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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 982
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Martin,

Many thanks for that information, that clarifies one thing at least.

John
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G W Mabin.
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Very Happy , Dear John & Forum ,
Let me again state that of the NON OFFICERS at Rorke's Drift the SENIOR RANKING NCO was G W MABIN , he got promoted to this rank in May 1875 , i cede the fact that BOURNE was the SNCO for the men under his command ( 24th ) but was not promoted to a C / Sgt till 1878, i am sure if Maj Spalding had of commmanded that day he would not have called upon a Chief Clerk to oversee the men , this was down to their C / Sgt , FRANK BOURNE .

My point is that Mabin in seniority was the senior , i have as requested some data on Mabin and the article i wrote , in that article is a picture of Mabin taken in 1868 , shortly after his enlistment and also later in life with his brother Samuel , both would make good comparisons with the Cpl of the Rifle Brigade as shown in this forum .

Data on MABIN :

Upon enlistment , 5 foot 6 and a half inches , Fresh Complexion , Brown Hair , Grey eyes , 33 and a quarter inch chest . Enlisted 29 th May 1868 , promoted Cpl 3 rd July 1870 , transfered to Military Clerks , 19th May 1872. In total awarded 6 ( MAXIMUM ) GOOD CONDUCT BADGES.received the first in Rifle Brigade 2nd June 1870, received second GC badge 1st June 1874 and subsequent promotions to Sgt Major and 4 other gc awards .

The pictures of Mabin described earlier can be found in " Medal News " , pages 20&21 , June July issue , 2003. By the way , i am no longer a member of the 1879 group as i was when this article was written . " Sapper " Wink If indeed this is a picture of GW Mabin tis a rare find ! .
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 982
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Graham,

Thanks that's resolved it the Rifle Brigade corporal has brown eyes!

Oh well, I'll have to be content with my lastest acquisition, a journal of Padre Smith dated October 1905.

John Y.
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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 897
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John,

Is Padre Smith's journal worth publishing?

Regards as ever,

AMB
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 982
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Andrew,

Nothing of any value in it for us I'm afraid, very mundane and matter of fact. Much of relates to his collection of ecclesiastic artifacts.

Regards,

John
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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 897
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John,

Has the RAChD museum got a copy?

AMB
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Peter Ewart


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

The "journal" or memorandum book was entered up (correct me if I'm out by very far here, John) in very late 1904 or very early 1905, at the time of his retirement as a CF and his return to Preston from his last posting, Harrismith.

My researches into his life show that, at every stage and in every location, he was a voracious collector of curios, objets d'arts, exotic artefacts and souvenir momentoes, both during his missionary life and CF service but also during his very active retirement, and although he did tend to offload some items to bodies or organisations dear to his heart during his lifetime, the final collection accrued by the end of his life was almost unbelievably large, so that I have great difficulty in discovering where he stored it all. His hotel accommodation in Preston would surely not have been adequate - perhaps his former comrades at Fulwood allowed him to use some garrison buildings as a lock-up!!!

In his letters home from Zululand, Harness reminds us of how keen most officers were to take home souvenirs (usually spears and shields etc) and how his own personal "supply" dwindled repeatedly as he met requests from officers who were about to leave for home, for a spear here or a shield there. Grenfell boasts of the Zulu skull he removed from the battlefield of Ulundi on a return trip a year or two later!

However, it is difficult to imagine anyone being more acquisitional* than Smith, who amassed a collection of spears, shields, knives, powder horns, knobkerries, bugles, bayonets, sheaths, bows, arrows, quivers of crocodile hide, sticks, sandals, camel hides, skins, karosses, dishes etc. etc., all carefully catalogued as to battle or campaign and from which enemy they'd been looted from - the Langalibalele Rebellion, Rorke's Drift, Ulundi, El Teb, Tamai, Suakin, Upper Nile, Darfour, Ginnis etc., and whether from Hlubis, Zulus, Haddendowahs, Dervishes, Nubians or Egyptians, including material lost by Baker Pasha's defeated force and recaptured later.

Many of these were given away over the years and were all, of course, in addition to the huge collection of very valuable curios acquired worldwide up until his his late 60s at least, which included quite a pile of exotic Maltese material from his time there and some Far Eastern curios from later in life. I am reasonably certain, after discussing with John at the time he acquired the journal/diary, that what John has is Smith's attempt to create (or update) the inventory of his collection at the time of his retirement on return from S Africa at Christmas 1904, which he spent in Preston after taking the "East Coast Route" home, passing by (and perhaps returning to) Suakin once more on his way. He continued to add much more to his collection in the following years, however.

Peter

* For acquisitional read acquisitive!


Last edited by Peter Ewart on Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 897
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Peter,

So Smith’s journal is actually a catalogue of his ‘finds’? Does it also relate the circumstances of the collecting of the particular ‘find’? If illustrated, I can see a very interesting book being published here!

Smith’s collection sounds very interesting. Almost the basis for a whole museum in its self! It would be fascinating to find the location of the artefacts today – just think, The Smith Museum of Victorian Colonial Campaigns. Maybe a new hall at the National Army Museum!

Are there any of Smith’s relics that we know the location of today? Perhaps in some museum or private collection?

AMB
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Peter Ewart


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

I haven't seen the journal which John acquired earlier this year, but from his description (given before he'd taken delivery, if memory serves) it indicated a journal or diary used by Smith to enter up the details of his collection. Whether Smith included the lot - or whether it may have been compiled a few months later than I mentioned above, going by the Oct date JY mentions - I cannot say.

What I can confirm is that, sadly for us(!) the whole collection was broken up a few months after his death when his executors arranged for it all to be auctioned. Two days were allocated for the sale, the catalogue for which extended to 32 pages and nearly 600 numbered items and groups, not counting his books, trunks and many other sundries. It might be worth my including the whole catalogue as an appendix to my biography of Smith, which I hope to complete next year.

Most of the extensive collection of "military loot" I decribed earlier was donated to others during his own lifetime - you'd be amazed at the trouble he went to packing it up & despatching it! - and at least two museums ended up with some of it, although all these items have since been moved on to I know what where. I have made some efforts to ascertain where one or two donations (such as his own huge personal copy of the de Neuville picture) are now, but without success, despite being able to track them well into the 20th century.

Some very interesting bits and pieces remain in the family and I haven't given up all hope of establishing who acquired some of the items auctioned, as a by-product of my researches. Many of the items were far too valuable for museums to have become involved, unless the immediate post-war depression had an effect. A few spears and shields did survive in his collection until after his death, plus one or two items of R/Drift provenance. (He lost many of his treasured possession in the hospital fire there).

Peter
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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 897
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Peter,

Fascinating! One does tend to pick up ‘interesting things’ as you travel about, but Smith’s military experiences seem to have been a list of the more colourful of our late nineteenth century colonial exploits.

Certainly the catalogue of the collection would make a most interesting appendix to your forth-coming book. [of which, hopefully you’ll give us more details soon!]

AMB
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Peter Ewart


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

Yes, I agree. There were quite a few military personalities in S Africa during the '70s and early '80s who found themselves together again in Egypt & the Sudan a few years later and some considerable reputations were made during those years, yet not that many of them eclipsed Smith's remarkable experiences during the dozen years between the Bushman's River Pass aftermath and the conclusion of the Nile expeditions.

This, as well as his balancing act between self-effacing modesty and (in my opinion) just a little discreet self-publicity now and again (as with all Victorian army officers!) ensured his reputation in the British media and among the reading public as a genuine contemporary hero. His all-round abilities would probably have enabled him to succeed in whatever path he had chosen, and yet the second half of his life would have been utterly different had not fate - or chance - played its part late in 1878. It is also fascinating (to me, anyway!) to investigate his youth and early manhood in an attempt to discover who influenced him most during that period.

Peter
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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 897
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Peter,

Just how people came to how they/were are is a very interesting line of investigation. (For example, the future General Buller being ‘removed’ from Harrow for example does tend to show his personality of later life)

As an aside, I would also be most interested to hear his [Smith's] thoughts on Durnford!

AMB
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Peter Ewart


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

Well, Smith was hardly qualified to comment on Durnford's military prowess, although he had known him for five years before the AZW, as a result of their involvement in the "Kafir Rebellion" of 1873. Durnford, of course, also designed the fort at Estcourt, Smith's parish for seven years.

I don't know his opinion of Durnford's commission work at Rorke's Drift in 1878 but he fell distinctly into the colonists' camp during the post-BRP scandal involving Pine and Shepstone on one part and Colenso and Durnford on the other. He could hardly side with Colenso, given the situation between the Diocese of Natal & the Diocese of Maritzburg, in which Colenso was persona non grata and against whom Smith started "briefing" in his letters home as soon as he arrived in S Africa, during what became a very interesting part of Smith's life.

Peter
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David Langley


Joined: 30 Nov 2012
Posts: 20
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Colour-Sergeant rank was conferred on selected senior sergeants OF INFANTRY in 1813. I am not clear if Mabin was an infantryman in 1879 but infer from the above he was not. Equivalent ranks/ appointments [this a minefield] in cavalry were troop sergeant-major, and in the corps and departments usually staff sergeants ...... the common distinguishing feature to all these was the addition of the crown to ranking.
So, what was Mabin's regiment/corps/department?I ask because there are some nice anomalies surrounding the level above full sergeant throughout recorded history. As an example, how about a colour-sergeant of artillery ...... such references flit across the pages from time to time.
Until 1913/14 the colour- sergeant was the SNCO of the company. When the double company structure was adopted 1914 the four senior C-Sgts became CSM, the four junior became CQMS of course.
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Re: G W Mabin.
David Langley


Joined: 30 Nov 2012
Posts: 20
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Data on MABIN :

Upon enlistment , 5 foot 6 and a half inches , Fresh Complexion , Brown Hair , Grey eyes , 33 and a quarter inch chest . Enlisted 29 th May 1868 , promoted Cpl 3 rd July 1870 , transfered to Military Clerks , 19th May 1872. In total awarded 6 ( MAXIMUM ) GOOD CONDUCT BADGES.received the first in Rifle Brigade 2nd June 1870, received second GC badge 1st June 1874 and subsequent promotions to Sgt Major and 4 other gc awards .

The GC badge awards as described are intriguing, counter-intuitive and don't seem to make sense. These are the rules Royal Warrant 1870 unchanged until 1881:

2 years, 6, 12, 18, 23 and 28 years, with possible acceleration by two years for the last three badges. Eligible at that time full corporal and below.
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The SNCO ?
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