Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

J. Dawber

J. Dawber : Photograph in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.  Reference: MR4/17/364

Photograph in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MR4/17/364

J. Dawber : (L to R) Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Orange Free State', 'Johannesberg'; King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901', 'South Africa 1902'

(L to R) Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Orange Free State', 'Johannesberg'; King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901', 'South Africa 1902'

Unfortunately we don't know this man's first name or anything about his early life and family.

He joined the Manchester Regiment between the 19th and the 22nd March 1892 and was given the service number 3597. We don't know anything about his service until the Boer War broke out in October 1899. Soldiers normally served for 7 years before transferring to the Reserve. It is possible therefore that this man was a recalled Reservist.

He fought in South Africa as a member of the 2nd Battalion. They had sailed from India to Aden (now in Yemen) in November 1897 and then from Aden to Manchester one year later. It is quite possible that this soldier saw service in both these places. On the outbreak of the Boer War they were stationed in Manchester. They moved to Aldershot in Hampshire in January 1900.

The 2nd Battalion was ordered to form a Company of Mounted Infantry (MI) before it sailed to South Africa. H Company was chosen for the role; we don't know whether this soldier was already a member of it, or whether he was transferred to it when it took on this new role. Mounted Infantry were intended to be used to cover great distances more quickly than infantry marching on foot could. They were trained to dismount from their horses in combat and use their rifles, unlike cavalry, who were armed with shorter ranged carbines and trained to fight whilst mounted.

When the 2nd Battalion arrived in South Africa in April 1900 the MI Company was detached from it and joined with MI Companies formed by other battalions. We don't know much about what this man did as a member. The Company was worked very hard trying to track Boer forces, and this took its toll on the soldiers. By the end of 1900 less than half the 130 men were fit for duty. This man was also taken ill at some point. He had left the Company as an invalid by August 1901.

According to the Manchester Regiment's Medal Roll, he was not entitled to the King's South Africa Medal or its clasps; instead he was only eligible for the clasp 'South Africa 1901' to the Queen's South Africa Medal. This suggests he did not recover and return to the Regiment during 1902. We don't know how or why he came to have a King's South Africa Medal.

We don't know when he left the Army, or what he did afterwards. The 'Johannesberg' clasp was awarded to very few members of the Manchester Regiment; only those who served with the Mounted Infantry Company were in the eligible area.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council