My avatar shows the QSA/KSA awarded to Sub-Inspector A G Abraham of the Natal Police (NP). Abraham was one of the most notable of the Natal Policemen to serve in the Boer War. He was specially selected to lead the detachment of the NP Field Force that took part in the Relief of Ladysmith and he was one of the men who rode into Ladysmith on the afternoon of 28/2/1900 to end the siege. Thereafter he took command of General Buller’s Bodyguard of Natal Policemen until the end of the Natal Campaign. He served in the eastern Transvaal as Assistant Provost Marshal to both Brigadier-General’s Dartnell and Bullock and, later, he was Aide-de-Camp to Dartnell while he commanded the Light Horse Brigade in the Orange River Colony.
Whether or not Abraham was eligible for the award of the KSA is examined in the report that follows:
The KSA to the Natal Police
In a paper published by the Orders and Medals Research Society in Spring 1993, R W F Drooglever recorded the issue of only 11 KSA’s to men of the Natal Police (NP). He commented on the reason for this low number and on the dissatisfaction of the men who did not receive the medal. He wrote:
“The conditions laid down for the decoration were that men should have completed 18 months continuous service in the field, some portion of which must have been outside the Colony in 1902, AND that they must have been under the command of a General Officer.”
A recent study of the NP Headquarter’s Order Book for the relevant period has brought to light even more anomalies concerning NP KSA’s than those already recorded by Drooglever. The NP recipients of this medal are listed below, together with comments about their relevant service.
Major-General Sir John Dartnell KCB CMG
Resigned his command of the Imperial Light Horse Brigade in the Orange River Colony (ORC) and was taken back on the strength of the NP on 28/12/1901. He was granted 12 month’s leave on 9/1/1902 and retired early in 1903. It has yet to be confirmed that he spent his leave in Britain. Clearly, he had no field service in 1902.
Conclusion: Dartnell was not eligible for the KSA.
Major (Inspector) W J Clarke
The medal roll records that Clarke was on the staffs of Dartnell and Bullock in the eastern Transvaal and ORC in 1901, while in 1902 he was on General Bruce Hamilton’s staff in the eastern Transvaal. The HQ Order Book records that the latter service took place between 17/3/1902 and 1/4/1902, so Clarke had only 15 or 16 days field service in 1902.
Conclusion: Clarke was not eligible for the KSA.
903 Sub-Inspector A G Abraham
Abraham was ADC and APM to Dartnell and APM to Bullock in the eastern Transvaal and ORC in 1901. He was taken back on the strength of the NP on 1/1/1902 and had no field service in 1902.
Conclusion: Abraham was not eligible for the KSA.
1213 Sub-Inspector C R Ottley
ADC to Lieutenant-General Lyttleton. His date of return to the NP is not known. Since his name was not found in the HQ Order Book for the period December 1901 to June 1902, he probably was then still with Lyttleton.
Conclusion: Ottley was probably eligible for the KSA.
1821 Sergeant S Lane
On Dartnell’s staff in ORC. His date of return to the NP is not known, but he was clearly back in Pietermaritzburg by 3/12/1901, when he was appointed Drill Instructor. Lane had no field service in 1902.
Conclusion: Lane was not eligible for the KSA.
1605 Sergeant J Goode
On Dartnell’s staff in the ORC. Goode was back on the strength of the NP on 29/12/1901. Goode had no field service in 1902.
Conclusion: Goode was not eligible for the KSA.
1846 Sergeant F W Stephens
Dartnell’s orderly in the ORC. He was presumably back on the strength of the NP with Dartnell on 28/12/1901. Stephens had no field service in 1902.
Conclusion: Stephens was not eligible for the KSA.
1199 Sub-Inspector F B Esmonde-White
Commanded the Utrecht-Vryheid Mounted Police (UMP) in the Transvaal and had previously served on the staffs of Generals Lyttelton, Burnwood and Featherstonewaugh. It is likely that he had the correct amount of service and 1901 and 1902 under a General Officer.
Conclusion: Esmonde-White was probably eligible for the KSA.
1186 Sub-Inspector C R Lindsay
The medal roll records Lindsay’s secondment to the UMP from 10/5/1901 to 2/11/1902. However, the HQ Order Book records Lindsay back on the strength of the NP on 3/2/1902. His name appears again in an entry for 19/2/1902, in connection with a kit inspection. The records are contradictory, but clearly there was a break of at least 16 days, and probably more, in his UMP service during 1902.
Conclusion: Lindsay was not eligible for the KSA.
1799 Quartermaster Sergeant E E W Fisk
Fisk was awarded both the Transvaal and Orange Free State clasps on his QSA and it is likely that he was on Dartnell’s staff in 1901. According to Drooglever, Fisk had no service in the field during 1902.
Conclusion: Fisk was not eligible for the KSA.
Sub-Inspector J Hamilton
Hamilton commanded the NP outpost at Mtonjaneni in the Transvaal in 1901 until the end of the war in 1902. (As an aside, it is worth mentioning that Hamilton’s detachment remained in the field long after the war ended and eventually returned to Pietermaritzburg after being out for four years and four months without a break.) In terms of field service, Hamilton and his men clearly qualified for the award of the KSA. It was denied on the seemingly spurious grounds that he was not under the command of a General Officer. How and why this would have affected their service is a mystery. Hamilton evidently felt he had been treated unjustly and persisted in pressing the authorities for the medal. It was eventually awarded to him in 1927, 25 years after the war ended. His men did not receive the medal.
Conclusion: Hamilton was eligible for the KSA.
It seems that the NP KSA’s went mainly to Dartnell and the more senior men on his staff. None of the Troopers who had served with him in the ORC were awarded the medal.
Apart from two “probables”, it is indicated above that only one Natal Policemen was eligible for the award of the KSA, and that it was initially denied to him. It is clear that had justice been done there would have been many more NP KSA’s. They were the men like Hamilton who were on active service throughout the qualifying period for the medal. It must have been especially galling for them to witness the award to Dartnell and his senior staff, who were all back at Headquarters by the beginning of 1902. While justice eventually prevailed in Hamilton’s case, there were an unknown number who served in the NP Field Force in Zululand and that part of the Transvaal that later became part of Zululand, who were unrewarded and who will mostly forever remain nameless.
Although the areas in which they served were far from the battlefields of Buller’s Natal Campaign (1899/1900), they remained under threat from the Boers during 1901 and 1902. In April 1901, the Boers ambushed a NP patrol near Mahlabatini and in the ensuing battle six policemen were killed or mortally wounded. Two of the men involved, Sergeants Smith and Evans, were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Evans was promoted to Sub-Inspector and remained on duty in that part of Zululand until the war ended. He at least was another obvious candidate for the award of the KSA. In September 1901, a Boer commando launched major attacks on Fort Itala and Fort Prospect, but were repulsed, with heavy losses on both sides. Sergeant Gumbi of the Zululand Police was Mentioned in Despatches for his “gallantry and good service in defence of Fort Prospect (Kitchener 8/10/01). Gumbi, being a Zulu, was awarded neither the QSA, not the KSA. Thereafter, there were sporadic skirmishes between the two sides well into 1902.
One such skirmish, which took place on 20/4/1902, was described in the HQ Order Book as follows:
“A police patrol composed of Tprs No. 2140 Moore (in charge), No. 2350 Date and No. 2326 Williams having encountered a raiding party composed of 30 boers near Nondweni on Sunday, 20 April, 1902, opened fire killing three and wounding one boer. The following telegram forwarded to the R.M. [Regional Magistrate] of the Nqutu district by the O.C., Sub-District is inserted for general information:-
‘Please convey my thanks and congratulations to men of Police patrol, who engaged the boers near Nondweni on 20th inst.’
Not even the QSA’s of these men reflect the fact that they were still on active service in 1902. ( Moore [Natal, SA 1901]; Date [TH, ROL, SA 1901]; Williams [TH, ROL, LN, Belf, SA 1901]). Had logic and fairness prevailed, they too would have qualified for the KSA.
Apart from Evans, Moore, Date and Williams, there are few other names that can be gleaned from the HQ Order Book and other records of Natal Policemen who should have been awarded the KSA. They, and the nameless ones, earned the medal, unlike those on the Headquarters staff who received through influence and status.
The medals of James Hamilton (Zululand Police, Natal Police & South African Mounted Rifles).
Thanks for commenting. I had not thought to check the signatures on the various KSA rolls. It turned out to be a revealing exercise.
Roll with the names of Abraham, Ottley, Lane, Goode and Stephens (i.e. Dartnell's staff) was signed by Inspector F A Campbell (Acting Chief Commissioner) at Pietermaritzburg on 1/4/1904.
Roll with Clarke's name was signed by Dartnell in Pietermaritzburg on 20/4/1903.
Roll with Fisk's name was signed by Major J D McLachlan, DAAG South Africa, in Pretoria on 9/1/1907.
Also on the roll with Fisk is James Hamilton, whose name was clearly added later. It has four and a half lines of notations, which in part reflect Hamilton's long battle to secure the KSA. There is no indication of who made these entries.
Roll with Lindsay's name signed by Colonel G Mansel in Pietermaritzburg on 10/2/1905.
Roll with Esmonde-White's name signed by a Major ? late of the U.V.M.P. in Newcastle on 5/3/1906.
I do not have a copy of the roll with Dartnell's name.
It is perhaps most interesting that the only name put forward by Dartnell was that of W J Clarke, who later became Chief Commissioner.
Interesting there were so many different applications for the KSA for various NP policemen. It really does give the appearance that the KSA was misunderstood and many 'speculative' applications were made on behalf of 'deserving' cases.
Dartnell signed his own application submitted 20-04-1903. He listed his service - for 1902 he was "Commandant Volunteers & VCR".
In another hand is written "Was allowed to retain medal on the grounds he was a Maj-Genl on the Staff & considered in the light of an Imperial officer" !! Never mind the PBI risking life and limb.
It seems that Dartnell ensured that he and his close associate Clarke received the KSA (20/4/1903) and that Dartnell's staff (Abraham, Lane, Goode and Stephens) thereafter pressed their claim successfully (1/4/1904). Ottley's name was added to the Dartnell staff claim. At least he probably was entitled to the medal.
Other men then climbed on the bandwagon with the UVMP pair of Lindsay and Esmonde-White leading the way (10/2/1905 & 5/3/1906).
The most improbable and least deserving claimant (Fisk) then used the DAAG in Pretoria to secure his medal.
I imagine that in the meantime a very angry Hamilton started pestering the authorities to recognise his claim, which was the most convincing of all. Twenty-five years later they eventually capitulated, probaly in desperation, and Hamilton received his KSA.
I have wondered if Hamilton had used family influence in his pursuit of the medal. In one of his service papers his profession is given as "gentleman". He also married well. His wife was Elizabeth Mary Stewart Beatson, a member of a prominent Scottish family. She was the daughter of George Stewart Beatson, who achievements included the rank of Surgeon-General, Honorary Physician to Queen Victoria and being an ally of Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War. One of Elizabeth's brothers was Sir George Thomas Beatson, a pioneer surgeon and a major figure in the history of Scottish medicine. The Hamiltons may well have been part of the upper crust in Pietermaritzburg society.