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Cameron of the C.G.A., S.A.H.A. and East African Labour Corps 9 months 3 weeks ago #67100

  • Rory
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Angus McDonald Cameron

Gunner, Cape Garrison Artillery – Anglo Boer War
Gunner, South African Heavy Artillery – German South West Africa
Warrant Officer 2nd Class, East African Labour Corps – German East Africa – WWI

- Queens South Africa Medal with clasps Cape Colony & Orange Free State to 604 Gnr. A. Cameron, Cape G.A.
- Kings South Africa Medal with clasps South Africa 1901 & 1902 to 604 Gnr. A. Cameron, Cape G.A.
- 1914/15 Star to Gnr. A McD. Cameron, S.A.H.A.
- British War Medal to 5812 W.O. CL. 2 A.M. Cameron, E. Afr. L.C.
- Victory Medal to 5812 W.O. CL. 2 A.M. Cameron, E. Afr. L.C

Angus Cameron was born on 11 August 1870 in Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland the son of Angus Cameron and his wife Jessie, born McDonald. At the time of the 1881 Scotland census a 10 year old Angus was at 53 Shore Street in Inverkip, the house of his uncle William Cameron.

Ten years later, at the time of the 1891 Scotland census the, a 19 year old Angus was lodging at 60 Mar Street in Alloa, Clackmannanshire. This was the house of Daniel Michie and his wife Isabella. Angus was employed as a Reporter and Compositor – occupations which he was to follow his entire life.

At some point in the 1890’s he decided that his future lay not in the United Kingdom but in the sunny climes of South Africa. He was in Cape Town when the Anglo Boer War burst onto the world stage on 11 October 1899 and wasted almost no time in enlisting with the Cape Garrison Artillery as a Gunner, completing the Enrolment papers at Fort Wyngard Camp on 6 December 1899. The Cape Garrison Artillery was, more correctly, known as Prince Alfred’s Own Cape Artillery but the names were interchangeable.

Describing himself as a 28 year old Compositor and Reporter, Cameron claimed to have 3 years militia service with the Renfrew Volunteer Battery of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. His private address he gave as the Sailors Home in Cape Town. Having signed on for one year he was assigned no. 604 and the rank of Gunner.

The Attestation forms make for interesting reading and provide valuable insight into the selection criteria for the regiment. Among other things the Doctor was required to confirm that:

- Vision is sufficiently good to see clearly with either eye, and not colour-blind
- That his hearing is good
- That his chest is capacious, well-formed, and that his heart and lungs are sound.
- That his height in his stockings is not less than 5 feet 4 inches for a Driver, 5 feet 6 inches for a Gunner and that
- He is generally fit to become a member of the Cape Garrison.

This corps was embodied in October 1899, the strength being 373. Throughout the war they did much good work. During 1900 they were chiefly employed on the western railway and west of the line. A section was for some months operating under Sir C Warren and other leaders against the Griqualand rebels. The corps assisted in garrisoning various important posts. Some were in Jacobsdal when that town was attacked on 25th October 1900, and some were in the relieving force. In his telegram of 31st August 1900 Lord Roberts deals with an attack on Kraaipan station, in which he remarks: "Sergeant Southrood, Cape Garrison Artillery, behaved with great gallantry".

In 1901 detachments of this corps garrisoned, along with the Cape Town Highlanders and various locally raised troops, the towns in the extreme west of Cape Colony and sundry posts right up to the border of German South-West Africa, which were successfully held against repeated attacks.

A detachment of ten men was part of the little garrison of O'okiep who successfully held off a vastly superior number of Boers under General Smuts.

Sadly, the muster rolls for the CGA have either been destroyed or can’t be traced – we will thus never know whether Cameron was one of the select few who defended O’Okiep or one of those deployed to Walvis Bay. What we have to go on are the Cape Colony and Orange Free State clasps to his Queens Medal which implies that he saw active service in both these colonies.

Furthermore, Cameron was also awarded the Kings South Africa Medal with the two date clasps – this confirms that he saw at least 18 months of continuous service in the war.

After the war was concluded, Cameron resigned from the Cape Garrison Artillery and resumed his civilian occupation. Having met and married Annie Hardwick he moved to the recently liberated Transvaal where, at St. John the Divine Church in Belgravia, Johannesburg, on 14 February 1909, his son Angus Kenneth Stanley Cameron was baptised. He had been born on 13 November 1908. According to the baptismal certificate, Cameron was a Master Printer by trade and was resident at Sherwood Cottages, Hout Street, Johannesburg.

All went quiet on the Cameron front and it was only the eruption of war on a global scale in August 1914 that drew him from his employment and back into uniform. On this occasion, living in the Transvaal, he opted for service with the South Africa Heavy Artillery with the rank of Gunner. Having landed at Luderitz Bay as part of two four-gun heavy artillery batteries, a slow advance was taken inland to Aus, to where the Lüderitz Bay wire transmitter had been moved. From there they followed the campaign to the Northern reaches of the territory. Calamity struck when, as a result of poor food supplies, the oxen that pulled the heavy guns had to be consumed by the men in order to survive.

It was here that he earned his 1914/15. That campaign successfully concluded on 9 July 1915, he determined that, with the war far from over, he would seek service in German East Africa where he enrolled with the East African Labour Corps for service in and around Kenya. The M.L.C. provided much needed muscle in the form of the native tribes of the area and were put to use as porters, carriers and general labourers, playing an important but largely unheralded part in the conflict. Cameron, a Warrant Officer 2nd Class in their establishment, had his British War and Victory Medals awarded off the Imperial roll to No. 5812 on 31 December 1923.

Angus McDonald Cameron passed away from a Cerebral Abscess in the Johannesburg General Hospital on 14 October 1920 at the age of 50, after nearly three months in hospital. He was still residing at 9A Hout Street, Jeppes Extension at the time and was a Compositor by trade. He is buried in the New Cemetery and was survived by his wife step children and child. His wife who had been previously married to a Davies, passed away on 10 June 1943 at the age of 76. Perhaps her memory had dimmed with age but she claimed that her husband, Angus, had died on active service in 1918.

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Cameron of the C.G.A., S.A.H.A. and East African Labour Corps 9 months 3 weeks ago #67108

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A very nice group and write-up, Rory.
Dr David Biggins
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