Death of a famous War dog.

Death of a famous War dog.

From Colchester is announced the death, by poison, of “Drummer” the celebrated dog of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

“Drummer” belonged to Colonel Ray, principal Medical Officer at the Military Hospital, served through the last Egyptian campaign and was in the fire line at Omdurman, where he snapped at bullets thinking they were flies.

At the beginning of the South African War “Drummer” went out with his regiment and served at Magersfontein, the relief of Kimberley and Wynberg, at which last place he was wounded in the shoulder.

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It was Queen Victoria’s intention to award him a medal, but technical difficulties arose and “Drummer” had to be content with miniature medals and clasp, which though bore no official sanction served to remind his friends of the many battles he had taken part off.

His decorations commemorated the engagements of Diamond Hill, Johannesburg, Paardeberg, Driefontien, Kimberley, Belmont , and Modder River. He had the further distinction of being the only dog which Lord Methuen permitted to accompany his force from Orange River.

The Illustrated London News 1st February 1902.

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Forgotten Voices of Empire: Memories of Ladysmith.

“Interview with a Crowborough Man.”

In a interview with a “Courier” reporter, Mr David Buss related how he entered the army in 1895, and was for twelve years in the 2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifles. He was in South Africa before hostilities broke out and first saw fire on October 15 1899. Incidentally there were three brothers serving during the South African War.

Buss

Mr David Buss a member of the  King’s Royal Rifles during the South African War.

For 118 days the garrison some 10,000 strong, under Sir George White was besieged in Ladysmith. There was also a big civilian population to feed, and horse and mule flesh for the greater part of the period formed a main item in the diet.

Tea leaves and coffee grounds also had their value as “articles” of food, consumable liquids of all kinds were also exceedingly scarce.

“And may I say,” observed Mr Buss at this stage, thirst is worse than starvation, any day!”

Mr Buss kept a diary of the siege, and interesting and revealing extract is given as follows:-

14 lbs oatmeal…………………………………………60/-

Condensed Milk per tin………………………….10/-

1 lb coffee………………………………………………..17/-

Eggs per Dozen………………………………………..48/-

Fowls Each……………………………………………….18/6

1 Doz Tomatoes ……………………………………….18/-

1 Doz Potatoes ………………………………………….19/-

1 Bottle Jam……………………………………………….31/-

1 lb Marmalade…………………………………………31/-

1 Doz matches……………………………………………13/-

1 Pk Cigarettes……………………………………………25/-

50 Cigars………………………………………………………185/-

1/4 lb cake tobacco………………………………………45/-

1/4 lb sailors tobacco…………………………………..43/-

1/4 lb Capstan Naval cut………………………………60/-

(Typical Infantry private’s pay 1/- a day)

“Articles in everyday use such as rice, starch, curry powders etc had vanished long ago. Violet powder was impounded and turned into mysterious blancmanges. Clothing also run short, especially for the feet and men’s stocks were very scarce.

ladysmith-trenches

Trenches around Ladysmith 1899

When a live shell was fired in Ladysmith in honour of the Prince of Wales birthday the whole population were in a ferment of excitement, they had thought it to mark the arrival of relief.

With Mr Buss in Ladysmith was one of his brothers and their numbers were respectively 9196 and 9238. Mr Buss’s brother was servant to Captain Northley now residing at Epsom.

During his Army service Mr Buss was also in India, and was at Delhi when Kind Edward VII was proclaimed and later attended the coronation ceremony.

“Rode in the King’s carriage”  

Mr Buss told the reporter that he was “a 1914 man” in the Great War (Interestingly his Service record states that he didn’t arrive in France until July 1915)  and was wounded in France in 1916 (GSW Left Arm)  and “gassed” in 1917. When in the King George V ward at Charing Cross Hospital he once had the privilege, as Mr Buss put it, of “riding in the King’s carriage.”

He was then transferred to a Bristol Hospital, where King George spoke to him when visiting.

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The Military service of David Buss later of the King’s Royal Rifles 1895-1907

In the later stages of the war he was attached to the Carabineers in Italy and was there when Armistice was signed.

Here, therefore, is a veteran who has been through two major wars. Today Mr Buss is seeking work, and his opinion was given to our representative in these words:

“In times of war it is Tommy this and Tommy that; but afterwards you just aren’t wanted”

However Mr Buss is by no means downhearted, and he meanwhile delights to get hold of an interested listener for his many army reminiscences.

Born is 1875, Mr Buss is a proud Surrey Man.

The Surrey Courier 30th December 1938.

Lieutenant (Later Brigadier General) Francis Aylmer Maxwell VC

For Valour.

Lieutenant (Later Brigadier General) Francis Aylmer Maxwell

Maxwell was 28 years old, and a lieutenant attached to Roberts’s Light Horse during the Second Boer War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:

On 31 March 1900 at Sanna’s Post (aka Korn Spruit), South Africa,

Lieutenant Maxwell was one of three Officers not belonging to “Q” Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, specially mentioned by Lord Roberts as having shown the greatest gallantry, and disregard of danger, in carrying out the self-imposed duty of saving the guns of that Battery during the affair at Korn Spruit on 31st March, 1900.

This Officer went out on five different occasions and assisted, to bring in two guns and three limbers, one of which he Captain Humphreys, and some Gunners, dragged in by hand. He also went out with Captain Humphreys and Lieutenant Stirling to try to get the last gun in, and remained there till the attempt was abandoned.

During a previous Campaign (the Chitral Expedition of 1895) Lieutenant Maxwell displayed gallantry in the removal of the body of Lieutenant-Colonel F. D. Battye, Corps of Guides, under fire, for which, though recommended, he received no reward.

During the First World War Maxwell was the commander of the 12th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, and later of the 27th Brigade, He came to be regarded as one of the finest combat commanders serving in the British Army on the Western Front. He was an aggressive commander who was also both an original thinker and popular with his men.

Despite his rank, Maxwell was frequently at the front line. He was killed in action, shot by a German sniper, during the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge on 21 September 1917. He is buried in Ypres Reservoir Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery. The gravestone inscription states: “An ideal soldier and a very perfect gentleman beloved by all his men.”

The Sphere 30th April 1901
Wikipedia

North Staffordshire Regiment 1908 Part One

One of the advantages and joys of running this blog is that from time to time I get  amazing pictures sent to me. This picture is a prime example of this, sent to my by Dan Jackson (@northumbriana) on Twitter.

It shows  the officers of the 2nd battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment in India 1908.

(With all pictures please click on them for a large view)

north staffordshire regiment officers 1908

Standing (from left to right); Lt E. M. Steward, Lt R. A Bradley, Lt H. H. Caffyn, Lt H. Etlinger, 2nd Lt A. Punchard, Lt H. V. R. Hodson, Lt C. A. W. Anderson, Lt N. Mosley, 2nd Lt B. S. Stone, 2nd Lt H. C. Bridges Seated; Capt H. H. Hughes-Haltett, Capt G. H. Hume Kelly, Capt J. J. B. Farley, Major W. A. Barnett D.S.O., Lt-Col H. Marwood, Lt & Adt C. H. Lyon, Capt F. E. Johnston, Capt H. C. Tweedie D.S.O., Lt J. H. Ridgway Seated on ground; 2nd Lt A. F. A. Hooper, Lt & Qr-Mr T. E. Lowther

This is one of the best pictures I have seen of British officers from the Victorian period, each face tells a story. As an added bonus it also listed the name and rank of each man, now this was an opportunity I couldn’t miss so I decided to find out what I could about each man.

1911 Census

My first port of call was the 1911 census (1). I found the The North Staffordshire Regiment stationed in Peshawar India. Eleven of the officers were still with the regiment. This now gave me there ages, year of birth and where they were born.

GBC-1911-RG14-34983-0445

 

The Great War

My next area of research was the Great war (2), being that the picture was taken only six years before the start of the war it seemed a given that most of them would’ve seen service in the conflict.

A quick look at the history of the 2nd battalion showed that it spent the duration of the war on the North West Frontier in India. It seemed sensible to assume that losses on the Western front and the ambition of some officers would’ve of driven some of these men to transfer to units in the thick of the fighting.

Looking on the Commonwealth War Graves website (3) I found out that six of the men pictured above perished during the War.

Being officers, three of them are included in the De Ruvigny’s Roll of honour (4). This is a detailed biography of over 26,000 soldiers of all ranks who died fighting for their country. The records include more than 7,000 pictures of those men featured.

Regimental Records

A quick search of the National Archives website (5) found the record of Officers sevice book 83. This book from 1907 shows the service record of all officers attached to the 2nd Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment for that year.

This invaluable record has been digitalized so I could search it without leaving the comforts of home. Obviously this record is from five years before the picture was taken so some men are missing or of a different rank.

It gives information on the men’s DOB, Place of Birth, height, languages spoken and qualifications. On page two their service up to 1907 is detailed and any medals and honours awarded.

All of this information adds a personality to the men pictured and a great picture gets an added dimension when you add this to it.

The Men

Steward4 Bradley 3 Caffyn3 Etlinger3 Punchard3 Hodson3 Anderson3 Mosley3 Stone3

Part Two to Follow soon

Sources:

(1) & (4) Findmypast.co.uk

(2) www.1914-1918.net

(3) Commonwealth War Graves Commision 

(5) national archives UK

Fake or Real?

boer-war

This is one of my favourite pictures from the Boer War. It is labelled Royal Munster Fusiliers fighting from behind redoubt at Honey Nest Kloof (Feb 16th 1900).

Now I have always wondered if this was real or staged for the photographer. A number of things have concerned me.

1) the Cameraman is very high up on the ramparts, It looks like his camera and head are above them (not a good idea as a battle is raging)

2) The two soldiers closest to the camera are bareheaded, would a NCO or officer allow this?

3) The soldier laying in the centre seems to be sitting up staring into the camera.

Then again, the treatment of the casualties seems to be real and the officers in the background look like they are directing the action.

This afternoon I was browsing the excellent boer-war.com and came across this picture.

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Obviously, this picture is taken either just before or just after the first picture. The only really difference is the soldier on the left is now staring into the camera and the one of the medical orderlies is also looking into it.

Does this second picture confirm that it is a setup or a real action shot from the Boer War?

What do people think?

To be fair I’m not bothered either way…it is still a great picture.