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Peter Joseph Handcock (1900).

Peter Joseph Handcock (17 February 1868 – 27 February 1902) was an Australian-born Veterinary Lieutenant in the Bushveldt Carbineers during the Boer War in South Africa. After a court martial, Handcock was convicted and executed for war crimes. His punishment has been controversial in Australia.



Handcock was born near Bathurst, and was apprenticed to a blacksmith at age 12, later working as a blacksmith with the Railways Department. Married at 21, he had three children. He served in South Africa with the 1st New South Wales Mounted Rifles, and was promoted to Farrier-Sergeant. When the NSWMR returned home he obtained a commission in the Bushveldt Carbineers as Veterinary and Transport Officer.[1]


Handcock and Harry "Breaker" Morant were court martialed, convicted, and executed in Pretoria by a firing squad drawn from the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders on 27 February 1902 on murder charges for shooting nine Boer prisoners. Although the defendants were found guilty of killing these enemy combatants, they were acquitted of murdering a German missionary, Reverend C.A.D. Heese.[1]

Petitions for review of convictions and sentencesEdit

In 2010, petitions were submitted for the review of the convictions of Handcock and his colleagues.[2]

External image
  Photo of the grave of Handcock and Morant.
Source:Genealogical Society of South Africa


  1. ^ a b Australian Dictionary of Biography. MUP. 1983. p. Volume 9.
  2. ^ The transcript of the committee's hearing is at Public hearings and roundtable discussions Archived 2010-05-05 at the Wayback Machine. Parliament of Australia - House of Representatives


The Bushveldt Carbineers and the Pietersburg Light Horse by William (Bill) Woolmore (2002, Slouch Hat Publications Australia) ISBN 0-9579752-0-1

External linksEdit