Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

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Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby Canutt » 11 May 2009 16:17

Hallo, please what can you tell me about the role of the Rl.W Kent R. at the battle of Abu Klea? It was involved in any other action?
regards,
Mario
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby mike snook » 12 May 2009 09:21

Mario

The regiment provided 2 sections to the Mounted Infantry Camel Regiment - one in B Coy and one in D Coy. Half of B Coy was left behind with the garrison of the zareba (whether this included the West Kents section or not I couldn't say). The balance of B coy was in the front face of the square. The whole of D Coy was in the left face of the square.

The whole of MICR, and hence both West Kents sections for sure, was in the square at the Battle of Abu Kru two days later.

Why do you ask?

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Mike
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby Canutt » 12 May 2009 10:55

Thanks Mike, I would like to purchase an Egypt MedaL with Abu Klea clasp and I have seen a lovely example named to a man from Royal West Kent Regiment but I want to be sure he was present at ABU KLEA and not in the zareba, during the battle. I have started a littel research on internet and I have read that this regiment also was at Metamneh and in the after operations in the Soudan at Ambigole Wells and Ginniss.

regards,
Mario
Last edited by Canutt on 28 May 2009 12:10, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby Canutt » 28 May 2009 07:35

Mike, can you tell me which units remained in the zareba?

regartds,
Mario
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby mike snook » 28 May 2009 14:31

Mario

Two companies of the Royal Sussex and half (two sections) of B Coy MICR. B Coy had a section of R West Kents, but I have come across no recorded reference as to whether they were one of the ones that stayed behind or not. On that basis the candidate medal might be a bit high risk. 50/50 I guess, and that's not the sort of odds you're after I fancy. As to other alternatives, to get the extremely high probability you're after you'd need to avoid 19th Hussars, Commissariat and Transport, AMD, AHC, REs etc. Also not all 39 gunners would have been required to serve three screw guns, so there's a good chance some of them were left behind too.

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Mike
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby Canutt » 28 May 2009 15:58

Thank you, Mike!
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby tasker224 » 23 Dec 2010 21:45

Would an Abu KLea medal to the RWKs REALLY be devalued by the fact that they were defending the zareba during the battle on the 17th, rather than in the square tripping and blundering around with Burnaby, the Navy and the like? if they were in the zareba on the 17th, this would also indicate that they were knackered from their exploitations throughout the night of the 16th as part of the force skirmishing on the hill the night before the battle, not safely brewing up in the main square with the majority of the desert column. they were also part of the incredibly successful infantry square at Abu Kru on the 19th. likewise for the 19th hussars. many of these cavalrymen were skirmishing outside the square before during and after the main battle on the 17th. is their contribution of less value also?
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby Mark A. Reid » 24 Dec 2010 16:59

Hi Tasker;

Welcome to the Forum, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. There are some quite well-informed members here who are more than willing to share research information.

You sound like you might be a medal collector and I suspect that I may have " seen " you on the British Medals Forum. If so, then no one has to tell you about how specialised some of us medal folk can be! There are some incredibly defined collecting interests and it wouldn't surprise me if some people regarded medals to defenders of the zareba as being of less commercial and/or research value than examples to men who served in the square at Abu Klea. One of my interests is medals to the Commissariat & Transport Staff/Corps and their medals always seem to command less than those to a regimental soldier. As we all know, the dervishes weren't very discriminating as to which British soldier they tried to kill so the value of a medal to any soldier who was present at an action should probably be equal, but such is not the case.

As you point out, it is often quite difficult to pinpoint any soldier's exact location during an action. Battles are seldom so well orchestrated that every formation, unit or sub-unit remains as a complete Order-of-Battle entity. Attachments and Detachments, as well as sudden emergencies, will soon disrupt the orderly layout and soon result in soldiers being dispersed wherever they are ordered or required.

So, would medals to the Royal West Kents in the zareba be worth less than examples to men in the square? I suppose it would depend on the buyer, and whether the seller even chose to advertise this fine distinction. Perhaps only a specialised buyer, who knew the full circumstances of Abu Klea, would appreciate it and then it would depend on whether he/she already had an example to a " zareba man " or whether he only specialised in " square men. " I don't recall seeing any great difference in prices at auction, but then I can seldom afford to buy any medals to Abu Klea men!

Again, welcome.

Mark
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby tasker224 » 24 Dec 2010 18:34

Hi Mark
Thanks for the reply to my post. I just don't understand the mentality of some medal collectors - not all - but some. I suppose I could be classified as one myself given that I i am the one in my family who seems to hold the medals of my family ancestors, and of course my own from my service.
My great grandfather was in the RWk's at Abu klea and my "auntie" Maud - my grandfather's sister - often used to talk about him. Sadly she died in december 2008 at the grand old age of 98. At family gatherings, she always used to drone on and on about being woken up at night by "dad," and his "screaming" and "yelling" how he used to have nightmares about the "dervishes" and "black men" who were "coming to get" him, but of course no one really listened much to her. I did, and that is how I know about my gt grandfather.
Now I don't know what my great grand dad went through in the Sudan and neither I think, did my auntie, but he obviously must have got pretty up close and personal with the Mahdi to have suffered from what we would now call PTSD, all his life until he died in 1936. Sadly, his medal is long lost to my family, but if it did come up for sale I would obviously want to buy it - and I would not expect to pay a reduced price for it, because there is a small possibility he might not have been in the square on the 17th january. So what. He did his bit, either in ior out of the square.
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby Boxtedboy » 08 Mar 2016 16:31

Re-opening an old thread, I know, but it seems there may be new information available.

Mike Snook, in his posting, says he had no info on whether the Royal West Kents were in the zariba or the square at Abu Klea. Reading Mike's recent book of the campaign, the Appendix on the order of battle sets out that the zariba was manned by MICR B Company, 1 and 3 sections. The R West Kents were No 4 Section, so this would place them in the square. However, in the text of the book, the R West Kents are described as being in the zariba. Can anyone cast any light on which is correct?

As the other posts say, from a medal point of view, it makes no odds to me. My great grandfather was in the R West Kent, and was injured during the stroll around the walls of Metemmeh a few days after Abu Klea. Although Mike's book notes that there were no seperate casualty rolls for Abu Kru and Metemmeh, I can tell he was one of the six to eight men injured that day as it's noted on his discharge papers. His medals for the 1882 and 1884/5 campaigns, along with his 1914-18 special constable medal, were sold in December 2014 and if anyone reading has them and would care to sell them back to the family, please contact me direct.

Jim
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby Mark A. Reid » 08 Mar 2016 18:47

Hello Jim;

Welcome to the Forum. In order to track down your ancestor's medals, I would suggest the following;

1) Contact the auction house which sold the group and ask them to forward a letter to the person who purchased them, stating your relationship and your offer to purchase the group.

2) Contact the publication MEDAL NEWS and submit an entry for their Medalfinder section.

3) Advertise in The Orders and Medals Research Society Journal.

4) Provide the number, rank, name and unit that will be found engraved on the rim of the medal(s).

Good luck!

Mark
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby mike snook » 08 Mar 2016 19:26

Jim

I presume you want me to answer that.

Yes the post above is dated May 2009, (at which juncture I was serving in Khartoum), when my research was 'live' and I did not yet know everything I subsequently committed to paper in 2013. I don't think that will surprise anybody!

Appendix D (p. 521) should say 1 and 4 Sections, not 1 and 3 Sections, in accordance with the unequivocal statement made at the main text of Beyond the Reach of Empire (at p. 250, in the section handily entitled 'Defending the Zareba'), and with the OOB for the Camel Corps at Appendix B (p. 519). The digit 3 is a typo/error on my part, which I hope you can forgive in a book that is quite so full of data; but the main text allows no room for any confusion on the point.

The distinction between 1 and 2 RWK is important. At Abu Klea the 2nd Bn section was in D Coy and in the square. The 1st Bn section was in B Coy and left with the half-coy in the zareba. Both sections were in the square at Abu Kru and at Metemmeh.

To be clear for the sake of the broader body of the kirk - 6 to 8 men wounded at Metemmeh is my figure, not anybody else's, and it took a good deal of digging around to get at. And there is indeed no distinction drawn in official casualty returns between the two actions.

Depending on the exact wording at the discharge papers, and of course any other corroborating data you may have, I should be cautious about assuming that he was necessarily wounded in the perambulation around the walls of Metemmeh. Any reference to 'Metemmeh' might well refer to the general locale and could easily include Abu Kru, which is only a stone's throw away, (well about two stone throws) from the town. 'At Metemmeh' tended to be used as a catch all for anything that went on at that side of the Bayuda.

It seems to have escaped your attention to state your antecedent's name - which is unlikely to help very much with your quest!

Best Wishes

Mike
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Re: Role of Rl.W Kent R. at Abu Klea

Postby Boxtedboy » 09 Mar 2016 14:48

Mark and Mike,

thanks for the advice and the clarification. I have tried the auction house already, but without success, so I'll follow your other suggestions.

Mike is also quite right about the general use of 'at Metemmeh', as on rechecking my great grandfather's discharge papers, it states 'result of a gunshot received at the action at Metemmeh January 19th 1885'. I presume this would mean during Abu Kru.

For the record and anyone who finds his medals, the man in question is Private 2209 James Gant, 1st Battalion The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Many thanks

Jim
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