Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria. To coincide with the OMRS Convention (19 September 2003)
Date of Auction: 19th September 2003
Sold for £3,400
Estimate: £2,500 - £3,000
Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 1 clasp, Defence of Mafeking (Mr. J. Angus Hamilton, “Black & White”) copy clasp to which he is not entitled; China 1900, 1 clasp, Relief of Pekin (A. Hamilton, War Correspondent) copy clasp to which he is not entitled; together with a renamed Africa General Service 1902-56 (Angus Hamilton) fitted with a copy clasp for ‘Somaliland 1902-04’, neither of which he is entitled to, extremely fine and rare (3) £2500-3000
FootnoteNote: Hamilton is not entitled to the clasps for the Defence of Mafeking or the Relief of Pekin, War Correspondents being entitled to the medals without clasp only. Whilst he was certainly present during the Somaliland operations, War Correspondents did not qualify for the medal. It is apparent, therefore, that this last medal and the clasps affixed to all three are later embellishments carried out by Hamilton himself. Why, indeed, should he not wish to commemorate his presence at the Defence of Mafeking, at Pekin, and in Somaliland?
Approximately 150 medals were issued to War Correspondents for the Boer War. They represented some 47 different newspapers, but only a small handful of these correspondents were present at the Siege of Mafking. Just 10 medals were issued to War Correspondents for the Boxer Rebellion in China 1900.
John Angus Lushington Moore Hamilton was born in London on 19 February 1874, only son of John Angus Lushington Hamilton, formerly a Captain in the West India Regiment. He was educated at Cheltenham College, from 1889 to 1891, and also in Germany and France. In 1894 he became a special correspondent in America, and from this time he traveeled all over the world, reporting for a number of newspapers and journals. He also wrote a number of books which dealt with his experiences and travels, as well as articles for various journals.
In 1896 he was a special correspondent in Australasia, and, prior to the outbreak of the Boer War, he sailed for South Africa in August 1899. Shortly after his arrival at Cape Town, Hamilton went north by train, arriving at Kimberley on 28 September, and at Mafeking on 9 October. War was declared two days later, on 11 October 1899.
Hamilton was present in Mafeking throughout the siege, and stayed at Riesle’ Hotel. Whilst in South Africa he represented The Times and also the Black and White Budget. Many of his photographs were reproduced in the Black and White Budget from the issue of 10 February 1900 onwards. His own portrait appears in the issue of 3 February 1900, where it states: ‘With the gallant hero of Mafeking, Colonel Baden-Powell, we have a gentleman who is now tasting his first experience of warfare, Mr J. Angus Hamilton, who has the brilliant English dramatist, Mr Arthur Wing Pinero, for his stepfather. Mr Hamilton is the son of a deceased officer in Her Majesty’s Army, and he himself, in addition to being a war correspondent, has been carrying a rifle in the trenches at Mafeking. Mr Hamilton was successful in being the first correspondent to get through pictorial news of the almost already historical siege of the little far-away town on the veld.’
Towards the close of the siege, on 12 May 1900, there was a sharp action when the B.S.A. Police Fort at Mafeking was stormed by the Boers and its occupants captured. Hamilton was present on this occasion, and was himself captured and made a prisoner of Commandant Eloff. However, the gallant townsfolk of Mafeking rallied to their help and at dusk on the same day, after some fierce action, the Boers were forced to surrender and were themselves made prisoners. On 16 May, Mafeking was relieved, and it seems that Hamilton returned immediately to England, for, on 21 July 1900, he was on his way to China and the Boxer Rebellion. Prior to his departure, he had completed his first book, The Siege of Mafeking, published by Methuen & Co. in 1900.
Hamilton arrived in China as correspondent for the Pall Mall Gazette and the Black and White, and covered the end of the Boxer Rebellion. Whilst in China he contracted an illness which forced his return to England, and while in London and about to see his doctor, he heard news of the engagement at Erego in Somaliland. Instead of going to his doctor, he went immediately to see Baron A. J. C. Herbert de Reuter, Managing Director of Reuter’s Telegram Company, and secured arrangements for his journey to the scene of hostilities. He left immediately by train across France and Italy for the Straits of Messina, from where he sailed to Aden. Arriving in British Somaliland at Berbera, Hamilton accompanied the column commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel A. S. Cobbe, and took part in a number of the minor expeditions which were conducted during the course of the campaign.
After his adventures in Somaliland, Hamilton again returned to the Far East where he was the representative for the Pall Mall Gazette and The Times of India for Central Asia. He had also found time, in 1903, to be a war correspondent during the Balkan-Macedonia conflict. In 1904 his book, Korea, was published by William Heinemann, and also his Map of Korea in the same year. During 1904-05, Hamilton was a war correspondent during the Russo-Japanese War, and his notice in Who was Who records that he received the Russo-Japanese War medal.
From 1905-06 he was a special correspondent in Central Asia, and in the latter year his book, Afghanistan, was published by William Heinemann. Three years later, his book, Problems of the Middle East, was published by Eveleigh Nash, and in 1911 his book, Somaliland, was published by Hutchinson & Co. Hamilton was editor of the South China Morning Post during 1910-11. From October 1911 to April 1912, he was in Assam during the Abor operations, including the Mishmi and Miri Missions. Following these, his book, In Abor Jungles, was published in 1912 by Eveleigh Nash.
Hamilton’s last active service was when he was representing the Central News Agency in the Balkan War of October to December 1912, between Turkey and Bulgaria. During this war, in November, he was captured by the Bulgarians during their advance against Chatalja, and ‘as he was in Turkish dress they manacled him’ and he was taken a prisoner to Kirkkilisse.
After his release, Hamilton went to the United States on a lecture tour, but was discovered dead in a New York hotel on 13 June 1913. He had committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor, an act attributed to despondency over the lack of financial success of his lecture tour. Hamilton was still only 39 years old. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, in Brooklyn. In addition to his books already quoted, Hamilton contributed a great number of articles to a variety of journals, including the United Service Magazine, the Fortnightly Review, the Hindustan Review, and the Commonwealth Military Journal. The group is accompanied by further research including an original copy of his Siege of Mafeking.