1873-74 Ashanti campaign - research on Army Service Corps

For all discussions relating to the Second, Third, Fourth & Fifth Ashantee Wars fought between 1863 and 1900.

Re: ASC project

Postby siegebatteries » 22 Jan 2011 09:29

This is the final group and it nearly all cases, all that is known about the men is the fact that they served on the West Coast of Africa and were awarded the Ashantee medal - so this is a group for which help really is needed

Peter

1131 Sergeant William BALL
1873/4 West Coast of Africa – Sergeant ASC Ashanti medal. Medal roll: Discharged Aldershot

1164 Corporal John WILLIS

1873/4: West Coast of Africa. Corporal ASC Medal roll: Chatham. Medal returned

1691 Private John SAUER
1873/4: West Coast of Africa. Private ASC Medal roll: Aldershot

1719 Private Robert SMITH
1873/4 West Coast of Africa. Private ASC Medal roll: Aldershot

1752 Private Alfred TATE (initial digit of reg no may be wrong)

1873/4 West Coast of Africa. Private ASC Medal roll: Discharged

1753 Private Charles TANDY (initial digit of reg no may be wrong)
1873/4 West Coast of Africa. Private ASC Medal roll: Woolwich

1900 2nd Corporal William BARNES

1873/4: West Coast of Africa. 2nd Corporal ASC. Coomassie clasp Medal roll: “Present at Fommanah 2/2/74 and under fire” Woolwich

1928 Sergeant David Henry Bowen MORRIS
b c 1850 Bayswater, Middlesex, son of David Thomas Morris and Charlotte (nee Hallett)
1851: Paddington, Middlesex, with parents (father = medical student)
1861: Camarthenshire, Wales visitor at a drapers’ home
1870 10 August – enlisted ASC
1871: 1 February – promoted 2nd Corporal ASC
1871: Devonport – soldier
1872: 8 June – promoted Corporal ASC
1873: 12 November – promoted Sergeant ASC
1873: 4 December West Coast of Africa (Ashanti War) Sergeant ASC.
1874: 2 April departed West Coast of Africa. Medal roll: Colchester
m 1875 23 March married Elizabeth Thomas at St Giles, Colchester
1878: 23 January – promoted 3rd Class Staff Sergeant ASC
1879: 30 April – promoted 2nd Class Staff Sergeant ASC
1879: 27 December – birth of child in Colchester
1881: Chatham, Kent – 2nd Class Staff Sergeant, ASC
1882: 8 February – promoted 1st Class Staff Sergeant ASC
1882: 2 August Egypt – 1st Class Staff Sergeant. 11 Coy
1883: 20 February – b irth of child at Chatham
1885: 6 August departed Egypt – Egypt Medal; Khedive Star
1889: 1 February – promoted Staff Sergeant-Major ASC
1889: 2 October – birth of child in Ireland
1891: Stretford, Lancashire – Staff Sergeant ASC
d 1894 14 July Newport, Monmouthshire “while on furlough from Manchester”. £436 15s left to widow


3195 2nd Corporal John MULLINS

1873/4: West Coast of Africa. 2nd Corporal ASC Medal roll: London. “Stationed at Accowfumu during 5 days of operations” No clasp but north of Prah on 4 Feb

3196 Lance-corporal Samuel RAWSTHORNE

1873/4: West Coast of Africa. Lance-corporal ASC Medal roll: Portsmouth.

3313 Lance-corporal William George WILSON

1873/4 West Coast of Africa. Lance-corporal ASC Medal roll: Woolwich

3342 2nd Corporal Arthur FINDLAY
1873/4: West Coast of Africa. 2nd Corporal ASC Medal roll: Portsmouth

3358 Private Arthur CURRIE
1873/4: West Coast of Africa. Private ASC Medal roll: Woolwich
1885 Sudan – 3rd Class Staff Sergeant C Coy OSC – Sudan Medal (Suakin clasp)

3412 2nd Corporal Edward SAINSBURY

1873/4: West Coast of Africa. 2nd Corporal ASC. Medal roll: Portsmouth

3466 Private William DWYER
1873/4: West Coast of Africa. Private Medal roll: Deserted
Last edited by siegebatteries on 27 Jan 2011 11:32, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: ASC project

Postby Waggoner » 23 Jan 2011 03:58

Peter,

I had been aware of the information in Masse's book. Without any benefit of a statistical analysis, I had thought that the majority of the early ASC men would have been transfers from the predecessor corps. Thus my surprise at the number of remusters from the combat arms.

I was wondering how you found out all the information about Corporal Hills? I have his medal and when I went to research it, I could not find his service papers at the NA. He, like several others, had orginally been put down for the clasp but it was later rescinded as they had not served past the Prah river. I guess that perhaps just crossing the river did not count?

All the best,

Gary
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Re: ASC project

Postby siegebatteries » 23 Jan 2011 09:11

Gary

The "analysis" so far shows that the men who serve on the West Coast of Africa in 1873/4 had Corps Numbers between 1032 and 3628.

The lowest number I have so far found for a man who was a transfer from a combat corps was 1630 Henry PARSONS, who joined the "ASC" on 1 April 1869 from 15th Hussars

However, James WAGER- the chap you were interested in before - was ex-CTC serving in New Zealand (having been 81st foot before then) and his Corps No was 1786

All the chaps with Nos 1287 to 1891 appear to be in alphabetical order, thus if the Corps No system was introduced towards the end of 1869 after the promulgation of the Royal Warrant, it may be assumed that they were all serving with a predecessor unit, even if, like Parsons, they had only recently joined (it would be easier to sort them alphabetically than when they first joined a predecessor unit; after all, which unit would take precedence?). The handful of men with numbers between 1032 and 1164 were senior NCOs and may have been treated differently

The names of the men with Nos 1900 onwards are alphabetically random, so presumably each number was issued on joining the ASC - not when they were officially transferred, but when the started their up-to-3-months probation.

I say that because there were a number of men transferred to ASC on 1 November 1872 - of those known to have been transferred on that date, the lowest number (3235) went to Thomas SWAINE (ex 68th) and the highest (3405) to John CONCHIE (ex 64th). In total, there were 10 men who served in the Ashanti campaign with numbers between 3235 and 3405, of which five are known to have transferred on 1 November, and I presume the other 5 did as well.
I am now extending The Project to see if I can find other men with Corps Nos between 3235 an 3405 who may have served in South Africa or Egypt and, if their records survive, the date on which they transferred, to confirm my idea.

I was wondering how you found out all the information about Corporal Hills? I have his medal and when I went to research it, I could not find his service papers at the NA.


Hills' records appear on Ancestry in their 1914-1920 British Army Service Records database - which is where I've found such other records as I have been able to quote (except GGFather's, whose were in the correct place in Kew). If you don't have access to Ancestry, just let me know.

In order to research all these men on Ancestry, I created a public tree, which has meant that a few people have contacted me because I have added one of their relations to that tree - including Corporal Hills' grandson, who told me that Corporal Hills: "was a founder member of the St Pauls Masonic Lodge, Limmassol who evidently arranged for his burial and headstone"

I'm (hopefully) attaching a picture of the headstone which his grandson recently had restored. I am sure his family would like to know what happened to his medal and you might be able to get more info from his grandson, so if you would like, I can see if I can put you two in contact



Peter
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Hills tomb.jpg
Corp Hills' tombstone in Limmassol
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Re: ASC project

Postby Waggoner » 23 Jan 2011 14:51

Peter,

Thank you for this information. I will PM you.

All the best,

Gary
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Re: ASC project

Postby siegebatteries » 24 Jan 2011 12:28

I am now extending The Project to see if I can find other men with Corps Nos between 3235 an 3405 who may have served in South Africa or Egypt and, if their records survive, the date on which they transferred, to confirm my idea.


Having identified another 10 men from the South Africa and Egypt medal rolls with Corps Numbers in the early 3000s whose service records are mixed up with the 1914/20 records on Ancestry, I think I say say with some certainty that over 200 men officially transferred to the ASC from various combat units on 1 November 1872: all those between
3202 Joseph Barnes transferred from 2/3rd on 1 November 1872 (the lowest number transfer found so far)
and
3405 John Conchie transferred from 64th on 1 November 1872 (highest number transfer found so far)

There may have been more both with lower or higher numbers, but the limits can be set by there two men:
3141 Abraham Wright, a direct entrant into the Corps on 29 July 1872
and
3429 James Horton, a direct entrant into the Corps on 6 January 1873

To prevent getting bogged down in Corps numbering and distracted from The Project, I'm not going to look for further extensions. What this exercise has shown is that transfers from other units was common - the rule rather than the exception - and that as the men came from so many different regiments, it's not worth trying to analyse the data further.

Of course, if anyone wahts the details of any of these 10 men who I've looked at - they didn't serve in the Ashanti War, but did go to South Africa or Egypt - please let me know. They are:
3030 Arnold Bunce
3141 Abraham Wright
3202 Joseph Barnes (b Kent c 1853)
3249 John Boby
3296 Edward Gasson
3301 Joseph Chard
3323 Peter Rogan
3392 Joseph Barnes (b Oxfordshire c 1854)
3395 Henry Muddiman
3429 James Horton
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Re: ASC project

Postby siegebatteries » 25 Jan 2011 20:05

Having dealt with Former Units – transfer from a combat unit being the norm rather than the exception, and the official transfer being after up to 3 months probation, I’m now turning to trades – and perhaps this should have an alternative title of “What stores?”

According to Commissary Ravenscroft’s table of net and gross weight of packages for 1000 European rations (quoted by Brackenbury) the carriers were expected to take along the road to Prahsu, there were bags of biscuit, kegs of salt meat, cases of preserved meat, plus rice, preserved potato, preserved peas, tea, sugar, pepper and salt.

How much was shipped prepacked from the UK (or various colonial sources) and how much was prepared locally?

I’ve found the trades of 17 of the 57 men in the campaign and these included 5 butchers and 2 bakers.

Were the bakers producing the biscuit, or were they baking bread solely for the troops at the coast (either on land or still on board ship)?

Two contemporary illustrations can shed some light on the supply of meat. Ravencroft states that for 1000 rations, half was salt meat and half preserved meat.
He said that the 500 rations of preserved meat were packed in 14 cases and had a gross weight of 819lb and net weight of 500lb. Each case had a dead weight of 22.5lb, he said, and so – doing the sums – the net weight was in fact 504lb or exactly 36lb per case.

There is an illustration showing Fanti women leaving Cape Coast Castle each carrying a case marked “Australian Beef 6 6lb tins” – ie 36lb per case.
Boxes.jpg
Boxes.jpg (13.48 KiB) Viewed 3623 times


What about the salt meat? Was this shipped out in kegs from Britain, or did the ASC men butcher the meat at Cape Coast and pack it in salt for carriage north?

There is an illustration of a poor bullock being hoisted from the deck of a ship with what looks like a Control Dept officer and several soldiers looking on. The caption says the bullock had come from Sierra Leone.
Bullock.jpg
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I can’t find any reference to bullocks being used as draught animals – indeed, part of the problem was that everything had to be carried by native bearers – so presumably this animal was destined for the abattoir.

What happened to the bullock and where is of particular interest to me. GGFather was invalided out at the end of 1874 because he was considered unfit for further service because he had been “injured by a bullock whilst on Service on the West Coast of Africa causing rupture”

Any suggestions?
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Re: ASC project

Postby siegebatteries » 27 Jan 2011 11:31

The service records of three more of the men of the ASC who served during the Ashanti War have now come to light. These records are for

1928 Sergeant David Henry Bowen MORRIS

2523 2nd Corporal George Arthur BASHFORD

2629 Lance-sergeant Harry GAUNTLETT


I have edited the posts were they first appeared to include the new information (Morris was in the last batch, the other two in the second batch)
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Re: ASC project

Postby siegebatteries » 30 Jan 2011 19:18

The next question is: When did the ASC men arrive?

The medal roll lists 56 ASC men with a 57th name that was deleted from the roll, with notes “see 205”, “see 446”, possibly he was due to be posted to the West Coast of Africa but never actually went (illness/death/posted elsewhere/deserted…?) or he was included on another unit’s establishment.

According to Masse (1), 30 other ranks ASC landed on 12 December 1873, and that these were “the first European troops” to land. He adds that the ASC contingent was “increased by another 12 on the 17th.”

He doesn’t mention any other landings. So Masse accounts for 42 men, against the 56 (57) on the medal roll, suggesting another 14 men landed at other times.

There are 15 service records with dates of service on the West Coast of Africa that I have been able to unearth so far, all written in the same backward sloping hand. There is one man who was supposed to have started his service in Africa on 18 September, two men who started on 13 November, four on 19 November – and eight on 4 December.

The later two dates correspond to the sailing dates of the main contingent of European troops. According to Charles Rathbone Low (2), Himalaya, with 2nd Battn Rifle Brigade and detachments of RE and AHC, and Tamar, with 2nd Battn 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and an RA Battery, both sailed from Portsmouth on 19 November.
Sarmatian, with 42nd Highlanders, AHC and, Low says, “one officer and 12 men” ASC, sailed on 4 December.

Low doesn’t mention any other detachments of ASC, but his account may have suffered from poor printers’ or authors’ corrections as both Himalaya and Tamar are said to have had “thirteen medical officers and two chaplains” which looks like accidental repetition, either that or a rather large coincidence.

Himalaya arrived off the Gold Coast on 9 December, Tamar on 12 December, and Sarmatian on 17 December.

Low goes on: “Until the arrangements for the advance were completed, Sir Garnet directed that the transports, with the European troops, should proceed to sea; accordingly after the detachments of the Army Service Corps, and a portion of the Royal Engineers, together with all the Staff and Special Service Officers, had been landed, the steamers sailed on a cruise.”

I haven’t been able to access Volume I of Brackenbury (3), but I gather that on p342 he says that Himalaya arrived with 30 NC officers and men Army Service Corps and then, on page 359, that 30 NC officers and men ASC were landed from Himalaya on 12 December.

It would appear that Brackenbury was the source for both Low and Masse – but I don’t know if Brackenbury mentions any ASC men on Tamar or, indeed, on any other transport.

If any one has access to a complete copy of Vol I, and could look to see if there is any other information on ASC detachments, please let me know.

I’ve double-checked the service records for the three men who left for the Gold Coast in advance of the main contingent and the date are definitely 18 September 1873 and 13 November 1873, so some of the 14 other ASC men was dispatched early, and there is a possibility that some came later in December.

Dromedary, a supply ship that was loaded with ordnance stores (the short Snyder rifles, for example) and other gear, including material for the telegraph, arrived off Cape Coast on 30 December and was unloaded on 31 December.

The Graphic published on 13 December illustrations of Dromedary being loaded at Woolwich, including one picture entitled “calling over the roll on the quarterdeck”. Besides officers and senior NCOs taking the roll call, there appear to be three ranks of men on parade, the first rank comprising 13 men and, while only three or four men are clearly depicted in each of the other two ranks, there are suggestions of hats to indicate about the same number of men in the rear ranks as in the front rank. While making allowance for artistic licence, there would appear to be more than the 14 ASC men unaccounted for by the numbers quoted by Brackenbury, Low and Masse.
Roll call on Drom.jpg
Roll call on Drom.jpg (65.82 KiB) Viewed 3611 times

Who were these men? Indeed, were any ASC? Anyone got any ideas or evidence?

References
(1) Lt-Col C H Massé, The Predecessors of the Royal Army Service Corps (1948)
(2) Charles Rathbone Low, A Memoir of Lt-Gen Sir Garnet J Wolseley (1878)
(3) Henry Brackenbury, The Ashanti War: A Narrative prepared from the Official Documents (1874)
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Re: ASC project

Postby siegebatteries » 03 Feb 2011 18:01

When did the ASC men leave the Gold Coast?

I can find no reference in any of the histories of the war to the dates the ASC men departed for home.

The 15 service records so far unearthed give five different dates

The earliest is one man who sailed for home on 22 February – the date the first contingent of returning troops, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and the RA, sailed on Tamar.

The majority – nine – left on 1 March, another three on 10 March, and one each on 2 April and on 26 May

According to Low (1), the departure dates of other ships and troops were:
Himalaya sailed on 23 February with the Rifle Brigade and some Sappers.
Thames and Victor Emmanuel, hospital ships, sailed on 26 February with some officers and hospital staff
Sarmatian sailed on 27 February with the Black Watch and Brigade staff
Manitobah sailed on 4 March with Sir Garnet and his staff

Boyle (2), who wrote a piece on departures which appears to have been written on 26 February, has one or two different dates and adds a couple of other ships:
Tamar on 22 February
Himalaya “two days after” – ie 24 February
Victor Emmanuel “no longer conspicuous” – ie had sailed, possibly on 25 or 26 February
Thames, “full of sick, leaves today” (26 February)
Nebraska “follows within 48 hours, as at present settled” – ie due to sail by 28 February.
Boyle added: “Many of the medical staff, with a few combatant officers have received orders to go by the Benin a vessel of the African Steamship Company, just sighted. The Liberia is due two days hence, and she will take more. By each of these are forwarded to their homes a proportion of the Kossus and Sierra Leone men”
[Liberia was the ship in which Commissary James Nelson Marsdon was lost in April 1874 when he was returning to West Africa after a short period back in the UK after the war]
Boyle himself sailed in Benin and later, when complaining of shortages of comforts for the passengers, he said: “Benin had no reason to expect so many passengers; in fact, on application to the authorities, the purser was informed that he would have none allotted him. Afterwards, twenty or more came aboard.”

It is possible that Nebraska didn’t sail until 1 March – and that was the vessel that brought home one group of ASC men

Does anyone have any details of sailings in March?

Anyone know when Dromedary sailed?

Or any suggestions why some of the ASC men stayed on the Gold Coast into April and May?

References:
(1) Charles Rathbone Low, A Memoir of Lt-Gen Sir Garnet J Wolseley (1878)
(2) Frederick Boyle, Through Fanteeland to Coomassie (1874)
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Re: ASC project

Postby clairelouise » 30 Jun 2011 21:53

Hi I have just come across this site and am interested in your post, particularly James callaby as he is my 3x gt uncle and the article you have put about him being in the army has come as a big surprise and nobody in the family knew this.
Also you have helped me to put together another member to go on our tree.
Thank you so much for this info.

Having done the family tree it seems that not only on my Mothers side (of which Callaby are from) but also my fathers side of the family have all served in the armed forces in one way or another.

Yours Clairelouise
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