Sergeant H R Martineau VC

For Valour

Horace Robert Martineau (31 October 1874 – 7 April 1916) of the Protectorate Regiment (N.W. Cape Colony) was awarded his Victoria Cross on the 26th December 1899 in an action near Mafeking.

He originally enlisted in the 11th Hussars and served in India before buying his discharge and emigrating to South Africa.

On the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899, Martineau joined the Protectorate Regiment (N.W. Cape Colony) as a sergeant. He was awarded the VC in an action near Mafeking. His citation in the London Gazette reads:

On the 26th December, 1899, during the fight at Game Tree, near Mafeking, when the order to retire had been given, Sergeant Martineau stopped and picked up Corporal Le Camp, who had been struck down about 10 yards from the Boer trenches, and half dragged, half carried, him towards a bush about 150 yards from the trenches.

In doing this Sergeant Martineau was wounded in the side, but paid no attention to it, and proceeded to stanch and bandage the wounds of his comrade, whom he, afterwards, assisted to retire. The firing while they were retiring was very heavy and Sergeant Martineau was again wounded. When shot the second time he was absolutely exhausted from supporting his comrade, and sank down unable to proceed further. He received three wounds, one of which necessitated the amputation of his arm near the shoulder.

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He was visiting New Zealand when the First World War broke out and he immediately  joined up as a territorial officer in the 14th (South Otago) Regiment, and enlisted as a Lieutenant. He subsequently served in Suez and at Gallipoli with the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, New Zealand and Australian Division of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps ANZAC.

After falling ill he was evacuated to Egypt but was involved in an altercation with two other officers which which involved Martineau’s use of insubordinate language. After an investigation of the charge the Commandant of Base Headquarters Alexandria, Brigadier-General McGregor, sent a letter to General Headquarters at Mudros on 21 September 1915 recommending that as Martineau was in possession of the VC “his services be dispensed with without trial and that he be sent back to New Zealand”

He was stuck off the strength of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force but fell ill again and died in Dunedin Hospital. As the illness was a continuation of the sickness he first contracted while on Gallipoli, Martineau was categorised as having died after discharge from the NZEF from disease contracted while on active service, and was included in the roll of honour listing New Zealand’s war dead.

The Sphere 13th April 1901.

 

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Forgotten Voices of Empire: The Charge of the 21st Lancers 1898

On the 2nd September 1898,  General Sir Herbert Kitchener lead his army, made up of Regular British regiments and mixed Sudanese/Egyptian regiments into action against the army of Abdullah al-Taashi, the successor to the self-proclaimed Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad. Ostensibly the Battle the of Omdurman, as it became known was fought to help the Egyptian state reconquer the Sudan, though Kitchener was seeking revenge for the death of General Charles Gordon in Khartoum in 1885.

The battle has become famous/infamous for a number of reasons:

It demonstrated how a highly disciplined army, armed with modern rifles, artillery and machines guns could destroy an army twice its size but armed with obsolete weapons with minimal casualties. 16,000 dervishes attacked the British position, mainly armed with old rifles and spears, not one attacker reached within 50m of the British and suffered 4,000 casualties too artillery fire and then heavy volley fire and Maxim guns.

The battle was the first time that the Mark IV hollow point bullet, made in the arsenal in Dum Dum was used in a major battle. It was an expanding bullet and the units that used it considered it a great success though they caused dreadful wounds.

After a few incidences of wounded dervishes attacking British troops, Kitchener ordered all of the wounded the be killed and this brutal attack dogged him for the rest of his life, even Winston Churchill agreed he had gone to far.

Kitchener was anxious to occupy Omdurman before the remaining Mahdist forces could withdraw there. He advanced his army on the city, arranging them in separate columns for the attack. The British light cavalry regiment, the 21st Lancers, was sent ahead to clear the plain to Omdurman. They had a tough time of it. The 400-strong regiment attacked what they thought were only a few hundred dervishes, but in fact there were 2,500 infantry hidden behind them in a depression. After a fierce clash, the Lancers drove them back (resulting in three Victoria Crosses being awarded to Lancers who helped rescue wounded comrades)

The correspondent from Reuter describes the action:

Omdurman, September 4 (via Nasri, Monday)

There has been such a pressure of daily work that the great incident of the Battle of Omdurman has probably received less attention than it merited. This was the famous charge of the 21st Lancers against enormous odds.

Colonel Martin’s orders were to prevent the broken enemy from returning to Omdurman, five miles away from the filed of Battle. The 21st Lancers unexpectedly came upon the enemy’s reserve who were 2000 strong, but whose exact strength could not ascertained owing to the nature of the ground.

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The Charge of the 21st Lancers Drawn by John Charlton The Graphic 24th September 1898

The cavalry were then in form of troops. They deployed into line for the attack and charged. When they were within thirty yards of the entrenchments they found the enemy ensconced in a nulla and concealed by a depression of the ground.

The Lancers wild with excitement and coming on at full gallop for the attack, had not a single moment for hesitation. They charged gallantly home, the brunt falling on No.2 squadron, who absolutely had to hack their way through the enemy twenty deep, exposed to a withering infantry fire.

They struggled through, but every man who fell was immediately hacked to pieces by the swords of the fanatic foe.

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The London Illustrated News 17th September 1898.

The men of the British cavalry rallied, bleeding, on the far side of the lanes which they had cut for themselves in the enemy’s ranks and with admirable fortitude they re-formed as coolly as if they had been on parade.

One corporal, who was covered in blood, and reeling in his saddle, when ordered to fall out shouted , waving his bent lance- “Never! Form up No.2” meaning his squadron.

Then it was that young Grenfell was missed for the first time. Lieutenant de Montmorency, with Corporal Swarback dashed out to effect, if possible, the rescue of his body. They were immediately joined by Captain Kenna.

With their revolver fire the two officers kept the enemy forty yards away, and would have secured Lieutenant Grenfall’s body if the horse upon which it was placed had not shied with its burden.

Then seeing that a second charge would be futile, colonel Martin dismounted his men and with magazine and carbine fire drove the enemy steadily into the zone of the Anglo-Egyptian infantry fire, the Lancers having accomplished their object by covering the enemy line of retirement though at the cost of heavy casualties. This maiden charge of the 21st Lancers is regarded as an extremely brilliant affair.  [1]

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Officers wounded at Omdurman in the English Military Hospital at Abadia. Far right is Lieutenant C S Nesham 21st Lancers wounded in the charge. The Illustrated London News 8th October 1898.

 

Of less than 400 men involved in the charge 70 were killed and wounded and the regiment won three Victoria Crosses. These three were Private Thomas Byrne, Lieutenant Raymond de Montmorency and Captain Paul Kenna.

Winston Churchill was present at the battle and he rode with the 21st Lancers.

[1] The Citizen 10th September 1898.

Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley

On this day in 1913…The death of Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley, KP, GCB, OM, GCMG, VD, PC.

Viscount_Garnet_Joseph_Wolseley

Garnet Wolseley was one of the heroes of the British Army during the late 19th century. A career soldier, he saw action in some of the important campaigns of the 19th Century.

From an Ensign in the Crimea (1853-56) he rose through the army until he was appointed Commander in chief in 1895. He was considered such a safe pair of hands that the saying “everything’s all Sir Garnet” came to mean all is in order.

In the Crimea he fought in the trenches at the Siege of Sevastopol being wounded twice.

 

He then fought in the Mutiny (1857-58) seeing action at the Relief and capture of Lucknow and then the actions of Bari, Sarsi, Nawabganj, the capture of Faizabad, the passage of the Gumti and the action of Sultanpur. In the autumn and winter of 1858 he took part in the Baiswara, trans-Gogra and trans-Rapti campaigns ending with the complete suppression of the rebellion.

The Relief of Lucknow

The Relief of Lucknow

Next up was the China (1860) He was present at the action at Sin-ho, the capture of Tang-ku, the storming of the Taku Forts,[5] the Occupation of Tientsin, the Battle of Pa-to-cheau and the entry into Beijing (during which the destruction of the Chinese Imperial Old Summer Palace was begun)

In 1861 he was sent to Canada and while there went to investigate the American Civil War. He was smuggled across the battle lines by Southern sympathisers and once in the South he met Generals Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and Stonewall Jackson.

Once back in Canada he was active in the defeat of the  Fenian raids from the United States and then commanded the expedition that established Canadian rule over the Northwest Territories and Manitoba.

The expedition was through some of the roughest terrain that Canada could throw that them but Wolseley’s attention to detail and  supply arrangement meant that this was overcome with minimum losses to his forces. On his return to England he was knighted for his services.

By now Wolseley was the safe pair of hands that the British government needed to fight the various Imperial fires that needed putting out. He further enhanced this reputation during the  expedition to Ashanti (1873).

Wolseley accepting the surrender of the Ashanti tribe

Wolseley accepting the surrender of the Ashanti tribe

He arrived on the Gold Coast before the troops arrived and made all the arrangements to needed. He knew it was imperative that the campaign to defeat the Ashanti Tribes before the unhealthy season started and caused havoc with his European troops.

 

Due to his advance planning within two months of his European troops landing he had defeated the Ashanti in battle, advanced and captured the capital, accepted the surrender of the Ashanti King and then re-embarked his troops before the unhealthy season had began.

This campaign made him a household name in Britain. He received the thanks of both houses of Parliament and a grant of £25,000 was promoted to brevet major-general for distinguished service in the field on 1 April 1874.

The freedom of the city of London was conferred upon him with a sword of honour, and he was made honorary DCL of Oxford and LL.D of Cambridge universities. On his return home he was appointed inspector-general of auxiliary forces with effect from 1 April 1874; however, in consequence of the indigenous unrest in Natal, he was sent to that colony as governor and general-commanding on 24 February 1875.

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He accepted a seat on the council of India in November 1876 and was promoted to the substantive rank of major-general on 1 October 1877.  Having been promoted to brevet lieutenant-general on 25 March 1878, he went as high-commissioner to the newly acquired possession of Cyprus on 12 July 1878, and in the following year to South Africa to supersede Lord Chelmsford in command of the forces in the Zulu War, and as governor of Natal and the Transvaal and the High Commissioner of Southern Africa.

By the time he arrived in South Africa he found that the war was a good as over but he negotiated the final peace deal. He then served in the Transvaal and was promoted to Brevet General.

In 1882 he was promoted to Adjutant-General to the Forces and sent to Egypt to command British forces who where fighting the  Urabi Revolt for Muhammad Ali and his successors. 

with his usual thoroughness, he seized the Suez canal, moved his troops to Ismailia and after a very short campaign utterly defeated Urabi Pasha at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir, thereby suppressing yet another rebellion.

He had again proven that he a soldier of the highest order and he was promoted to full General, received the thanks of both houses for a second time and raised in the peerage to Baron Wolseley, of Cairo and of Wolseley in the County of Stafford.

The Nile Expedition for the Relief of General Gordon, from The Graphic, 29 November_1894

The Nile Expedition for the Relief of General Gordon, from The Graphic, 29 November_1894

 

In 1884 he was called way from his duties as adjutant-general to help save the Government’s reputation by leading a rescue attempt  to save General Gordon at Khartoum. 

He lead the expedition down the Nile with his usual excellence but due to delays in despatching the force by the time they arrived under the walls of Khartoum it had fallen and General Gordon was dead. Despite not being his fault it was the first failure of his career.

The expedition to Khartoum was to be his last active service and for the rest of his career his served at Horse Guards.

He was promoted to Field Marshal in 1894 and became Commander in Chief in 1895.

He was a favourite of the Royal Family and was appointed to Gold Stick to both Queen Victoria and Edward VII. He also took part in the procession at the funeral of Queen Victoria.

Happily married to Louisa he had just one child, Frances. For his service to the country, parliament made a special dispensation to allow Frances to inherit the viscountcy from her father.

Wolseley was a true hero of the Empire and fought across the globe for his Queen and country. In recognition of this a statue was erected in the Parade ground of Horse Guards.

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GENERAL KITCHENER AND THE ANGLO-EGYPTIAN NILE CAMPAIGN, 1898

THE ANGLO-EGYPTIAN NILE CAMPAIGN 1

Director of Military Intelligence, Colonel Sir Francis Wingate and a group of army officers disembark from a train on the Sudan Military Railway, possibly near Atbara. The railway line had been constructed by the Royal Engineers.

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Director of Military Intelligence, Colonel Sir Francis Wingate and staff with Lord Edward Cecil (right). Major Cecil was one of General Kitchener’s ADCs. Colonel Wingate succeeded Kitchener as Sirdar of the Egyptian Army and Governor General of Sudan.

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The Italian attache and military observer, Count Calderari and the Director of Military Intelligence, Colonel Sir Francis Wingate standing in front of railway trucks on the Sudan Military Railway, possibly near Atbara.

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Soldiers inside a railway truck on the Sudan Military Railway, probably en route to Atbara. The truck is equipped with beds and personal equipment hangs from its walls. The original caption reads “First Class Sleeping Car”.

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The defeated leader of the Sudanese (Dervish) forces at the Battle of Atbara, Emir Mahmoud, is interrogated by Director of Military Intelligence, Colonel Sir Francis Wingate after being captured. Note the camera mounted on a tripod in the background.

anglo 6Soldiers of the Cameron Highlanders and Seaforth Highlanders dig graves in order to bury their dead after the Battle of Atbara. The British Brigade (composed of Royal Warwicks, Lincolns, Seaforths and Camerons) lost five officers and 21 men in the action while the Egyptian Brigade lost 57. The losses of the Sudanese (Dervish) forces led by Emir Mahmoud were estimated at 3000 or more.

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Men of the 21st Lancers entrain at Wadi Halfa in preparation for the journey south to join Kitchener’s forces.

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Men of the 21st Lancers entrain their horses at Wadi Halfa in preparation for the journey south to join Kitchener’s force

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Captain E A Bainbridge, East Kent Regiment, interrogates an Arab civilian, possibly at Berber.

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General Kitchener, Sirdar (Commander) of the Egyptian Army (centre right) in discussion with the Commander of the British Brigade on the Nile, Major General Sir William Gatacre. Also with the group are General Gatacre’s orderly, Lieutenant Ronald…

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The Queen’s own Cameron Highlanders, wearing kilts and pith helmets, prepare to leave Darmali for Atbara in Sudan during the march of the British Brigade from Abu Dis to confront Mahdi forces at Atbara. The Special Army Order issued by the Horse Guards at the end of the campaign noted: “The march of the British Brigade to the Atbara, when in six days—for one of which it was halted—it covered 140 miles in a most trying climate, shows what British troops can do when called upon.”

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Men of 1st Grenadier Guards board a train at Cairo Station.

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A group of soldiers of 1st Grenadier Guards wait outside their tent for a kit inspection, Cairo.

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A group of soldiers of 1st Grenadier Guards wait outside their tent for a kit inspection, Cairo.

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Brigade Major C A’Court, 2nd Rifle Brigade (on horseback left) and the commander of !st Grenadier Guards, Colonel Villiers Hatton (riding a donkey centre) on the parade ground during a field day at Atbara Camp. The Colonel’s Bugler stands in the foreground.