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Picture of the FMR officers from The Sketch, 10 August 1898 (vol 23), p98 6 months 2 weeks ago #73563

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There is a great picture of the officers of the FMR in the issue.

Does anyone have a better resolution copy of this picture please?

Dr David Biggins
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Picture of the FMR officers from The Sketch, 10 August 1898 (vol 23), p98 6 months 2 weeks ago #73617

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Hi David,

Thanks for posting the rather poor quality photograph of some of the Officers of the Frontier Mounted Rifles. Their Officer Commanding Major James Robert Hart is shown seated in the centre flanked by two officers of the Diamond Fields Horse. I note that a copy of the publication from which it has been copied is catalogued by the American Haiti Trust and I will ask my daughter to she if she can perhaps find a contact who might have access. I had hoped that with your University contacts in the UK that you many have found some route to access the vast resources of American Universities. I am of course keen to find a photograph of Major Hart.

In the interim I thought it would be worthwhile to put together the following notes.

SOME SHORT NOTES ABOUT CATHCART AND THE FRONTIER MOUNTED RIFLES

Cathcart is a small town set in the foothills of the Amatola mountains in the Eastern Cape situated on the railway line approximately half way between Stutterheim and Queenstown, Stutterheim being about half way between the coastal port city of East London and Queenstown. It was originally established during the Eighth Frontier War as a small military post at Windvogelberg, in the division of Queenstown. Although the site was originally chosen primarily for its defensive potential, a number of civilians soon settled in its vicinity. The Village was formally laid out in 1858 when German colonists arrived in the region. In October 1876 a sale of new erven was held in the village and the village was renamed in honour of Sir George Cathcart, Governor of the Cape Colony from 1852 to 1854. That same year the Cape government of John Molteno began the construction of the railway connection to East London which was officially opened on 3 November 1879.

I have previously posted some details about Lieut. Colonel Edward Oliver Hutchinson who has the distinction of raising the Frontier Mounted Rifles in 1886. (The similarly named unit which served during the campaigns of 1877 – 1878 and 1879 has no link to this Cathcart based unit).

Hutchinson’s biographical entry in the South African Who’s Who reads as follows:

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Oliver Hutchinson, of the Lincolnshire Hutchinsons, a descendant of Ed Hutchinson, who settled in America in 1633, and of Th. Hutchinson, Governor of the British Province of Massachusetts Bay at the time of the Boston Tea Riots, and who returned to England in 1774, and settled in Devonshire. Soliciter; b. 5th Jan., 1858, at Port Elizabeth, C.C.; son of late F.O. Hutchinson. Educ. Grey Institute and S. A. Coll. Paterson Scholarship 1872; Matric, Cape University, Law Prizeman 1892 ; m. 15th Oct. 1884, Gertrude Mary, d. of late Wm. Fuller, of Bedford, C.C.; Justice of the Peace for the Johannesburg Dist. Hobbies: Soldiering and public affairs. Served in the Galeka War, Gaika Rebellion, and Anglo-Boer War ; raised and commanded Frontier Mounted Rifle Vols, 1886; granted Hon. Rank as Major in 1896; commanded Frontier Light Horse (600 strong) 1900, with rank of Lieut. Col. in the Imperal forces ; held post of Commandant, No 2 area, C.C., in which he organised and commanded 3,000 C.D.F. troops during the Anglo Boer War ; transferred to Cape Services 1902, on retirement. Was one of the reformers imprisioned by Kruger in 1896. Gaeleka War medal and bar, 1877 ; Gaika Rebellion Medal and Bar 1878 (in fact bar: 1877-78); Queen’s Medal, Boer War, 2 clasps ; King’s Medal, Boer War, 2 clasps ; mentioned in despatches. Member of Rand Club, Johannesburg. Add., 25, Terrace Road, Bertams, and P.O. Box 5764, Johannesburg Transvaal.

In this previous posting I recorded my problem in determining the identity of Captain G.B. Smith who served as a Captain with the Cathcart Burghers and who received the Cape of Good Hope General Service medal. Since then I have now been able to identify the recipient of this medal. He was George Benstead Smith and was born in King Williamstown in 1842. He was the son of the 1820 Settler John Josiah Smith and married Katherine Ann Currie a niece of Sir Walter Currie and it is therefor not too surprising that he took an interest in things military.

On the recent City Coins Auction I was fortunate to be able to purchase the DSO pair awarded to Lieut. Alfred James Milford of the Frontier Mounted Rifles who was noted for his gallantry at Labuschagne’s Nek on 15 December 1899. In undertaking some preliminary desktop research, it is evident that he was born in Tedbury St Mary (8 miles west of Exeter) in Devon England in 1856. He was the son of a Tramway (Railway) Conductor and as a young man was employed as a Railway Porter. At the age of 21 years, he married Matilda Coles on 24 April 1876 and sometime after mid 1879 he emigrated together with his elder brother William to the Cape Colony. He is recorded as joining the Cape Colonial Service on 15 March 1880 before being appointed as the Station Master at Cathcart on 7 August 1885. He was appointed onto the fixed staff establishment on 1 February 1886 being provided with Quarters and an annual salary of £200. In addition, he served as Postmaster for which he was paid an additional £48 together with an allowance of £15 per annum. He was still serving as station Master in 1889 but soon thereafter he resigned to take up farming. It would seem that he purchased the farm Spitzkop near Dewetsdorp in the Orange Free state soon after the end of the Anglo Boer War. Archival records reflect that in 1903 he applied for various permits to import a number of guns and later that year he applied for Government assistance in order to establish a school on the farm. He and Matilda had no less than ten children and it is recorded that their eldest daughter married James Reginald Bartholomew of Kopjes Kraal, Thaba ‘Nchu, their marriage officiated by the Rev. J.K. Derry taking place on the farm on 16 March 1906. Sadly, following these happier times his wife passed away at a relatively early age in 1908. Several years later he remarried Alice Louise Redford the widow of William Voaden of Kimberley in 1914 eventually passing himself at the old age of 89 years in Bloemfontein in 1944.

Alfred Milford is recorded as joining the Frontier Masonic Lodge in Cathcart in March 1886. On-line masonic records indicate that this new Lodge, numbered 2092, was granted its first “Warrant” to be established in March 1885. Interestingly two of the founding Petitioners are recorded as being Edward Hutchinson and William Darley Hartley. While Edward’s military connections have already been described it may be noted that Doctor Hartley (not to be confused with the VC recipient) first came to South Africa in April 1878 and later that year served as Surgeon-Captain to the Cape Mounted Rifles before serving with the 24th Regiment during the Zulu War of 1879. He subsequently developed a private practice in East London but following an economic depression in the early 1880s he moved to Cathcart in 1885 becoming District Surgeon and Surgeon to the Cape Mounted Riflemen. A very distinguished career in the annals of South African medal history followed before his death in 1934.

Perhaps it is not too surprising that living in a small and isolated community and drawn into the Lodge with these two “go-getter” military personalities that Alfred James Milford soon volunteered his service as a military volunteer. Henk’s initial medal writeup records that he first served as a Trooper in the Frontier Mounted Rifles in the early 1890’s and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 12 June 1894.

The clash at Labuschagne’s Nek, north of Dordrecht and the relief of Lieutenant Milford and his intrepid group who refused to leave the wounded Lieutenant Warren of the Cape Police detachment to the mercy of the Boers or to surrender themselves came at a significant time when news from the War Front spoke of many significant setbacks. The events of Black Week following the heavy British defeats at the Battles of Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso when nearly 3000 British men were either killed, wounded and captured caused much dismay back home in Britain and elsewhere in the Empire. It is therefore not surprising that the actions of Lieutenant Milford and his gallant band received wide mention in many contemporary newspapers. Headlines such as “Heroic Stand by a Small Party”, “British Scouts Cut Off – Forty Men Stay by Wounded Officer” and “An English Patrol Rescued”. Even the Mafeking Mafeking Mail carried a lengthy report titled “Lieut. Milford’s Account of his Fight”.

In quoting an extract from an Official Telegram The London Times of 5 January 1900 published the following:

“DORDRECHT.

Lieutenant Montmorency, 21st Lancers, reinforced by 100 Cape Mounted Rifles and 4 guns, went to relieve a Dordrecht detachment of 28, fell in with the enemy at Labuschagne's Nek, seven miles from Dordrecht, drove Boers from their position and relieved the missing party, except four Cape Mounted Rifles and three Cape Police: our casualty was one severely wounded. By latest reports enemy's loss thirty. At 3.40 Captain Goldsworthy with 50 Cape Mounted Police arrived on the scene in support of the party: our men retired in a south-westerly direction towards the camp. The detachment were cut off by the enemy the previous night, owing to their refusal to leave a wounded officer, Lieut. Warren, Brabant's Horse (Correction: Sub Inspector Alexander George Warren of the Cape Police). These (40) men, under Lieutenants Milton and Turner defended themselves most gallantly against the repeated attacks of some 800 Boers. The enemy resorted to sniping during the night, renewing a heavy fire at daylight, when they were again repulsed with loss. Lieutenant Montmorency and the scouts, loaded with quantities of ammunition, mounted the cliffs on the South side in the nick of time, as Lieut. Milford's ammunition was running short. The Boers fled hastily, contenting themselves with firing from the hills at long ranges That out loss was so slight is to be explained only by the had shooting and poor courage shown by the enemy. The enemy tried the white flag trick with Lieut. Milford, but without effect, while our reply to the usual volley accompanying their white flag, killed two of them. The enemy crept down and shot Milford's horses, tor which there was no room in the position he had taken up. They dared not, however, come to close lighting with his men.

On or about December 30th the rebels attacked Dordrecht in considerable force, but were repulsed with a loss of 8 men and 13 horses killed, our casualties were four wounded. From a conversation I had with a Lieutenant I learn that 33 Boer horses were found dead round the position. The 13 being these counted in one spot. Lieut. Milford describes the white flag incident as follows:- A large party of Boers came trotting quietly forward having Kaffirs in front dressed like black police, and naturally were mistaken, as it was intended, for friends coming to the relief of our men; when the Boers drew close, two moved to the right and hoisted a white flag, upon which the remainder galloped swiftly to a near position undercover. The trick was discovered too late to check the Boers, but the two men with the flag were shot. (Subsequent additional info: From the position so gained the Boers killed 26 of our horses and wounded seven. The 13 reported were only those counted in one place by Lieutenant Turner). The Boers had express cartridges with a copper tube in the nose of the bullet. I have also seen Mauser cartridges with soft nose bullets picked up near Dordrecht."' Swanelef, the Commandant at Stormberg, has died of his wounds. On January 2nd Gatacre reported seven Mounted Police still missing.

The rebels in Barkly district were reported to be demoralised by the occupation of Dordrecht, and immediately armed the Natives of Barkly East. It was, however, considered that the latter would remain loyal.”

Clearly, even as a lowly Colonial Lieutenant, Alfred James Milford was the deserved recipient of the coveted D.S.O.

RobM
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Picture of the FMR officers from The Sketch, 10 August 1898 (vol 23), p98 1 month 4 hours ago #76499

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The Volunteer movement flourishes in Cape Colony as in other parts of the Empire. I publish today a photograph of a group of officers of the Mounted Brigade which took part in the recent manoeuvres held at Middelburg. As is natural in such a country, there are many mounted corp in Cape Colony, the leading ones being the Diamond Fields Horse, hailing from Kimberley, and the Frontier Mounted Rifles, whose headquarters are at Cathcart. There are also in many up-country villages small local Mounted Rifle Corps (limited to a strength of a hundred), and one of the most flourishing is that belonging to Middel­burg, under the enthusiastic command of Captain Guy. In the photograph, Major Hart, of the Frontier Mounted Rifles, sits in the centre, with Major Peatman, Commandant of the Diamond Field Horse, on his right, and Captain Brand, Adjutant of the Diamond Fields Horse, on his left. To the left of Captain Brand sits Captain Guy, with his able Lieutenant Mackinnon above him. Surely an abler and more vigorous looking set of officers could not he found in any clime. Captain Guy i-; as much at home as a sportsman as when on his veldt-form, and has made many big bags of game.

Source: The Sketch 10 August 1898
Dr David Biggins
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Picture of the FMR officers from The Sketch, 10 August 1898 (vol 23), p98 1 month 4 hours ago #76500

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Thanks David.

Much appreciated.

It is always good to have a photograph.

RobM

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