County: West Yorkshire
Issued on: Return
Date of presentation: 11/09/1902
Number issued: 1


Gold medal, to:

2nd Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment (Reserve) –
2859 Private Frank STEPHENSON [Thomas Stephenson]

Presentation made by Mr Crabtree, in the Friendly Societies' Hall, Shipley.

Inscribed: "Presented by Messrs Ross & Crabtree and employees, as a token of esteem for serving his country in South Africa".

Although given the name "Thomas" at birth, Private Stephenson assumed the name "Frank" for military service. His father's address (as published in the Shipley Times) corresponds with the address of Frank's next-of-kin in his service records. Dates & places of birth also match, proving that Thomas and Frank are the same man.


Shipley Times, 12th September 1902



Last night an interesting ceremony was performed at the Friendly Societies’ Hall, of which Messrs Ross & Crabtree and Mr Tom STEPHENSON were the chief figures. On the 17th of October, 1899, STEPHENSON – who was in the employ of Messrs Ross & Crabtree as a mason’s labourer – was called upon as a reservist to rejoin his regiment, the 2nd West Yorkshires. He is the son of D.G.M. Thomas Stephenson, of the New Prosperity Lodge, and resides at Mossman Street, Windhill. He returned home on the 25th of August, and it was to celebrate this occasion and to present him with a token of esteem from themselves and their workmen that Messrs Ross & Crabtree entertained all their staff to a dinner and a smoker. About 100 employees sat down to the repast, which was supplied by the Misses Shaw, and among those present were Messrs A. Ross, W. Crabtree, W. Brown, C.W. Holmes, G.E. Stell, T. Rushton, Wm. Surr, C.E. Taylor, and J. Cryer, along with the guest of the evening.

After the meal, the tables were cleared, Mr Ross took the chair, and a convivial evening was spent, the entertainers being Messrs T. Kendall, T. Frear, C. Hodgitt, P. Mulligan, J.W. Holmes, E. Williams, and J. Stead. Mr Tom Watson was an ideal accompanist. A short toast list was gone through, the toasts of “The King and Royal Family”, proposed by the Chairman; “The firm of Ross & Crabtree”, proposed by C. Whitfield, seconded by T. Rushton, and responded to by Mr Ross; and “The Town and Trade of Shipley”, proposed by Mr C.E. Taylor and responded to by Mr W. Cryer; all being enthusiastically pledged.

STEPHENSON, who is of a very retiring disposition, has seen much active service during the war, having been out for a period of 2 years and 10 months. On landing in Cape Town they were at once ordered by Buller to proceed to Durban as quickly as possible. On arrival there they proceeded to Pietermaritzburg, and afterwards to Estcourt, where they joined a few of the Dublin Fusiliers. Going on to Willow Grange, he took part in a night attack on that position, and at daybreak they rushed the position with fixed bayonets, driving Cronje back to Colenso. Following up this general, they again attacked him at Colenso, and it was there that they had their first defeat, having to retire after 1100 men had been killed or taken prisoners. STEPHENSON was in at the taking of Spion Kop, but they had to retire and leave the position on account of having no food. They were fighting for 17 days and 17 nights before they reached Ladysmith, and on the 28th February they entered the town, being presented on the following day with the Queen’s chocolate. After resting for a few days in Ladysmith, he proceeded with his regiment into the Transvaal, and it was from there, after taking part in other engagements, that he left his regiment and returned home. STEPHENSON has received his war medal at York, and the ribbon is decorated with five bars bearing the inscriptions – Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Ladysmith, Transvaal, and Laings Nek. He is also the owner of a fine silver watch, which was presented to him by the officers of his regiment for carrying a comrade, Captain Ryall, of his regiment, who was fatally wounded, off the field of battle at Spion Kop. Inside the watch is the inscription, “Presented to T. Stephenson, 2nd West Yorks., in recognition of valuable services rendered to them during the Boer War, 1899-1902”. During the campaign STEPHENSON has undergone considerable hardships, living at one time for eight weeks on nothing but mealies and an occasional biscuit. He was also captured, along with a hundred others, by General Delarey, who stripped the lot of them of their clothing and set them off 35 miles from their camp, giving them instructions that if they turned out of their way they would be shot.

Mr Ross, in calling upon Mr Crabtree to present STEPHENSON with a gold medal, said that when it was made known that STEPHENSON had returned, and the idea of presenting him with some suitable testimonial was mooted to them, there was a hearty response, and as a result they had been able to purchase the medal which he was to receive that night. The inscription on the back was – “Presented by Messrs Ross & Crabtree and employees, as a token of esteem for serving his country in South Africa”.

Mr Crabtree said it gave him great pleasure to present the medal to Mr STEPHENSON. He believed he was the first reserve in the district to rejoin his regiment.

Mr W. Cryer, in supporting Mr Crabtree, said he was glad to be associated with the very pleasant ceremony which had taken place. Before STEPHENSON went away he had a talk with him and found out that he was anticipating with some amount of pride the rejoining of his regiment. He must be proud indeed to earn the esteem of his officers so creditably, as to be presented with that beautiful watch.

STEPHENSON, who was heartily cheered and received with the singing of “For he’s a jolly good fellow”, thanked them heartily for their gift and said he would prize it and keep it as long as he lived. He then gave a brief account of his service in South Africa.

At the conclusion a vote of thanks to the firm was passed on the motion of Mr Holmes, and was responded to by both partners.