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TOPIC: Boer War DSOs

Boer War DSOs 2 years 11 months ago #48571

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There were some 1,160 DSOs awarded for the Boer War. At the time of the Boer War it was given to officers with senior command responsibilities, typically upwards of Major, however it was bestowed upon junior officers, usually in cases of conspicuous valour. The majority of awards have no citation but, because the officer had to be mentioned in despatched, an idea of the cause of the award can sometimes be gleaned.

The list of DSO recipients is available here: angloboerwar.com/medals-and-awards/briti...uished-service-order


Picture courtesy of DNW

DSO VR
QSA (3) CC OFS Tr (Lt. D. L. Campbell, D.S.O., Welsh R.)

DSO LG 5 July 1901: ‘For the defence of a train near Alkmaar on 20 May 1901, with four men against 50 Boers at close quarters.’

Duncan Lorn Campbell was near Murree in India in June 1881, the son of Brigadier-General L. R. H. D. Campbell, C.B., and was educated at the United Service College, Westward Ho! Gazetted to the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, Welsh Regiment in November 1900, he was embarked for South Africa, where he served on attachment to the 1st Battalion in operations in Cape Colony, Orange Free State and the Transvaal during 1901 (Queen’s Medal & 3 clasps).

His immediate award of the DSO stemmed from a “mention” in Lord Kitchener’s despatch, dated in July 1901: ‘2nd Lieutenant D. L. Campbell, 1st Battalion, Welsh Regiment: near Alkmaar on 20 May 1901, he most gallantly held an armoured truck for more than hour with only three men. The Boers had possession of the rest of the train and were firing into the truck from the roof of the next carriage and from the sides of the cutting. He was repeatedly called on to surrender but refused.’

Campbell and his small party held out for nearly two hours, when a mounted patrol of the Royal Welsh arrived on the scene and drove off the enemy. In Wilson’s After Pretoria: The Guerilla War, it is said the Boer Commander has just issued orders for the truck to be blown up with dynamite.

Having been seconded to the Indian Staff Corps following the Boer War, Campbell resigned his commission in November 1904 and was placed on the Special Reserve of Officers. Recalled as a Captain in August 1914, he served in the 3rd Battalion, Welsh Regiment in Gibraltar until 1917, when, it would appear, he deserted. Certainly he faced a Court Martial there in April 1919, and was dismissed the service. As a consequence he was not awarded any campaign medals for the Great War and he died in February 1923.
Dr David Biggins
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Boer War DSOs 2 years 11 months ago #48576

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CAPTAIN HOVELL, H. De B., (Hugh de Berdt), WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT





Q.S.A.: CAPE COLONY, TRANSVAAL, WITTEBERGEN
K.S.A.: SOUTH AFRICA 1901 AND 1902

Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 27 September 1901]: "Hugh de Berdt Hovell, Major, Worcestershire Regiment. In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa". The Insignia were sent to the GOC Transvaal 15 November, 1902, and were presented at Bloemfontein 16 March, 1903.

From the Diary of

No.4399 Private Thomas Ford, 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.


February, 1900

Took part in operations round Colesberg, culminating in the attack on British outposts, Monday, Feb. 12th.

Casualties – Officers:
Killed.
Lt.-Col. Coningham.
Bt. Major A. K. Stubbs.

Wounded.
Captain B. H. Thomas (died).
Lieut. C. F. Ruxton.
2/Lieut. M. R. Carr.

Casualties - Other ranks:

Killed.
Sgts. Watkins, Carter; Cpl. Pritchard, L/Cpl. Allen, Ptes. Mason, Carrington, McNaughton, Parton, Danks, Pinner, Parker, Lammas, Weissner, Morris, Deverill, Turley.

Wounded.
28 (1 died of wounds); missing and prisoners, 19 (2 died of wounds).

The following notes are from Mr. A. Bradish who served with the battalion in the South African War. His Company Commander was Captain C. M. Edwards.

12th February 1900

The action of Sligersfontein, named after the farm there, was our first engagement exactly one month after landing in South Africa. This successful engagement with the Boers brought the first honours to the battalion—two D.S.O.'s, immediate awards to Captain H. de B. Hovell, O.C. "A" Coy., and Lieutenant H. V. Bartholomew, O.C. "E" Coy.

Three companies bore the weight of the attack, "A," "E," "C." "A" and "E" held the Kopjes, with "C" in support. Lieut.-Colonel Conningham went from the H.Q. Camp immediately he heard the Boer attack was in force. He was leading the supporting company, commanded by Captain Thomas, " C " Coy. Both fell very early, the Colonel killed and Captain Thomas severely wounded, afterwards died. The Colonel had been in command of the battalion only two months. Major Stubbs, O.C. "E" Coy., was killed and Lieutenant Bartholomew took command of the company. Captain Hovell immediately assumed command of the three companies, and the position was held against great odds without one yard of ground being yielded. Severe casualties were inflicted on the Boers. This outpost line, of which Sligersfontein was the extreme right flank, was 20 miles in length and held by four battalions of infantry, the 12th Brigade commanded by General Clements.

On 13th February the whole brigade retired to Rensburg and then on to Arundel, closely followed by the Boer General, De La Ray, and his commandoes, a distance of 30 miles. At Arundel reinforcements arrived and the Boers were halted.

On the 12th February 1900, the right flank of the British at Slingersfontein came under a strong attacked by the Boers commanded by General De la Rey's. The key of the British position at this point was a kopje held by three companies of the 2nd Worcester Regiment. Upon this the Boers made a fierce onslaught, but were as fiercely repelled. They came up in the dark between the set of moon and rise of sun, as they had done at the great assault of Ladysmith, and the first dim light saw them in the advanced sangars. The Boer generals do not favour night attacks, but they are exceedingly fond of using darkness for taking up a good position and pushing onwards as soon as it is possible to see. This is what they did upon this occasion, and the first intimation which the outposts had of their presence was the rush of feet and loom of figures in the cold misty light of dawn.

The occupants of the sangars were killed to a man, and the assailants rushed onwards. As the sun topped the line of the veldt half the kopje was in their possession. Shouting and firing, they pressed onwards. But the Worcester men were steady old soldiers, and the battalion contained no less than four hundred and fifty marksmen in its ranks. Of these the companies upon the hill (later named Worcester Hill) had their due proportion, and their fire was so accurate that the Boers found themselves unable to advance any further. Through the long day a desperate duel was maintained between the two lines of riflemen.

The Worcestershire Commander Lieut.-Colonel Charles Cuningham and his second in command Brevet- Major Arthur Kennedy Stubbs were killed while endeavouring to recover the ground which had been lost.

Hovell and Bartholomew continued to encourage their men, and the British fire became so deadly that that of the Boers was dominated. Under the direction of Hacket Pain, who commanded the nearest post, guns of J Battery were brought out into the open and shelled the portion of the kopje which was held by the Boers. The latter were reinforced, but could make no advance against the accurate rifle fire with which they were met. The Bisley champion of the battalion, with a bullet through his thigh, expended a hundred rounds before sinking from loss of blood. It was an excellent defence, and a pleasing exception to those too frequent cases where an isolated force has lost heart in face of a numerous and persistent foe. With the coming of darkness the Boers withdrew with a loss of over two hundred killed and wounded. Orders had come from General Clements that the whole right wing should be drawn in, and in obedience to them the remains of the victorious companies were called in by Hacket Pain, who moved his force by night in the direction of Rensburg. The British loss in the action was twenty-eight killed and nearly a hundred wounded or missing, most of which was incurred when the sangars were rushed in the early morning.
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Boer War DSOs 2 years 11 months ago #48911

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From the next Woolley and Wallis auction


Picture courtesy of Woolley and Wallis.

The Boer War D.S.O. pair to Captain Harry Crewe Godley, Northamptonshire Regiment: Distinguished Service Order, Victorian with second type crown, minor loss to fine details of enamel but otherwise nearly extremely fine; Queen's South Africa Medal 1899-1902, clasp, Belmont (Capt. H.C. GODLEY, D.S.O., North'n R), officially engraved naming, ghost dates, toned but otherwise good very fine; mounted for wearing and together with associated mounted miniatures.

Harry Crewe Godley was born at Fermoy, County Cork, Ireland, 30th October 1861, Son of Major H.R.C. Godley 28th Regt (see lot **). He was in South Africa from October 1899 to January 1900, was mentioned in Despatches (L.G. 16 April 1901), and created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (L.G. 19 April 1901) for his service in command of two Companies of the Northamptonshire Regiment in the defense of Enslin Railway Station in December 1899: "The D.S.O was awarded for the excellent service he rendered during the campaign, when he was left in command of a post with two companies of the Northampton Regt., to command Enslin Railway Station.......and defended it for nine hours against a force of from 900 to 1,000 mounted Boers with two guns, under Commandant Prinsloo, who made a suprise attack in order to destroy the line and capture the stores which were being guarded; and notwithstanding the very superior force of the burghers, the two companies....successfully resisted the attack until relieved by reinforcements.....when the enemy retreated." (Creagh and Humphris, 'The Distinguished Service Order 1886-1923')


QSA (1) confirmed on WO100/193p1. Note says invalided.
Dr David Biggins
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