Henk Loots wrote: The day after the Colenso disaster General Redvers Buller wrote to the Under Secretary of State, War Office, London to report ‘cases of Distinguished Service in the Field’. After recommending Congreve, Roberts and Nurse for the Victoria Cross, he stated ‘Drivers H Taylor, Young, Petts, Rockall, Lucas and 30661 F Williams, all of the 66th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, rode the teams, each team brought in a gun. I recommend all six for the Medal for Distinguished Conduct in the Field.’
Can I ask where the service number (my bold in the quote) for F Williams comes from?
This is what is printed in the LG:
I know Abbott published the service number 30661 and I think he has made a mistake, which I am sorting out now.
Here is one of the most desirable PoW medals for the Anglo-Boer War. It's a QSA to a gunner who served with the 66th Battery, RFA at the battle of Colenso,
84230 Gunner Patrick Murphy, 66th Bty. R.F.A. was born in Carlow. He was the son of Peter Murphy and his brother was John E. Murphy. He was a farm laborer. He married Amelia Wilson of Bristol, and they had three children: Louis William John (20.9.1895), Gladys Amy (29.7.97) and Lillian Audrey (2.6.1900). On 23 March 1891, he enlisted in the Royal Artillery, but his papers were signed on 27 March at Woolwich and state that he was 18 years old, which would mean he was born in 1883. He was 5'6" and weighed 137 lbs, and had grey eyes and brown hair. What makes one wonder about his birth date, which was not written on the duplicate papers, is that on 18 January 1892, he was awaiting trial for fraudulently enlisting while he was a serving soldier of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers - 3297 Pte. John Bolger. Would he have been 18 when "reenlisting" again? He was convicted and spent 42 days in prison from 18 February to 5 March 1892. Upon his release, he rejoined the RA and "transferred" to Gunner on 18 February 1899.
Next on his papers is that he was recalled to the colors on 9 October 1899 and posted to the RA. He served in South Africa from 23 October 1899 to 15 October 1900 (358 days) before going home. His total service at home was 11 years 339 days from 23 March 1891 to 22 October 1899 and then from 16 October 1900 to 17 February 1904. His sole injury was a broken right hand on 29 August 1898.
He was awarded the QSA with: T, RL and OFS clasps (WO 100/142/p.141). He was serving with the 66th Bty. RFA in S. Africa when he was captured on 15 December, 1899 at the famous battle of Colenso where the 14th and 66th batteries took up a positions 700 yards from the south bank of the river and were immediately engaged by 1,000 Boer riflemen hidden on the north bank. In the ensuing battle, casualties mounted in both batteries and ammunition was low, which forced the men to retire with the wounded to a donga to the rear of their 12 guns. General Buller wanted his guns back and called for volunteers to rescue them. Capt. Schofield (ADC) and Cpl. Nurse RFA went with two limbers and managed to rescue two of the twelve guns. They were later awarded VCs for their bravery. (For an excellent account of the battle, read Darrel Hall's Halt! Action Front! with Colonel Long at Colenso printed by Covos-Day books, 1999).
Murphy was later released at Waterval on 6 June 1900. The 66th suffered 4 KIA, 10 WIA - one of which died of wounds later and 24 PoWs according to the Army & Navy Gazette (p. 1217).
Unless I have missed something, Driver F. Williams' number was "30661". My RA CD shows on p.145 of WO100/142 as "30661 Driver F. Williams" of 66 Bty, RFA . That roll page shows one clasp "RofL" and marginal note "2nd Div. Ammn Column". I could not see another "Driver F. Williams" in that battery.
The LG doesn't show any service numbers. In the two LGs mentioning the DCMs one states "Driver Williams" and the other "Driver F Williams".
There were two Driver Williams at Colenso with the 66th btty, one J and one F. Service papers for Driver J 31020 state he was recommended for the DCM. There are no service papers for 30661.
Delving into the newspapers there was definitely some confusion over which Williams was awarded the DCM. I think I have it sorted but still haven't seen an Army document with a service number on it, hence my question.
This is one DCM that I haven't seen on the market either.
Being very invested in the Natal theatre, I thought it prudent to acquire a group to the (now famous) 66th Battery, R.F.A. - they of the Colenso guns fame.
I saw my chance and acquired the following:
- QSA with clasps CC/TH/RoL to 16227 DVR. C. EGGAR, 66TH BTY. R.F.A.
- 1914/15 Star to 2255 PTE. C. EGGAR, HAMPS. R.
- British War Medal to 2255 PTE. C. EGGAR, HAMPS. R.
- Victory Medal to 2255 PTE. C. EGGAR, HAMPS. R
Charles Eggar initially attested for the Medical Staff Corps on 10 December 1897, transferring to the Royal Artillery on 22 February 1898. He was posted to 66th Battery, R.F.A. the following day, serving with the Battery in South Africa from 23 October 1899 where he was engaged in the battle of Colenso on 15 December. Serving as a Driver, the precise nature of his role in the battle is unknown and any input would be appreciated here. Meurig has been very kind with some information from his blog on the battery.
He returned home to the UK on 12 July 1900, which is slightly odd as he doesn't appear to have been wounded (I don't have the casualty rolls so am unable to confirm) - he entered WWI with the Hampshire Regiment serving in India and Burma, before transferring to the R.E. Inland Water Transport where he was deployed in Mesopotamia.
Any assistance in tracing this mans steps in the Boer War would be greatly appreciated.
Eggar wasn't a casualty and wasn't invalided to pension through sickness. His papers show him as posted as driver 1st Depot (Emergency Bty.) 22/6/1900 and arriving home 12/7/1900. It seems he was just re-posted and sent back to the UK where he continued to serve.