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Botes, David Frederick. Artillerist 5 years 8 months ago #27758

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Served: Staats Artillerie.
Dr David Biggins

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Botes, David Frederick. Artillerist 2 months 1 week ago #72723

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From the next City Coins auction, November 2020


Picture courtesy of City Coins

DCM Ed VII unnamed as presumably issued (see vendor’s note);
ABO (Artlst D.F. Botes);
AGS 1902 (1) Somaliland 1902-04: 38 Serjt. D.F. Botes. Som. Bur. C.

This African General Service medal is not re-impressed as is often encountered with medals named to the Somaliland Burgher Corps.

David Frederick Botes enlisted in the ZAR State Artillery in 1898 (Muster No 657) and was in action at Magersfontein and Paardeberg. At Bothaville he was one of the 28 “blue uniformed” gunners who were taken prisoner. He was sent to Ceylon (PoW No 15073) and held in the Urugasmanhandija Camp where he signed the Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown on 2 July 1902 and returned to the Transvaal. Early in 1903 he volunteered for service in the Somali Burgher Contingent against the “Mad Mullah” in Somaliland. This small mixed force of Boer, Colonial and British Volunteers was commanded by Captain W. Bonham. The Recommendation for the award of the DCM to three members of the Somali Burgher Corps as, submitted to King Edward VII, was worded as follows:

“It is further most humbly submitted to your Majesty that Silver Medals for Distinguished Conduct in the Field be conferred upon the undermentioned soldiers of the Boer Contingent in recognition of their gallant conduct during the operations in Somaliland. – Sergeant D.F. Botes, Corporal S.J. Herbst, Trooper C.J. Dwyer (sic). War Office July 1903”.

These awards were duly gazetted on 7 August 1903. A year later, Captain Bonham’s recommendation report dated 3 May 1903 for the award of the DCM to these three men September 1904 was published in the London Gazette. He had reported as follows:
“Serjeant Botes has always been the first to volunteer for any hard work or arduous duty; has shown fine soldierly qualities throughout the campaign. All these men displayed coolness and steadiness in action, and performed distinguished service in the affair near Gumburu on 16th April, 1903.”

In his covering report Major P.A. Kenna, who commanded all the Mounted Troops of the Somaliland Field Force, endorsed Captain Bonham’s recommendations and went on to recommend Bonham for the award of the D.S.O.

The “affair near Gumburu on the 16th April” preceded the disastrous action at Gumburu on 17 April 1903 when a significant British force was surrounded in the thick bush and attacked at close quarters and were virtually annihilated by a far superior force of the Mullah’s mounted riflemen.

Interestingly Captain Bonham singled out the names of four other men of his Burgher Corps in the following manner:
“All these men have done exceptionally good work throughout the campaign. It is not recommended that they should receive any military reward or decoration, but, if the General Officer Commanding thinks fit, that their names should be submitted to Lord Milner with a recommendation that their services should be rewarded in such manner as may seem good to the Colonial Government, either by assistance in re-settlement or employment in Government service.”

In an article by Don Forsyth on the Somali Burgher Corps Botes is noted as “Served previously in Magoto War. Returned from Ceylon & joined SAC”.

Vendor’s Note: The 3 medals in this group came from 3 different sources. The Somali Burgher Corps medal was purchased in 1990 from a local dealer and the ABO in 1992 from a UK dealer. In 1999 I obtained the Death Notice for Botes: it revealed that he had been married twice and had fathered 6 sons and 6 daughters. Over a period of time I made numerous phone calls to try and trace the DCM. In 2000 I was unexpectedly contacted by a descendant of Botes: great was the disappointment when he showed me an unnamed DCM! He said he found it in a small envelope inscribed “Oupa se ereteken” (Grandpa’s decoration) which was among his mother’s effects after her death. However, we agreed on a price and I bought it. I subsequently was in contact with Peter Abbott and John Tamplin, but they could not throw any further light on the subject.

Abbott finally wrote in July 2001: “From what you say in your letter it seems that Botes’ group was broken up – perhaps distributed (as sometimes happens) among members of the family. There are very dangerous Edward VII copy DCMs running around (see attached extract from “British Gallantry Awards”) but I would have thought it unlikely that Botes’ descendants would have acquired one. Had his whole group been on offer by a dealer I would have been much more suspicious. From the above you will see that I am sitting on the fence although, on the balance of probabilities I think that the DCM you saw was Botes’ original. But, in this sort of area, one never can be sure”

It is an original unskimmed DCM: as I have 2 copy DCM’s (as described in “British Gallantry Awards) in my collection I am fully conversant with the tell-tale differences.
Dr David Biggins
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