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Batchelor, William Thomas

Lance Corporal 2210

2nd (Queens) Royal West Surrey Regiment


William Thomas Batchelor was born on the 11th of January 1874 within the borough of Kensington and Chelsea. His father’s name is unknown. His mother’s name was Mary Ann and she is given as his next of kin in his army service records. She was incarcerated in the Kensington workhouse at this time. William may have been illegitimate, and it is likely that he had a younger brother called Joseph who had been resident in Beechholme according to Poor Law records concerning him and his mother Mary Ann. There may have been older siblings who, according to the same records were all resident in Beechholme under the surname Howes.

William cannot be traced on the 1881 census but he was admitted to Beechholme on the 2nd of September 1887. His mother was given as his next of kin and she was recorded as being in the workhouse at this time. William was discharged from the school on the 17th of January 1888 aged fourteen to the army band of the Queens Royal West Surrey regiment at Guildford.
No follow up visits are recorded. His army service records give his age as fifteen years and his occupation as musician. He stood 4 feet 8 inches tall and he weighed just 73 pounds. He had a fresh complexion with brown eyes and hair. He had no distinctive marks.

He was appointed bandsman on the 9th of December 1888 and then promoted to private on the 2nd of December 1894 and then sent to the 1st class army reserve. He was recalled to army service on the 7th of October 1899 and posted in the rank of private on the 9th of October. He was promoted to corporal on the 1st of August 1900 in the field in South Africa. The Boer War panel states that he was promoted for bravery in the field, but there is nothing in his army records to substantiate this.

He served in South Africa from the 20th of October 1899 until the 29th of November 1900 when he was sent home. This may have been because he was wounded as stated on the Boer War panel, although again, there is nothing to substantiate this. He was home from the 30th of November 1900 until the 16th of January 1901 when he was discharged on the expiration of his period of service. He was paid a war gratuity and was awarded the Queens South African medal with Orange Free State, Transvaal, Tugela Heights, Relief of Ladysmith and Laing’s Nek clasps.

The Royal West Surrey regiment sailed on the Yorkshire arriving in Durban on the 14th of November 1899. Along with the 2nd Devonshire, 2nd West Yorkshire, and 2nd East Surrey regiments they formed the 2nd brigade under Major General H. Hildyard. Before the brigade landed at Durban, Ladysmith had been invested and Estcourt threatened. No time, therefore, was lost in pushing the men to the front. The brigade formed a most important part of the Natal Field Force taking part in practically all the engagements fought with the object of relieving Ladysmith.

The battle of Laing’s Nek took place between the 2nd and 9th of June 1900. Laing’s Nek was a ridge located in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains( Dragon mountains). The  troops of the Natal Field Force were involved in operations north of an east/west line through Newcastle.

The Boers led by Louis Botha’s brother Christian, and estimated at several thousand, had built miles of intricate entrenchments to guard the main passes, including Laing’s Nek. Hildyard’s division pushed through a minor pass over the Drakensberg to the west, fought a brief battle at Alleman’s Nek, and so outflanked  the Boers at Laing’s Nek without more ado.


                                   Laing's Nek William Thomas Batchelor

Map showing Laing’s Nek (right at the top of the map) in the Drakenberg mountains.

William Batchelor cannot be traced definitively after his return to England in 1900 and therefore nothing further is known about him.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past,  Anglo Boer,  British Miliatry History 1900-1999,  The Boer War by Thomas Pakenham,  Map available online.

Last updated 1 Sept 2016 with information from Poor Law records.

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Beadon, James

Trumpeter 3814

8th Hussars

Survived Boer War but was later killed in WW1

James Beadon was born on the 3rd of December 1880 probably within the borough of Kensington.

He was the son of Emma Beadon who had been employed as a domestic servant and was single. On the 1881 census both of them were in the City of London Workhouse in Farringdon. James was aged four months.

Emma, James and an infant sister Eleanor were admitted to the Britten Street Workhouse in November 1884 but Emma elected to remove all of them after one day. Tragically Eleanor died when she was a year old.

From the Poor Law records James was readmitted to the branch school at Hammersmith on the 6th of August 1885 and transferred to Beechholme on the 23rd of October the same year.

By the time the 1891 census was taken James was resident in Beechholme (Kensington and Chelsea District School) where his age was given as nine, about a year out.

James was sent out from the school on the 4th of April 1896 aged fifteen and enlisted on the 8th of April at Leeds.

His army records state that he had attended Kensington and Chelsea school and that his place of birth was unknown.

He was four feet eight inches tall and was of fair complexion with blue eyes and light brown hair. He had a large scar on the front of his neck.

His next of kin was given as his mother who was living at Ladbroke Grove.

His service in South Africa was from the 27th of June 1901 until the 30th of June 1903 when he was discharged by purchase.

He was awarded the South African medal with Transvaal, Orange Free States , 1901 and 1902 clasps.

His mother died in 1903 and it may have been this that caused James to remain in South Africa. 

Whether on the outbreak of the Great War or soon after, James enlisted into the 12th South African Infantry as Corporal 9406.

Jan Smuts had fought in the Western Transvaal during the Boer War and was one of the principal players in the Peace Accords of 1905. He went on, with others, to form the South African Party. He supported the formation of the union of South Africa which was established in 1910. At the outbreak of World War One South Africa was plunged into rebellion, on one side were the Afrikaaners who still resented the British and were hoping to break free of their dominance, and on the other side were Afrikaaners who felt their loyalty now lay with the British Empire. After the rebellion was crushed Botha and Smuts led the campaign in German South West Africa. A new front then opened up and Smuts headed north to take over the campaign in disease ridden East Africa in February 1916. In the advance beyond Kilimanjaro in German East Africa now Tanzania, the South African mounted brigade consisted of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd South African Horse and Berrange’s brigade of the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th South African Infantry who marched in support. In early March of 1916 the 3rd South African Infantry and the reserve halted astride the Lumi River to guard the crossing. During the afternoon an enemy force estimated between 300 and 500 men advanced form the north along the rise of the river in thick bush. They made more than one attack on the outposts of the infantry in bivouacs. These attacks were easily repulsed with loss to the enemy but also caused most of the losses that were sustained by the South African Infantry.

The Commonwealth War Graves web site states that  James Beadon’s body was buried by the Lumi river on the 8th of March  but was later exhumed and buried in Taveta Military cemetery in Kenya.

The CWGC also states that this cemetery was used in March and April of 1916 but after the armistice 137 further burials were brought in, one of which was James.

Taveta Burial James Beadon

                    Map of the Lumi river and also showing Taveta where James is buried.

Cemetery: Taveta Military cemetery in Kenya

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, The Western Front Association, “ Smuts East African Dispatches” available online, Map available online.

Last updated:18 Aug 2016


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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.

J R Hunt Boer War 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.

James Hunt (Boxall-Hunt) 1940sThe 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.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry,  Find My Past,  Anglo Boer War .com,  Wikepedia.

We are deeply indebted to Matt Boxall, the great nephew of James for the information that he provided, and also information that had been passed on to him by another family member, David Brooks. 

Last updated: 1 Sept 2016 with photographs provided by James' grandson, BRIAN P BOXALL-HUNT O.B.E., Commander Royal Navy and now Chief Executive of The Royal Alfred Seafarers' Society which by pure conincidence has a care home in Woodmansterne, about three miles from the Kensington and Chelsea School (Beechholme).

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Brice, Charles

Lance Corporal 2212

2nd/3rd Royal West (Queens) Surrey Regiment


Charles Brice was born on the 12th of May 1873 in kensington. This information was taken from the 1939 register. He was the middle child of five boys born to Edward Howell Brice and Emma nee Swain. Edward was employed as a carman. A carman was the driver of a horse-drawn vehicle used for transporting goods.

On the 1881 census the family were living at 3, Bramley Street, Kensington.  Charles was aged seven. The family lived in shared accommodation with one other family. Charles Booth described Bramley Street as having lots of laundries and a stay factory which employed a good many young girls. It was coloured purple on the poverty map signifying a mixture of conditions, some being comfortable while others were poor.

In 1882 Edward died at the age of 45. From Poor Law and Guardians records Charles and his older brother were admitted on the 16th of February 1883, presumably to Beechholme. The boys were aged ten and twelve respectively. Their mother Emma of 672, Walmer Road, was given as their next of kin. She was employed as a laundress by the time the 1891 census was taken, and the youngest two of the remaining boys were living with her.#

Charles was sent out from the school on the 17th of January 1888 aged fourteen to the army band of the Royal West Surrey regiment at Guildford. No follow up visits are recorded.

There are no surviving army service records for Charles .

The UK Campaign Medals and Awards courtesy of Ancestry states that Charles was initially in the 2nd  battalion of the Royal West Surrey regiment and had begun as a driver but was promoted to Lance Corporal and transferred to the 3rd battalion. He was awarded the Queens South African medal with Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, Tugela Heights, Relief of Ladysmith and Laing’s Nek clasps.  Also the Kings South African medal with 1901 and 1902 clasps. Therefore he served in South Africa for the duration of the 2nd Boer War.

Other soldiers stories describe the work of the Royal West Surrey regiment throughout the war.

The Royal West Surrey regiment, the Queens, were sometimes known as the Mutton Lancers after their lamb and flag cap badge.

A 3rd militia battalion had been formed in late 1899 from the former 2nd Royal Surrey Militia to provide extra troops for the 2nd Boer War and the battalion was sent to South Africa arriving in March 1900. The 3rd Queens were employed in garrison and escort work in various parts of the Cape Colony.

The headquarters for the regiment was Guildford and on its return to England in 1902 a public welcome and reception were held there for them.

Charles married Bessie Flora Williams nee Reid in the April quarter of 1906 in the Lewisham registration district. They had two children together.

On the 1911 census tragedy had struck this man’s life once more. He was a widow raising his two young children - Margery aged four and Donald aged two. His wife had died in the first quarter of 1911 just before this census was taken, she was just thirty six. Charles is described as an army pensioner and widower and is living with his father-in-law Thomas James Reid also an army pensioner and widower. They are living in Forest Hill.

The 1939 register shows Charles living at 26, Redford Avenue, Croydon. He had remarried and his wife was called Effie. His daughter from the first marriage is also living with them. His occupation was given as a cashier in a club.

Nothing further is known about Charles and his date of death is unclear.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry,  Find My Past,  Wikepedia, The Long, Long Trail, The British Empire Forces War Records. 

Last updated 1 Sept 2016 with information from the Poor law records and the 1939 register.

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