Last year, in the body of a certain UK dealer's list, IL espied a QSA on offer; described as being awarded to the "Natal Native Volunteers". Intrigued, your correspondent sent a query. The dealer admitted a slip; the actual title was "Natal Naval Volunteers" and, never having encountered such before - and historically able to resist anything but temptation - suitable arrangements were made.
The medal shown bears the clasps "Tugela Heights" and "Relief of Ladysmith" and is impressed to "D. Williams, Gnr., Natal Naval Vols.".
The first step was an email to the learned Mr. Hendy; seeking his research assistance. In the interim, IL was able to obtain a copy of a locally published booklet: "Natal Naval Volunteers, Boer War, 1899-1902, Nominal Roll" by L/Col. Neil Smith. That work indicated two entries for "Williams, D"; both being Seamen and both having the same number 219. Clearly someone's duplication. Usefully, the Smith booklet indicated "219 Seaman Williams, D" as having been "mentioned" in a report by Capt. Jones on 8/3/00. No other details were given - apart from the service period being 29/9/99 to 31/5/02.
The booklet did not contain a medal roll (only a PRO reference to same) and IL had to fall back on Fevyer and Wilson's' "QSA medal to RN and RM" for more specific information. Those authors confirmed there was only one "D.Williams" on the roll of the NNV - and that his clasp combination was one of just twenty-six similar entitlements (less three returned). The total enrolment of the NNV was, according to Fevyer and Wilson, just one hundred and thirty five.
Judging by the qualification dates for his two clasps, Gunner/Seaman Williams, D saw active service between 15/12/99 and 27/2/1900; his title "Gunner" probably indicates service with the guns of the Naval Brigade with the Natal F.F. under Capt. Jones, R.N. - rather than being present with Lt. N.W.Chiazzari, NNV during the crossing of the Tugela on 16/1/00 or during the ferry repair at Colenso on 21/2/00.
It seems that Capt. Jones, R.N. "mentioned" a number of NNV men in his despatch written from Ladysmith. The Smith booklet lists fifteen. Clearly, those "mentioned" must have Done Something to come to notice. However, IL has only been able to find two such "mentions" of NNV enlisted men which actually got into official print. Gunner (or indeed, Seaman) Williamsn D was not one of them. Perhaps the list was culled, perhaps names simply "fell through the tracks" - much like the activities of the NNV during the Relief of Ladysmith.
Brett Hendy was very helpful in providing a copy of an article he wrote for the World Naval Ships Forum (entitled "Crossing the Tugela with the Naval Brigade in 1900") - but was regretfully unable to add any details of a likely "D.Williams" (Seaman or Gunner in the NNV). So there it remains for now. There may be thought to be some discrepancy in "Seaman" vs "Gunner" - however the Navy Seaman of the day was quite the "handyman" and could turn his hand to anything.
Initially, IL did regret that more in the way of a biography could not be gleaned. Reality, however, soon asserted itself. Of the total enlistment of one hundred and thirty five men in the NNV, just twenty six earned the claps combination illustrated here. Thus, the medal of "Williams, D. Gunner" is a comparatively scarce entitlement within a quite small enlistment. Moreover, the Commander of the Natal Naval Brigade, N.F.F. thought sufficiently well of the lads of the NNV to "mention" quite a few of them - including Gunner D. Williams. A pity the recommendations did not proceed further.
Regards to all
The following user(s) said Thank You: djb, Brett Hendey
David and Brett
Thanks for that. I suppose the lesson for myself in the above is to look carefully at Dealer's unit descriptions. It would have been all too easy to say "Rubbish - there was no such unit" and leave it at that.
Very nice Ian, twenty five years ago there was a glut of really good QSA's here, few people seemed to want them and members of the NNV used to turn up on a regular basis, sadly, those days have long gone, these medals now only very seldom turn up.
He is clearly shown in WO100/261 as a Seaman, but, a Gunner, was exactly that, a man trained in gunnery.
A very good medal, I like it very much, although, I do like all things Natal in general, none of these things are getting any easier to find, I was particularly interested to see Mike's NVAC a few days ago too, all well worth buying.