Order of St John of Jerusalem, Serving Brother Breast Badge, China 1900, bar Taku Forts, Queen’s South Africa, 2 bars, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, S. S. Maine Medal American Ladies Hospital Ship Fund 1899, Orderly Samuel Kingston, St Johns Ambulance Brigade on board American Hospital Ship S.S. Maine.
China Medal officially impressed: “117 Orderly S. Kingston St John Amb: Bde:” The Taku Forts bar is a contemporary Copy as civilians were disqualified from earning bars.
Queen’s South Africa officially impressed: “117 Ordly: S. Kingston, St John Amb: Bde:” The bars on this medal also contemporary copies.
With an original unnamed S.S. Maine Medal, commonly seen in base metal but this one a very rare silver award.
Samuel Kingston, was born during 1876, and Christened at Kingsthorpe, Northamptonshire, on 26th March 1876, the son of Henry and Mary Ann Kingston.
He was working as a Dairyman and was a volunteer with St John’s Ambulance Corps, when he signed up for possible overseas service in the upcoming war.
Following the wars he would return home and live out his life in Kingsthorpe, Northamptonshire as a Dairy Farmer, marrying Millicent Kingston and died in Brixworth, during 1950.
The beginning of his adventure, from the Northampton Mercury, 24th November 1899:
“NORTHAMPTONSHIRE AMBULANCE MEN FOR THE WAR
Of the volunteers from the Northampton Division of the St John Ambulance Brigade for Orderly Work on board Hospital Ship between England and the Cape, the following four gentlemen have been requested to proceed to St John’s Gate:-
….Mr S. Kingston, of Kingsthorpe, has also received instructions to prepare for foreign service.”
His Arrival in the Boer War, Northampton Mercury 4th May 1900, when the Chief Superintendent details where he has tasked his men:
“MOBILISATION OF THE ST JOHN AMBULANCE BRIGADE, CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT
To the committee of the Northampton Centre of the St John Ambulance Association, it will doubtless be of interest to the committee to hear of the above mobilisation, so far as the Northampton Corps is concerend, and I therefore beg to present to the members the following particulars……
…The next call was for two orderlies to served with the R.A.M.C., I sent Mr Burdett of the Headquarters and Kingsley Divisions, and Mr Kingston, of the Kingsthorpe Division.
The former sailed in the Orient, and is at De Aar, where, I regret to say, he has since fallen a victim to enteric fever, but has satisfactorily recovered and returned to duty. The latter sailed on the Kildomman Castle, and I have not heard from him since his arrival. I think however, he will be with one of the R.A.M.C. Field Hospitals on the Orange River.”
Samuel Kingston is shown on the China Medal roll as one of only 14 members of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade, and of this one of 2 Sergeants, along with 12 Privates who were “British Members of the Staff of the American Ladies Hospital Ship Maine during the time that the ship was attached to the China Expeditionary Force.”
However by the time of the medals issue, the ranks were struck out on the medal roll and as civilians they were all re-ranked as “Orderlies”.
Whilst he is not officially entitled to his Taku Forts bar the Hospital Ship Maine had indeed landed at Wei Hai Wei on 6th September 1900, and similarly landed at Taku on 27th September 1900 to provide aid.
One of only about 2 groups of this kind to appear on the market, the other pair to Private F.W. Green, who was amazingly also from Northampton and awarded both his medals for the same service in the exact same ceremonies, it is also mounted with the 2 bars for “Cape Colony” and “Orange Free State”.
The Maine, was at first the Atlantic Transport Line Steamer, Swansea, being renamed in 1899, it was then lent to the British Government to be used as a hospital ship in London by Messrs Fletcher and Son and Fearnall Ltd, the costs were met by the American Ladies Hospital Ship Fund who had struck the medallions to help with their fund raising.
Back in his home of Northampton, his QSA medal was handed to him personally by Earl Spencer K.G. in a large ceremony at Northampton Town Hall during January 1902.
A lengthy article in the Northampton Mercury on 10th January 1902 lists the 27 men who received their Queen’s South Africa Medal.
Lord Spencer in his stirring speech said:
“Lord Spencer wished they could have received their medals from Lord Roberts. They performed a more peaceful work than the soldiers, but an equally great and beneficial work for the country. They could not have done a more generous or more patriotic work than that of helping to relieve those who suffered from war; and as was said when they were welcomed home, they helped not only friends but gallant foes when necessary; they rescued the wounded from the fields of battle even at the risk of their lives, risking too much, as they had heard from the Distinguished General whose letter Lord Northampton also read. They succoured the sick in hospital, and aided the wounded. Not only did they perform this great work for those fighting their country’s battles, but they brought comfort to those who remained at home, to those whose dear ones were far away, relieving to a great extent, at any rate to some extent, the deep anxiety always felt for those undergoing the dangers of war.”
The article then adds:
“All thanked the ambulance men for what they had done, service, as his lordship had already said, equal to that of those who sacrificed their lives for their country. The country was grateful to all for it, and Northamptonshire, which he had the honour to represent there, was proud of the men who went out in such large numbers and in such generous and gallant spirit to help their fellow countrymen in war,
It would be the greatest possible pleasure that he would give the medals to men who had so nobly and so deservedly won them.
Lord Spencer then presented the medals, the recipients mounting the platform to receive them in the following order:-
……Private S. Kingston, Northampton….”
He gains another mention, in the Northampton Mercury on 11th January 1901, a lengthy article of a “Great Ambulance Demonstration in Northampton”
“….In all about 160 men will be present, and if the American Hospital Ship Maine, which is due to reach England today, arrives sufficiently early, 3 Northamptonshire Ambulance Men who have been on service with the Maine in Chinese waters will be included in the company. One of these men is Private Kingston, of Kingsthorpe, served his time in South Africa, and subsequently proceeded to China…..”
The 3 Northampton men who served on the Maine would indeed have their own little presentation during 1903, noted in the Northampton Mercury 31st July 1903:
“THE CHINA AMBULANCE MEDAL
3 Members of the local St John’s Ambulance Corps have been awarded the China Medal. The lucky men are:
117 Private S. Kingston, of Northampton;
130 Private Beeby. Kettering: and
1482 Private F. W. Green, Wellingborough.
These are the only 3 gentlemen in the whole county who have been honoured with this particular decoration, which will be handed to the recipients, we understand, by Captain W. Hughes, the Chief Superintendent at any time now.
An inspection of the medal reveals a slightly and deep-struck silver token, bearing her late Majesty Queen Victoria’s Effigy and a device of arms with an appropriate Latin scroll.
The ribbon and medal when they appear at parade in the future will be a rare distinction. The men in question, it is interesting to note, all served in the South African Campaign, and upon coming home took their discharge. When the China trouble arose, however, they were among those who volunteered. They were selected, and served on the special Hospital Ship, Maine.
They already have the South African Medal, so that the authorities in these cases leave no ground for a murmur as to grudging recognition of brave service eagerly undertaken.”