A Collection of Medals to the 13th Regiment and Somerset Light Infantry

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Date of Auction: 2nd April 2004

Sold for £1,500

Estimate: £800 - £1,000

A fine Boer War diary and campaign service group of six awarded to Sergeant F. Else, Army Service Corps, late Somerset Light Infantry, who, among other actions, was present at the attack on Grobelaar’s Kloof on 21 February 1900: ‘The bullets were firing around like hail, we were subjected to a very heavy cross fire and men were falling fast either killed or wounded ...’

India General Service 1895-1902, 1 clasp, Punjab Frontier 1897-98 (3091 Pte., 1st Bn. Som. Lt. Infy.); Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 5 clasps, Cape Colony, Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal (3091 Pte., Somerset Lt. Infy.); King’s South Africa 1901-02, 2 clasps, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (3091 Pte., Somerset L.I.); 1914-15 Star (S2SR-03864 Pte., A.S.C.); British War and Victory Medals (S2SR-03864 Sjt., A.S.C.), generally very fine or better, together with related Football Prize Medals (6), including the attractive and impressive ‘Durand Football Challenge Prize’ Medal, in silver, named and dated, 370mm. diam., the others, too, not unattractive, and including ‘Muree Brewery Football Cup’ awards (2), silver, named and dated (12) £800-1000


Frederick Else, a veteran of the Punjab Frontier operations of 1897, who had completed his seven years and was on the Army Reserve, was recalled by his regiment in October 1899. Kitted out at Taunton, and given a “refresher” course with the 2nd Battalion at Portland, he sailed for South Africa aboard the Briton. As evidenced by his manuscript diary, he first went into action at Grobelaar’s Kloof on the Colenso kopjes on 21 February 1900:

‘Our Regt. was the first, a shell just missed the bridge as my Coy. was crossing. Then we opened out and moved forward towards a range of hills about three miles to out front, we had barely started when the Boers began popping away a shrapnel shell just missing my half Coy. as we were going into a small kopje, after leaving there there was no cover plain ground right up to the enemy’s position & they let us have it pretty stiff as we were advancing. Still we kept on got pretty close then had orders to halt. It appeared we were making an attack to cover the main body crossing the river. The bullets were firing about like hail, we were subjected to a very heavy cross fire & men were falling fast either killed or wounded. About 5 o’clock my half Coy. were shifted over to the left to prevent the Boers getting round the flank & had not been there long when Bassett, a favourite of the Coy., was knocked over by a bullet in the thigh I believe. The Regt. was ordered to retire about 8 o’clock but we were forgotten so had to stay out all night. We were about 40 strong & were expecting the Boers any minute but luckily for us they did not come or no doubt some of us would have lost the numbers of our mess or else having been unwilling passengers to Pretoria ...’

Sold with the recipient’s original manuscript diary, the detailed entries covering the period October 1899 to July 1901, followed by a summary for the period to December 1901, in all a remarkable manuscript with bold commentary and, as such, for the period at least, constituting a rare “voice from the ranks”. See also Lots 343 and 344.