Bugler, Royal Durban Rifles – Anglo Zulu War
Trooper, Bakers Horse – Basuto Gun War and Transkei operations
- S.A.G.S. (no clasp) to Bugler E. Manderson, Royal Durban Rifles
- C.G.H.S.M. with clasps Basutoland and Transkei to Tpr. E.R. Manderson, Bakers Horse
Edmund Manderson or Robert as he was known in family circles was born in Pietermaritzburg, Natal in 1860 the son of Robert Manderson, a Harness maker, and his wife Susanna (born Holt)
Manderson senior had been born in the City of London in 1829 and had married Susanna at St. John’s Church in the county of Surrey on 29 July 1855. At the time he was recorded as being a Saddler by trade resident at “8 Isabella Street”.
Exactly when Manderson decided to emigrate to South Africa with his new bride is uncertain but, as has been determined, they were in the Colony of Natal in 1860. Robert Manderson was to follow in his father s footsteps and soon took up the trade of Saddler and Harness Maker as an apprentice under his father’s watchful eye.
The 1878 Natal Almanac and Register lists an R Manderson, Saddler, of West Street, Durban the town to which the family had repaired.
A year later, hostilities broke out between the Zulus and the British settlers in the Colony and 1879 was to be a watershed year in the lives of the fledgling community of Durban. Manderson threw in his lot with the Royal Durban Rifles as a volunteer and was mustered with the rank of Bugler and number 24.
His Regiment, The R.D.R., was formed on May 24, 1854 and gazetted on January 27, 1855 as the Durban Volunteer Guard. In 1859 the title became the Durban Rifle Guard and in 1873 it became the Royal Durban Rifles. During the Zulu war of 1879 the regiment performed garrison duties and was never destined to cross the Border into Zululand which would have entitled Manderson to the 1879 claps to the South African General service Medal he received as reward for his efforts.
But trouble was lurking on a none too distant horizon - The application of the Sprigg Government’s Disarmament Act to the tribes in the Transkei in 1880 had caused serious unrest there so it was predictable that the extension of the Act to Basutoland would occasion agitation. Most of the firearms owned by Basutos had been earned by labour on the diamond diggings where the offer of a gun as payment for labour was more attractive than money.
Most of the Basutoland tribes flatly refused to part with their guns when requested to do so leading to open defiance in the Matatiele area of East Griqualand. The Cape Mounted Riflemen were ordered to proceed to Basutoland and the Government approached their Natal counterparts for military assistance which led to the raising of Baker’s Horse, gazetted on 2 October 1880 with a strength of 13 officers and 114 other ranks. “B” Troop was to arrive in East Griqualand, very opportunely, on 12 October. Manderson, with the rank of Trooper, was one of these men.
Having returned to his civilian pursuits Manderson, seeking adventure, responded to an advertisement placed in the Natal Witness on Saturday, October 9th 1880 - this was on behalf of "Baker's Horse" and read as follows:
"Volunteers for this Corps may present themselves for Enrolment WITH THEIR TESTIMONIALS, at the Natal Mounted Police Barracks, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 12.30 p.m., and 2 p.m. and 4 p.m."
There was also specific mention made that, “There is not the slightest use in loafers and swashbucklers applying” and “No-one but Gentlemen who can ride and shoot, and whose characters will bear the very strictest investigation, will be taken.” – This was signed by F.J. Baker, Major, Acting Regional Magistrate, Umzinto. So eager was the response from “the right type” that Captain Vetch’s “B” Troop, equipped in their smart blue cavalry tunics departed for the conflict area within two weeks.
On arrival they were in action almost straight away. Led by “B” Troop of Baker’s Horse, all the mounted troops rode as far as Klopper’s Farm, some ten miles from Cedarville Drift, and together with the native troops loyal to the Government, bivouacked for the night. It was reported that the rebels were holding the Drift in considerable strength, perhaps 500 of them. Baker’s Horse, as the spearhead of the Column, was privileged to cross first into rebel territory, and fire the opening shots of the campaign. A well-armed party under Capt. Veitch boarded a small boat to hand and struck out for the other bank where the rebels were housed up in a hotel.
Unfortunately the men were not exactly oarsman and the boat capsized in the strong current almost drowning several of the men – this left the Commandant fuming and the men were called back camping in the area for the night. Baker’s Horse despite failing to fire the first shots of the campaign did suffer the first casualty – a Trooper was struck in the head by a spent bullet – fortuitously, despite much loss of blood, it proved to be a flesh wound above the eyebrow and no real harm was done.
It took the whole of the following day for the Column to cross the Umzimvubu River, and the next morning the forces fanned out in a wide sweep towards Matatiele. They found the trading stores along route to have been ransacked but 200 bags of maize had remained untouched. Veitch immediately wrote to the O.C. of the Column requesting that authority be given for the issue of a grain ration for the mounts of his troop.
The Government forces operating in the southern regions of Gatberg and the Qumbu areas, among them Baker’s Horse, were being led a merry dance in the rugged terrain by the rebels. In mid-November 1880 a patrol managed to cross the Tinta River and succeeded in killing 14 Pondomise. They went on to the area around Mount Frere where they had a successful four day patrol where they had an engagement with Pondomise under their chief Mhlonhlo wherein forty rebels were killed and much livestock captured.
In mid-December came Baker’s Horses most significant success:-
“A force of eighty men of Baker’s Horse, sixty Willoughby’s Horse and six hundred Bacas, made a wide detour and attacked the Pondomise from the rear. The war correspondent with the forces reported that they had killed some of the enemy and taken 900 head of cattle and 1500 sheep”
The official despatch was brimful of success,
“From Colonel Baker, Tsitsa Gorge. At midday of 18th (December) came in sight by pre-arrangement of Usher’s Column, 650 strong, who were on the south side of the Tsitsa, engaged with Mhlonhlo’s impi, about 600 strong, who were on the north side. Neither force could cross the river. We surprised and circumvented Mhlonhlo, completely routed his impi, killing over 300 and pursued them for six miles. Burned all kraals.”
Early in 1881 the conflict in both Basutoland and the Transkei had come to an end – the Basutos and the Pondomise had tired of constantly being on the losing side. In January 1881 Baker’s Horse moved into Southern Basutoland and was retained as a unit until the end of April before disbanding.
For his efforts on this occasion Manderson was awarded the Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal and was one of only 22 members of Baker’s Horse to receive the much coveted clasps Transkei and Basutoland. The Transkei clasp was awarded for operations in Tembuland and Griqualand East from 13 September 1880 to 13 May 1881 and the Basutoland clasp for operations in the same are from 13 September 1880 until 27 April 1881.
This medal was only approved by Queen Victoria in 1900 and had to be applied for by the men concerned.
With the war clouds having passed on Manderson again took to his pre-war occupation and, according to the Natal Almanac of 1895 was now a Saddler in Mark Lane, Durban operating on his own account. He had found the time, in the intervening years, to meet and marry Ellen Isabel Orchard, a 19 year old slip of a girl. This marriage took place privately in Durban on 11 July 1882 and was solemnised by the Congregational Minister.
Five years later, in 1900, at the time of the Boer War the same publication had Manderson as a Saddler attached to Dalton’s in West Street with his residential address being supplied as 48 Acutt Street, Durban.
Sadly on 7 March 1906 his father passed away survived by Robert and his many siblings, Georgina Jay, Susan Nurse, Mary Edwards, George Alfred Manderson, Charles William Manderson, Harry Frank Manderson and Alice Orchard.
A mere three years later, on 13 September 1909, Manderson was to lose his wife, Ellen Isabell. He was left a Widower with seven children, Alice Mary Kate Browne, Minnie Georgina Cooper, Jetta Susanna Rapson, Sidney Alfred Manderson, Edith Isabell Manderson and Eric Leslie Manderson.
Manderson was to struggle on until his own demise at Addington Hospital, Durban on 4 February 1936 at the age of 76 years and 3 months. His place of residence was given as Old Fort Road, Durban and the cause of death as Myocardial failure. He is buried in the West Street Cemetery. As proof that he had possibly fallen on hard times in later life his last will and testament confirm his occupation prior to death as being the Commissionaire (Door Man) of the Royal Hotel in Durban.
A photo of Zulu War veterans taken on the 50th anniversary thereof in 1929
His estate comprised his wages of £9 from the Royal Hotel and an Insurance policy of £50.
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