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Arthur Maple and George Merry, King's Royal Rifle Corps 3 months 2 weeks ago #81450

  • BereniceUK
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* The Union was the workhouse.

....COLCHESTER YOUTHS IN THE TRANSVAAL. —Among the list of killed and wounded in the recent affair against the Boers at the Ingogo River, are the names of Private Maple, wounded, and Private George Merry, killed, 3-60th Rifles. These two youths, whose ages are about 19, were enlisted from the Colchester Union, by special authority, into the 3-60s Rifles, about five years ago, when the Regiment was stationed at Winchester.
The Essex Standard, Saturday 19th February 1881
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COLCHESTER BOARD OF GUARDIANS.
....The weekly meeting of the Colchester Board of Guardians was held on Tuesday last. . . . . The Chairman said the newspapers had anticipated him in what he was about to call attention to, and that was to the death of the lad Merry, and the wounding of the lad Maple, in action in South Africa, both of whom were enlisted into the 3rd Battalion of the 60th Rifles, while that Regiment was lying here, on the 21st Nov., 1876. When the Battalion went out from here to South Africa, under Col. Pemberton, these two boys, amongst others, were allowed to go, and he had a letter from Col. Pemberton, an extract from which he would read, in which he said—"Three of my band boys have been killed, and two wounded. Merry is killed, and Maple wounded, both of whom I had from the Colchester Union; they were always good and nice boys, and I am much distressed." He (the Chairman) might say that all along the two lads had borne excellent characters in the Regiment, and Colonel Pemberton always, while he had command, had the highest opinion of them and spoke well of them; and he continued to receive up to this time most satisfactory accounts, so that the lads had shown themselves good soldiers in every sense, and had not misplaced either the confidence of the Guardians, or that of their Colonel.
....After some conversation, in the course of which several Guardians expressed a high opinion of the lads, the Chairman directed that inquiries should be made to find out the friends of the lads.
The Essex Standard, Saturday 26th February 1881
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COLCHESTER BOARD OF GUARDIANS.
....An official intimation was received from the War Office of the death of George Merry, formerly an inmate of the Union, and who died in the Transvaal, on the 18th February, from the effects of a gunshot wound received while in action against the Boers.
The Essex Standard, Saturday 2nd April 1881
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LETTER FROM A COLCHESTER YOUTH IN THE TRANSVAAL.
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....The following letter is from Arthur Maple, a youth who was enlisted from the Colchester Union into the 3-60th Rifles when that Regiment left Colchester for South Africa in November, 1879. It will be remembered in the recent action with the Boers at the lngogo River another Colchester lad (Geo. Merry), who was also enlisted into the Regiment from Colchester Union at the same time, was killed, and Maple was wounded, and that Colonel Pemberton, in writing to the Chairman of the Board of Guardians, gave both boys an excellent character, and said he was much distressed at Merry's death and Maple's injuries :—
Pietermaritzburg, March 31.......
....Sir,— l am very pleased to tell you that we arrived here all safe, after a long and weary journey. As regards my getting invalided home, it is quite impossible for me to say. Most all the men that came down wounded with me, passed the Invaliding Board for home yesterday. I would sooner stay with the Battalion if I thought they would get removed to some other station, as I am sure I should be miserable in the Depôt. I wrote several letters to you before I got wounded, but had no place to post them. It was in Battalion Orders for the 23rd inst.—it states that Colonel Ashburnham applied for all the detached Companies, and General Woods told him he couldn't let him have them, as the Battalion would shortly be moving down country. Mr. Walker was left behind at Newcastle. He was not very well time we were on the march up. I can't exactly explain the nature of my wound, only this—the bullet entered my right side, just above the hip, and I think it must have touched my right lung, as I began spitting blood directly I was hit. I can assure you I had a narrow escape. Directly Mr. Pixley was shot, the order was given to retire; I retired behind a large stone and began firing, and after I had fired six or seven rounds I looked to see where I was, and I found I was about thirty yards in front of all the Company, aud the Boers had come up in line with me, the Artillery were firing case shot, and it was going just above my head when I had to get up and retire. Of course I knew I had a very poor chance of escape, so I ran zig-zag, and I'd just reached my Company when I got hit, and then I thought I was cut in two. I tried to go on firing, but my strength failed me. Merry was on my left next file to me when he was shot. He was shot just under the ear, but I thought he would have lived, as he spoke to me a few words after. I have since learned that the Boers took the ring off his finger that you gave him. You can't imagine the sufferings of the wounded that night. No drink since we crossed the Ingogo that morning at 10.30 a.m. I made myself contented with having a good drink out of a blanket by sucking it. Harrington, of the Band, who was slightly wounded, did a good thing during the morning by taking the needles out of the rifles and the catches out of the swords. There were five of the Band killed and wounded. Out of my tent there were three men shot dead, four wounded, two drowned, and one taken prisoner. I am very happy to see that Applin escaped that day, but I hear that he has been taken prisoner at the last fight at the Amajuba Hill, but hope it is not true. . . . . . I had a lot of trousers, shirts, boots, &c, stolen time I was at Newcastle, before our kits were sent down. There are a lot of wounded men expecting to go to Durban to embark on the Lapland in a few days' time. I hope to hear soon—now this affair is over—to hear of our Battalion being under orders to proceed to Malta, as I think we have been out here quite long enough. Snell, of the Band, was taken prisoner at the battle of the Amajuba Hill; I am very sorry for him, as the Band have lost a very good musician. The general feeling amongst the men down concerning peace, is not at all agreeable. The opinion is that we should give them a good hiding first, and make them a present of it afterwards. I was very sorry to hear of General Colley's death, as he was a smart, brave officer. I must call back to last Christmas: after dinner was over, your health was proposed, and drunk by the Band with three cheers. I like the book you sent me before Christmas very well, as it passed many a pleasant hour away on march. All the boys are up the front excepting Cooke, Larn, Whemacher, and Pamplin. I can't answer as to the papers arriving safe, as they have been forwarded up to Newcastle, where most of our wounded are. There are only nine or ten of our men going home with this first lot. Most of the worst cases are up at Newcastle, too bad to be removed. It is believed the Boers used these explosive bullets, as most of our men have large wounds as large as the palm of my hand. I should like to go home if the Battalion has to stay here. I thought it was all up with me at Newcastle; during the time I was in hospital I lost 1 stone 2 pounds. I must have lost very near a pint of blood, but, I am thankful to say, I am progressing fairly, and I hope soon to be out of hospital. Hoping the next time I write I shall have some better news, I conclude with my best wishes for your welfare.
I remain, your humble servant,............
ARTHUR MAPLE........
The Essex Standard, Saturday 14th May 1881
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Arthur Maple and George Merry, King's Royal Rifle Corps 3 months 2 hours ago #81764

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Berenice,

We do not read many letters from this period so this was very interesting.

Many thanks
David
Dr David Biggins
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