SOUTH AFRICA 1877-9, CLASP, 1877-8-9 ‘557 QTR MR SERGT T LEITCH, 1/24TH’
Thomas Leitch attested for the 24th Foot on 18 October 1860, aged 19 years 6 months. He re-engaged as Colour Sergeant at Malta on 25th July 1870. Subsequently promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant. After taking part in the Cape Frontier Wars of 1877-8, Quartermaster Sergeant Leitch was killed in action at Isandhlwana on 22 January 1879. He was the second most senior NCO from the 1/24th to be killed in this battle, Sergeant Major Gapp being Senior. During the battle of Isandhlwana, Quartermaster Sergeant Leitch served as Quartermaster Pullen’s right hand man and would have been attempting to help the flow of ammunition. There are no accounts of Leitch during the battle, however there are a few mentions of Quartermaster Pullen. According to an Extract from the Regimental Museum in Brecon:
“Pullen was engaged in supplying ammunition from the Battalion ammunition wagon, when the Zulu's broke through the defence lines, he is reputed to have jumped from the wagon, rallied some 20 men about him, and was heard to say "Come on my lads! Follow me, and let us turn their flank" He went out with this party towards the hills to the left of the position and with them attempted to hold back the tip of the Zulu left-horn, and steadfastly performed his duty of serving out ammunition until the line retired on the camp. It is presumed that he was killed at this stage of the Battle.”
With Leitch’s medal is a parchment Freemasonry Certificate conferring the Degree of Mark Master Mason of Lodge No. 387 Malta, dated 29 April 1870. The reverse of the parchment carries an ink inscription by the Secretary of the British Lodge No. 334 Cape Town dated 15th February 1879 which reads:
‘Note. Br Leitch was killed at the Battle of Isandula in Zululand, South Africa, 0n 22nd January 1879. This certificate is retained in possession of Mrs. Leitch, who is known by Br. C.E. Egan, a member of this Lodge, as the lawful wife of our deceased brother.’
The above is also sold with some family notes and two documents relating to his son, Company Sergeant-Major Thomas Leitch, 7 Bn. North Lancashire Regiment, comprising Mention in Despatches certificate, dated 13 November 1916, and Certificate of Discharge having been appointed to a Commission in the Labour Corps, 17 May 1918.
Condition GVF, small bruise at 5’o clock, otherwise EF. Lovely patina and original full length ribbon. A very rare medal to a senior NCO casualty, the addition of original paperwork relating to the recipient rise’s both the interest and rarity again.