SOUTH AFRICA 1877-79, CLASP, 1879 ‘1149 BY. SERGT. MAJ: F. RICHES. 6TH. BDE. R.A.’; EGYPT AND SUDAN 1882-89, UNDATED REVERSE, 1 CLASP, SUAKIN 1885 ‘COND: OF STORES, F. RICHES, O.S. DEPT.’; CORONATION 1911; ARMY L.S. & G.C., V.R., 3RD ISSUE, SMALL LETTER REVERSE ‘885. B.S. MAJ: F. RICHES, 6TH. BDE. R.A.’; KHEDIVE’S STAR 1884-6, REVERSE CONTEMPORARILY ENGRAVED ‘C. OF S. F. RICHES. O.S. DEPT.’
Frederick Riches was born at Wymondham, Norfolk, in September 1841 and attested for the Royal Artillery at Norwich in October 1858. He was awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in 1877, and served in the Zulu War of 1879 as Battery Sergeant Major of “O” Battery, 6th Brigade, Royal Artillery. In September 1880 he was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant on the District Staff and two months later appointed Conductor of Stores, Ordnance Stores Department, Dublin. In this capacity he served in Egypt and took part in the operations around Suakin in 1885. He was discharged to pension in November 1888.
‘O’ Battery, 6th Brigade Royal Artillery arrived at Durban from England in April 1879, the right half proceeding to the Lower Tugela to form the ammunition column of Crealock’s Division. After getting there, Duncan sent a detachment to Fort Chelmsford to form a separate column, thereby allowing convoys that were proceeding backwards and forwards to be supplied with ammunition at that position, while reserve ammunition could be served at the Tugela to the troops advancing. Details of the arrival and of the battery aboard the steamship Andean were given in ‘In Zululand with the British, Throughout the War of 1879’;
‘..one of the East India and Pacific Company's vessels, which had only the reserve ammunition column on board. She arrived on the 15th, and brought an augmented battery of artillery, Battery, 6th Brigade, under Major Duncan, who rendered valuable service in the Ashantee campaign. The train consisted of six small arm ammunition carts, six ammunition and store wagons, and a limber forge wagon. All the vehicles were mounted on the special Kaffrarian plan, each provided with the Cape brake, and all constructed for bullock-draught over rough roads or tracks. There were on board altogether 800 men, who had been quartered on the main decks fore and aft. The main object of this train was to keep the column supplied with ammunition..’
On the forward movement being made by the Division to Port Durnford, the Battery became again united. Major Duncan went on to command the artillery in the advance of Clarke’s Flying Column on Ulundi. Major Duncan and Lieutenant Taylor being the only Officers present from their battery. It seems that the artillery pieces had been stripped down so they could be carried by mules, like mountain guns. This due to the nature of the particularly hard to traverse country they were to operate over.
Clarke’s flying column, commanded by Lt Colonel Clarke of the 57th Foot, was formed from elements of the Crealock’s 1st Division which was broken up in July 1879. This column, along with another under Baker Russell (which was pretty much Wood’s old column), were basically scaled down versions of the Divisional columns, making them more mobile. The New Commanding Officer, Sir Garnet Wolseley would accompany Clarke’s company to Ulundi and they would then re occupy it. From here operations to capture the Zulu King and pacify Zululand were controlled and sent out.
Cetshwayo had been sheltered in a village since 3rd July and fled upon hearing news of the defeat at Ulundi on 4th July 1879. The British forces were dispersed around Zululand in the hunt for Cetshwayo, burning numerous kraals in a vain attempt to get his Zulu subjects to give him up and fighting the final small battle to defeat the remaining hostile battalions. He was finally captured on 28 August by soldiers under Wolseley's command at a kraal in the middle of the Ngome forest.
On 5th September, Clarke’s column was ordered to withdraw from Zululand, going across country by way of the old Middle Drift; a very hard land to cross and so far untraversed, so as to intimidate any Zulu chiefdoms still wishing to fight. On returning to Natal following and with the breakup of Clarke’s column, ‘O’ Battery was reunited and returned home. As with all the Non Officers of the battery, it is not clear whether Sergeant Major Riches took part in the operations of Clarke’s flying column or not.
Sold with a Victorian Battery Sergeant Major’s bullion arm patch; an original but faded portrait photograph of the recipient in uniform wearing medal ribbons; and copied service papers and medal roll extracts.
Condition GVF, very light star marks. Ex DNW 1999. A very good group to the senior Battery NCO during the Zulu War