British South Africa Company, reverse Rhodesia 1896, no bar, Queen’s South Africa, 4 bars, Rhodesia, Relief of Mafeking, Transvaal, South Africa 1901, Major Reginald Mainwaring, Commander in Chief’s Body Guard, former Captain in the Bulawalo Field Police who commanded a Troop in the Matabele Rebellion and a well recognised pioneer in Bulawayo, who alongside being Treasurer of the Sanitation Board was an Amateur Fire Fighter for the town of Bulawayo.
BSA Company officially engraved; “MAJOR R. MAINWARING STAFF B.F.F.”
QSA Officially engraved in officer style; “Maj. R. MAINWARING. C in C B’dygrd”
Major Reginald Mainwaring was the third son of General W.G. Mainwaring, CIE, of Lindfield and Haywards Heath. Like his father he gained a commission in the Army, becoming Second Lieutenant from a Gentleman with the 3rd Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry on 7th January 1888.
At some point around 1894 he was seconded for service as a Pioneer Officer in the Bulawayo Field Force and as Bulawayo as taken over by the English, he was there for the formation of the Bulawayo Field Force served as Treasurer to the Sanitary Board who supervised road construction, recruitment of labour etc as the British developed their newly conquered town.
The original formation of the force from One Hundred Years of Industry in Bulawayo (unknown publisher);
“Captains Napier, Heaney, Spreckley, Mainwaring, Verey and Whittaker were appointed as Captains of their Several Troops. Men freely enrolled themselves, each troop averaging from 70 to 10 men strong. Other officers and non commissioned officers were elected by the men.”
“Captain Mainwaring’s parallel fire-fighting duties were carried out with the same praiseworth punctilio as those concerned with the sanitation of BUlawayo, but his attempts at practising fire drills were sadly hampered by lack of water. For the towns people who had sunk wells on their properties (water was usually found at thirty or forty feet and some of the wells, especially those near the Umguza, seemed unfathomable,) showed little interest in pumping out their previous water for amateur firemen to splash around.
Things would be better, Mainwaring assured his Board, when the Waterworks Company got their heavy equipment up from Kimberley and provided the town not only with piped water but with electricity too; there were encouraing signs this would not take long since Messrs Parnham and Meikle were already laying cables down the hill after anxious discussion by the Sanitary Board had scouted ‘The dangers of overhead wires’.
Other subjects besides the unpractised state of the Fire Brigade were causing concern in in the town.”
– Bulawayo: Historic Battleground of Rhodesia, Balkema, 1968.
He married his wife out in Bulawayo in August 1895, Mrs Mainwaring and their daughter Aileen Mainwaring are listed in the book “Rhodesia’s Pioneer Women, 1859-1896” by J.M. Lloyd and Constance Parry.
“Mrs R. Mainwaring, formerly Mrs Harrison.
She Married Captain (later Major) Reginald Mainwaring of the B.S.A. Company’s Forces, in August, 1895.
She wore at her wedding “a costume of electric blue crepon with sleeves of flowered silk, and a hat to match”. Mr P.B. Fletcher gave her away. The couple spent their honeymoon at “The Bembezi” – Bulawayo Chronicle, August 1895.
“Aileen Mainwaring 1896, Aileen Frederica Ellen Mainwaring was baptised on 31/10/96. She was the daughter of Major Reginald and Mrs “Murray” Mainwaring of Bulawayo.” Register of Baptisms, 1894, Parish of St. John, Bulawayo..”
During the Matabele Rebellion, the Column sent to Shangani on 11th May 1896 was the largest yet sent out from Bulawayo, despatched with the Object of opening the road to the Tchangani river, where it was hoped that the relief force from Salisbury under Colonel Beal, with which was Mr Cecil Rhodes, would be met, when the future movements of the combined columns would be determined according to circumstances.
The Composition of the force was as follows: Artillery, Four Officers and thirty-four men under Captain Biscoe; Grey’s Scouts, four officers and forty men under Captain Grey’ Africander Corps, three officers and fifty-nine men under Commandant Van Rensberg and Captain Van Niekers; A Troop (Gifford’s Horse) Two Officers and nineteen men; B Troop (Gifford’s Horse) Two officers and twenty men, the combined troops under Captain Fynn; F Troop, one officer and twenty men under Lieutenant H. Lamb; Four officers and 100 dismounted men under Captain Selous, consisting of detachments from H, C, D, K and L Troops, under Captain Mainwaring alongside Captain Reid and Lieutenants Holland and Hyden commanded 312 Europeans, supported by 150 of Colenbrander’s Boys under Captain Windley and 100 Friend Matabele under Chief Native Commissioner Taylor.
They were armed with one seven pounder, one 2.5 Gun, one Hotchkiss, one Nordenfeldt, one Maxim’ Fourteen Mule Waggons carrying provisions, kit and ammunition, and one ambulance waggon.
He also led a small patrol to look for a missing patrol when only a wounded horse returned instead of 3 troopers out on patrol during a turbulent time of patrols and skirmishes with the Matebele.
April 1896, report from a correspondent mentioned in various newspapers;
FIGHTING NEAR BULAWAYO
“A wounded horse came in here to-day. It was found to be that of one of three troopers engaged on patrol duty.
Captain Mainwaring and 20 mounted men were ordered to reconnoitre and to search for the missing men.
They were unable to find any trace of either patrol or rebels and it is feared that the three men have fallen into an ambush and been killed. Their names are Heinemen, Harry Montgomery, and Van Zyle.”
A patrol with the Bulawayo Police Force, was described in the book “Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia” written by esteemed British Explorer Frederick Courteney Selous DSO, the Rhodesian Special Forces unit “Selous Scouts” was named after him.
‘On our arrival in town we heard that the wire was down or had been cut by the natives between Bulawayo and Fig Tree Fort.
A patrol was therefore at once organised to proceed along the telegraph line, repair the break, and then go on to Fig Tree in order to act as an escort back to town for a coach now due containing a large and valuable consignment of rifles.
This patrol was under the command of Captain Mainwaring, and consisted of thirty-five men of his own troop of the Bulawayo Police Force, and twenty-two men of the Matabele Mounted Police under Inspector Southey.
Being Due at Mabukitwani on Thursday Evening, I Left town early on the morning of that day, and joining Captain Mainwaring travelled with him down the telegraph line.
We found the wire broken about three and a half miles from Bulawayo. One of the poles had been chopped down evidently with small-bladed native axes, whilst the wire itself had been cut and the insulator broken.
After the wire had been repaired we continued our journey, and reached the Khami river at about 2pm, where we remained till about seven o’clock.
Then, both horses and men being rested and refreshed, we saddled up and rode on to Mr. Dawe’s store, which is about half a mile from the old kraal of Mabukitwani. Here I heard that Lieutenant Grenfell had arrived with my troop from Matoli the same evening, and was encamped near the mule stable on the further side of the stream; so bidding good-bye to Captain Mainwaring, who decided to camp near the store, I at once rejoined my own men.
On the following morning Captain Mainwaring proceeded to Fig Tree, where he had not to wait long for the coach which he had come to meet, as he got back to my camp with it on Saturday evening.
There were 123 rifles on board from which the locks and pins had been taken, each man of the escort carrying three of each, in order that in the event of the coach being captured by an overwhelming force of Matabele, the rifles should be useless to them.
However, both coach and escort reached Bulawayo safely, no rebels having been met with.
When about four miles from town they discovered the bodies of two white men lying on the roadside about 150 yards from their waggon. They had evidently been surprised by the rebels, and had made a bolt for life towards the road.
The bodies had been terribly mutilated and hacked about, and seemed to have been lying where they were found for at least 48 hours. They were examined by Captain Mainwaring and Inspector Southey, as was also the waggon, but nothing was discovered by which to identify the murdered men except a branding iron. It was, however, subsequently ascertained that they were two Dutch transport riders named Potgieter and Fourie.
Strangely enough these are the only white men who have been murdered on the main road from Bulawayo to Mafeking during the present insurrection, and it is noteworthy that they were not travelling along the road, but had been living for some time in their wagon some little distance away from it.
I have no doubt that they were murdered by the party of rebels by whom the telegraph wire was cut on Wednesday, 22nd April. These men probably discovered their whereabouts the same evening, and were thus able to surprise and murder them during the night, or more probably at daylight no the following morning. The murderers were followers of Babian, one of the two envoys who visited England with Mr E.A. Maund in 1889. The second Envoy, Umsheti, is dead, or he, too, would be found in the ranks of the insurgents.”
Not long after returning from his travels in South Africa he died in Edinburgh on 10th April 1906