The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 3 No 1 - June 1974


Notes, Questions and Replies


1. Rugby Team with a Difference? The British team which toured South Africa in 1896 was probably unlike any international rugby team before or since. Two of the players Robert Johnstone (later Major, Imperial Light Horse and Thomas Joseph Crean (later Surgeon Captain, I.L.H.) were destined to win the Victoria Cross during the South African War of 1899-1902, the former at Elandslaagte on the 21st October, 1899 and the latter at Tygerskloof on the 18th December, 1901.

Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart, VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO, who served as a trooper in the Imperial Light Horse and was later commissioned in the 2nd I.L.H., has recorded in his autobiography, HAPPY ODYSSEY (Jonathan Cape, London, 1950, page 23) that when Crean heard that Johnstone had been awarded the VC he said ‘Well! If a B.F. like you can get a VC, anyone can.’ In 1915, Dr Crean, then a major in the R.A.M.C., went one better than his former team-mate, when he was awarded a DSO for his services in France.

W. J. Carey was later Dr the Rt. Revd. the Lord Bishop of Bloemfontein (Anglican) from 1921-33. During the Great War of 1914-18 he served as a chaplain in the R.N. and was present at the battle ofJutland in H.M.S. Warspite.

R. C. Mullins was later a medical practitioner and settled in South Africa. During the South African War of 1899-1902 he served as a civil surgeon with the British Forces and from 1917-18 he was a captain in the S.A.M.C. in France. His brother, Major C. H. Mullins, VC, CMG, Imperial Light Horse and Major R. Johnstone both won the VC for their part in the same glorious exploit at Elandslaagte.
W. Mc. E. Bisset

Caption to the photograph reads:


Back row, left to right: W. M. Bisset (acting manager), C. A. Boyd, A. F. Todd, L. Q. Bulger, S. P. Bell, P. F. Hancock, J. Sealey, J. F. Byrne.
Seated: B. Johnstone, A. D. Clinch, R. Watson, J. Hammond (captain), T. J. Crean, W. J. Carey, O. G. Mackie.
On the ground: J. T. Magee, A. D. Meares, A. Mullineaux and L. M. Magee.


1. Refer Vol 2 No 6 p.213 ‘Sansom’s Horse’ by Dr F. K. Mitchell, JCD. We have a copy of the photograph reproduced on page 215. The names given on ours are:
Standing: Col Schermbrucker, Warrington, Capt Wright, Capt Gray, Capt T. K. Cole, Dr Egan, Capt J. Cowse.
Seated: Capt Sansom, Capt Giddy, Maj Walker, Capt Lonsdale.
It is a great pity that the names differ but I think your list is probably correct. Our photograph is marked ‘officers of the F.A.M.P.’ — very unlikely in view of the dress.
Brian M. Randles,
Acting Director & Historian,
Kaffrarian Museum,
King William’s Town.

Editor’s note. Mr Randles also enclosed a photocopy of an obituary for Edward Floyd Sansom - date and name of newspaper unknown.
It is unfortunately not clear enough to reproduce here but it has been forwarded to Dr Mitchell.

2. Refer Vol 2 No 6 page 213 ‘Sansom’s Horse’ by Dr F. K. Mitchell, JCD. In response to Dr Frank Mitchell’s fine article ‘Sansom’s Horse’ I am in a position to assure him that the South African Medal, 1877-79 named to ‘Sansom’s Horse’ does exist. I fortunately have one of these medals in a rather interesting family group that might be worth recording in this journal. Firstly, let me describe a pair. They are, ‘South Africa, 1834-53 W. STEPHENSON. 6TH REGT’, and ‘South Africa 1877-79 Bar “1877-8” SERGT. W. STEVENSON KG. WM. TN. VETN. VOLS’. I have been able to verify both medals at the Public Records Office in London. The 1834-53 Medal was checked in the roll for Kaffir Wars (W.O. 100/17) on page 257 which lists ‘2629 WM Stephenson 6th foot’ as having served during the 1846-7 campaign. A later entry in the same volume (page 269) indicates that he was ‘Discharged in 1848 and settled in the Cape’, his medal being sent to Lt Gen Sir Jas. Jackson KCB, Cape of Good Hope, for delivery. The 1877-9 medal is verified on the South African Medal Returns 1877: Vol. 4, Colonial Corps. (W.O. 100/49). The entry is on page 94 and indicates that Sergeant Stevenson, William, had no previous medals and that he served against the ‘Gaikas, Gaelekas and other Kafir tribes’. One also learns from W.O. 100/49 that the Kingwilliamstown Veteran Volunteers was 29 strong, 2 officers and 27 men. The statement ‘no previous medals’ and the different spelling of the surname seem to indicate that this is not a pair but, mainly because of where I obtained the medals and the accompanying trio, I am satisfied that W. Stephenson and W. Stevenson are one and the same person.

The second group I would like to describe is the following trio, ‘South Africa 1877-79 Bar “1877-8” PTE J. STEVENSON. SANSOM’S HORSE’, ‘Cape General Service Bar “TRANSKEI” LT J. E. STEVENSON. MACLEAR NAT. LEV’, and ‘QSA Bars “CAPE COLONY, TRANSVAAL, WITTEBERGEN” Q.M. SJT. J. STEVENSON. BORDER HORSE’. The 1877-79 medal with bar ‘1877-8’ to SANSOM’S HORSE was also verified in the South Africa Medal Returns 1877 : Vol. 4, Colonial Corps. (W.O. 100/49). On page 71 is entered information stating that John Stevenson, Pte, had no previous medals and served against the ‘Gaikas, Gaelekas and other Kafir Tribes’. There were 75 members of this unit who were entitled to the medal, 21 medals were not claimed and later returned to Woolwich, therefore there should be 54 medals (3 officers and 51 men) in existence. Whether or not all the medals are named to SANSOM’S HORSE I would not know, but it would seem to be a fair assumption that this is the case. The Cape General Service Bar ‘TRANSKEI’ is interesting as, according to the roll, this is the only medal to the MACLEAR NATIVE LEVY. Unfortunately, the QSA of this trio has not as yet been verified but in appearance is perfectly genuine. Further research is necessary to establish whether W. Stephenson and W. Stevenson are the same person and what his relationship is to J. Stevenson. An interesting assignment which will need more luck and perseverance than skill to be successful. By establishing that there is at least one South Africa Medal 1877-79 (maybe up to 54 in all) named to SANSOM’S HORSE Dr Mitchell now knows that the haystack he is searching definitely contains the sought-after needle.
M. A. Raaff

Return to Journal Index OR Society's Home page

South African Military History Society /