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Lord Chelmsford Said .Buller is ‘one of the finest soldiers of the century’, so modest and reticent –that it was difficult to say for what individual deed he had got the Victoria Cross as he had been doing acts worthy of it all along the line
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Subject: Sub-Lieutenant Hugh Cotesworth Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:52 pm
Your ancestor, Hugh Cotesworth, was a 19 year old Acting Sub-Lieutenant serving on H.M.S. ‘Boadicea’ in 1879. ‘Boadicea’ arrived in South Arica shortly after the start of the Zulu War to take over as Flag Ship of the ‘Cape of Good Hope and West Coast of Africa’ squadron, replacing H.M.S. ‘Active’. The ‘Boadicea’s’ arrival was delayed by an outbreak of smallpox among her crew which required the ship to be quarantined at Simon’s Bay until the outbreak was under control.
‘Boadicea’ arrived at Natal and put her naval brigade, including Sub-Lt. Hugh Cotesworth, ashore at Durban. The correspondent, Charles L. Norris-Newman described the event in his book. “Thursday saw the departure of the naval brigade of HMS ‘Boadicea’ in a pouring rain. It numbered 238 men, who had a Gatling gun, one field piece, the men being armed with Martini Henry rifles. They were, as most men of all the naval brigades are, a fine sturdy lot of fellows, and left in the highest of spirits.”
The brigade would have had a train ride for approximately 12 miles, and then would have had to march on foot the remaining 52 miles to Fort Pearson on the lower Tugela River. This is where Lord Chelmsford was assembling a large force to effect the relief of Fort Eshowe where Colonel Pearson and his troops, which included a naval brigade from HMS ‘Active’, had been held up since the 23rd of January.
Sub-Lieutenant Cotesworth assisted Lieutenant T. Abbott (HMS ‘Shah’) with the transporting of troops across the Tugela. This entailed about 5,000 men, an immense train of wagons, and hundreds of tons of commissariat and ordinance stores.
Sub-Lieutenant Cotesworth remained with Lt. Abbott at the Tugela crossing, and did not accompany the relief column. Thus, he did not participate in the Battle of Gingindlovu, 2nd April, 1879. It was during this time that Cotesworth saved a sailor’s life for which he was later awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Bronze Medal. Cotesworth “jumped overboard and saved W. Lock, Stoker, who was in danger of drowning in the Tugela River, 4th April, 1879.” The Tugela River at this location is about 200 yards in width, very rapid, and inhabited by crocodiles.
In late May, 1879, Sub-Lieutenant Cotesworth was listed as being in the hospital, sick. His condition reported as “doing well.”
When the 2nd Invasion of Zululand began, the naval brigades of HMS ‘Active’, ‘Boadicea’ and ‘Shah’ accompanied the Coastal Column commanded by General Crealock. Cotesworth was assigned as the Naval A.D.C. to the General. This column march to Port Durnford and established a landing area for supplies being brought in by ship. The landing of these supplies fell to the naval brigade.
As the war came to a close, the naval brigades were released to return to their ships. The men of ‘Boadicea’ were the last to depart.
Sub-Lieutenant Hugh Cotesworth is listed on the Medal Roll as entitled to the South Africa Medal with clasp “1879”. He was also awarded the Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal (#20632), and was Mentioned in Despatches.
Time ashore 20 March 1879 to 21 July 1879.
Petty Officer Tom
Do you happen to have, or know where his South Africa Medal is? If you have a photograph of Cotesworth could you share by posting it on the forum?
Thanks for your history, which has filled in a big gap in my knowledge of his life. I don't have Cotesworth's medal, sadly: I would love to know where it is. There is a portrait (a very second rate painting which was clearly originally of someone else) in the possession of my parents, but I don't have a photo of it, sadly. He is shown wearing the South Africa Medal with the 1879 clasp - in fact this was how we recently managed to identify him, having thought the portrait was of someone else. I know a lot more about his later career than I do about his earlier life. He entered the navy at 17 and died in service during the Boer War at the age of 41- ironically back in SA where his career had started. He was the son of William Cotesworth (also in the Navy) and his wife Adelaide
Posts : 3037 Join date : 2009-03-03 Location : Devon
Hi SCH. Interesting thread. I spent the last few hours trying to find a Hugh Cotesworth who died during the Boer War. (Nothing Found) But I did find a Hugh Cotesworth here. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Many thanks Littlehand for the announcement of Hugh's promotion - not one that I had found before, but it does appear to be the same person. In response to an earlier request, I have put a short biog, as I have it, here.
Hugh Cotesworth was born on 10 October 1859 in Walthamstow, the son of William Cotesworth (1823-1903) and his wife Adelaide (née Davis, 18230-1885). He was the fifth (and second son) of what would become 12 children, of whom the third (and first son) was my great-great grandfather, the Rev’d Gilfillan Cotesworth. The family was of old (and, one might say, overly proud) gentry stock that claimed descent from one of the Conqueror’s generals.
Hugh joined the navy on 15 June 1872 (younger than previously stated in this thread - apologies). After his posting to South Africa he spent long postings in the Mediterranean and the Pacific, interspersed with what must have been exceptionally boring periods of harbour duties in Hull, Portsmouth and Kingstown, in Ireland. In the mid-1890’s I believe that he also spent 3 and a half years in the China station. I can provide a longer list of his postings in the event that anyone is interested.
In the last years of the century he spent periods of time in the hospital at Chatham for an illness that I have not yet identified, including between August and September 1900. On 15 September he joined HMS Barracouta to return to SA. His service record indicates that he died on 25 March 1901. His elder sister, Lillias, wrote a history of the family some 30 years later and she says that he died at Port Elizabeth having been involved in the Zulu and Boer Wars. I have no particular reason to doubt that this is the case. I am still trying to find why and of what he died, at the young age of 41.
I hope to get a photo of the afore-mentioned portrait at some point soon, and will post it here when I can.
Posts : 7086 Join date : 2009-04-24 Age : 51 Location : Down South.
Hugh COTESWORTH Other U Male 21 Walthamstow, Essex, England Sub Lieut HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD
Crew on the Triumph" 1860. Albert H. MARKHAM Other U Male 39 Bagneres De Bigoure, France Captain John W.N. DAVEY Other U Male 31 Plymouth, Devon, England Assist Paymaster Edward MC LEISH Other M Male 45 Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland Engineer James W. PACHIN Other U Male 18 Barrow, Rutland, England Midshipman Joseph R. BRIDSON Other U Male 19 Botton Le Moor, Lancashire, England Midshipman Joseph (Rev.) REED Other U Male 33 Boscastle, Cornwall, England Chaplain Alexander W. CHISHOLM-BATTEN Other U Male 29 Taunton, Somerset, England Lieutenant William A.D. ACLAND Other U Male 33 Oxford, Oxford, England Commander Samuel JENKINS Other M Male 41 Yealm, Devon, England Gunner Herbert J.O. MILLAR Other U Male 15 Tamworth, Warwick, England Midshipman Sewallis A. SEWELL Other U Male 21 Headcorn, Kent, England Lieutenant R M L I Arthur W. MORRELL Other U Male 18 Gillingham, Kent, England Clerk Fitzherbert H. CADDINGTON Other U Male 34 Calcutta (British Subject), India Lieutenant Angus W.S. DOUGLAS Other U Male 28 Ryde, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England Lieutenant William H. CRUICE Other W Male 52 Galway Co Ballinlass Fleet Surgeon Albert S. LAFONE Other U Male 17 London, Middlesex, England Midshipman John M. DOWNER Other U Male 24 Portsmouth, Hampshire, England Asst Engineer Frederick R. WAYMOUTH Other U Male 18 Plymouth, Devon, England Clerk William W. WHITE Other U Male 26 Portsmouth, Hampshire, England Asst Engineer
"The Sixth HMS Triumph (1873-1903) In 1860 a new ship was laid down in 1860 in Pembroke Dock that was to be named HMS Triumph. However, when Prince Albert died in December 1861 it was renamed HMS Prince Consort in memorial. The name was used again nine years later as the second of the Swiftsure Class Battleships was named HMS TRIUMPH. These ships were designed and built specifically to serve as flagships on distant stations, primarily with the Pacific squadron. HMS Triumph served in this post between 1877 to 1882 and again from 1885 to 1888. Following this foreign service she acted as a reserve vessel until being disarmed and removed of all machinery to act as a training vessel under the name of HMS Tenedos."
Posts : 10077 Join date : 2009-04-07 Age : 64 Location : Melbourne, Australia
Subject: Re: Sub-Lieutenant Hugh Cotesworth Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:27 am
Thanks, Littlehand, for all the info - I had some of it, but by no means all. I knew about the memorial window, and am waiting for an opportunity to pop down from London to see it. I'll be interested to see which William it is - there are a number in the family.
I have Hugh's service record in front of me, and it records that he was on the Triumph between November 1880 and May 1882. This was followed by short periods on the Garnet and the Duncan and a longer period on the Monarch between July 1883 and 1884, I believe in the Med. He was at Portsmouth for study and gunnery training until 1886.
He was then on the Rupert in Hull until September 1887. From then until 1890 he was on the Phaeton, again, I believe, in the Med. After this he spent 9 months on various ships in home waters, along with periods on half pay, then the Collingwood between December 1890 and January 1893 when she was in the Med. By March 1893 he was on the Rattler which, I think, was in China at the time. This posting lasted until December 1896, after which he spent 3 years in home waters and on half pay (and in the Chatham hospital) until he joined the Barracouta in September 1890, which was his last posting.
I also have a scan of a hand-written document which seems to give rather more information, unfortunately I haven't had time to fully decode it yet, as it is almost totally illegible in places.