Anthony Alexander Forrest

Anthony Alexander Forrest (20 November 1884 – 15 May 1901) was an Australian rules footballer and soldier who was killed in the Second Boer War. The son of Alexander Forrest, a politician and twice Mayor of Perth, he attended The High School (now Hale School) in Perth, Western Australia. Aged 15, he also played two games of senior football for the Perth Football Club in what is now the West Australian Football League (WAFL), becoming one of the youngest players to play in that league. Forrest enlisted in the 5th Western Australian Mounted Infantry in 1900, and was killed the following year near Carolina, Transvaal, at the age of 16.[2] He was the first Western Australian footballer to be killed on active duty, and the only Western Australian footballer killed in the Boer War.

Anthony Forrest
Personal information
Full name Anthony Alexander Forrest
Date of birth 20 November 1884[1]
Place of birth Perth, Western Australia
Date of death 15 May 1901(1901-05-15) (aged 16)
Place of death near Carolina, Transvaal
Original team(s) The High School
Position(s) Ruckman, ruck-rover
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1900 Perth 2 (0)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1900.

Early life and football careerEdit

Forrest was born in Perth as one of five children born to Amy Eliza (née Barrett-Lennard) and Alexander Forrest.[3] On his mother's side, he was a descendant of the Barrett-Lennard baronets and the Barons Dacre.[citation needed] His father was an explorer and surveyor who later served as Mayor of Perth, and represented the seat of West Kimberley in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly. His uncles, David and John Forrest, were also politicians, with the latter serving as the first Premier of Western Australia.[4] Growing up, Forrest attended The High School (later Hale School) on St Georges Terrace in the centre of Perth. At school, he was a noted sportsman, and later served as a prefect of the school. Forrest was the bowman for the crew that won the first Head of the River race in 1899 and kept wicket for the school's cricket team.[5] He also played a number of games for the school's football team, and captained the side to victories against Christian Brothers' College and Scotch College.[6][7]

In a match for The High School against Scotch College, on 25 July 1900, Forrest did "the lion's share of the ruck work", and kicked six goals, which were "all smartly 'snatched' out of the ruck and sent through from various angles with accurate aim".[8] His performance in this game attracted the attention of a Mr. Dixon, who was the secretary of the Perth Football Club in the West Australian Football Association (WAFA), and, according to The West Australian, "on the look out for more recruits".[9] Forrest debuted against the East Fremantle Football Club at the WACA Ground the following weekend, on 4 August, and acquitted himself well, according to the West Australian Sunday Times: "Forrest (a High School boy) played exceedingly well, and merited his inclusion in the team."[10] He also played the following game, against West Perth, which was the last game of the season, for a total of two matches in his senior football career.[11] Forrest was 15 years and 257 days old at the time of his first match, making him, along with Stan Magro, the second-youngest WAFL debutant, and one of only four confirmed people to have played before their sixteenth birthday, along with Magro, Stan Hussey, and Derwas Cumming.[12]

Military career and deathEdit

In late 1900, Forrest enlisted in the 5th Western Australian Mounted Infantry, and was assigned to the 5th (Mounted Infantry) Contingent, where he was made a lieutenant.[13] A writer in The Sunday Times suggested that his position had been obtained after influence from family members, comments which Geoffrey Bolton, a biographer of Alexander Forrest, regarded as "unjustified" and "perhaps the most unnecessary and objectionable of all [the] personal attacks on the Forrests".[14] The contingent carrying Forrest left the port of Fremantle on the transport ship Devon on 6 March 1901, arriving in Durban on 28 March. They were assigned to Major-General F. W. Kitchener's column in the eastern Transvaal, operating near the Lydenburg district. The 5th Contingent were involved in several skirmishes in April, and in the following month, May, crossed to Ermelo, under the command of General Bindon Blood. On 15 May, there was a severe firefight at Grobelaar Recht, near Carolina, in which Forrest and five other men were killed, and nine men wounded, one of whom subsequently died.[citation needed] The following day, more skirmishes occurred, with Lieutenant Frederick Bell later receiving the Victoria Cross for his actions on that day.[15]

News of Forrest's death reached Australia later that month. His father, already in ill health, was said to be "shattered" at his son's death, and died barely a month later,[4] and his uncle, Sir John Forrest, at the time federal Minister for Defence, was cabled in Melbourne with the news.[16] Prior to his death, Forrest had been Mentioned in Despatches, but news of this reached Australia at the same time as that of his death.[17] Forrest was the first Western Australian footballer and the first attendee of Hale School to be killed in active service. After his death, a plaque was erected in St George's Cathedral.[18][19] Forrest's name also features on the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, and the Kings Park War Memorial in Perth.[20]


  1. ^ "Summary: Second son of Alexander Forrest, born 20 Nov. 1884, ex Hale School…" Lt. Anthony Alexander Forrest, second son of Alexander Forrest, ex Hale School (picture) Archived 27 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine – State Library of Western Australia. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  2. ^ The biography of his father, Alexander Forrest in Australian Dictionary of Biography (G. C. Bolton 1981) gives his age at death as 17.
  3. ^ Anthony Alexander Forrest Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine – Royal Ancestry File. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b G. C. Bolton (1981). "Forrest, Alexander (1849 - 1901)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8. MUP. pp. 540–543. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
  5. ^ Lt Anthony A. Forrest – Hale School. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  6. ^ "Both teams, however, can boast of some excellent players. On the winning side there were A. A. Forrest (the captain) ..." HIGH SCHOOL V. CHRISTIAN BROTHERS' COLLEGEThe West Australian. Published 16 August 1900. Retrieved 4 April 2012, from Trove.
  7. ^ "A. A. Forrest, the captain of the winning team, had his men well in hand from start to finish." HIGH SCHOOL V. SCOTCH COLLEGEThe West Australian. Published 27 July 1900. Retrieved 4 April 2012, from Trove.
  8. ^ "His brother, the captain of the eighteen, did the lion's share of the ruck work. He never flagged for a moment, and was, in the opinion of many, the best player on the ground. Forrest was also responsible for six goals, which were all smartly "snatched" out of the ruck and sent through from various angles with accurate aim." HIGH SCHOOL V. SCOTCH COLLEGEThe West Australian. Published 27 July 1900. Retrieved 4 April 2012, from Trove.
  9. ^ "The energetic young secretary has been again on the look out for more recruits, and the latest is young Forrest, from the High School, whose play in a school match recently greatly pleased Mr. Dixon." THE AUSTRALIAN GAME.The West Australian. Published 4 August 1900. Retrieved 4 April 2012, from Trove.
  10. ^ FOOTBALL NOTES.West Australian Sunday Times. Published 12 August 1900. Retrieved 4 April 2012, from Trove.
  11. ^ Davies, Steve, and Greg Wardell-Johnson (2009). WA FOOTBALL LEAGUE WAR CASUALTIES – West Australian Football League. Published October 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  12. ^ Greg Wardell-Johnson and Steve Davies. "Youngest WAFL footballers"
  13. ^ Roll of Honour - Anthony Alexander Forrest – Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  14. ^ Bolton, G. C. (1954). Alexander Forrest: His Life and Times. Melbourne University Press. p. 181.
  15. ^ Gibbney, H. J. Bell, Frederick William (1875–1954) – Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  16. ^ "Sir John Forrest, Federal Minister for Defence, received a cable to-day stating that his nephew, sub-Lieutenant Anthony Forrest, in the West Australian Contingent had been killed in South Africa. No details of the sad occurrence are given in the brief message announcing his death." Lieutenant Forrest Killed.Bathurst Free Press. Published 21 May 1901. Retrieved 4 April 2012, from Trove.
  17. ^ "The following is a list of Australians and New Zealanders mentioned in Lord Kitchener's latest despatches:– South Australia: [...] West Australia [...] Lieutenant A. Forrest." BOERS STILL IN THE FIELDBarrier Miner. Published 23 August 1901. Retrieved 4 April 2012, from Trove.
  18. ^ Forrest Memorial Plaque – Monument Australia. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  19. ^ Forrest Memorial Plaque[permanent dead link] – War Memorials in Australia. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  20. ^ Photograph of the Kings Park War Memorial. Retrieved 4 April 2012.