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 HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties

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Herbie



Posts : 77
Join date : 2017-11-16
Age : 55
Location : Epsom, Surrey

HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties Empty
PostSubject: HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties   HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties EmptyFri Oct 23, 2020 5:46 am

I’m interested in the roles of the various detachments in HMS Active’s Naval Brigade. My understanding is that most of the RN ratings and the RMLI were armed with Martini Henry’s and formed a firing line similar the the infantry. I believe the RMLI formed one company (commanded by Lt Dowding) and the ratings of HMS Active formed two companies (A coy commanded by Lt Hamilton and B coy by Sub.Lt Fraser).

Is anyone able to give more information of the roles of the RMA detachment and the native kroomen and the men who made up the crew of the various crewed weapons. What I have so far is as follows:

Gatling gun
Commanded by Midshipman Coker (until he died at Eshowe)
Crew: PO1 Hackett, LS Chantry, ABs Clarke, Harper, Nopps (from a crew photo on the net

Rockets (x2)
Commanded by Boatswain Cotter
Crew: Kroomen Jack Lewis (1 or 2?) & Jack Ropeyarn (both wounded at Nyezane)

Guns (x2)
Commanded by Sub.Lt Heugh
Crew: Appear to be Kroomen from a print of the Active crew.

My question is did all the Kroomen form crew for the guns and rockets or were some of them armed with Martini Henry’s with the rest of the ratings.

Secondly what was the role of the RMA gunners? I would assume that they may have formed part of the gun and rocket crews but it’s not clear from the print if that is the case. Or did they form up with the RMLI?

Lastly when Commander Campbell took command of the combined Naval Brigades who commanded the HMS Active Brigade. Was it Lt Craigie?

Regards Phil.
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90th

90th

Posts : 10268
Join date : 2009-04-07
Age : 65
Location : Melbourne, Australia

HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties Empty
PostSubject: HMS Active RMA and Krooman duties    HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties EmptyFri Oct 23, 2020 11:49 am

Hi Herbie
Hopefully our resident Naval Bgde expert sees this post , I'm sure he'll be able to answer many of your questions .
90th Salute
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Petty Officer Tom

Petty Officer Tom

Posts : 179
Join date : 2017-02-05
Location : Texas, U.S.A.

HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties Empty
PostSubject: Re: HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties   HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties EmptySat Oct 24, 2020 4:02 pm

Herbie (Phil),

Here are some answers to you questions

1.  My question is did all the Kroomen form crew for the guns and rockets or were some of them armed with Martini Henry’s with the rest of the ratings.

Kroomen were hired by the Royal Navy on the Cape of Good Hope and West Coast of Africa Station.  They had received no official training regarding gunnery or the sailing of the ship. Most were hired to perform duties such as stoker, cook, or servant, and any strenuous duties in the tropics.  They served ashore in South Africa as part of the Naval Brigade and would have been armed the same as the rest of the brigade.  They would not have been used as gunners, but one or more might have been assigned to each gun crew to carry shells from the cart or waggon to the guns.  Don’t be misled by the print from The Graphic, 15 February 1879, which shows the Kroomen directly behind the 12 pounder Armstrong gun as an indication that they operated the guns.  The actual photographs of Active’s Naval Brigade have the gun in front of naval ratings.

2.  Secondly what was the role of the RMA gunners? I would assume that they may have formed part of the gun and rocket crews but it’s not clear from the print if that is the case. Or did they form up with the RMLI?

The RMA gunners were part of Lieutenant Dowding’s company of Royal Marines and would have been armed with Martini-Henrys.  Gunner Thomas Kilshaw, RMA, who wrote at least three letters home, made no mention of being part of a gun crew or rocket crew.  Bombardier, RMA, Frank Parfitt was wounded while serving with the Company of Royal Marines of HMS Boadicea defending the Navy's rockets at the Northwest corner of the square at Gingindlovo.

3.  Lastly when Commander Campbell took command of the combined Naval Brigades who commanded the HMS Active Brigade. Was it Lt Craigie?

Lieutenant Craigie became Staff Officer to Acting Captain Campbell when the Naval Brigades were combined.  Lieutenant Hamilton was given command of HMS Active’s contingent.

Check your P.M.s

Tom
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Herbie



Posts : 77
Join date : 2017-11-16
Age : 55
Location : Epsom, Surrey

HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties Empty
PostSubject: Re: HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties   HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties EmptySat Oct 24, 2020 10:39 pm

Thanks very much for your reply Tom, exactly the detail I was looking for. I thought you might know the answer. I will reply to your PM too.
Regards Phil.
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Herbie



Posts : 77
Join date : 2017-11-16
Age : 55
Location : Epsom, Surrey

HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties Empty
PostSubject: Re: HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties   HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties EmptyMon Nov 02, 2020 10:29 am

Follow up question probably for PO Tom if I may on uniforms for the Naval Brigade. Obviously the various ships contingents all had their own uniforms but I’m struggling to get clarity on the colour of the square collars on the back of the neck. Is the collar the same thing as a “neckerchief” which I gather were black or was that just a scarf which was tied under the collar? Some illustrations show dark or black collars and others appear to show the more traditional lighter blue with 3 white stripes.
Regards Phil.
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Petty Officer Tom

Petty Officer Tom

Posts : 179
Join date : 2017-02-05
Location : Texas, U.S.A.

HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties Empty
PostSubject: Re: HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties   HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties EmptyMon Nov 02, 2020 1:35 pm

Phil,

In all the photographs that I have seen of the different contingents to the Naval Brigade from each ship the color of the collar was the same as the frock shirt.  The only exception I have seen is the Gatling gun crew from HMS Active posing with the Gatling.  The men appear to be in dress uniforms which do have the stripes on the collars.  I seldom rely on illustrations from newspapers.

As for the neckerchief it is a separate part of the uniform from the collar.  It is placed under the collar and tied in the front of the frock shirt, much the same as one would wear a tie with a shirt.

I recently came across this item in The Lancet, April 10, 1880.  It is a letter to the editor of The Lancet from Surgeon John B. Triggs who served aboard HMS Active white Staff Surgeon Norbury and Surgeon Thompson went ashore with the Naval Brigade.  Before “Active” returned to England Norbury and Triggs were both appointed to the Royal Naval Hospital at Simon’s Town.  The article gives a little bit more information on the role of some of the Kroomen at the Battle of Inyezane.

THE BEARER CORPS IN SOUTH AFRICA
To the Editor of THE LANCET
SIR – Although it is a matter of very secondary importance
to anyone as to which was the first Bearer Company
in action in the late war in South Africa, yet as it appears
to have been made a matter of moment by Surgeon-Major
Scott in his recent letter to THE LANCET (p 266), I may
remark that a regularly-organised company of Kroomen
belonging to the Naval Brigade, previously trained by Fleet
Surgeon Norbury, R.N., Č.B., was in action with that
officer at the battle of Inyezane in January, 1879 and besides
this there was also a large number of trained Native Bearers.
I am Sir yours faithfully,
JOHN BOWDEN TRIGGS M.B., Surgeon R.N.
In Medical Charge of H.M. Flag-ship Active
during the late war.
Royal Naval Hospital, Cape of Good Hope, March 15th, 1880

Tom
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Herbie



Posts : 77
Join date : 2017-11-16
Age : 55
Location : Epsom, Surrey

HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties Empty
PostSubject: Re: HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties   HMS Active RMA and Kroomen duties EmptyMon Nov 02, 2020 7:55 pm

Thanks Tom, much appreciated.
Phil
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