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"The Fighting Clerk"

George William Mabin - Colour Sergeant, General Staff

By Lee Stevenson (photos supplied by Lee Stevenson)

George William Mabin was born in the parish of St. Augustine's, Bristol in October 1848.

He enlisted in Bristol with the 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade on the 1st June 1868, and was given the Regimental number 1566. Promoted to the rank of Corporal in July 1870, Mabin transferred to the Staff of the Army some two years later whilst stationed in Dover. A further promotion followed on the 20th May 1872 when he became a Military Staff Clerk, and three years later Colour Sergeant, c.20th May 1875.

On the 20th June 1878, Colour Sergeant Mabin transferred to the District Office, Cape of Good Hope.

His presence at Rorke's Drift is confirmed by the 'Chard' Roll and also by Mabin's own account of the battle, given in 1914, in which he also stated that he received a slight wound to his shin from a spent bullet.

He served throughout the Anglo-Boer War of 1880-1881, and was present at the actions at Ingogo, Laing's Nek and Majuba, where it is reported that he was within a few feet of General Colley when the General fell dead. Mabin was promoted Superintending Clerk, in February 1880, followed by the elevation to the rank of Warrant Officer, Superintending Clerk on the 1st July 1881

On the 25th June 1897, Mabin was awarded the "Cape of Good Hope Gold Medal for Distinguished Conduct", one of only two awarded as part of celebrations to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Mabin having completed 29 years, 22 days service without once appearing in the Regimental Defaulters Book. (By co-incidence another Zulu veteran, Gunner William Hollis, Royal Artillery, received the second Gold Medal)

He travelled back to Aldershot in early June 1898, where he was discharged after nearly 30 years service with the army, receiving, "Annuity of £10.00 with silver medal for long and highly meritorious service, [Meritorious Service Medal], including Zulu & Boer Campaigns 1879-1881."

He married twice, Mary Elizabeth Ranger in 1872, and then some years after her death in 1906, he remarried a Mary Stroud. He fathered eleven children from his first marriage.

George William Mabin died, aged 90, at the Groote Schuur Hospital, Rondesbosch, Cape Town on the 23rd October 1938. He is buried in a large family plot in Maitland Cemetery, Cape Town.

His medals are currently on display at the South African National Museum of Military History.