TOPIC: Capt. Welsh, M.I.D. - O.C. of the Adelaide D.M.T.
Capt. Welsh, M.I.D. - O.C. of the Adelaide D.M.T. 6 months 2 weeks ago #55976
Augustus Welsh, J.P.
Captain and Officer Commanding, Adelaide District Mounted Troops – Anglo Boer War
- Queens South Africa Medal (no clasp) to Captain A. Welsh, Adelaide D.M.T.
Augustus Welsh was born in the Eastern Cape town of Bedford in about 1866 the son of Alexander Robert Welsh, a well-known Presbyterian Clergyman and Farmer in the Bedford, Adelaide and Fort Beaufort region of the Eastern Cape and his wife Jessie Margaret Welsh, born Solomon. Welsh senior had served as a Captain in the Stutterheim Levy in the Frontier Wars of 1877/78 and had been the Adjutant of the 5th Battalion, Natal Native Contingent in the Zulu War that followed in 1879. He had further served as Captain in the Umtata Native Contingent in the Basuto Gun War of 1880 and 1881 so it came as no surprise that his son, Augustus, would take up the mantle when the Anglo Boer War came round in late 1899.
It could be argued, and was indeed said, that the war between the two Boer Republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State on the one hand and the might of the British Empire on the other wasn’t an Eastern Cape war. After all the protagonists were at each other’s throats in Natal to the North and the Cape Colony to the West leading many to speculate that the war would never “come their way”.
This thinking, of course, proved to be fallacious and, in almost no time at all the Boer Commandos were beginning to make incursions into the Eastern Cape as they tried to find a route to the sea and to recruit sympathetic fellow Dutch-speakers to their faltering cause. This gave rise to the creation and deployment of many Town Guards in the area – bodies of men called to arms in order to protect their families, towns and livelihoods from the marauding Boers – and District Mounted Troops, brought into being for a similar reason but with a brief, as mounted men, to expand their reach into the areas surrounding the towns.
Adelaide was no exception with both a Town Guard and a District Mounted Troop being raised. Augustus Welsh, a well-to-do Farmer and land owner in the area was an almost obvious choice to lead the D.M.T. side of things and was appointed to the rank of Captain to command the men of the district. Although hastily assembled and inadequately trained most of these men behaved well when the enemy appeared and many of these locally assembled troops suffered a number of casualties.
There was the ever-present and constant threat of being out manoeuvred by the wily Boer forces who, with their hit and run tactics, would enter a town or district, run amok, create bedlam and then, having seized what supplies and animals they could, would be gone again in a flash. Very few of these colonial men warranted a second glance despite their valiant efforts; Welsh, however, was one of those singled out for Mention in Dispatches by Lord Kitchener on 8 December 1901.
The dispatch read as follows:-
“Adelaide District Mounted Troops, Capt. Welsh, for coolness and good leading, operations in Cape Colony, September.”
Although no further specifics are given September 1901 was a period wherein Boer forays into the area reached a fever pitch with many instances where local men were called upon to leave their homes for days at a time in the hunt for their foe. For his efforts Welsh, who as .O.C. was obliged to sign the roll, was awarded the Queens Medal without clasp. A total of 88 medals were issued off this roll with nineteen of them being returned to the mint. The roll was signed at Port Retief, a small settlement in the district of Fort Beaufort on 12 March 1904.
For Welsh who was now comparatively young at 35 the war was over – he returned to his farm and the responsibilities attendant thereon. On 23 November 1905 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the District of Adelaide. His residence was given as “Kaal Hoek” (which translates to Naked Corner – an allusion to how isolated his farm was from town) and his occupation as Farmer. He was 39 years old and could speak and write both English and Dutch fluently. The reason advanced for appointing him a J.P. read; “No Justices of the Peace in the Ward Kroome, and as Mr Welsh resides some mile from the District of Adelaide, I deem it necessary that the appointment be made.”
This appointment had come on the back of and as a result of a letter written by him the day before his appointment was announced i.e. 22 November 1905. In this letter he refers to his “re-appointment as J.P.” and states further:-
I have the honour to bring to your notice that I have been a Justice of the Peace for the District of Fort Beaufort for many years. Since the creation of the District of Adelaide, however, I have been informed that my commission will no longer extend to what is known as the Adelaide District.
I would beg to point out that this places me in a very awkward position as there in so J.P. within twenty miles of where I live. Consequently any warrants which I may issue have to be taken to Adelaide, a distance of twenty miles, to be counter-signed, in spite of the fact that I am only a few hundred yards of the Adelaide boundary.
I would therefore request that my commission as J.P. should be extended to the Adelaide District: this I understand as being done in the case of all other J.P’s residing in what is now known as the Adelaide District. I may also point out that I am Field Cornet of Ward No. 6 of which only three farms are in the Fort Beaufort District the whole of the remaining portion of the Ward falling into the Adelaide District.
I have the honour….”
With that now in place Welsh went about his business. A dark cloud appearing on his horizon when his wife, Mary Ivo Welsh (born Niland) died on 10 September 1921. He himself lived to the ripe old age of 87 years and 10 months passing away on his farm “Kaal Hoek” on 1 September 1953. He was survived by his three children, Lucy Agnes Mary Welsh, Augustus Hamilton Welsh and Doris Ellinor Rapmund.
Two of his brothers became well known citizens – Sir Allan Ross Welsh was the Speaker of the Southern Rhodesia Legislative Assembly and Robert Hepburn Welsh was a prominent Medical Doctor in the Eastern Cape and Transkei.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Brett Hendey, QSAMIKE, David Grant
Capt. Welsh, M.I.D. - O.C. of the Adelaide D.M.T. 6 months 2 weeks ago #55977
Thank You again Rory......
Military Historical Society
Capt. Welsh, M.I.D. - O.C. of the Adelaide D.M.T. 6 months 1 week ago #56022
I think that particular medal, is a really nice thing, I also would suggest, that it underlines the significance of medals to both TG and DMT officer recipients, certainly from my own experience, they only very seldom, ever, disappoint.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Rory