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Britain and the Colonies responded well to the call of the Government in December 1899, and London was not behindhand. The infantry Volunteers all over England and Scotland answered nobly, and the value of the services of the officers and men who went out was handsomely acknowledged by all the generals.

Taken suddenly from civil life, they rapidly assimilated what extra teaching could be given before being thrown into the field, and when there, almost all became useful soldiers and took the hardships inseparable from active service with a minimum of grumbling. The Metropolitan Volunteers were more in the public eye, because they formed a battalion of infantry, two companies of mounted infantry, and a field battery. They thus had organisation separate from any regiment and a history of their own, whereas the infantry volunteer companies from other parts of the country were attached to their respective territorial battalions of regulars. The latter system has perhaps the most to commend it. It involved less risk. It drew closer the Volunteers and the Regulars, and in doing that it brought many young men of the middle classes into close contact with the rank and file of the army, with obvious advantages to both. That the City Imperial Volunteers came through the crucial test of standing on their own legs is to their credit, and the fact will always be an answer to the humbugs who declare that Volunteers are a useless crowd.

The City Imperial Volunteers embarked on the Briton, Garth Castle, Ariosto, Gaul, and Kinfauns Castle between 16th and 21st January 1900. On 20th February the bulk of the Infantry Battalion left the Cape for De Aar and Orange River, in which district they took over various posts from the Regulars. On account of the rising in the Britstown district fighting was soon seen, and on 6th March 13 men were wounded, some of these being taken prisoners. On 31st March the battalion left De Aar for Bloemfontein via Naauwpoort. At the latter place they were detrained and stayed some time. Ultimately, about 23rd April, the battalion got to the Free State capital, partly by road, partly by rail, and on the 24th were inspected by Lord Roberts. Within a few days they were put into the 21st Brigade under General Bruce Hamilton (see 1st Sussex), and thus formed a part of Ian Hamilton's army of the right flank, which did no little fighting on the way to Pretoria (see Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry).

In the numerous engagements the battalion seems to have always done well. Speaking of Doornkop, 29th May (see 1st Gordons), Major General Mackinnon, himself a soldier of thirty years' experience, said in his 'Journal', p 78: "I was thoroughly satisfied with the steadiness of our ranks, their disregard of danger, and the alacrity with which they obeyed orders, especially those to advance, and I feel very proud of the battalion. This is an interesting day for the English Volunteer force, as it is the first occasion on which so many of them have been in any important action". General Smith-Dorrien, in his despatch regarding the battle (see 'Journal', p 89), said: "The features of the day were the attacks of the Gordon Highlanders and the City Imperial Volunteers. That of the City Imperial Volunteers convinced me that this corps, at any rate of our Volunteers, is as skilled as the most skilful of our Regulars at skirmishing. The men were handled with the most consummate skill by Colonel Mackinnon, Colonel Lord Albemarle, and their other officers, and it was entirely due to this skill and the quickness and dash of their movements, and taking advantage of every fold of the ground, that, in spite of a terrific fire from several directions, they drove the enemy from several positions with comparatively small loss"—about 12 wounded.

The battalion was present at Diamond Hill, 11th and 12th June (see 1st Sussex), and had again stiff work. Their casualties were 1 officer and 1 man killed, and about 20 wounded. The brigade next took part in Sir Archibald Hunter's operations in the north-east of the Orange River Colony. At Frankfort, on 4th July, the City Imperial Volunteers left the brigade on convoy duty to Heilbron, where they did garrison duty for three weeks. Colonel Mackinnon was then told to rail the garrison to Krugersdorp. This was accomplished by the 26th, and the battalion operated about Frederikstad, Banks, and Krugersdorp during the exciting times when De Wet was preparing for, and did effect, his crossing of the Vaal. The work was most arduous and fighting frequent. The cyclists were in constant request, and Colonel Mackinnon notes that one man "travelled continuously for two days and a night".

On 30th July the battalion marched to Frederickstad, and on the 31st a Boer force sent in a message asking their surrender. Colonel Mackinnon did not entertain the idea, but took out five companies who, after stiff fighting, drove the enemy off some hills they had seized near the camp. In this action the battalion lost 2 men killed and 4 severely wounded. General Smith-Dorrien complimented the battalion on their excellent work on this occasion. Part of the battalion took part in the pursuit of De Wet to the Megaliesberg and marched to Rustenburg, part remained about Welverdiend under Lord Albemarle. About the end of August the battalion was gathered together again near Pretoria. On 2nd October Lord Roberts inspected the regiment and made "a splendid speech", which is printed in the 'Journal'. The Commander-in-Chief not only spoke flatteringly of the City Imperial Volunteers, but stated his belief in the value of the Volunteer force. His Lordship said: "The admirable work now performed by the City Imperial Volunteers, the Volunteers now attached to the regular battalions serving in South Africa, and the Imperial Yeomanry have, I rejoice to say, proved that I was right, and that England, relying as she does on the patriotic Volunteer system for her defence, is resting on no broken reed". On the afternoon of the same day the entraining for Cape Town commenced.

The Mounted Infantry companies saw much fighting, and were very frequently praised by the generals under whom they acted. At Jacobsdal on 15th February 1900 they did well, and Lord Roberts wired to the Lord Mayor, "The City of London Imperial Volunteers came under fire for the first time yesterday under Colonel Cholmondeley at Jacobsdal and behaved most gallantly". After Paardeberg they provided part of the escort of Boer prisoners to Modder River. Colonel Cholmondeley was mentioned in Lord Roberts' despatch of 31st March 1900. The Mounted Infantry took part in the movement on Pretoria, and at the end of August were under Smith-Dorrien in the Eastern Transvaal. General Smith-Dorrien also praised their work most highly.

Apart from the battery, which is mentioned under the Field Artillery, the commendations gained were approximately as follows:—

Colonel Mackinnon was praised "for tact, judgment, and resource " in a "position hitherto unprecedented in the annals of our military history". He was promoted Major General, and got the CB In the despatch of 4th September 1901. Colonel the Earl of Albemarle, other 5 officers, and 20 non-commissioned officers and men of the Infantry Battalion were mentioned, and in the same despatch 1 officer of the machine-gun section and 5 officers and 12 non-commissioned officers and men of the Mounted Infantry companies were mentioned.

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 Surname   Forename/inits   Regimental no   Rank   Notes 
AbbissP JSource: WO100/231
AbrahamFSource: WO100/231
AbrahamsA G WSource: WO100/231
AdamsP ZSource: WO100/231
AgerF GSource: WO100/231
AimerH JSource: WO100/231
AireyW MSource: WO100/231
AitonH JSource: WO100/231
AlbemarleEarlSource: WO100/231
AlderE JSource: WO100/231
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This battery was equipped from the funds collected by the Lord Mayor in December 1899, and was mainly officered and manned from the Honourable Artillery Company.  The battery was commanded by Major G McMicking.  The horses, which did admirably, were purchased by him from the London Omnibus Companies.  The battery was furnished with four 12½ pounder quick-firing guns, manufactured by Messrs Vickers' Sons & Maxim.  The time-shells were fitted with Krupp fuses, and the guns burst shrapnel at longer range than the ordinary field-guns.  The battery arrived at the Cape about 27th February 1900.  Most of their campaigning was done under Major General Paget, at first in the north of the Orange River Colony, and afterwards north of Pretoria.

The battery was for a time at Bloemfontein, and got up to Kroonstad on 21st June.  On 23rd June it joined a force which was to escort a convoy to Lindley.  The convoy was fiercely attacked on the 26th and 27th, but the enemy was driven off (see 1st King's Own, Yorkshire Light Infantry).  On 3rd July, Paget's brigade, to which the battery was now attached, was stoutly opposed between Lindley and Bethlehem.  One section was with the general on the right, and was praised by him for very good work.  One section, with two sections of the 38th Battery RFA, was near the left.  A ridge had been occupied, and these six guns placed on it.  By an indiscreet order the troops on the right and left of these guns were retired behind the ridge.  The enemy crept up unobserved, and pouring in a deadly rifle-fire they gained possession of three of the guns of the 38th Battery.  Captain Budworth, of the CIV Battery, galloped for some Australians who had been retired.  They boldly came back and drove off the enemy, and the three guns were recovered.  On the 6th and 7th July there was again heavy fighting outside Bethlehem.  In his despatch of 10th October 1900, para 8, Lord Roberts, dealing with the capture of Bethlehem, said, "The good service of the 38th Battery RFA and the City Imperial Volunteers' Battery has also been brought to notice by Major General Paget".  Paget's force was ordered north after the surrender of Prinsloo, and did much excellent work north-west and north-east of Pretoria.  The battery was with Paget when he made a forced night-march and captured the camp of Erasmus (see 1st West Riding Regiment).  The battery sailed for home in October 1900.  In Lord Roberts' despatch of 4th September 1901 6 officers and 6 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.

 


 

This is the diary of Walter Miles Airey, CIV, and covers the period from January to September 1900.

January 1900 4 Thursday Sworn in at Guildhall to the C.I.V.M.I
12 Friday Served with uniform and rifles. Slept at H.Q. L.R.B.  Recd. Freedom of the city. Farewell service At St Paul's.  Dinner Inner Temple
13 Saturday Parade at 4.0 a.m.  Marched to Line Elms.  Left Southampton 6.0 pm for South Africa
14 Sunday Crossed Bay of Biscay.  Rather rough.  Sat on deck all day.
15 Monday Lounged on deck all day.  Parade at 10 a.m.  Measured for more khaki. (see below)
16 Tuesday Parade at 10.0 a.m.  Physical drill.  Parade at 2.30 pm.  Sorted equipment. Quite like summer.  Sea like the river
17 Wednesday Arrived Madeira 4.0 a.m.  Landed. Saw through town.  Returned to boat at 10.0 a.m. Bought fruit extraordinarily cheap
18 Thursday Passed Teneriffe (sic). Excellent view of the snow capped peak.  Drills 10.30 and 2.30
19 Friday Parade in riding breeches, bare feet and shirt sleeves 10.30 and 2.30.  Morning bath on pool deck 4.30
20 Saturday Passed Cape Verde.  Watched flying fish and sharks.  Parade 10.30 and 2.30
21 Sunday Church parade 10.30.  Glorious day.  No other duties
22 Monday Crossed the equator.  Concert in the evening.  Sergt. (sic) Gibbons seriously ill.  Parade 6.30, 9.30. 3.30
23 Tuesday Sports in the afternoon.  Parade 6.30, 9.30.  Sergt. Gibbons died.  Myself inoculated for enteric in the evening
24 Wednesday Burial Sergt. Gibbons.  Military honours. Frightfully stiff I can scarcely move about & very feverish.  No duties
25 Thursday Feeling somewhat better though still like an old man.  Continuation of sports and concert. Distribution of prizes.  No duties
26 Friday Right well again.  Mess orderly.  Manchester Port signaled relief of Ladysmith.  Lieut. Wilson stood Pheasant supper
27 Saturday Wavell Competition. Scottish 1st and 4th.  Smoking concert.  Mess orderly
28 Sunday Mess orderly.  Church parade
29 Monday Arrived Cape Town.  Great reception.  Delegation from Caledonian Society to meet us.
30 Tuesday Landed Cape Town.  Pitched camp Greenpoint common
31 Wednesday Fitted saddlery.  150 sets.  Reviewed in afternoon by Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener
February 1 Thursday Caught horses, bridled and put them in the kraal.  5.50 a.m to 8.30 pm picketed do.
2 Friday 6.0 a.m brought horses into our own lines, ride in afternoon.  Stables 5.30
3 Saturday Trial of horses.  First full mounted parade.  Stables 5.30. Lord Roberts inspected Comp in evening
4 Sunday Watered horses.  Another detachment of C.I.V arrived
5 Monday Usual parade
6 Tuesday Do
7 Wednesday Half day off.  Parade in afternoon full marching order.  Dinner and midday with W. McBean
8 Thursday Reveille 4.30 a.m. Prepared for our departure to the front, packed kits.  Dinner with Mr. Seaman.  Inspected by Sir A Milner
9 Friday Left Cape Town for Orange River 4.30.  Tea and fruit given by loyalists at Lady Grey
10 Saturday Had breakfast at Matjiesfontein, dinner Prince Alberts Rd, tea Beaufort West
11 Sunday Arrived at De Aar and went on to Orange River
12 Monday Continued journey to Enslin. Encamped Enslin for the night.
13 Tuesday Left Enslin for Ramsdan at 1.30 am. on scouting duty.  Encamped here for the night
14 Wednesday Left Ramsdan for Reit River at 1.30
15 Thursday Left Reit River for Jacobsdal.  Lost 60,000 rations
16 Friday Fighting outside Jacobsdal.  4 C.I.V wounded.  Jacobsdal taken.
17 Saturday Left Jacobsdal for Klip Drift without food water or blanket.
18 Sunday Arrived Klipdrift.  Left again 6 pm with convoy of sick and wounded
19 Monday Arrived Jacobsdal 2 a.m. left again at 6.30 a.m. to catch up with main body in pursuit of Cronje.  Cronje caught up and his force of 13,000 surrounded he is given an hour to surrender.
20 Tuesday Caught up main body.  Cronje would not surrender so was bombarded firing going on till dusk.
21 Wednesday Cannonading continued at daybreak.
22 Thursday Few shells dropped occasionally to keep them on the alert.  Horses taken out to graze whilst we watch the effect of the shells.  Boer Convoy destroyed by fire at night.
23 Friday Truce all day.  Horses taken to graze.  Terrific thunderstorm at night every article soaked through.  Batch of prisoners brought in.
24 Saturday Few shells dropped into Boer camp. Another thunderstorm.  Soaked through again.
25 Sunday Church parade. Storm in afternoon, fine night.
26 Monday Remained in camp all day. Moved out in the evening to surround Cronje.  200 dead bodies raked out of the Modder just here.
27 Tuesday Cronje surrendered unconditionally.  Cronje and prisoners escorted to Modder River.
28 Wednesday Grazed horses
March 1 Thursday Left Paardeberg Camp to one 2 mile E of Boer Position.  Terrific storm.  Outpost  on the shells all night.  Very cold work,  Camp Osfontien Poplar Grove.
2 Friday Botha in command of Boers 2 miles from here.  Grazed horses in the morning.
3 Saturday Grazed horses and scouting
4 Sunday Church Parade in the a.m. Clergyman did not arrive.  Worst thunderstorm so far at night.
5 Monday Grazed horses.  Sentry duty on kopje at night.  No excitement.
6 Tuesday Sentry over water spring all day.  Turned out to false alarm at 10.30 pm remained out all night.
7 Wednesday Started out at 3.0 a.m after the Boers. Naval guns gave them a hot time.  Was under fire for a short time.  Camped at 7 pm. Hard days work.  Acting scout for the advance.  Camped Poplar grove.
8 Thursday Grazed horses a.m.  Sentry on kopje all night.  Bathe in the Modder in the afternoon.
9 Friday Trial of rifles in the a.m.  Bathing parade in the Modder in the afternoon.
10 Saturday Started in pursuit of Boers 5.0 a.m.  Boers surprised 500 killed our losses 400 k & w.  Boer losses very heavy in wounded.
11 Sunday Sunday continued march at 5.0 a.m.  Sentry on kopje all night.
12 Monday Continued march, escorted siege guns and naval guns arrived in camp 3.0 a.m. (13th)
13 Tuesday Continued march on Bloemfontein.  Left at 12.0 a.m. Arrived camp at ….
14 Wednesday 5.30 a.m. at Brands Kopje 3 ½ miles form Bloemfontein.  Boers retreated without opposition
15 Thursday Foraging on evacuated farms.  Shot a buck & secretary bird.
16 Friday Grazed horses a.m.  Went into Bloemfontein the afternoon
17 Saturday Grazed horses in a.m.  Smoking concert in the evening.  Visitors from all regiments in the district.
18 Sunday Church parade in a.m. by Colonel
19 Monday Dismounted drill and grazed horses in a.m.  Walked into Bloemfontein in the afternoon, soaked through in  a storm, lost way back to camp.  Caught again in a storm at night.
20 Tuesday Mounted drill and grazed horses in a.m. Do (ditto) afternoon.  Washed underclothes first time since leaving Cape Town.
21 Wednesday Mounted parade in a.m.  Bathing parade in afternoon
22 Thursday Mounted parade in a.m. grazed afterwards.  Parade of all ranks.
23 Friday Heavy rains all day and night.  No parades.
24 Saturday Rains continued.  On night guard duties
25 Sunday Church parade by Colonel.  On duty all day
26 Monday Mounted parade in a.m grazing of horses in afternoon.  Concert given by 8th M.I. in the evening.  Very good
27 Tuesday Mounted parade in a.m. grazing in afternoon.  Sentry on Kopje at night
28 Wednesday Left kopje at 5.30. a.m. 2 mile tramp to camp. Orders to saddle up and march off at 7.15 a.m. Marched all day, camped at 10 pm.  Very hot day
29 Thursday Continued march at 4.45 a.m. under fire all day.  Boers driven from their position.  Camped for the night in the plain,  Karree
30 Friday No rations until night, found transport and camped 4 miles off
31 Saturday Bathed in the morning.  Moved position again in the afternoon, Spytfontein.  Sentry at night
April 1 Sunday Dug trenches on top of kopje in the morning.  Scrumped fruit in the afternoon.  Sentry at night
2 Monday Sent back to Karree to bring back remounts.  Away all day.  Australians on similar job.  Narrow escape on sentry at night.
3 Tuesday Saddled up at 5.0 a.m. Full marching order.  Piquet at night.  Built entrenchments all day.  Piquet at night
4 Wednesday Continued entrenchments.  Support at night
5 Thursday Built fresh entrenchments during the a.m.  Moved camp in the afternoon about 1 mile.  Patrol at night; returned to camp at ….
6 Friday 3.0 a.m..  Built more entrenchments.  Piquet at night
7 Saturday Moved camp 4 miles further north.  Cossack post at night.  2 Boers captured.
8 Sunday Divine service by Adjutant (?)
9 Monday Grazing during day
10 Tuesday Brigadiers orderly
11 Wednesday Brigadiers orderly
12 Thursday Brigadiers orderly
13 Friday Brigadiers orderly.  High tea with engineers
14 Saturday Orderly.  Boers made a feint attack & were driven back,  Horse knocked up
15 Sunday Church parade in a.m.
16 Monday C.I.V sports day in afternoon.  No duties all day. (orderly in a.m. only).  Heavy storm at tea time.  Cleared up in an hour.  Concert afterwards.  Received cake etc from home
17 Tuesday Rain continued all day.  Piquet at night
18 Wednesday Still raining.  Cleared up in the evening, fine at night
19 Thursday Piquet
20 Friday No duties
21 Saturday Saw Davis in 2nd M.I.
22 Sunday Davis came to tea.  Night guard
23 Monday Tents arrived
24 Tuesday Usual camp duties and fatigues
26 Thursday Piquet
27 Friday Piquet
28 Saturday Piquet
29 Sunday Piquet
30 Monday Skirmish at Karree Kloof.  Enemy in great force.  63 casualties.  Piquet at night
May 1 Tuesday Piquet at night
2 Wednesday Packed kits ready to move off.  Received new Argentine horses at night.  (No good)
3 Thursday Moved off 5.30 a.m. Big fight Mil Sec (?) drew the fire & Sergt Kingsford and Pte  Holland were killed by shell fire.
4 Friday Sergt Kingsford's body brought in & burial.  No Duties
5 Saturday Marched on at 5.15 a.m.  25 miles march, heavy days work, scouting etc.
6 Sunday Continued march  6.0 a.m.  Camped at 5.30 pm. 12 mile march.
7 Monday Marched on at 7.30 a.m..  Camped at 5.30 pm near Winburg Kop.  Chicken and jam for tea.
8 Tuesday Division halted for days rest.  Horses very poor condition
9 Wednesday March off 5.30.  marched 25 miles
10 Thursday In action at Zand River.  Slept in enemy's evacuated postion
11 Friday Reveille 4.0 marched 5.30. 20 miles
12 Saturday Reveille 4.0 marched 5.30. 10 miles. Kroonstad taken. Camped 3 miles S.E.
13 Sunday Rested
14 Monday Resting, grazing.  Concert in evening
15 Tuesday Visited C.I.V infantry camp.  Concert in evening
16 Wednesday Watering and grazing
17 Thursday Washing day
18 Friday Watering and grazing. Piquet
19 Saturday Watering and grazing
20 Sunday Church parade
21 Monday Re-commenced march.  Camped 2 miles N.E. of Kroonstad.  Got a new Basuto pony (grand 'un)
22 Tuesday Continued march.  About 17 miles.  Piquet at night
23 Wednesday Marched 13 miles.  Camped at Ann Holme
24 Thursday Marched 17 miles.  Piquet at night
25 Friday Marched about 16 miles camped 16 miles south of Vaal.  Sent into hospital sick with fever
26 Saturday Started on return to Bloemfontein by bullock wagon.  Blankets frozen at night
27 Sunday Changed from bullock wagon to train.  Continued journey in open trucks
28 Monday Arrived Bloemfontein hospital.  Diet 4 pint milk per day
29 Tuesday Ditto
30 Wednesday Ditto
31 Thursday 4 pints milk per day
June 1 Friday Ditto
2 Saturday Ditto
3 Sunday Ditto
4 Monday 4 pints milk.  4 ozs arrowroot
5 Tuesday Ditto
6 Wednesday Ditto
7 Thursday Rations without meat
8 Friday Ditto
9 Saturday Full rations
11 Monday Moved to convalescent camp other side of Bloemfontein
12 Tuesday Met Stuart about 6.0 a.m.
14 Thursday Convalescent camp
18 Monday Convalescent camp
19 Tuesday Went to town
20 Wednesday C.C
21 Thursday C.C
22 Friday C.C
23 Saturday C.C
24 Sunday Church parade
25 Monday Convalescent camp
27 Wednesday Ditto
28 Thursday Went to town
29 Friday C.C
30 Saturday C.C
July 1 Sunday Church parade
2 Monday Went to town
3 Tuesday Convalescent camp
4 Wednesday Ditto
5 Thursday Convalescent camp
6 Friday Medical Inspection
7 Saturday Convalescent camp
8 Sunday Church parade
14 Saturday Left convalescent Camp for Noovals Port arrived at night
15 Sunday Med inspection and church parade
17 Tuesday Marched to Orange R. bridge and back to dinner
22 Sunday Church parade
27 Friday Left Norvals Port 5.0 pm bound south.  Supper at ……..port (?)
28 Saturday Breakfast at De Aar.  Dinner Victoria West.  Supper Beaufort West.
29 Sunday Breakfast Prince Albert Rd. Dinner Worcester. Tea Wellington
30 Monday Arrived at Wynberg 6.0 a.m.  Transferred to No 13 General hospital 11B Hut
31 Tuesday Went into the woods gathered silver leaves etc
August 2 Thursday Went to Cape Town
4 Saturday Cape Town
6 Monday Cape Town
10 Friday Cape Town
14 Tuesday Cape Town
18 Saturday Cape Town
21 Tuesday Left Cape Town . Embarked on SS Assegai
22 Wednesday Sailed from Cape Town.  Ships run till 12.0 a.m. 62 miles
23 Thursday Ship run 318 m
24 Friday 341
25 Saturday 343
26 Sunday 349
27 Monday 348
28 Tuesday 345
29 Wednesday 335
30 Thursday 343
31 Friday 345
September 1 Saturday 305
2 Sunday 335
3 Monday 330
4 Tuesday Arrived Las Palmas 317 miles
5 Wednesday 101 miles
6 Thursday 321 miles
7 Friday 326 m
8 Saturday 322 m
9 Sunday 333 m

 


 

On parade
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Uniform
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Inner Temple dinner
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officers
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At Cape Town
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On board the Garth Castle
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Nominal roll page 1 of 4
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Nominal roll page 2 of 4
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Nominal roll page 3 of 4
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Nominal roll page 4 of 4
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Uniform
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W H Mackinnon
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DCM to Sgt T W Vine, CIV & SAC. DNW Apr 16
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Airey
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Airey's 'Portable library'
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Category: Imperial units
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