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Melvill's mystery American
Paul Lamberth

Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 37
Location: Rorke's Drift KZN South Africa
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Could a possible assumption be made that the person who inscribed Melvill and Coghill's original stone cross at Fugitive's Drift was an American? This assumption is based on the spelling of the word colour as "color"
'In memory of Lt. And Adjt. Teignmouth Melvill and Lt. Nevill J.A. Coghill 1 Batt 24th Regiment who died on this spot 22nd Jany 1879 to save the Queen's color of their Regiment.'

ps 60 mm rain at RD last 24 last the rain season has started
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John Young

Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 990
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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It was not uncommon for the British to use that spelling then, one that springs to mind is Colonel Glyn.

John Y.
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Keith Smith

Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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As JY rightly says above, the use of honor/labor etc was commonplace in the period. It is extremely likely that the (now) US spelling was derived from that, rather than being aninvention of the New World. Just as early English pronunciation stressed every 'r' in a word, ans is still an American (and Canadian) feature, but has been lost in many regional English pronunciations.
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Mike McCabe

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Raises the attractive possibility that Col Glyn chose and wrote the original inscription and that it was faithfully copied - spelling mistake included - out of consideration to his wishes.

Glyn would probably have been taught English, and spelling, at school before the 'modern English' orthography of the 1870s was standardised and settled upon.

Or, could just be a simple error. or compromise, in the limited space left.

As an aside, there are those who allege that the original 'hand-cut' Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstones retained the abbreviation 'Sjt' (for 'Sgt') for WW1 and WW2 stones simply because it was quicker to cut - despite having lapsed in all but Rifle and some Light Infantry regiments years previously.

Peter Ewart

Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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As John & Keith have mentioned above, that version of the spelling was not at all uncommon and although it could well be that Glyn had composed the wording and that his spelling was followed, even in 1879 the "Color" version would not have been considered wrong or mistaken in any way, so common was it.

I've often wondered about the IWGC/CWGC spelling of sgt/sjt. Intriguing! As another aside, and apropos the possible following of Glyn's spelling above, is the story about Qn Victoria & Welsh/Welch correct?


P.S. Quite apart from the spelling, Glyn would seem to be a prime candidate for the inscription anyway, along with - perhaps - Frere?
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Melvill's mystery American
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