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Policing Natal

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This superb cabinet photograph by noted Natal photographer William Laws Caney appears to show two members of one of Natal's native police organizations.


The native constable is armed with both a knobkerrie (war club) and a very large and broad bladed
stabbing iklwa commonly referred to and not correctly as an assegai - which was a light, throwing spear.


The seated man may be a Sub-Inspector or Inspector of the same police force. Interestingly the white officer's walking out or swagger stick is in the shape of a miniature version of the full sized knobkerrie carried by the native constable. The native constable wears a particularly splendid necklace that may be fashioned from jackal's teeth.


It is possible that these two men were members of another corps such as the Natal Water Police - a port and harbor customs enforcement corps in Natal.

Uniforms worn by the various Natal police units were very similar although period photographic examples tend to show members of Natal police units wearing oval metal identification badges on their left sleeves.

Early Colonial, Zulu War & Transval War Era

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 Cape Scotch Volunteer

Rifle Corps

Grahamstown Volunteer Horse Artillery

Bandsman Ted LeGros
Prince Alfred's

Volunteer Guard

Trooper "FB"

Natal Mounted Rifles



Lieutenant & Adjutant
Teignmouth Melvill, V.C.
1/24th Regiment of Foot
c. 1877

Nevill Josiah Aylmer Coghill, V.C.
1/24th Regiment of Foot
c. 1877

Anthony Durnford
Royal Engineers
c. 1875

Standish William Prendergast Vereker
Natal Native Contigent
c. 1877

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William Degacher
1/ 24th Regiment of Foot
c. 1877

George Vaughan Wardell
1/24th Regiment of Foot
c. 1877

Frederick Godwin-Austen
1/24th Regiment of Foot
c. 1877

Paymaster & Major
Francis Freeman White
1/24th Regiment of Foot
c. 1877

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1877-79 South Africa Medal

Corporal Josiah Clarke

Royal Engineers
c. 1880

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58th (Rutlandshire)

Regiment of Foot

c. 1880

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Gonville Bromhead, VC

24th Regiment of Foot

c. 1883

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John R. M. Chard, VC

Royal Engineers


c. 1880

Trooper Garland Mentioned in Despatches at Eshowe

While besieged for more than two months at the mission station at Eshowe during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, the British garrison had been plagued by Zulu snipers on the nearby hill of Mbombotshana. Volunteers were called upon to clear the enemy from the heights and six men stepped forward including Trooper Alpheus Howe Garland of the Victoria Mounted Rifles. That night the men made their way to the top of the hill and drove off the Zulu riflemen the next morning. For his actions at Eshowe Garland received a Mention in Despatches.

Identified on the reverse by a period inscription as Mr. H. Garland this cabinet photograph depicts an officer or senior NCO of the Natal Mounted Rifles. He is in all likelihood the same H. Garland who was a trooper in the Victoria Mounted Riles during the Anglo-Zulu War.  He wears the 1877-79 South Africa Medal (which is often referred to as the Zulu War Medal) with the single clasp awarded for that war.  The Natal Mounted Rifles were formed in 1888 from several Zulu War-era volunteer units including the Victoria Mounted Rifles (VMR), the Stanger Mounted Rifles, the Alexandra Mounted Rifles, and the Durban Mounted Rifles.

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Henry Cornish

Killed at Majuba Hill



David Sampson
Grahamstown 1st City Volunteers

c. 1895


William Murray Smith
Durban Mounted Rifles
Natal Mounted Rifles

c. 1898

Maurice Gifford C.M.G.
French's Scouts
Gifford's Horse
Kimberley Horse

c. 1893

The End of an Empire: The Death of the Prince Imperial

Perhaps there is no more tragic figure in the annals of Queen Victoria's colonial wars than that of Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial of France. The son of Napoleon III, he was the heir of the Bonapartist throne and the last hope for an imperial restoration after the death of his father.

Raised amidst the glorious traditions of the Second Empire, young Louis was a personal witness to France's humiliating defeat at the hands of Prussian military efficiency during the Franco-Prussian War.

Exiled to England with his mother after the war, the family was joined by Napoleon III after his release from Prussian custody although the former Emperor died not long afterward. With little in the way of a future for the exiled heir of a failed dynasty, Louis was granted admittance to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich in 1872. Through hard work and a winning personality Louis graduated in 1875 although as a foreign prince he was denied holding actual rank

in the Royal Artillery, his chosen branch of service.

With the outbreak of the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879 and the news of

the disaster at Isandlwana Louis sought permission to join forces departing for South Africa. Denied by Prime Minister Disraeli he none the less was given letters of introduction to Lord Chelmsford from the Commander in Chief, the Duke of Cambridge with the proviso that he not see any front line action and be kept out of and of harms way.

The Prince unofficially joined Chelmsford's staff and where he very quickly won over all those he met. At the same time, and perhaps

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Anglo-Boer War Era

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Two Colonial Troopers
(British South Africa Police)
with Pet Dogs
c. 1901

British Officer

Pietermaritzburg, Natal,
August 1900

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Two Mounted Infantrymen

Johannesburg, Transvaal

c, 1902

Cape Colonial Forces
c. 1902

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Garry Owen on the Veldt

Left: Troop Sergeant Major Robert Donat Edmund McMahon - 7th U.S. Cavalry, Matabeleland Mounted Police, South Africa Company Police,  Rhodesia Regiment,
South African Constabulary, Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

Born on 21 March 1871 in Epsom, Surrey, Robert Donat Edmund McMahon was the second son of Donat McMahon and Isabella Mclean. The elder McMahon was a former officer in the Military Train who has previously invented a prototype pack saddle that was field-tested in Abyssinia.

Robert was educated at Bedford Grammar School and spent time as a mounted policeman in England prior to travelling to the United States sometime around 1893. It was on 1 September of that year that he enlisted as a private in "A" Company of the 7th Regiment, United States Cavalry at Fort Riley, Kansas. The United States Army Register of Enlistments lists Robert D. E. McMahon of Epsom, England, aged 22 and standing 5 feet 6 3/4 The Register shows his enlistment being for less than one year and that he took his discharge at Fort Riley on 16 April 1894. His conduct while with the 7th was "excellent". 

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Harold Robert Jones
2nd Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment
c. 1901


Mawson Watson Parker
Imperial Light Infantry
c. 1901


Frederick Haines
Royal Lancaster Regiment

1st Life Guards
c. 1903

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John Bull - is a Little "Boer-ed"
Original Boer War Political Cartoon
Charles K. Cook
c. 1900


Sydney Bowyer Perrin
South African Constabulary

John M. L. Fulford
Railway Staff
November 1900


John Alexander
Royal Garrison Artillery
Natal, South Africa
c. 1900

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Thomas William Prior
Royal Horse Artillery
Siege of Ladysmith
c. 1900

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Postal Cover from
No. 2866 Private Arthur Haigh
2/Grenadier Guards
March 1901

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Arthur Chaplin
2/Wiltshire Regiment

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G. Wright
Cape Mounted Rifles,
South African Constabulary
New Zealand Expeditionary Force
c. 1901 - 1905

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F. E. Ashton
York and Lancaster Regiment

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Canadian Trooper
South African Constabulary

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Signals Section
The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment
Natal Field Force
c. 1901

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Howitzer Battery

Royal Artillery
Natal, South Africa.
c. 1902

Three Sergeants of the Kimberley Regiment

Kimberley, Cape Colony, Southern Africa

26 November 1900

Sergeants Scott, Duggan & Hooper

Taken several months after the end of the siege of the diamond mining town of Kimberley, this cabinet photograph depicts three defenders of the town. The three men, all sergeants, were members of the locally raised Kimberley Regiment. The reverse side of the photograph was heavily annotated by one of the sitters – Sergeant Scott - with the names of his two fellow soldiers, the name of their regiment, the photograph’s date as well as the names of the photograph’s intended recipients.

The tree men are identified as sergeants Hooper, Duggan and Scott. Unfortunately no attestation papers for the Kimberley Regiment apparently exist but the regimental roll for the Queen’s South Africa Medal (QSAM) provides a bit more information on these men.

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Trooper Selby Croxon
City Imperial Volunteers


Pretoria, Transvaal

April 1901

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"A Slippery Customer"

American Anglo-Boer War Editorial Cartoon

Leon Barritt, NewYork City, USA


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1/Royal Sussex Regiment

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Devonshire Regiment

c. 1902

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British South Africa Company Police

c. 1900

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