Bombardier, 2nd Southern Division, Royal Garrison Artillery – Anglo Boer War
Corporal, 62nd Company, Royal Garrison Artillery – Boxer Rebellion
Master Gunner 2nd Class, Royal Artillery – WWI
Lieutenant and District Officer, Royal Garrison Artillery
- Queens South Africa Medal with Cape Colony clasp to 30107 BOMB. F. TEMPLETON, 2ND S.D. R.G.A.
- China Medal (1900) to CORPL. F. TEMPLETON, 62ND COY. R.G.A.
- British War Medal to 30107 W.O. CL.1. F. TEMPLETON, R.A.
- Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (GV) to 30107 2/CL. MSTR. GNR. F. TEMPLETON, R.G.A.
Frederick Templeton was an Irishman born and bred – the son of Francis Templeton, a Head Constable with the Royal Irish Constabulary and his wife Maria, he was born on 6 June 1880 (some records say 1883) in Dungavan, County Waterford.
Nothing is known of his formative years but his father’s movements have been easier to trace – Mr. Templeton senior retired from the R.I.C. on 1 August 1892 at the age of 49 on an annual pension of £72. He took up farming and, no doubt, a teenage Frank would have been on hand to help out in the fields.
In about 1898 Templeton decided on a course that would take him away from his family and familiar haunts – he enlisted in the Artillery as a Gunner with no. 30107 - assigned to 2nd Company, Southern Division of the Royal Garrison Artillery. Upon joining he would not have thought that, in the space of a couple of years, he would be in action in far-away South Africa.
The Anglo Boer War burst onto the international stage on 11 October 1899, pitting the might of the British Empire against the two Boer Republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State on the tip of the Dark Continent of Africa. The war was scarcely more than a few weeks old when the British were most surprised to find that the Boers had acquired some heavy guns which not only fired a shell of up to 96lb. but outranged the British field guns as well. On the back of this discovery, it was decided to mobilise a siege train of two companies R.G.A. in England. These were the 15th Company, Southern Division, armed with eight 6in. B.L. howitzers and the 15th Company, Western Division.
Men were called in from the reserve to augment the numbers – 15 S.D. doubling in size from 6 officers and 152 men to 12 officers and 311 men. Both companies embarked in R.M.S. Tantallon Castle at Southampton, sailed on 9 December 1899 and reached Cape Town on 26 December. Loaded on to four trains, they eventually assembled at De Aar on 1 January 1900, where they began to acquire oxen with which to move the guns.
Early in July 1900 it was decided to send a siege train armed with the new 9.45in. B.L. howitzers, under the command of Colonel T. Perrott, from South Africa to join the China Expeditionary Force in the defeat of the Boxer Rebellion. The siege train was to consist of the Right Half 15 Company, Southern Division, R.G.A., the Right Half Company, Western Division, R.G.A. and Templeton’s crowd, 2 Company, Southern Division, R.G.A. with four 4.7in. Q.F. guns.
2 S.D. had eight officers and 184 men. The siege train assembled at Cape Town where it embarked in S.S. Antillian on 18 July 1900 and sailed on 23 July, arriving in Singapore on 13 August 1900. It left there on 25 August and docked at Hong Kong on 22 August, eventually reaching Wei-hai-wei, the base for the Expeditionary Force, on 30 August.
By this time Pekin had already been relieved and, apart from the odd raid, the Boxer rebellion was almost over. After two weeks spent on board ship, the siege train disembarked at Wei-hai-wei but, on 26 October, the two Half Companies departed to Hong Kong for the winter leaving 2 S.D. in garrison at Wei-hai-wei. None of the siege guns were fired in anger in China.
For his efforts in both South Africa and China he was awarded the requisite medals.
Templeton continued on in the Far East and was a member of the Free Masons – attached to the Eastern Gate Lodge in Singapore, having been accepted on 21 December 1905. He was, according to the member register, a Sergeant with the R.G.A. the 2nd S.D. had, in the meanwhile, been renumbered to 62 Company.
At some point Templeton returned with his Company to England where, according to the 1911 England census, he was a 30 year old Sergeant in the R.G.A. barracks at Woolwich.
The dawn of August 4th, 1914 brought with it the commencement of the war to end all wars – pitting Germany and her Allies against Great Britain and her Allies. Whilst the various armies were fighting for a few feet of ground in France and Flanders (and losing thousands of men in the process), Templeton and his comrades had been dispatched back East. Having spent 16 years and 134 days in the ranks, he had advanced to the rank of Warrant Officer, 2nd Class before, after a mere 37 days, being promoted to Warrant Officer, 1st Class.
Back in the Straits Settlements once more he could have been forgiven for thinking that he had escaped the daily carnage and blood-letting going on in Western Europe. He hadn’t, however, reckoned with the decision of the 5th (Native) Light Infantry to mutiny on 15 February 1915. By that date the German threat in the East had dissipated and the decision had been taken to transfer one of the remaining regular native regiments for service elsewhere.
This decision proved unpopular and was resisted by the predominantly Muslim Infantry Regiment. Notwithstanding, they were ordered to Taiping, leaving behind one British officer and 97 men of the regiments mountain battery at Singapore’s Alexandra Barracks, four miles west of the city. Apart from 9 British officers and 818 Indian officers and men that remained; there were 348 other ranks of the Royal Engineers and Royal Garrison Artillery (Templeton’s outfit) – of these 117 were Sikhs of the Hong Kong and Singapore Battery.
Most of the Engineers and Artillery men were stationed on the two offshore islands at Pulau Brani and Blakang Mati. On the morning of 15 February the 5th paraded preparatory to being embarked for Hong Kong, without any overt signs of discontent. At about 3 p.m. that afternoon a sentry fired a shot at a party loading what remained of the battalion’s ammunition on a lorry outside the barrack magazine. This shot was the signal for several companies of the 5th to seize the ammunition.
Bands of rebels patrolled the streets, shooting at people indiscriminately; heading for the residence of the Military officers in charge of Singapore, they set upon all those that they met. The population and residents of Singapore were, initially, blissfully unaware of what was going on – it was the Chinese New Year and gunshots were mistaken for fireworks. Not all of the regiment was in rebellion and several were going about the streets attempting to surrender to civilians. Templeton and his R.G.A. comrades were called over from the islands and helped stem the attack made on the Alexandra Police Station. Several of them were wounded or lost their lives in this action.
Those mutineers that were shot by firing squad
Eventually the authorities awoke to what was transpiring and, with the help of crews from foreign ships offshore, the mutiny was quelled and life returned to normal.
By the time 1917 came round Templeton was in Portsmouth. On 6 June 1917, in the Established Church there, he wed Auriel Thelma Bate, a 25 year old spinster from The Infirmary, Taverton, Kent. Templeton was 34 year old and a Warrant Officer living at 40 St. Thomas Street.
Yet another overseas posting was in the offing, however – after 3 years 265 days as a Warrant Officer, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant on 26 November 1918 and made a District Officer. The year before that, on 1 April 1917, he had been awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in the rank of 2nd Class Master Gunner, without a Gratuity.
Templeton applied for his British War Medal on 30 May 1922 – providing his address as Tigne, Malta where he was the District Officer, confirming his status as a technical expert. Having not seen any action in a recognized theatre of the war, he was not eligible for the Victory Medal.
The following year, 1923, found him returning to the United Kingdom as District Officer, Portsmouth. With his career of 25 years winding down, Templeton retired from the R.G.A. on 27 October 1923 at the age of 50. He passed away on 27 April 1934 at the Central Hospital whilst resident at 36 Headland Park, North Hill, Plymouth.
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