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Summers of Swanson's Volunteer Corps 3 years 8 months ago #57321

  • Frank Kelley
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Hello Rory,
Well, there is always a roll, I get to see an awful number of medals every year, so it takes quite a lot to impress me, but, I do think that is a particularly pleasing medal, although, it does look as though it has been cut off something, however, a length of silk ribbon will remedy that.
I have always liked and rated the 1896 medal and clasp as a proper War medal, in the actual sense of the term, in the context of other British campaign medals and I suppose the same must be true of the 1897 medals and clasps.
With the other two, whilst clearly rarer, neither have the same appeal, it is perhaps, an rotten American term to use, notwithstanding, a "Turkey Shoot" does seem to be fitting, in the case of the 1893 medal, did you know it was actually muted that three clasps might be awarded to recipients actually present at the main battle sites?
Of course, there were a number of people who very uneasy, both at the War Office and within the Company itself, so it went no further.
With the 1896 medal, things were rather different, in April 1896, from it's very inception, the Bulawayo Field Force had it's work very well defined, it was simply a matter of survival.
There were, certainly from memory, at least, less than fifty policemen within the whole of Matabeleland at that point in time and they were dispersed across a very wide area, at their various police stations at Mangwe, Iron Mine, Tuli, Gwelo and so forth, I dare say that Inspector Southey must have been very concerned when it dawned upon him what was actually happening..
Of the rest, all Natives, less than some three hundred and fifty, the issue was simply how many would remain loyal, of course, as it turned out, less than half did.
If you look at what went on at Bulawayo from the outbreak of the rebellion and it was a national rebellion, rather than a little insurrection, that these days, there is a tendency to believe, things were pretty bloody desperate, it was a matter of survival.
You had less than a thousand men, of which two hundred were unfit for any service, they were unwell or simply too old, of the remainder, who could be enlisted, four hundred were needed at any point in time to defend the town, the women and children within, another one hundred plus were needed to man the forts, that had been set up on the Mangwe Road and that left only the remainder to actually go out and take on the enemy.
The rest of the male population of the country were, in effect, under siege themselves in Gwelo, Belingwe, Mangwe and so on.
You look at the casualty returns and it makes for depressing reading, Killed, Missing, Last heard of and so forth.

No, I think you have bought yourself a very good medal, I've always liked them and I think of all those medals that are lost to collectors forever, times were very hard indeed in the 1970's and I know of two bullion dealers in Rhodesia who were buying them in to scrap.

A super medal, Rory, regards Frank
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Summers of Swanson's Volunteer Corps 3 years 8 months ago #57322

  • Rory
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Thank you Frank I really value your input especially the background and context you always supply. I am indeed very happy with Summers and have already added a long length of ribbon to his medal.

I have amassed almost as much material on Swanson as I have on Summers and only wish I had his medal too. Now that would be something!



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