I was once treated to a meal at the Victoria Club shortly before it left its historic building in the Maritzburg CBD. The Club amalgamated with the Country Club and moved to its property on the outskirts of the city. Since no-one has invited me to dine there, I am clearly no longer mixing in the right circles!
Thank you, Rory. I passed through Maritzburg earlier today on a trip to and from Howick and St Ives. If I had known of your offer then I would have asked to be dropped off at your office!
1st Class Sergeant CD Robbins enlisted with the Natal Police on the 1st of June 1893. He served throughout the Anglo Boer War, and during the 1906 Natal Rebellion. He also received the Permanent Forces Beyond the Seas Long Service and Good Conduct Award in the 2nd South African Mounted Rifles.
On the QSA medal the top two clasps have unofficial rivets. The awarding of the 1901 South Africa Clasp was awarded well after the war, and therefore would have been attached by Robbins.Also there is much debate as to the awarding of the 1902 South Africa Clasp for the Natal Police. As you can see from the Roll, the 1902 Column is scratched out.However, there were many Natal Policemen who served throughout the duration of the Anglo Boer War, and felt very much aggrieved when only 11 Natal Policemen received the KSA Medal. As Robbins did the time, he must have felt entitled to the 1902 South Africa Clasp and attached it himself.
QSA (2) Talana DoL (Sub:-Insptr: W. E. Lyttle. Natal Police.);
Natal 1906 (1) 1906 (Maj. W. E. Lyttle, Natal Police.),
William E. Lyttle was born at Dublin in 1869, the son of the Reverend Thomas Lyttle, first Minister of the Presbyterian Church of Sandymount. In a City with a vast wealth divide, young Lyttle, like so many of his contemporaries, left Ireland and travelled to South Africa in search of work.
Appointed Trooper, Natal Mounted Police, in 1887, Lyttle was promoted Sub-Inspector in 1896 and Inspector some seven years later. He served in the South African War, being present at the Battles of Talana Hill, Dundee and Lombard's Kop. He was in General Yule's Column at Ladysmith and throughout the Siege, and was one of approximately 500 men who took part in the capture of the Guns at Gun Hill, including the Creusot 6-inch (Long Tom) gun, dubbed 'The Stinker' by the besieged. The focus of this daring sortie, the demolition of the artillery pieces on Gun Hill by a party of engineers, was completed in about ten minutes. According to Donald MacDonald, Australian war correspondent for the Melbourne Argus:
'It was a lesson in military expedition then to see Engineers going to work at gun destruction. Some of them whipped out the breech-block; others ran a charge of gun-cotton halfway down, plugged the muzzle and the breech, after first chipping away part of the screw, so that it could not be used again. Then they ran a necklace of gun-cotton around the outside of the barrel, and all was ready for Long Tom's funeral.'
Lyttle was himself wounded a few months later whilst with the advanced guard of the Natal Police at Modder Spruit. He was recovered to serve with the Natal Police during the Native Rebellion of 1906, during which he was 'again in the field the whole time'.
Renowned as a splendid sportsman and all round athlete, standing over 6 feet tall, he was at one time tennis champion of Natal and a distinguished hockey player.
Lyttle died suddenly at Estcourt on 29 June 1910, aged just 41. His death 'was greatly deplored'. The Nongqai states:
'The heart of the Police beats through this mournful quarter with palpitating sadness.'
Married to the daughter of Mr. Gilson, a Natal Magistrate, he left a widow and three young children.
As an indication of the tight-knit community of the Natal Police, the 1922 Will of Inspector A G Abraham included a 25 GBP bequest to his god-daughter, Marjorie Lyttle, who was one of WE's children.
I had intended to post a link to Abraham's biography, but I couldn't find the relevant post. Perhaps it was one of the long biographies that I did not post. Abraham had a very 'good' Anglo-Boer War and his medals are shown below.