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QSAs with clasp Defence of Kimberley 3 weeks 7 hours ago #89833

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QSA (3) Defence of Kimberley, Orange Free State, Transvaal (5065 Pte. W. Geary, 1:L.N.Lanc: Regt.);
KSA (2) (5065 Pte J. Geary. L.N.Lanc: Regt).

Wellington Geary was born at Blackburn, Lancashire on 16 July 1876, the son of Richard and Phoebe Geary. Like many people in that area he worked in the cotton trade, being employed as a weaver prior to enlistment. Attesting for service with the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 11 February 1895 Geary served with them for a year before joining the Regiment at the Depot on 11 February 1895. Posted to Ceylon with the 1st Battalion, Geary saw garrison service here for over two years.

As tensions in South Africa rose the Battalion was posted there to join the British forces preparing to defend Cape Colony in the event of war. Half of the Battalion - some four companies- was sent to Kimberly to garrison it against a possible siege, as the town was at that stage occupied by none other than Cecil Rhodes. When war broke out the Boer's did indeed move to invest Kimberly and the men of 1st Battalion including Smith, were forced to defend the position under very trying circumstances. Meanwhile relations between Lieutenant-Colonel Kekewich and Rhodes reached breaking point.

The siege lasted 4 months before they were finally relieved by General French's Cavalry Division which embarked upon a wild ride through the veldt to the town. In the aftermath, Kekewich was removed as commander of the garrison at the insistence of Rhodes and the Battalion took no part in the set-piece actions of the war. Instead they saw service in Orange Free State and later Transvaal with the British columns hunting rogue Commandos through the guerrilla phase of the conflict.

Returning to Britain at the end of hostilities Smith stayed on Home Service until 26 February 1903 when he was posted to the Army Reserve. Working as a railway labourer at Blackburn whilst a reservist he was finally discharged on 10 February 1912, dying at Queen's Park Hospital, Blackburn on 24 November 1947
Dr David Biggins

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