Boxall, James Robert (also Hunt or Boxall-Hunt)
Trumpeter PRIVATE 2022/ 35833 (enlisted as 5496)
9th Imperial Yeomanry (Pembrokeshire)30th Coy
James Robert Boxall was born on the 9th of January 1882 at Kensington (this date was taken from the 1939 register). He was the third child of six born to James Boxall and Martha nee Harding. James Boxall senior was employed as a labourer.
By the time the 1891 census was taken James Boxall the elder had died and both young James and his brother Alfred were in the branch school at Hammersmith.
Poor Law records of the parish of St Mary Abbots Kensington reveal that James and Alfred were admitted to the branch school on the 17th of March 1891 and transferred to Beechholme together on the 14th of August that same year. Their next of kin was given as their mother Martha who was a widow of 56, St Ervans Road. James was admitted to Guys hospital on the 11th of August 1894 for treatment of an unspecified condition, returning to Beechholme on the 13th of September. A discharge record shows that he was sent out from Beechholme to the army, the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers regiment on the 15th of September 1895. An annual report for him for the year of 1896 states “ sailed February 1896 to join 2nd battalion at Bombay” Good conduct reported.
His younger brother Alfred was discharged to the care of his mother in 1897.
Army service records show that James Boxall enlisted at Kingston, army number 5496. He was born in Kensington and was aged fifteen years and eight months and a musician by trade. He was just five feet and half an inch tall and weighed ninety six pounds. He had a fresh complexion with blue eyes and brown hair. He was slightly knock-kneed. His next of kin was his mother of 56, St Ervans Road, North Kensington. He was posted to the rank of boy on the 10th of February 1896 and appointed bandsman on the 27th of May the same year. He had achieved a second class certificate of education on the 11th of December 1895.
James served in the East Indies from the 10th of February 1896. At Colaba (Mumbai formerly Bombay) in September 1896 he was recommended a return to England because he had suffered several bouts of ague and debility. Back in England he was discharged medically unfit on the 16th of February 1897.
James’s mother Martha remarried Jonah Hunt in 1897, he was the widower of her cousin.
James re-enlisted on the 5th of February 1901 with the Imperial Yeomanry, army numbers 2022/ 35833. This time he enlisted under the name James Robert Hunt making a declaration that he had not enlisted before or been declared unfit for service! He gave his occupation as labourer and this may be why his complexion was described as dark, perhaps working outside had given him a tanned face. He was now five feet six inches in height and weighed one hundred and forty seven pounds. His age was given as twenty one years and two months. His eye colour was grey and his hair brown. At first glance this may have appeared to be a different man from the first set of army records, but the address of his next of kin, his mother, Martha Hunt of 17, Royal Crescent, Holland Park matches her address on the census return for 1901 where she was living with a daughter. James was living in Kensington at this time.
James’s South African service during the Boer War was from the25th of March 1901 until the 12th of February 1902.
James was severely wounded at Wepener by a gunshot wound to his right leg on the tenth of July 1901. This led to the amputation of his leg below the knee. The photograph below shows James following his surgery at the field hospital in Basutoland, in 1902.
Amazingly for the time when sepsis or shock killed many soldiers he recovered and was discharged as being medically unfit at Aldershot on the 8th of June 1902.
He was awarded the Queens South African medal with Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal and 1901 and 1902 clasps.
This medal with clasps came up for auction and was sold in 2013.
The Imperial Yeomanry were born out of the disasters that became known as “ Black Week” in December 1899. After setbacks it became obvious to all that mounted infantry were needed in large numbers to counter the fast moving, hard hitting Boers.
The Yeomanry were a volunteer force that had been in existence for over a hundred years, the Pembroke yeomanry having the distinction of being the only unit to have a battle honour on British soil for their defeat of the small French invasion force at Fishguard in 1797.
The decision was taken by the War Office on the 13th December 1899 to allow a contingent of volunteer forces based on the standing yeomanry regiments. This was a watershed decision in the Boer War. The acceptance that the conflict was not going to be a swift and painless operation and that every man, whether standing army or volunteer would be needed to defeat this desperate army.
The 9th battalion part of the 30th company was part of a second contingent of the Imperial Yeomanry and was born in haste, trained in chaos at Aldershot in early 1901, and many of the men were packed off to the war before their officers had even been selected.
The situation in South Africa had changed drastically, the half-hearted Boers gone, leaving only the men determined to fight to the last. The war had become very guerilla-like in nature, and thrust into this theatre the Yeomen found life very difficult.
James’s war service was relatively short. The Siege of Wepener had taken place in 1900 but in 1901 there was still sporadic skirmishing in this area. Wepener was located in the Orange Free State, south-south east from Bloemfontein and close to the border of Lesotho.
Back in England from 1902-1905 James learned shorthand, typing and secretarial skills at Pitman’s college attaining the status of teacher.
In 1906 through family connections he became private secretary to the Duke of Northumberland at Alnwick.
James married Florence Ethel Green on the 13th of December 1908 at Islington. Both he and his wife were twenty six. His older brother Frederick was a witness. His occupation was given as clerk.
On the 1911 census the couple were lodging at Pilgrim’s Way, Shere, Surrey. They had a five month old daughter. They would have two further children. James’s occupation was listed as clerk (correspondence). The surname is now listed as Hunt.
In 1916 following the death of the Duke of Northumberland, the new duke found a job for James as a stenographer in the western department of the Foreign Office and a cabinet shorthand writer.
From 1920-1923 the family lived in the city of Westminster, London.
The London Gazette listed his promotion on the 19th of January 1933 under the name James Robert Boxall-Hunt.
The 1939 register taken just prior to the outbreak of war shows the family living at 35, Chester Way, Lambeth. His occupation is given as shorthand typist.
James retired from the Foreign Office in 1947.
He died in the September quarter of 1950 at Lambeth.
One mystery that remains is the D.C.M beside his name on the Boer War plaque. Despite extensive research no record has been found of this and James' descendents have no knowledge of it.
The photograph shows James and his wife and was taken about 1940.