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Sergeant-Major J. D. Sutton, New South Wales Mounted Rifles - died 3.2.1903 2 months 2 days ago #71838

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We begin with the New South Wales Lancers' visit to Aldershot, England, in early 1899, for training purposes. On arrival in England there were 105 officers and men; when the company departed, 70 landed at Cape Town, three remained in England, and 30 returned to Australia, of whom six (including Jim Sutton) were sick. That adds up to 103, the problem being that there are differing accounts of who did what. The men had been given the choice of volunteering or not before leaving Aldershot.
www.bwm.org.au/units/NSW_Lancers.php

There's a long account of what happened here - trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/25661469 - but this is a shorter version: -

THE RETURNING LANCERS.

Why They Did Not Volunteer.
MELBOURNE, Saturday.
….The arrival of the Nineveh with those of the New South Wales Lancers who did not volunteer for the war has been necessarily followed by profuse explanations by the men. Their version is that originally they did not consider Captain Cox was serious when he mentioned the subject. One day, when some of the men were at Dublin, he said, "I suppose if war breaks out in the Transvaal you fellows will offer for service with me?" The men declare that, at the time, it was hardly believed war would break out, and their replies were generally a laughing assent, while some made no reply. The next vital development was the war itself, and it transpired that Captain Cox had enlisted the influence of Lord Carrington in inducing the War Office to accept the services of the Lancers. A few days before their time for vacating Aldershot they were called into a room to sign for service or decline. The proceedings were in camera, each man entering in turn; but when they re-appeared views were exchanged and it was found that about 30 had signed the negative paper. Some of the men were impelled by family considerations, others had leave to a certain date from their employers or the Government, and would have risked the forfeiture of their positions. Sergeant O'Sullivan from the first explained that he could not go, but others were more backward. There has been a great deal of recrimination in connection with the affair, and the men on the Nineveh feel that the Sydney public are inclined to view them harshly. They do not look forward to their landing in Sydney with particular exhilaration.
….The names of those who are returning are appended: - Sergeant O'Sullivan, Troopers Hallen, Cooke, Lardner, Sutton, Beaver, Cuthbert, Sydney Half-squadron; Troopers Beames, Hillas, Marsden, Rogers, Harkus, Baly, Harvey, Parramatta Half-squadron; Troopers M'Kenzie, Robson, Baxter, Brandon, Chisholm, Richmond River Half-squadron; Sergeant Humphries, Troopers P. Walsh, Madden, West Camden Half-squadron; Lance-corporal Allsopp, Troopers Richards, Beh, Singleton and Maitland Squadron; Trooper Maynes, Berry Half-squadron.
….The sick men are Sergeant Humphries (West Camden), Troopers C. M. Smith (Singleton), J. D. Sutton (Casino), B. Cox (Parramatta), J. Bradbury, and W. Edwards.

The Australian Star [Sydney], Saturday 25th November 1899
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….The New South Wales Lancers had their first engagement with the enemy near Arundel, and took part in the reconnaissance under General French, in company with the second battalion of the Black Watch and the Cape Mounted Police.
….The returning Lancers include Troopers Mackenzie, Robson, Brandon, Chisholm, and Baxter of the Richmond River Half-Squadron. G. Cumming, of Casino, remained in England, and J. D. Sutton, of Casino, is sick.

The Richmond River Herald, Friday 1st December 1899
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Those who returned to Australia were right to feel concern about their reception - anonymously-sent white feathers were to be received by some of the men, including Sutton, even though he was on the sick list. However, the Queanbeyan Observer, of 2nd January 1900, included Sutton's name in the list of Lancers who had gone to the front. He did go out to South Africa, so presumably he'd recovered from sickness in December, but did he rejoin the Lancers?
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….The Sergeant J. D. Sutton, whom the cables reported as wounded in S. Africa is a son of Mr. M. Sutton of Casino. Sergeant Sutton went to Aldershot, England, and being invalided, returned home, but subsequently went to South Africa.

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, Tuesday 18th June 1901
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MR . HENRY PRIESTLY forwarded us a copy of a letter received by him from K. K. McPherson, of the Richmond, farrier-sergeant with the N.S.W. Mounted Rifles in South Africa, which is as follows: -
….Standerton, South Africa, 1/6/01. Dear Mr. Priestly, - A few hasty lines to let you know that Jim and self are still living. You will have seen before this that Jim was badly wounded through the thigh and right hand in attempting to save a comrade under a terrific fire, on May 21st. He galloped up within 40 yards of the Boers, to pick up Trooper Campbell (who afterwards died on his way back from a wound in the thigh), when Jim was badly wounded. It was a daring piece of work and all who witnessed it consider him justly entitled to the V.C. He was mentioned in despatches for gallantry, and the Colonel complimented him on his daring act of bravery and told him he was a credit to Australia. I saw Jim when he came into the hospital here yesterday, and he told me to write to you and let you know that he is now doing well. His leg is almost healed again, but it will be some time before he can use his hand, as the second and third fingers are broken at the joints. He was sent down country to Ladysmith and may be invalided home, but he hopes not. The columns have good times on the march now, compared to what we had at first. It is very cold out here now, and we miss the Australian fires, as wood is a very scarce article here. We get it weighed out to us - 2½lbs. per man per day. I will have to close now and get to work, but I hope to have time to write you a decent letter soon. Jim would like you to remember him to mutual friends and say he is doing well. We get little or no time for writing and always on the go.
Yours faithfully, ……….
K.K. McPHERSON.
The Clarence River Advocate, Tuesday 9th July 1901
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Extract from a letter by Lieutenant Peter McDonald, which appeared in the Northern Star, Lismore, New South Wales, on Saturday 20th July 1901: - "......We have had two men killed and several wounded, amongst the wounded is one who, I believe, is recommended for the Victoria Cross, or D.C.M. You will know him - Sergeant Sutton, of Casino troop of Lancers, and he has deservedly earned whatever distinction he gets...…"
The Northern Star added: - "The Sergeant Sutton whom Lieut. M'Donald particularly refers to in terms of praise, is a son of Mr. Malcolm Sutton, of Casino, and is one of those Lancers who returned rom Aldershot on the outbreak of the present Boer war. Sergeant Sutton being medically unfit for active service, had the best reasons for not landing at the Cape, but, notwithstanding this, on his return to N.S.W. he, and the other Lancers - among them being the late Corporal Harkins whose death has since been deplored - were the recipients of many anonymous letters enclosing white feathers. They were also much chaffed at as being faint of heart etc. We now see that when Sergeant Sutton went to the war and the opportunity was given him how unworthy he was of the letters etc. from those thoughtless and unfeeling people. The anonymous senders of the feathers will doubtless have a very different opinion of Sergeant Sutton by now, and should have a more suitable souvenir to present to him on his return. Sergeant Sutton, we learn from other sources, is now almost convalescent, and we are pleased to know that his bravery will be suitably recognised. - ED . STAR ."
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Recommended for the V.C.

SERGEANT SUTTON OF CASINO.
THE following letter to his parents from Bugler Jack Stoneham, of "E" Squadron, 3rd Regiment New South Wales Mounted Rifles (Major Cox's command), who left the Albion-street Public School to go on active service, gives particulars of the t performed by Sergeant Sutton of Casino, which was briefly mentioned a few weeks back. Bugler Stoneham writes from Platrand on May 30. He says: …...On Monday, May 20, we left camp at 6 a.m., and in the afternoon twenty men from each squadron were sent out to find some Boers who were reported near, but we did not find them. Next morning our squadron and some of the Yeomanry went out at 7 o'clock. At 11.30 my troop (fifteen in all) was sent out by itself to a small hill. Just as we got to the top we were ambushed by a party of about forty or fifty Boers. We did not see them as we approached, but they fired on us at about twenty yards. The bullets came so close that they made one's ears ring. We at once retired, as we turned poor Campbell's horse was shot under him. Our sergeant (Sergeant Sutton, of the Lancers) rode back till within ten yards of the Boers. They blazed away at him, but he got Campbell on the back of his horse, which then started rearing. At last Sutton got the beast to go. The Boers again fired, and shot Campbell in the small of the back, the bullet coming out at his thigh. The poor chap gave a jump, and told the sergeant to drop him off, for he was done. The Sergeant told him to stick on, and soon afterwards the Sergeant was shot though the hand and thigh; but he stuck to his horse till they reached the place whence we were firing, and then both sergeant and Campbell fell off the horse together. Campbell only lived for a few minutes, and Lieutenant Palmer gave him a little water before he died. Four horses then fell down dead, and then Billie Lennon was shot by an explosive bullet. It entered his mouth and knocked out all his teeth, afterwards tearing a hole at the back of his head. The Lieutenant then asked me if I would go for help. He told me that it was very dangerous, and that I need not go unless I liked. I told him that I would go if he thought I would do any good. So I went off at a stretch gallop, but as soon as the Boers spotted me they began firing at me as quickly as they could. Sometimes the bullets threw up the dust from under my horse's feet, but I got through all right, and I returned with assistance, and we then followed the Boers. They got away, but we wounded a couple of them, and shot one of their horses dead. They were dressed in Khaki uniforms and hats turned up at the side. This fight was at a bit of a place called Nandesfontein. We then started back for camp, and reached it at 3.30 p.m. That evening, about 7 o'clock, we buried our two men in their clothes and sewn up in their blankets. The chaplain read the burial service, after which Fred. Moore and I blew 'Last post' over the graves. We had a cross for the grave given to us by the Royal Artillery. In "Orders" issued to-night Sergeant Sutton was recommended for the V.C., and if ever a man deserved it he does.

Northern Star, Saturday 3rd August 1901
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….RETURN OF TROOPER
J. SUTTON . - Trooper J. Sutton, son of Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Sutton, of Casino, who, as was mentioned some time ago, had been recommended for the V.C. medal in South Africa, arrived in Melbourne on Thursday. He has been invalided home owing to the state of his health.

Northern Star, Wednesday 25th September 1901
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Invalided home, but he was soon on his way to South Africa again!
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….Sergeant-Major J. D. Sutton, of Casino, who recently returned invalided from South Africa, is returning with the Second Federal Contingent.

The Brisbane Courier, Wednesday 26th February 1902
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….In the final despatch of Lord Kitchener, the names of Captain R. Heron, of Lismore, and ant J. Sutton, of Casino, N.S.W., are recommended for the Distinguished Service Order (writes the COURIER'S Lismore correspondent). Sergeant Sutton has since been dangerously ill as the result of a serious operation.

Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette, Tuesday 19th August 1902
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Death of Sergeant-Major Sutton.


….By wires received we earn with the deepest sorrow of the death of Sergeant-Major J. D. Sutton, in Sydney. Deceased was a son of Mr. Malcolm Sutton, who until very recently resided in Casino. It will be remembered that Sergeant-Major Sutton, then a trooper, belonged to the Casino Lancers, and was one of those who went to Aldershot for a course of training. Shortly after returning home from England he volunteered for service in South Africa, and displayed great bravery in action while rescuing a comrade under a heavy fire from the enemy. Later on he was invalided home, and after a short respite again went to the front. For his bravery he was mentioned Lord Kitchener's despatches, and received the rank of Sergeant-Major, and we believe was also recommended for the Victoria Cross. This, however, he had not been invested with. Deceased again fell seriously ill in South Africa, and, we understand, went through an operation, and subsequently returned to the land of his birth, arriving at his parents' residence a short time before Christmas. After a brief stay he proceeded to Sydney to undergo another operation. This was successfully performed, but pneumonia and peritonitis setting in the sufferer passed away on Tuesday evening last. Deceased was a fine young fellow, and before going to Sydney was full of hope, and not in any way concerned about the operation he knew he had to undergo. He was a very quiet and unassuming young man, and a general favourite with all who knew him, and we feel sure many outside his own family will mourn their loss. We deeply sympathise with Mr. and Mrs. Sutton and all relatives in their great trouble. The remains of Sergeant-Major Sutton will be brought to his late home at Steve King's Plain, the funeral to take place at 2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon next, and the body will be given a military funeral. In this connection a notice appears in our advertising columns from Captain Fanning. A funeral service was held in the Presbyterian Church, Phillip-street, Sydney, yesterday morning. after which the body was to be sent on to the Richmond.

The Richmond River Express, Friday 6th February 1903
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DEATH OF A SOLDIER.
….A splendid specimen of the Australian soldier has been removed by death. Sergeant-Major J. D. Sutton, late of the 3rd Mounted Rifles, and also of the Commonwealth Horse, was a resident of Casino, Richmond River, where his parents still reside. He went to England with the Lancers for special training, and served in South Africa, being wounded whilst rescuing a comrade under heavy fire. For this bravery he was mentioned for distinction by Lord Kitchener in dispatches. He was invalided home, but returned with the Commonwealth Horse to South Africa, where, in hospital, he was operated upon for appendicitis. Returning here again, he entered St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, for the purpose of another operation. Pneumonia set in, and the brave soldier passed away. Sergeant-Major Sutton was but 24 years of age. He was of splendid physique, and stood 6ft. 2in.

The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, Friday 13th February 1903
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MILITARY FUNERAL.

BURIAL OF SERGT.-MAJOR SUTTON.
THE remains of the late Sergeant-Major J. D. Sutton, who died in Sydney last week, were brought to Coraki by the s.s. St. George on Saturday last, and were transhipped to the s.s. Casino and conveyed to the home of the deceased gentleman's parents. Prior to leaving Sydney, a funeral service was held in St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church on Thursday, when the Rev. John Ferguson conducted an impressive service. Major Hilliard, D.S.O., and Sergeant-Major Dalton were present, the former representing Brigadier-General Finn and the officers of the staff, and the latter the non-commissioned officers. The funeral took place on Sunday, the remains being placed in their last resting-place in Wyrallah Cemetery, and a large number of friends attended from all parts of the surrounding district. About 40 of the local Lancers, some of whom had been comrades-in-arms of the deceased, were present in uniform, under the command of Lieutenant McRae, other officers in attendance being Major Taylor, Captain P. M'Donald, and Staff Sergeant-Major Robson. On the way to the cemetery a detachment of the mounted men headed the funeral procession, while a body guard rode beside the hearse. At the grave the soldiers were drawn up in three sides of a square, the coffin being also carried by a detachment. The Rev. G. Chalmers, of Woodburn, who is a relative of deceased, conducted the funeral service, and in an address made reference to the excellent character held by the deceased both as a soldier and a Christian. At the conclusion of the service he military men paid a last tribute to their late by firing three volleys over his grave. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. T. Riley, of Lismore.
….Referring to Sergeant-Major Sutton's illness and subsequent death, the Northern Star says: "The operation, we understand, was successful, and it was the attack of pneumonia weakening the heart's action that led to his death. When he knew that he was dying he exhibited the same fortitude and courage that he had displayed on the battlefield. Quoting from II. Timothy, 4th chapter, he said: 'I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith,' exhorting those of his relatives who were with him to do the same. He sent his dying message to his mother, and told his sister that he had already had glimpses of the Heaven to which he was going. To doctors and nurses he spoke in affectionate and earnest tones, and the latter, who had the experience of many death-bed scenes, said they had never witnessed such faith, peace, and trust."
….The Daily Telegraph says: "Deceased, while in South Africa, underwent an operation for appendicitis, and from this never wholly recovered, finally succumbing to heart failure. He was mentioned by Lord Kitchener in despatches for distinguished bravery, having rescued a comrade under heavy rifle fire, and in the most daring manner. Riding to within ten yards of the Boer lines, he dismounted, lifted a wounded man to his horse, and, regaining his saddle, returned to his company. He was wounded through the thigh and wrist, while the other man was almost riddled, and died a few minutes after."

The Richmond River Express, Friday 13th February 1903
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Jim Sutton doesn't seem to have had particularly robust health in the last four years of his life, and not all of that can be blamed on his active service.
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BerenSergeant-Major J. D. Sutton, New South Wales Mounted Rifles - died 3.2.1903 2 months 2 days ago #71842

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Berenice
The matter of the "NSW Lancers who did not go" has been the subject of some writing here for many years. It must be said that the NSWL enlisted men who went to Aldershot for cavalry training were part-time volunteers. The South African War unexpectedly began as the training period at Aldershot ended and the media here had difficulty understanding that some of the men may have matters at home to settle or otherwise attend to before giving the Army a blank cheque and going to a shooting war.
Craig Wilcox (who has written two excellent recent books on the subject of Australian ABW involvement) summed it up very well: "When it came to light that not all the men wished to go to war, the British Army .....identified all who wished to return home, censured their Captain for trying to nudge them into combat and sped them on their way to NSW". Wilcox continues that "The men whose wishes were punctiliously respected by the British Army were soon being mocked by their fellow Australians as cowards and slackers".
Sections of the media took a stance and it seems the old adage of "Giving a dog a bad name and then shooting it" applied. To a great extend in the OZ media, it still does.
Nevertheless, for whatever reason, S/M Sutton did later serve in South Africa with 3NSWMR, was recognised for performing a brave act under close enemy fire - and was wounded in doing so. So much for White Feathers.
Best regards
IL.

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Sergeant-Major J. D. Sutton, New South Wales Mounted Rifles - died 3.2.1903 2 months 1 day ago #71845

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Thanks, IL. I came across Sutton while searching for men who'd been invalided home and then died, so my 'digging' began with his death and ended with the Aldershot episode. He gets a few mentions in the papers during the Lancers' stay there, but I didn't want to get too deeply into that; like you say, it's been covered before.

I've received some info from the Casino Family History Group: - the Sutton family lived at North Arm, near Coraki. The papers reported that he was buried at "Wyrallah Cemetery," but his grave is at Tucki Tucki (or Tuckurimba) Cemetery, on Wyrallah Road.
billiongraves.com/grave/J-D-Sutton/32411165

My thanks to the CFHG.

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