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Digby Willoughby - NNC, Willoughby's Horse & Madagascar
Ottawa


Joined: 22 Jan 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Ottawa, Canada
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On 18th March 2003 on the old forum there was an enquiry by John Young concerning Digby Willoughby and whether a biography of him existed:

http://www.rorkesdriftvc.com/discussion.php?topid=3997&forid=1

I can confirm that I possess Digby Willoughby's medal group and that I published a biographical article about him in the OMRS Journal in 1982, viz.

"General Digby Willoughby: African Adventurer and Commander-in-Chief of the Madagascan Army", by Graham H. Neale, The Journal of the Orders and Medals Research Society, Volume 21 (No. 1), Spring 1982 issue, pages 44-53 (including 5 black and white illustrations).

Willoughby served as a Captain in the 2nd Battalion of the Natal Native Contingent during the Zulu War (1879), he raised and commanded a troop of irregular horse known as "Willoughby's Horse" during the Basuto Gun War (1880-81), he commanded the 20,000-strong Madagascan Army against the French (1883-85), and he was Chief of Staff of the Bulawayo Field Force during the 2nd Matabele Rebellion in Rhodesia (1896).

Digby Willoughby was a very colourful character indeed and John Young's description of him as having "a track record that would rival The Flashman Papers", is very apropos!
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 923
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Hi Ottawa,

Any chance of getting a copy of your article?

Thanks in anticipation,

John Y.
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Ottawa


Joined: 22 Jan 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Ottawa, Canada
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Hi John,

I'll send a copy to your email address later today.
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peterw


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 863
Location: UK
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Over the summer I obtained some back copies of the OMRS Journal from the 1970s and 80s and I'm pleased that this issue was one. A fascinating character indeed.

The picture quality in the Journal is not great but my eye was drawn to the suspension of the South Africa 1879 medal. There is a black line just above the claw. Has it ever been detached?

Peter
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Ottawa


Joined: 22 Jan 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Ottawa, Canada
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peterw wrote:
Over the summer I obtained some back copies of the OMRS Journal from the 1970s and 80s and I'm pleased that this issue was one. A fascinating character indeed.
The picture quality in the Journal is not great but my eye was drawn to the suspension of the South Africa 1879 medal. There is a black line just above the claw. Has it ever been detached? Peter


Many thanks. No, the suspension has never been detached. There is a tiny 2mm superficial stress crack above the claw and any black line that appears in the picture would be due to optical effects.
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peterw


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 863
Location: UK
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Thanks for the explanation. And congratulations for keeping hold of it this long.. A few years ago there was a pair at Spinks to another adventurer - Walter Ingram of Dunn's Scouts. Sadly I didn't have the money and there was nothing that I was prepared to sacrifice. Hammer price was 5,800.

The Unique South Africa and Egypt 'Abu Klea' Pair to Gentleman-Adventurer and Big Game Hunter the Celebrated Mr. W.H. Ingram, Dunn's Scouts, Attached to Lord Chelmsford's Chief of Intelligence, and Later Temporary Lieutenant, Royal Navy, Attached Naval Brigade for the Abu Klea Operations, Who Witnessed Various Events in South Africa up to and Including the Battle of Ulundi 1879; Briefly Held a Lieutenancy in the 1st County of London Yeomanry, Middlesex Hussars; Back to Africa, Travelling Mainly by Steam Launch Through the Suez and Other Waterways of Adventure, He Eventually Caught Up With The Gordon Relief Expedition, and Was Befriended By Lord Charles Beresford, Who Later Made Him A Temporary Lieutenant, Royal Navy; He Became Attached to the 61-Strong Naval Brigade; Advancing on Abu Klea He Witnessed the Attack By 10,000 Arabs And Dervishes on The Marching Square of the Expedition; He Was Married Quickly in England 1887, But Back in Africa the Following Year; That April, After So Many Adventures, Close-Calls, And Exploits, Many of Which Were Published, And Which Could Not be Equalled By Any Contemporary 'Boy's-Own' Character, Ingram Passed into Legend After He Was Trampled to Death by a Wounded Elephant- He Was Just 33 Years of Age
South Africa 1877-79, one clasp, 1879 (Mr. W.H. Ingram, Dunn's Scouts); Egypt 1882-89, undated, two clasps, The Nile 1884-85, Abu Klea (Lieut. Walter H. Ingram, Attached To Naval Brigade.), minor edge bruising, otherwise nearly extremely fine, both with ornate contemporary silver riband buckles (2)


Do you have any other South Africa medals lurking in the collection?

Peter
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Ottawa


Joined: 22 Jan 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Ottawa, Canada
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peterw wrote:
.... A few years ago there was a pair at Spinks to another adventurer - Walter Ingram of Dunn's Scouts. Sadly I didn't have the money and there was nothing that I was prepared to sacrifice. ....... Do you have any other South Africa medals lurking in the collection? Peter

There are so many stirring and gripping stories associated with these gentlemen adventurers and pioneers, most of which would have faded away into oblivion had it not been for the survival of the recipients' medals and their subsequent research by collectors. I was not previously aware of Walter Ingram of Dunn's Scouts.

I possess one other interesting African medal group, to a person who was well acquainted with Digby Willoughby and who appears in the same group photograph illustrated in my 1982 OMRS article, namely WILLIAM NAPIER. I purchased his group of three medals at a Christies auction held on July 16, 1985 (Lot 53, Estimated 1000-1200, Realized 972 with the premium). Here is the auction description:

"COLONEL W. NAPIER, In Command of the Forces in Rhodesia -- C.M.G., British South Africa Company's Medal for Matabeleland 1893 with Rhodesia 1896 clasp (Captn. W. Napier, Victoria Column), Q.S.A. medal with two clasps Rhodesia and Relief of Mafeking (Col. W. Napier, C.M.G., S. Rhod. R.F.). Born 1861, died 1920 (at Lakeside, Cape Province). He entered the service of the BSA Co., 1891, having previously served as a Trooper in the Natal Carbineers for four years; joined the Victoria Rangers as a Subaltern, 1892; commanded a troop under Major Alan Wilson during the advance into Matabeleland, 1893, and was present at all the engagements which led to the subjugation of Lobengula's forces. In Command of the whole of the armed forces in Rhodesia, 1895; commanded all local forces engaged in suppressing the Matabeleland rebellion, 1896, up to the arrival of Sir Richard Martin (M.I.D., C.M.G.); commanded 'A' Squadron of the Southern Rhodesia Reserve Force during the South African War, 1899-1900. (Ref.: Who Was Who)."

I should add that the well-researched medals of several other adventurers and pioneers were included in the superb A.A. Upfill-Brown Collection that was sold by Buckland Dix & Wood on 4 Dec. 1991. By way of example, Lot 70 (Estimated 450-500, Realized 660 with the premium) was the BSA Co.'s Medal for Rhodesia 1896 awarded to A.H.F. DUNCAN who was the Chief Magistrate in Bulawayo in 1893, Acting Administrator prior to the arrival of Earl Grey in 1896 and "saviour of the beleaguered whites at Abercorn". Duncan also appears in the group photograph mentioned above along with Digby Willoughby and William Napier!


Last edited by Ottawa on Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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peterw


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 863
Location: UK
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The BSA Co medal is one of the most elegant ever produced. I just have one - to an original Rhodesian Pioneer.

Ralph Abraham Morkel was a member of the Bechuanaland Border Police before he attested for the British South Africa Company Police on 10 December 1889. Consequently he was one of the 174 men of the British South Africa Company Police who escorted the Pioneer Column from Bechuanaland into Mashonaland during June and July 1890. Morkel served as the Orderly Room Sergeant of B Troop during the 400 mile march, his presence being confirmed by W Ellerton Fry, Lieutenant-Intelligence Officer of the British South Africa Company's Expeditionary Force. B Troop formed up to see the Union flag raised in what was to become Salisbury, Rhodesia, on 13 September 1890. Morkel was discharged on 31 July 1891 and later that year operated the post office sited at the Causeway in Salisbury.

Morkel saw service in seven separate units during his life:
Bechuanaland Border Police
British South Africa Company Police
Mashonaland Horse Volunteers
Rhodesia Horse Volunteers
Umtali Volunteers/Rifles (for which he received the BSA Co medal)
Western Province Mounted Rifles
Central South African Railway Volunteers

Peter
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peterw


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 863
Location: UK
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I see from the article that Willoughby is buried in Goring and that you had an old picture of the grave. I'm not too far from Goring so if you wanted a digital picture I'd be happy to oblige.

Peter
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Ottawa


Joined: 22 Jan 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Ottawa, Canada
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peterw wrote:
I see from the article that Willoughby is buried in Goring and that you had an old picture of the grave. I'm not too far from Goring so if you wanted a digital picture I'd be happy to oblige.

Peter


That's very kind and thoughtful of you, Peter. I accept your offer with much gratitude, particularly since the photo that I obtained in 1982 was none too clear. It will be interesting to see if anything has changed in the intervening 30 years.

I agree wholeheartedly with you that the BSA Co.'s medal is a triumph of medallic art and when one sees an example in toned mint state it is truly awe inspiring. No doubt Cecil Rhodes had something to do with its design!

Graham
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peterw


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
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Graham

I had cause to head over to Goring today and located the church and the grave. PM me your email address and I will send you the pictures.

Peter
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Ottawa


Joined: 22 Jan 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Ottawa, Canada
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peterw wrote:
Graham,
I had cause to head over to Goring today and located the church and the grave. PM me your email address and I will send you the pictures.
Peter

Peter

Many, many thanks for sending those six images of Digby Willoughby's grave and the churchyard. I'm very happy to have them. Numerous differences are evident when compared with the photo that appeared in my 1982 OMRS article. Willoughby's grave seems to have weathered significantly in the last 30 years and the details on his gravestone are now considerably less easy to read. Also, the churchyard, regrettably, does not appear to be as well maintained as once it was. The broken headstone lying on the ground next to Willoughby's grave is a sad sight --- one which is all too common everywhere these days. In addition, a wooden structure has been constructed at the side of the church which was not there in 1982.

I would imagine that Willoughby's grave was none too easy for you to locate and I thank you again for taking the trouble to ferret it out and to take those valuable pictures. Perhaps one day I will be able to repay your kind favour!

Graham
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peterw


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 863
Location: UK
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Graham

My pleasure. Over the years I have been helped by many collectors and enthusiasts across the globe and I'm always happy to keep the fraternal spirit alive. It's one of the hidden joys of the hobby.

Goring is a most idyllic (and expensive) location and the church occupies a prominent position on the bank of the River Thames. Fortunately it's not a huge churchyard so it was just a matter of checking each cross. Sad to think that in a few years the inscription on this and others will probably be worn away completely.

Peter
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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But hopefully already recorded by the local genealogical or historical society and publicly available.

P
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Digby Willoughby - NNC, Willoughby's Horse & Madagascar
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