SOUTH AFRICA 1834-53 ‘J METCALF. 12TH LANCERS.’
John Metcalf age 21 from Lenton in Nottinghamshire, enlisted into the 12th Lancers on 12th October 1831. He served at the Cape of Good hope for 2 and half years, East Indies for 1 year 3 months and the Crimea for 6 months. Cooke was discharged on 5th February 1856. Probably entitled to the Crimean War medal.
The 12th (The Prince of Wales's) Royal Regiment of Lancers.
The regiment journeyed to South Africa as reinforcements in 1851, where it faced similar problems to the Dragoons in respect to the small Cape horses; weapons too were hardly ideal for the warfare which faced them, contemporary sources stating the men's lances became useful ridgepoles when makeshift tents were required. Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Pole ordered all officers to carry carbines or rifles while his advanced guards used double barrelled carbines.
The Lancers helped to successfully clear the Waterkloof stronghold, but two squadrons were badly mauled in November 1852 when they moved against the Basuto chief Mosesh:
'Suddenly they were charged by a host of Basuto horsemen who had been concealed in dead ground. Tottenham and the men acting as rear-guard were enveloped by the enemy. Many were cut down, for in close work nine-foot lances were no match for assegais and light axes which could be used as swords or throwing weapons.'
Besides the Lancers lost with Tottenham, several men under Captain Oakes and a troop of the Cape Mounted Rifles were cut off early in the action. Desperate riding saved most ranks but some rode into a morass and were butchered. In total, 27 N.C.O.s and men of the 12th were killed.
Condition NVF, contact and edge wear. Good Regt for South Africa.