- Queens South Africa Medal with Cape Colony clasp to 16 Tpr. W. Leamy, Cullinan’s Horse.
Willie Leamy was born in the Orange Free State in 1881 the son of an Irish immigrant from Tulla in County Clare, Martin John Leamy and his wife Martha Elizabeth. Martin took up farming in the Vryburg are of the North Western Transvaal which is where the family spent most of their lives.
Willie had many siblings in the form of Thomas, John Martin, Mary Jane, Bridget, Catherine, Martha and Caroline. There would have been little to disturb the rural tranquillity of the area but that all changed in October 1899. The Anglo Boer war broke out in that month and what followed, almost immediately, was the investiture of the small town of Mafeking, not very far from where Leamy and his family lived. In fact Vryburg is in reasonably close proximity to both Mafeking and the other town of substance which was besieged – Kimberley.
Not even these bestirred the Vryburg locals to take up arms and it wasn’t until a concerted Boer incursion into the region was made that both a Town Guard and, relevant to Leamy, a locally raised unit called Cullinan's Horse was raised. Cullinan’s Horse was a unit of some 64 men raised in Vryburg on 8 January 1901 by Arthur William Cullinan which served with Lieutenant General Lord Methuen's force in the Western Transvaal.
Leamy attested for service on 1 March 1901 and was assigned the rank of Trooper and no. 16.
The unit is best known for its role in the Battle of Tweebosch (or De Klipdrift) near Sannieshof which was fought on 7 March 1902. It began proper at 6 o' clock in the morning and was over four hours later. Interalia Dennison's Scouts, supported by Cullinan's Horse, the Cape Mounted Police under Major J C Berrange and Diamond Fields Horse came under vicious attack. The battle was disastrous for the British, in particular for Lord Methuen for it was here that he was wounded and captured by Boer forces under the wily General de la Rey. The British lost 68 killed in action, 121 wounded and 872 taken prisoner; whilst the Boers lost 8 killed in action and 26 wounded.
Leamy and his brother John Martin both served in Cullinan’s Horse but were, most likely, not present at the above battle as they had taken their discharge, according to the nominal roll in the case of Willie, on 10 October 1901.
What makes medals named to Cullinan’s Horse desirable is that there were so few of them. Most of the men who served in their ranks went on to serve in other units or had served in other units before and had their medals named up to those units. Initially there was also confusion as to how many of those in Cullinan’s Horse were Coloured with a note on the roll holding back the issue of many medals where it was deemed “impossible” to determine the racial classification of the men concerned.
Whatever the case may be Leamy was issued his medal.
After the war Willie Leamy carried on with his faming pursuits. He was a Stock Farmer in the Vryburg district when he passed away from Chronic Nephritis on 15 March 1941 at the age of 59 years and 5 months.
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