Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Samuel Walker

Samuel Walker :

Samuel Walker : Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Transvaal', 'Wittebergen'

Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Transvaal', 'Wittebergen'

Samuel was born in around August 1872 in Lincoln. His mother was called Sarah Ann and they were members of the Church of England, but we don't know anything else about his family or early life.

When the 1891 Census was taken Samuel was lodging in Jane Chadwick's house at 25 Oak Street in Pendlebury, Salford. He worked as a coal miner. He lived there with Jane and another miner, Edward Henderson.

By mid 1894 Samuel must have decided that mining was not for him, as on the 30th July he joined the Army. At this time his mother had the surname Chapman. She lived at 9 Chestergate in Stockport, Cheshire.

Samuel enlisted in the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 4263. He was 5 feet 4 1/4 inches tall and weighed 128 pounds. He had a 'fresh' complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. He had an anchor and 'S.E.' tattooed on the back of his left forearm.

Samuel began his military career with 4 months of training at the Manchester Regiment Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne. He must have made a good first impression, as he was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 28th August. He lost this rank when he joined the 1st Battalion in Preston, Lancashire during early November.

After a year here the battalion moved to Aldershot in Hampshire in November 1895. At this time Samuel was a member of D Company. From here, in late February 1896, he sailed to India.

When he reached India Samuel joined the 2nd Battalion at Dinapore, now Danapur. He began to receive an extra 1 penny (1d) per day Good Conduct Pay on the 30th July 1896.

Samuel's time in India was short. The 2nd Battalion left Dinapore in November 1897 and sailed to Aden, now in Yemen. Samuel left them there and continued on to Malta.

After spending Christmas on this island, Samuel sailed to Gibraltar to rejoin the 1st Battalion. He received another pay rise on the 1st May 1898 when he elected to 'come under Special Army Order of 2nd April 1898'. This ended the practice of deducting 2d per day from Samuel's pay to cover the cost of his food, but meant he would not receive the money back in a lump sum when he left the Army.

During 1899 tensions between British and Boer settlers in South Africa were rising, and that August the British Government decided to send the 1st Battalion to South Africa in case war broke out. Samuel 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.

During the siege Samuel and the 1st Battalion fought hard to stop Boer attempts to take the town, and 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. Samuel 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 Samuel stayed in South Africa.

There were no battles on the same scale as Belfast during the rest of the war. Samuel 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 ended on the 31st May 1902. His Good Conduct Pay had been increased to 2d per day on the 20th October 1900.

The 1st Battalion stayed in South Africa until March 1903, when it sailed to Singapore. Samuel left them on the 6th September 1902 and returned to the Regimental Depot in Ashton. He had originally enlisted for 7 years in the Regular Army, to be followed by 5 in the Army Reserve. As he had spent more than 7 years as a Regular, he would serve less than 5 years in the Reserve.

Samuel was transferred to the Reserve on the 12th October 1902. He was now free to find a home and a job, but he could be called back to the Army in an emergency. None arose and his service came to an end on the 29th July 1906.

The rest of Samuel's life remains a mystery. His medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in 1938.

Oddly, the clasps on Samuel's Queen's South Africa Medal don't match those his service record tells us he earned. His record says that he earned the clasps 'Defence of Ladysmith' and 'Belfast'.

As well as his Queen's South Africa Medal Samuel 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