A curious lot in the next Noble Numismatics auction
Picture courtesy of Noble Numismatics
QUEEN'S SOUTH AFRICA MEDAL 1899, (type 3 reverse), - two clasps - Wepener, Relief of Ladysmith. 26 Tpr: W.Way. Colonial Scouts. Impressed. Top bar loose, nicely toned, good very fine.
Independent research reveals that William Way enlisted in the Colonial Scouts at Pietermaritzburg on 27Nov1899. He was 28 years of age, a solicitor's clerk and lived at Richmond. He discharged on 22Jan1900 with no reason given. The medal roll records that W.Way was awarded the QSA with clasps Wepener and Relief of Ladysmith. There is also an entry on the roll for the clasp Natal but this has been crossed out.
I can see the RoL clasp on the roll but definitely not the Wepener. It is the case that come men from the Colonial Scouts did serve at Wepener but I do not believe William Way was one of them.
I would have expected the RoL clasp to be affixed and Wepener loose, not the other way around.
IGS 1854 (3) Burma 1885-7, Sikkim 1888, Samana 1891, clasp carriage adapted to accommodate later clasps (17950 2d. Corpl. G. H. Field. Bl. Sappers & Miners) suspension claw re-affixed;
QSA (4) Cape Colony, Wepener, Wittebergen, Belfast (17950. Co: S:M: G. H. Field. R.E.);
Army LS&GC GV (17950 Q.M. Sgt. G. H. Field. R.E.)
George Harry Field was born in Redditch, Warwickshire, in 1863, and attested for the Royal Engineers on 5 April 1883, having previously served Worcestershire Volunteers. He served with the Bengal Sappers and Miners in India from 11 February 1885, and saw action with the Burma Field Force in November 1885, progressing up the Irrawaddy River capturing and destroying a number of batteries thrown up to oppose their advance, eventually reaching Mandalay on 28 November.
Field saw further action in Sikkim in 1888 under Lieutenant Sandbach: ‘having heard that some bad characters were preparing to plunder Tumlong, Colonel Michael, with fifty men of the 13 Bengal Infantry and ten men of the Sappers under Lieutenant Sandbach, accompanied by the political officer and the Phodong lama, started today for Kubbi on their way to Tumlong, this reconnaissance being necessary to give confidence to the friendly party in Sikkim.’ (The Homeward Mail, 22 October 1888 refers).
Having been promoted Corporal in the Royal Engineers on 1 February 1889, Field next served in Samana in 1891, as part of the column commanded by Colonel Brownlow, before returning home on 24 October 1895. He was promoted Sergeant on 1 April 1892.
Following the outbreak of the Boer War, Field’s company, the 12th Field Company, Royal Engineers, ‘under the command of Major Graham Thomson, landed at East London and proceeded at once to join Sir W. Gatacre’s headquarters at Putterskraal between Queenstown and Sterkstrom, where the general was making preparations to drive the Boers out of Stormberg. The greater part of the 12th Field Company was detailed to take part in the operation and went by train to Molteno on the afternoon of the 6th of December, as it was planned that the British force was to make a night march from that place and surprise the Boers at Stormberg. Owing to various causes, the attack failed, and General Gatacre’s force retired to Sterkstrom where the 12th Field Company did good work in constructing defences around the town and at advanced positions in front of it.
Major Cedric Maxwell, who had been sent from Cape Town to join Sir. W. Gatarce, was appointed commanding Royal Engineer of the Colonial Division under General Brabant on February 10, 1900 and organised a detachment of the 12th Field Company under Company Sergeant Major Field for service as a mounted troop, and did excellent service with the division, which acted on the right flank of the British force at Sterkstrom.’ (The History of the Corps of the Royal Engineers refers).
Field was promoted Company Sergeant Major on 1 January 1900. In the fighting about Dordrecht, in the second half of February 1900, the Royal Engineers took a very prominent part and were several times very heavily engaged. In Lord Roberts’ telegram of 18 February, he mentioned that Brabant ‘had attacked Boer position on 16th. He gradually closed in on laager during the day. Fighting lasted from 9 am till dusk.’ On 5 March there was again severe fighting near Dordrecht, in which the Cape Mounted Rifles bore the heaviest share of the losses. At Aliwal North, on 11 March, Brabant’s Horse had 3 killed and 6 wounded.
The troop took part in a number of engagements, whilst with the division, including the siege of Wepener, and Field is confirmed as the senior N.C.O. of eleven Royal Engineers engaged in the defence of Wepener, 9-25 April 1900. The town was defended mainly by Colonial regiments with fewer than 100 imperial troops present, these mainly from the Royal Scots.
Returning to the U.K. on 10 November 1900, Field was appointed Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor on 22 January 1901, and was awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal per Army Order 212 of 1901. He retired at Manchester on 15 July 1907, after 24 years and 102 days’ service, having latterly been employed as Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor on the permanent staff of the 3rd Lancashire Royal Engineers (Volunteers). His only surviving son, Gilbert Hugh Field, was killed in action during the Great War on the Western Front on 24 April 1918 whilst serving with the Devonshire Regiment.
Only the second :Wepener" clasp to the R.E.s I have seen offered. My chap was "21970 Sapper G.A.Wright" with the same QSA clasp combination. Since Sapper Wright ran afoul of Authority and faced charges, it is open to speculate that CSM Field marched him into The Presence of Major Maxwell, and then marched him out to serve his sentence.