Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

J. Lester

J. Lester :

J. Lester : Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Transvaal', 'Wittebergen'; King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901', 'South Africa 1902'

Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Transvaal', 'Wittebergen'; 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 or family.

We believe this man was a member of the 3rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He had the service number 2529, which suggests he enlisted around the end of May 1888. The 3rd Battalion was a unit of the Militia, so he will have kept his home and job, and trained as a soldier for a short period every year.

At some point this man also joined the Militia Reserve. This was a separate group of Militia soldiers who were willing to serve in a unit of the Regular Army as an individual or in a small group, rather than only fighting with their Militia battalion.

The Boer War had been raging in South Africa since October 1899. The war began badly for the British and they began to send as many soldiers as they could to the country. A number of members of the Militia Reserve were called up and assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment before it left the UK in March 1900.

The 2nd Battalion arrived in South Africa during April. They took part in fighting to the west of Harrismith during July 1900, which qualified them for the 'Wittebergen' clasp.

Having more soldiers available meant that the British Army could try to force the Boers to face it in battle. By the end of 1900 they had captured most Boer towns, but the Boers refused to surrender and began to fight as guerrillas in small units. This soldier will have spent the rest of the war manning blockhouses and taking part in patrols of the countryside aimed at restricting the movements of the Boer forces. This was eventually successful and the war ended on the 31st May 1902.

The 2nd Battalion returned to the UK in September 1902, and was stationed in Aldershot, Hampshire. By March 1903 this man had been sent home for discharge. The rest of his life remains a mystery.

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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Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council