South Africa Medal 1979 on sale at

Today, 7th March 2017 see a super South Africa 1877-79 Medal go on sale at   

THE SOUTH AFRICA 1877-79 MEDAL AWARDED TO PRIVATE P. O’SHAUGHNESSY, 2ND BATTALION 4TH (KING’S OWN ROYAL) REGIMENT (THE POST 1880 2ND BATTALION KING’S OWN ROYAL LANCASTER REGIMENT), WHO ALSO LATER SAW SERVICE DURING THE 1885 CAMPAIGN IN THE SUDAN WITH THE 20TH HUSSARS. South Africa Medal 1877-79, 1 clasp, 1879 (officially engraved: 665. Pte. P. O’SHAUGHNESSY. 2/4th. FOOT). Polished, Good Fine to Almost Very Fine, but now with an attractive old tone.

Medal accompanied by two sets of service papers, one for O’Shaugnessy’s initial period of service with the 4th Foot, 1876-80, and another for his subsequent period of service with the 20th Hussars, 1880-98.

Patrick O’Shaughnessy was born in the parish of Athy, Co. Kildare. He enlisted into the 4th Foot at Dublin on 4/9/1876. At the time of enlistment he was 20 years of age and gave his trade as that of labourer. O’Shaughnessy never rose above the rank of Private and was discharged from the 4th Foot by purchase on 7/2/1880. Service papers for his initial period of service with the 4th Foot confirm that O’Shaughnessy embarked for Natal with his regiment on 11/12/1878, and saw service in Natal from 13/1/1879 to 28/1/1880.

Although O’Shaughnessy purchased his discharge in February 1880 he only spent a few months as a civilian before re-enlisting into the 20th Hussars, on 13/8/1880. At the time of re-enlistment he stated that he was 24 years and 6 months old, again gave his trade as that of labourer,  confirmed that he had previous military service and had purchased his release. The 20th Hussars service papers also confirm previous service with the 2nd Warwickshire Militia, so O’Shaughnessy presumably enlisted into the militia after being discharged from the 4th Foot. He was promoted Lance-Corporal on 22/10/1895, but reverted to Private on 4/5/1896, and was still serving as a Private when he was discharged on 20/1/1898 as a result of illness. Service papers confirm that, whilst serving with the 20th Hussars, in addition to seeing service at home, O’Shaughnessy also saw service overseas in the Sudan from 20/2/1885 to 4/6/1885 and in Egypt from 2/12/1886 to 18/11/1887 (also entitled Egypt Medal with Suakin 1885 and Tofrek clasp and Khedives Bronze Star for 1884-86). Service papers for 20th Hussars give O’Shaughnessy’s next of kin as his father, Edward, of Loughrea, Co. Galway, and confirm that he married Margaret Myers at Carrigohane, Co. Cork,on 5/6/1884.

Medal also accompanied by extract from medal rolls for the South Africa and Egypt Medals, confirming entitlement to the South Africa Medals with 1879 clasp and that recipient also entitled to Egypt Medal 1882-89 with Suakin 1885 and Tofrek clasps and Khedives Bronze Star 1884-6.

The following details regarding the services of the 2nd Battalion 4th Regiment in South Africa have been extracted from the website of the Regimental Museum of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.

The 2nd Battalion 4th Regiment left England in mid-December 1878 and marched up through Natal to Zululand by detachments. The two leading companies were approaching Fort Bengough when they met a galloper bringing news of the disaster at Isandhlwana. They hurried on through the night towards Rorke’s Drift, but the Drift had already been relieved by the time they arrived. Subsequently the battalion was mainly involved in guarding the lines of communication at key border locations. It did, however, provide a detachment of Mounted Infantry which saw action at the battles of Inhlobana Hill and Kambula, and also took part in reconnaissance before Ulundi and the battle of Ulundi. After the main campaign had ended, on 8/9/1879, three companies of the battalion took part in the attack on the caves on the Intombe River. During that latter action the 2/4th Foot lost two men killed and one wounded, the last British casualties of the campaign.

I suspect that when O’Shaughnessy, he chose to re-enlist into a cavalry regiment because he had by then acquired some experience of horse riding, and as such, had perhaps been a member of the 2/4th Foot’s Mounted Infantry Detachment during the Zulu War. The medal thus worthy of further research.


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