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 The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?

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lydenburg

lydenburg

Posts : 8
Join date : 2017-06-19

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptySun May 31, 2020 1:19 pm

As members will know, only a small number of warships served in support of the Zululand operations and received the 1877-79 South Africa medal and clasps for their service. Well-known examples are HMSs Boadicea, Active and Shah. Those members of the crew who served only aboard the ships received the medal without a clasp (e.g. 310 to HMS Shah) and only those who landed and took part in active operations or other service ashore received the appropriate dated clasp (e.g. 223 of the 1879 clasp to HMS Boadicea).
The smallest of the warships whose crews received medals for the Zulu campaign was the 4-gun gun-boat HMS Forester, which had a long service off the Natal and Zululand coast, lasting from 8 April to 4 September 1879.
While she and the other half a dozen ships in her class had a stated complement of about 60 officers and men, her roll for the South Africa medal has 113 names, comprised of 78 officers and men and 35 kroomen who were serving aboard. She presumably added to her crew in preparation for active service or received additions and replacements during the course of her tour of duty. The point of all this is that every member of the crew of Forester received the medal with clasp 1879; there are no no-clasp awards recorded on the roll.
The ship was on station only after the major coastal operations (Eshowe, Gingindlovu etc.) had taken place - so she was not represented in those operations as far as can be traced - and there is nothing in her war record, interesting as it is, to suggest that she landed sizeable parties of officers, seamen or marines (e.g. near Port Durnford). And although some of her crew did indeed land and there were some exchanges of shots (and rockets!) with the Zulu, it is completely unlikely that the entire crew would have been landed, even allowing for different groups going ashore on different occasions. If the roll is indeed accurate, and not simply badly completed, it looks as if the Admiralty issued the South Africa Medal with 1879 clasp to the ship indiscriminately - there must have been many of the crew of Forester who really should have had a no-clasp medal.
Afterthought - Would the fact that the ship itself had used its guns and rockets against the shore qualify the whole crew for the clasp?? Seems unlikely.
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Petty Officer Tom

Petty Officer Tom

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Join date : 2017-02-05

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptyWed Jun 03, 2020 6:41 pm

lydenburg,

Well come to the forum.   I will attempt to clarify the number of medals issued to the crew of HMS Forester.  You are correct that the “Forester”, and her sister gun-boats, had a crew of 60.  The ship was commissioned in January 1878 at Devonport, and later sailed to her assigned place of duty, the Cape of Good Hope and West Coast of Africa station.  As was the custom of the time on the West Coast of Africa the “Forester” stopped at Sierra Leone to take aboard Kroomen, which in her case number 10.  Also taken aboard were 2 other men to serve as Domestics aboard the ship.  In 1879 “Forester” received orders from the Commodore in charge of the squadron to come to Natal for duty patrolling the Zululand coast.  Two other larger ships, “Active” and “Tenedos”, had run aground on uncharted reef close in to the coast.  “Forester” having a much shallower draft would be in less danger of grounding.  Before departing Ascension Island “Forester” added one man to her crew from the crew serving on the island.  After arriving at Natal additional men were seconded to her from HMS Boadicea which included 15 sailors, of which 6 were assigned for duty at Port Durnford, and 25 of Boadicea’s Kroomen, all of which were also assigned to Port Durnford.

As to the question of why all the officers and men of “Forester” were awarded the “1879” clasp I have not come across any reason in my research.  The ship’s men were often under fire from the Zulus while working close in to the shore, and there were occasions when the men landed ashore and explored inland.  “Forester” also fired her ship’s guns at the Zulus on more than one occasion.  (Officers and men of Royal Navy ships that fired on Alexandria, Egypt in 1882 received Egypt medal and clasp for that action.)

HMS Forester’s medal roll from the Admiralty (ADM171/40) has a notation written at the top of first page that states “All officers & men of the “Forester” shown on this list are entitled to the Medal and Clasp for 1879.”  It is unclear if that was there as instructions, or if it was added at the time of distribution of the medals by a clerk.  The War Office’s “Medal Rolls of Royal Navy (Zulu War) 1879” (WO100/50) has no notation written on the list, but does show every man was engaged against the Zulus, 1879.

Tom
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lydenburg

lydenburg

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Join date : 2017-06-19

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptyWed Jun 03, 2020 7:36 pm

Thank you for all that!
I appreciate what the ship was doing.
My query really is simply why ALL the ship's crew were deemed worthy of the clasp - not just the ones who did venture out on survey parties or ashore - which was not the case with the other ships on station whose personnel only received a dated clasp for shore/naval brigade service.
I suspect that it was because the ship itself engaged the Zulus from offshore with guns and rockets - i.e. it was actively engaged as an entity - whereas the others (Shah etc) did not.
The "Alexandria 11 July" clasp was specifically for the naval bombardment of a port.
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John Young

John Young

Posts : 2134
Join date : 2013-09-08
Age : 64
Location : Lower Sheering, Essex

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptyThu Jun 04, 2020 10:15 am

Lydenburg,

This is entirely my take on this, the Forester was in the theatre of operations. She iwas operating as a support vessel to the actions - or inactions - of Major-General Henry Crealock’s 1st Division. In the case of other ships such as the Boadicea and the Shah that you mention above, a number of those ships’ companies remained onboard. I believe the Boadicea took station at Simon’s Town, somewhat distant from the theatre of operations.

Given there were men in Crealock’s Division who did not see action in their advance into KwaZulu yet received the clasp 1879, why should there be any disparity for the men of the Forester?

As I said this is just my take on the situation.

JY
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lydenburg

lydenburg

Posts : 8
Join date : 2017-06-19

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptyThu Jun 04, 2020 10:31 am

Hi -

Those men received the clasp because they had "entered the theatre of war" as had all the forces actually engaged in Zululand - it was not a question of seeing any particular action; "no clasp" medals to the army only went to those who did not cross the Zulu frontier.
With the navy it was different - only those men who actually served ashore received dated clasps; others (who remained on board) did not (see medal rolls to Shah, Tenedos, Boadicea, Active etc). So my question remains - why did the entire company of Foreseter get the medal AND clasp when there is no evidence that many of them did actually land.
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John Young

John Young

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Location : Lower Sheering, Essex

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptyThu Jun 04, 2020 11:19 am

Lydenburg,

I think that you have asked your own question with your opening response to me, the crew of the Forester entered the theatre of war. Below is an engraving illustrating Royal Navy personnel operating at Port Durnford, given the draught of the Forester it is more than feasible that those Illustrated were from that ship.

As to men crossing the Zulu frontier being entitled to the clasp 1879, surely the case of Carbutt’s Rangers who took part in visits to iSandlwana during at least two expeditions to the battlefield puts pay to that suggestion?

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

JY


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lydenburg

lydenburg

Posts : 8
Join date : 2017-06-19

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptyThu Jun 04, 2020 11:29 am

I think this is right - the entire ship engaged forces on shore soTHAT mus thave entitled the men to the clasp - but it must have irked men on other warships!

Carbutt's Rangers are down in the printed roll as not having crossed the Zulu frontier so not entitled to clasp.
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John Young

John Young

Posts : 2134
Join date : 2013-09-08
Age : 64
Location : Lower Sheering, Essex

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptyThu Jun 04, 2020 11:53 am

Lydenburg,

If we were to believe everything written on subsequently submitted inaccurate medal rolls, it would make things very easy in the research field of the Zulu War. However, we cannot, if Carbutt’s Rangers did not cross the Zulu frontier, then which unit discovered the body of Conductor Dubois at iSandlwana?

JY
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lydenburg

lydenburg

Posts : 8
Join date : 2017-06-19

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptyThu Jun 04, 2020 2:14 pm

Hi JY -

I quite agree - I have no problems with the fact of doubtful medal rolls! But you have to start somewhere...
If C Rangers  - and I don't know enough about them to say otherwise - were indeed involved in burial duties at iSandlwana prior to 1st Sept. them they SHOULD have received the 1879 clasp since they crossed the Zululand border (and of course there was no "length of service in theatre"  requirement); the Army Order establishing the medal and clasp in Aug. 1880 is clear on that.
If the relevant men of CR did not get the clasp, then it's an admin error (not unknown!) and not a reflection on the terms of the AO.
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SergioD

SergioD

Posts : 401
Join date : 2012-03-27
Age : 58
Location : London/Herts

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptyMon Jun 29, 2020 5:27 pm

The medals don't come to the market often. Its been a bit of a unicorn for me for some time. I am pretty sure Tom is correct that by engaging with Zulus they became entitled to the medal with 1879 clasp.
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Petty Officer Tom

Petty Officer Tom

Posts : 154
Join date : 2017-02-05

The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly?   The South Africa Medal to HMS Forester - an anomaly? EmptyWed Jul 01, 2020 7:41 pm

lydenburg,

I found some information among my files that might help clarify why the all the officers and men of the “Forester” were granted the South Africa medal with the “1879” clasp.

The Admiralty had to refer to the commodore at the Cape, and his predecessor, to decided who would received the medal and who would receive the clasp.  The commodores at the Cape during the Zulu War were Commodore Francis William Sullivan, H.M.S. Active, who was there at the beginning of the war and turned over command to his replacement, Commodore Frederick William Richards, H.M.S. Boadicea, on March 17, 1879. These are the two commodores referred to below during the inquires in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.  Prior to the arrival at Natal of the “Boadicea” Commodore Sullivan had issued orders to the captain of the “Forester” to leave the west coast of Africa and report to the Cape for surveying duties on the Zulu coast.  “Forester’ arrived at Port Durban on April 8, 1879 after Commodore Richards had taken over command of the station.    In May Commodore Richards was aboard H.M.S. Forester while she sailed along the Zulu coast, and afterwards, while travelling with Crealock’s column along the coast, he had the opportunity to observe the “Forester,” and again while he was at Port Durnford in charge of landing operations.  When HMS Boadicea left Durban in June for Simon’s Bay the commodore transferred his broad pennant to HMS Shah. When the “Shah” departed Durban for Simon’s Bay on July 24, 1879 the commodore transferred his broad pennant to the “Forester.”  I have not seen anything in writing, but I would say that it was Commodore Richards who provided the input that lead to the issuing of the “1879” clasp to all crew members of H.M.S. Forester. I have underlined the sections that I believe pertain to the granting of the medal with clasp to all the officers and men of HMS Forester.

On 21 February 1881 in the House of Commons inquiries were made as to why the issuing of the medal for the Zulu War, to the men of the Naval Brigade, had been delayed.

“Mr. Herbert Maxwell asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, If he will state what reasons exist for delaying the issue of the war medal to the men and officers of the Naval Brigade engaged in the late Zulu War; and, whether, in consideration of the fact that the modal has been issued to all our land forces engaged in that War, and in view of the disadvantage occasioned to men who leave the service before the medal is conferred on them, he can hold out any hope of an early distribution of these medals to the men of the Naval Brigade?”

“Mr. Trevelyan.  With regard to the men engaged in the operations in Zululand, it has been necessary to correspond with the Commodore at the Cape, and with Admiral Sir Francis  Sullivan, the late Commodore, in order to ascertain the ships entitled to the medal and the men entitled to the clasp. Orders have now been issued for the preparation of the rolls; but these preliminary investigations have taken up so much time as seriously to retard the distribution. Arrangements have been made during the present military operations in the Transvaal to secure a contemporary record of services, which will be adopted in all future cases, and will obviate this cause of delay.”

On 2 June 1881 in The House of Lords inquires were made as to why the issue of the medal for the Zulu War to the men of the Naval Brigade has been delayed.  

“Lord Chelmsford, in rising to ask  the First Lord of the Admiralty, Why such a delay has taken place in the distribution of the medals to the officers and men of the Royal Navy and of the Marines who were employed on shore in the Naval Brigade during the Cape Colony and Zulu wars of 1878–79? Said, that when in command of the British Forces in South Africa he had received such efficient support from the Sister Service that he was anxious that no greater delay than was absolutely necessary should occur in the presentation of these honorary rewards to the men of the Naval Brigade for their gallant services. The General Order granting a medal for service in South Africa during the years 1877–8–9 was issued to the Army in the month of August, 1880, and the first distribution of medals to Staff and other officers took place in September of the same year. The 1st Battalion 24th Regiment received their medals in December, 1880, and there were, at the present time, only two regiments who had not received it; whilst, as he understood, not one medal had as yet been issued to the Navy. The Naval Brigade consisted of blue-jackets and marines from the Active, Shah, Tenedos, and Boadicea. The two former ships had been paid off; the Tenedos had been home since the war was over, and was now in the West Indies; and the Boadicea had its headquarters at Simon’s Bay. He could not, therefore, see why the distribution of medals for those entitled to receive them should not have been made as quickly as was the case in the Army. It must be remembered that honours and rewards for campaigns only reached a small minority, and that the great majority of those who took part in them had nothing to look forward to but the medal as a reward for their services.”

“The Earl of Northbrook.  My noble and gallant Friend would have been more accurate in the contrast which appears in the Notice of his Question between the issue of medals to the Army and to the Naval Brigade for the Cape and Zulu wars of 1878 and 1879 if he had said, as he has now explained, that some of these medals had been distributed to the Army six months ago, instead of implying that all had been then distributed. The fact is, that although the distribution of medals to the Army commenced some time ago, it is not concluded, and two regiments have not yet received them, owing to the necessary delay in engraving the name of each man on his medal. As regards the Navy and Royal Marines, there were some doubts as to the rules under which the medal and the clasp were to be given to the different ships employed in the operations, which made it necessary to refer to the Commodore at the Cape, and also the Commodore preceding him (Sir Francis Sullivan). As soon as answers were received from those, the nominal rolls had to be made out, and in doing this the Admiralty have more difficulty than the War Office, for seamen do not remain together like soldiers in a regiment; and it took three months, from February till May last, to complete the rolls. They were completed about a fortnight ago, and sent to the Commissary General at Woolwich, and I am informed that 200 medals are ready for issue to H.M.S. Boadicea, and that the remainder are daily expected from the Mint. I do not think that any blame can properly be attached to the officers of the Admiralty Departments on account of the time which has been taken in this matter. Although I admit that it is highly desirable that such rewards should be conferred promptly, it must also be remembered that great care is required, both in settling the service for which medals should be given, and also to prepare accurate lists of the men who are entitled to them.”

On 22 August 1881 The Department of the Accountant General of the Navy and Comptroller of Navy Pay Admiralty, Spring Gardens, SW issued the following:

“Notice is hereby given, that the Medals for the South African Expeditions, awarded to the Officers and Crews of the undermentioned ships, for service during the periods stated herein, are now in course of distribution, viz.:—

H.M.S. “Active,” 3rd and 4th October, 1877.
H.M.S. “Active,” 13th December, 1877, to 11th January, 1878.
H.M.S. “Active,” 24th February to 7th March, 1878.
H.M.S. “Active,” 7th August, 1878, to 18th March, 1879.
H.M.S. “Boadicea,” 15th March to 12th June, 1879.
H.M.S. “Euphrates,” 2nd July to 16th August, 1879.
H.M.S. “Forester,” 8th April to 4th September, 1879.
H.M.S. “Himalaya,” 9th to 15th March, 1878.
H.M.S. “Orontes,” 3rd to 6th June, 1879.
H.M.S. “Shah,” 6th March to 24th July, 1879.
H.M.S. “Tamar,” 10th March to 11th April, 1879.
H.M.S. “Tenedos,” 20th December, 1878, to 9th February, 1879.”

“Application should be made personally or by letter to the Accountant-General Navy and Comptroller of Navy Pay, Admiralty, London, S.W.
“Petty Officers and Seamen, whether applying in person, or by letter, are requested to produce their certificates of service.”

Grant of the South Africa Medal and Clasp

Medal and Clasp

A. To be granted to Officers and Men of “Active”, “Boadicea”, “Shah”, “Flora”, “Tenedos”, and to the London Naval Artillery Volunteers, who were landed and crossed the border into Zulu land.
B. To the Officers and Men of HMS “Forester”, on account of services on the coast during Zulu operations.
C. To the Officers and Men of HMS “Active” landed previously and engaged at Quintana, and to those landed during operations in Kaffraria in 1877, 78.
D. To all Officers and Men of the above mentioned Ships serving at the times specified, who do not receive the Clasp; except in the case of “Flora”, of whom only those sent to reinforce the Ships off the coast are to be considered as entitled.

Medal only

E. To the Officers and Crews of the “Orontes”, “Tamar”, “Euphrates” and “Himalaya”
F. To the Officers and Men of HMS “Active”, who were employed in operations previous to the Zulu Campaign, who under clause (C) do not receive the Clasp.
G. To the Officers and Men of the Royal Navy employed on Transport duties on the Coast.
    Attention is called to Clause in IV of the War Office General Order which is to be adhered to (clause) Those troops employed in Natal from the 11 Jany to the 1st Sept 1879, but who never crossed the border into Zulu Land, will be granted the Medal without Clasp –

Medals refused to Officers & Men of “Encounter” AG. 9322/81 “Juno” and “Tyne” excluded & all transports not Naval. Whitehall Papers – War Office 15 July 1880

Tom
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