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Charles Guy in Matabeleland and the Boer War 2 weeks 4 days ago #74300

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Charles Guy

Private, 7th Hussars – Matabeleland & Mashonaland Campaigns
Private, 14th Hussars – Anglo Boer War


- British South Africa Company Medal, reverse 1896, with clasp Mashonaland 1897 to 610 Pte. G. Guy, 7th Q.O. Hussars
- Queens South Africa Medal with clasps Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Johannesburg to 1857 Pte. G. Guy, 14/Hrs.
- Kings South Africa Medal with clasps South Africa 1901 & 1902 to 1857 Pte. G. Guy, 14th Hussars


Charlie Guy was born on 16 November 1873 in Harting, Sussex, the son of Frank Guy, a Boot Maker by trade, and his wife Ellen. Elsewhere it was claimed that he was born in Petersfield, Hampshire but this latter assertion is not supported by the research conducted.

On 3 March 1879 he, along with older brother Frank, was enrolled in the Lancastrian Boys School in Chichester. The school register revealed that the Guy’s were living in George Street, Hastings at the time and confirmed that their father was a Boot Maker by trade. His stay at this school was, however, short-lived, barely a month later, on 28 April 1879, the Guy brothers were plucked out of the school, most likely as a result of the family “moving house”.

This was confirmed by the 1881 England census which revealed that the Guy family were now ensconced at 15 Bottle Lane, in Portfield, Chichester. At home on the night of the census, along with their parents, were Charles (7), Frank (9), Albert John (5), Nelly (3) and baby Lily (7 months).

Ten years later, at the time of the 1891 England census, the picture had altered somewhat. Now 17, Charles was recorded as being in Chichester Barracks, as a serving soldier with the 3rd Royal Sussex Regiment, a Militia outfit. A few months later, on 30 June 1891 at Chichester, he completed the attestation papers for enlistment with the East Kent Regiment. Stating that he was 18 years old, he was now a Baker by trade. His Conditional Discharge of a Militiaman form, completed on 3 July 1891, confirmed that he had seen 76 days service with the 3rd Royal Sussex Regiment.

Physically he was 5 feet 5 ½ inches in height, weighed 119 pounds and had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. He had no distinctive marks about his person. Having undergone a medical examination, he was found to be fit for the army and, having been assigned no. 3520 (later changed to 3610), and the rank of Private, he was taken on strength at the Depot. On 25 August 1891 he was transferred to the 7th Hussars. Guy was to remain at the Depot, until his regiment sailed for India on 7 September 1893.

After a stint of 2 years and 47 days on the sub-continent, Guy and his comrades sailed for South Africa on 22 October 1895, ostensibly for garrison duty and to, along with other regiments, maintain a British presence in colony of Natal. Once in Natal, they inherited the horses of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and went by train to Pietermaritzburg. This was a routine posting but while there trouble flared up in Matabeleland, north of the Transvaal border in what became known as Rhodesia, so 9 months after their arrival 3 squadrons, under the command of Lt-Col Harold Paget, were required to go to Mafeking where troops were being assembled. This involved a return to Durban where they embarked on the 'Goth' bound for East London further down the coast, from there they could travel by train.

Throughout 1896 the regiment operated in the area of Gwelo which is in the middle of Southern Rhodesia, patrolling regularly alongside Mounted Infantry made up with men from the 2nd Yorks and Lancs. The column was usually commanded by Colonel Baden-Powell. They rarely found any large groups of the Matabele warriors who had caused the trouble, and their main task was to seize stocks of grain and any cows and goats they could find to starve the warriors into submission. Kraals and stores of arms and ammunition were destroyed.

On Sep 18th, however, a patrol of 12 men under Baden-Powell captured a woman who told them the whereabouts of a group from M'tini's Impi. A boy offered to lead them and they surprised the group in their kraal and surrounded them with drawn swords. In the middle of October, a battle was fought to capture Chief Wedza which lasted 4 days. In November A and D squadrons marched to Bulawayo where a camp had been prepared for them. In 1897 D Squadron was sent north of Bulawayo to raid the stronghold of Chief Matzwetzwe. They attacked at dawn on 12th July but it proved too difficult so they laid siege until the warriors surrendered. On 24th July B and A Squadrons joined in an attack on the stronghold of Mashigombi. The enemy were in fortified caves which had to be dynamited. It took 3 days to defeat them.

The Matabele rising was put down but another trouble spot arose in Mashonaland. The local white population were unhappy that the government had not taken measures to prevent the stealing of cattle by the Mashona people and so the patrols of Hussars and Mounted Infantry were sent out to deal with the culprits. On 7th July 1897 Major Ridley's column attacked M'guilse where a trooper was killed and Ridley was wounded in the leg. And on 14th July a detachment under Captain Poore killed 40 rebels at Umtzewa's kraal near Fort Charter without any casualties of their own. On 24th July the 3 squadrons of the 7th met up with a column of police and Vryburg Volunters to attack Mashingombi's stronghold. He was the main leader of the Mashona rebellion. The British/Rhodesian force was commanded by Sir Richard Martin and the 7th Hussars were commanded by Captains Carew and Poore. The attack started at dawn and the Mashonas were scattered. They took refuge in the many caves that pitted the surrounding hills and caused trouble on the following days and nights firing down on the troops. Mashingombi himself was killed along with many others and 400 prisoners were taken. Casualties among the hussars were few although Private Dands was reported killed.

Captain Carew led a further attack on Marlie's kraal capturing another 100 prisoners. He then split the 7th into 2 columns to move down the river Unfuli to Fort Charter. Patrols continued to be sent out but the remaining chiefs had all surrendered by the end of September. The 7th were ordered to embark at Beira on 20th Oct with Major Ridley back in command. The conduct of the regiment was reported as being of a very high standard and the 2 squadrons that remained in Pietermaritzburg had maintained a high state of discipline.

The troubles in Rhodesia over, the regiment returned to base in Pietermaritzburg, joining the companies that had remained there. Guy, for his efforts, was awarded the BSAC medal (1896 reverse) for service in suppressing the Matabele. To this was added the 1897 clasp for suppressing the subsequent uprising among the Mashona – these two being the dominant tribes in this part of Africa.

Guy spent at total of 3 years and 38 days in South Africa before returning to England on 30 November 1898. The very next day, 1 December 1898, he was transferred to the Army Reserve, having served his initial 7 years with the Colours. His respite from army life was short-lived as, on 18 January 1900, he was recalled to army service. What had occasioned this? The Anglo Boer War had broken out three months prior, on 11 October 1899, and the Imperial forces had suffered a number of strategic reverses at the hands of their Boer opponents in South Africa.

Not only were the towns of Kimberley, Mafeking and Ladysmith besieged but the Boers had also triumphed at Stormberg, Modderfontein and Colenso and were about to get a bloody nose at Spioenkop. The number of regular army men in South Africa to stem the tide was woefully inadequate and the Government decided, as a matter of urgency, to send additional troops to the region, both from England and from regiments stationed elsewhere in the Empire.



The 14th Hussars were issued with Cape ponies or, in many cases, with horses from Argentina who, not being acclimatised, died in their droves.

Back in uniform, Guy found that he was no longer with the 7th Hussars but as a Private with the 14th Hussars, with no. 1857. A and C squadrons of this illustrious unit sailed on the Victorian, arriving at the Cape on 1st January 1900, and were sent on to Durban. B squadron sailed on the Cestrian, and landed in Cape Town on 10th January. The two Natal squadrons were for a time brigaded with the 1st Royal Dragoons and 13th Hussars and took part in the work between 14th and 27th February, when the relief of Ladysmith was accomplished.

After the relief A and C squadrons were brought round to Cape Colony and joined B, which had meantime been doing useful work in the relief of Kimberley. The regiment was in April put into Dickson's 4th Cavalry Brigade, with the 7th Dragoon Guards and 8th Hussars with a new draft of 115 men joining the regiment from East London, from where they were sent on to Bethulie in the Orange Free State. There were many delays experienced as they marched on to Bloemfontein, primarily as a result of problems with transport, with the result that Bloemfontein was only reached on 14 April 1900. The entire regiment was now stationed at Donkerhoek, nine miles north of Bloemfontein, where they concentrated as a portion of the Cavalry under General French.




The 14th took an active part in the operations for the relief of Wepener at the end of April 1900. On the 21st, the 3rd and 4th Cavalry Brigades were detailed to form part of the force under Lieutenant-General J. D. P. French, which proceeded from Bloemfontein with Major-General Pole-Carew's XIth Division, for the purpose of co-operating with the VIIIth Division commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir H. Rundle, K.C.B.

These troops were continuously opposed, and encountered vigorous attacks made by the Boers with rifle-fire at long ranges. Engagements were fought on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th April at Leeuw Kop and Roode Kop, and on the 25th the force came up with Sir H. Rundle's Division at Dewetsdorp, which place had just been evacuated by the enemy and occupied by the British forces. The Fourteenth, in these engagements, lost Sergeant L. Cunningham, mortally wounded at Leeuw Kop on 22nd; and on the 24th, at Roode Kop, Captain P. R. Denny (1st Dragoon Guards), attached to the 14th Hussars, was killed, and 9 men were wounded. Several of the latter died of their wounds shortly afterwards. In an outpost affair near Thaba N’chu a few days later, Captain D. M. Miller of the Fourteenth was so severely wounded that the Boers, who had taken him prisoner, subsequently brought him into camp and handed him over to the army.

For several days subsequently, at Thaba N’chu and the neighbourhood, the Fourteenth, as well as the rest of the cavalry, were incessantly engaged fighting with large bodies of the enemy who were hovering about. Having lost a considerable number of horses in these operations, as well as in the stampede at Donkerhoek, 180 fresh horses had to be procured from the Remount Depot at Bloemfontein to complete deficiencies, and on the 7th May the Fourteenth advanced in brigade, under, Major-General Dickson, as a portion of the Cavalry Division commanded by Lieutenant- General J. D. P. French which proceeded from Bloemfontein in the direction of Kroonstad, Johannesburg, and Pretoria. They made a wide detour to the left, and crossed the Vaal River at Parys. This was part of the great strategic movement of Lord Roberts's army on Pretoria. It was not till the 8th June that the Fourteenth reached Kameeldrift, to the north of Pretoria. On the 27th there was some skirmishing with the enemy. On the 28th the 4th Cavalry Brigade were much under fire. The Fourteenth had 2 men and 6 horses wounded. Major Brown, Captain Tottenham, and Lieutenant and Adjutant F. R. Lawrence, D.S.O., had their horses shot under them. On the 29th, 2 squadrons of the 7th Dragoon Guards and 2 squadrons of the Fourteenth gallantly stormed and captured a kopje near Doornkop.




On 31st May, Johannesburg surrendered to Lord Roberts, and the Guards Division, under Major-General Pole-Carew, C.B., occupied it. On 1st June the Fourteenth marched from Klipfontein to Bergvlei, 6 miles, and encamped there, 11 miles north of Johannesburg. On 3rd June the Cavalry Division marched onwards to Pretoria, making a wide detour to the left. On the 3rd June there was some fighting over difficult ground near where the Boers made a stand in a defile. Three squadrons of the Fourteenth were engaged and successfully drove off the enemy.

Pretoria was surrendered to Lord Roberts on the 4th June. On 8th June the Fourteenth marched further north 8 miles to Kameeldrift where much skirmishing took place. On the march from Machadodorp to Heidelberg, 12th to 26th October 1900, the 8th and 14th Hussars were put under Mahon, and they had very stiff fighting on several occasions. On the 13th Major E D Brown gained the VC near Geluk for rescuing, one after another, an officer, a sergeant, and a corporal.

Eight officers and 9 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in Lord Roberts' final despatch.

In the second phase of the war the 14th Hussars were chiefly employed in the Eastern Transvaal and about the passes in the Newcastle district, where they frequently had skirmishes; but, as in the first stage, they had the misfortune to be again broken up. For his considerable efforts, Guy was awarded the Queens Medal with the clasps Johannesburg, Orange Free State and Cape Colony. This would tend to confirm that, since his arrival in South Africa, he had taken part in the fighting in the march through the Orange River Colony, through Bloemfontein and on to Johannesburg. He did not earn the Diamond Hill and Belfast clasps so did not take part in the capture of Pretoria or the battle of Dalmanutha in the Eastern Transvaal.

The war over, Guy quitted the Colours on 13 August 1902 and was placed back on the Army Reserve, after furlough, on 17 March 1903. Having returned home, he was discharged, termination of first period of engagement, on 29 June 1903, having served his full 12 years.

According to the 1911 England census, Charles Guy was employed as a Commissionaire. Still comparatively young at the age of 38, he was married to Caroline and had three children – Albert (5) and twin boys John and Alfred (3). The family lived at 25 Stephen Street, off Tottenham Court Road in London. It is not known when he died but in 1939, his 77 year old widow was living with their son, John and his family at 20 Cliff Villas in St. Pancras.


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