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TOPIC: Medals to the FID

Medals to the FID 1 year 10 months ago #55166

  • Brett Hendey
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IL
I have a QSA/KSA pair to Harry Forbes, for whom I already have a lot of information, but perhaps your book has more.
The QSA has OFS and Transvaal clasps rivetted on, and Cape Colony loose on the ribbon. Forbes is named as a Guide, while on the KSA he is a Scout.
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Brett

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Medals to the FID 1 year 10 months ago #55168

  • LinneyI
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Brett
The Buxton book shows Guide H.Forbes as attached to Intelligence Department, Harrismith District, clasps "OFS" and Transvaal" and a KSA. For Other Ranks, 205 QSA/KSA issued for FID. I will have a look through the rolls tomorrow to see if I can pick up anything extra.
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IL.
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Medals to the FID 1 year 10 months ago #55173

  • djb
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A very interesting thread on the FID.

Thank you for all your work on this, IL.

Dr David Biggins

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Dr David Biggins

Medals to the FID 1 year 10 months ago #55182

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Brett
I had a trawl through the FID KSA roll for Guide H.Forbes; found SCOUT H.Forbes (as you indicated). Other service noted with Eastern Provence Horse. Could that be where the Cape Colony clasp comes in? I really get a kick going through the FID rolls for both QSA and KSA. There are so many great clasp combinations noted and the occasional marginal gem.
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IL.

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Medals to the FID 1 year 10 months ago #55184

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IL
Many thanks again! Yes, I do have a record of him in the Eastern Province Horse, so that is a good wrap-up of records for Harry.
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Brett

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Medals to the FID 1 year 5 months ago #56874

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IL's next contribution to this topic is a lone QSA bearing clasps "Laing's Nek" and "Transvaal"; impressed to "Guide C.E. IDLE, F.I.D. It was obtained quite a few years ago now from a UK dealer's list.
As has been discussed previously, research on members of the FID can be very difficult - due to a lack of surviving documentation. Unless a man had previous verified service, became an FID casualty or otherwise came to notice, we have to rely on what we see before us. Most clasps to the FID are general in nature; however all is not completely lost as - occasionally - some quite scarce FID clasp combinations can be found.



The qualifications for the two clasps on the illustrated medal are as follows:
"LAING'S NEK" - this clasp was issued to all troops of the Natal Field Force employed in the operations and North of an East-West line through Newcastle, 2nd to 9th June 1900 inclusive.
"TRANSVAAL" - this clasp was issued to all troops in the Transvaal between 24th May 1900 and 31st May, 1902, who received no other clasps for action in the Transvaal. (BBM, 7th edition).

The "Laing's Nek" clasp must be one of the most common "specific" bars awarded to the men of the NFF - indeed it's presence on a medal is often passed over without comment. Yet, the LN clasp represents official recognition of service at a time of two signal victories. Sometimes, this writer thinks that those promulgating the terms and conditions for the LN clasp may well have gone out of their way to "make a point"; given the failures and embarrassments suffered in that very region by the army in 1881.




(Detail from the theatre map in Conan Doyle, Colonial edition of 1900).

Once again, David Buxton's invaluable 2004 FID publication was of great assistance in researching this contribution. IL's well thumbed copy confirms both of Guide Idle's clasps and shows no previous or subsequent service. He is not listed as a member of the Natal Corps of Guides and it is likely that our man was initially a member of the Intelligence Dept - the forerunner of the FID. Out of caution, the FID medal roll was checked - but no marginal note was found. Eighty-two LN clasps are shown as listed for the FID; certain men would have earned that clasp with - say - TMI or SALH before later service with FID. However, the impression remains that the NFF was reasonably well supplied with Guides after the Ladysmith relief.

The Official History indicates this capability would have been needed as the country North of Ladysmith was quite inadequately mapped. Indeed, the post-war Royal Commission found that the maps available at the commencement of the war "were very incomplete and unreliable". From G.O.C, NFF down to battalion commanders, men with local knowledge or scouting ability would have been vital.

Having learned some terrible lessons on the Tugela, Buller's NFF had progressed to employing highly effective co-ordination between infantry and artillery during the march North. Botha's Pass was forced on 8/6/00 and Alleman's Nek on 11/6/00; the latter action by clever manoeuvre, artillery support and using natural features, caused the heavily fortified Boer position on Laing's Nek ("the Gibraltar of Natal) to be outflanked and abandoned by the enemy. Reading accounts of the time, it certainly appears that reconnaissance was of a high order during the second week of June, 1900.

Amery, writing in the Times History, is lukewarm at best about Buller's overall strategy at that particular time. However, after visiting Laing's Nek on 14th June, the correspondent of the Natal Mercury placed things in a better perspective - and appreciated Buller's strategy. An ever more interesting contemporary comment by the war correspondent of the NewYork Times is quoted in Droogleever's "Thorneycroft's Unbuttoned"; "Sir Redvers Buller's feat in driving the Boers from Laing's Nek and penetrating into the Transvaal by various passes round Majuba is one of the most remarkable military triumphs of the war".

By 18th June, The RE and a native work gang finalised repairs to the dynamited Laing's Nek railway tunnel and the first train duly ran North that day. The next NFF objectives were to move across the political boundary of the Transvaal, repair the Vaal river bridge and capture the railway terminus at Standerton. There, the British intended to acquire the rolling stock of the Transvaal Railways to add to their logistic supply chain.

Once at Standerton, however, they were mortified to find that employees of the Transvaal Railways had rendered the rolling stock useless by removing the connecting rods of the locomotives. In resolving the impasse, the FID was credited with a major coup - being specifically mentioned as such. The Official History tells us that "..... due to the ingenuity of the FID ... in discovering themising connecting rods .... in a few days the engines were ready for work". The method of tracking down the buried connecting rods (financial incentive, gentle persuasion or the assistance of friendly Africans) was not disclosed. In any case. eighteen locomotives and one hundred and forth eight extremely welcome passenger carriages and wagons were added to the NFF's logistic support.

The qualification dates for the "Transvaal" clasp on Guide Idle's medal have been mentioned earlier - and the absence of a King's clasp on the rolls would indicate that Guide Idle's FID service ended at or about the end of December, 1900. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Guide Idle's medal is that the rolls show only seven members of the FID were entitled to just those two clasps.

In conclusion, barring any future biographical discovery of rory-esque dimensions, IL must conclude this post. Guide Idle's service commenced sometime prior to the official transformation of the ID into the FID (June or July, 1900 - sources give varying dates) and he must have been an early recruit to the new Department. Nevertheless, he held a responsible position in the NFF and he definitely qualified for the LN clasp. The "Transvaal" clasp indicates active service after Laing's Nek - and we have seen that the FID was certainly very active in and around Standerton. Unfortunately, Guide Idle's subsequent movements, if any, up to the end of hostilities (or the end of his period of service) are unknown.
IL
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