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Lt. (Brevet Major) J.R.M. Chard, 5th Field Company, Royal Engineers--Rorke's Drift and Ulundi
(Mac and Shad) Isandula Collection)
Rededication Rorke's Drift Defender William Wilcox. 8th May 2011 Dolton Devon.
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 Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??

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lydenburg

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PostSubject: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:50 am

As a new member, and in my first post, I'd like to ask members for opinions. I recently bought a South Africa medal with clasp "1877-8-9" to a Driver in N/5, with no research detail with it. Members will be aware of the battery's Zulu War history. On receiving scans of his papers (two sets) from Kew, I find that under the printed side-heading "campaigns" on the last page (in both sets) there is: "Kaffir 1878 / Zulu 1879 - present at Isandhlwana, Ulundi / Transvaal 1880-81 - siege of Pretoria".
The man is Driver Elias Ellis (d. in Plympton in 1938); I cannot trace him on survivors' rolls known to me - could he be an unrecorded Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??


Last edited by lydenburg on Sun Jul 01, 2018 12:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:43 am

Welcome! I think you may have found something a bit special. It certainly says present at "Isandhlwana" on his records. Julian is the man to comment, but if it is very well done.
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Steve Reinstadtler
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:03 am

Looking at his service records, his close squeak at Isandlwana, did not put him off army 'life'......
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Sun Jul 01, 2018 12:36 pm

It might of course mean he was out with Chelmsford. Curling says that eight members of N5 who were left in the camp survived and specifically that only a Sergeant (Edwards is quoted but I think has been subsequently ruled out) survived from his unit. From his records Ellis appears to have been a Driver throughout his time in the army. He died in the first quarter of 1938 in Plymstock and so I suppose there might be something in the local press.

Steve
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90th

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PostSubject: Isandlwana Survivor N / 5 Bgde    Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:20 pm

Hi All
I had a dig around but couldn'd find any evidence of Elias being a survivor or not , JW would be the man to hopefully clear it up , one way or the other , I think he may've been out with Harness , but time will hopefully tell , let's hope he was a survivor .
90th scratch
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Sun Jul 01, 2018 6:32 pm

Hi

Based on the fact that say two thirds of N5 were out with Lord C - not exactly but based on battery strength (Ok the rear echelons - farriers etc would have been left behind)

Do the records say that any of the others who were out with Lord C - "were present at Isandlwana"

I assume that the crew of each gun (including drivers etc) were a permanent establishment - rather like the infantry platoons.....so Gunner 'so and so', Bombardier 'whatever' and Driver 'House ya Father' were always the crew of No 1 gun (for example) - obviously losses and sickness may have require some redeployment.

If so were these assignments recorded, probably not or if so, no longer survive.

Cheers

Sime
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Sun Jul 01, 2018 7:50 pm

In my experience, it is very unusual for a man's record to mention particular battles. For the AZW they are invariably confined to which medal bar the individual is entitled to. The only exceptions I can think of are occasional mentions of being an RD defender - but even that is the exception rather than the rule. The medal roll does not give this information at all for Ellis or anyone else in N5 (but you can pretty safely assume that a note of killed 22/1 indicates an Isandhlwana casualty), so I can only imagine that we have here a particularly enthusiastic officer completing the details - perhaps prompted by the man himself. There are a number of family trees that include Elias Ellis but so far as I can see none makes any mention of Isandhlwana. He had four children, so I suspect there are probably a few surviving relatives.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Sun Jul 01, 2018 8:36 pm

Hi

His record you have posted, also mentions Ulundi and Pretoria in the Transvaal War, so Ellis was either very persistent or the officer was very enthusiastic.

Who actually filled in the records - his commanding officer or a scribbler, elsewhere?

Cheers

Sime
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:24 pm

The standard instruction simply says "These entries are to be made from time to time as they occur, and initialled by the officer making the entry". The second set of papers for Ellis have extended dates to cover his service from 1882 - 85. In each set the same officer has initialled every entry (so much for doing it "from time to time"), A different officer has initialled all the entries in the second set (but they simply repeat what was in the first set of papers up to 1882). So I think the answer is a scribbler and not his CO. What does appear, which is also quite unusual, is his intended residence on discharge - Red Cross Inn, Colchester. He must have supplied that information himself.

Steve
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:16 pm

Lydenburg
Congrats on getting yourself a medal.  I presume it's 1877-8-9 with clasp.
Ellis is extremely interesting (to me at any rate).
Of the other RA Isandhlwana survivors and RD participants only Burchell and Price's discharge papers show their presence at Isandhlwana (and, significantly, Ulundi) in exactly the same way as on Ellis's papers.  Martin's papers also mention Isandhlwana.  The others' papers have not survived (neither has Taylor's from 11/7).
Of those RA men out with Chelmsford whose papers have survived, none of them mentions Isandhlwana.  That fact alone makes the entry against Ellis's name in his papers all the more convincing.
Ellis's discharge papers do not appear to have been 'altered' in any way and one must suppose that they are genuine in all respects.
It is unfortunate that no other survivor mentions him by name.
It is curious that Peter Abbott missed this entry against Ellis's name since he undoubtedly saw Ellis's papers (JSAHR Autumn 1978, p. 106).  But Abbott was only human.
It remains to square his presence with the various totals of artillery survivors quoted by Harness, Curling and others which are at variance with one another.  For what it's worth I don't see this as too problematical.  I have half-revamped my earlier 'Royal Artillery at Isandhlwana' article for inclusion in the Studies in the Zulu War series of volumes and so will look very seriously at Ellis's inclusion in the updated re-print and in England's Sons
Without wishing to jump the gun (no pun intended) and subject to some further research, I think you may well have found a previously unmentioned survivor.
By the way, The Red Cross Inn is no longer standing.
I've also e-mailed you separately.


Last edited by Julian Whybra on Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:26 pm

Lydenburg and rusteze
Can I ask you to clear up one discrepancy - Lydenburg wrote that Ellis died in Plympton, rusteze wrote that it was Plymstock. both are in Devon. Which one was it?
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Jager1



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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:57 pm

Actually it seems mention of Isandhlwana on the service papers of some member or ex members of N/5 relate to being with Chelmsford’s Column at Isandhlwana. This includes those at the battle as well as those that left with Chelmsford.

Reason I say this is I checked a few other service papers I could find. Many just say ‘Zulu Campaign’ or similar but Ellis and some of the known survivors say ‘Isandhlwana’. However so does Sgt Maj Cunningham’s papers and Gunner Rowley’s…

I only checked men entitled to the 1877-8-9 clasp and didn’t look further than NCO’s and Gunners. So at least one or two other men not checked may well have ‘Isandhlwana’ in their records.

Its seems very odd to mention presence at Isandhlwana if a soldier wasn’t at the battle itself but there we go. Looks like different officers at different times entered more or less details on soldiers service papers, depending on their personal want.

Therefore although anyone, including Ellis with ‘present at Isandhlwana’ on the service papers ‘Could’ have been at the battle themselves, its unfortunately not proof. After all if the Battery Sgt Major had been at the battle and survived, surely he would have been mentioned as such. This could of course go the other way, no mention of ‘present at Isandhlwana’ doesn’t mean they weren’t there.

As far as medals are concerned, with N/5 and the 24th Foot, although the 1877-8-9 clasp is the most numerous for Isandhlwana participants, others that were present received the 1879 clasp.

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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:18 pm

Hi Julian

The death index register entry is for Plympton District but family trees say Plymstock (they are pretty much next door to each other). He seems to have lived most of his life in or adjacent to Plymstock (Pomphlett in 1911) - I wonder if he was finally hospitalised in Plympton?

Steve
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:23 pm

Jager1
Very interesting.  Can I just check something with you - does the wording against those NOT at the battle say 'Isandhlwana' or 'Present at Isandhlwana'?  I have a feeling it's the former - correct me please if I'm wrong.  
As far as I'm aware only Burchell, Price and Martin (and now Ellis) have the latter implying the battle and not the campaign in general.
There are two very implicit and different meanings at work here.  
It might then be useful to compare the handwriting and signatures of the latter entries on the four men concerned to see if they are the same.

rusteze
Thanks.
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Tue Jul 03, 2018 6:12 pm

Julian
Burchell has "Present at"........
Price has two sets of papers (like Ellis), but neither set says "Present at"....
I cannot see any similarity in the officers initials.

What is Martins first name?

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Tue Jul 03, 2018 6:16 pm

They are both 'Present at Isandhlwana, Ulundi, Transvaal 1880-1, siege of Pretoria', well Cunningham just has an additional 'and' between Isandhlwana and Ulundi.

Other papers give the likes of Zulu campaign and present at Laings Nek, Ingogo etc

Almost certainly the same handwriting for Ellis and Rowley who were discharged 1882/3 and very similar, probably the same for cunningham but he was discharged in 1893. I didn't look at the already known survivors but think this puts Martin into doubt if he is only a survivor based on papers.

Think its a few years since we were swapping mails Julian and not sure if you have the same email address. If you PM me I'll email you copies

Jager1
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:54 pm

Jager1
Sorry, just to be absolutely clear...who are both 'Present at Isandhlwana, Ulundi, Transvaal etc'?
Do you mean Cunningham and Rowley? If so, there are letters from Cunningham making it clear he was out with LC.
Martin's survival is not based purely on his papers.
As for other survivors obviously the notes on Nightingale's interview supplied the names of Baggeley, Burchell, Price, Townsend and Steer.  And Curling of course.
Costellow, Goff and Green are named by other survivors.
Tucker from a letter to his parents and Wyatt was presented to the Queen and named in a paper.
The wording re Hallaghan is open to interpretation and is in D Blair Brown's work.
That'd be very kind of you to send through copies, I'll pm you.
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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:35 pm

Yes its Cunningham and Rowley who's papers say 'Present at Isandhlwana, Ulundi, Transvaal etc', that's why I was saying that if their papers (certainly Cunningham's) say 'Present at Isandhlwana' , it clearly doesn't mean the soldier was at the battle itself - though some others clearly were.

You can add Wyatt to the list of those who's papers say 'Present at Isandhlwana' (though not Ulundi) - I'll send that also

Good to hear Martin is confirmed elsewhere

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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:02 am

As a bit of an aside, I thought this note on Thomas Burchell's papers was amusing.

"1872. Notes that he was knocked down and kicked by some RHA Hussar men (total four) on Whit Sunday night in Charlton. That he had not been drinking (only four or five pints that day till he was knocked down). He was admitted two days after complaining of pain and stiffness about the right shoulder. Could not discover anything wrong."

Steve Reinstadtler
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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:00 pm

Hmmm..."he had not been drinking (only 4 or 5 pints that day till he was knocked down)"

I looks to me though the kicking he had from the RHA spoilt his Whit Sunday 'all dayer'......
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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:25 pm

I don't know if this is any help at all, but Gunner Green's papers also state "Present at Isandwhlana 22/1/79" as shown on this earlier post from Rusteze:

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lydenburg

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PostSubject: N/5 survivor of Isandhlwana   Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:17 pm

My thanks to all those who have posted replies to my initial enquiry - all very interesting - and especially to Julian Whybra.
Clearly, the search for further info re Ellis will continue!
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PostSubject: Isandlwana Survivor N / 5 Bgde    Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:23 pm

Yes and so it should , you very well may have one excellent medal in your possession agree agree
90th Salute
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Tim Needham

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PostSubject: Re: Isandhlwana survivor of N/5 ??   Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:17 pm


I've contacted the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office and they have provided the following information:

Elias Ellis died on February 9th 1938 and was buried at Plymstock Church, address at the time of death is noted as Avery Cottages, Down Thomas, Wembury. I will try to pay a visit to the churchyard over the next few days and see if I can find him.

I believe that Plymstock is/was part of the parish of Plympton St. Mary.

Regards,

Tim
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