Thursday, 23 February 2017

Ward, William - Army Form B2077 Discharge Parchment

This is a parchment certificate issued to each soldier on discharge from the Army or on transfer to the Reserves. The parchment was a form of identity and could be used to show employers proof identity, character and why they had not been civilian employ. These are not common at all.

This certificate was issued to William Ward who had served with the 8th Hussars and was discharged at Leeds on 8th October 1896 to the Reserves. While on the Reserves Ward was liable for call up for the period remaining of his 12 year enlistment.

Ward's service papers exist on FindmyPast. They show he was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire and enlisted age 18 in 1889, he was a servant.

He was recalled for active service in the Anglo-Boer War on 28th December, 1899. He served twice in South Africa, probably being invalided due to illness. He earned the QSA with clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State and King's South Africa with two date clasps. He was finally discharged in August 1902.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Boer POW Handicraft: medal box

Handicrafts made by Boer prisoners of war are well known and well collected. Less well known examples are boxes made for the medals of British soldiers guarding the Boer POWs.

The example shown here was made in Trinchinopoly (now Tiruchirappalli),  Tamil Nadu, southern India. This was the location of the largest POW camp in India (and Pakistan). The box was made for Pte 4307 JH Stocks, 1st bn Lincolnshire Rgt. The 1st bn had fought in the 1898 Sudan campaign at The Atbara and Khartoum. After the successful conclusion of the campaign the battalion was sent to India, when the Boer POWs arrived they became the camp guards. The 1st bn did not fight in South Africa but became intimately involved in one of the most unusual aspects of the war; guarding POWS in areas on the British Empire remote from the scene of fighting.

Inside the box are Stocks' two Sudan Campaign medals.

The box maker's name is 'J Viviers'. The only ‘J Viviers’ I have traced at Trichinopoly is a JPW Viviers who was wounded and POW at Dewetsdorp (December 15th, 1900), he died of his wounds in India on April 2nd, 1902. A similar box to a Pte 4349 W Breeze Lincolnshire Rgt was sold at auction in the UK in November 2011.

John Stocks was discharged from the Army in 1903 when he returned to the UK. He married in 1904 and settled in Hemsworth, Yorkshire where he became a postman. There is splendid picture of John (Jack) with his wife, Myra, and young niece on an Ancestry family tree.

John re-enlisted in September 1914 into the Lincolnshire Rgt. He served with the 6th bn at Gallipoli, Somme in July 1916 (but not the first day), Flers-Courcelette and Thiepval. John was transferred to the 8th bn and took part in the battle of Arras 9-12 April 1917. He was presumed dead on April 20th. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial and the Dewsbury Memorial in Yorkshire.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Research Puzzle: TF Adlard South African Light Horse, was he a casualty?

The Natal Field Force Casualty Roll (NFF) shows "416 Sgt Adlard TF Died wounds Natal 31-01-1900". Steve Watt's In Memoriam (University of Natal 2000) also shows this man with the additional information that there is a metal grave marker with his name at Mooi River and All Saints Church in Ladysmith.

Adlard's QSA medal has been sold on, a South African eBay, for R7933 (or GBP467) as died of wounds, a screenshot of the page in NFF is shown. The information from NFF and Watt has been copied uncritically onto and shown as evidence by the seller.

So what is the problem?

As shown clearly on the medal for sale Adlard earned bars for service after his reported death on January 31, 1900; namely Tugela Heights (February 1900), Laing's Nek (June 100), Belfast (August 1900).  The medal roll makes no indication that he was wounded, died or even discharged early. Where does the NFF record come from?

The NFF is a tertiary source, there is no indication of where it gets its information from. In discussions with other researchers we believe that is was compiled from casualty lists printed in newspapers. The casualty lists in newspapers come from the War Office which in turn forwards information received from South Africa; the lengthy chain of communication is open to errors creeping in. The NFF is full or errors and omissions, some are copied from the newspapers and others come from careless compilation and a lack of double checking.

I use the The Times to cross check casualties. On February 2, 1900 reporting on casualties from Natal for the period January 22-27, 1900 it shows Adlard as wounded and a few lines below there is the entry: "Trooper H Adlard, South African Light Horse, died of wounds January 31".

So, TF Adlard was apparently wounded - but this is not shown in the NFF, why? Who knows, perhaps they combined the two entries for Adlard on this page from the The Times (if that was their source) and recorded erroneously that TF Adlard died of wounds.

But what of "H Adlard"? This man did exist; Trooper 99 Herbert Adlard, SALH. He was reported as "Adlar" (sic) wounded in the The Times of January 26 in a report from Chieveley dated January 23, and recorded by NFF . Adlard was wounded at/near Hussar Hill during a reconnaissance, he was one of three SALH casualties that day. Adlard's whereabouts and actions that day may well be tied to the story of Cpt HW de Rougemont, SALH who was mortally wounded and his story is told in official dispatches, The Spion Kop Dispatches (HMSO, 1902). As a bugler Adlard would probably have accompanied an officer, possibly de Rougemont. When de Rougemont was wounded four men carried him out of the firing line where they were found by Cpt C Dalton RAMC, whose testimony is recorded in the dispatch:

"I dismounted, and was attending to the wounded Officer [de Rougemont], when some Boers rode up from the flank to within 100 yards. I gave my white handkerchief to one of the men, and told him to wave it, which he did. I told another to take the Geneva Cross armlet off my arm and hold it up, which he did. In spite of this they opened fire and shot two of us, myself and one of the men [Adlard?]."

Herbert Adlard may not have been with de Rougemont but there is enough evidence to show that he was the only Adlard of the SALH to die from wounds in January 1900.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

1st Life Guards and the Relief of Ladysmith

Two officers and six men of the 1st Life Guards served in the campaign in Natal to relieve Ladysmith, all earned the Relief of Ladysmith clasp but only two, Lt JS Cavendish and Trpr T Pearce, the Tugela Heights clasp. A civilian groom also earned these two clasps.

Cpt Hugh C Keith-Fraser
Adjutant SALH, died 1906
Lt Lord John S Cavendish
1914 Star trio KiA 30-10-1914
Cpl 2051 WW Brown

Trpr 1860 Charles W Clark
1914 Star trio
Trpr 2036 Richard Collett

Trpr 1918 Thomas M Grayson

Trpr 999 JJ Nye
Servant to Cpt HC Keith-Fraser
Trpr 1122 Robert Pearce

Civilian W Head
Bronze QSA (J,DH,W,CC,TH,RoL)
Groom to Lt Lord JS Cavendish

Only one squadron of the 1st Life Guards was sent fight in a composite Household Cavalry regiment composed of a squadron each from the 1st and 2nd Life Guards and the Royal Horse Guards. They arrived at the end of December 1899 and were posted to the Western Front.

What was this group of eight men doing away from their regiment on the other side of south Africa? Cpt HC Keith-Fraser was Cpt and Adjutant attached South African Light Horse (SALH) with his servant Trpr JJ Nye. Cpt Keith-Fraser was appointed assistant Press Censor at the Cape in October 1899. Obviously he wanted to fight and secured himself the adjutancy with a premier colonial unit, the SALH. However, Keith-Fraser returned, probably invalided, to England in January 1900. In April he was appointed a Special Service Officer for service in South Africa but it does not appear he returned to the front as his name does not appear in the Shipping Lists published in The Times. Keith-Fraser is on the March 1901 census at the barracks at Windsor. Trpr Nye has not been traced on the 1901 census.

Lt Lord JS Cavendish was a Special Service Officer sailing on the SS Moor with Trpr Pearce (at least) on October 21st, 1899. Cavendish had been appointed Divisional Signalling Officer, 2nd Division (Major-General CF Clery), Natal Field Force. It would seem most likely that the other troopers were involved in signalling too, but no evidence has been found to support this. Papers have been traced for Clark, Collett, Grayson and Pearce, none indicate any training in skills such as signalling for which a soldier would have been employed extra-regimentally. On Trpr Pearce’s discharge in 1903 his “Special qualifications for employment in civil life” is “Valet”, perhaps he was Lt Cavendish’s servant.

Brown, Clark, Collet, Grayson earned the Paardeberg clasp, to qualify they had to be within 7,000 yards of General Cronje's final laager, or within 7,000 yards of Koodoe's Rand Drift between 17-26th February 1900. The Household Cavalry regiment was present at Paardeberg. Meanwhile Lt Cavendish, Trpr Pearce and civilian groom W Head qualified for the Tugela Heights clasp; they were employed in the operations north of an east and west line through Chieveley Station between the 14th and 27th February. It is most likely they were present for the actual relief of Ladysmith on February 27th. Pearce probably accompanied Cavendish and Head to the Western Front, but was struck down with enteric fever and separated from Cavendish. Pearce was in hospital in Bloemfontein on March 10th, moving south to hospital in Norval’s Pont in July and invalided to England aboard the SS Gascon which arrived back in August 1900. Pearce is on the March 1901 census in the barracks at Windsor.

Lt Cavendish was mentioned in despatches (08-02-1901) and awarded the DSO (19-04-1901) for his work in South Africa. Cavendish was attached the West African Field Force from 1907 to 1910. He was killed in October 1914 in France.

Robert Pearce was born in Laleham, Middlesex, his father was an agricultural labourer which was Robert’s job before enlisting. He took his discharge in 1903 after 21 years (and no LSGC apparently). On the 1911 Census he is the landlord of the Crown Hotel, Cookham, Berkshire, the pub still operates under the name of the Crown Inn. He enlisted in 1915 at the age of 52, landlord of The Duke of Wellington, Peascod St, Windsor (near the barracks), the pub does not exist today. He enlisted in 1915 into the 1st Life Guards and served for four years, home service only.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Sgt-Major Mauchle's Missing Diary

I have in my collection an Anglo-Boere Oorlog medal to a Sergant-Major Freidrich Traugott Mauchle of the Transvaal Staatsatillerie. Mauchle was one the few professional soldiers in the Transvaal and was most likely German or Swiss. He fought on the Natal Front from October 1899 and later in the Transvaal.

In the National Archives London amongst the papers in CO 417 - Colonial Office: High Commission for South Africa, Original Correspondence there is printed document Translations of Boer Documents by the Director of Military Intelligence, South Africa. Item 9 is the Translation of Diary of Sergeant-Major Mauchle of State Artillery, the diary is identified as Diary No. 3 pieces 1 and 2 are noted as missing. Mauchle was taken prisoner at Zusterhoek, Transvaal on 26 October, 1901. No doubt this was where the British got his diary which covers the period 15 July to 24 October, 1901. I have long wondered what happened to Diaries 1 and 2.

Reading around on a different topic I was surprised to find a direct account of  Mauchle's capture with some amusing detail. In Jim Wallace's account of the Canadian Scouts Knowing No Fear he relates that Mauchle was captured by the Canadian Scouts. When Mauchle arrived at the PoW camp in Pretoria he wrote to the camp commander complaining that he and his comrades had been robbed of their money and his diary had been taken. Mauchle maintained that a major of the Canadian Scouts took their names and amounts of money taken promising the money would be returned when they reached the PoW camp. The camp commander passed the details onto the Provost Marshall who wrote to Major CJ Ross, Canadian Scouts. Major Ross replied he would have forwarded the money "had he known the whereabouts of these men". It would be interesting to know if the Canadian Scouts had taken all three of Mauchle's diaries and parts 1 and 2 somehow got lost in transit to Military Intelligence. In January 1902 Mauchle was sent to Deadwood Camp on St Helena, it is not known when he returned to South Africa.

After the war Mauchle went to work at the Daspoort Bacteriological Institute and Laboratory in charge of the library and stock records. The Institute was led by Arnold Theiler (from Switzerland) who pre-war served as a Transvaal government veterinary surgeon. In 1898 Theiler set up the Daspoort Institute. During the war Theiler served as veterinary surgeon to the Staatsartillerie and perhaps where he first met Mauchle. In 1901 the British allowed Theiler to continue his important research at Daspoort.

Mauchle married Mathilde Henriette (nee Stohr) who died in 1925.

Nothing more is known of Mauchle.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

The unfortunate death of Private 4991 John Hood, 2nd Dragoons

The casualty rolls show Pte 4981 (sic) J Hood 2nd Dragoons died of exposure at Dorsfontein (sic) April 25th, 1902. Exposure is not an uncommon cause of death - the climate in South Africa can be harsh - not just heat and dust but rain and freezing temperatures were common place. In the field men usually did not have tents and often slept in wet clothes under a single blanket. Often the blanket was frozen solid in the morning.

Was Pte Hood a victim of the climate? Reading around we find from the most unlikely sources the circumstances of his death. Currently I am researching the Royal Artillery Mounted Rifles (RAMR). In about 1905 Colonel TS Baldock RA wrote a short history of the RAMR for the Royal Artillery Institution. Today this monograph is very scarce if not rare, there are no copies in the British Library or other lending libraries in Britain. The copy held by the RA Library is now in store. There was only one copy available to purchase.

On page 471 Baldock relates how, on April 24th,  a patrol of the RAMR came across a "naked and nearly dead" soldier in a burnt out farmhouse in the area between Pretoria, Elandsfontein and Balmoral. The soldier was "too crazy from starvation and exposure" to give a full account. However, his rescuers ascertained he was from the 2nd Dragoons and had been captured and stripped as was common. However the Boers abandoned him in the shell of the farmhouse with no food. The man the RAMR rescued was Pte Hood, the RAMR camp was at Dorstfontein. The casualty rolls do not show Pte Hood being captured. Turning to The Times they record Pte 4991 W (sic) Hood, 2nd Dragoons captured and injured by a fall from his horse at Irene April 18th. So, Hood had spent six days without food, warm clothing and decent shelter before being found.

The RAMR patrol took him back to camp where he died the following day. Soldiers' Effects show John Hood was a miner who had enlisted at Niddrie, Edinburgh on April 30th, 1900. He was unmarried his war gratuity and pay was distributed amongst his father, three sisters and a brother.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Single Source? - Check Again!

The one thing that I have learnt in over 30 years of research and particularly the ten or so that I have been compiling The Register is that a single source for information is not always good enough.

A recent post on the BMF concerning Lt CGO Harman 1st bn Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) brought this point to light. The owner of the medals had done his research and unearthed a newspaper article quoting Lord Kitchener's despatch following the battle of Rhenoster Kop on November 29, 1900. The despatch clearly states Lt Harman was slightly wounded. Who would not believe the War Office and the Commander in Chief?

In this case they were wrong.

Harman is not listed in The Register as a casualty, this always rings alarm bells; why is he not listed, surely after ten years work I have all the battle casualties? Yes and No (there is always an exception).

Going to the The Times Digital Archive (most fantastic resource) reveals the story. On December 4 The Times publish Kitchener's despatch showing Harman is wounded - this must have worried his family and friends in England. The next day they print a retraction, Lt Harman was not "wounded at all", relief all round amongst family and friends (and 116 years later myself included).

To add further proof The Times published the detailed casualty list on December 6th, Harman is not included. But, all the other officers named in Kitchener's despatch are named, so the despatch had just the one mistake. Even in the days of telegraphs linking all corners of the Empire news could travel slowly. On January 7, 1901 The New Zealand Herald printed Kitchener's original despatch - Harman is wounded "again", whether they ever printed a correction I don't know. The danger of this for modern day internet researchers is that these New Zealand papers come up on Google searches, and very useful they are too. But you still can't trust everything you read in the papers.

As a final check I looked at Harman's entry in the War Services section of the Army List - no mention of a wound.

And The Register is still the best casualty roll about.