Further to my post for 3910 Private John Rowley of the Worcesters, I have today visited the Cannon Hill Park Boer War Composite memorial in Birmingham (Post code B12 9QA/ OS grid reference SP06828 83939)and found his name on sheet 3 of this beautiful memorial to the men of Birmingham who gave their lives in South Africa. I hope the above images do it justice.
There are 521 names on the memorial, I wonder how many of them served in the Worcesters.
The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Officer‘s (Brother’s) breast badge, silver and enamel, minor white enamel damage, with contemporary silver riband buckle;
Jubilee 1897, silver (Maj. R. Holden 4. Worc. R. Staff Officer.) engraved, with replacement suspension ring;
Coronation 1902, silver (Lt. Colonel R. M. Holden) reverse field engraved;
Coronation 1911 (Col: R. H. Mackenzie. The Cameronians) engraved;
QSA (4) Cape Colony, Orange Free State, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (Lt: Col: R. Holden, Worc: Rgt:) 2nd clasp a tailor’s copy
Provenance: Glendining’s, November 1994.
Robert Holden Mackenzie [né Holden] was born at Nuthall Temple, Nottinghamshire in October 1857. He was the son of Charles Holden, who became Paymaster at the Tower of London. Holden was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Worcestershire Militia, 5 July 1878, and advanced to Lieutenant serving with the 2nd Battalion the following year. The Worcestershire Militia became the 4th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment in line with the Cardwell reforms of 1881, and Holden served with them as Assistant Instructor of Musketry at Norton Barracks.
Holden advanced to Captain in June 1883, and in the same year was aboard HMS Lively when she was wrecked, while attached to the Royal Commission on the Highland Crofters. He subsequently served in a number of Aide de Camp roles, 1885-1889, including as ADC to Sir Walter Sendall, GCMG, Governor of the Windward Islands and to Sir Henry Bulwer, GCMG., Governor of Natal and later Cyprus. It was whilst serving in Cyprus that Holden completed writing, and had published, The Third and Fourth Battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment.
Holden was appointed a Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians in 1887, and had a particular interest with Military and Scottish History and antiquities. He was also appointed a Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians in Scotland in 1904, and in this field he became a member of the Council of the Royal United Service Institute. Holden also went on to publish the important Trafalgar Roll in 1913, and contributed many papers and articles to a number of publications including the Dictionary of National Biography; Scottish Historical Review; Chambers’s Journal and Macmillan’s. For a number of years he was also employed on the staff of the Royal Military Tournament.
Holden served on the Soudan frontier in 1889, first as a volunteer with the British Brigade under General de Montmorency, and then with Colonel Wodehouse in command of the Egyptian Infantry. He had a number of postings prior to advancing to Major in June 1895. The following year Holden was appointed Honorary Major 1st Cadet Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, before transferring to the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. He was elected an Esquire of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in July 1899. The 3rd Battalion was renumbered as the 5th Battalion, and it was with them that Holden served as a Major and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel during the Second Boer War.
Holden served as ADC to Major-General Sir A. E. Turner, Inspector-General of Auxiliary Forces, 1900-1901. Also serving as a District and Station Commandant for operations in Cape Colony. Upon his return to the UK, Holden transferred to the 4th Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and shortly afterwards changed his name to Robert Holden Mackenzie.
Mackenzie raised the 1st (Highlanders) Cadet Battalion, The Royal Scots in 1911, and also served as a Gentleman of the King’s Bodyguard for Scotland. He died at 4 Glengyle Terrace, Edinburgh in June 1916.
Dr David Biggins
The following user(s) said Thank You: Moranthorse1
A nice group of medals to a Worcester top brass with the jubilee and coronations.
Holden had a successful army career and found the time to publish books. I shall have to try and find the publications of the 3rd and 4th battalions.
He died young at 59 by today's standards.
The action of Slingersfontein, named after the farm 15 km south-east of Colesberg, was the first engagement of the Worcester Regiment, exactly one month after landing in South Africa.
On 12 February 1900 the right flank of the British at Slingersfontein came under a strong attack by the Boers commanded by General De la Rey. The key to the British position at this point was a kopje held by three companies of the 2nd Worcester Regiment. Upon this the Boers made a fierce onslaught but were as fiercely repelled. They came up in the dark between the set of the moon and rise of sun and the first dim light saw them in the advanced sangars. The Boer generals were fond of using darkness for taking up a good position and pushing onwards as soon as it is possible to see.
The occupants of the sangars were all killed to a man, and the assailants rushed onwards. As the sun topped the line of the veldt half the kopje was in their possession. Shouting and firing, they pressed onwards. But the Worcester men were steady old soldiers, and the companies upon the hill (later named Worcester Hill) contained many marksmen. Their fire was so accurate that the Boers found themselves unable to advance any further and through the long day a desperate duel was maintained between the two lines of riflemen.
The Worcestershire Commander Lieut.-Colonel Charles Cuningham was killed, and his 2/IC Major Stubbs fell killed while making a gallant attempt to re-take a position with the bayonet. Hovell and Bartholomew continued to encourage their men, and the British fire finally succeeded in dominating that of the Boers. Under the direction of Hacket Pain, who commanded the nearest post, guns of J Battery were brought out into the open and shelled the portion of the kopje which was held by the Boers. The latter were reinforced but could make no advance against the accurate rifle fire with which they were met. The Bisley champion of the battalion, with a bullet through his thigh, expended a hundred rounds before sinking from loss of blood. With the coming of darkness, the Boers withdrew, with a loss of 8 men killed and 19 wounded. The British loss in the action was 37 killed and 81 wounded, most of which was incurred when the sangars were rushed in the early morning.
QSA (1) CC (4292 Pte. W. Mason, Worcester Regt.)
Pte. Mason was killed in the Slingersfontein skirmish. He is buried in the Colesberg Military Cemetery.
Dr David Biggins
The following user(s) said Thank You: Moranthorse1
QUEEN'S SOUTH AFRICA MEDAL.
CLASP: CAPE COLONY
4292. PRIVATE W. MASON. 2ND BATTALION. WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT.
KILLED IN ACTION AT SLINGERSFONTEIN ON 12/02/1900.
I have the greatest of pleasure in posting images of the above mentioned medal recently arrived from City Coins #71.
Good to have his medal back in Worcestershire!
Interestingly, whilst browsing through some of my archive auction catalogues, I found Mason's QSA listed in:
Glendinning's, Monday 17th to Tuesday 18th September 1990.
'lot 485 Queen's South Africa, 1899-1902, one bar, Cape Colony (4292 Pte W. Mason, Worcester Regiment.). Nearly extremely fine. (£40-60)
:Killed in action, Slingers Fontein, 12th February, 1900.'
A question for Henk please, if I may. When you added Mason's QSA to your collection, was it from this sale at Glendinning's?
If so, it has taken 30 years for it to come back into the market place! I feel very lucky indeed to have got it.
It could be a long time before I get the next chance for a Slingersfontein Killed in Action.
4502-PRIVATE W. BUCKLE. 2ND BATTALION WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT.
CONDITION :EF. ALMOST AS STRUCK WITH DARK TONING.
Private Buckle was wounded in action at the skirmish at Slingersfontein on 12th February 1900.
His injuries could not have been too serious as he was fit enough to be involved in the actions around Wittebergen as confirmed by his entitlement to the clasp for Wittebergen. The fact that he was wounded and survived would suggest that he was lucky enough to not be in the forward position s on the morning of the boer attack at Slingersfontein.