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3244 L/Cpl. T. Hammond, Prisoner, Sanna's Post, 31st March, 1900. 1 week 1 day ago #80621

  • LinneyI
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The illustrated QSA is from the back of IL's cupboard and was encountered in a Sydney second hand shop some twenty years ago.


Impressed to "3244 Pte. T. Hammond, 1st Essex Regt.", IL was rather taken by the six "battle" and "engagement" clasps and probably paid too much for it. Nevertheless, once at home, the SAFF Casualty list for the Sanna's Post action of 31st March,1900 shows "3444 L/Cpl. Hammond (no initial), Essex Regt. as one of a number of casualties suffered by that Regt. at that place and on that date. A clarifying SAFF amendment informs that those so listed (an officer Maj. Cruikshank wounded, twelve ORs captured and later released and one OR missing, who later rejoined) all served with the 2nd Mounted Infantry.
The possibility that "3244 Pte T. Hammond" could have been identical with "3444 L/Cpl. (no initial) Hammond" both of the Essex Regt. did not occur to IL for some time. However, the idea gained strength when this writer ran across on this site a cut from The Times newspaper edition of 10th July 1900 which listed one "3444 L/Cpl. T. Hammond, Essex Regt." as among the British prisoners recovered at Pretoria on 6th June 1900. At least, the original SAFF entry for L/Cpl. Hammond now had been given an initial. The only hitch lay in the difference in Regimental numbers.
A check on soldier's papers found that Thomas Hammond's regimental number on enlistment was 3244 (which matched that impressed on the QSA) and a careful trawl through the South African campaign medal rolls for the Essex Regt. revealed no other "T. Hammond" in the ranks; nor any other person with the number 3444. Sufficient evidence in IL's opinion to indicate that the reporting of Pte/Lcpl T. Hammond's capture at Sanna's Post (and his recovery nine weeks later) both included an error in his regimental number.
Placing 3244 Pte T. Hammond of the 2nd Bn., M.I. during the Sanna's Post action is more difficult. The four Coys. of the 2nd Bn., M.I. operated under different commands; one unspecified Coy. was a component of Alderson's Bde. with Gen. Broadwood and the other three (unspecified) were with Col. Martyr and elsewhere on the battlefield. There does not seem to be any direct reference to Martyr's M.I. losing casualties; not that IL could find at any rate. It is known that Maj. Cruikshank of the Essex Regt. ( see the original SAAF entry and noted as wounded at Sanna's Post) served with the Burma M.I. and was unfortunately blinded during the attempt to recover Q Bty's guns under devastating direct rifle fire.
Whether any members of the Coy. of the 2nd. Bn., M.I. known to be with Alderson's Bde. were present at or near that epic is not certain. It seems likely, though, that L/Cpl. T. Hammond was taken captive during the M.I.'s covering of the retreat of the battery - when some M.I. " .... occasionally held their ground too long and thus suffered considerable loss in killed wounded and prisoners".
Clearly, experienced M.I. men were sorely wanted as - just ten days after his release from captivity at Pretoria - 3244 L/Cpl. Thomas Hammond qualified for his "Diamond Hill" clasp (11th -12th June 1900) and later the clasp for "Belfast' ((26-27 August, 1900). He served on until the Peace and earned his KSA medal; which is unfortunately missing. After completing his twelve years, Thomas returned to civilian life on the 18th March, 1903.
Any post such as this can only attempt to cover a small fraction of a small part of a soldier's time in a conflict . As generations of medal collectors have remarked " If Only That Medal Could Talk".
Regards to all
IL.
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