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20559 Company Sergeant Major
Royal Engineers

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis, 2000


George Clark was born in the Parish of Portsmouth, in the town of Portsmouth, in the County of Hampshire on the 26th of June 1871. His birth was registered on the 1st of September 1871 at the Portsea Island Registration District [2].

George was the son of Henry Stephen Clark and Mary Ann Clark (nee Giles) of 50 Unicorn Street, Portsea Town, Portsea Island in the County of Southampton. At the time of George’s birth, his father was serving as a Corporal in the Royal Engineers. The Clarks were members of the Church of England.

Young George lived with his parents until he enlisted in the Army. He did not have a trade nor did he serve as an Apprentice as a boy. His father was serving as a Company Sergeant Major in the Royal Engineers at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent in 1885 when George enlisted. George’s parents later moved to No. 7 Hood Street, Greenfields, Shrewsbury, in the County of Somerset. This was probably the Clark’s residence after Company Sergeant Major Clark was discharged from the Army.

The 1881 British Census does not include any information about the Clark family.


The following description of George Clark is given in his attestation papers at the time of his enlistment in the Royal Engineers in 1885:


14 years and 5 months


4 feet 10 inches


80 pounds

Chest measurement:

27 inches






Dark brown

Distinguishing marks:


The following description of George Clark is given at the time of his discharge from the Army 1906:


35 years and 6 months


5 feet 9 inches

Chest measurement (normal):

36 inches

Chest measurement (fully expanded):

37 inches






Dark brown

Distinguishing marks:



George Clark was recruited for service as a Boy Soldier in the Royal Engineers by Company Sergeant Major H.J. Price, R.E. on the 23rd of November 1885 [3]. His enlistment may have been prompted by his father who was also a non-commissioned officer in the Royal Engineers. During this period, it was not unusual for young boys to enlist if their fathers were serving, especially if the family was large and there were a lot of mouths to feed. Usually the eldest boy could relieve some of the burden on the family by joining the Army early.

On the day of his recruitment, a Certificate of Final Medical Examination was issued for him at Chatham. He was found to be fit for service in the Army.

On the 26th of November 1885, George Clark attested at Chatham for service in the Royal Engineers as a Boy Soldier for a period of 12 years with the Colours [4]. His Oath of Attestation was witnessed by Sergeant Major John Tarr, R.E.

George indicated on his attestation papers that he was living with his parents and that he had no trade nor was he an Apprentice. He answered the customary questions asked on attestation stating that he was not married, had never been convicted by civil power, had no previous naval or military service, had no previous volunteer service, and had never been rejected as unfit for service.

A Certificate of Primary Military Examination was issued at Chatham on the same date as George’s attestation. The Recruiting Officer determined him to be fit for military service. His attestation was also certified as correct on that same day by the Approving Field Officer. He was assigned Regimental Number 20559 in the Corps of Royal Engineers.


Chatham, 1885-1896

Immediately following the approval of his enlistment, George Clark was assigned as a Boy Soldier to the 7th Field Company, Royal Engineers. The company had just recently arrived at Chatham after serving in Bechuanaland. The 7th Field Company was known as the "Black Horse" Company, the origin of the name appearing to date from about 1885 when all the company horses were black [5].

George Clark was appointed a Bugler for the company about seven months after joining the unit. He served in this position until he was 18 years of age when he was posted to the ranks as a Sapper in No. 1 Section of the company under Lieutenant R.L. Mc Clintock, R.E. [6] Following a period of engineer recruit training, with either the company or at the School of Military Engineering, Sapper Clark was ready to perform his duties with the unit.

The Curragh, Ireland, 1896-1899

The 7th Field Company remained at Chatham until the early part of 1896 when it was posted to the Curragh in the County of Kildare, Ireland. On the 7th of October 1895 Clark, by then a Corporal, had decided to re-engage to complete 21 years of service with the Colours [7]. His re-engagement was approved by the Assistant Commandant of the School of Military Engineering at Chatham

By mid-1899 it became apparent that the clouds of war were gathering in South Africa and the 7th Field Company was alerted for deployment to the Cape. By this time Corporal Clark had a wife and young son who needed to be cared for in the event that he did not return from the war; hence, he decided to prepare a will while at Curragh Camp. He had his last will and testament prepared on the 8th of July 1899 at Curragh Camp. The document was witnessed by two men in his unit: Colin Stewart and 27658 Corporal James Bardin [8].

South Africa, 1899-1902

On the 14th of July 1899 the 7th Field Company left the Curragh bound for Southampton. The company strength was 6 officers, 180 non-commissioned officers and men, and 30 horses [9]. The company was commanded by Brevet Lieutenant Colonel W.F.H.S. Kincaid [10]. The Second in Command was Captain F.R.F. Boileau [11]. The other officers in the company on deployment to South Africa were:

Lieutenant R.L. Mc Clintock, R.E.

Lieutenant E.E.B. Wilson, R.E. [12]

Lieutenant H. Musgrave, R.E. [13]

Lieutenant C.R. Johnson, R.E. [14]

Lieutenant C.C. Trench, R.E. [15]

The company embarked on board the Braemar Castle on the 15th of July 1899 bound for the Cape Colony where it would initially be assigned to serve with Corps Troops. The Braemar Castle arrived at Cape Town on the 5th of August and after disembarking the entire company was sent to Wynberg Camp where it was employed on the construction of accommodation for other British troops soon to arrive from England [16].

Corporal Clark, along with the rest of No. 1 Section under Lieutenant Mc Clintock, was sent to Kimberley on the 18th of September 1899. Clark’s first impression of Kimberley was that it was a bleak town constructed almost entirely of corrugated metal buildings. Kimberley was the second largest town in the Cape Colony at the time, with a population of 50,000 civilians. The town was surrounded by redoubts and forts [17]. The defensive perimeter around the town was initially 11 miles. By the time Clark and his mates left the place, the perimeter had been extended to 20 miles. The area of the defensive perimeter included the town of Kimberley and the adjoining villages of Beaconsfield and Kenilworth [18].

A officer of the Royal Engineers, Lieutenant D.S. Mc Innes,[19] was already in Kimberley planning and directing the defence of the town when No. 1 Section arrived. He had actually arrived prior to the outbreak of hostilities to supervise the construction of defences that had already been planned for the town [20].

The De Beers Chief Engineer, an American by the name of George Labram, was also in the town and was instrumental in assisting in the military engineering effort for its defence. Labram was 38 years old and a Mechanical Engineer by profession. Although not a British subject, Labram took an active part in the defence of the town and was responsible for the following projects [21]:

Labram was assisted in these tasks by the men of No. 1 Section, 7th Field Company, Royal Engineers and the men who worked on the mining equipment at the De Beers mine. The De Beers Chief Draughtsman, Edward Goffe, was also of much assistance, especially with the construction of the gun "Long Cecil."[22] The town of Kimberley had an extraordinary amount of skilled labour that could be turned to good use on military engineering projects in defence of the town.

The commander of British troops at Kimberley was Lieutenant Colonel R.G. Kekewich, 1st Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment [23]. His command consisted of about 3,000 infantry and 850 horseman, mostly townspeople except for the 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and a number of smaller British units. Another Sapper officer, Major W.A.J. O’Meara, R.E., was the defence force Intelligence Officer [24].

The Order of Battle of the forces defending the town of Kimberley are shown in the table below [25]:


Commanding Officer


Imperial Troops

1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

Lieutenant Colonel

R.G. Kekewich

564 officers and men

23rd Company

Royal Garrison Artillery

Major G.D. Chamier

Six 7-pounder

Mountain guns

No. 1 Section, 7th Field Company, Royal Engineers

Lieutenant R.L. Mc Clintock

1 officer and

52 other ranks [26]

Army Service Corps

Captain Gorle

1 officer and 3 other ranks

Machine Gun Section


2 guns

Volunteer Force

Diamond Fields Artillery

One battery of six 7-pounder field guns

Diamond Fields Horse

7 officers and 142 other ranks

Kimberley (Light Horse) Regiment

14 officers and 285 other ranks

Cape Police

120 men

Maxim Battery

8 guns

Cecil Rhodes himself arrived in Kimberley on the 12th of October 1899 [27]. He arrived none too soon, as the Boers appeared before the town to begin the siege on the 15th of October [28]. It became apparent to all that the defences of the town would have to be considerably improved if they were to withstand bombardment, siege and possibly assault by the surrounding Boer force. The Royal Engineers in the town immediately began work to strengthen the defences. Their primary tasks were those listed below:

While the Royal Engineers and civilian engineers of the De Beers mine were busy strengthening the town’s defences, the British and Boers forces were busy planning their next moves. On the 24th of October 1899 the British force conducted a reconnaissance outside the town. On the 4th of November the Boer Commander, Commandant Wessels, offered to allow the woman and children of the Kimberley garrison to be sent out of the town with an offer of safe passage. His offer was refused. The Boers waited three more days, and on the 7th of November they began their bombardment of the town. Lieutenant Mc Clintock, Corporal Clark’s section commander, was the first officer of the garrison to be wounded, but only slightly. Mc Clintock would later receive the Distinguished Service Order for his service during the war, primarily for his work during the defence of Kimberley [35].

On the 15th of November, Mr. Labram set up a powerful searchlight looking right onto Otto’s Kopje. The purpose of this light was to give warning of any forward movement of the Boers. On the 23rd of November the searchlights began signalling every night in the hope of getting some response from the troops coming up to relieve the town.

The Boer bombardment of the town continued and the British, eager to get at the enemy made a sortie against a Boer redoubt on the 25th of November. These sorties usually did little damage to either side.

A balloon from Lieutenant General Lord Methuen’s column (British 1st Division) was sighted from the town on the 10th of December 1899. This was the first sign that a relief force was nearing Kimberley. This sighting gave the garrison hope, although the remainder of the month of December went by without further indications of the approach of the relief column. Early in January rations were reduced in the town to mule and horseflesh, each person receiving one-quarter pound per day. The health of Sergeant Clark and the other men of No. 1 Section remained good despite the cut in rations. The men were energetic enough to engage in a tug-of-war on horseback as a means of diversion on the 17th of January between the Royal Engineers and the Royal Artillery.

On Christmas Night 1899, George Labram made a suggestion to Cecil Rhodes to construct a gun with a longer range than those in the garrison, and one that might reply more effectively to the heavy Boer artillery being used against the town. Rhodes gave his approval and work on the gun that was to be known as "Long Cecil" began on the following day. The Royal Engineers of Sergeant Clark’s section assisted Mr. Labram with the construction of the gun. The gun and carriage were completed on the 18th of January 1900 and the gun was test fired the next day [36]. On the 21st of January the gun was handed over to the Diamond Fields Artillery and on the 23rd of January "Long Cecil" was fired in anger for the first time.

Early in February 1900 the Kimberley relief force was on the move and making steady progress towards the town. The column arrived at Fraser’s Drift on the 3rd and at Koodoosberg on the 4th. On the 6th of February a Boer force attacked the relief column, and on the same day the Boers began using an enormous gun against Kimberley. The gun was located at Kamfersdam and fired a 96-pound projectile.

The Boers withdrew from their attack on the relief column on the 8th of February and on the following day the British column pulled back to reorganize for the final advance on Kimberley. Unfortunately for the Kimberley garrison, the resourceful Mr. Labram was killed by a Boer artillery shell on the 9th of February 1900.

The British relief column completed it reorganization and refitting at Ramdam on the 11th of February and resumed its advance on Kimberley, reaching Waterval Drift on the 12th and the Modder River on the 13th.

On the 14th of February 1900 the march toward Kimberley was resumed with the Highland Brigade in the lead. The Highland Brigade, commanded by Hector Macdonald, consisted of a battalion each from the Black Watch, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, the Seaforth Highlanders and the Highland Light Infantry. Supporting the infantry of the column were two squadrons of the 9th Lancers, 62nd Battery, Royal Artillery, and the remainder of the 7th Company, Royal Engineers whose mates were besieged in Kimberley.

Kimberley was relieved on the 15th of February 1900 and No. 1 Section of the 7th Field Company rejoined the remainder of the company. On the 20th of February a train arrived at Kimberley carrying a party of Royal Engineers on board to assist in the rebuilding and strengthening of the town and its fortifications.

The 7th Field Company moved to Bloemfontein on the 1st of March 1900 where it was employed on camp duties. On the 10th of March the company took part in the action at Driefontein. During this battle the Boers occupied a position about seven miles in extent, which was attacked in front by Lieutenant General Kelly-Kenny’s 6th division, and on the left flank by General Tucker’s division. The Boers were driven out and the road to Bloemfontein was opened, at a cost to the British of 424 killed and wounded. The Boers left over 100 dead on the field [37].

Captain T. Fraser, R.E. was assigned to the 7th Field Company in March of 1900 as Second in Command [38]. The company remained in camp at Bloemfontein until the 25th of April 1900 when it began the march to Pretoria with the Highland Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division. The company marched with General Ian Hamilton’s force on the east side of the Bloemfontein to Vereenigen railway line and reached Winburg on the 6th of May where it was employed on the construction of the defences of the town [39]. It then continued on towards Pretoria, reaching Lindley on the 17th of May and the Rhenoster River on the 20th. On the 29th of May the 7th Field Company supported the attack on the Boer position at Doornkop.

Sergeant Clark and his company entered Pretoria on the 5th of June 1900. After a few days there the company was moved to Leeuwspruit, reaching that town on the 14th of June. On the 26th of June Lieutenant Mc Clintock, who had been Clark’s section commander since the start of the war, and had been with them all through the siege at Kimberley, was reassigned to staff duties. On the following day, Captain Boileau was also assigned to staff duties.

Parts of the 7th Field Company left Leeuwspruit on the 1st of July 1900 to accompany the British forces chasing the Boers around the surrounding countryside. Sergeant Clark and No. 1 Section were left behind. They were engaged in operations at Wittebergen and were employed on blockhouse construction duties and the construction of other defensive works on the Line of Communication. No. 1 Section worked in the area from Harrismith to Bethlehem to Senekal and Clocolan, along the Basuto border and back to Harrismith [40].

On the 7th of July 1900 the British captured the town of Bethlehem. The Boers retired to the Brandwater Basin between Wittebergen and Roodebergen Hills and the Caledon River. Parts of the 7th Field Company assisted in operations against the Boers in this region and occupied the mountain passes [40].

Operations in the Wittebergen area formally ended on the 29th of July 1900 and the company moved to a location near Frederikstad on the 30th. Lieutenant Colonel Kincaid was assigned to staff duties on the 24th of August 1900. Lieutenant Musgrave assumed acting command of the company. Musgrave relinquished command of the company to Major E.D. Haggitt, R.E. in October of 1900 [41]. On the 28th of November 1900, Captain Fraser left the company to attend the Staff College.

While the officers were being reassigned and leaving the 7th Field Company, the non-commissioned officers and men worked on to combat the Boers who continued to fight a guerrilla-type war. Clark’s good work in South Africa was finally noticed by Lord Roberts who mentioned him in his despatches dated 29 November 1900 "for good services rendered in South Africa." This despatch would not be published in the London Gazette until the 17th of June 1902 when Clark would receive formal recognition for his work.

Lieutenant Musgrave had remained with the company after turning command over to Major Haggitt. In June of 1901 it became Musgrave’s turn to leave when he was assigned to duties as the Assistant Director of Works in South Africa [42].

Sergeant Clark spent another year in South Africa working on blockhouses to protect against Boer raids on British installations. In July of 1901 he was authorized the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps [DEFENCE OF KIMBERLEY][DRIEFONTEIN] [WITTEBERGEN]. The 7th Field Company was at Bloemfontein when the medal roll was prepared on the 9th of July 1901 [43].

On the 15th of July 1901 Clark received further recognition when he was mentioned in a Memorandum of the Commander Royal Engineers, South Africa. The memorandum stated that:

"This N.C.O. has served with the 7th Coy R.E. throughout the campaign and has done much good work in connection with the erection of blockhouses and defences."

Early in 1902 Captain R.H. Macdonald, R.E. was assigned to the company as Second in Command [44]. In April of 1902, Lieutenant Trench died in South Africa of disease [45].

In the summer of 1902, significant recognition was given to Sergeant Clark for his work with the 7th Field Company in South Africa. He was mentioned in the despatches of Lord Kitchener on the 23rd of June "for good services rendered in South Africa." This mention in despatches was subsequently published in the London Gazette dated 29 July 1902. The Supplement to the London Gazette dated 26 June 1902 (page 4195) contained the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal to Sergeant Clark for his gallantry in operations at the Defence of Kimberley and for subsequent operations in South Africa [46].

The Medals of Company Sergeant Major George Clark, R.E.
Distinguised Conduct Medal (EVIIR), Queen's South Africa Medal,
King's South Africa Medal, Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (EVIIR)
and the Mayor of Kimberley's Star

Home Service, 1902-1906

Sergeant Clark disembarked in England on the 28th of September 1902 after his trip home from South Africa. He proceeded with the rest of the men of the 7th Field Company to Aldershot where they were to be stationed. Only 3 officers and 45 other ranks of the original company returned to Aldershot. One officer (Lieutenant Trench) and 12 non-commissioned officers and men had died in South Africa, the remainder being transferred or invalided.

On the 2nd of November 1902 the medal roll for the King’s South Africa Medal was prepared for the 7th Field Company at Aldershot. Clark was authorized this medal with clasps [SOUTH AFRICA 1901][SOUTH AFRICA 1902] for his service during the war [47].

On the 1st of April 1904 Sergeant Clark elected to draw service pay under authority of Army Order 66-1902. He was granted service pay Class I.7. On the 25th of November 1905, Clark who was now a Company Sergeant Major, elected to continue beyond 21 years of service until the 25th of June 1910 in order to complete 21 years of service from the date of his 18th birthday [48]. His request was approved by J.H. Sim, Officer Commanding, R.E. Records.

The 7th Field Company was serving at Shorncliffe in Kent in 1906 when in September of that year Company Sergeant Major Clark applied for discharge from the Army under paragraph 1805 xxiii of King’s Regulations. Apparently he had a change of heart after electing to complete 21 years of service from the date of attaining 18 years of age. Rather than serve until 1910, he elected to be discharged in 1906.


a. Promotions. George Clark received promotions and appointments during his period of service in the Army as shown in the table below. His age at the time of each promotion or appointment is also shown.

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Position

26 November 1885

Attested as a Boy Soldier
(age 14 years and 5 months)

15 June 1886

Appointed Bugler
(age 15 years)

26 June 1889

Posted to the rank of Sapper [49]
(age 18 years)

22 March 1890

Appointed Lance Corporal
(age 18 years and 9 months)

Date unknown [50]

Promoted 2nd Corporal
(age about 21 years)

1 February 1895

Promoted Corporal
(age 23 years and 8 months)

1 June 1899

Promoted Sergeant [51]
(age 28 years and 1 month)

8 May 1904

Promoted Company Sergeant Major
(age 32 years and 11 months)

NOTE: George Clark’s rapid promotions and attainment of the rank of Company Sergeant Major at less than 33 years of age is a testament to his exemplary conduct and military efficiency.

b. Conduct. George Clark was awarded Good Conduct badges and pay as shown in the table below [52].

  1. Date of Award

    Good Conduct Badge and Pay

    16 November 1887

    Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 1.d per day

    26 November 1891

    Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 2.d per day

    Company Sergeant Major Clark would have been awarded many other Good Conduct badges had he not been promoted so quickly to the rank of Sergeant. He was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (EVIIR) by authority of Army Order 75 of 1904. This medal was awarded to him after completing 18 years of service from the date that he was posted to the ranks as a Sapper in 1886. His discharge papers indicate that his conduct was "exemplary" during his total time in service.

  2. Training and Education: George Clark completed the educational and training requirements shown in the table below during his military career.

Date of Qualification

Education or Training Achievement

12 March 1886

Awarded a 3rd Class Certificate of Education (age 15 years) [53]

15 March 1887

Awarded a 2nd Class Certificate of Education

3 February 1892 [54]

Passed a class in Military Drawing

24 September 1895

Passed the Musketry Class at Hythe (Certificate No. 20298)

NOTE: It appears that Clark never qualified for a 1st Class Certificate of Education.

When George Clark entered the Army as a Boy Soldier it appears that the intention of his commanding officer was to train him as a Bugler. After being posted to the ranks at the age of 18 years, Clark would have been required to undergo the basic training of an engineer soldier [55].

Clark’s discharge papers show his military trade listed as Draughtsman. This trade may have been acquired after completing the drawing class in 1892, listed in the table above. It is also possible that he had a natural skill for drawing and that he was used as a draughtsman during his time in service.


No Medical History Sheet is provided in the service papers of Company Sergeant Major George Clark. The only medical information known about George Clark is that he developed colon cancer later in life and died at the early age of 62 years.


2nd Corporal George Clark was married with leave to Constance Alice Bromley in the parish church at Gillingham, Kent on the 26th of August 1893 [57]. The marriage ceremony was performed by the Curate, the Reverend E. Smith, and was witnessed by Arthur Clark and F.M. Coast.

George and Constance Clark had a son named George Henry, who was born in the Curragh, Ireland on the 22nd of November 1896.


Following his application for discharge, Company Sergeant Major Clark’s accounts were examined on the 12th of December 1906 and were determined to be correctly balanced by Lieutenant Henry M. Edwards, R.E., Officer Commanding, 7th Field Company. Clark was discharged at Shorncliffe on the 23rd of December 1906. He was still serving with the 7th Field Company at the time and, in fact, had spent his entire military career with that company.

At the time of his discharge Clark had served a total of 21 years and 28 days with the Colours. He left the Army as an R.E. Pensioner at the rate of 2 shillings 4 pence per day. His intended place of residence at the time of his discharge was the Old Jack Inn, Calverhall, near Whitchurch in Shropshire.


Not much is known about the life of Company Sergeant Major George Clark after his discharge from the Army. In 1933 he was living with his wife at The Pines, Hendon Road, Bordon, Hampshire. George Clark died on the 30th of May 1933 at Haslemere and District Hospital, Haslemere, Surrey at the age of 62. At the time of his death he was working or had been working as a Barrack Warden.

The cause of his death was the result of a carcinoma of the sigmoid (colon cancer). The informant of his death was his son, G.H. Clark, who was living at 348 Romford Road, Forest Gate, London E.7. Clark’s death was certified by Ronald E.G. Gray, M.B. No postmortem was required [58].

George Clark’s death was registered on the 31st of May 1933 in the Sub-District of Witley, Registration District of Hambledon, in the County of Surrey by Charles F. Elford, Registrar. A Death Certificate of Pensioner, Army Form O. 1707, was issued on the 14th of June 1933 by the Chatham (R.E.) Station.

The Herald for Farnham, Haslemere & Hindhead dated the 10th of June 1933 carried the following notice on page 2, column 7 under Bordon Camp news:

Bordon: The Late Mr. George Clark.- The following wreaths were omitted from the report which appeared in the last issue of the funeral of Mr. George Clark, The Pines, Hendon Road: "Jim and Family, with deepest sympathy; Brig.-General Dalby and Officers, Headquarters, Bordon: Warrant Officers, Staff Sergeants and Sergeants, 7th and 19th Field Brigade, Bordon; the Hale Laundry; and Ada, Sydney and Family (Rochester)."

George Clark’s will was probated on the 4th of August 1933 with the proceeds of this estate going to his wife Constance Alice Clark of The Pines, Hendon Road, Bordon.


After his discharge from the Army, George Clark worked as a Barrack Warden at Bordon Camp in Hampshire, very near to his home in the town of Bordon. The obituary notice mentioned in Section 9 of the narrative indicates that officers and non-commissioned officers of the 7th and 19th Field Brigades sent flowers to Clark’s funeral. The units mentioned to in this obituary were actually the VII and XIX Field Brigades, Royal Artillery that were stationed at Bordon Camp at the time. It is most likely that Clark acted in the capacity of Barrack Warden for these two brigades of artillery. Bordon Camp was part of the Aldershot Command and at the time of Clark’s death, the camp was commanded by Brigadier General Thomas Gerald Dalby, who is also mentioned in the obituary notice.

A Barrack Warden was essentially a building manager whose responsibility extended to the maintenance and care of camp buildings. It is not known for how long Clark held this position, but apparently he was well thought of by the artillerymen whose buildings were his responsibility.


Reference: HOLT-WILSON, E. War Letters to T.H.W. from South Africa 1899-1902 E.H.W. Clemency Holt-Wilson, 1999.

In this book of letters from Lieutenant Eric Holt-Wilson, R.E. to his father during the South African War, Holt-Wilson gives the detailed movements of the 7th Field Company, Royal Engineers from the Curragh in Ireland to South Africa. These movements are summarized below in chronological order.



14 July 1899

Company departs from the Curragh and travels to Southampton via Dublin and Holyhead.

15 July 1899

Company embarks for South Africa aboard R.M.S. Braemar Castle.

18 July 1899

Off the north coast of Africa just south of the Straits of Gibraltar.

20 July 1899

At Las Palmas on the Isleta, a small peninsula of the Grand Canary Islands.

23 July 1899

Passed Cape Verde.

26 July 1899

Crossed the Equator.

30 July 1899

At St. Helena island.

5 August 1899

Dropped anchor at Table Bay in Cape Town Harbour.

6 August 1899

In camp at Wynberg, a suburb of Cape Town.

This chronology takes the company up to its arrival date at Wynberg Camp when all the sections of the unit were still together. No. 1 Section commanded by Lieutenant R.S. Mc Clintock was sent to Kimberley, arriving in that town on the 18th of September. Lieutenant Holt-Wilson and No. 2 Section of the company left Wynberg on the 25th of September for De Aar in the Cape Colony.


The information contained in this addendum was provided by email from Mr. Neil Clark, the great nephew of Company Sergeant Major George Clark.

Mr. Clark indicates that the final address of George Clark’s parents was 16A Wood Street, Greenfields, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. On page one of the narrative the Clark’s residence is given as No. 7 Hood Street, Greenfields, Shrewsbury, Somerset. It appears that this was not their last address, as previously thought.

Mr. Neil also points out that the Clark family can be found in the 1881 Census of England. A further search of the census did in fact turn up the Clark family in RG11/893 in the Civil Parish of St. Mary, Parliamentary Borough of Chatham, Town of Brompton, Urban Sanitary District of Gillingham and the Ecclesiastical Parish or District of Holy Trinity. Their address is given as Brompton House, back of Wood Street and shows four families living at that address. These four families are as shown below:

  1. James Heywood (age 40), a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, and his wife Elizabeth (age 40).
  2. James Lander (age 37), a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, his wife Catherine (age 29), son James (age 8), daughter Sarah Anne (age 5) and daughter Frances M. (age 10 months).
  3. Charles McDonald (age 48), a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, his wife Esther (age 32), son William G. (age 13), daughter Nellie (age 9), son Charles (age 7), daughter Bertha (age 3) and daughter Jennie (age 1).
  4. Henry Clark (age 35), a Sergeant in the Royal Engineers, his wife Mary Ann (age 29), son George (age 9), son Arthur (age 7), son Walter (age 2) and daughter Clara (age 1 month).

The census return indicates that Henry Clark had been born in Farnham, Surrey and his wife Mary Ann had been born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Their sons George and Arthur were both born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, Walter was born in Gibraltar and their daughter Clara was born in Brompton, Kent. Both George and Arthur are shown as scholars at the time of the census.

All of the men of these four families were serving in the Royal Engineers at the time of the census. Their place of residence appears to have been the married quarters for men of the Royal Engineers serving at Brompton Barracks in Chatham. It is interesting to note that Sappers Heywood, Lander and McDonald were all older than Sergeant Henry Clark, a testimony perhaps to Henry Clark’s efficiency as a soldier.


[1] Unless otherwise indicated, the information included in this account of the life of George Clark was taken from his military service papers.
[2] Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth (Birth Certificate), BXBZ 009613, General Register Office, London.
[3] See Recruitment of Boy Soldiers.
[4] See Periods of Enlistment for the Corps of Royal Engineers.
[5] BAKER, H.A.
Lieutenant Robert Lyle Mc Clintock, R.E.
[7] See Re-Engagement in the Regular Army.
[8] Corporal Bardin’s name appears on the medal roll as one of the defenders of Kimberley. Stewart, whose number and rank are unknown, does not appear on the roll. He may have been assigned to a different section of the company and did go to Kimberley.
[9] BAKER, H.A.
Lieutenant Colonel William Francis Henry Style Kincaid, R.E.
Captain Frank Ridley Farrer Boileau, R.E.
Lieutenant Eric Edward Boketon Wilson, R.E.
Lieutenant Herbert Musgrave, R.E.
Lieutenant Charles Reginald Johnson, R.E.
Lieutenant Christopher Chenevix Trench, R.E.
[16] BAKER, H.A.
[18] SIBBALD, R.
Lieutenant Duncan Sayre Mc Innes, R.E.
[21] FARWELL, B.
[22] PEDDLE, D.E.
[23] Later Major General Robert George Kekewich (1854-1914).
[25] DOYLE, A.C.
[26] Includes 2 other ranks from the 6th Company, Royal Engineers.
[27] DOYLE, A.C. Other sources give Rhode’s date of arrival as the 10th of October 1899.
[28] BAKER, H.A.
[29] Kimberlite is a mineral consisting of mica-peridotite, an eruptive rock, and the matrix of the diamonds found at Kimberley and elsewhere in South Africa. Kimberlite was also referred to as a "diamondiferous ore," that is, a material yielding diamonds.
[31] SIBBALD, R.
[32] There is evidence to indicate that the Boer’s intention was just to keep the British force bottled up in the town. They did not appear interested in losing many men in a general assault on the fortifications.
[33] SIBBALD, R.
[35] BAKER, H.A.
[36] PEDDLE, D.E.
Captain Theodore Fraser, R.E.
[39] WATSON, C.M.
[40] BAKER, H.A.
[41] Ibid.
Major Edward Dashwood Haggitt, R.E.
[43] BAKER, H.A.
[44] Medal Roll WO100/155/60.
Captain Ranald Hume Macdonald, R.E.
[46] BAKER, H.A.
[47] Awarded by authority of Army Order 10/03.
[48] WO100/313/39.
[49] See Continuance with the Regular Army after 21 Years’ Service.
[50] He would have been posted to the rank of Sapper upon attaining the age of 18 years, the legal age required for service in the ranks.
[51] The date of this promotion is not shown on his Statement of Services.
[52] The promotion was actually made on the 1st of December 1899 but his date of rank was backdated to the 1st of June 1899 for good service during the South African war.
[53] See Good Conduct Pay.
[54] See Certificates of Education.
[55] This date is uncertain due to the illegible nature of the entry in his service papers.
[56] See Engineer Recruit Training.
[57] See Marriage of Soldiers During the Victorian Period.
[58] Certified Copy of an Entry of Death (Death Certificate), DXZ 763120, General Register Office, London.



1. BAKER, H.A. History of the 7th Field Company, R.E. During the War, 1914-1918, With a Short Record of the Movements and Campaigns since the Formation of the Company. The Royal Engineers Journal. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, March 1932.

2. COCKERILL, A.W. Sons of the Brave: The Story of Boy Soldiers. Leo Cooper, London, 1984.

3. CONOLLY, T.W.J. Roll of Officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers From 1660 to 1898. The Royal Engineers Institute, Chatham, Kent, 1898.

4. CRESWICKE, L. South Africa and the Transvaal War. Volume II. The Caxton Publishing Co., London, 19__.

5. DOYLE, A.C. The Great Boer War. Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd., London, Edinburgh and New York, 1903.

6. FARWELL, B. The Great Anglo-Boer War. Harper & Row, New York, 1976.

7. FARWELL, B. Mr. Kipling’s Army: All the Queen’s Men. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1981.

8. GORDON, L.L. British Battles and Medals. Spink & Son, Ltd., London, 1971.

9. GRIERSON, J.M. Scarlet Into Khaki: The British Army on the Eve of the Boer War. Greenhill Books, London, 1988.

10. HARBOTTLE, T. Dictionary of Battles. Stein and Day, New York, 1971.

11. HARDING, W. War in South Africa and the Dark Continent. The Dominion Company, Chicago, 1899.

12. KRUGER, R. Good-bye Dolly Gray. J.P. Lippincott Company, New York, 1960.

13. PACKENHAM, T. The Boer War. Random House, New York, 1979.

14. SIBBALD, R. The War Correspondents: The Boer War. Bramley Books, Stroud, 1993.

15. SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army at Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Army, 1859-1899. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977.

16. WATSON, C.M. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume III. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1954.


1. Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth, BXBZ 009613, General Register Office, London.

2. Certified Copy of an Entry of Death, DXZ 763120, General Register Office, London.

3. Soldier’s Service Papers, Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond, Surrey. Papers include the following documents:

a. Long Service Attestation, Army Form B. 267.
b. Description on Enlistment.
c. Proceedings on Discharge, Army Form B. 268
d. Statement of Services.

4. Queen’s South Africa Medal Roll, 7th Field Company Royal Engineers, WO100/155/60.

5. King’s South Africa Medal Roll, 7th Field Company Royal Engineers, WO100/313/39.

6. Long Service and Good Conduct Medal Roll (EVIIR), Army Order 75 of 1904.

7. Kimberley Star Medal Roll, Army Order 94 of 1904.

8. Last Will and Testament of George Clark.

9. Death Certificate of Pensioner, Chatham (R.E.) Station, 14 June 1933.

10. Memorandum, Commander Royal Engineers South Africa, WO108/158 Part II.

11. London Gazette, June 19, 1902.

12. London Gazette, June 26, 1902.

13. London Gazette, July 29, 1902.

Internet Sources

1. Expediamaps.com, 2000.

2. INTERNExT Kimberley, 1997

3. Jones, M. Blockhouses of the Boer War. Colonial Conquest, Partzan Press, 1996.


4. HEBERDEN, W. The Diary of a Doctor’s Wife During the Siege of Kimberley, October 1899 to February 1900. Military History Journal. Volume 3, Numbers 4, 5 and 6. The South African Military History Society, 2000.

5. JOHNSON, J. & BRIDGEMAN, M. An Unusual Anglo-Boer War Blockhouse in the Remote Koue Bokkeveld District. Military History Journal. Volume 9, Number 1. The South African Military History Society, 2000.

6. PEDDLE, D.E. LONG CECIL: The Gun Made in Kimberley during the Siege. Military History Journal. Volume 4, Number 1. The South African Military History Society, 2000.

7. TOMLINSON, R. Britain’s Last Castles: Masonry Blockhouses of the South African War, 1899-1902. Military History Journal. Volume 10, Number 6. The South African Military History Society, 2000.