"William McDonnell was born in Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland. He originally attested at Westminster Police Court on 12.11.1864 at the age of 23, where he gave his trade as that of Clerk. he initially saw service as 1145 Private, 52nd Foot. Between 1865 and 1877 he was seven times tried and several times imprisoned for drunkeness. His problems with drink culminated in him being hospitalized (Jan./ Feb. 1879) with ‘Delirium Tremens’. Following the disaster at Isandhlwana the various home establishments were requested to provide replacement drafts for the 24th Regiment. His commanding officer, no doubt seeing an opporunity to rid his unit of a problem member, had McDonnell transferred. he was transferred to the 2-24th on 28.5.1879 and saw service with them in South Africa. After periods of service with the 1st and 3rd battalions 24th Foot, he was discharged on 18.10.1887. Serving with the 24th Foot he no longer had a problem with drink and attained the rank of Colour Sergeant with them in 1884."
In the published rolls he is shown as having been awarded the South Africa Medal without clasp. Sold with copied service and research papers which confirm his entitlement to the1879 clasp.