During the Boer War, her Majesty  Queen  Victoria, aged 82, decided to personally decorate her heroes so she crocheted four scarves to be presented to private soldiers of her Colonial Forces serving in South Africa who displayed great acts of gallantry.

The scarves were of thick brown wool, crocheted in a block pattern, five inches wide and long enough to be worn as a sash similar to a Colour Sergeant’s sash of the period, the same manner in which it was worn by Dufrayer, but whether intended by Queen Victoria to be worn as a sash or a scarf is not known.

It was proposed that one scarf was to go to one soldier from each of the Colonial Contingents – (Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African). The Australian selected to receive this unique honour was Old Brighton Grammarian, Alfred Dufrayer.

The act of bravery which resulted in Alfred’s honour occurred when Trooper Dufrayer ignored heavy Boer gunfire to rescue a comrade who had been knocked unconscious after his horse was shot.

Unfortunately Queen Victoria died before being able   to present the scarves herself. Instead, in May 1901, their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York and Cornwall (later King George V and Queen Mary)

visited Australia on their world tour and for the opening of Federal Parliament. During their visit to Sydney, a Royal Review was held at Centennial Park on 28 May 1901, and after an inspection of the troops on parade, the Duke presented Alfred Dufrayer (now a second Lieutenant in the first Infantry Regiment) with the scarf.

Although popular mythology has suggested that this award was the equivalent of the Victoria Cross, this is not supported by evidence.

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