|A rather splendid portrait of a unidentified band corporal from Prince Alfred's Volunteer Guard taken sometime after the end of the Anglo-Boer War. Under close examination the
details of this colonial unit's distinctive helmet plate, buttons and belt plate are all clearly visible but it is the Guard's unique collar badges that catch one's eye. The badge consists of a
Xhosa-styled shield over a crossed assagai and knobkerrie. The shield bears the battle honor "Umzintzani" after an action fought there by the battalion during the Ninth Cape
Frontier War on 2 December, 1877.
I have attempted to identify this soldier based upon his rank of band corporal and by the Queen's South Africa Medal (QSAM) bearing three clasps that he is wearing signifying his
service in the Anglo-Boer War. During the war Prince Alfred's Volunteer Guard had two companies detailed into a mounted infantry detachment while the remainder served in their
traditional infantry capacity. As one might expect the mounted infantry detachment saw considerably more action that the regular infantry did and a good number of these men were
entitled to the QSAM with three clasps but the medal roll for the QSAM does not list an bandsmen serving with the mounted infantry. The vast majority of the regular infantry
detachment of the Guard were only entitled to the single clasp "Cape Colony" for their QSAMs. The medal roll also only lists on Band Corporal with the infantry - J. M. G. Buchanan
- but like the others it states he was only entitled to the single "Cape Colony" clasp. Unless additional information is found his identity will probably remain a mystery.
Aside from his units specific insignia this band corporal is uniform very much like a bandsman from a regular British line regiment with his scarlet tunic a white foreign service helmet
very much of the standard regimental patterns. The metal harp device above his gold corporal's chevrons along with the shoulder wings on his tunic signify his place as a bandsman
with his battalion just as they would in a regular British battalion. While in action he may well have served as a stretcher bearer just as his British counterparts would have.
Established as the Port Elizabeth Volunteer Rifle Corps on September 19, 1856, the title Prince Alfred’s Volunteer Guard was unofficially assumed when the battalion escorted Queen
Victoria’s second son Prince Alfred during his visit to Cape Colony in 1860.
Mounted Photograph (trimmed)
3 Inches by 4 3/16 Inches
(7.6 cm x 10.8cm)
Cape Colony, South Africa