Launceston’s Boer War Volunteers

D.C.L.I. on parade before their departure to South Africa in 1900.
D.C.L.I. on parade before their departure to South Africa in 1900.
Boer War article from the January 27th 1900 edition of the Cornish and Devon Post.

Private William Cann
William was born in 1877 to John and Elizabeth Cann at North Petherwin. His father was a farm labourer. On leaving school he worked as a carpenter after serving his apprenticeship with a Mr. Ellacott of North Petherwin. He enlisted with the DCLI (regimental No. 6157) in 1900 and served in South Africa from March 1900 to April 1901 when he returned to England where he was discharged on his return. He married Amelia around 1903 and they set up home at Berry Pomeroy near Totnes. They had four children, William, Charlie, Queenie, and Victoria. He continued to work as a carpenter. He died in 1948.

Corporal John Congdon
John was born in 1877 to Samuel and Margaret Congdon at Altarnun. His father was an agricultural labourer and in 1881 they were living at Upton Cottage Lewannick. By 1891 the family had moved to Callington. John enlisted with the Royal Army Service Corps (service No. S/13170)
on February 4th, 1897 at Devonport, after seeing service with the DCLI voluntary Battalion. He embarked for South Africa in March 1900 serving there for two years. He returned to England in September 1902. He then continued his service in this country slowly gaining promotions until in 1912 he achieved the rank of Quarter Master Sergeant Major. This however seems to have proved too much for him, and after asking for demotion to Sergeant, he committed suicide on November 24th, 1912. The coroners report stated that the act was performed whilst of an unsound mind.
Lieutenant Edward George Cowlard

Edward George Cowlard
Edward George Cowlard

Edward or George as he was known, was born in 1878 to Christopher L. and Anna G. Cowlard at Exeter. His father was a well known solicitor of Cowlard, Grylls and Cowlard in Launceston. He was educated at Marlborough College and on completion of his education he was employed by Cornwall Council as Clerk of the Peace.
He was a Lieutenant in the Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry ‘C’ company (Launceston), 2nd Volunteer Battalion when he volunteered for service in South Africa fighting in the ‘Boer War’ in 1900. He died of Enteric fever on March 5th, 1901 at Springfontein (Official casualty roll location: Springfontein).
His name is commemorated at Marlborough College and at Truro Cathedral, South-west Tower Memorial DCLI. He left a total of £289 in his will.
James S Fitze

James S Fitze
James S Fitze

James was born in 1877 to William and Emma Fitze at 16 Duke Street, St. Stephens, Launceston. He had 3 elder Brothers and two elder Sisters. His Father ran an ironmongery shop in Launceston. In the 1901 census he is working as a Boots Domestic at the Farley’s Hotel, Plymouth but before 1902 he had already joined up with the Royal Army Medical Corps (Regimental No 15804) serving in South Africa during the Boer War. On one occasion he was taken prisoner. He spent a total of 5 years in South Africa. In the 1911 census he is shown as a cook being stationed at the Military Hospital, Fulford Road, York working in the isolation block.
By the time the First World War had broken out, he had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He was serving at the 5th casualty clearing station on the 4th September 1914 when killed. He is buried at the Saint Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, Departement de la Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France, Plot: S. 1V. L. 6.

Private William Thomas Jewry
William was born in 1880 to Thomas and and Mary Jewry at Okehampton. His father was a Tailor and on leaving school he served an apprenticeship as a Tailor. The family moved to Launceston in the late 1880’s. He enlisted with the DCLI (Regimental No. 6233) in 1900 after being with the DCLI voluntary Battalion and served in South Africa from March 1900 to April 1901. On returning to England he was discharged. He moved to Sherbourne in Dorset setting up as a Tailor and married Ada Jane Storey in 1904. They had three sons. He died in 1946.
Private Ernest George Jones
Ernest was born in 1873 to George and Maria Jones at Tower Street, Launceston. His father was a Grocer and General dealer. He married Sarah Elizabeth Over on March 23rd, 1894 at Launceston. Ernest worked a Hawker.He was a member of the DCLI voluntary Battalion and enlisted with the DCLI (regimental No. 6155) in 1900. He served in South Africa from March 1900 to April 1901 and on his return to England was discharged. By 1911 the family were living in Tower Street and Ernest was working as a Tailor. He and Elizabeth had one son and four daughters. Ernest died in 1913.

Corporal Edwin Medland
Edwin was born in October 1879 to Edwin and Grace Medland at Boscastle. His father was a mason and the family moved to live at Chapple, Launceston before 1890. On leaving school, Edwin served an apprenticeship with Mr. William Prockter of Southgate Street. In 1900 at the age of 20 he volunteered to go to South Africa to take part in the Boer War. Remaining there until the close of hostilities in 1902, he then became employed by the South African State Railways. He became a playing member of the Waterval Boven football team, and used to frequently take part in tennis at Pretoria. He remained in South Africa during the First World War, a war that saw his two brothers Charles and Richard both killed. He returned to England in 1919 to continue the business founded by his father, first of all residing at Cleaverfield, and then later moving to Carboth in Western Road.

Private Sidney Prout
Sidney was born on January 17th, 1879 to William and Eliza Prout at Lezant. His father was a Farmer and General Merchant. Sidney on leaving school served a 5 year apprenticeship as a Tailor. He was a member of the DCLI voluntary Battalion and was called up in January 1900. He served in South Africa from March 1900 to July 1900 and on his return to England in September 1900, he was discharged. He returned to live with his parents who were now living at Compass, Tregadillett. By 1911 he was working as a journeyman tailor and at the time of the census was residing at Ashbourne, Derbyshire. It seems quite likely that he served again for the DCLI during the First World War (Regimental No 4256).

Arthur Hastings White

Arthur was born in 1869 to George and Francis White at the Walk House, Launceston. His father was a solicitor. George was educated at Honiton Grammar School and went on to become an articled clerk in 1891 living in Richmond, Surrey. George was one of the first to volunteer for service in South Africa serving from 1899 to 1902 with the 20th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry (Rough Riders) (Regimental No. 14622). He returned to England after the Boer War but returned to South Africa in November 1903 where he served with the Cape Mounted Rifles. He took part in the brief campaign in German SW Africa during September 1914. He was mentioned in dispatches after the battle at Sandfontein, Karas, Namibia. Arthur died whilst in South Africa.

Launceston Lads off to the Boer War in 1900 Corporals John Congdon and Edwin Medland and Privates William Cann, William Jewry, Ernest Jones and Sidney Prout.
Launceston Lads off to the Boer War in 1900 Corporals John Congdon and Edwin Medland and Privates William Cann, William Jewry, Ernest Jones and Sidney Prout.