Private, Prince Alfred’s Town Guard – Anglo Boer War
Private, Cape Town Highlanders (German South West Africa) and
Rifleman, 2nd S.A. Rifles (German East Africa – WWI)
- Queens South Africa Medal to Prince Alfred Guard with clasps Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Johannesburg
- 1914/15 Star to the 6th Infantry
- British War Medal to 2nd S.A. Rifles
- Allied Victory Medal to 2nd S.A. Rifles
Harry Elford was born in the Cape Province of South Africa in +/- 1880 the son of Richard and Annie Elford. Little is known of his early life other than it appears to have been spent in the Cape where he attested, with the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War in October 1899, with the 1st Battalion, Port Elizabeth Town Guard. He was accorded no. 222 and assigned to Garrison Duty.
This sort of drudgery was not to the 20 year old Elford’s liking and, ere long, he transferred to the nearby Prince Alfred’s Guard Mounted Infantry. (The mounted portion of the Prince Alfred's Guard came from the Prince Alfred's Own Volunteer Rifles and was formed on 11 Feb 1900 from two sections of the infantry and detached from the infantry from that date. During the time it was detached from the infantry headquarters, it was regarded as a separate unit - except with regards to drawing pay)
The only known photo of Elford - the biggest thing about him appears to be his moustache.
Elford was accorded the rank of Private and no. 590. The P.A.G. Mounted Infantry were operational in the Cape Colony as well as the Orange Free State and Elford was to earn himself clasps to his Queens South Africa Medal for those geographic areas as well as the clasp for Johannesburg which was granted to all troops who, on May 29th 1900, were north of an east line and west line through Klip River station (exclusive), and east of a north and south line through Krugersdorp Station (inclusive).
With Johannesburg and Pretoria occupied by the British Forces most believed the war to be over and Elford took his discharge from the P.A.G. on 8 December 1900. It is assumed that he returned home to the Eastern Cape to continue his civilian pursuit.
Fourteen years later the war clouds rolled in once more and Elford attested for service in German South West Africa on 25 October 1914 with “F” Company of the 6th Infantry (Cape Town Highlanders (District1)). He was allocated no. 5741 and the rank of Private. As his next of kin he provided his wife Mrs. M (Minnie) Elford of Justert Street, Montague in the Western Cape.
The Cape Town Highlanders embarked at Cape Town per City of Athens for German South West Africa on 15 May 1915 and, with the German surrender coming at Otavi on 9 July 1915, were on active duty for a period of two months before returning home. Elford was demobilised on 20 July 1915. For his efforts Elford was awarded the 1914/15 Star which was despatched to his family on 30 November 1921.
He was now faced with the same choice as his compatriots, to either go home or to enlist for service in German East Africa or the slaughter fields of the Western Front. He chose the latter and enlisted with “D” Squad of the 2nd S.A. Rifles on 6 October 1915 providing his wife, once again, as next of kin. On this occasion he was allocated no. 513 and the rank of Rifleman. (The 1st & 2nd S.A Rifles were recruited in the Union circa August 1915 for service on the Nyasaland border at the request of the British Government, later they formed part of General Northeys force.)
On 27 October 1915 he embarked for East Africa and was soon in the thick of things.
Tragedy struck on 26 July the following year when, in mysterious circumstances, Harry Elford, aged 37, Died of Wounds. The Field Service Report completed by the Officer in Charge, Lt. Colonel Rogers, recorded that he had died on 25 July (some dispute as to the date) near Malangali. The Cause of Death was “Accidentally Killed – Gun Shot Wound.
A telegram to Mrs Elford was duly despatched on 27 July 1916 from the Base at Zomba informing her that her husband was “accidentally wounded on patrol 26th since dead.” The family claim that Elford was shot on purpose by a comrade over a disagreement but this has never been verified.
An Imperial Pension of 15% per week per widow and per one child was awarded by Royal Warrant and, in addition, a Union Award of £31 per annum per widow and per one child was awarded.
Harry Elford’s mortal remains were interred in the Iringa Cemetery. His family were sent the British War and Allied Victory Medal on 28 October 1921. He was survived by his wife and an only child.
I did post Elford with my impending move in mind but, truth be told, it's a group I've had a wee while having rescued it from the drawer at Mervin Mitten's emporium of delights in Umhlanga many years ago.
A chance phone call yesterday - following on from the tracking down of his photo in the Nongquai of all places - has put me in touch with his grandson in Durban North. I'm there tomorrow so hopefully will have another photo to share.
You must get your employer to provide you with Lear Jet, so that you can still pay flying visits to Durban and other places north of the Umtamvuna River. They have developed an obligation to maintain research on ABW participants from the Kingdom of the Zulus.
I'm a distance family member of Harry elford. I need to check some family records but it's most likely his parents come from gravesend kent in england. His father being born here. Harry elford would be my great grandfather's cousin. He was also called harry elford. Also I have a photo of the south African harry with his Indian clubs. He was a world record holder.