King’s South Africa 1901-02, 2 clasps
Schätzpreis: 180 £ - 220 £
ca. 357 $ - 436 $
Zuschlagspreis: 260 £
ca. 516 $
King’s South Africa 1901-02, 2 clasps (7538 Pte. J. Spilsbury, K.R.R.C.) good very fine £180-220 James Spilsbury was born in Woolferlow, Herefordshire, the son of a provisions dealer. A Labourer by occupation, he attested for the King’s Royal Rifle Corps at Birmingham on 22 June 1892, aged 20 years, 9 months. With the regiment, firstly with the 4th Battalion and then with the 2nd, he served in Gibraltar, 14 December 1893-12 January 1895; Malta, 13 January 1895-15 July 1896 and South Africa, 16 July 1896-17 January 1897. Transferred to the 1st Battalion K.R.R.C. in January 1897, Spilsbury was then posted to Mauritius. The bulk of the battalion, together with elements of the 2nd Battalion Yorks and Lancaster and 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiments and others, set sail from Cape Town aboard the R.I.M.S. Warren Hastings on 6 January 1897. At 2.20 a.m. on 14 January, in heavy rain, the Warren Hastings ran aground off the Island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. Footnote Orders were given for the KRRC to fall in on the port side and the York and Lancasters on the starboard side. Through the torrential rain the ship's officers perceived that it was possible to disembark all on board by ropes, through the surf, on to the rocky coast of the island. At 4.15am the ship began to heel to starboard. Twenty minutes later the electric lights went out. Thus by 5.00 a.m. those men on the starboard side, some in total darkness, were standing knee deep in water. The list gradually increased until the captain himself thought the ship would turn over. Nevertheless, the discipline for which the British soldier is famed prevailed, and the disembarkation was accomplished without a single fatality. The only lives lost during the whole episode were those of two natives who panicked and jumped overboard. One officer present later wrote ‘Personally I look upon the whole business as one of the most creditable things to the British Army which has ever occurred, and without invidious comparison quite as creditable as the Birkenhead, for in the latter, if we are to believe the pictures, the men were at least all on deck, whilst on the Warren Hastings they were between decks, and ... quite unable to see what was going on.’ On 6 March 1897 the Queen sent a message to the officer commanding the troops onboard, ‘I wish to express my great satisfaction with the admirable discipline shown by the troops under your command on the occasion of the wreck of the Warren Hastings ....’ The officers and men were at length transported from Reunion to Mauritius; Spilsbury serving there from 18 January 1897 to 21 March 1899. On 22 March he returned to South Africa, without incident aboard the R.I.M.S. Clive. Serving with the 1st Battalion K.R.R.C., Spilsbury fought at the battle of Talana, 20 October 1899, and was severely wounded with a gunshot wound to the left shoulder. With other wounded he had to be left at Dundee and was made a prisoner of war. He was released on 6 June 1900 following the British advance in the vicinity of Pretoria. On 15 October 1902, Spilsbury was transferred to the Army Reserve in South Africa but subsequently failed to periodically report his whereabouts. On 22 June 1904 he was discharged on the termination of his first period of limited engagement. He had served for 12 years but 1 year 249 days were forfeited for having been absent from the Army Reserve. For his service in the Boer War, he was awarded the Q.S.A. with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal and Talana and the K.S.A. with 2 clasps. Sold with copied service papers, a detailed service history and other research. See lot 663 for another member of the K.R.R.C. aboard the Warren Hastings.
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