8752 Private Michael Breen, a paternal Granduncle of mine, served in the 2nd Border Regiment during the early 1900s. While I have no clear evidence to indicate that during his time in the army he completed any postings in South Africa, I do have a copy of Part 2 of Battalion Orders No: 64 for his Regiment. The orders relate to Pretoria, South Africa and are dated Saturday, 19th October 1907.
For some reason, which at present I can not explain, the document was considered important enough by Private Breen for it to have been preserved by him during his lifetime and by his immediate family thereafter. The document found its way, via the time capsule seen in the image at the head of this post, 97 years later to me.
The South Africa of the 1800 and 1900s was a turbulent area. Over time it had been settled by mainly the British the Germans and the Dutch. As one might imagine the indigenous population, or Kaffir’s (as the new arrivals had derogatorily named them), were systematically driven off their lands and many wars erupted as a result; one of the most famous being the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879.
There were two Anglo-Boer Wars. The first took place between 1880 and 1881 and the second between 1889 and 1902. The Boers were a group of tough Dutch settler farmers who sought to become the pre-eminent governors in the region, especially in the area known as the Orange Free State. Although, in both wars, significantly outnumbered by British forces the Boers, with their superior horsemanship and deathly on the move marksmanship skills, inflicted terrible losses on British forces.
The 2nd Border Regiment would not have had an easy time of it while serving in the South Africa of the 19th Century. Below is a verbatim transcript of Part: 2 Battalion Orders No: 64 for that Regiment. Let’s take a look at who featured on the orders sheet and what was written against their names:
Document (Transcript): Part 2 Battalion Orders No: 64
Date: Saturday, 19th October 1907
Location: Pretoria, South Africa
Unit: 2nd Border Regiment
Officer Commanding: Lieut-Col. J.Page Wood.
Orders signed by: Captain E.G.S. MacLagan, Adjutant, 2nd Border Regiment
Item 1 – Courts Martial
Tried by D.C.M. and sentenced to six (6) Calendar Months Detn, for “Striking his superior officer” 15/10/1907. Guard Detn. Room awaiting trial from 7/10/07 to 14/10/07. To Detn. Bks. 15/10/1907.
Tried by D.C.M. and sentenced to 56 days Detn, for “Stealing goods the property of a comrade.” 15/10/1907. Guard Detn. Room awaiting trial from 8/10/1907 to 14/10/1907. To Detn. Bks. 15/10/1907.
Item 2 – Courses of Instruction
Mounted Infantry, Middleburg, Transvaal – 17/10/1907
Item 3 – Change of Religion
Changed religious persuasion from “Church of England” to “Roman Catholic” – 15/10/1907.
Item 4 – Fines for Drunkenness
Item 5 – G.C.Badges
Forfeits second G.C.B. (without pay). Regtl. Entry, 14/10/1907
Forfeits second G.C.B. (without pay). Regtl. Entry, 15/10/1907
Restored first G.C.R. (without pay), 18/10/1907. (Last Regtl. Entry 18/10/1906)
Awarded first G.C.B. (without pay), 4/10/1907
Forfeits first G.C.B. (without pay). Regtl. Entry, 18/10/1907
Forfeits second G.C.B. (without pay). Regtl. Entry, 8/10/1907
Granted C1.II S.Pay: 4d – 14/10/1907
Granted C1.II S.Pay: 4d – 19/10/1907
Granted C1.II S.Pay: 4d – 17/10/1907
Forfeits first G.C.B. (without pay). Regtl. Entry, 17/10/1907
Item 6 – Return to Duty
On completion of sentence, 15/10/1907
Item 7 – Summary Punishment
Awarded 96 hrs Detn by C.O. 18/10/1907 for “Insubordination.” Detention Bks 2pm, 19/10/1907 to 2pm, 23/10/1907
Item 8 – MULTC PAY
Mulct pay for absence, 18/10/1907 (1 day)
Mulct pay for absence, 18/10/1907 (1 day)
It is possible that Private Michael Breen could have known one or more of the troops whose names appear above. It would be really interesting to hear from any of the families of any of the men listed above. If you recognise names please do comment.
Private Michael Breen was a Dublin man. His sister Anne Breen (my paternal Grandmother) lived during 1907 at the top of Chicken Lane, Arbour Place in Dublin’s Stoneybatter area. Stoneybatter is an Urban Village not far from the well known Phoenix Park.
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