6 1/8 Inches by 3 1/2 Inches
(15.5cm x 9cm)
20 November 1900
|Addressed to Mr W. B. Sanders of "Brackly"Mount Lofty, South Australia, this postal cover originally contained a
letter from then Lieutenant Francis Gordon Sanders of the 18th Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery. Sanders had arrived
in South Africa as a private in the 2nd Contingent, South Australia Mounted Rifles. W.B. Sanders would have been
William Blackwood Sanders, Francis Gordon's brother.
Francis Gordon Sanders was born at the family homestead of Warcowie Station, South Australia on 26 June 1879 the
son of James Carstairs Sanders and Emma Harriet McKinley. The younger Sanders attained his higher education at
Prince Alfred College and Roseworthy Agricultural College. Sanders also served with the South Australia Field
Artillery under the command of Major Alfred Edward Marston Norton. Additionally, Sanders acted as private
secretary to Mr. W. Catton Grasby during his trip through Asia Minor.
In January 1900, Francis Gordon Sanders enlisted in the 2nd South Australian Mounted Rifles (S.A.M.R.) at
Adelaide. His service number was 3 which indicates that he was the third man to enlist. It should be noted that No. 37
of the 2nd S.A.M.R. was Henry Harbord 'Breaker' Morant. While I have found no evidence implying friendship
between the two, they would have obviously known of each other to some extent.
He served with the 2nd S.A.M.R. until receiving a commission as a second lieutenant in 18th Battery of the Royal
Horse Artillery on 23 May 1900. No doubt his former artillery experience in South Australia had something to do
with his rather sudden rise in rank. For his service in South Africa, Francis Gordon Sanders was entitled to the
Queen's South Africa Medal with the clasps "Johannesburg", "Diamond Hill", "Cape Colony", "Orange Free
State" and "South Africa- 1901". Sanders left the war partially deaf as the result of the conditions of active service.
In many of the documents - medal rolls, etc. - that list Sanders while in British service his surname is spelled
After the end of the war, Sanders remained in South Africa and joined in partnership with a Mr. J. Tolmer (this may
have been former No. 54 Trooper James Douglas Tolmer of the 2nd S.A.M.R.) and conducted a transport business in
the Transvaal. Following this, Sanders spent some years in India where he once again held a post in the artillery for
two years, this time with the Royal Indian Artillery. He returned to South Africa for a brief time before returning to
South Australia where he engaged in various commercial ventures.
During World War One, Sanders served in France beginning in November 1915 with the Australian Imperial Force,
Second Division Field Artillery at his former rank. Sanders Anglo-Boer War related deafness came to the fore in late
1917 when it was aggravated by shell concussions. A medical board found him unfit for general service but fit for
home service "under conditions". As a result he was placed on the permanent supernumerary list and posted to the
3rd Command Depot. Although I have not found the confirming record one may assume that Sanders would have
been entitled to the British War and Victory Medals and possibly the 1914-15 Star.
With the end of his second war, Sanders returned to South Australia and married Miss Madge Miney of Canowie
Belt and made his home at Washool, North Bundaleer. They had three children: Frank Carstairs, Mary, and John
Sanders. Francis Gordon Sanders remained an active leader in his community and was appointed justice of the peace.
He was chairman of the Washpool School Committee, a member of the Belalie Agricultural Society and a member of
the committee of the Jamestown Racing Society.
Francis Gordon Sanders died on 17 April 1939 at his home at Kullunga, North Bundaleer.
Sanders's eldest son the aforementioned Frank Carstairs Sanders as Pilot Officer in 3 Squadron, Royal Australian
Air Force was killed in action 26 September 1944. Sanders was leading a flight of six Curtis Kittyhawk fighters near
Bologna, Italy, when he descended to strafe a lone vehicle observed on a road below. He never rejoined his flight. He
was buried at the Faenza Commonwealth War Cemetery, Italy.