Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Defence of Ladysmith', 'Belfast'
John Salt was born in 1876, the eldest son of John Thomas Salt and Emma Roberts. In 1881 the family was living at 11, New Cambridge Street Salford. John had two sisters Lucy and Ada. His father was a domestic servant and died from typhus in January 1884. His mother remarried the same year. By 1891 he was living with his paternal grandparents Thomas and Elizabeth Salt at 3 Percy Street, Salford and he was a dyer.
He joined the Manchester Regiment in November 1897 and was given the service number 5341. He was serving with the 1st Battalion by 1899. That August the British Government decided to send the battalion to South Africa in case war broke out between British and Boer settlers there.
The 1st Battalion sailed to Durban and was stationed in the small town of Ladysmith in Natal when war was declared on the 11th October. The war began badly for the British and by the 30th Ladysmith was under siege.
They fought hard to stop Boer attempts to take the town; the 1st Battalion would attack Boer artillery to stop it from shelling their positions. By the end of the siege food was in short supply and disease was widespread. The British relief force reached Ladysmith on the 28th February 1900.
After Ladysmith the British Army tried to force the Boers to face it in battle. They succeeded on the 21st August 1900 at the Battle of Belfast, or Bergendal. This soldier took part in this battle, which lasted until the 27th and ended with the defeat of Boer forces and the capture of their temporary capital, Machadodorp (today called eNtokozweni). The Boers did not surrender; they fought on as guerrillas in small units, so he stayed in South Africa.
In order to quickly and efficiently cover the vast distances in South Africa the British began to form Mounted Infantry Battalions. Mounted Infantry carried very little equipment. They were able to move fast and catch up with Boer guerrillas. Unlike cavalry they dismounted from their horses before entering combat.
They were formed by taking a company from every infantry battalion in South Africa and converting them to the role. This man joined the Mounted Infantry Company formed by the 1st Battalion.
During October 1900 the battalion was based around Lydenburg in the modern South African Province of Mpumalanga. At the time this was in the Transvaal. Its main role was to guard an important road through this area. The Boers would often attack the soldiers and the convoys they protected.
The Mounted Infantry Company was able to use its speed to attack the Boers before they could escape. This meant that most of the battalion's casualties were members of the company. This man was one of the soldiers killed. He died on the 7th or the 8th November 1900.
His medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 1949.