1041 TROOPER ERNEST JAMES BIRRELL: BRITISH SOUTH AFRICA POLICE
Ernest James Birrell was the youngest of the two sons of Andrew Birrell, a farmer from near Dundee. He was born around 1878.
His elder brother William Young Birrell emigrated to South Africa and served during the Anglo Boer War with the Commander-in-Chiefs Bodyguard, Kitchener's Fighting Scouts and Canadian Scouts ( please see his biography in the thread on this website at 'Medals to the Commander-in-Chiefs Bodyguard').
The earliest mention of Ernest I found was in the 1891 Census. He was 13 years of age and a boarding scholar at Clifton Bank School in the St. Andrews district.
It is my best guess that he emigrated to South Africa with William. He received military training prior to the commencement of hostilities with the Boer republics with the Cape Mounted Rifles. At the start of the war he attested immediately to the British South Africa Police with service number 1041. I took a look at the Conditions of Service and can see the attraction of serving with the unit when they were paying 9 shillings per day!
His QSA was issued with two very attractive clasps for the collector, those of Rhodesia and Relief of Mafeking confirmed on the BSAP Medal Roll. So quite safe to assume that Ernest had a lively time of it.
The Remarks column of the rolls states simply "Discharged".
I believe the medal still to be extant as Findmypast refers to dealers lists and auction catalogues for evidence of clasps.
As with other young warriors to hail from the Angus area of Scotland, Ernest gets a mention in "The Muster Roll of Angus: South African War 1899-1902:a Record and a Tribute." 2nd edition. J. Brodie. (1903). p.229.
"BIRRELL:--ERNEST JAMES BIRRELL, second son of the late Andrew Birrell, farmer, Cardean and Simprim, Meigle and Whitestonelaw, Dundee. Got military training in C.M.R. , and joined B.S.A.Police at commencement of South African War; served under General Plumer. (photograph no. 152).
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