My thanks to Sandra Hargreaves for this picture and information.
Samuel was the second child of Samuel Rawlings and Elizabeth Ellen nee Fowler and he was born in Tadcaster, Yorkshire. At the time
his father was a policeman stationed in the Dewsbury area. No doubt Elizabeth had returned home for his birth, as was often the
custom. She would not have known anyone in the area of Dewsbury. Ten years later the family had returned to the Harrogate area.
When the family was living at Stonefall Cottages at Bilton cum Harrogate in 1891, Samuel was ten years old and shown as a scholar.
By 1901 when the next census was taken, young Samuel was no longer in England. On the 26th of September 1898 he enlisted into
the Kings Royal Rifle Corps and signed on for seven years with the Colours and a further five years in the Reserve. His number was
1113 and he enlisted at Gosport in Hampshire. After completing his recruit drills and passing off in the Square, Samuel became
Rifleman Samuel Rawlings and as such was posted to Kilkenny, Ireland where the 3rd Battalion K.R.R.C. was stationed. This was on
the 7th of January 1899.
He was not in Ireland for very long because the Second Boer War seemed certain to break out in South Africa at any time. On the
13th of May 1899 Samuel boarded the S.S. Gascon along with some of his Battalion. They sailed to Cape Town to join the 1st
Battalion K.R.R.C. already stationed there. The S.S. Gascon arrived at Cape Town during the first week of June, and one week later
they had marched to Fort Napier at Pietermaritzburg. On arrival they were given a typhoid vaccine and inoculated against enteric fever.
The danger of war heightened after a three month camp at Pietermaritzburg, and on very short notice the 1st Battalion began the
march to Ladysmith. This was a company of 17 Officers and 767 N.C.O.s and Riflemen. Sam’s Battalion was to act as guard to the
baggage to be transported to Ladysmith. Some of it was taken to Escourt Railway Station and put on trains to Ladysmith. The
remainder was taken by road on wagons, camping overnight at Colenso. The conditions were hot and dusty as they reached
Ladysmith and dust storms continued throughout the night.
The next day, which was the 5th of October, the Battalion, along with the 69th (Wing’s ) Battery R.F.A. marched to ModderSpruit
and spent a very cold night there. The following morning, in heavy rain, they continued a further twenty miles to Washbank. After
steady marching for a further two days, they reached their objective of Dundee in the afternoon. Five days later, a state of war
existed and the Second Boer War had begun.
The fighting did not take long to reach Dundee and Sam was soon in the thick of the action at Talana as British troops fought
desperately to take Talana Hill where the Boers were positioned. There was intense combat which concluded with the British military
storming the hill and as they reached the crest, the Boers retreated in full flight down the other side. There were considerable British
casualties, some from their own fire, and the wounded were left behind to be taken prisoner by the Boers. Sam was one of those
captured and was held as a prisoner of war until the 6th of June 1900, when 3,187 British enlisted prisoners were released. Among
them were about 60 Riflemen who had been captured at the Battle of Talana. Sam was amongst these men, who in a very weak
condition, managed to struggle back to Pretoria. Only about thirty of them were passed fit for service. No information is available
about how Sam fared but he remained in South Africa until the 22nd of June 1902 when he sailed for Malta, with his Battalion, aboard
the S.S. Sardinia. The war was declared over on the 1st of June 1902.
On reaching Malta, the Battalion disembarked and went to Floriana Barracks. On the 13th of August, Sam was promoted to Lance
Corporal and then to Corporal in August of 1904. Almost six months after his first promotion, in the Palace Square of Valetta, both
the Queen’s and King’s South Africa Medals were presented to the troops by Lord Grenfell. Queen Victoria had died during the
progress of the war and her son, King Edward VII, wished to have his own medal struck for the men who fought in South Africa. It
was while stationed in Malta that Sam had his photograph taken at a studio in Valetta. In tropical uniform, he wears the ribbons of
his medals, and with just the hint of a smile he is a very handsome young man in his early twenties.
Sam and his Battalion remained in Malta until early 1905. They had been stationed at Imfarta Barracks during April of 1904. In Malta,
Sam received medical attention several times. The first time he was diagnosed with congestion of the liver which was apparently
caused by a chill and the diet he was on. He also reported to the medical officer with diarrhoea which again was stated to be caused
by a chill and diet. The congestion of the liver was to keep recurring causing him severe pain until he recovered from each bout.
Sam must have found army life acceptable because in 1904, whilst stationed in Malta he extended his service with the Colours to
eight years. This meant he would qualify for service pay.
On the 24th of February 1905, orders were received from H.Q. that four companies of the 1st K.R.R.C. were to proceed to Egypt.
Three were then bound for Crete and one for Cyprus. Sam was in the Company heading to Cyprus. However, it seems that he “got
into a bit of bother in Cairo”! What kind of trouble we do not know, but although apparently due to be court martialled for the
indiscretion, Sam did not actually appear before a court martial. Instead he requested to revert back to being a Rifleman. This would
seem to point to Sam’s indiscretion as being nothing too serious!
While stationed in Cyprus, Sam contracted Malaria and was issued with Quinine. At the end of his eight years service, he transferred
to the 1st Class Army Reserve at Winchester, and was then officially released from Winchester Barracks on the 25th of September
Earlier in the year Sam returned to Leeds and married Martha Jane Langford at St. Matthews Church, Holbeck, Leeds. He had also
found employment as a postman.
He was re-engaged in the K.R.R.C. Reserves in 1910 for a further four years. When the First World War broke out, Sam enlisted with
his old regiment but he was discharged in 1915.
His final discharge papers give an excellent description of him. When Sam was finally discharged from the 6th Bn K R R C on 25th
September 1915 at Sheerness, he had fulfilled all his obligations to the regiment.
He was L/Corporal (but acting sergeant) at the time. His military character was said to be Very good.
"Is hard working, honest, sober and obliging. Been employed as an acting sergeant in the regiment.
A good signaller. Wishes to be employed as a telegraphist."
“Intended place of residence: 8 Brompton Mount, Dewsbury Road, Leeds (temporary)
He had been mobilized Winchester on 5th August 1914.”
The Defaulter book shows only three minor discretions listed in his career:
Neglect of duty while in charge of Barrack room in Malta 1904. reprimanded
Improper conduct on parade in Cyprus 1905 Severely reprimanded
Being in bed 55 mins. after reveille in Cyprus Reprimanded
There is also the mysterious reference to Cairo, Egypt 21 -2 -1906 but no other information.
Before leaving Sam’s military years, it is worth noting that the original documents which relate to his years with the Kings Royal Rifle
Corps give several descriptions of his appearance. The first on enlistment tells us the following:
18 years and 1 month
Height 5ft. 4.25inches
weight 113 lbs.
Chest min. 34.5 max. 37
Complexion fresh, Eyes grey, Hair brown
Religion C of E
Passed fit for the army.
Eight years later when he transferred to the Reserves he was:
26 years and 1 month
5ft 6 inches
Chest over waistcoat 40 inches
Waist over top of trousers 30 inches
Size of helmet 21.5 inches
Size of boots 7 - 4
Complexion fresh, Eyes grey, Hair brown
Scar over right eye.
Mole on back.
The same source gives an insight into his years in the army and his future aspirations:
Rifleman 1113 with 1st Bn. K R R C.
Conduct: Very Good
Hoping to become a policeman or engine tender.
Qualified as a telegraphist and would take employment in the Post Office.
Had two good conduct badges.
Medals as above.
He had been a marksman and also a signaller for 3 years 4 months.
Passed fit to join the Army Reserve at Aldershot on 4th Sept. 1906.
Intended place of residence: 9, Buckton Terrace, Cemetery Rd. Beeston Hill, Leeds, Yorks crossed out and replaced by 13 Haskin
In 1908, Sam’s appointment as a postman became official when it was confirmed in the London Gazette. He and Martha continued to
live in Leeds and they were to have four children. Cyril Langford Rawlings was born in 1908 in Holbeck and his brother Harold Vernon
was born in 1912. Then came a daughter Eveline M who was born four years later. Lastly, another daughter Vera who was born in
1920. Both Harold and Vera emigrated to New Zealand in later years.
Eventually Sam and Martha emigrated to New Zealand and were reunited with Sam‘s brother Richard and two of their own children.
Unfortunately, Sam died there in 1950 and Martha eventually returned to England alone. Martha lived for another six years until her
death in 1956. Sam’s life had been full of adventure and travel. The photograph taken of him in New Zealand portrays a man with a
charming smile and laughter in his eyes. Quite formally dressed in a suit and waistcoat but looking relaxed. Did he look back on his
years as a soldier and remember or was it a closed chapter in his life?
N.B. My grateful thanks to Ann Wilson, Sam’s grandaughter, for sharing her photos of Sam and information about his life.
Also to Irv Mortenson and Kevin Asplin for their help and generosity in providing the details of Sam’s military career.
|Charles Samuel Rawlings 1880 - 1950