My Grandfather Joseph Bateman joined the British Imperial Army and was shipped out to fight in what was thought would be a quick little war with a bunch of farmers, in South Africa. How wrong they were. The Boers were a determined bunch, and were intent on winning. The war started in 1899 and continued through until 1902, It is now recognised as one of the longest and costliest wars –in financial terms-and in terms of casualties, between the Napoleonic Wars and the First World War.
The background to this war is found in the fighting that took place between the British Colonial territories in Southern Africa, and the Boer Republics. The Boers were the descendants of Dutch colonists who had done much to open up Southern Africa. The word Boer means farmer, Trekboers in the Dutch colony were people who were farmers looking for farms. The great trek came about as the Boers upped sticks and moved out of the Cape in which they had settled and moved into the interior in search of their own unified Boer Nation. I picked up much of my family history from a declaration made to the Quebec Superior Court in Canada when Joe was chasing his pension entitlement!
Solemn Declaration made before the Quebec Superior Court
“ I am the son of Thomas Bateman and his marriage to Ruth Roberts, and that I was born on the second day of November in the year of Our Lord eighteen hundred and seventy eight, in the Town of Wolverhampton, County of Staffordshire, England.
That desiring to enlist in the British Imperial Army, I did so enlist on the fifth day of July, eighteen hundred and ninety eight in the regiment of the Northampton Fusilier’s [this is not factually true as he enlisted in the Northumberland Fusilier’s]
That being under age at the time of my enlistment, I was legally Joseph Bateman. That on the seventh day of August in the year of Our Lord. Nineteen hundred and fourteen, I re-enlisted under my regimental name and my army record surname of Lawrence, in the Royal Army Service Corps, and served in the British Expeditionary Force for four years and nine months.
That on February sixteenth, nineteen hundred and seven, I married Mary Ellen Blower, in the Parish Church of the Parish of All Saints, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England, and that I am still living with the said Mary Ellen Blower, and that my marriage with the said Mary Ellen Blower, nine children have been born, all of whom are living. Seven being resident in my present domicile at 1053 Shearer Street City and District of Montreal.
And I make solemn declaration, conscientiously believing it to be true and knowing it is the same force and effect as if made under oath and by virtue of the Canada Evidence Act.
Signed Joseph Bateman.
Joe’s Military Record
He was then discharged completely from Army service on the 4th July 1910 in consequence of the termination of the first period of engagement. He is recorded on Army form D 426, 4th July 1910 at York as having “his service towards completion limited engagement Army 8 years, and the reserve of four years”.
This gave Joe a total of 12 years in the Army on his first term. Of those 12 years he saw service abroad for 6 years and 124 days. The record office at number 5 District York recorded him as being a “trained mounted infantryman, passed in Regimental Transport duties. Qualified as a Shoeing Smith. He is also recorded as being a “farrier in the mounted infantry, 8 months”.
He had no instances on his record of misconduct, and being in possession of 2nd class Certificate of Education”. He finished the term with the rank of Corporal in South Africa.
Joe’s campaign record reads, South Africa 1899,1900,1901,1902, Medals and Decorations: Queens South African medal with Clasps: Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Kings South African medal with clasp, South Africa medal 1901, South Africa1902.
He then was discharged into the Reserve…then on the out break of the First World War he enlisted again.
This very brave man then went onto enlist and serve another term fighting in the First World war in the RASC(MT) 1st Omnibus Corp finishing as a Sergeant, he was employed in this regiment as a Blacksmith, serving from 5th July 1915 through to 18th March 1919.
My Grandfather was a small man in stature, but he certainly give his all for ‘King & Country’ and with this in mind, and as we approach the First World War anniversary dates here in Wolverhampton, and whilst attending the Civic Services in our great City, I will remember Grandad Joe, and his comrades.