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John Joseph Farmer VC
Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 781
Location: Brecon
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John Joseph Farmer, Army Hospital Corps was awarded the VC for his actions on 27 February 1881 at the Majuba Mountain in South Africa.

He had previously served in the AZW. Where was he? I know that he became a friend of Fred Hitch VC, 2/24th - was present at the latter's funeral. Was the friendship born in South Africa in 1879?

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Martin Everett
Brecon, Powys
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Lee Stevenson


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 48
Location: England
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Martin

This link may be of some help

http://rapidttp.com/milhist/vol075ed.html

Lee
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J J Farmer VC .
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Cool ,
Further to the link LEE mentioned there is an error regarding J J Farmer in that link , he was at Rorke's Drift of course and that is most likely when he met up with FRED HITCH but he was not there amongst the small garrison which defended the drift on Jan 22 nd 1879 . There is another reference to Joseph Farmer which maybe of interest , its an extract from Capt J O Campbell RAMC ( V ) RAMC Historical Museum , Keogh Bks , Ash Vale , Aldershot to Canon W M Lumis MC , Fen Farm , Barnam Broom , Nr Norwich ( Dated 30th June 1969 ) . In it it gives an interesting picture as described by Farmer himself of his life and times .

Joseph and Fred later worked together as Commisionaires and were in the Fulham area where Fred worked , Joseph even was a witness at the marriage on April 2nd 1913 when Emily Hitch nee Meurisse married William George Rainbow , only a few months after the demise of Fred Hitch on Jan 6 th 1913 . The other witness was Emily Farmer . SAPPER Wink
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Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
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Location: Brecon
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Obviously I know the link - that both Hitch and Farmer were members of the Corps of Commissionaires.

However I trying to find out where he was in 1879 - the medal roll - gives medal - no clasp - I am assuming that if he was at Rorke's Drift after the 23 January then they were harsh not giving him the '1879' clasp as many others received it even though they did not cross the border in Zululand.

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Martin Everett
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Lee Stevenson


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 48
Location: England
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Farmer was posted to Natal aboard the "Euphrates" c. 29th May 1879.
So unlikely to have met Hitch at Rorke's Drift....
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Meeting Place ? .
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Smile , Thanks Martin & Lee for your comments , just where FRED and Joseph John Farmer ACTUALLY met for the first time is a matter of conjecture of course , as both were at Rorke's Drift some pundits would claim it was there they first met , others may say elsewhere . The fact is they DID meet and became friends which carried on in civilian life . I mention the letter written in 1969 for those who might not have been aware of this other reference point . I`m sure that won`t be many of course , as was indicated Joseph was a witness at the marriage of Emily Hitch nee Meurisse on April 2nd 1913 . The point i was making was that Joseph was not a defender of Rorke's Drift as the article mentioned by Lee indicates , just a slip of the recorded word , no more . Sapper Smile
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Going by the above evidence, it would seem to me that a meeting of the two during the AZW was not necessarily impossible but highly unlikely. If they did bump into each other, clearly the most likely circumstances were in a medic/patient relationship.

If the Euphrates sailed in late May (as I understand Lee's post) then Farmer clearly didn't enter Zululand (or even arrive near R/Drift) until around the time of Ulundi at the earliest. No doubt, when he did arrive in Natal, his services were required in the colony itself, such as at Maritzburg or Dundee, or up at Utrecht or even, perhaps, in the Eshowe/St Paul's area as the columns broke up, if he reached that far so early. The Narrative does not appear to provide details of sailing dates as late as May but no doubt The Times recorded its departure from England and arrival at the Cape.

Given that Hitch received his VC at Netley on 12 August (I don't know when he arrived there) he is unlikely to have been in Zululand after early July at the latest. No doubt his movements between Jan and June in Z'land & Natal are already known - they could certainly be worked out with reasonable precision - but any contact with Farmer was surely in Durban or another part of the colony no later than early July and no earlier than late June? It seems to me very unlikely they met in S Africa in 1879, that Farmer was nowhere near R/Drift until after the war (if ever) and that Hitch's post-Jan movements could be calculated fairly conclusively to prove this point? Much, of course, would depend on the Euphrates details (above) being at least approximately correct.

Perhaps they never met before their Commissionaires period?

Peter
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Meeting
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
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Smile Dear Peter ,
As usual you bring up some valid points , in truth i don`t know exactly where and when FRED HITCH and JOSEPH JOHN FARMER met up , meet they did and became friends , this could be a topic that could be thrown open to everyone to see if we can determine just where they met up and at what time . I vaguely recall reading somewhere that it was at Rorke's Drift but doubt must exist as to the validity of that comment of course . Look at the error Prof M Boucher wrote about Fred ( Vol 11 No 6 , Dec 1973 , Military History Journal ) where he states, " He nevertheless continued to serve with the 2nd Battalion , returning to this country in the course of the Anglo - Boer War of 1899 - 1902 " .

Mistakes abound as we all know and so i put it to the forum , " When and where did FRED HITCH VC and JOSEPH JOHN FARMER VC meet for the first time ? " , thank you , " Sapper " Wink
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Sapper/Martin

I don't know Lee's source for Farmer's embarkation on the Euphrates, but suspect it is unimpeachable. The Euphrates, with hospital wagons etc., eventually sailed on the afternoon of 30th May and arrived in Simon's Bay on or by (probably by) 1st July, proceeding straight away to Natal. By 3rd July it had arrived at Durban but had the same problems as Wolseley in the Shah - the Commodore and the surf. (Info in this para from The Times).

There was hardly time for Farmer to get far inland before Hitch was on his way if he had not, indeed, already left for England. However, the Euphrates soon turned round and left for England, with invalids on board, including Col Pearson. Did Hitch come back on this vessel? Someone here will know, to save me looking it up somewhere! Might Farmer have returned on the vessel as a "rookie" medic? And met Hitch? There would still be plenty of time for him to return for his 1880/81 escapades.

Clearly, a meeting inland is virtually out of the question, and certainly not at R/Drift. Any presence of Farmer at RD must have been post-war, even in 1880/81 perhaps?

And if they never met in SA, there was more than one obvious reason for their finding out about each other while Commissionaires, with their SA service and a couple of VCs to yarn about.

Peter
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Further .
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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Smile Dear Peter ,
Many thanks for your wise words , I have a little on Joseph John Farmer VC but as yet i don`t have copies of his service records . I am getting more inclined to believe they met up while serving as Commissionaires in the Fulham area and exchanged stories about their time in South Africa and Rorke's Drift . Farmer joined the AHC on the 27th Feb 1879 . He went to Aldershot for courses and then was part of the reinforcements which sailed to South Africa , he was servant to Surgeon Major Babington . After his injuries at Mujuba Hill he took his discharge on the 10 th Aug 1881 and joined the Commissionaires Corps on the 1st Sept 1881 , it was most likely at this point in time he met up with Fred Hitch unless he had met him briefly at some earlier point of course . If anyone has a copy of the service record of Joseph Farmer VC perhaps they could enlighten myself and this forum . I must admit until this point my interest in Farmer was due to the fact he was the witness at the marriage of Emily Hitch to William Rainbow in April 1913 . I believe Farmer may well have been at Rorke's Drift at some point but must express doubt now as to this being the place where he met Fred Hitch . Sapper Wink
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Arrival
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Mr. Green ,
Dear Peter , as far as i am aware FRED HITCH was admitted to Netley on the 10th June 1879 until he left on the 25 th Aug . Due to his injuries he was a Commissionaire two or three times during his working life , apart from being a taxi driver and the handling of horses and driving a cab he no doubt had to lift heavy suitcases more than once , he was also a publican at the " Durweston Arms " at 7 Little Durweston St , Marylebone . Fred applied for his licence on the 5 th March 1894 and was granted it on the 23rd July 1894 . The licence was granted again on March 4 th 1895 , however by March 2nd 1896 the new licence holder was Thomas Harman whose application was granted on the 13 th April 1896 . No doubt the physical side of being a landlord would not have helped FRED at all being a landlord . It is reported in the Times that a Lord Miles complained that Fred was using the fact he was a VC holder on the pub sign ( s ) . I think that shows enterprise by Fred actually . As far as i can gather Fred never complained about his injuries which forced him to change occupations more than once and was always a quiet and unassuming man , especially in Chiswick in the last years of his life . I am almost certain now it was during his time as a Commissionaire he met Joseph John Farmer as indicated earlier . " SAPPER " Wink
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Sapper

Admission to Netley on 10th June seems feasible, as I see that Lee Stevenson & Alan Baynham Jones (p 274 of Rorke's Drift by Those Who Were There: Brighton, 2003) include a report from the Stroud News & Gloucestershire Advertiser of 13th June 1879 describing Hitch's arrival at Spithead on the Tamar (remember her, Sapper?) "last Sunday."

I make "last Sunday" the 8th June, so he went virtually straight into Netley - having passed Farmer in the Euphrates somewhere off Portugal a few days earlier? So there you are then. If Farmer was on the Euphrates, the closest the two got in 1879 was an improbable hailing distance in the Atlantic!

The Corps of Commissionaires would therefore seem to offer the earliest circumstances for their first meeting. If Farmer ever did get near the Rorke's Drift area, it would seem to have happened in 1880/81, as some units did pass through that way.

Peter
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Clinches it .
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
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Wink ,
Dear Peter , after reading your latest item i am 99.9% certain that JOSEPH & FRED did not meet up until they were Commissionaires, as far as i am aware records of Freds time at Netley are not available ( ? ) . Does someone know different ? . Farmer joined the AHC on the 27 th Feb 1879 and was discharged on the 10 th August 1881 , joining the Corps on Sept 1 st 1881 , as yet i don`t have the service record of Joseph Farmer . Being shot through both wrists as a medical man did Farmer no favours at all ! . As Joseph was the witness at the marriage of Emily Hitch in 1913 the friendship they made must have been very strong indeed , thank you once again Peter , " Sapper " Wink
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John Joseph Farmer VC
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