I am not familiar with the Stellenbosch MI as a unit that issued medals during the Boer War. Medals were issued to the Stellenbosch District Mounted Troops but not the Stellenbosch Town Guard. I have seen a cap badge to the Stellenbosch MI though so they must have either been an active unit before the Boer War or, since they were in Stellenbosch, were not issued with medals because they were not called out.
There is a report online that the Stellenbosch MI consisted of 1 officer and 31 men during the Boer War. Can anyone verify that? There were 5 officers and a total of 84 medals issued to the Stellenbosch DMT so these two cannot have been confused.
There are no entries for the Stellenbosch MI in WO100/285.
There is one R Ramage on the rolls, a Trooper Robert Ramage in the South African Light Horse so probably not your man.
Dr David Biggins
The following user(s) said Thank You: Chris Bonthuys
In 'Byng of Vimy: General and Governor General', with regard to the raising of the SALH, it states:
When Byng landed at Cape Town on 9 November, 1899, he discovered a situation greatly different from that envisaged in England. British forces were surrounded in Ladysmith, Kimberley and Mafeking. The Boers had the upper hand and Buller was dividing his expeditionary force into what were relief expeditions rather than an army with the mission of winning a war by striking for the enemy-capital of Bloemfontein.
Of more immediate interest to Byng were orders for him to take command, in the rank of lieutenant-colonel, of a new regiment of colonial irregulars whose formation had been announced the day before. It was to be called the South African Light Horse. Already more than two hundred men had assembled at Roscbank, outside the city where the new unit was to train.
The recruits were mainly South African but there were other colonials and a group of Texans who had brought shipments of mules to South Africa and now wanted to stay for the war. Many had had some military' experience.1
Borrowing two horses, Byng and his new adjutant, Capt Villiers of the Blues, rode out to Rosebank. Word that two dandified Englishmen were coming to take charge of them had reached the men of the Light Horse and their arrival was watched with considerable interest. Walking through the camp, the tall slim lieutenant-colonel, in immaculate starched khaki drill, approached a group of some twenty men who were seated playing dice. They looked up but did nothing to acknowledge his presence.
Byng grabbed the nearest man by his collar, dragged him upright, kicked over the dice board and ordered the rest to get to their feet. Having tested his temper, his men were content to follow his orders.2
The ranks of the Regiment were soon filled. Most of the officers and N.C.Os were from South African militia units such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Volunteers and the Cape Town Highlanders.
There were also a number of loyal Afrikanders. The Stellenbosch Mounted Infantry joined to a man. In all eight squadrons, about six hundred men, were raised.
The Light Horse were organized as cavalry but their main arm was the rifle. While they might carry out traditional cavalry roles such as reconnaissance, they were not designed for mounted combat. They would fight on foot.
Byng’s new Regiment was recruited from tough, irreverent colonials, natural horsemen and, for the most part, good shots. They were used to thinking for themselves. There was no time to convert them into traditional Hussars or Lancers, even if he had been inclined to do so.
Byng recognized what a valuable military asset he had in his men. He set about channelling their natural skills into a force which could deal effectively with an enemy whom they so much resembled.
While his new Regiment cared little for military trivia, soldiers do value things which set them apart from other units. The Light Horse adopted the slouch hat, turned up on the left side with a plume of the long, black tail feathers of the Sakabula (Diatropna Procue). On it was their badge, a Maltese Cross, and below, the Zulu motto, USIBA NJALO NGA PAMBILI, or ‘Feathers at the Front*, with the letters SALH on the arms. At first they were known as ‘the Sakabulas’, but it was not long before the army dubbed them the ‘Cocky-ollie Birds’. Byng was delighted.
Like most irregular soldiers, they had a light-hearted attitude to the rules of ownership of military property, including horses. Inevitably they were soon also known as ‘Byng’s Burglars’.