QSA (4) DoL CC OFS Tr (5739 Boy F. J. Woolen, Gloucester Regt.);
KSA (2) (5739 Boy: F. J. Woollen Glouc: Regt.) renamed;
IGS 1908 (2) North West Frontier 1908, Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919 (5739 Lce. Sergt. F. W. Woollen. 1st Bn. Glouc. Regt.) note incorrect second initial;
1914-15 Star (S. Sergt. F. J. Woollen, S. & T. Corps.);
BWM and VM (9593 A.W.O. Cl. 1 F. J. Woollen. Dorset R.);
Defence and War Medals;
Army LS&GC GV (Staff Sergt. F. J. Woollen S. & T. Corps);
MSM GVI (5718196 W.O. Cl. 1 F. J. Woollen. I.A.O.C.)
Francis James Woollen was born at Cirencester, Gloucestershire, on 20 December 1884, his father a Colour-Sergeant in the 4th Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment. He himself also attested for the Gloucester Regiment at Dublin on 11 December 1899, aged 15 years. He served in South Africa from 17 October 1900 to 26 August 1901, and, as recorded in his discharge papers, was wounded at Dewetsdorp on 23 November 1900. His medal entitlement appears to be the Queen’s Medal with clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, and South Africa 1901. He is not entitled to the King’s Medal nor the clasp for Defence of Ladysmith.
Woollen returned to South Africa in April 1903, where he was promoted to Corporal in May 1903, and returned home the following October and was appointed Lance-Sergeant in April 1906. In February 1906 he went to India with his regiment and subsequently took part in the operations of the Mohmand Field Force in the early part of 1908 (Medal with clasp). He was promoted to Sergeant in December 1908 and transferred to the Indian Unattached List for service with the S. & T. Corps in the 1st Peshawur Division from November 1909. He transferred to the 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, in the Poona Division, in May 1910, and re-engaged at Karachi for 2/R.W.F, in December 1910, to complete 21 years. He was promoted to Staff Sergeant in May 1912, and transferred to the 2nd Dorsets in September 1913, serving with that regiment on the North West Frontier 1915-17, in command of a supply depot. His L.S. & G.C. medal was announced in Indian Army Order 521 of 1918. He was on Field Service with the N.W.F.F. (Afghanistan), June to August 1919 (Clasp to India Medal). Woollen was discharged on 11 October 1921. He was awarded the M.S.M. in Army Order 161 of 1936, without annuity, as a Yeoman of the King’s Body Guard.
He died at Leeds on 29 May 1975 and is described as a Retired Army Major.
His QSA is listed on WO100/183p435b and SA01 on WO100/183p483
I think that the QSA is particularly nice, or at least it would have been, if it had not been messed around with, it is a great shame if it transpires that a distinguished officer of Field rank actually felt the need to wear the medals that he was not entitled to, disappointing!
I was wondering if the decision to add the clasp, possibly made while he was still a corporal, was one he regretted as his career developed. Having established his presence during the siege it would have been nearly impossible for him to subsequently remove the clasp from his QSA?
I would have thought that the clasp was "added" after he was well away from his battalion and those who would actually know better, it is important to bare in mind that whilst some members of his regiment were on their way to Pretoria as guests of the enemy, a temporary arrangement, thankfully, others fighting and becoming casualties, this fellow had still to join his regiment.
You know, David, for a boy to go out on Foreign Service is one thing, but, to actually serve on actual Campaign, in a very "full on" war, be wounded and receive a medal is quite another, he was not up against wretched foreign jonnies armed with little more than sticks.
His QSA was already a very fine medal, a very brief glance at WO363 confirms a KSA and that both his original first appointment and subsequent promotion took place after the war had ended, I dare say the awful siege was a talking point in the mess out on the sub continent.
I would suspect a lack of propriety, which was needless, followed by the continuation of the "story" doubtless told a very many times to subordinates who simply knew no better and of course to members of the public at the Tower.
Given the otherwise fine QSA, the handsome IGS and in particular, the hard sought MSM and every thing that followed, the word that springs to mind, mine at least, remains disappointing.
Regards again, Frank
QSA (6) Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Wittebergen (4898 Pte. A. F. Weaver, Glouc: Regt.) note incorrect second initial, number, rank and initials officially re-impressed;
KSA (2) (4898 Corpl: A. Weaver. Glouc: R.)
Albert Thomas William Weaver was born in the Parish of St Peters, Bristol, and enlisted into the Gloucestershire Regiment at Bristol on 24 October 1896, aged 18 years 10 months, a fitter by trade. Posted to the 2nd Battalion in January 1897, he subsequently served in South Africa from 1 January 1900. On 24 March 1900, Weaver was posted to the 5th Mounted Infantry earning the clasps for Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, and Wittebergen, which were not earned by the Gloucesters as a regiment. He returned to the 2nd Gloucesters on 7 July 1902. At Bloemfontein on 22 June 1903, he purchased his discharge for the sum of £18 and settled in South Africa, where he was employed at the South African Garrison Institutes in Bloemfontein, and later worked for Tweespruit Dairies Ltd, at Tweespruit, and Anderson & Co., Confectioners in Bloemfontein.
Weaver kept a detailed diary throughout the war which accompanies his medals together with other original documents. Commencing with his mobilisation in December 1899 and departure from Liverpool on 1 January 1900, his arrival at Cape Town on 21 January and subsequent journey by train to Enslin, where the regiment arrived on 11 February. The action started quite soon as shown in his entry for 19th February at Paardeberg:-
“Under long range fire all day without any orders coming until afternoon, when we got orders to take the hill with the Yorks supporting us. We advanced under heavy fire. Our guns shelling the Kopje from behind us. We charged the lower part of the kopje with the bayonet, killing and wounding 87 Boars (sic). Our casualties were 6 killed and 30 wounded including Colonel Lindsell, we then stayed for the night on the hill and built sangars.”
Daily detailed entries continue for the duration of the war, highlighted by the frenetic movements and operations of the 5th Mounted Infantry with whom Weaver was attached for most of the war. This neatly hand-written and legible diary is unpublished and as such remains a document of historic importance. The diary has been fully transcribed and saved to memory stick.
The following original documents accompany the medals and diary: Parchment Certificate of Discharge, dated Bloemfontein, 22 June 1903; Parchment Certificate of Character on Discharge, 22 June 1903; Third Class Certificate of Education, dated 4 May 1903; Certificate of Qualification for Promotion [to N.C.O.], dated 9 April 1903; Account Book/Pocket Ledger and Monthly Settlements book; various Certificates of Baptism; Receipt for £18 on account of purchase of discharge, 23 June 1903; Marriage Certificate of Albert Thomas Weaver and Lucy Lydia Connolly at Bloemfontein Cathedral on 2 November 1905; four various Driver and Motor Licenses issued at Bloemfontein 1913 & 1914; several testimonial letters, offers of employment, and other correspondence.
QSA (3) Natal, Orange Free State, Transvaal (Lieut. & Adjt. W. L. B. Hill. Glouc. Rgt.)
[ BWM ]
William Leonard Bertram ‘Bertie’ Hill was born in Cheltenham on 2 December 1871, son of Major W. A. Hill (later Colonel Sir, K.C.B., commanding 3rd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment). He was educated at Cheltenham College, 1884-87, and afterwards served in the 3rd Gloucestershire Militia. It was reported in Regimental Orders that on 17 July 1891, Hill rescued a boy from drowning, who had fallen into the lock at East Farleigh, on the Medway, near Maidstone. He was appointed to a regular commission on 23 December 1893, as 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, which was at Malta and bound for India, being promoted to Lieutenant on 22 January 1898, and appointed Adjutant of his battalion on 30 July 1898.
He served in the Boer War where, on 29 October 1899, his battalion was part of a force despatched from Ladysmith to attack a Boer position near Nicholson’s Nek. The column consisted of 450 men of the Gloucesters, 520 of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, and No. 10 Mountain Battery, Royal Artillery. They reach the hill at about 2 a.m. and prepared positions on a slope. However, as daylight broke they found themselves exposed and surrounded by Boers. One party of Gloucesters was cut off and, running out of ammunition, the officer in charge, Captain Duncan, raised a white towel to save his men. Amid the confusion a bugle sounded ‘cease-fire’ and the Boers began to cheer. The mistaken belief that the whole British force had surrendered took hold and the fight was over. It was called the largest surrender of British troops since the Napoleonic Wars.
The captured officers were transported to the Staat Model School in Pretoria, which was converted into a prison camp for officers. Lieutenant Radice, of the Gloucesters, wrote: ‘The school was a long single story red brick building standing on a corner plot of a residential quarter of Pretoria. Breast high railings separated the school from the adjoining two streets. We were lodged 8 or 9 to a room. One of the larger rooms was fitted out as a dining room. The school gymnasium retained its apparatus, we found this most useful to keep fit. Hill, the Adjutant of the 28th, who had been through a gym course in India, organised a class of physical exercises... Our guard consisted of 30 military police who lived in tents pitched on the southern half of the school playground. They were called Zarps from their collar badges which formed the initials of the name of their corps.’
Hill was lodged in room No. 12 along with Temple, Knox, Breul, Short, Radice, Beasley (all Gloucesters) and Gallway (Natal Carbineers). Five days after arriving, the men in room 12 began to plan their escape. They had discovered that a train left Pretoria at about 10 p.m. each night and that it had to slow down to climb a steep gradient nearby. It would be possible to board the train and then jump off near Middleburg and walk into Swaziland. But first they had to get out of the camp.
In a series of three letters, written to his father shortly after his release from Pretoria in June 1900, Hill chronicles his time there and attempts at escape, including tunnelling, not to mention a general dislike towards Winston Churchill:
‘I should like to add a little about Churchill’s escape. It was quite easy, simply a matter of climbing on to the top of a urinal like anyone you see in the streets, those green things you know, and dropping the other side. There were many of us preparing to do the same thing but were waiting because we had not got the necessaries of life and were collecting them. What so annoyed everyone was, that for his own aggrandizement and for copy, he should give away his means of escape directly he was clear, and so spoil everyone’s chances of using the same method, chiefly about the railway I mean. The Boers would have never found out but for him. It was not playing the game and he is cordially loathed in consequence.’
As a result of Churchill’s much publicised escape, Hill and his comrades were moved to a barbed wire compound outside Pretoria, where they remained until Pretoria fell to British troops in June 1900. Hill was subsequently attached to a Provisional Battalion, made up of recently released prisoners of war, which left for Kronstad. Eventually he returned to his regiment at Ladysmith, which was preparing to leave for Ceylon where, on 17 December 1901, he resigned as Adjutant. He was placed on temporary half-pay on account of ill-health on 20 December 1902, and was retired on retired pay on 15 June 1907. He had meanwhile, in March 1904, sailed on the St Louis from Southampton, bound for New York. He eventually settled at Konocti Bay, Kelseyville, Lake County, California, where he became a fruit grower. When war broke out in 1914, he eventually made his way back to England, where he was appointed temporary Captain on 30 July 1916, in the 5th Garrison Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. According to his Medal Index Card, he served in England during the remainder of the war from July 1916 and was entitled to the British War Medal. He relinquished his temporary rank on completion of service on 16 February 1921, and returned to his home in California, where he died on 16 May 1944.