Real Photo Postcard Memorial Presentation
Approximately 18 Inches Wide Opened (45.7cm)
Approximately 4 1/8 Inches by 6 1/8 Inches Closed ( 10.3cm x 15.6cm)
Lambert Weston & Son - Photographer
Folkestone, Kent, England
An unfolded memorial presentation consisting of four real photo postcards depicting the life of Commander James Alfred Boxer, Royal Navy. Hand inscribed on the front cover "With Captain Boxer's Best Wishes 1924" it is believed to have been made as a keepsake for those attending Commander James Boxer's funeral after his death on 29 January 1924. The Captain Boxer who inscribed the folder's cover may have been James Boxer's son Captain Henry Percy Boxer (whom himself would rise to the rank of rear admiral in 1939).
The four postcards depict James Alfred Boxer at key moments in his life and were photographically reproduced from much earlier photographs - probably carte de visites and cabinet photographs. They were joined together with fabric hinges and unfolded accordion-style from the handmade paper covers.
James Alfred Boxer entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman on 12 July 1855 just shy of his twelfth birthday. By 1861, he was serving aboard the screw-propelled 91-gun second-rate ship of the line HMS Victor Emmanuel. He was promoted lieutenant on 8 April 1863.
Early in 1865 he found himself an engineering lieutenant on board the screw corvette HMS Niger under Captain John C. Byng outward bound for the North American and West Indian stations.
The American Civil war was in its death throws by this time and the threat of war between the United States and Great Britain was not long past as the Niger made her way westward. The Niger touched at Havana, Cuba before making way to Jamaica where members of her crew may have taken part in suppressing the so-called Morant Bay Riot in October 1865.
In April 1866 the Niger made her way to Nova Scotia amid rumors that an army of Irish Republican
"Fenians" were preparing to invade Canada from upstate New York and Maine. Although the raids by the Fenians never posed a real military threat to Canada the untried militia initially called upon to defend the Canadian border areas did perform badly in some cases. The ambush and retreat of a company of the Queen's Own Rifles of Toronto at Ridgeway is such an example.
Lieutenant Alfred Boxer's part in the Fenian Raids of 1866 consisted of small actions against localized
Fenian incursions while still a member of the HMS Niger's crew. Most of the "action" - there would be little is any shooting - took place around Indian Island on 26 April 1866 when a small party of Fenians had landed. Boxer and other men of the Niger transported local troops Royal Marines from her own complement to the island as well as providing additional manpower as might be required. The Fenians vacated Indian Island without a fight when confronted by the troops transported there with the Niger's assistance. Later between 15 and 16 June, the Niger was acting as a troop transport conveying troops between St Andrews and St Johns.
With the immediate threat of the Fenian's ended the Niger returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and along with the other Royal Navy vessels there at the time offered up a salute to mark the anniversary of America’s independence on 4 July.
The Niger returned to Quebec for two months in late fall when a number of the officers and men were detailed for duty on gunboats when the possibility of new Fenian threats posed themselves. It is not known if Boxer served on the gunboat detail.
For his small part in defense of the Canadian border during the Fenian Raids of 1866 Lieutenant James Alfred Boxer would be entitled to the Canada General Service Medal with the clasp "Fenian Raid 1866". Curiously the medal was not issued by the Royal government but by that of Canada and not until 1899 - more than thirty years after the actual events.
The Niger remained on station and in December 1867 revisited Havana during a cholera outbreak. She finally returned to Spithead in November 1868 where her crew - and one assumes Lieutenant Boxer - was paid off and the old ship decommissioned.
Boxer saw additional sea service aboard the HMS Fisgard (10 December 1868 – 27 January 1869), HMS Inconstant (11 August 1869 – 24 March 1871), HMS Himalaya (25 March 1871 – 25 April 1871), HMS Niobe (26 April 1871 – 9 March 1873), and finally the HMS Aboukir (10 March 1873 – 6 November 1873), retiring upon the end of his tour on the Akoubir.
Boxer received his master’s certificate on 21 December 1876.
We hear about him again in the early 1880s when he was acting as harbormaster at Folkestone, Kent. In 1881 Boxer became involved in some controversy when the steamship SS Albert Edward burst a cylinder and became disabled in Folkestone harbor. The resulting court of inquiry stated in its report: "The Court is further of opinion that it is to be regretted that Captain James Alfred Boxer, the harbormaster and the superintendent of the Company's steamers, knowing as he did that the "Albert Edward" was disabled and had a large number of passengers on board, did not, as soon as the water in Folkestone harbor would allow, send out some vessel from that harbor to her assistance, the more so as he was not aware of the nature or extent of the injuries which she had sustained." .
The report ended with the statement: "The Court is not asked to deal with any of the officers' certificates, or to make any order as to costs." It appears that Boxer's reputation did not suffer any permanent damage as the result of the Albert Edward incident and he remained harbor master until 1907.
After retirement as harbormaster at Folkestone Box remained a resident of Folkestone living at 1 Marine Parade. He had previously married Miss Georgena Augusta Crichton in 1875 and the couple would have three sons: Arthur Chichester Boxer (1879-1976) who served in the Royal Navy, Herbert Seymour Boxer (born about 1881) who became a clerk for the Bank of England and the previously mentioned Captain - later Rear Admiral - Henry Percy Boxer (1885-1961). One daughter - Edith Mary Curlden Boxer - was born to the couple about 1877.
Commander James Alfred Boxer passed away to his home at Folkestone on 29 January 1924 at the age of 82.
Above: Midshipman James Alfred Boxer in a photograph probably taken not long after joining the Royal Navy at age twelve.
Above: In the prime of life - Lieutenant James Alfred Boxer probably sat for this portrait about the time he was serving on the HMS Niger or possibly
soon after his return in England in 1868.
Above: Retirement - An aging Commander James Alfred Boxer posed possibly for the final time in uniform sometime around 1900. He wears his Canada General Service Medal with its "Fenian Raid 1866" clasp which was only approved in 1899. He also wears another unidentified medal on his coat.
Above: The Patriarch. James Alfred Boxer in a thoughtful-looking pose sat for the camera sometime in the early 1900s. By this time he had two sons serving in the Royal Navy as had his older brother Captain William Edwin Boxer (1842-1908). His father Captain James Fuller Boxer was also of the Royal Navy and his grandfather was Captain Sir Edward Boxer, CB who served during the Napoleonic Wars.