It was difficult to decide into which thread to post this group!
Pictures courtesy of DNW
MC GV reverse engraved ‘Maj . E. St. J. O’Dell. S.A.F.A. R.F.A.’;
BSACM reverse Matabeleland 1893, 1 clasp, Rhodesia 1896 (Tpr. D. [sic] O’Dell. B.B.P. C.M.R.) re-engraved naming;
CGHGSM (1) Bechuanaland (Tpr. E. St. J. O’Dell. C.M.R.) re-engraved naming;
QSA (5) Cape Colony, Natal, Orange Free State, Wepener, Transvaal, Natal clasp a tailor’s copy, with unofficial rivets between clasps (Sgt. E. St. J. O’Dell. C.M.R. P.M.P.) re-engraved naming;
KSA (2) (Lieut. E. St. J. O’Dell. 16th. L. C.M.R.) re-engraved naming;
Natal 1906 (1) (Sgt. E. St. J. O’Dell. C.M.R.) re-engraved naming;
1914-15 Star (Sgt. E. St. J. O’Dell. S.A.I. S.A.F.A.) re-engraved naming;
British War Medal 1914-20 (Capt. E. St. J. O’Dell. S.A.F.A. R.F.A.) re-engraved naming;
Victory Medal 1914-19, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Maj. E. St. J. O’Dell. S.A.F.A. R.F.A.) re-engraved naming;
Defence Medal, contemporarily engraved ‘Lieut. E. St. J. O’Dell. A.R.P. R.W.F.’;
War Medal 1939-45, contemporarily engraved ‘Lieut. E. St. J. O’Dell. R.W.F.’;
Jubilee 1887, bronze (Tptr. Cpl. E. St. J. O’Dell. C.M.R.);
Army LS&GC GV (Sgt. E. St. J. O’Dell. C.M.R.) re-engraved naming, the reverse additionally engraved ‘Cape of Good Hope’,
Edward St. John O’Dell claimed to have been born in Donegal in 1877, the son of a Colonel George O’Dell, 12th Lancers (who was actually a Sergeant), and to have been educated at Bedford Grammar School. Emigrating to South Africa, he was employed by De Beers in Kimberley in 1893, and later that year, at the age of 16, joined the Bechuanaland Border Police for service in Matabeleland, assumed to have enlisted under his brother David’s name and date of birth. Transferring to the Cape Mounted Rifles, he started service with them during the Matabeleland Rebellion of 1896, and then in the Langberg Campaign in Bechuanaland under Lieutenant W. H. B. Phillips the following year. He claimed to have proceeded to England in 1897 as part of the Coronation Contingent [and the fact that his group contains a 1887 Jubilee Medal rather than an 1897 Jubilee Medal is presumably an oversight on the Major’s part].
O’Dell claimed to have subsequently served with the Cape Mounted Rifles during the Boer War, and to have been commissioned Second Lieutenant, seeing further service during the Natal Rebellion, before resigning in 1911. Following the outbreak of the Great War he claimed to have enlisted into the 4th South African Infantry (Transvaal Scottish) on 19 September 1914, before transferring later that year to the South African Field Artillery. He claimed to have served during the Great War in German South West Africa, Nairobi, Gaza, Jaffa, Jerusalem, East Africa, and Palestine, and stated he was twice wounded in action. Again, claiming to have been commissioned Second Lieutenant, and advanced Major, he was supposedly Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Military Cross whilst serving with General Allenby’s Forces in Egypt.
After claiming to take part in the suppression of the Rand Revolt in 1922 (for which, unfortunately, no medal was issued), O’Dell emigrated to England in 1925, and settled in Brighton. Following the outbreak of the Second World War he was granted an emergency commission in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 18 April 1940, and was promoted Lieutenant, before resigning his commission in March 1941, his promotion and retirement notices appearing in the same London Gazette. He joined the Legion of Frontiersmen on 21 September 1943, and died in London on 31 March 1953. His gravestone reads:
‘In proud and affectionate remembrance of Major Edward Sr. John O’Dell, M.C., late of the B.B.P., C.M.R., 4th S.A.I. (Transvaal Scottish) S.A.F.A., R.F.A., R.W.F., L.F., Pioneer of Southern Rhodesia. Served in Matabeleland 1890-93, Langburg 1897, Boar [sic] War 1899-1902, Zulu Rebellion 1906, Great War 1914-1918, 2nd World War 1940.’
Suffice to say, a lot of the recipient’s curriculum vitae is fabricated. His only verifiable service was during the Second World War, when he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers; was promoted Lieutenant on 27 June 1940, and resigned his commission on 26 March 1941.