Brothers Reunited

About ten years ago while perusing a well-known online auction website I came across a pair of cabinet photographs depicting two brothers taken just prior to their departure for South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. The two young men, looking not many days out of their teens, were identified as Frederic William Piggin and Henry Arthur Piggin, were photograph identically uniformed and posed by photographer Bert Storer of Long Eaton, Derbyshire around 1900.

That the two photographs had remained together after more than a century was no small miracle but this was lost on the seller who posted the two images for sale separately – an all too common and very unfortunate occurrence. In spite of my best efforts, I was only able to secure the purchase of one of the photographs, that of Frederic William Piggin.

Needless to say, I was more than a little disappointed with the outcome of the sale, but there was nothing to be done about it. I was saddened by the loss of historical and familiar context that would result in what seemed to be the permanent separation of the pair of photographs.

Frederic William Piggin

Above: Frederic William Piggin wearing his khaki field uniform just prior to his departure for South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Originally paired with an almost identical photograph of his younger brother Henry Arthur Piggin, the two photographs became separated when the previous owner listed them separately on an online auction site. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/www.soldiersofthequeen.com

Fast forward to a few short weeks ago when I found myself rummaging through the same online auction site. I was performing one of my usual keyword searches when one of the results immediately caught my eye. Even after a decade, the long lost photograph of Henry Arthur Piggin was instantly recognized. This time I was determined to acquire the image and placed a maximum bid that would certainly guarantee my winning the auction this time around. It did.

I had researched the life and ultimately tragic military career of Frederic Piggin not long after purchasing his photograph. As one might expect I also uncovered a bit concerning his bother Henry – they both served in the same unit during the Anglo-Boer War and World War One so some of their records were found pretty much side by side. Below is that research along with some new additional information regarding the long lost Henry Arthur Piggin.

Frederic(k) William Piggin was born around 1877 in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, the son of Richard S. and Mary A. Piggin. The elder Piggin was a butcher and farmer of some 60 acres in and around Long Eaton. Younger brother Henry Arthur Piggin who was born about 1880 also in Long Eaton.

Both brothers served in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. I have found a ship’s manifest for the R.M.S. Kildonan Castle that lists Mr. F.W. Piggin age 24 and Mr. H. Piggin age 21 returning to England from South Africa in 1902. Both men are listed as members of the “Col. Defce. Force”. Examining the medal rolls for both the Queen’s and King’s South Africa Medal reveals that both Frederic and Henry served together in 1/Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts and 2/Branbant’s Horse. Frederic Piggin served as Quartermaster Sergeant in 2/Barabant’s Horse and Quartermaster Sergeant and Squadron Sergeant Major in 2/Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts. The Queen’s South Africa Medal roll shows him as being entitled to the clasps: “Wepener“, “Belfast”, “Wittebergen“, “Cape Colony“, “Orange Free State” and “Transvaal“. He was also entitled to King’s South Africa Medal with its two clasps: “1901” and “1902“. His brother Henry Arthur’s medal entitlements were exactly the same so one can assume that they remained together during their entire service in South Africa.

Frederic William Piggin was wounded twice during the Anglo-Boer War. At Jammersburg Drift (severely) on 9 April 1900 and at Lindley (lightly) on 31 December 1900.

Frederic is mentioned in the as being a butcher by trade in the September 13, 1910 edition of the London Gazette with his business being located at 24 High Street in Long Eaton while living in Hall Croft, Beeston, Nottingham.

The two Piggin brothers seem to show up again during World War I as members of Notts Yeomanry, T.F. (South Notts Hussars). Henry Arthur Piggin is shown as a 2nd lieutenant of the Nott’s Yeomanry, then a Lieutenant in the 1st North Midland Field Ambulance and finally as a captain in the Army Remount Service. His theater of operations is shown as France on his medal index card.

Henry Arthur Piggin

Above: The long lost photograph on Henry Arthur Piggin recently acquired online. Whether or not this is the exact same photographic print of Henry which became separated from that of his brother some ten years ago is impossible to say. It is quite possible that the Piggin brothers ordered multiple prints from Long Eaton photographer Bert Storer as keepsakes for loved ones on the eve of their departure for South Africa. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/www.soldiersofthequeen.com.

Frederic Piggin stayed in the 1/1st South Nottinghamshire Hussars (Yeomanry) during his entire World War I service. Serving in Salonica, Egypt, and Palestine he rose to the rank of captain and was awarded the Military Cross for actions mentioned in the 5 July 1918 edition of the London Gazette:

“Lt. [acting captain] Frederick William Piggin, Yeo. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He was in command of the leading squadron in an action and led his men with great skill. He advanced rapidly over very difficult country, driving back a superior force of the enemy. He cut the enemy’s line of retreat, capturing two field guns and some prisoners”

Frederic Piggin remained on active service in Egypt (his unit was transferred there from Salonika in June of 1917 and remained there as part of the Desert Mounted Corps until April 1918.

Additional information regarding Frederic Piggin and his death during World War I has been kindly provided by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Piggin of Hamburg. Frederic Piggin was drowned when the troop transport ship Leasowe Castle was torpedoed off Alexandria, Egypt on 27 May 1918 with a loss of 83 men, officers, and other ranks. His name is listed on the Chatby Memorial which is located in Chatby War Memorial Cemetery, Alexandria. Based on this it is probable that Piggin’s body was lost at sea during the sinking.

Frederic William Piggin’s promotions during World War One were as follows:

 

Squadron-Sergeant-Major, South Nottinghamshire Hussars – 1914

Second Lieutenant – 27 November 1914

Temporary Lieutenant – 12 November 1915

Temporary Captain – 1 August 1916

Lieutenant & Temporary Captain – 24th July 1917

Acting Captain (commanding Yeo. Squadron) – 15 December 1917

Lieutenant – 4th February 1918

Gazetted for the Military Cross – 4th February 1918

Drowned off Alexandria, Egypt- 27 May 1918

For his service during the Great Was Frederic William Piggin was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals along with the Military Cross. He appears to have never married and his medals were forwarded to his sister in Birkhamstead.

Henry Arthur Piggin was entitled to the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory Medals for service in France during the World War.

Henry survived the war which took his brother’s life and would marry Miss Kathleen Ida Cooper in September 1926. In 1931 Henry was still active as a riding instructor and dealer in horses at Repton, Derbyshire.  He passed away in Hampshire, England on 14 December 1961.

A Window Into the Past

This well-worn three-page letter is not perhaps that remarkable as far as such things go. It is not in the hand of the great or famous, nor does it recount some historic deed or event. The contents are in fact rather mundane in nature, consisting of the thoughts of an otherwise forgotten soldier of the queen put to paper for the benefit of his brother and sister. One might consider the most remarkable thing is that these three small, yellowed and tattered pages survived at all after almost 150 years, but perhaps, more importantly, the letter opened a larger window onto the life of its sender.

shaw letter 1 copy

Above: The first page of then Corporal Thomas Shaw of the 6th Regiment of Foot to his brother and sister, probably while still posted to Ireland with the regiment’s 2nd Battalion. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com.

Dated February 9, 1874, the letter was written by the newly promoted No. 205 Corporal William Shaw of “A” Company, 2nd Battalion, the 6th Regiment of Foot to his Brother and sister from Belfast, Ireland. Shaw begins his letter in the most of traditional of manners:

“Dear Brother & Sister, It is with pleasure I’ve now sit down to write to you hoping these will find you all at home enjoying good & perfect health…”

I will not offer a complete or verbatim transcription of Shaw’s letter but he writes about events that today would be related via a phone call or even text messages. He mentions his recent promotion to corporal, inquires after other family members including his father, uncles, aunts and various children.

“I am promoted corporal & left the drummers & gone to my duty and that we are now getting on very nicely…”

shaw letter 2 copy

Above: The second page of Shaw’s February 1874 letter home. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com.

While Shaw’s letter consists primarily of familiar small talk, the mention of his regiment, and service number led to the discovery of his January 1878 discharge papers. These offer us a view of his life with the “colours” as well as a rather sad end to his military service.

Born about 1838 at St. Mark’s, Lincolnshire, Shaw attested with the 2/6th on 4 November 1857. He was appointed drummer on 1 October 1865 and then corporal (for the first time) on17 May 1868. On 11 July 1868 Shaw was reduced to private after being convicted by courts-martial for being drunk on duty. He was reappointed drummer on 1 September 1868 and promoted corporal for the second time (his promotion mentioned in his letter) on 3 February 1874. Promoted sergeant on 1 March 1876, Shaw was detached from duty with his regiment for service with the 3rd Warwick Militia on 25 May 1876. He would be discharged from service due to “Being found unfit for further military service” on 17 February 1878.

Although Shaw did not serve actively in any campaigns, he did see a bit of the empire, being stationed overseas: at Gibraltar for a bit more than four years, the Ionian Islands for just under two and the West Indies for almost four. In spite of his 1868 court-martial and resulting demotion, towards the end of his career, he was awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.

Being found unfit for further military service was not an uncommon happenstance in Victoria’s army. A long-serving soldier could be rendered thus as the result of wounds received in battle, from injuries acquired performing garrison duty or any of the sicknesses or diseases found both at home and the far-flung corners of the empire. For Shaw, it was something more ominous. One the second page of his discharge papers giving the reason for his leaving the army, boldly in red ink is the word “Insane”.

On his medical report sheet, a more specific diagnosis is given as “Paralysis of the Insane”. This is an archaic medical term that apparently most often referred to serious mental decline brought on by previous syphilitic infections. The condition almost always resulted in death of the patient, often quite soon after diagnosis. Interestingly Shaw’s medical history sheet lists the cause of his condition as “climatic conditions” and as the result of “Long service in the Mediterranean and W. Indies where he was much affected by the sun.” Shaw’s cause of Shaw’s diagnosis was not the usual one and this is further reflected on his medical sheet by his regimental surgeon who wrote: “A hopeful case. Is partially able to his own support.

In any event, upon discharge Shaw was committed to the hospital at Bow (probably St. Clements) for a period of 12 months. Former Sergeant Thomas Shaw disappears from the records after this. His fate remains unknown as does his family origins.

shaw letter 3 copy

Above: The third page of Corporal Shaw’s to his brother and sister. Throughout the letter, Shaw seems to address himself in the plural “we” form, but in fact, it appears that his sister Elizabeth was living with him while posted to Ireland. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com.

From Caesar’s Last Battle

This small 2.6 once (73.7 g) football-shaped lead object was picked up in southern Spain at the probable site of the Battle of Munda which was fought on 17 March, 45 BC. It is, in fact, a Roman sling bullet used in that the final battle of Julius Caesar’s Spanish War which fought between Caesar and the forces of the sons of his late rival Pompey the Great.

Sling Bullet

Above: Two views of the same Roman sling bullet found at the suspected site of the Battle of Munda. The 45 BC battle was Julius Caesar’s last victory prior to his assassination less than a year later on the Ides of March, 44 BC. The heavy lead bullet measures about 2 inches (5cm) from end to end. c. 45 BC. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia.

Pompey was already dead by this time having been murdered in Egypt after fleeing his defeat by Caesar at Pharsalus in 48 BC. The Pompeian forces of about 70,000 at Munda were commanded by Pompey two sons Sextus and Gnaeus and one of Caesar’s former officers Titus Labienus. Caesar was in personal command of his 40,000 men aided his young nephew Gaius Octavius (the future emperor Augustus) and Marcus Agrippa. Caesar won a lopsided victory losing about 7000 men to his adversaries 30,000. In spite of the vast differences in casualties, the battle was actually a close fought thing, with Caesar having to join the ranks of his legionnaires at a critical moment in the fighting. Most of the Pompeian casualties were the result of the slaughter following the rout on the field.  Caesar describes the battle in his Commentary on the Spanish War. Munda would be Caesar’s final battle and he would fall to assassin’s daggers in Rome less than a year later on 15 March 44 BC.

This lead sling bullet seems to have been crudely inscribed twice with the Roman numeral “V” which would indicate it having come from a slinger attached to Caesar’s V Legion – Legio quinta alaudae. The V Legion was the first Roman legion raised from non-citizens. Made up primarily of Gauls, the legion was first raised by Caesar in 52 BC during his Gallic Wars. It soldiered on long after Caesar’s death until it was destroyed at the Battle of Tapae, in the Dacian War of 86 AD.

Sling Bullet Incised

Above: The same sling bullet with the apparent Roman numeral “V” incised twice in opposite directions (so it could be read regardless of which end was flying towards the enemy?) Marking sling bullets in some manner was a very common military practice in the Classical World. c. 45 BC. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia.

That the bullet may have been inscribed by the legion is not all that surprising. There was a long tradition of doing so in the Classical World. Sometimes the bullets were made with insults or curses cast into them. One Greek bullet was found bearing the terse statement “Take that”. Another later bullet from one of Caesar’s earlier battles against Pompey boasted that is was intended “For Pompey’s Arse”.

The slingers used by Caesar at Munda, probably from the Balearic Islands, were lightly armed and unarmored auxiliary troops attached to his legions. They were generally deployed as skirmishers on the wings of a legion or in front of it and were often the first element of an army to engage the enemy. Sling bullets such as these could out range arrows of the time and created wounds very much like that of musket balls of later eras.

Balearic_slinger_Sarmiz

Above: A modern-day reenactor in Romania depicting a Balearic Islander slinger of the type often employed by the Romans. Although this reenactment depicts the Dacian Wars fought by the emperor Trajan in the early 2nd Century AD, this slinger would much resemble those who fought at Munda some 150 years earlier. He wears no armor and his only protection is a light round shield. His only defensive weapon is a short sword or dagger. He wears an extra sling wrapped around his head. Photo: Kamy Photography.

Slingers Trajan

Above: A Roman slinger as depicted on Trajan’s Column in Roman. The column’s spiral frieze records Trajan’s campaign in Dacia (101-106 AD). Wearing only a short tunic and cloak, he carries his sling stones in a fold of the cloak. No pockets in those days. His only other weapon is a dagger.

The ovoid football shape of the bullet was probably intended to give the projectile better ballistic qualities. With a proper spin imparted on it – like that on a modern American football – the bullet’s range and accuracy would have been greatly increased. Modern studies have estimated that lead sling bullets had the hitting power of a modern .44 Magnum revolver round.

The precise location of the Munda battle site is not known but it is believed to have taken place near La Lantejuela, Seville, about halfway between Osuna and Écija. It is at this location that a large number of lead sling bullets – this example included – have been found.

Sergeant Holden’s Squad

The three U.S. Army infantrymen standing at the right side of the photo were – according to a very faint caption on the lower edge of the photograph – members of Sergeant Holden’s squad. Holden appears at the far left of this image which was taken at Camp Columbia, Cuba sometime between 1899 and 1902, not long after the end of the Spanish-American War. The dates are based upon the time period when elements of the 7th U. S. Cavalry was stationed at Camp Columbia. An unidentified trooper or officer of the 7th compiled the album in which this photograph originated.

Sergeant Holdens Squad

Above: Sergeant James Holden of “F” Company, 8th U.S. Infantry (left) with the three mysterious Obnan brothers at Camp Columbia, Cuba c. 1900. Photo: soldiersofthequeen.com/Edward T. Garcia collection.

This sergeant appears to be Sergeant James Holden of Company “F”, 8th United States Infantry. Holden was born about 1870 in Kilkenny, Ireland and was a resident of New York City when he enlisted in the 8th U.S. Infantry on 5 June 1896. He was honorably discharged with the rank of corporal at Havana, Cuba on 4 June 1899. He reenlisted the following day and served until 4 June 1902 when he was honorably discharged at the rank of sergeant. At the time of both discharges, his character was listed as “excellent”.

Sergeant_Holdens_Service Card

Above: Sergeant James Holden’s New York State, Spanish-American War Military and Naval Service Card from his second term of enlistment. Souce: Adjutant General’s Office. New York State Archives, Albany, New York. 

After army service, Holden would marry Miss Hannah Cochrane in 1905. The couple would have two sons, Joseph, born around 1910 in Manhattan, and William Thomas, born around 1914 in Brooklyn, New York.

Interestingly a somewhat shaky handed ink inscription on the photograph’s reverse side reads: “Obnan brothers, Liberty Pa.” My assumption is that all three of the soldiers with Sergeant Holden were in fact brothers – they do bear resemblances to one another to a certain degree. The photo may have been something of a novelty if indeed tree brothers were serving in Holden’s squad. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any records of anyone, let alone two or three brothers by the name of Obnan serving in Cuba at the time or living in Liberty, Pennsylvania in the time periods before or after the approximate date of the photo.

Sergeant_Holdens_Squad_Detail

Above: A detail of Sergeant Holden’s photograph. Photo: soldiersofthequeen.com/Edward T. Garcia collection.

All four men are armed with either Model 1896 or Model 1898 U.S. Krag-Jorgensen Rifles. Sergeant Holden and two of his men wear dark blue, double-looped Mills Cartridge Belts while the Private second from right wears a khaki version of the same belt. All four men seem to be wearing Khaki service tunics of the type adopted in August of 1899. Additionally, all four men wear U.S. issued M1889 tropical service helmets.

Postmark – U.S.S. Arizona

 

Seventy-seven years ago the battleship USS Arizona was sunk by Japanese bombs during the infamous surprise attack that launched a reluctant United States into World War Two.

This commemorative postal cover harkens back to a happier time on the great ship in 1938 while the Arizona was stationed at San Pedro, California along with the entire U.S. Navy Pacific battle fleet.  The cover was issued by American Naval Cancellation Society and postmarked San Pedro on board the Arizona on February 12, 1938. The recipient was a Mr. Paul Bilsland of Wenatchee, Washington.

USS Arizona Postal Cover

USS Arizona Postal Cover Reverse

Above: The front and back of the Abraham Lincoln commemorative postal cover postmarked 12 February 1938 on board the battleship U.S.S. Arizona at San Pedro, California. Source: Edward T. Garcia collection.

While postmarked on board the Arizona, the cover actually commemorates President Abraham Lincoln and bears a short quote from his Gettysburg Address: “That these dead shall not have died in vain.” The quote is especially poignant in an almost surreal way when one considers the terrible fate the ship and her crew would suffer just a few short years later.

The reverse side of the cover bears two large stamps from the American Naval Cancellation Society as well a small one that bears reads:  “M. M. Parker, USS Arizona, San Pedro, California, (A.N.C.S. 450)”. Parker, actually Melton M. Parker, created the commemorative cachet of Lincoln and hand applied the light coloring used to accent the image.

While obviously a member of the Naval Cancellation Society Parker also appears to have been a member of the ship’s crew, possibly its acting postmaster. He seems to be the same Melton M. Parker who held the rating of SK2c (Store Keeper, 2nd Class) and shows up on the muster sheet for San Diego Naval Air Station in 1939 having transferred there from the USS Arizona on May 8, 1939.

Parker would continue to serve at San Diego until transferred to the Naval Training Center at Los Angeles, California on February 14, 1942.  Parker would actively serve in the U.S. Navy throughout World War II and during the Korean War, retiring as Chief Warrant Officer after 31 years of service. Parker died at San Antonio, Texas in 1977.

Melton Murry Parker

Above: Chief Warrant Officer Melton Murry Parker in a photo taken sometime after World War Two. Photo: U.S. Navy/Parker/Stickland Family Tree/ancestry.com

USS Arizona

Above: Happier times – The USS Arizona in heavy seas off the coast of California in the 1930s. U.S. Navy/National Archives.

USS Arizona Memorial

Above: Still bleeding – the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor. The oil that still leaks from her fuel oil bunkers can be clearly seen in this recent photograph.

The Soldier-Printer

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to curate an exhibit titled African American Military Portraits from the American Civil War. The exhibit was created to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the end of the war and was hosted by the California African American Museum and  the historic main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library in Downtown Los Angeles. With its main component consisting of photographic portraits of black soldiers who fought for the Union, each image in the exhibit was accompanied by new biographical and historical research. This carte de visite from the Gladstone Collection in the Library of Congress in one such image.

John N. Sharper was born on May 21, 1841, in Herkimer, New York the son of Samuel and Jane Sharper. He was a printer by trade when he enlisted as a private in “G” Company, 14th Rhode Island (Colored) Heavy Artillery on October 3, 1863, at Providence, Rhode Island.

John Sharper

Above: The carte de visite portrait of Private John N. Sharper of the 14th Rhode Island (Colored) Heavy Artillery (later 11th Heavy Artillery Regiment, United States Colored Troops) c. 1864 Photo: Gladstone Collection of African American Photographs,
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

After his enlistment, the 14th Rhode Island (Colored) Heavy Artillery was incorporated into the regular U.S. Army and was reorganized as the 11th Heavy Artillery Regiment, United States Colored Troops. The 11th was attached to the Department of the Gulf and was stationed at Matagorda Island, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Putting his pre-war trade to good use, Sharper was appointed post printer while stationed at New Orleans, a post he held until he received a disability discharge at the Corps d’Afrique Military Hospital in New Orleans on September 11, 1865.  He returned home but possibly due to his service-related disability, John Sharper died on April 5, 1866. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Herkimer, New York where his much-weathered memorial can still be seen.

Sharper Grave

Above: A detail of John N. Sharper’s headstone located at Oak Hill Cemetery, Herkimer, New York. Photo: findagrave.com.

Reconciling Family Tradition with History

This photograph was filed away in my collection for many years simply because I had been unable to confirm the story that came with it when purchased in 2000. According to the information that accompanied the sale the great-great-granddaughter of this Highland sergeant stated that his name was William Henry Jenkins of the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) and that he had been born in England in the 1870s. He supposedly stood over 6 feet tall and had served at some point as a member of Queen Victoria’s bodyguard. Additionally, she stated that he had married his 2nd cousin Mary Jenkins and that the couple had two sons: Stewart, born at Edinburgh Castle and James born at Sterling Castle. It was also said that the family moved to Canada sometime around 1905.

Unfortunately, at the time I had not been able to confirm or disprove any of this story. I always take any oral history that may be attached to a photograph (or any historical artifact for that matter) with a grain or two of salt not so much because I disbelieve the integrity of the teller but simply because I know how jumbled family history can become after the passage of 100 years. Recently I reopened the file on William Henry Jenkins and was able to confirm a greater part of the recollections of his great-great-granddaughter.

William Henry Jenkins was born at Hastings, Sussex on 8 March 1868 the son of Frederick and Sarah Jenkins.

35785598_10156574815461385_6208170266233667584_n

Above: Like father, like son. An undated photograph depicting Sergeant William Henry Jenkins of the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) with his eldest son Stewart. Photo: soldiersofthequeen.com/Edward T. Garcia collection.

He attested for short service with the Royal Highlanders (The Black Watch) as No. 4133 on 16 June 1890. He was 21 years, 3 months old at the time and was a stone mason. He was stated as standing 5 feet, 10 inches tall. This was not the “over six feet” that his great-great-granddaughter recalled but still rather tall for the time period.

Jenkin’s Statement of Service is rather brief and to the point. Posted with the 2nd Battalion he was appointed lance corporal in 1890 (some details of his records are difficult to make out) and promoted corporal in March 1892. Appointed lance sergeant on 24 October 1895 and promoted to sergeant on 18 December 1896. He was permitted to extend his service to 12 years on 4 May 1897.

He was posted as sergeant to the Depot, Royal Highlanders on 25 August 1898 and extended his term of service once again on 1 November 1902 to complete 21 years with the colours. Jenkins received a certificate of cooking from Aldershot on 13 September 1891 as well as one other qualification certificate at Aldershot the nature of which cannot be made out due to the low quality of the document image.

On 4 December 1902 Jenkins transferred to the Military Provost Staff Corps as No.1322. Sergeant William Henry Jenkins was discharged at his own request after 18 years of service on 11 June 1908.

Jenkin’s deployment history is equally short and to the point:

Home: 12 June 1891 – 21 October 1899
South Africa: 22 June 1899 – 21 August 1901
Home: 25 August 1901 -11 June 1908

According to his service papers, Jenkins was entitled to the Queen’s South Africa Medal with the single clasp “Cape Colony”. The medal rolls for the Queen’s South Africa Medal dated 10 June 1903 states that he was entitled to a pair of clasps: “Cape Colony” and “South Africa – 1901”. This same roll mentioned Jenkins being invalided home. His medical history sheet states that it was an attack of neuralgia that sent him home from South Africa.

His service records state that William Henry Jenkins married Miss Mary Hannah Jenkins in October 1897. With their surnames being that same it is quite possible that they were indeed cousins. Their two sons are also mentioned: Stewart William, born at Edinburgh Castle on 31 August 1902 and Frederick Norman on 25 August 1907 (the location is unreadable in the document).

The family arrived at Quebec, Canada on board the RMS Empress of Britain on 5 June 1908 (his retirement date from the army at stated in his service papers as 11 June, 1908 some six days after the family’s arrival in Canada so Jenkins must have received permission to depart Britain before his formal retirement date.) They lived in Quebec for several years where William took the time to join the (53rd) Sherbrooke Regiment. He served with that unit for a total of 3 years, 5 months. The family moved on to British Columbia sometime before World War One where William once more sought out the local regiment – this time the 30th British Columbia Horse – which he joined and in which he served 2 years, 11 months.

On 1 August 1918, the now 49-year-old William Henry Jenkins attested as No. 2706155 for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force at Vernon, British Columbia. Interestingly his gives his family’s address as the Internment Camp, Vernon, British Columbia. He was discharged on 11 April 1920 at Vernon, British Columbia.

This mentioned camp was one of many set up throughout Canada during World War One to house enemy aliens. The camp at Vernon held several thousand people of Ukrainian descent who were considered subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Obviously, the Jenkins family were not internees but William must have been employed in some fashion at the camp. His attestation papers give his profession at this time as a wood carver.

Jenkin’s service papers state that he served with the 11th Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment, and he apparently remained in Canada during the duration of his enlistment. His discharge documents also list the medals he was entitled to for his combined military service. Here it is stated that he was entitled to the Queen’s South Africa Medal with four clasps, the King’s South Africa Medal (presumably with its usual two clasps), the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal and the Edward VII Coronation Medal. Since his entire enlistment during World War One was spent in Canada he was not entitled to any of usually awarded medals for that conflict.

Jenkins 2

Above: A page from William Henry Jenkins’ Canadian World War One discharge papers. His medal entitlements as listed here – The Edward VII Coronation Medal, the Queen’s South Africa Medal with four clasps, the King’s South Africa Medal and the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal – are at odds with his earlier British service papers and Anglo-Boer War medal rolls. My tendency is to assume that this latest document is correct simply because the discharge board could well have had access to additional documentation not readily available today. Photo: Library and Archives Canada.

William Henry Jenkins passed away at Naksup, British Columbia on 15 April 1943.

Note: Jenkins great-great-granddaughter related that he had once been appointed to serve as part of Queen Victoria’s bodyguard. I have found nothing in his service records to show he ever served in such a capacity while in England. His entitlement to the Edward VII Coronation Medal indicates that he was among the selected NCOs and other ranks of various regiments invited to take part in the coronation ceremonies in 1902. It is quite possible that Jenkin’s service in the coronation was translated years later to service with the previous reigning monarch.

 
Additionally, the discrepancies in official documents regarding Jenkins’ medal entitlement will probably never be fully resolved unless his named medal group turns up.
 

 

Mounted Photograph (cut album page)
8 1/4 Inches x 5 3/4 Inches (21cm x14.5cm)
Unknown Photographer
Unknown British Location
c. 1900s