help with my grandfather

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help with my grandfather

Postby Pete Beach » 19 Feb 2016 22:33

Good Day to all,
My name is Peter Beach and I am writing all of you from a sleepy little town in Michigan U.S.A. hoping that I, with your help, can sort out some stumbling blocks with my grandfather's Military History. My grandfather's name is Albert Edward Butler 1874-1941. In 1893 he enlisted in the Scottish Rifles, 2nd Rifle Brigade, a Private, his # is 4555. He served in the Nile Expedition 1898, Crete 1898-1899, and finally in the 2nd Boer War 1899-1902. It is with the Boer War that I have some questions.
Growing up, my mother always would tell be about his service in the Boer War. He was at Ladysmith during the siege and was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal along with the "Defense of Ladysmith "Clasp. Now, comes some confusion for me. My mother always said that he was wounded during the siege, going to fetch water for the troops. I can't find that info anywhere in his Military Service Sheet. As a matter of fact that page seems to be lacking several things about him. My research has found an A. Butler, Private, #4555 being wounded at the Battle of Colenso in February of 1900. Again, no mention in his History sheet about anything to do with the Boer War. I do know that he was sent back to England where he would go to a military hospital on the Isle of Wight to recover...eventually meeting and marrying my future grandmother who was a nurse there. I know that he was at Ladysmith because of the medal with clasp. I also know that he must have been wounded. For in 1902 he was "Discharged in consequence of his having been medically unfit for further service." as stated 13-5-02.
I am hoping that out there somewhere there are answers to resolve my dilemma. Does anyone know where I can access Medical Records for the Boer War? Hopefully not a pay sight. Perhaps one or more of you fine and learned historians already know a few answers that can help me in my quest.

Looking forward to a good chat.

Sincerely,
Pete
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby Bushman » 20 Feb 2016 01:37

A strange one as I can not find him on the medal rolls. I don't think that the Scottish Rifles were at Ladysmith so was he detached? One SR coy was at Colenso
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby QSAMIKE » 20 Feb 2016 04:55

Hello Pete......

From Find My Past.......

Note spelling of the name......


First name(s) A
Last name Butter
Service number(s) 4555
Rank Private
Regiment The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own)
Units The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own), Rank: Private, Number: 4555
Casualty units The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own)
Casualty details Wounded on 15 February 1900 at Colenso (Official casualty roll location: Colenso)
Casualty notes -
Casualty source
Natal Field Force. JB Hayward & Sons

Gazzetteer

[2828:2844-2950] a village in Natal Colony (Estcourt district; KwaZulu-Natal), 21 km south of Ladysmith. The town commanded a strategically important crossing by road and rail between northern Natal and the Natal Midlands. After the British retreat to Ladysmith*, the town was garrisoned by the 2nd The Royal Dublin Fusiliers and several locally recruited units as well as the Natal Naval Volunteers with two 9-pounder guns. The arrival of Boer artillery on the heights to the north of the river which command the town caused the evacuation of the garrison to Estcourt on 2/3 November 1899. Boer commandos crossed the river on to the plain surrounding the town on 14 November. On 15 December the Natal Army under Gen Sir R.H. Buller mounted an assault on the crossing, Maj-Gen A.F. Hart's 5th infantry brigade ordered to cross the river at Bridle Drift (1)* and then move eastwards towards the town whilst Maj-Gen H.J.T. Hildyard's 2nd infantry brigade was to make a frontal assualt after a preliminary artillery bombardment. Hart's brigade failed to find the crossing and was withdrawn under heavy Boer fire; Col C.J. Long, RHA, positioned his guns too close to the well hidden Boer front lines, was severely shelled and shot at and forced to abandon them; Hildyard's brigade was used to cover the retreat of these units. Five companies of the 2nd The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) regiment occupied Colenso before being ordered to withdraw. For gallantry in treating the wounded under heavy fire during this operation, Maj W. Babtie, RAMC, was awarded the Victoria Cross. For attempting to retrieve the abandoned guns of the 14th and 66th batteries Royal Field Artillery under heavy fire, Capt H.N. Schofield, Royal Field Artillery, Capt W.N. Congreve, Rifle Brigade, Lt the Hon F.H.S. Roberts, King's Royal Rifle Corps, Capt H.L. Reed, Royal Field Artillery, Cpl G.E. Nurse, Royal Field Artillery, and Pte C. Ravenhill, Royal Scots Fusiliers, were each awarded the Victoria Cross. After a sequence of reverses upstream, Buller attempted to force the Thukela crossing downstream with a deserted Colenso village on his left flank. Preparatory to the main attack on 21 February 1900 against Boer positions based on Hlangwane*, the 2nd The Royal Dublin Fusiliers entered the village on 20 February followed by Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry; the latter unit crossed the river soon after daybreak on the following day when a pont was brought to the village. By 22 February Hart's brigade was positioned in Colenso ready to advance and the village was once again in British control. It was the location of a white concentration refugee camp. HMG I pp.262, 264, 267 and 345-375 (map nos. 15 and 15(a)), II pp.460-461, 468-469 and 533 (map nos.30(a) and 30(b)), IV pp.669 and 700; Times II pp.427-459 (map facing p.456), III pp.507 and 513-542 (map facing p.542); Breytenbach III pp.448-449 (map facing p.558); Wilson I pp.87-109 (map on p.95), II pp.458-462 (photographs and map on p.473); Trichardt pp.128-133 (map facing p. 119); Duxbury; Cd.819; Barnard cap.3 (map on pp.44-45); Griffith pp.177-209 (map on p.179).

Country Great Britain
Record set Anglo-Boer War records 1899-1902
Category Military, armed forces & conflict
Subcategory Boer Wars

Also suggest that you post your question here: http://www.angloboerwar.com

Mike
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby jf42 » 21 Feb 2016 08:53

Pete, some difficulty might be arising from the fact that the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and The Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade were two different regiments, which seems already to have caused some confusion in replies you have received.

Which of the two regiments did your man join in 1893, and to which battalion was he assigned? At that date the Cameronians had 2 battalions and The Rifle Brigade had 4.

Did you mean 2nd Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (who tended to refer to themselves as The Scottish RIfles as a result of the 90th Light Infantry having been yoked reluctantly to the 26th Cameronians in 1881 to form the 2nd Battalion of the new regiment) ?

Or did you perhaps mean 2nd Battalion, The RIfle Brigade?

It has to be one or the other. One regiment obviously had Scottish associations, specifically the southwest. The Rifle Brigade did not have a regional affiliation but tended to be associated with London and the south east of England. Not that this prevented recruits from other areas enlisting.
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby Pete Beach » 22 Feb 2016 12:54

Dear Jf42, Greetings from the "New World"

I will give you what info I have from my grandfather's Military Service Sheet., dated September 30,1893. It says on his Short Service Form." That he was in the 5th Royal Fusiliers , before he was placed into the Scottish Rifles for General Service." It asks if he had ever served in Her Majesty's Army. He answered "NO, except for the Militia in which he was still serving". So, was the 5th Royal Fusiliers a Militia group??? Under Description on Enlistment, under Certificate of Primary Military Examination, it only says Scottish Rifles It is signed by a Lt. Colonel, L. Gurner??? Again on his Statement of Service Form, It states 2 10/12 -Sco. Rifles, beneath that it states, 5 9/12- Rifle Brigade or a total service length of time of 8 7/12. He enlisted in the London Area. a place named Aldenshot. Originally on his Short Service Form the #4860 has been crossed out with the #4555 written in above it. Over at the CORPS it originally stated 1st Scottish Rifles that too has been crossed out and Rifle Brigade written in above it. I believe that A. Butler #4555 was in the 2nd Rifle Battalion, Prince Consorts Own, as per the Anglo Boer War site. I am almost positive that it was there where I read it. Also on his Service Sheet there is a notation. " That he was transferred from the Scottish Rifles to the 2nd Rifle Brigade 21/4/96, Certified Correct by a Lt. Col. Ranhun??? Commanding 2/Scottish Rifles. Not sure of the signature. His Military Service Sheet seems not complete in several areas . There is only one mention of him serving in the Boer War. A short notation " S. Africa 2/10/99- 31/5/00 for a total time of 242 days". No mention of the medal he won for "Defense of Ladysmith " or of him being wounded except for a short notation when he was discharged in 13/5/02 .
I hope this helps. If you need more please let me know.
Thank you for looking into this.
Sincerely,
Pete
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby jf42 » 22 Feb 2016 14:30

Pete, I am afraid I can't help you as research of individual soldiers from this period is not my area. so I am unable to help you untangle the bulk of the document/documents you are quoting.

I can only emphasise that understanding of regimental identities in this period. and precise notation of unit details will obviously make your research easier.

The reference to the 5th Royal Fusiliers from 1893 is confusing since, as you surmise, this was a Militia battalion, which until 1898, I believe, went under the title of 3rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers ( Royal Westminster, or 3rd Middlesex Militia). In the latter year, it was re-numbered on the formation of two additional Regular battalions to the Royal Fusiliers, 3rd Bn & 4th Bn, and so became the 5th Battalion.

It seems unlikely, therefore, that the entry in Military Service Sheet dates from September 1893 since the 5th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, as such, did not exist at that date, but perhaps my source, the archived regiments.org, is not correct. It is not infallible. There are members of this site who have extensive knowledge and understanding of the Militia and Volunteers at this time, especially in the London area.

http://web.archive.org/web/200712190556 ... ia/mx3.htm

'Aldernshot' should probably read 'Aldershot', a major garrison and training centre for the army on the Surrey-Hampshire border, 30 miles south east of London.
Last edited by jf42 on 23 Dec 2016 16:28, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby Pete Beach » 23 Feb 2016 23:46

Thank you for the info. It becomes more confusing each time I sit down and try to figure it all out.

Have a good day.
Pete
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby RobD » 24 Feb 2016 10:05

Pete, if he was besieged in Ladysmith and was awarded the Defence of Ladysmith clasp, then I don't see how he could have fought at Colenso in Feb 1900 - this was the battle which relieved Ladysmith and the clasp for it was Tugela Heights.
With incredibly rare exceptions, the clasps for defending and relieving Ladysmith are mutually exclusive.
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby Pete Beach » 24 Feb 2016 12:37

Rob,
Thank you for the info. I could not understand how he could have been in two places at once...so to speak Then let me ask you this, If he was wounded during the Siege of Ladysmith... which my mother always informed me of, where can I find documentation stating this? Also documentation regarding his wound and hospital stay?

Havre a good day.
Pete
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby QSAMIKE » 25 Feb 2016 03:12

Good Evening Pete.....

Sorry to say that I cannot find him in any of the records that I have for Casualties for Ladysmith..... I think that the story about him being in Ladysmith may be a family legend.....

Do you have his medal ??????

What exactly on the edge?????

Can you post a photo??????

Mike
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby Bushman » 25 Feb 2016 07:47

Ok now that we have the correct regiment things are a little clearer. First it is important to understand that the Scottish Rifles and The Rifle Brigade are separate Regiments with no connection with each other. Despite its title The Rifle Brigade is a Regiment not a Brigade. So for looking at Butler's Boer War service any prior service in the Scottish Rifles is a distraction. Checking the medal rolls for the 2nd Battalion The Rifle Brigade we find that that Pte no 4555 Albert Butler received only one clasp for his South African service -Defence of Ladysmith. In addition he and a number of others are marked invalided meaning that they were sent back to England. He might of course have been wounded but it is much more likely that he was suffering from enteric a more potentially dangerous situation than being wounded although wounded sounds more glamorous. Note that he does not figure in the Ladysmith casualty lists.
John Stirlings comments
The 2nd Battalion sailed from Crete on the Jelunga on 2nd October 1899, and reached Durban on the 26th. At 3 am on the 30th the battalion got into Ladysmith by rail, and after a hasty meal set out to join the 1st Devon, 1st Manchester, and 2nd Gordons under Ian Hamilton at Limit Hill, north of the town, where Sir George's centre was that day.
So clearly he was never at Colenso
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby SWB » 25 Feb 2016 18:05

Hello Pete,

I have been following this thread with interest as I am correcting and updating the Anglo-Boer War casualty rolls which are not too accurate, the roll for the Natal Field Force (NFF) which covers the siege and relief and Ladysmith is especially bad. It is my data on FindmyPast (and The Anglo-Boer War Register) that Mike kindly copied out for you.

The NFF casualty roll was created from reading contemporary newspapers and simply copying out. As with all copying exercises mistakes are made. Albert Butler's entry is one such mistake.

I have traced his entry in The Times to February 20th, 1900:

Butler.png
Butler.png (90.86 KiB) Viewed 1147 times


The relevant text spans two columns, but it quite clearly states these casualties relate to Ladysmith - no idea where Colenso comes in as it is not mentioned in this section. You will also note his surname is spelt correctly, the "Butter" another copying error.

So, the family story of him being wounded during the siege is true, what he was doing when wounded will require a careful reading of the regimental history.

I have corrected The Register and FmP will be updated as soon as possible.

Regards
Meurig

Bushman - what are the
Ladysmith casualty lists
you refer to?
Researcher. Owner: The Register of the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902. Interests: 24th Foot/South Wales Borderers/RRW/RW. South Africa generally. War memorials
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby Pete Beach » 25 Feb 2016 22:27

To all you find folks who helped me resolve a decades old question.

I wish I could thank all of you in person. Your help, information and patience has finally put to rest the Ladysmith question for me. A question I have been trying to resolve for a very long time. I do not have any of his medals, and my relatives in England I have not heard from for decades. My attempts to re-establish contact with any of them has been unsuccessful. Far as I know, my grandfather's medals were lost decades ago. I am trying to replace them with Museum quality reproductions...not some of the cheap ones I have seen. My grandfather's Military History/Medals will go into a large Shadow Box. It will be displayed in a place of honor in my home...for all to see....especially my grandchildren.
Again, to all of you fine folks...I give you a heart felt thank you.
Sincerely,
Pete
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby RobD » 28 Feb 2016 12:21

Pete,
A good person to contact is Robin Smith, an expert ABW historian living in Natal.
What he don't know about the Rifle Brigade during the Siege of Ladysmith ain't worth knowing.
You may enjoy reading about their exploits here
http://surprisehill.blogspot.co.za/2012 ... ember.html
If you have trouble contacting Robin, PM me and I shall send you his details.
Rob
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Re: help with my grandfather

Postby Pete Beach » 28 Feb 2016 14:08

Rob,
Thank you for the info and the web site. I will definitely contact the gentleman.
Have a good day.
Pete
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