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Medals to the Mafeking Railway Volunteers 11 months 3 days ago #74042

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The Mafeking Railway Volunteers was a body of some 130 men who served under Captain More and was known during the siege as the 'Railway Division'.

Captain More and his men played a major role in the eventual survival of the besieged men and women in Mafeking. Before the end of September 1899, he had already ordered all spare permanent-way material to be picked up between Palapye and Mafeking and between Vryburg and Mafeking and brought into Mafeking to be stacked. More also ordered two bogie loads of bridge baulks, three bales of grain bags and 20 000 pounds of boermeel for feeding the natives. Having this stock of material at Mafeking proved invaluable to the defence of the town for he was able, at the request of the Colonel Commanding, to construct a siding one and a half miles long on the north front, thus enabling the armoured train to repel an attack from this side. Afterwards it was found necessary to construct numerous shell-proof trenches for the garrison, women and children and without the above named material, it would have been impossible to put even a small proportion of the inhabitants under cover from shell fire. He also, at the request of the Colonel Commanding, armoured three bogies with heavy steel rails. The sides were made 5 feet high and fitted with rifle and gun port holes and proved most effective and bullet proof.

A number of men of the Railway Division also rendered special services. Ten of them, including Myles Adams of the Locomotive Department, were detached for the purpose of starting an ordnance foundry and they were soon successful in the casting of cannonballs and seven pounder shell: Other duties included the making and repairing of tents, making powder charges, repairing signal lamps and heliographs, laying water to the hospital, convent and forts, erecting lookout posts, making shell proof trenches and also patrolling the town to prevent fires caused by incendiary shells.

Men of the Railway Division also took a very active part in the Defence of Mafeking, for example the first shots were fired in this respect was by railway men in the armoured train at 5 Mile Cottage, south of Mafeking on 16 October 1899. Again, on 26 December, twenty men went out in the armoured train to assist in the brilliant but unsuccessful sortie against the Boer Fort at Game Tree and afterwards rendered good service in bringing in the wounded under fire. In the last attack on 12 May 1900, they carried out excellent defensive duties during the whole of the day.

Source: City Coins #66, August 2015

The medal roll contains 105 names but the majority of these awards were issued off the Mafeking Town Guard roll or the subsequent units in which the recipient served or returned. My analysis of the roll suggests that only 6 medals with the Defence of Mafeking clasp and named to the Mafeking Railway Volunteers exist:



Of these, I have only found one extant medal, to Myles Adams. This medal appeared in City Coins #71 last month. This is the catalogue entry:

QSA (1) DoM (Pte. M. Adams, Maf. Rly Vol)

The SA Field Force Casualty Roll, under the heading “Civilians in Military Employment” lists Stoker Myles Adams, Cape Government Railways, as “Wounded and died of Wounds: Houtkraal, 20 December”. On the QSA Roll for the Mafeking Railway Volunteers he is noted as “Killed in action at De Aar” and on the QSA roll for the Vryburg Town Guard a marginal note for 152 Private Miles Adams reads “Shot in armoured train. Died at De Aar October or November 1900”.

He is buried in De Aar.

The incident was recorded on the Boer side, albeit with a slight discrepancy regarding the date: “Hertzog went via Philipstown and on 18 December he crossed the railway line at Houtkraal, north of De Aar. It was here where Klaas Havenga “die penkop van alle penkoppe” charged on his horse Harry alongside the railway line and tried to shoot the driver of an armoured train with his revolver!”

Hertzog Series (Booklet 2), Free State Museum Service, 1984 (freely translated from Afrikaans)

Klaas Havenga, in his attempt to shoot the driver of the armoured train, managed to fatally wound the stoker, Myles Adams. The 18-year-old N.C. (Klaas) Havenga was the Secretary of Gen Hertzog. When Gen Hertzog became Prime Minister in 1924 Havenga was appointed Minister of Finance, a position he filled for 21 years.

There is a longer piece about Myles Adams written by Henk in City Coins #66.

If anyone knows of any other medals to this unit, please let me know.

Best wishes
David
Dr David Biggins
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Medals to the Mafeking Railway Volunteers 11 months 3 days ago #74043

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Stunning medal David - I assume it is now secreted away in your collection?

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Medals to the Mafeking Railway Volunteers 11 months 3 days ago #74045

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High up on the D of M desirable medals list!
A smart acquisition,!
Steve

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Medals to the Mafeking Railway Volunteers 11 months 2 days ago #74047

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Rory,

The picture came from a visit to SA a few years ago. It was prompted by my research into the DoM clasp.
Dr David Biggins

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Medals to the Mafeking Railway Volunteers 3 months 3 weeks ago #77833

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In looking through past catalogues for Defence of Mafeking clasps today, I came across another MRV QSA:

QSA (2) DoM Tr (Pte. S. Andrews, Maf. Rly. Vols.)

Tr from Cape Police, KSA also. Additionally, he is missing his BSACM Rhodesia 1896.

Sotheby's November 1978
Dr David Biggins
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