|4758 Cpl. R. Paling, West Yorkshire Regiment.
Queen’s South Africa Medal clasps Tugela Heights, Orange Free State,
Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal, Laings Nek.
Wounded in action Buffelspruit 3 December 1900 &
With four photocopy pages of service documents, a CD-
ROM containing 226 pages of pension invalidity papers
and two photocopy pages of the medal roll. Robert
Paling enlisted at Woolwich 3 March 1897 aged 18
although later declarations that his date of birth was 20
February 1880 indicate he was only 17. Born
Camberwell, London. Occupation carman. Had previously
served in the Kent Artillery Militia. In 1900 he had
three entries in the defaulter book, one for missing
parade and two for neglect of duty, the second go these
costing him his lance corporal’s stripe.
On 3 December 1900 two companies of the 2nd West
Yorkshires were part of the escort of a convoy
travelling to Rustenburg. A large Boer force attacked
the convoy and although driven off, half of the wagons
were destroyed. In his despatch of 8 March 1901 Lord
Kitchener said that the escort had made a very gallant
stand. Sustained a bullet wound in the right arm and was
admitted to the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital in Pretoria
the following day. Discharged to duty in March 1901 but
admitted to 17 General Hospital, Standerton in
September and transferred to 20 General Hospital,
Elandsfontein in October.
Invalided to England on S.S. Tagus, landing at Southampton 24 December 1901. He stated that his
South African papers were burnt in the convoy in which he was taken prisoner. A medical report
in August 1902 stated that he was hit by a bullet about one inch above the elbow joint and that he
was unable to use his arm because the muscles were paralysed. The inner side of his right arm was
wasted, his third and fourth fingers were contracted and the skin over them was shining, atrophic
and cold. His condition was considered permanent and his degree of disability was assessed at
75%. Discharged medically unfit for further service at Browndown 30 September 1902.
A medical report in August 1903 confirmed that the third and fourth fingers of his right hand
were contracted into his palm and stated that he had a loss of sensation on the inner side of the
hand and the affected fingers. His condition was considered permanent with a degree of disability
of 25%. In 1922 he made an incorrect declaration of earnings and the Ministry of Pensions
considered a legal prosecution but decided not to do so as it was considered impossible to prove
A medical report in October 1923 stated that the entry scar was just above the internal condyle
of the right humerus with the exit scar at the same level just above the olecranon. It also
confirmed the partial ulnar paralysis resulting in the permanent flexion of his third and fourth
fingers in his palm and assessed his degree of disability at 20%.
In 1934 he was investigated by the Ministry of Pensions for an alleged false declaration of
income resulting in overpayment of his pension by £7/11s/4d. He claimed the amount involved was
sickness benefit from an insurance fund and that he was unaware it had to be declared. The
investigating officer believed his statement and did not consider there was any fraudulent intent
although he had to repay the overpaid amount. The investigating officer’s report also added, “The
man appears to rather slow and dull witted. I understand from him that he was wounded in the
head in the Boer War”.
Died of rupture of wall of left ventricle and haemopericardium at West Hill Hospital, Dartford 7
September 1962 aged 82. Served in 2nd Battalion. Also entitled to South Africa 1901 clasp.