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A South African LION lurks in my medal cabinet! 2 months 1 week ago #77811

  • RobCT
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Sorry folks. Important rugby matches again tomorrow!

The Bledisloe match between the All Blacks (New Zealand) and the Wallabies (Australia) tomorrow morning and the LIONS versus the Springboks late tomorrow afternoon.

You can guess what I will be doing tomorrow!

I rue the day I missed out on the purchase of an example of a silver Bledisloe medal (this awarded/sponsored by the same Lord Bledisloe who served as Governor General of New Zealand during the early 1930s). A large silver medal depicting a magnificent bull awarded to promote animal husbandry and agriculture in Africa.

Now back to medals.

It is the stories of the recipients which make medal collecting such a wonderful hobby.

May I bore Forum members with another LION rugby story?

I am the custodian of the following QSA medal. I guess we all recognise his kindred name which still echoes when we think of the bloody Battle of Elandslaagte.

Single - QSA three bars: CC, OFS, Tvl (R.C. Mullins. Civil Surgeon. I. Y. Hp. Staff.)

Reginald Cuthbert “Cuth” Mullins was born in Grahamstown on 28 June 1873. He was the fifth son of the late Canon Robert John Mullins and his wife Harriet Jane Roe. After completing his schooling at St. Andrews College in Grahamstown. He subsequently studied medicine at Keble College in Oxford, where he gained his Rugby Blue and played frequently against Cambridge. In 1899 he started his housemanship at Guy’s Hospital but almost immediately enlisted as Civil Surgeon and was attached to the Yeomanry Hospital in Pretoria during the ABW. He returned to Guy’s Hospital to complete his studies and after qualifying as a medical doctor he returned to south Africa at first working on the Rand before returning to Grahamstown where he set up in practice with Dr Drury serving also as the “house’ doctor at his old school.

He married Winifred Maasdorp in January 1905 with whom he five children, four sons and a daughter. During the Great War he served as a temporary Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was Mentioned in Despatches in 1918. He retired from his medical practice and died on his son’s farm near Grahamstown the following year.

But back to rugby as this is an important rugby week!

Reginald’s father, Canon R.J. Mullins, is remembered today as having introduced the game rugby to the black community in Grahamstown where he was the principal of an educational institution associated with St. Andrew's College. Rugby historians claim that St. Andrews have been playing rugby since 1878 and it was at this prestigious South African school that Cuth learnt to play the Great Game. Cuth Mullins came to note as a rugby player when he was selected to play for Oxford University. He won one sporting 'Blue' after playing in the annual against Cambridge University during the 1894/95 season. The match ended in a draw although Oxford were considered lucky not to lose. Returning to Britain after the end of the tour he continued to play rugby and after leaving Oxford for Guy's Hospital he joined the Hospital team being given the given the captaincy of the hospital team for two seasons from 1898 to 1900.

For medal enthusiasts it is worth noting that two members of this 1896 touring team, Robert Johnston, Cuth’s colleague from Oxford, and Thomas Crean from Ireland elected to remain in South Africa. During the Anglo Boer War a few years later both of them joined the Imperial Light Horse and both were subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross. For Cuth, gallantry was a family affair as his younger brother Charles Herbert Mullins served alongside Robert Johnson the London Gazette later acknowledging their gallantry at the Battle of Elandslaagte as follows:

“On the 21st October 1899, at Elandslaagte, at a most critical moment, the advance being momentarily checked by a very severe fire at point blank range, these two Officers (Charles Mullins and Robert Johnson) very gallantry rushed forward under this heavy fire and rallied the men, thus enabling the flanking movement, which decided the day to be carried out. On this occasion Captain Mullins was wounded.”

Charles Mullins and Robert Johnston were invested with their Victoria Crosses by King Edward VII at St James' Palace on the 25th July 1901.


Cape Town
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A South African LION lurks in my medal cabinet! 2 months 1 week ago #77817

  • gavmedals
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Hi Rob, very interesting read and enjoyed the wider context of the recipients life and achievements as well.


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A South African LION lurks in my medal cabinet! 2 months 1 week ago #77826

  • Brett Hendey
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Here is another reminder of the 1896 tour. I have already written on this site about Gorton the rugby player, but I cannot now find the link. Like Rob, I will be watching the broadcast of today's British & Irish Lions match against the Springboks.
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A South African LION lurks in my medal cabinet! 2 months 1 week ago #77829

  • DocCJ
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Really interesting story. While I knew that there had been an English cricket tour of South Africa in 1896, I hadn't appreciated the Lions had been there as well. I 'managed' to see 4 games of the 2009 tour when on a business trip, but had not appreciated that this had been trumped by my grandfather who was in the country in 1896 for both tours though he would not have seen any games on either tour having been a 'guest' in Pretoria after the Jameson Raid for the start of the cricket and though he had returned in the April to take part in the Matebeleland War he would have been up-country for the rugby.
As it happens, Keble was my old college and I shall be going up there at the end of September for a 50th reunion and will see if there are any traces of Cuth Mullins.
Will also be watching the game this afternoon - such a shame that Covid prevented fans from travelling as RSA is I think the best Lions tour

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A South African LION lurks in my medal cabinet! 2 months 1 week ago #77830

  • David Grant
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For those interested in sport around the South African War - there is this great book. Although not about a contact sport it is still worth a read. Lets hope for the deferrerd sucess of the Lions team.
Looking for Salutries, Salootries and Veterinary Duffadars.
I collect primarily QSAs to Indian Recipients.
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