and Major (Dr.) R. Macdonald, of the Australian Army, Medical Corps, who was mounted, pre-ceded the hearse. Whilst the coffin was being conveyed to the hearse from Mr. Summerfield’s residence the escort presented arms, and, when the procession moved on, marched with arms reversed. The coffin was draped with a Union Jack, upon which was placed the deceased’s sword. The cortege was not a very long one, the un-certainty of the weather conditions materially affecting the attendance in this respect.

The Major’s charger immediately followed the hearse with the military trappings, and with the deceased’s riding-boots reversed, the animal being led by Sergt-Major Geo. Sheppard. The funeral proceeded through the main streets of the city, and was witnessed by a large crowd of spectators, gathered at the inter-section of East and Brisbane Streets. Those present included Ald. A. J. Stephenson, Messrs. T. Barnes, A. E. Roberts, Sen, E. Phillips, and M. Goldstein (representative of the Ipswich branch of the Royal Society of St. George), and Messrs. G. Butt and H. de B. Anderson. At the graveside, the escort assembled with arms presented. A very impressive service was conducted by the Rev. T. L. H. Jenkin, B.A. (rector of St. Paul’s Anglican Church), after which Sergt. G. E. Heaney sounded the “Last Post” on the bugle, whereupon the escort fired three volleys over the grave. The chief mourners were – Mrs. G.H. Heaney (wife of deceased), Mr. and Mrs. G. M. Summerfield (son-in-law and daughter), Mr. and Mrs. G. E. Heaney (son and daughter-in-law), Misses Pearl, Dorothy, Violet, and Gladys Heaney (daughters), and Master J. Heaney (grandson). Besides the above-mentioned relatives, the de-ceased leaves a son (Mr. Roderick Heaney, of the Rhodesian Police Force, South Africa), and a daughter (Miss Ruby Heaney. The bereaved relatives are in receipt of numerous wreaths, letters of condolence and other tokens of sympathy, including wreaths from the Legion of Frontiersmen of Queensland.

Memorial details: Interred at Ipswich Cemetery:

BEREAVEMENT NOTICE. Brisbane Courier, 23 March 1912

Mrs. HEANEY and Family, Wooloowin, desire to express their gratitude to the many Friends, also the Legion of Frontiersmen, for their expressions of sympathy and floral tributes tendered them in their recent sad bereavement and ask all to accept this acknowledgment.

Sources: (external links)

© Copyright Christopher Moon. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced in any form, in part or in full, without prior permission.

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