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TOPIC: DCMs for the Boer War

DCMs for the Boer War 2 years 9 months ago #51716

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From the next DNW auction.


Picture courtesy of DNW

DCM VR (14177 Gnr: H. S. Gilberry. R.F.A. 15-12-99);
QSA (5) CC, TH, OFS, RoL, Belf (14177 Gnr: H. S. Gilbery, 66th. Bty: R.F.A.);
IGS 1908 (1) North West Frontier 1908 (14177 Corpl. H. S. Gilbery 18th By. R.F.A.);
1914-15 Star (14177 B.S. Mjr. H. S. Gilbery. R.F.A.);
BWM and VM (Lieut. H. S. Gilbery)

D.C.M. London Gazette 8 February 1901: ‘For gallant conduct at the Battle of Colenso, 15th December [1899], in attempting to extricate the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries.’

Hugh Squire Gilberry served with the 66th Battery, Royal Field Artillery during the Boer War, and was present with the Battery at the Battle of Colenso, 15 December 1899.

The Heroes of Colenso
Buller and his Staff proceeded to Natal where a force of 20,000 troops and five Field Batteries awaited, the intention being to cross the heavily defended line of the Tugela River and advance to relieve Ladysmith. Hildyard's 6th Infantry Brigade supported by the 14th and 66th Batteries of IV Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, and six Naval 12 pounder guns under Colonel Long, Royal Artillery, held the centre of the British position. The objective of 15 December was to cross the Tugela by the bridge at Colenso and dislodge the Boers beyond the river. Colonel Long, who had been responsible for the disaster to an armoured train a month before, had a theory that artillery was most effectively used at close quarters, or, in his own words, 'the only way to smash the beggars is to rush in at 'em'. Early in the action Long employed his theory bringing his guns into a dangerously exposed position not more than 1000 yards from the enemy. ‘To see those 18 gun teams riding out far ahead of the infantry battalions supposed to screen them, was to return to some scene from Balaklava.’ No sooner were the guns unlimbered than an enemy shell burst among them hailing the onset of a continuous and murderous fire. After half an hour of firing on the Boers at Fort Wylie both Batteries had run short of ammunition and the little they had left was kept to cover the expected advance of 6 Brigade. Casualties had been severe and nearly all the officers including Colonel Long were wounded. The surviving men and officers withdrew to take cover in a donga to the rear of the position, leaving their guns exposed and unattended.

Shortly afterwards Buller and his Staff appeared on the scene, having heard the guns supposedly in support of Hildyard's Brigade were out of action. The Boers recognising the Staff in an unusually forward position trebled their fire, but Buller, unperturbed, finished his sandwich and ordered the immediate recovery of the guns. From the surrounding group of officers emerged 'one of the most gallant trio's that ever tried to win the Victoria Cross'. They were Captain Harry Schofield, Captain Walter Congreve of the Rifle Brigade, and Lieutenant the Hon. F. H. S. Roberts, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, only son of the Field-Marshal. The narrative which follows is in the words of Schofield himself and is taken from his pocket diary:

‘....we went back to the donga where all the horses and drivers were, which was under a hot fire and the General personally tried to get some of them (men and horses) out to try and recover the guns but there were no officers there; so General and Congreve (RB.) and self set to work to get some out and we got 2 teams and a corporal and hooked in the teams to limbers just in front; doing this was no easy matter as it was rather difficult without N.C.O's to get men on foot to come and help to hook in; Gerard was coming out when I shouted to him to send me a man or two to help; we got the teams hooked in somehow, I forget how (except I saw Congreve doing his) and then I started off at a gallop with the limbers for the two guns on the right and Roberts, 60th, joined in; also Congreve came on tho 'I did not find this out till after; the impression I had going on was galloping on a carpet spotted thick with spots, it was a very hot fire; after we had gone about 400 yards young Roberts on my left was shot and fell backwards, he had just before been looking at me and smiling, waving his stick in a circular motion like one does one's crop sometimes when one goes away from covert, thinking to have a good burst; Congreve tells me he himself was shot just before this and also his horse and the latter plunging badly, threw him; so the Corporal and self were left. When on the way, I saw the lead driver of the right guns riding very wildly; I shouted to him to keep his horse in hand, which I think took them off thinking of the bullets, as it did me a little; on getting to the guns I howled out 'wheel about on your guns', which they did quite splendidly, as if on parade; Corp. Nurse and self jumped off our horses and ran to hook on the guns, I found mine rather too far off to drag up alone so told the Corporal to come and help me, which he did and then he put his own gun on which was just in the right place; while he was doing this my wheel driver turned round and said 'elevate the muzzle Sir', which I did; they all kept their heads most admirably; we then mounted, galloped for the centre sunken road running across the far donga and I left them in a place of safety some way behind; after crossing the Donga a spent bullet hit me on the thigh, only a tap and didn't leave a mark. Corporal Nurse, drivers Henry Taylor, Young, Potts, Rockall, Lucas, Williams, all of the 66th battery were not touched; 3 or 4 horses got hit; luckily not enough to make them falter or we should not have got off that particular plain I think. The corporal and drivers behaved most admirably and no doubt if they had bungled in their driving on to the guns we could not have got out, they were nailers.’

Congreve had crawled into the donga to seek shelter and later went out to bring in Roberts. He eventually remained in the donga with the other wounded until the Boers, who took the position, allowed their evacuation. A second attempt to recover the remaining guns was mounted by Lieutenants Grylls and Schreiber of the 66th Battery but their efforts were unavailing and both officers were killed. A third dash for the guns by Captain Reed of the 7th Battery ended with the loss of half his men and two-thirds of his horses. Eventually Buller, resigning himself to the loss of the guns, forbade any further attempts. Later, he went to the survivors of the abandoned batteries and personally thanked them for their gallantry.

For his gallantry at Colenso Gilberry was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and was presented with his medal by H.M. King Edward VII at St. James’s Palace on 25 July 1901. He subsequently served with the Royal Field Artillery during the Great War on the Western Front from 16 January 1915, and was commissioned Lieutenant, Royal Field Artillery, on 18 November 1916.

The abortive action to take the village of Colenso- part of the disastrous ‘Black Week’ of the Boer War- struck the world with the manifest determination of the British soldier under fire, and was recognised by the award of 5 Victoria Crosses and 24 Distinguished Conduct Medals for gallantry in attempting to extricate the guns, together with a further Victoria Cross and 21 D.C.M.s for acts of gallantry at or near Colenso.
Dr David Biggins
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DCMs for the Boer War 2 years 8 months ago #52331

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I have to share this group I got at DNW last night. I am quite excited by it. I now have an iconic Natal related DCM group which is a cornerstone of the collection. I am really interested in seeing the "Corp of Guides" naming up close on the DCM. Hopefully I can find out more about him as well.



A Boer War D.C.M. group of three awarded to Sergeant J. H. Newton, Rimington’s Corps of Guides, later Damant’s Horse, Intelligence Department, and Royston’s Horse

Distinguished Conduct Medal, V.R. (Tpr: J. H. Newton. Corps of Guides); Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 8 clasps, Belmont, Modder River, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Wittebergen (Serjt: J. H. Newton. Damant’s Horse.); Natal 1906, 1 clasp, 1906 (M. J. H. Newton, Royston’s Horse.).

D.C.M. London Gazette 27 September 1901.

John Henry Newton enrolled into Rimington’s Corps of Guides on 13 October 1899 and was promoted Sergeant on 18 October 1899. Raised at the outbreak of the war by Major M. F. Rimington, 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, it was not a large unit, numbering about 150 at the outset. The Guides were distinguished in many of the early actions of the war. Sir Archibald Hunter said of them, ‘Major Rimington has gathered a body of men whose virtues are like his own. They can ride, see, fight, and shoot straight. They are in the forefront where there is danger. They have never disappointed me, let alone failed me.’ When Rimington left the Guides to take another command, the unit was resuscitated under another of their leaders, Major Damant. Although the corps was still called officially Rimington’s Guides, it eventually became Damant’s Horse.

For his services during the Boer War Newton was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the recommendation stating: ‘On 20 May 1900, Trooper Newton rendered good service in collecting information and guiding a patrol along the Valsch River. On 22 May 1900, he took part in a reconnaissance to Rhenoster River Bridge and brought back a report’, and was also Mentioned in Despatches for ‘gallant conduct and valuable scouting.’ (London Gazette 27 September 1901). He left the Guides on 17 August 1900 and transferred to the Intelligence Department.
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DCMs for the Boer War 2 years 8 months ago #52428

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Picture courtesy of DNW

DCM, E.VII.R. (Pte. T. Aldrdge. 19th. Hussars.);
QSA (4) DoL, OFS, Laing’s Nek, Belf (3801. Pte: T. Aldridge. 19/Hrs.);
KSA (2) (813 T. Sjt. Mjr. T. Aldridge. SAC)

DCM 27 Sep 01

Thomas Aldridge was born in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, in 1873, and attested for the 19th Hussars in London on 11 January 1892. He served with the Regiment in India from September 1895 until October 1899, and then in South Africa throughout the Boer War. He transferred to the Army Reserve in South Africa on 22 September 1902, and was discharged on attaining the rank of Sergeant on the South African Constabulary on 30 April 1903, after 11 years and 110 days’ service, and subsequently rose to the rank of Sergeant Major.
Dr David Biggins
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DCMs for the Boer War 2 years 8 months ago #52429

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DCM VR (3469 Corpl: J. H. Jones. N. Staffs: Regt);
QSA (3) RoK, OFS, Joh (3469 Serjt: I. H. [sic] Jones. N. Stafford: Regt.)

John Henry Jones was born in Walsall, Staffordshire, in 1872, and attested for the North Staffordshire Regiment at Lichfield on 1 October 1891. He served with the 1st Battalion in Egypt from October 1895 until November 1897, and was promoted Corporal on 28 November of that year. Transferring to the Army Reserve on 11 October 1898, he was recalled to the Colours on 16 December 1899, and served with the 2nd Battalion in South Africa during the Boer War from 14 January 1900 until 30 July 1902. Promoted Sergeant on 13 February 1901, he was discharged as medically unfit on 31 October 1902, after 11 years and 31 days’ service.
Dr David Biggins
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DCMs for the Boer War 2 years 8 months ago #52430

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DCM, E.VII.R. (25864 B: Sjt: Maj: H. Golesworthy. 2nd. B: R.F.A.);
QSA (3) CC, Tr, Witt (25864 B.S. Major. H. Golesworthy, 2nd. Bty: R.F.A.);
KSA (2) (25864 B. Serjt:- Maj: H. Golesworthy. R.F.A.)

QSA and KSA both partially officially corrected,

DCM LG 27 September 1901. The recommendation states: ‘A very excellent N.C.O. who has rendered valuable services throughout the campaign. His services have been specially brought to notice by the Officer Commanding, 2nd Battery Royal Field Artillery.’

Harry Golesworthy was born in Gibraltar in 1867 and was educated at the Royal Military Asylum. He attested for the Royal Artillery on 31 December 1881, as a Boy, and was appointed a Trumpeter on 28 August 1882. Promoted Bombardier on 22 November 1887, Corporal on 2 May 1888, and Sergeant on 17 November 1891, he suffered burns on his hands and face whilst on duty, on 20 June 1890. Having served in South Africa from October 1883 until November 1885, and in India from September 1893 until December 1898, he was advanced to Battery Sergeant Major on 4 October 1897, and went with the Artillery to South Africa for service in the Boer War on 21 January 1900. He was finally discharged on 7 May 1903, after 21 years and 128 days’ service. Golesworth married Miss Matilda Twyman at St. Mary’s Northgate, Canterbury, on 6 February 1887. He died at Romsey District Hospital, Hampshire, on 27 August 1941.
Dr David Biggins
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DCMs for the Boer War 2 years 8 months ago #52488

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This group of miniatures is listed as sold on the eMedals website, Canada.


Picture courtesy of eMedals

An incredible group of medals - if credible.

The write-up says:

Distinguished Conduct Medal (silver, 17.8 mm);
British South Africa Company's Medal (silver, 17.8 mm);
Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal, 1 Clasp - BECHUANALAND (silver, 17.7 mm);
Africa General Service Medal 1902-1956, 1 Clasp - B.C.A. 1899-1900 (silver, 17.6 mm);
Queen's South Africa Medal, 7 Clasps - GRASPAN, BELMONT, MODDER RIVER, RELIEF OF KIMBERLEY, PAARDEBERG, DRIEFONTEIN, TRANSVAAL (silver, 17.7 mm); and
King's South Africa Medal, 2 Clasps - SOUTH AFRICA 1901, SOUTH AFRICA 1902 (silver, 17.6 mm).

Very crisp detail, court-mounted, light contact, near extremely fine.

Group is attributable to Sergeant-Major G.P. Roberts was awarded the Edward VII Distinguished Conduct Medal, the second highest award for gallantry in action, for all Army ranks below Commissioned Officers. He was cited for his DCM in the London Gazette on September 27, 1901 for gallantry in action during the Boer War.
Dr David Biggins
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