John was at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa from November 11th, 1874 until January 14th, 1875. The first showing of John Lowry on the musters of the regiment was recorded at the end of that year when the regiment was recorded as “At Sea” having left Malta on the 3rd December 1874 on route to South Africa. John Lowry, Pte 133 was found amongst the listing of “Recruits from Depot” that were picked up, almost certainly, at a stop in Gibraltar on the 14th of December as indicated by the discharge of an existing member of the regiment at that place and time.
John was then assigned to the 13th/1st Somersetshire Light Infantry. At this time, he was present in Natal and the only man named Lowry in the regiment but by the 14th January 1875, James Lowry; Pte 138 was also on board and paid for 36 days having been drafted on the 15th January to the “Left Wing”. Subsequent discharge documents confirmed that this was the same James Lowry who had joined the regiment, with John, on the 27th June 1874 at Newtownards.
The next quarterly muster showed the Regimental Headquarters to be in King Williams Town, South Africa where it stayed until April 1875. After that, the musters were being recorded at Fort Napier in Natal until the early part of 1877. During this period John was listed in Durban during August and September 1876. He is then listed as “Duty” for the following 3 months until present with the main body of the regiment form 1st January to 31st March 1877. During the same period, James Lowry was listed as “Left Wing” until March 1877 when also mustered as at Durban and promoted to Lance Corporal on 1st February 1877.
From April to June 1877 the regiment was mustered at Pretoria and then in the Transvaal from July to September. The musters were recorded variously at Pretoria and Transvaal from July 1877 to September 78 where John Lowry was listed as ‘Attached to 11/7 Royal Artillery’ as a driver. This item on the musters takes on an unexpected significance when reading Spink’s British Battles and Medals. From March 1877 to December 1877 John’s records show his as serving during the march that terminated in the annexation of the Transvaal.
The muster from October 1st, 1878 to March 1879 listed the Regiment as ‘In the Field”. It was during this period that John would have won his medal as one of the force of 5,000 men under the command of Lord Chelmsford that finally crushed Chief Cetewayo and his Zulus at Ulundi following the previous disaster to another part of Chelmford’s force at Isandhlwana and the close call to the small outpost at Rorke’s Drift. The following muster of April to September 1879 records John Lowry as attached 11/7 until the 21st July. John also served the campaign in Zululand with the Flying Column and was present at the battle of Kambula on March 29th, 1879.
The Medal Roll containing the details of the men from the 13th Regiment of Foot who were entitled to the South Africa Medal 1877-79 with clasp for serving in the Operations against the Zulus in 1879 was searched and both John Lowry, 133 and James Lowrey, 138 were listed. John was shown to be with the 1st C.A.R (1st Class Army Reserve) and had been issued with his medal on the 22nd June 1881 while James was shown to be still serving in the regiment with no indication that he dad been issued with his entitlement at that time.
Shortly after this campaign the Regiment returned to England where they were stationed at Devonport up to the time when John was sent to the Reserve on 1 July 1880. By this time he had been awarded two Good conduct badges, which were worth a penny a day additional pay for each. Details of his entitlements and pay to 23rd June show:
Place of enlistment: Newtownards Place of residence: Whitehaven Allowance on Discharge: 5/- Traveling Expenses: 13/2
Since John had been discharged at Devonport, the musters for this Depot were searched and although John was not found, it was noted that many men from the 13th Regiment were being sent from there to Dublin. This was not compatible with the knowledge that Belfast had been the regimental headquarters but nevertheless this Depot was finally searched on the muster of WO12/12291 for Depots, Center (Ireland) 1874-1875 with the result that John Lowry was found on the list of Recruits.