Over Easter, I have been writing an article for Medal News on the raised date QSA. This has used lots of the information that Mike has very kindly supplied and I also used Mike's transcription of the letter and reports of Strathcona's Horse to piece together the timeline that left some medals with raised dates. I will include the article here when it is published.
Here is the report from The Times when Lord Strathcona made his offer of equipping a unit to fight in South Africa:
An image of the inverted comma that is rotated by 180 degrees on medals to Strathcona's Horse:
Thank You David..... I will wait with baited breath to read the article..... Did you mention that the medals were issued without bars and they were sent on later and in one case as late as 1905..... Mike
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As I understand it, the battle and state clasps were sent from 1902 onwards. The date clasps were sent to Canada later still, from February 1905. I did not realise until researching the article that there had been a delay in issuing date clasps to all Canadian troops because of an entitlement query that took a while to resolve.
The article also includes the role of recipients that we worked on together last year.
QSA (4) CC OFS Belf SA01 (635 Pte. C. C. Malet, Ld. Strathcona’s H:)
Cuthbert William Chamberlain Malet was born in Basford, Nottingham, England, in 1879, the youngest child of John and Elizabeth Mallet. They were an affluent family of lace makers who owned Henry Mallet and Sons. In 1871 this family company employed 340 people, 70 of them children. It is mentioned in Karl Marx’s Das Kapital in the chapter entitled “Branches of English Industry without Legal Limits to Exploitation.”
Malet’s father suffered financial ruin when calamity hit Henry Mallet and Sons, which went into voluntary liquidation on 17th April 1895. To deflect some of the disgrace, the family changed the spelling of their surname from Mallet/Mallett to Malet. Soon afterwards, his older brother left for Australia and in 1896, the seventeen-year-old Cuthbert embarked for Montreal, his occupation given as clerk. He moved to the far North-West of Canada.
With Strathcona’s Horse in Buller’s Natal Field Force
Strathcona’s Horse was among the last regular military units to be raised and (lavishly) equipped by a private individual, entirely at his own expense. Donald Alexander Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, the Canadian High Commissioner to Britain, offered to raise and fund a Canadian cavalry unit for service in South Africa, specifying that the men be recruited from the North-West Territories, Manitoba and British Columbia. Recruitment began on 5 February 1900. In just four days its full authorised strength was reached. Many skilled horsemen (cowboys and members of the North-West Mounted Police) enlisted.
Lord Strathcona quickly decided to enlarge his regiment, and another batch of 50 men were recruited at the same locations. Malet was part of this group. Once again there were many more volunteers than places. It was specified that only those of ‘the most respectable character to be taken, such as would pass into the North-West Mounted Police.’ Malet enlisted at Moosomin, Saskatchewan on 20 April 1900, arrived at Ottawa on 25 April for equipping and sailed from Montreal on 1 May. He was described as 5ft 9 and a half inches tall, slight with a rather prominent nose, brown hair and blue eyes. He stated that he was 22 years old (claiming to be over 21 gave him a better chance of being accepted), a farmhand, single, no children. Malet listed as next of kin his father, John Thomas Malet, who was then living in Merton, London. John Thomas described himself in the 1901 census as ‘clerk in a leather warehouse’, quite a big step down from his previous life as ‘a lace manufacturer’.
When they arrived in South Africa, General Lord Kitchener commented on the size and vitality of the Canadian horsemen (he would have had in mind the unimpressive physical appearance of many recruits from the unhealthy industrial cities of Britain). Their Commanding Officer is said to have replied ‘My apologies, sir. I combed all of Canada and these are the smallest men I could find.’ Strathcona’s Horse soon became famous for their outstanding scouting skills, their high rate of pay (Strathcona provided the money needed to augment their meagre Imperial Cavalry pay to the higher rate earned by the North-West Mounted Police) and their top-quality uniforms and equipment. These were mostly made in Canada, and were far superior to standard British army issue items, notably their high brown riding boots. Their distinctive stetson campaign hats became the standard issue to all Canadian units serving in South Africa. Bandanas loosely tied around the neck added the last touch of ‘cowboy tradition’ and were highly appreciated on the veldt.
In June 1900 Strathcona’s Horse joined Sir Redvers Buller’s Natal Field Force. ‘From the moment of their arrival, they served with marked success. I can hardly speak too highly of the value Strathcona's Horse have been to the Natal Field Force.’ (Buller’s Despatch, London Gazette February 1901 refers.) They took part in seven major actions as part of the Earl of Dundonald's 3rd Mounted Brigade. The unit suffered 50 casualties, 12 killed in action, 14 died of disease, 24 wounded.
Meeting the new King-Emperor
After the occupation of Pretoria and the annexation of the South African Republics, Lord Roberts declared the war to be over and left for England in December 1900. As a privately sponsored unit whose contractual year of service was close to its expiry, Lord Strathcona’s Horse was one of the first to be withdrawn. The regiment embarked at Cape Town on 20 January 1901 and landed in London on 14 February. On arrival at the Royal Albert docks, the men were immediately disembarked and transported by train to Kensington Barracks, then marched to Pall Mall to line the streets through which the King drove to Westminster to open his first Parliament. ‘The honour of being allowed to take some small part in this historic event was fully appreciated by all ranks.’
Lord Strathcona’s men met their sponsor for the first time and Malet was one of the 50 or so selected to be personally presented with their newly minted medals by King Edward VII. They were the first regiment to receive the South Africa war medal (without clasps, as these were not yet ready at the time of the ceremony and were distributed separately). The obverse of the medal bore the head of Queen Victoria, who had died while the regiment was at sea, and the dates 1899-1900 were on the reverse (the dies were altered shortly afterwards). The first 3 clasps on Malet’s Q.S.A. medal are confirmed in his Canadian service papers. The dated clasps were authorised only in 1902 and were distributed much later. The 1901 census lists Malet as a Trooper on furlough, visiting his parents. His service papers indicate that he took up the option that was offered of remaining in England and not returning to Canada.
Malet is next heard of in Malaya, early in 1910, when he wrote a valuation report that was included in the prospectus of the Taiping Rubber Estates Ltd. He is not recorded in the 1911 Census, but his father, mother and unmarried sister Mabel are listed. Both Cuthbert (who would have been 32) and his older brother Arnold were overseas. Cuthbert settled permanently in Malaya and listed his occupation as ‘rubber planter’. There is no indication that Cuthbert joined up for active service in World War I. Arnold lived for a while in Australia, the Belgian Congo and Malaya, where he wrote articles about rubber cultivation, one of which indicates that in 1917 he was the manager of the Trong estate in Perak, before returning to England in the 1920s. In 1926, Cuthbert (aged about 47) is recorded as being a Government Officer in the Federated Malay States. Cuthbert Malet was interned by the Japanese in 1942 and died at Singapore on 2 July 1944, aged 65 (Reporting Authority: Civilian War Dead, Malaya refers).
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