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DateOriginal Topic
2nd December 2003Wheeler John Cantwell DCM RHA
By John Cantwell
Researching history of and part played by this soldier in the defence of Rorke's Drift.
2nd December 2003Martin Everett
Dear John,

I did suggest to you the person who has all the information on John Cantwell. Am I wasting my time?
2nd December 2003l.j.knight
off at a tangent i know,but re,bombadier [wheeler ] john cantwell.d.s.o. r.a. just been reading the Silver Wreath again,was it ever established who in fact drafted the roll which was presented to the 24th by mrs Cantwell in 1935, with the bombadiers name so prominent.
2nd December 2003l.j.knight
if i have missed this infomation i apologise,please dont scold in the A.Z.W. some of u guys do not take prisoners, ignorance is not a crime, enlightenment is a blessing.ta.
2nd December 2003John Young

Not knowing who Martin Everett suggested to you. I'll chime in with some information for you.

Wheeler 2076 John Cantwell was a member of 'N' Battery, 5th Brigade Royal Artillery, not Royal Horse Artillery as you have above.

He was born in Dublin.

He was attested into the 2nd Battalion of the 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment, on 6th November, 1868. At the time of his attestation he was aged 23 years & 6 months.

He 'foot-slogged' until he transferred to the Royal Regiment of Artillery on 7th April, 1872.

He joined 'N'/5 R.A. in July 1877, and served with the battery in the 9th Cape Frontier War.
He was promoted to the rank of Bombardier in July of 1878. He reverted to the Gunner on 21st January, 1879.

For his actions at Rorke's Drift he gained the Silver Medal for Distinguished Conduct in the Field, the submission for his award dated 11th February, 1880. Notification of the medal was published in Royal Artillery Regimental Order No. 29 of April, 1880.

He was granted a Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.

He was discharged as unfit for further service on 19th July, 1887 at Woolwich, south east London, the Royal Artillery Depot.

He left the U.K. and settled in Natal.

I hope this helps,

John Y.
3rd December 2003Alun Jones
To Martin Everett
Yes Martin you are.
3rd December 2003l.j.knight
was my question re, mrs cantwell to hard.l.o.l.
3rd December 2003John Young
L.J. Knight,

I'll answer you. To my knowledge, it has not been established who the compiler of the 'Chard' roll was.
5th December 2003l.j.knight
cheers for that mr young,if you dont know then i guess no one does.
8th January 2004Graham MASON
Further to the CANTWELL saga may i add this , careful checking of his service records and those in South AFRICA to which i have copies will reveal that CANTWELL had faulty sight but incredibly before he left for South AFRICA on the 5th November 1897 he worked in the munition sheds at the Gunpowder Factory in WALTHAM ABBEY ESSEX !!! , when he left employment as a Prison Guard in DURBAN due to a beating by a lifer of the name DUBOIS he gained a job a a toilet cleaner but left this job as he stated that the hours were to long , how do i know this ? , i have copies of the many letters he wrote trying to get a pension increase . He died as is known on the 14th August 1900 and still today the location o fhis grave site is unknown despite him being a CATHOLIC the site remains undiscovered . As there was a Chief Clerk ( C/ Sgt GEORGE WILLIAM MABIN ) at Rorkes Drift i cannot accept that Chard ignored this man and asked an Artilleryman to compile a roll call ! . The acccuracy of the CANTWELL roll call must be questioned and as there are numerous letters written by CANTWELL a sample of his handwriting alongside the CANTWELL list should identify if indeed John CANTWELL had compliled this list . I invite Mr John Cantwell to contact me via e-mail to discuss this further , thank you , Graham MASON
9th January 2004Lee Stevenson
Further to this latest posting, I was under the distinct impression that Cantwell's last resting place had been located recently?

It would be interesting to know just how Cantwell came to be at Rorke's Drift on the 22nd January 1879. Certainly his army service/discharge papers (available through the National Archives, ref. WO97/2453), provide little help. However there is perhaps one clue in the Times of March 1880, which recorded that Cantwell received his D.C.M. for; "his gallantry in defending the hospital at Rorke's Drift." Was he perhaps one of the convalescent patients, who, according to the P.M.O.'s instructions, were either;- "detained for the day" or given "medicine and duty"

The "Cantwell Roll" was, apparently, 're-discovered' in December 1934, following a controversy in the Natal press as to whether a former member of the 24th, Fred Boisson, had been present at the defence.

The documents pertaining to Cantwell's time as a Convict Guard in both Pietermaritzburg and Durban Gaols are currently housed in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Archives.