SOUTH AFRICA 1834-53 ‘J. JERVIS. RL. SAPRS. & MINRS.’, CRIMEA 1854-56, 1 CLASP, SEBASTOPOL, UNNAMED; TURKISH CRIMEA, BRITISH ISSUE, UNNAMED
John Jervis was born in 1818 in the Parish of St Mary’s, Woolwich, Kent, and attested for the Royal Sappers and Miners at Woolwich on 5 December 1836, aged 18, a miner by trade. He served for a total of 23 years 136 days, of which 20 years 6 months were spent on overseas service: Cape of Good Hope (Eastern Cape Frontier) 15 years 2 months, Crimea 1 year 4 months, and Malta 4 years. When discharged at Chatham on 19 June 1860, he was in possession of the Kaffir War medal for the campaigns of 1846-47 and 1850-53, together with the Crimea medal with Sebastopol clasp and Turkish Crimea medal.
Jervis went with No. 2 Company to the Cape in April 1841 and, on 10 August, he was one of 20 men of No. 2 Coy who were transferred to No. 10 Coy, then at the Cape, and from this time on the musters record him as being on ‘Special Service’. He thus accompanied Captain Smith in April 1842 on his epic 600 mile overland trek from Fort Peddie to Port Natal (Durban) to the relief of the 27th Regiment, besieged at that place after their defeat in action with the Boers. This ultimately led to the forming of the Colony of Natal.
1 Officer and 7 men of 10 Coy took part in the disastrous battle of Congella; 24 May 1842 and the subsequent siege. It is unconfirmed whether Jervis was one of the 7 as musters just confirm ‘Port Natal’. However as the history of the Sappers and Miners states only under 8 Sappers Lieut Gibb, had accompanied Captain Smith to Port Natal in April, it’s almost certain he was at this important battle against the Boers.
Port Natal and the battle of Conella From ‘The History of the Royal Sappers and Miners’:
“In January, 1842, a small force under the command of Captain Smith, 27th regiment, was sent to the Umgazi, about ten miles south of the Umzimvooboo, to watch the movements of the Boers, who had attacked a native chief in alliance with the colonial government. With this force was detached a party of eight royal sappers and miners under Lieutenant C. R. Gibb of the engineers. There the expedition was encamped for a season, when a portion of it, on the 31st March, quitted the Umgazi for Natal, taking with them seventy wheeled carriages and numerous oxen. The sappers took the lead of the column to remove obstructions on the route. The force comprised about 250 men, chiefly of the 27th regiment, and a few artillerymen………………………………………………’
During the 3rd Kaffir War, Jervis was present at the battle of the Koonap Pass on 13 June 1852, when his Company were acting as escort to a supply convoy of 9 ox-drawn wagons to Fort Beaufort. When attacked by a large force of enemy, the lead oxen were killed in their tracks, bringing the convoy to a halt with the pass being too narrow to permit turning the wagons about. They were forced to abandon their wagons to be looted by the enemy. In their fighting retreat out of the pass, the escort lost nine men killed and three wounded whilst safeguarding the soldiers’ wives and children who were travelling with the convoy.
Mounted as worn on a triple ribbon brooch bar, contact marks, otherwise NVF. Sold with copied discharge papers, muster transcripts 1841-5 and other research.