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Woods Irregulars
Justin Young


Joined: 04 Sep 2005
Posts: 49
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I've a medal in my collection I've had for some time now and I've always been curious about the nature of his Service.

His name on the Medal is Trooper W.J. Barron Woods Irregulars. Seems pretty self explanatory but the rank I find a little confusing.

From everything I've read, Woods Irregulars would have been Officered by Imperial/Colonial Officers and NCO's, much like the NNC. It seems strange then to have a European as a Trooper, not only strange with the low rank but the fact that he was a Trooper - not Pte, which considering Woods Irregulars were infantry would seem out of place.
To add to this the medal role has next to his name 'late 4th Foot', He's not on the role for the 4th so I can't determine if He had left them since they landed in SA (I can not find a Service record either).

Can anyone enlighten me as to what’s going on here or to similar situations with other Soldiers.

I have of course seen/had other medals to other men who had been seconded to units that their Regt/unit (I have a CMY Officer who served in the ZW but with what unit I haven't a clue) did not as a whole but this one has had me pondering for quite a while now.

Cheers
Justin
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Dawn


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 610
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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According to my limited knowledge, I think the term 'trooper' applied to those in the Natal Mounted Police.

He may have been discharged from the 4th and joined the NMP when war broke out, then seconded to Woods Irregulars.

I'm making this up as I go along so if someone else wants to jump in, please do. Smile

Dawn
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Trooper W.J. Barron
John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 980
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Justin,

According to the roll which John Radburn was working on until his death he has recorded Barron as a member of the 'Swazi Contingent'.

He has also recorded the following:- '1882 - W J Barron. Applies for the Zulu War medal. (Ref 1882/310)' - The source for his information he recorded as 'National Archives of S.A.'

You might find something further in a N.A.S.A. search, sadly John did not record which repository he checked.

John Y.
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Justin Young


Joined: 04 Sep 2005
Posts: 49
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Hi Dawn

Thanks for your reply, you are correct about Trooper applying to the NMP but this is also the standard Rank for a Cavalry Other Rank also in any Regiment/Unit But as you say He may well have been in one unit, have been discharged and joined another.

John, many thanks for passing on the info that John Radburn had researched, I hadn't tried the N.A.S.A but hopefully this will shed a bit of light on Barron's Service or at least answer one or two questions. Its not one of my most expensive medals but as a collector of medals to Wood's Column, its one of my favourites.
You mention that He is down as a member of the 'Swazi Contingent' and this is also how He is down in Forsyth's roll but like serveral of the units I think Woods Irregulars and Swazi Contingent were one and the same - maybe just titled differently at different times? - I would certainly be happy to be corrected on this if I'm wrong.

Justin
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Swazi Contingent
John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 980
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Justin,

I've done some digging on the Swazi Contingent, rather than being Wood's Irregulars, I personally believe that they were the Swazi force which stormed Sekhukhune's Stronghold in November, 1879.

A. H. ("Shipka") Campbell, who died on 28th November, 1879, is listed as a 'Civil Commissioner' of the Swazi Contingent. Wood had already departed from South Africa, and officially Wood's Irregulars were disbanded in July 1879, post the Battle of Ulundi.

The Swazi force under Norman MacLeod involved in the storming of the stronghold numbered 8,000 men - twenty times more than the official number of Wood's Irregulars.

John Y.
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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John/Justin

In his "Biographical Register of Swaziland" Huw Jones has Alister Campbell as "Shipka Campbell" in his entry on him. However, he concludes his entry with an interesting paragraph alluding to the puzzle over Shipka's identity in the respective accounts of his contemporaries:-

"In his 'Reminiscences of a South African Pioneer' Scully states that it was Archibald Campbell who was "Shipka" Campbell and R.N Fairlie's partner and not Alister, who was Archibald's brother. MacLeod in his diaries refers to Alister (spelt thus) as the "Shipka" Campbell who was killed by the Pedi. To complicate matters further, R.N. Fairlie in his sketch books refers to I.A. (Arthur) Campbell who was his partner on the diamond fields and on a subsequent hunting expedition."

Mention of MacLeod reminds me that someone was scratching about recently for information on him but I can't remember who, so I'll flag him up on a new thread. He crossed paths a few times in the Derby/Luneburg area with the Rev Joel Jackson, whom I've researched on & off.

Peter
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Justin Young


Joined: 04 Sep 2005
Posts: 49
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Hi John

That does sound convincing to me concerning the Swazi Contingent. I must admit I hadn't thought of the connection with the Sekukuni War as I was still thinking of the ZW connection but since the SA 1877-9's were issued for all the Wars of this period it makes sense that medals to men who served with the Swazi's in the Sekukuni War would have their medals named to this unit.

Since Barron's medal is named to Wood's Irregulars I guess he either served with them before serving with the Swazi Contingent and for some reason his medal was named to his first unit (as I've seen various times before) - or Woods Irregulars is a mistake! (which again I've seen before)

Any thoughts on the strange Rank of Trooper?

Cheers
Justin
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Justin Young


Joined: 04 Sep 2005
Posts: 49
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I guess their is always a possibility that he served with the Swazi's with Rowland before the ZW - either in the earlier Sekukuni War or as part of No 5 Column (I'm not sure if Rowlands had Swazi's attached to his force but guess he may have done due to his position), his medal entry has a tick next to Service in the ZW but not Sekukuni or any of the other Campaigns - although again I suppose this may be a mistake.

I must try the N.A.S.A!!

Justin
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W.J. Barron
John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 980
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Justin,

I found the reference for W.J. Barron medal claim it is in the Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository, source CSO, Volume 841, reference - as the late John R. transcribed - 1882/310.

There is another reference for a W.J. Barron regarding a land grant in the 1880's - could be the same man.

I must admit I was most pleased with doing an open-ended trawl using the wildcard 'Zulu War Medal', as it revealed a photograph I have actually depicts an officer who served in the Natal Native Pioneers in the campaign.

I found some very late claims for the medal.

Possible option for prior service could be Fairlie's Native Police, which had Swazies in the ranks. Served in No. 5 Column.

John Y.
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Justin Young


Joined: 04 Sep 2005
Posts: 49
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Hi John

Thanks for the extra info, is it possible to let me know what the medal Claim says so I can compare it to that held in the PRO - re-reading this its a bit unclear and I guess copied from an original document.

It's especially interesting about the land grant and certainly worth chasing up, maybe the land grant was related to his Service. Fairlie's Native Police
also sounds like a possibility to look at. I'll check out the medal rolls tonight as so often a man appears in two (and sometimes more) Colonial units - Eckersley's Natives could be another avenue.

I must admit I'm becoming more intrigued by this, Colonial Officers are the only Soldiers I've ever had any success with researching in the past.

Really good news on you identifying your picture also while looking up Barron - whats the name of the Officer? , I have a medal to Lt Herbert Handcock NNP's in My collection, No 3 Company I believe.(too much to hope its the same man I suppose!)

Thanks for the help with this, its much appreciated.

Cheers
Justin
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Woods Irregulars
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