I don't know if I should be asking this, so I apologise in advance.
Would anyone know if the medals belonging to William Oldfield have survived?
He volunteered for service in SA with the SJAB, then stayed out there with the SAC.
As a SJAB collector, I am just curious.
Any information would be gratefully appreciated.
An unusual Boer War pair to Private W. White, 10th Hussars, who having transferred into the Reserve Division, South African Constabulary, received a King’s South Africa medal with unit shown as South African Constabulary – this is very scarce.
To have switched to the SAC, I presume this man's time expired whilst he was in SA and he decided to stay?
It is certainly unusual to imperial troops. Is 'very scarce' warranted?
Corporal, 1st Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment and
Corporal, “C” Division of the South African Constabulary
- Queens South Africa Medal with clasps Tugela Heights and Relief of Ladysmith to 5091 CORPL. W. WELSH, S. LANC. REGT.
- Kings South Africa Medal with clasps South Africa 1901 & 1902 to 1034 CORPL. W. WALSH, S.A.C.
William Walsh was born in the small town of Claremorris in the Parish of Kilcoman, County Mayo, Ireland on 30 July 1876 the son of Patrick and Mary Walsh.
Census records for rural Ireland are scant or unobtainable prior to 1901 with the result that it is difficult to track down the family prior to their move to England towards the latter part of the 19th Century. I say the family but, in essence, it would appear that, after father Patrick’s death, the children made the move across the Irish Sea whilst Mary, the mother, stayed behind.
At Warrington on 28 September 1896 Walsh attested for Short Service with the Colours (7 years with the Colours and 5 years with the Reserve) by completing the Attestation Forms. He was by now 20 years and 2 months old and a Labourer by trade. Physically 5 feet 9 inches tall he had a sallow complexion, brownish-grey eyes and dark brown hair. A Roman Catholic he had several distinguishing marks about his person in the form of a scar at the back of his knee, two scars on the right side of his chest, a scar on his left shin and, sure to be a talking point, a mole at the back of his penis.
Having been passed as Fit by Dr Adams of the R.A.M.C., Walsh was posted to the 1st Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment as a Private with no. 5091.
Based in England he was promoted to Lance Corporal on 2 March 1898. All told Walsh was to spend 3 years and 63 days in England before a posting to South Africa came to pass on 30 November 1899. The 1st Battalion of which he formed part sailed on the “Canada” on 1st December 1899 arriving at the Cape three weeks later on 20th December.
Along with the 2nd Royal Lancaster, 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, and 1st York and Lancaster Regiment, they formed the 11th Brigade under Major General Woodgate, and part of the Vth Division under Lieutenant General Sir Charles Warren. What had occasioned this was of course the Boer War which had erupted a month earlier, by the time the South Lancs. had embarked the Boers had already besieged Ladysmith and the fight was well and truly on.
Once landed Sir Charles Warren’s Brigade was rushed up to Frere where, after the Battle of Colenso had taken place on 15 December 1899, Buller was virtually at a standstill and seemingly bereft of ideas to liberate Ladysmith. Forming part of the operations to take Spioenkop (which, it was decided, was the key to enter the besieged town) two companies of the 1st Battalion South Lancs. were deployed. Casualties after the night attack on 23 January 1900 were severe with no fewer than 2 officers and 3 men killed, 22 wounded, and some missing. What role if any was played by Walsh in this operation is unknown but he made it through to the relief of Ladysmith just over a month later qualifying for the award of the Queens South Africa Medal with clasps Tugela Heights and Relief of Ladysmith.
Shortly afterwards Walsh, after 164 days in South Africa, was invalided back to England, arriving there on 13 May 1900.
Possibly bored and having recovered from his malaise Walsh was champing at the bit to get back into action and, on 11 March 1901, strolled into the South African Constabulary Recruiting Office at Aldershot. Here he completed the Form of Application confirming that he was still a Lance Corporal with the 1st South Lancs and that he was now attached to the 3rd Provisional Battalion at Oudemande Barracks, Aldershot.
He was 24 years and 8 months old and provided the names of Captain Nicholson of the South Lancs and Lt. van Someren of the Provisional Battalion as referees. In answer to the question, “Have you been in South Africa?” he answered “yes, as a Soldier from 1 December 1899 until 12 May 1900.” The Medical Certificate issued after his check up gave his complexion as Dark, with Blue Grey eyes and Dark Brown hair. The Doctor also stated that “This candidate is perfectly Fit in every way. The only drawback is that his teeth are defective.” Walsh’s Riding and Shooting Certificate confirmed that he was considered a Fair rider and a Fair shot. He signed the Articles of Agreement on 14 March 1901 and was now ready for deployment as no. C 1034, No. 10 Troop with service to count from 22 April 1901, effectively the date of transfer to the S.A.C. from the South Lancashire Regiment.
In almost no time at all Walsh was back in South Africa as a 3rd Class Trooper with C Division based in Heidelberg in the Transvaal. On 1 June he was promoted to Lance Corporal/1st Class Trooper and on 12 August 1901 to the rank of Corporal.
On 15 January 1903 he was found guilty and given a Severe Reprimand for two counts of Neglect f Duty whilst stationed at Koppiesfontein. This was to be the only blot on his copybook. Possibly as a result of this he sent in a request to the O.C. 10 Troop at Vereeniging on 26 January 1903 stating that, “I am desirous of a obtaining my discharge by Transfer to the Reserve. I wish to forward my application.” This was signed by himself as the Corporal in charge of No. 4 Squad, S.A.C. Koppiesfontein.
Despite this, on 17 February 1903 he was given a Character rating of “Good” and, on the very next day he was discharged from the S.A.C. to the Army Reserve after service of 1 year and 303 days. His forwarding address was P.O. Box 1070 Johannesburg. He was awarded the Kings South Africa Medal with clasps South Africa 1901 & 1902 for his efforts.
On 20 June 1904 the Pay Officer in charge of the Reserves wrote to the Chief Staff Officer, S.A.C. as follows, “As No. 5091 Lance Corporal W. Walsh, A Reserve South Lancashire Regiment informs me that he has been discharged from the Reserve of the S.A.C. will you kindly forward me a Last Pay Certificate showing the date to which he was paid, to enable me to issue reserve pay.”
Having been placed on the Reserve Walsh was finally discharged from the Army on termination of his first period of engagement on 27 September 1908. He had effectively served for a total of 12 years.
Walsh appears to have joined the Prison Service after leaving the S.A.C. He found time for romance as well and, at the Catholic Church in Braamfontein, Johannesburg on 9 October 1910, he married Clara McDermott, a 28 year old spinster from Gallway in Ireland. He was 34 years old and an employee of His Majesty's Prison Service.
He passed away on Valentine's Day, the 14th February in 1952 at the age of 74 and was resident at 159 Ivy Road, Norwood, Johannesburg. He was a retired clerk of the Prisons Department at the time of his death.