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QSA To The Royal Irish Rifles , KIA Stormberg

QSA one Bar Cape Colony 2920 PTE J MADDEN R IR RIF

Pte J Madden ( Modden on casualty roll) was killed in action at Stormberg on the 10th of December 1899

The Battle of Stormberg, which was the 2nd Battalion's first and only major action of the war, was ill directed, ill handled, and ill supported - especially when the Rifles were shelled by the Artillery. However, Gatacre's explanation may have lacked detail and frankness as the Battalion cheered him at the end of his speech with an eagerness to return and carry on with the fight. Importantly, there had been no error on the part of the Rifles.

The Battalion, as a result of this action, lost 12 other ranks killed; five officers and 46 other ranks wounded; and four officers and 216 men captured. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel H A Eagar, died of his wounds on 3 February 1900

At 9.15 p.m. the column marched out of Molteno, the Royal Irish Rifles leading. Just before moving off, Colonel Eager said: "The battalion represents the North of Ireland, which is watching you. I know I have not to ask you to do your duty." Two days' rations of tinned meat and biscuit were carried. The distance to be covered was ten miles. There was a bright moon, which set about midnight. The road at first was quite good; every-thing looked promising, and the men were in capital spirits. General Gatacre gave the order to fix swords, and the men marched on, carrying their arms in this rather constrained position. The artillery followed the infantry, but with a long interval between, and the wheels of the guns, etc., were wrapped up in raw hide, to deaden the sound. Behind the guns came the mounted troops. Various details, including the Maxim gun detachment of the Royal Irish Rifles, under Lieutenant Wright, had not been informed of the change of plan from the frontal to the flank attack, and they took the direct road to the nek and lost themselves. The guides, in the darkness, missed the right turning, and the force halted at I a.m. at a farm, owned by a Mr. Roberts. The guides informed General Gatacre that the distance from the coveted heights was now only one and a half miles; in reality it was three miles away. The Boers had sent out some 600 men that night, probably to beat up Gatacre's left flank. This force was under Grobler, and was laagered three miles farther up the road from the British column, so Gatacre was actually between the two bodies of Boers, who had not the vaguest idea that his outposts were nearer than Molteno. Here indeed was a chance, if he had known of it, to finish up the 600 Bethulie warriors with the bayonet. However, not knowing this, at 2 a.m. the march was resumed. The track—for it could not be called a road—became appallingly bad. Colonel Eager reported to the General that he thought the guide had lost his way. The guide as stoutly protested that he had not. At 3.45 a.m. on the 10th of December the head of the column reached the point which General Gatacre had aimed for. He was at the foot of the heights which formed the western boundary to the Stormberg Basin, and he was on the western side of those heights, in a small valley, which led into the Stormberg Basin.

Everything was as he could wish it. Unfortunately in the dark he did not know that he had arrived there, and his guides did not quite understand his plans, so there was a misunderstanding. The guides thought he wanted to push on by road into the valley, and did not realise that the infantry, facing east, could have climbed straight up the hill and dominated all the Boer camps from these heights with their rifles; so the column toiled along the road, past the heights on their right, until broad daylight came on, still marching in fours, with swords fixed.

Colonel Eager realized the danger, and requested the General's permission to send half a company out as an advanced guard. General Gatacre ordered him not to do so. A few hundred yards to the east of the British force lay one of the Boer laagers, its outpost absolutely unconscious of the presence of the enemy. There was a picquet, with a single Boer sentry on the road which ran through the nek, which the force was now approaching in column of route. To his horror, the sentinel saw this long serpent of marching men drawing near him. He roused his comrades—between ten and twenty in number—and fire was opened. The Dutch poured out of their laager, wheremost of them had been making coffee, and rushed for the heights. General Gatacre ordered the Royal Irish Rifles to rush through the nek and seize a detached hill just inside it, but it was too late to issue orders then. Everyone had felt that they were called upon to act promptly for themselves in the emergency, and, though three companies (" F," "G," and "H ") dashed through the nek for the hill beyond, the remainder of the Royal Irish Rifles formed for attack towards their right flank, and, with the Northumberland Fusiliers prolonging their right, rushed for the summit, led by " C " Company, under Captain Bell. The advance was well maintained, and half the distance had been crossed when the whole force was brought to a standstill by a line of precipices, which rose sheer up for some distance, and was only scalable here and there.

The men laid down under cover, whilst Colonel Eager, Major Seton, Major Welman, and Captain Bell drew together, studied the formation of the ground, and arranged for the forward movement. The three companies who had taken the hill beyond the nek outflanked the Boer position, whilst the mounted infantry had also pushed inside the Stormberg Valley. Everything was in capital train. The General rode up to the three companies on the hill, whilst Colonel Eager, without orders, but wisely comprehending the situation, arranged for the rush to clear the heights. The two batteries—the 74th and the 77th—opened fire on the heights, but, unfortunately, thinking the Royal Irish Rifles were the enemy in the uncertain light, commenced to shell them. The results were instantaneous. The first shell mortally wounded Colonel Eager and severely wounded Majors Seton and Welman, Captain Bell and several riflemen. The next few were equally deadly, and in a few seconds, to the surprise of the Boers, some of whom had been pouring in an ineffectual fire, whilst others were hurrying to the rear, the whole of the infantry who had been lying close under the cliffs, ready to escalade them, were driven down the slope, vainly trying to avoid the deadly shrapnel of their own guns. The officer commanding the Northumberland Fusiliers ordered his battalion to retire to reform it, ready to support either attack. Some of the Royal Irish Rifles, hearing the order, moved with this battalion, assuming that it also applied to them. Some of the Northumberland Fusiliers did not hear it, and remained where they were.

The men who retired first took shelter in the donga at the foot of the hill, but this was enfiladed, so the retirement was continued as far as the small hills across the valley. The movement was carried out in good order, and each part covered the retreat of the others. Arriving at these small hills, one company was told off to hold the heights, whilst the remainder formed in quarter column under cover. General Gatacre had been with the party that held the hill inside the nek. From here he had meant to sweep down the enemy's position, pressing home his attack. With the hills abandoned to the Boers, he saw that this could not be done, so he gave the order to the three companies to retire, which they did, under heavy fire, in good order, and the mounted infantry of the force galloped back, and a new line was formed on a ridge across the road up which the force had marched. This was about an hour and a quarter after the first shot had been fired. Naturally, the noise had drawn in all parties of Boers, even Grobler's detachment. This last commando fired into Gatacre's troops from the rear, and the 77th battery had three guns firing forward and three backward.

In the meantime, some 600 men of the two infantry battalions lay on the hill under the cliffs, keeping up the fight with the Boers. General Gatacre ordered the force he was now with on the ridge to retire. Major Allen, of the Royal Irish Rifles, urged the General to allow him to take up the remaining companies of the Rifles to carry the heights, but General Gatacre refused to let him do this. The remainder, nearer to the enemy, were left to their fate. Afterwards it transpired that the officers and men did not know what was going on, and that they held tenaciously to their ground, expecting that the remainder of the force was moving to make a flank attack. No orders were given, and each party was overpowered in detail. The retreating force, under General Gatacre, was not kept well in hand, and the infantry straggled a great deal. The guns and mounted infantry kept the enemy at a distance, and Lieutenant and Adjutant Sitwell collected the men of the Royal Irish Rifles who were least fatigued and formed an efficient rearguard. About 11 a.m. Molteno was reached; 634 unwounded prisoners (officers and men) were taken by the Boers. The total casualties of the whole force were 28 killed and 61 wounded on the British side, and 8 killed and 26 wounded on the Boer side.

The Royal Irish Rifles loss was as follows: —Twelve non-commissioned officers and men killed and forty-six non-commissioned officers and men wounded; also wounded officers as follow: Lieutenant-Colonel Eager (mortally wounded), Majors Seton and Welman, Captains Bell and Kelly, and Lieutenant Stevens. The following officers were captured: Captain Weir, Lieutenant Christie, and 2nd-Lieutenants Maynard and Rodney, and 216 unwounded non-commissioned officers and men. The battalion, under Major Allen, was entrained that afternoon, with the remainder of the infantry of General Gatacre's force, and was sent down to Sterkstroom.

General Gatacre had, on the whole, bad luck at Stormberg. The idea was sound; but his arrangements were not thoroughly supervised. He surprised his enemy, but, from want of precautions, was not able to use his advantage, and appears to have sent no orders to his troops. That he should have left 600 of them to be made prisoners was also a piece of bad staff work; whilst the crowning calamity was the successful shelling by the British artillery of their own side. On the whole, the force was lucky to have been able to effect their retreat. An enterprising enemy would have stopped it and captured the whole force. The prisoners were sent to Pretoria.

Medal dark toned with some edge contacting and generally in VF condition

Code: 50718


IGS To The R W Kent R, KIA Nigeria 1904

IGS one bar Punjab Frontier 1897-98 4039 LCE CORPL J MENDHAM 1ST BN RYL W KENT REGT

J Mendham on medal and medal roll but actual initials are W B

Sergeant Walter Bagge Mendham

He was born in the village of Shipdham, in the Breckland district of Norfolk, between Norwich and Kings Lynn, the seventh child of Henry Bagge Mendham and his wife Jane. A number of the children had that middle name “Bagge”, and in the 1881 Census the whole family is listed with Bagge as the surname, so there must be a story there somewhere. Perhaps Henry was illegitimate, but knew that his father was a Bagge, and so wanted to ensure that it would be difficult to forget it.

In 1891 all the working men in the family, including Walter, were farm workers, and the others seemed to have remained on the land, most as labourers, although brother Elijah was a gamekeeper in Nottinghamshire when he died in 1918. Walter, however, left the land early. In 1893, when he enlisted in the Royal West Kent Regiment, he described himself as a “draper”, aged 18 years and 11 months.He serves in the Punjab Frontier campaigh 1897-98 and received the medal and clasp. He obviously made an impression in the army, as by 1903 he had been made a sergeant, and was seconded to the Southern Nigeria Regiment as a Colour-Sergeant. This rank was usually only awarded to senior sergeants as a reward for long service or for courage on the battlefield. As Walter had only been in the army for ten years, I assume the rank was awarded for good service or showing promising potential.

When Mendham was posted there Nigeria as we know it did not exist. The Northern Nigeria Protectorate covered the northern and eastern parts of the country, which had previously been ruled under the Sokoto Caliphate. The Southern Nigerian Protectorate had responsibility for the southern and coastal areas, which had consisted of a large number of independent kingdoms and city-states brought together as Southern Nigeria in 1900, though not without opposition.

The resistance faced by the British during the 1890s had been at its most effective when the various factions of the different states managed to overcome their differences and work together. At its most efficient this resistance came under the umbrella of an organization known as the Ekumeku, which translates roughly as “the silent ones”, a grouping which transcended states and factions, with its leaders sworn to secrecy about their contacts and organizational methods. For ten years they pursued guerilla tactics to harass the colonial forces, until, in 1902, the British went on the offensive and arrested all the suspected leaders. That was, thought the government, the end of the Ekumeku, but less than two years later it appeared again.

It is not surprising that the Ekumeku reappeared, given that it had as an expressed purpose “the driving out of the country all foreigners and everything foreign”. In particular, by mid-1903, its followers were upset by two major issues: one was the establishment of native courts, which were felt to undermine the traditional authority of tribal and city elders; the second was the increasingly successful activity of Christian missionaries, converting people away from their traditional beliefs. The activity of missionaries had caused unrest elsewhere, for example before the Indian Mutiny and the Boxer Rebellion, and in those places one can see their opponents’ point. From a Western point of view, however, it is difficult to have sympathy with the Ekumeku’s objections to Christianity being encouraged; fetishism, human sacrifice and cannibalism are difficult to admire.

Many of the Delta Region’s people felt strongly enough, however, for the movement to became active again in the hinterland of Asaba, which lies on the West bank of the Niger, and was and is the chief city of the Niger Delta region. Towards the end of 1903 mission stations were destroyed, and “friendly natives”, which usually means Christian converts, were attacked, some killed. In response the British put together a force under Captain I. G. Hogg of the 4th Hussars, which left Asaba on 17th January 1904. It was made up of six British officers, four British N.C.O.s, including Walter Mendham, two hundred and fifteen troops of the Southern Nigeria Regiment, a seven-pounder field gun, two Maxim guns, and three political officers.

The Campaign

Expecting to face the guerrilla methods of previous campaigns Hogg found that this time the Ekumeku had changed tactics. Instead of creating roving raiding bands, the Ekumeku forces now concentrated on the defence of individual towns. This had the advantage of allowing the towns to be defended more vigorously, with superior numbers, but against that Hogg’s forces could focus on one town at a time, with the confidence that the mud- and clay walls would not be able to withstand the British guns for long.

Although each town they approached presented fierce defence, in each case the Ekumeku were driven out. It was in the attack on Ukunzu, a town north-west of Asaba, that Colour-Sergeant Mendham was killed in action, amidst opposition so determined that Hogg decided to send for reinforcements. On the 11th February the force was joined by a further ninety men, two N.C.O.s, and another gun.

Thus strengthened Hogg attacked the enemy at a town named Okuruku, in an assault that was to see the end of the campaign. Storming the town the British forces left over four hundred defenders dead, and captured over three hundred, for the loss of one British officer and twelve troops. For the time being, ‘The Silent Ones’ had been gagged.


Colour-Sergeant Menhdam’s home regiment, the Royal West Kents, mounted a memorial to him in All Saints’ Church, Maidstone, which stands next to the regimental barracks. His commander at Ukunzu, Captain Hogg, only survived him another ten years. On September 1st, 1914, Lieutenant-Colonel Ian Graham Hogg, commanding the 4th Hussars, was shot while ordering the retreat from Compeigne, and died from his wounds the next day.


Medal with a few contact marks and generally in VF condition

Code: 50730


QSA To The KRRC , KIA 1914

QSA one bar Cape Colony 1956 PTE H ROBINS KRRC

Harry Robins a 19 year old labourer from Millbank Lancs enlisted into the KRRC at Burnley in June 1899 . He served in South Africa May-July 1900 and received the QSA with one clasp. He served in F&F from the 1st of November 1914 and was killed in action on the 16th of November 1914 . He was buried at Sanctuary Wood Cemetery Belgium , his next of kin at the time being shown as his wife Leah who was living at Travis St Burnley

Medal with 2 slight edge knocks , with original ribbon and generally in VF condition

Code: 50732


China War Medal 1842 To HMS Blenheim


Medal with original suspension and ribbon and generally in toned GVF condition

Code: 50734


QSA 5 Bars To 4th Batt RFA, KIA

QSA 5 bars Cape Colony, Orange Free State , Transvaal, SA01, SA02 17357 DVR W H MORGAN 4TH BTY RFA

William H Morgan a 20 year old groom from Liverpool enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery at Liverpool in 1896, his next of kin being shown as his mother Kate who was living at 13 Plumpton St off Everton Rd Liverpool. He served with the 4th battery Royal Field Artillery and was listed as missing later confirmed killed in action ( gunshot wounds ) at Klerksdorp on the 25th of February 1902 . He is commemorated on the Royal Artillery Memorial St James's Park north-east corner. The Mall, London, England

Medal in lightly toned NEF condition

Code: 50737


IGS Bar NWF 1908 To RFA , Wounded on NWF 1908


Emmanuel Mitchelmore an 18 year old labourer from Kings Bridge Devon enlisted into the RGA in 1899 , he served in India from January 1901 to February 1911 and was finally discharged at Gosport on the 8th of February 1911 after 12 years service. He received a gunshot wound to the right hand in action on the 18th of February 1908 during the expedition into the Bazar Valley against the Zakka Khel Afridis

" As usual in this type of warfare , the return journey was closely followed by the enemy. They closed in on the rear guard and flanks as soon as the column began to move off and especially selected for attack the mountain guns ( 3rd Mountain battery RGA ) escorted by men of the Seaforths , moving through fairly open country south of China, and the 54th Sikhs on flank "

The total casualties sustained by the expedition were 3 KIA , 3 DOW and 35 wounded , 2 KIA , 1 DOW and 8 wounded being British Troops , 6 of the wounded belonging to the 3rd Mountain Battery RGA

This the recipients only medal awarded during his service

Medal with official correction to the first e in surname, otherwise in toned NEF condition

Code: 50738

425.00 GBP

Shortlist item
QSA To The W York R , Wounded At Hussar Hill Later KIA / DOW At Lake Chrissie

QSA 6 bars Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Relief of Ladysmith Transvaal, Laings Nek SA01 5064 PTE A MIDDLETON W YORKSHIRE REGT

Pte Middleton was wounded at the attack on Hussar Hill ( Monte Christo ) on the 18th of February 1900, the regiment losing nearly 50 men KIA , DOW or wounded during the attack, Pte Middleton was later KIA or DOW ( Killed in Action on the medal roll, Died of Wounds on the casualty roll ) during a night attack on the camp at Lake Chrissie on 6 February 1901

On 5 February, General Smith-Dorrien, reached Bothwell Farm, in the neighbourhood of Lake Chrissie, where he halted for the night and with the studious attention to all reasonable precautions, entrenched his camp strongly. It was an intensely dark night and visibility was further hampered by a heavy mist which hung over the uplands, making it virtually impossible for the sentries and outposts to see anyone beyond the distance of a few yards. Earlier in the day Louis Botha had reinforced Lukas Meyer, who was conducting the Boer retreat in this quarter, and it had been determined that a night attack with two thousand men would be made upon the British camp, in order to cover the withdrawal northwards. At 3.00am on 6 February the attack was delivered. The Boers who had crawled unseen close to the British outposts suddenly rushed between two trenches held by the West Yorkshire Regiment, driving in front of them a herd of loose horses in order to confuse the defenders into believing that they were being attacked by mounted troops. However the men of The West Yorkshire Regiment held firm, whilst support came up and a fierce hand-to-hand struggle ensued, the Boers being forced back in disorder, leaving some twenty burghers dead. Casualties on the British side were heavy too with twenty-four Officers and men killed and a further fifty-three wounded, the West Yorkshire Regiment was hardest hit. The Victoria Cross was awarded to Sergeant William Traynor of the Regiment for saving the life of a wounded comrade in this action

Together with an old print of a poem stuck on card regarding the West Yorks in the Boer War

Medal in GVF condition, SA01 bar loose on ribbon

Code: 50752

550.00 GBP

Shortlist item
GSM Palestine To The Buffs, KIA Italy 1943

GSM one bar Palestine 6284981 PTE A BEALE THE BUFFS

Arthur Norman Charles Beale 5th The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) was killed in action in Italy on the 3rd of November 1943 . He was 27 years of age and is buried in Sangro River War Cemetery

Transcription of 5th Battalion, The Buffs War Diary .

3rd November 1943


The attack started with B Coy (MAJOR W H FEWSON) as right forward Coy, D Coy (MAJOR D MILTON) left forward Coy followed by advance RHQ C & Y Coy’s. The remainder of RHQ with the weapons of S Coy on mules assembled on the forward edge of the BOSCO DI MOLTICE with instructions to move forward if possible on the capture of the 1st objective. Almost immediately the leading Coy’s came under intense MMG & mortar fire as did its mule party in the BOSCO DI MOLTICE. This fire however was not accurate as it was still dark. The advance continued but owing to the heavy going across the ploughed country, dawn was just breaking when the leading Coy were within 300ft of the first objective. The enemy fire became much more intense and accurate and the troops were unable to move forward until two troops of tanks of 46 RTR moved up in support and engaged the enemy MMG’s. During this time the Commanding Officer (LT. COL. A D MCKECHNIE, DSO) was badly wounded and B Coy Commander (MAJOR W H FEWSON) was killed. The leading Coy moved forward, captured the first objective, destroyed two MG’s and their crews and capturing a number of prisoners. After consolidating the first objective, the attack continued and the 2 i/c (MAJOR G M De B MONK, M.C.) took over.

The attack on the 2nd objective was carried out by 3 Coy’s forward, B, D & Y (CAPT. E H BODY) and C Coy (CAPT. W L FAIRWEATHER) was left to hold the first objective. 3 forward Coy’s were supported by a squadron of 46 RTR. The capture of the 2nd objective was effected with very few casualties by approximately 10.30 hours. However on the left of the Bn. the 6th Inniskillings had not been able to capture the whole of SAN SALVO and the enemy were still holding out in the Northern part of the town. On the right flank the enemy were still in possession of SAN SALVO Station 6384. The position thus had to be consolidated to face our enemy on 3 sides

Medal in EF condition

Code: 50754

325.00 GBP

Shortlist item
QSA 4 Bars To The SJAB

QSA four bars Cape Colony, Orange Free State, SA01, SA02 802 ORDLY J T BROWN ST JOHN AMB BDE

J T Brown served with the 21 General Hospital St John's Ambulance Brigade . He also had previously
served with Cape Colony Cyclist Corps,Private,35340 and with CCF Company Cape Medical Staff Corps,Private,124

Bars in 2 blocks of 2 and loose on ribbon as issued

Medal with original ribbon and in toned NEF condition

Code: 50684


Anglo Boer War Medal To Burger Taken POW


Marcus Petrus Gertenbach served under Kommandant J Jordaan in the Winburg Commando. He fought at Belmont, Rooilaagte, Modder River, and Magersfontein. He was taken prisoner after the Battle of Paardeberg and sent as a POW to Green Point Camp in Cape Town and then to Simonstown

Medal is generally in VF condition

Code: 50696

350.00 GBP

Shortlist item
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