Queen Victoria wished to honour the bravery of soldiers in the Boer War with a personal token of her appreciation and regard. To this end, she hand made eight scarves in khaki-coloured Berlin wool, with the initials 'VRI' on one of the knots of wool.
The criteria for receiving a scarf was that the recipient was to be "the best all-round men taking part in the South African campaign". They were to be allotted to men as voted by their comrades as the most brave. Four scarves were presented to British units and one to each commonwealth country who had sent troops.
Lord Roberts mentioned in his despatch of 1st March 1902 that the scarves were gifts from the queen to the most distinguished private soldiers then serving. "In conclusion his Lordship desires to place on record that in April 1900, her late Majesty Queen Victoria was graciously pleased to send him four woollen scarves worked by herself, for distribution to the four most distinguished private soldiers in the Colonial Forces of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, then serving under his command. The selection for these gifts of honour was made by the officers commanding the contingents concerned, it being understood that gallant conduct in the field was to be considered the Primary qualification". The four colonial awards were then listed. (LG 16 June 1902).
The awards were to:
Colour Sergeant F F Ferret DCM, Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment
Colour Sergeant F Kingsley DCM, 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment
Colour Sergeant H Clay DCM, 2nd East Surrey Regiment
Sergeant W Colclough, 2nd Devonshire Regiment
Australia - Private Dufrayer, New South Wales Mounted Infantry
Canada - Private R Thompson, Royal Canadian Regiment
New Zealand - Trooper H D Coutts, New Zealand Mounted Infantry
South Africa - Trooper L Chadwick, Roberts' Horse
Queen's Scarf - Recipient details
Colour-Sergeant Ferret took part in the Battle of Colenso and was with General Hildyard throughout the campaign. He sent his scarf to his wife in England and it is presently held in the Queen's Regimental Museum.
Frank Kingsley was born in London in 1865, enlisted in 1887 and served for 19 years. He received the QSA with five clasps and the KSA with two clasps. His DCM was awarded for Spion Kop, when he withdrew his men to cover under a heavy cross-fire, then gallantly brought in his mortally-wounded captain.
The Queen's Scarf was presented to Col-Sergt Kingsley at Standerton on August 7, 1900. He was discharged in 1906 and spent his final days as pensioner at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, where he died on October 26,1952.
Colour-Sergeant Clay was wounded at Colenso and at Vaalkrantz. His scarf is held by the National Army Museum in Chelsea, London.
(Australian War Memorial)
Du Frayer was recommended for distinguished service on account of bringing in a dismounted comrade under heavy fire on April 11,1900. Captain Hilliard, commander of C Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, reported on an engagement near Karee Siding: "In April last, when the regiment was on outpost duty near Karee a reconnoitring patrol was sent out in the early morning in charge of Captain Legge. When approaching a farm house flying a white flag, every precaution was taken, but seeing no one about, the men numbering about 12 rode within the stone fence enclosure when they were immediately fired upon from within the house and also by a party of Boers concealed in a donga on the veldt.
"The gateway was only 150 yards from the farm house but Du Frayer dismounted, shook Private Clark into a semi-conscious state and, mounted again, got Clark up behind him and immediately out of danger. Private Du Frayer was exposed to a heavy fire from both quarters previously mentioned."
Du Frayer was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant, NSW Military Forces. He moved to South Africa and earned the MBE during World War I with the SA Forces. He then moved to Tanganyika [Tanzania] where he died in 1940. His scarf and medals have been presented to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
In 1956 his son attempted to have the scarf accredited with a status equal to that of the VC. The Assistant Keeper of the Queen's Archives replied,"... they can hardly be treated as the precise equivalent of the VC. In the first place they were not (so the Stationery Office informs us) gazetted.
" Secondly, they were awarded on a different basis from the VC. One was to go to the bravest soldier in each of the four Colonial contingents fighting in South Africa. To be the bravest soldier in a particular contingent is not, hi itself, sufficient qualification for the award of a VC. Clearly then, they must be treated as a separate honour."
Richard Thompson was born hi Cork, Ireland, hi 1867 and emigrated to the United States in 1890. In 1899 he moved to Ottawa where he joined the 43rd Ottawa and Carlton Rifles, then volunteered for service in South Africa with the Royal Canadian Regiment.
According to C Miller the Canadian award to Thompson was for heroism at the Battle of Paardeberg on Feb 27, 1900. "As the dawn was breaking, a captain of a bearer company spotted a wounded man in the field and called for a volunteer to assist him to being the man in. Private Richard Thompson dropped his rifle and ran three hundred yards under fire to his assistance, arriving just before the wounded man was killed by another bullet.
"Although his company commander, Captain Maynard Rogers and Otter recommended Thompson for the Victoria Cross for this and his previous act of heroism, hi July 1900 he received one of the seven [sic] Queen's Scarves, knitted by Queen Victoria, for private soldiers in designated units (the Royal Canadians was one of these) after nomination by their commanding officer for most distinguished service in the field."
A similar act of bravery was performed at Paardeberg by Thompson on 18 February. In this case the wounded man bled to death before Thompson could stop the bleeding. Although his gallantry warranted the VC he received the Queen's Scarf. It was shipped to Cork with his personal effects, while he was sent back to Canada, a victim of sunstroke.
Thompson later returned to South Africa and served as a lieutenant in the SA Constabulary, then worked for De Beers in Kimberley. In 1908 he returned to the USA with his Canadian-born wife. On arrival at Buffalo, New York, he died of appendicitis. He was buried with full military honours in Chelsea, Quebec. His scarf was traced in Ireland and is now on display at the National Museum of Canada.
Rash men managed to work their way to within 100 yards of the spruit before the Boer fire began to cut them down.
"Finally, accepting that they were attempting the impossible, they started to fall back, but as they did so Courts noticed a trooper of the Burma Mounted Rifles who had advanced further than any others, lying wounded within 75 yards of the Boer rifles. Coutts hastened his withdrawal until he reached his horse, mounted quickly and dashed forward to pick up the wounded man.
"Many of the Boers stopped firing hi their respect for Court's mission of mercy, but enough kept blazing away that the New Zealander's act of bravery was most definitely carried out at the peril of his life.
"Remarkably unscathed, Coutts took the wounded man up onto his horse behind him and continued to support him throughout the final dramatic phase of the battle as the mounted contingent moved to outflank the Boers and drive them out of the positions. With the fighting over, Coutts then carried the man the nine miles back to Sanna's Post where the only uncaptured medical section was still operating. Sadly, after all that, the wounded man died just as the post was reached."
It can be said that Koorn Spruit resulted in five VC and two QS awards! Coutts was mentioned in despatches for his bravery. He received his award of the Queen's Scarf at a parade held in Pretoria in September 1900.
He returned to New Zealand in January 1901, where he was presented with a sum of money and a silver mounted sword of honour. Coutts took part in lecture tours, then returned to South Africa as a captain and quartermaster with the 9th Contingent.
He served with the militia until 1910,then in 1913 presented his scarf to the government. It is now housed in the Taranaki Museum. Coutts volunteered for front-line service in World War I, but was refused as he was 48-years-old. He then served in a training battalion hi England. He died at Wellington on April 30,1944, aged 78, presumably still wanting to serve operationally!
Henry Donald Coutts was born at Kaiapoi, New Zealand, in 1866. As a young man he moved to Taranaki, where he farmed. From 1881 he served in various volunteer units, then in 1899 went to South Africa with the First Contingent.
At Koorn Spruit he was with the party escorting the guns. "Like several others in the skirmish party, Trooper Henry Coutts was eager to come to grips with the enemy and kept edging forward, worming their way through the long grass until they were well in advance of the guns. This handful of brave but
Leonard McKuiry Chadwick was born at Middletown, Delaware, USA, on Nov 24, 1878. He joined the US Navy and served as an Apprentice, First Class. During the Spanish/American War on May 11,1898, he was with a boat Party attempting to cut a chain in Santiago Harbour under a heavy fire. His courage earned him the Congressional Medal of Honour, the US equivalent of the VC.
Citation: On board the USS Marblehead during the operation of cutting the cable leading from Cienfuegos, Cuba, 11 May 1898. Facing the heavy fire of the enemy, Chadwick set an example of extraordinary bravery and coolness throughout this period.
Leonard Chadwick apparently brought mules to South Africa, then decided to join up. A 1902 magazine refers to "a brave American trooper of Roberts Horse who galloped out to save wounded men at Koorn Spruit under heavy fire, and who was later prominent, still under fire, in helping to save the guns." As reported in 'Black and White Budget' (page 750): "Lord Roberts has confirmed the award of the Queen's Scarf to Trooper Chadwick, of Roberts' Horse, whom his fellow troopers chose as the most distinguished of his corps for bravery. Trooper Chadwick proves to be an American, who was one of the boat's crew who cut the cable across Santiago Harbour during the Spanish American War... South Africa's scarf has, therefore, gone to America."
In the SA Field Force Casualty List, No 2.479 Private L Chadwick is shown as having been taken prisoner by the Boers, together with Privates W Benson and G Redpath. They were captured at Rhenoster on July 28, 1900, and released shortly afterwards.
General De Wet was at Rhenosterpoort, near Schoeman's Drift on the Vaal River. He created a diversion by sending Captain Danie Theron to Rhenoster Kop, 12 miles to the south. On July 28 Theron attacked America Siding unsuccessfully. Presumably he succeeded in taking three unwanted prisoners! [The Times History, Vol IV p 420-1 ]
Trooper Chadwick proved to be the most decorated of all the Queen's Scarf awardees, for he held the American Congressional Medal of Honour and was awarded the DCM for the Anglo-Boer War. Lord Roberts recommendations for meritorious service of April 2,1901, refers to J [sic] McKuiry Chadwick, while the DCM award is to J McKinry Chadwick.
Chadwick was next heard of in 1920 at a boarding house in Boston, where he awaited his niece's graduation as a nurse, then accompanied her to Nova Scotia. She later married a Dr Fowler. It is assumed that Chadwick died before 1940.