Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

J. Taylor

J. Taylor :

J. Taylor : Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Defence of Ladysmith', 'Belfast'

Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Defence of Ladysmith', 'Belfast'

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

He joined the Army around the end of February 1897. He enlisted in the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 5039.

We don't know anything about this man's career until August 1899, when he was serving with the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in Gibraltar. In that month 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 man 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.

There were no battles on the same scale during the rest of the war. The 1st Battalion took part in many smaller operations intended to restrict the Boer's movements and force them to face British soldiers. This strategy was eventually successful and the war came to an end on the 31st May 1902.

By June 1903 this man had been sent home and transferred to the Army Reserve. As a Reservist he was free to find a home and a job, but could be called back to the Army in an emergency. Where he lived, and everything else about the rest of his life, remains a mystery.

His medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in around 1959. As well as his Queen's South Africa Medal he was also awarded the King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901' and 'South Africa 1902'.

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