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 Scheiss, the mystery.

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Scheiss, the mystery.   Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:56 am

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From the Penn Symonds account
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:41 am

I'm not sure to correctly read the date 1891 ?????
If it is the case, Sheiss Was already dead.
Well done Frank
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:43 am

Hence the title Frederic, the Mystery !
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:44 am

If it had merely been a sighting it could have explained away but its more than that he actually spoke to him, discussed his VC etc.
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Wed Jul 06, 2016 11:15 am

I have a vague memory of a witness who claims that Scheiss was alive after the official date of his death. Unfortunately, I do not remember the origin of this evidence.
Again, well done.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Wed Jul 06, 2016 11:21 am

There was a couple of statements about Scheiss from memory placing him in Natal. There is a further complication with Symonds statement in that his VC ended up at the War Office and was sent to the NAM around 1950. That would suggest that with the War Office being involved the medal could have been sent on by the Navy vessel that carried Scheiss, HMS Euphrates?????, and that is at odds with him posting it to Austarlia.
Vexatious in the extreme.

Cheers
PS sending you a pm.
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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Wed Jul 06, 2016 5:31 pm

Just to add to the mystery.....

From the Graphic 2nd Feb 1884

The Duke of Connaught presenting war medals to the 13th Bengal Lancers at Meerut
"...A curious incident occurred on the Duke's arrival at Allahabad. While inspecting the guard of honour of the East India Railway Volunteers his quick eye detected the Victoria Cross on the breast of one of the men, Mr F.C. Schiess. With that readiness and good-feeling so general with the members of the Royal Family the Duke at once stepped up to him, and inquired kindly how he had earned that distinction. 'At Rorke's Drift, South Africa,' was the answer..."

Natal Witness February 6th 1885
Death of a Zulu War VC
"It may be remembered that Corporal Scheiss VC, was sent home from this by the troopship 'Serapis'. Word has now been received of the poor fellow's death. It is thus chronicled in the Portsmouth Times.
'Corporal Scheiss served as a volunteer during the last Zulu War, and was present in several engagements, including Rorke's Drift, where he showed conspicuous gallantry, and was awared the V.C.
At the close of the war he returned to Natal, where for some time he existed in a state of absolute want. At the time of the arrival of the Serapis his abject condition led to the inhabitants to raise a sum of subscription to pay for his rations for the voyage home. He was taken on board, but his long exposure told on him, and about the 14th December he died on board."

[cause of death being pneumonia - according to his death certificate]

Natal Witness 4th Nov 1899
Writing in response to an enquiry as to what became of Cpl F. Schiess, a correspondent replied
"...that he remembered reading years ago, both in the Witness and the Advertiser, of Corpl. Schiess (of Rorke's Drift fame), dying in India destitute."

A second correspondent replied stating that Schiess had been sent back to England and had, he believed, died at Netley or Haslar. Interestingly this correspondent also stated that he had photographs of Schiess and that he was prepared to send copies to any interested parties!!!!

VC at the NAM...but what became of his campaign medal??

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:28 pm

Is there nothing about this bloody war that is normal and uncomplicated???????????????????
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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:03 am

So the chronology:
Scheiss is awarded the medal 1879
He is seen in India early in 1884
He dies at sea on the 14th December 1884
he is seen back in India in 1891
On the principle of follow the evidence not the man. The Victoria Cross is not recorded between 1879 and 1884.
Its not seen in 1891 by Mainwaring, it had then been 'sent' by mail to Australia.
Solution
Scheiss is destitute in Natal, sells the medal. The buyer travels to India looking for employment/notoriety and assumes the identity of Schiess. ( Alternativly the medal is stolen from Schiess on board)He meets up with the Duke of Connaught, probably enhances his reputation in the local pubs for a while. He eventually falls on hard times and sells the medal, hence its not in his possession when he meets Mainwaring. He eventually dies in India, and its reported in the local news, that news makes its way to South Africa. The medal then disappears only to surface in 1950 at the MOD.
Pity Mrs White has been taken out of Cluedo.
Very Happy


Last edited by Frank Allewell on Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 11:33 am

Lee mentions his death certificate, has anyone seen it or know who issued it?

Steve
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:11 pm

Possibly Lee would post it for us?
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 5:34 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Mainwaring.Pity Mrs White has been taken out of Cluedo.
Very Happy

Hi,

In addition, there is evidence somewhere indicating that Scheiss had a large sum of money in his pocket when he died. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
Honestly I do not remember if this report is accurate....
Cheers

Frédéric
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:00 pm

The other thing that reinforces the proposition that he died on board HMS Serapis on 14 December 1884 is that the records give the precise location of his burial at sea (13.00 S/07.24 W. 1376 Km NE of St Helena). Don't quite understand the story that his passage was paid for by public subscription in South Africa - since when does the RN charge for passage on its ships?
Has anything about the appeal for public subscriptions been been discovered in the SA press of the time?

Steve
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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:36 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
So the chronology:
Scheiss is awarded the medal 1879
He is seen in India early in 1884
He dies at sea on the 14th December 1884
he is seen back in India in 1891
On the principle of follow the evidence not the man. The Victoria Cross is not recorded between 1879 and 1884.
Its not seen in 1891 by Mainwaring, it had then been 'sent' by mail to Australia.
Solution
Scheiss is destitute in Natal, sells the medal. The buyer travels to India looking for employment/notoriety and assumes the identity of Schiess. ( Alternativly the medal is stolen from Schiess on board)He meets up with the Duke of Connaught, probably enhances his reputation in the local pubs for a while. He eventually falls on hard times and sells the medal, hence its not in his possession when he meets Mainwaring. He eventually dies in India, and its reported in the local news, that news makes its way to South Africa. The medal then disappears only to surface in 1950 at the MOD.
Pity Mrs White has been taken out of Cluedo.
Very Happy

Franks that's all a very good possibility.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:58 pm

I don't believe there is any doubt that he died on the 14th, the evidence is just far to precise. That being the case then it has to be an imposter in India, he had the VC, according to Connaught, therefore he bought it or stole it. Frederic has pointed out ( yet to be proven) that he had the medal in his pocket at the time of death therefore the medal could have been stolen on board.

Cheers
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:19 pm

Steve, all,
According to IK (Who's is who in the ZW 1879, vol ii), "The RN agreed to ship him to England while his food was funded by public suscription...his death certificate gives his age as 'not known- about 36', an indication of the hard times he had endured; he was in fact 28 years old."

Cheers
Frédéric
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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:23 pm

"SWI swissinfo.ch EN  
Geneva to honour Swiss Victoria Cross hero
CULTURE SOCIETY  Sport

"
Much has been written about the Anglo-Zulu Battle of Rorke's Drift, yet few people know that one of the 11 Victoria Crosses awarded for bravery went to a Swiss.
Over 100 years later, the heroic story of Christian Ferdinand Schiess is due to be retold next year at the Museum of the Swiss Abroad at the Château de Penthes in Geneva.
On January 22, 1879 at Rorke's Drift on the Natal border with Zululand in South Africa a tiny British garrison of 140 men - many of them sick and wounded - fought for 12 hours to repel waves of attacks by an army of 4,000 Zulu warriors. The epic battle followed the crushing defeat of a British force at the hands of the Zulus at nearby Isandlwana.

This valiant defence of the garrison was rewarded by Queen Victoria's government with no fewer than 11 Victoria Cross medals, and was later immortalised in the 1964 film Zulu, starring Stanley Baker and Michael Caine.

One of the VC recipients was Corporal Schiess – a Swiss from canton Bern.

"He was the first non-British [soldier] and only Swiss to receive the award and he was completely unknown – it's a great story," Anselm Zurfluh, the director of the Museum of the Swiss Abroad, told swissinfo.

While there are many gaps in his life story, what is clear is that Schiess was born on April 7, 1856 in Burgdorf, canton Bern, although his place of origin was Herisau, the largest town in canton Appenzell-Outer Rhodes.

"His father was Niklaus Schiess, a stone-cutter known as 'Bernese Schiess'," said Alistair Massie, an expert from the National Army Museum in London.

It is unclear whether he was then brought up in an orphanage or later whether, at the age of 15, he served for the French in Algeria, said Massie.
Allegiance to Britain
In 1877 Schiess sailed from Hamburg, Germany, to South Africa and pledged his allegiance to the British, who were then beginning their colonisation of Africa. He was appointed corporal in the 2nd Battalion of the Natal Native Contingent, a large force of black auxiliary soldiers who helped defend the British colony of Natal.

In January 1879, at the start of the bloody Anglo-Zulu war, Schiess was carried to the field hospital at the army supply depot at Rorke's Drift with a bad foot infection caused by marching across the veldt wearing ill-fitting army boots.

On January 22, as defenders fought off wave after wave of Zulu attacks and despite his injury, Schiess carried several wounded to the hospital, and later as the Zulus breached the lines of defence, he helped dislodge and kill the attacking warriors.

"In the Zulu film you see him hobbling out of the infirmary on his crutches, throwing them away, bayoneting a few Zulus and killing one who was wounding British troops," explained Jeffrey Long, a member of the Royal British Legion who uncovered the little-known story of Schiess and his VC while researching the story of Rorke's Drift.

Schiess received the VC a year later at a special parade in Pietermaritzburg on February 3, 1880.

"The VC was delayed as they didn't realise he was a European. They thought he was part of the Native Contingent," said Long.

Despite the recognition, after leaving the army Schiess failed to find work and four years later he was found on the streets of Cape Town suffering from exposure and malnutrition.

"He wrote to the Commonwealth Office in England and applied to work on the railways and in the prison service, but they turned him down," said Long.

The Royal Navy offered him free passage to England, which he accepted, but he became ill during the voyage and died on board ship on December 14, 1884 aged 28, and still with his VC.
Exhibition
Schiess was buried at sea off the coast of Angola, but his VC, which was still in his possession when he died, ended up travelling on to England.

"It went to the War Office where it ended up in a drawer and was forgotten about. It was only found when the old office furniture was being cleared out in the 1950s," said Long.

The original medal is now on display at the National Army Museum in London, but Long and Zurfluh have made a high-quality replica to feature in a major exhibition on the Swiss hero next April.

"We'll have a uniform, rifle, bayonet, documents on Schiess and the Zulus, and spears," said Long.

"But there are still many gaps in this story. Perhaps somewhere, someone will have some record of him or his family or background."

swissinfo, Simon Bradley
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:42 pm

I thought all of that was pretty believable until I got to the "Commonwealth Office" bit. There was no Commonwealth Office in 1884 - perhaps he meant Colonial Office. Much more likely that the RN handed his medal to the War Office after his death than some imposter in India had it. What the imposter had was a fake I reckon. And I still don't buy the idea that a VC winner who is discovered destitute and malnourished in Capetown gets charged for his food by the Royal Navy.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:38 pm

"On January 22, as defenders fought off wave after wave of Zulu attacks and despite his injury, Schiess carried several wounded to the hospital"



?

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Scheiss, the mystery.   Fri Jul 08, 2016 7:35 am

Steve
Interestingly, the first sighting of Scheiss in India occurred while he was still alive and in South Africa. And that was the sighting with the medal on display.
These errors are pretty common really, on my recent foray I sat in a pub to watch the Iceland England match ( no further comment on that ) next to a very large ( and angry ) gentleman. After the game and over a second beer, for me, and probably the tenth for him I told him of my interest in the Zulu War. His immediate response was that he had seen the movie "wiv all them bloody Welsh gits". Considering the circumstance I fully agreed with him ( With abject apologise to Martin).

Cheers
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