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F Sharp

Stratford Upon Avon to the South African Infantry

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F Sharp

Hello everyone. 

This is my first post on this site, and so I apologise if this is in the wrong place?

I recently moved into a house in Stratford Upon Avon, and (to cut a long story short) when I was googling planning permission for the house, I discovered (much more interestingly!) that the chap who lived there during WW1 is on the Stratford Upon Avon war memorial. I am really keen to find out what happened to him (I am ex military myself).

 
Hi name is Pte Harold Saunders James (service number 5471). I know from the 1911 Census that he was a bank clerk at that point in Stratford upon Avon.
 
However, he somehow arrived in South Africa serving with the 8th Regiment of the South African Infantry.
 
I know he was killed in action on the 19th July 1917, and is now recorded on the CWGC wall of honour in Dar Es Salaam (his original grave was lost).
 
I have been on the CWGC website /Forces War Records and Findmypast.co.uk, but there isn't much on there. I can find a tenuous link between Warwickshire regiments & South Africa, but much earlier than WW1
 
He previously lived in my house for so long, that I really would love to find out more about him if that's possible.
Can anyone guide me on where to search next? Thank you in advance.

JAMES_HAROLD_SAUNDERS (1).pdf

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JulianR

He was 21 in the 1911 census, but does not appear in the 1891 or 1901 census, so why?

 

My thoughts are that the family had emigrated to South Africa between his birth and the 1891 census and had returned to the UK in time for the 1911 census, after his father had died, and at some stage decided to go back to South Africa.  Ok cancel last I have found him on the 1891 census, through his mother, he is then the youngest of three sons of John James, the eldest being a step-son, I think of his mother, he is still there in 1901.  

 

As to enlisting in the South African Army, I think I am right in saying that the South African units which fought in GWSA all retained their regimental tiltes, and it was not until men were needed for Europe and East Africa, that due to legal constraints on deployment outside SA, that the units raised for those campaigns came under different terms and conditions, and they were given numbers rather than using Regimental titles.  I think recruiting for East Africa etc., did not start until late 1915.

 

Why he joined a south African Regiment, is purely conjecture, but I would think that he may have moved there for a better job.

 

Julian

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F Sharp

Thanks Julian,

He is on the 1891 and 1901 census.

His mother was still living at the address in 1928 when the CWGC wrote to her to tell her that they had lost the original grave, and Pte Saunders was to be remembered on the wall at Dar Es Salaam. He is also on the S-O-A War Memorial

I am not sure that he enlisted in the SA Army - it says British Army on the forces war records site. I am wondering whether he joined the Warwickshire Yeomanry and ended up in SA.

I have ordered some books on Stratford Upon Avon at War etc, so they might shed some light on the subject...

Thanks for your reply.

 

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JulianR

I would not trust Forces War Records that much.

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F Sharp

OK- thank you for the tip...there isn't much on there anyway!

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JulianR

Looking at Wikipedia, none of the Warwickshire Yeomanry Bns went to South Africa during WW1, and he is too long to have served in the Boer War

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bushfighter

Sharpy

Greetings

The 8th South African Infantry had been withdrawn from East Africa to South Africa in early 1917 along with most other South African troops, as they were suffering from debilitation and disease.

The 8th was reconstituted with fit and fresh young men in South Africa and sent back to land at Kilwa in German East Africa in late June 1917, however these young lads were not properly trained.

At Kilwa the 8th was placed in No. 1 Column which advanced inland to meet a German formation guarding the Narumgombe water holes.  In East Africa men had often got to fight for their water.

Harold was killed during this fighting at Narumgombe and I have posted a brief description of the action here:

http://www.kaiserscross.com/188001/196601.html 

 

Sadly there is not much in-depth writing about South African forces in the Great War East African campaign and I have obtained most of the above details from the unpublished Part II of the British Official History that is available in the National Archives at Kew.

 

Harry 

 

 

 

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F Sharp

Harry,

I have just picked this up- that's so interesting- thank you very much-I am very grateful for your help.

 

I remain curious as to how he got from Stratford upon Avon to East Africa, but I will continue my search, and pay a visit to Kew.

 

But another small piece of the jigsaw in place.....:thumbsup:

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JulianR

Sharpy,

 

I believe that Fold3 are having a free weekend this weekend and have some Commonwealth records on their.  South Africa is one of the more difficult countries to research. There records are not online.

 

Beyond the unpublished Vol 2 of the Official History there is the South African Official History, which is scanty to say the least.  I am not at home now and cannot remember all the titles or authors, but one of the higher ranking South African officers did publish a book called something like "With Smuts in GEA", which might help.

 

I have seen people on here recommending a South African researcher so if you search on the forum on South Africa she might come up.

 

Julian 

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F Sharp

Harry,

 

I have now read a lot more of your stuff- you are a legend.

Thank you.

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F Sharp
10 minutes ago, JulianR said:

Sharpy,

 

I believe that Fold3 are having a free weekend this weekend and have some Commonwealth records on their.  South Africa is one of the more difficult countries to research. There records are not online.

 

Beyond the unpublished Vol 2 of the Official History there is the South African Official History, which is scanty to say the least.  I am not at home now and cannot remember all the titles or authors, but one of the higher ranking South African officers did publish a book called something like "With Smuts in GEA", which might help.

 

I have seen people on here recommending a South African researcher so if you search on the forum on South Africa she might come up.

 

Julian 

 

Thank you very much Julian- I will look into it. I have just found something by Sir Hugh Charles Clifford, but that might be something different. It does give some history of the Narumgombe water holes and what happened in July 1917. So I now have the beginning of Harold's life and the end....I just need the bit in the middle :)

 

Edit- just found General Smut's dispatches on Harry's site

Edited by F Sharp
found extra info

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JulianR

Try this but get a copy through inter-library loan

 

Collyer, J.J. Brigadier-General, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., The South Africans with General Smuts in German East Africa 1916, Pretoria: Government of South Africa, 1939.

 

Julian 

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JulianR

The other book which might or more likely not help is Hills Permanent Way Vol 2, it is the history of the Tanganyika Railway, make sure you get Vol 2, Vol 1 is Kenya and Uganda

 

Julian

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F Sharp
4 hours ago, JulianR said:

Try this but get a copy through inter-library loan

 

Collyer, J.J. Brigadier-General, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., The South Africans with General Smuts in German East Africa 1916, Pretoria: Government of South Africa, 1939.

 

 

Julian 

Thank you again- I will!

2 hours ago, RaySearching said:

His headstone photo and further details of his enlistment can be found 

on The South African War Graves Project

 

click on photos one and two

 

Ray

Hi Ray,

 

Thank you so much.

i did try that website and it drew a blank, so clearly I must have input something incorrectly

i am grateful for your help..

this is so exciting!

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