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DCMs for the First Boer War 1 year 4 months ago #88587

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The trio to Patrick Sharkey sold for a hammer price of GBP 13,000. Total GBP 16,744. R 349,970. AUD 28,220. NZD 31,000. CAD 26,090. USD 19,460. EUR 18,160
Dr David Biggins

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DCMs for the First Boer War 1 year 3 weeks ago #90306

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DCM VR (Driv: A. Pead. R.A. 22nd Jany. 1881.);
SAGS (1) 1879 (4754. Driv: A. Pead. 5th Bde. R.A.)

City Coins Postal Auction, September 2003.

DCM Recommendation submitted to the Queen, 21 September 1882; Royal Artillery Regimental Order No. 59 of December 1882: ‘Her Majesty, on the recommendation of His Royal Highness the Field-Marshal Commanding in Chief, has been pleased to approve of the grant of... silver medals (without annuity or gratuity) to the undermentioned men in recognition of gallant conduct performed by them during the investment of Potchefstroom by the Boers, viz.:-

No. 10205, Driver R. Gibson, N Battery, 4th Brigade, Royal Artillery.
No. 10127, Trumpeter N. H. Martin, N Battery, 4th Brigade, Royal Artillery.
No. 16832, Driver A. Pead, T Battery, 1st Brigade, Royal Artillery.’

In a report submitted by Major C. Thornhill, Officer Commanding the Royal Artillery at Potchefstroom, dated 23 March 1881, he records as follows:

“Further I have to bring to your attention the conspicuous gallantry of Drivers Gibson and Pead and Trumpter Martin, who on the occasion of the attack on the trenches on the 22nd January went out under the very heavy fire, and at great Personal risk carried in 2 wounded men. In the first instance Dvr. Gibson and Trumpeter Martin carried in Dvr. Walsh N/5 R.A. who I regret to say has since died of his wounds - and in the second instance Dvr. Gibson and Dvr. Pead carried in Private Colvin 2/21st Royal Scots Fus. - Dvr. Gibson thus being present in both instances which occurred within a few moments of each other. These acts speak of themselves without any further comment of mine.”

Driver Alfred Pead was subsequently wounded at Potchefstroom on 1 February 1882.

The medal was presented by the Queen at Windsor Castle on 8 December 1882, the following report being published in The Ipswich Journal, on 12 December:

‘THE GARRISON - On Friday last, Mr Pead, late driver F Battery 1st Brigade Royal Artillery, and formerly stationed here, received instructions to proceed to Windsor to receive the medal for distinguished conduct in the field, for an act of bravery performed during the late campaign in South Africa. The following is a brief account of the circumstances - In February (sic), 1881, a small detachment of the British Forces of the Royal Artillery and 21st Fusiliers occupied at fort at Potchefstroom. The Boers held a sap not far off and greatly troubled our small detachment. Volunteers were called for to try and dislodge the enemy. Twenty men, under command of Lieut. Hay, 21st Fusiliers, immediately came forward. The attack was on the whole successful. One man was severely wounded when Drivers Pead and Gibson and Trumpeter Martin, under very heavy fire from the enemy, succeeded in bringing the wounded man into the fort in safety. Driver Gibson and Trumpeter Martin shared the honour of each receiving a medal at Windsor. Mr Pead is, we believe, a native of Ipswich.’

Alfred Pead attested for the Royal Artillery on 13 October 1870, aged 19, and was posted to “F” Battery, 18 Brigade. He subsequently transferred to “M” Battery, 2 Brigade (No. 1899) and then to “A” Battery, 5 Brigade on 1 March 1879 (No. 4754); to Cape of Good Hope, 11 March 1879, and joined N/5 Brigade in South Africa, ‘being engaged against the Zulus’.

“A” Battery subsequently became “T” Battery, 1 Brigade, and Pead served with this battery during the First Boer War (No. 16832) until invalided from South Africa on 3 June 1881, aboard the mail steamer Castle Duart to Netly Hospital and then to Depot 5 Brigade at Woolwich. On 7 October 1882, Pead was discharged time expired to Ipswich.
Dr David Biggins
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DCMs for the First Boer War 1 year 3 weeks ago #90362

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The pair to Driver Pead sold yesterday for a hammer price of GBP 7,500. Totals: GBP 9,660. R 217,840. AUD 17,480. NZD 19,120. CAD 15,600. USD 11,860. EUR 10,790. The estimate was £8-10k.
Dr David Biggins

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DCMs for the First Boer War 1 month 4 days ago #95790

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DCM VR (673 Sergt. J. T. Bradley, 94th. Foot. 20th. Dec: 1880);
SAGS (1) 1879 (673. Lce. Corpl. J. T. Bradley. 94th. Foot.)

DCM Recommendation submitted to the Queen 6 March 1882; Medal presented by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 13 May 1882.



The Battle of Bronkhorstspruit

The Battle of Bronkhorstspruit on 20 December 1880 was the first major engagement of the First Boer War; on this date ‘Lieutenant-Colonel Anstruther of the 94th Regiment with 9 officers and 254 other ranks was marching from Lydenburg to Pretoria when he was ambushed 37 miles from his objective by the Bronkhorstspruit river. He had been informed of the Boer rising and warned against being surprised, but even so the Boers’ tactics were of doubtful fairness since it was by no means certain that a state of war existed. The straggling columns of wagons was halted by a few Boers in an exposed spot, the Colonel was handed a proclamation ordering him to turn back; he was given only two minutes to reply, and when he refused fire was opened at once. The Boer leader, Joubert, had concealed about a thousand men in excellent firing positions, clearly expecting a refusal. The action lasted less than half an hour and amounted to a massacre.’ (Victorian Military Campaigns refers).

British casualties amounted to 5 officers and 63 men killed, and 4 officers and 85 men wounded; Boer casualties were negligible. Every British officer was a casualty, including Anstruther, who received five wounds to the legs, and subsequently died of those wounds a week later.

For their roles in saving the Colours (which was subsequently heralded in the press, presumably to detract from the overall disaster), both Colour Sergeant Henry Maistre and Sergeant Joseph Taylor Bradley, were awarded the DCM. During the Battle, Maistre had hid the Colours under a stretcher that was carrying the wounded Mrs. Fox, wife of Sergeant Major G. Fox. Following the Battle, the Boer Commandant Frans Joubert allowed the British to establish a camp for their wounded, as well as allowing Conductor Ralph Egerton, Commissariat and Transport Department, and Sergeant Bradley to proceed on foot to Pretoria to seek medical assistance. The Colours, retrieved from Mrs. Fox’s stretcher, were subsequently smuggled from the battlefield to Pretoria by Egerton and Bradley, presumably concealed upon their bodies.

Dr David Biggins
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DCMs for the First Boer War 1 month 3 hours ago #95841

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DCM VR (Pte. H. Bush. 2/21st Foot. Jany. 1881.);
SAGS (1) 1879 (2418. Pte. H. Bush. 2-21st Foot.)

DCM Recommendation submitted to the Queen, 21 September 1882.

The Siege of Potchefstroom

On 15 December 1880, the South African Republic was proclaimed at Paardekraal and the elected triumvirate of Kruger, Joubert, and Pretorious established themselves at Heidelberg; on the same day a large Boer Commando rode in Potchefstroom and disregarding all protests, took over the printing works. The small British garrison under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel R. W. C. Winsloe, 21st Foot, comprising of nearly 200 Royal Scots Fusiliers, about 20 Artillerymen with two nine pounders, and some volunteers, took up defensive positions; 20 regulars and 46 volunteers fortified the brick courthouse, another 20 men defended the stone prison, and the remainder occupied a fortified earth work fort 30 yards square. Insults were thrown, and on the following morning shots were fired. After an argument as to which side fired the first shot a general action ensued - the opening shots of the First Boer War had been exchanged. The Prison garrison on the redoubt and the men in the courthouse surrendered two days later.

Food, rationed from day one of the siege, consisted of three pounds of Indian corn (intended as animal fodder) daily with four ounces of tinned meat on alternate days; water was found after digging down 15 feet. The defenders occasionally cried foul especially when severe gunshot injuries led to the assumption that the Boers were using explosive bullets, although these were probably caused by the balls from an 8 bore elephant gun. Hostilities were often suspended for lunch; wounded men were courteously exchanged; and Sunday was declared a day of peace.

On 1 January the fort was heavily attacked on three sides by about 1,600 men and the old ship’s gun firing a 9 lb. roundshot. The firing lasted unabated for about three hours, but the men sat next to their posts, waiting for the rush at the fort that was expected at any time. The men sang part-songs to pass the time, with the ladies joining in the refrains, and the buglers played what pieces they could. The conduct of the women throughout the siege was magnificent, suffering the same hardships as the men they lived in a 9 x 5 foot shelter, and a dugout when the Boer gun took the fort in reverse. Two girls were wounded but recovered.

Improvements to the defence of the fort never ended. Ramparts were increased in height and damaged sandbags repaired each night, and more added. The tents which protruded above the ramparts were riddled by bullets, and had over 500 bullet holes in them. Cooking was done as well as possible under the circumstances, but because of the lack of fuel to eat the food was to eat disease. Torrents of rain often flooded the fort, washing over the stretchers of the wounded and leaving all articles of clothing swimming with rain. The two doctors, working under impossible conditions, wrought miracles of healing.

On 22 January, Lieutenant Dalrymple-Hay and twelve men attacked and cleared a Boer trench 300 yards south of the fort. Stretchers were later lent to the Boers to remove their casualties, and were returned the following day with fruit and carbolic acid for the doctors. At the end of January 1881 food rations were cut drastically; dysentery was rife and scurvy appeared; and typhoid and enteric fever cases joined the wounded in the hospital tents. February brought little let-up. A raid out of the fort produced five stray sheep and several sheets of iron- a treasure beyond price. But the end was near.

By early March the defenders were down to eight bags of rotten mealies and on 12 March out of physical necessity they sent out a flag of truce and asked for terms of surrender. Cronje, the Boer commander, unaware of their true condition, offered the British some most acceptable concessions. Officers and men were to keep their private property and arms except rifles; no prisoners were to be taken, and the garrison was to be permitted to march out with honours of war to Natal. On 23 March, after 98 days under siege, the defenders of Potchefstroom marched out from their redoubt en route to Natal; flags flew at their head, bugles played, and over 400 burghers lined up on both sides of the road saluting their former adversaries. Almost at the frontier the British discovered the bitter truth - the war had ended on the very day that they had proudly marched out of Potchefstroom.

For their gallant conduct in bringing in the wounded after the attack on the Boer trench on 22 January 1881 Lance-Corporal Patrick Cunnief and Private Henry Bush were later awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The 2nd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, who suffered a total of 83 casualties out of 213 all ranks at Potchefstroom, sailed for India in December 1881. They returned to South Africa for service during the Second Boer War, and in June 1900 the same battalion raised the historic Union Flag taken from Pretoria over the old Fort in remembrance of the gallant defence.
Dr David Biggins
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DCMs for the First Boer War 4 weeks 1 day ago #95862

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DCM VR (1727. Pte. C. Godfrey. 58th. Regt. 28th. Jany. 1881);
SAGS (1) 1879 (29/1727. Pte. C. Godfrey. 58th. Foot.);
QSA (0) (Mr. C. Godfrey. Natal Govt: Rlys:)

DCM Recommendation submitted to the Queen 10 January 1883. The original Recommendation states: ‘Remained with Major Hingeston when that Officer was wounded and not withstanding the heavy fire refused to leave him till he had been carried down the hill and taken to the ambulance.’

A fuller account was published in the Natal Mercury: ‘In the engagement at Laing’s Nek on 28 January 1881, when the Regiment reached the most advanced position to which it was able to attain, many of the officers were shot down. Amongst the number was Major Hingeston, who was mortally wounded. This officer was lying several yards in front of he line exposed to a heavy fire from the Boers, as well as our own line. Private Godfrey, seeing this crept to the front on his hands and knees, took up Major Hingeston in his arms, and carried him through the ranks to the rear. At this time the Regiment was ordered to retire, but Private Godfrey remained with Major Hingeston under fire, refusing to leave him until the engagement was over, and he had conveyed him to the hospital in the rear.’

The Battle of Laing’s Nek

On 28 January 1881 Major-General Sir George Pomeroy Colley’s Natal Field Force, comprising 1,400 men, an 80-strong Naval brigade, artillery and Gatling guns, advanced on the strategic pass in the hills on the Natal-Transvaal border called Laing’s Nek, the aim being, through a series of cavalry and infantry charges, to break through the Boer positions on the Drakensberg mountain range to relieve their garrisons. The British were repelled with heavy losses by the Boers under the command of Piet Joubert; of the 480 British troops who made the charges, 150 never returned. Furthermore, sharp-shooting Boers had killed or wounded many senior officers.

Total British casualties were 84 killed and 113 wounded, with the bulk of these suffered by the 58th Regiment of Foot, who lost 74 killed and 101 wounded, around a third of their total strength. Boer losses were 14 killed and 27 wounded. For his gallantry in bringing casualties down from the hillside, Lieutenant Alan Hill, 58th Foot, was awarded the Victoria Cross. This was also the last occasion that a British regiment took its Colours into action; with heavy casualties, four officers in succession were shot down whilst carrying both the Regimental and the Queen’s Colour.

The Armoured Train Affair, Chieveley, 15 November 1899

Godfrey was discharged from the Army and remaining in South Africa was subsequently employed as a Ganger by the Natal Government Railways. He saw further service during the Second Boer War, and was one of those railwaymen involved in the Armoured Train affair at Chieveley on 15 November 1899, when an armoured train which had been sent out on patrol was intercepted by the Boers and three carriages were thrown off the line. These vehicles lay between the rest of the train and the track over which it must travel on its homeward journey, and until they were removed the train, the engine and its escort - about 150 men - were exposed to a severe converging fire of rifles and artillery from the surrounding hills. The sole means by which the line could be cleared was the engine, which moving to and fro butted at the wreckage until after about 50 minutes' work it was heaved and pushed off the track. The heroic deeds of the driver of the engine, Charles Wagner, and by the fireman, Alexander James Stewart, were ultimately recognised with the award of the Albert Medal, ‘and other railwaymen involved in the affair included C. Godfrey, A. Branley, W. Yallup, and J. Welsh’. When the engine and tender arrived back at Estcourt with the survivors and examination of the engine showed that it had been hit three times by shell, and the tender had 63 bullet marks. The whole affair was famously presided over by the young Winston Churchill, who was at the time a reporter for the Morning Post - Churchill himself showed great gallantry in this action, following which he was captured by the Boers, ensuring his popular fame six weeks later when he made good his escape. Details of the whole affair were subsequently published in Churchill’s autobiography, My Early Life.
Dr David Biggins
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