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QSA Belmont Wounded Graspan 1899

Q.S.A. bar Belmont, 3583 Pte T. Counsell, 1st Loyal North Lancs Regt, wounded in action at Enslin Battle of Graspan on 25th November 1899. With personal account from letter. Lancs Man.

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Origin: United Kingdom
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Q.S.A. Medal, bar Belmont, 3583 Private T. Counsell, 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, wounded in action at Enslin Battle of Graspan on 25th November 1899.


Officially impressed: “3583 Pte T. Counsell, 1st L.N. Lanc: Regt”


One of 19 men wounded, with 1 Killed in Action at the Battle of Graspan (Known as Enslin) early into the war.


Lancashire Daily Post, 1st February 1900, a letter sent home about the battle:




Private T. Counsell, 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, in a letter from Wynberg Hospital, dated January 9th, to his Brother and Sister, at Longridge, thus tells of the share the ‘Lancashire Lads’ took in the Battle of Graspan :-


I see by your letter that the people are interested in the movements of the Lancashire Lads, and well they might! I am proud to belong to such a corps, I cannot describe the battle, except that it was a perfect hail of shot and shell.


Then came the order to charge. The order was :- The Lancashire regiment will form the fighting line, assisted by the Yorkshire Light Infantry.


And didn’t the ‘Cauliflowers’ show them how to make a foe run? It was splendid sight. I was half way from the top of the hill when I got hit. Our casualties were heavy, but the enemy’s were three times at many.”


The painful experience is recounted in the local Lancashire Evening Post dated 19th July 1901:




Thomas Counsell, of Berry lane, Longridge, a Private in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, has recently had a bullet removed from a wound in his leg, which he received on November 23rd 1899, at the Battle of Graspan (dated should read 25th, 23rd was where he earned his Belmont Clasp).


Counsell believes he received the injury from 2 bullets from a Maxim. These entered by the same wound, one passing right through the knee, and the second lodging in the hollow fleshy part below.


After being treated at the Field Hospital at Graspan, he remained in the Wynberg Hospital for 5 months, and was unsuccessfully operated on five times.
At woolwich he was placed under the care of 3 Doctors, but the X Rays were not used, and, although sent home on furlough and attended by a local practitioner, his condition did not improve.
After a stay in Shorncliffe Hospital, he was discharged from the Army as unfit in December last, and since then he has had 2 attacks of inflammation of the knee joint.
Since being sent home a second time, however, a bullet has been ‘drawn’ from the wound by the application of poultices, and now Counsell is fortunately not only fre from pain, but he can make all the usual movements with the leg.”


Thomas Counsell, was born on 4th July 1874, and baptised on 26th July 1874 in Longridge, St Lawrence, Church of England in Lancashire.


He was the son of John a P Loom Weaver and Charlotte.


On 20th September 1891, a Thomas Counsell, born in Longridge, Preston, Lancashire, who had worked as a Navvy, signed up with the local North Lancashire Regiment of Militia, with service number 3436.


He stated however, that he was already 19 years and 2 months old, making his Birth date about July 1872.
This appears to be an effort for a 17 year old Thomas Counsell to get into the Army, he added 2 years to his age, but did not however seem to change his Birthday, obviously if he was later caught celebrating his Birthday it might be a bit awkward to explain.


He was discharged on 29th December 1891, after only 91 days, which appears to be him joining the Regular Army with the same regiment.


It is certainly the same person as his service records list his family as living at 83 West View in Longridge, Lancs.


Father: John, Mother: Charlotte, Brothers: Samuel, Robert, Edward & William. Sisters: Margaret, Annie and Ellen.


He had just been spotted on the 1891 Census, as a 17 year old Labourer on Water Works (AKA a Navvy), the family being massive, he had another 6 brothers and 3 daughters in the house, as well as their Uncle and Cousin all in the same household of 15 people.


By the time of the Boer War, he would have finished his Colours Service and been amongst those men of the Army Reserve who were called up for Emergency Wartime Service.


During the war, Pte Counsell arrived early in and would earn his only clasp to the medal in action at the Battle of Belmont on the 23rd November 1899, 2 days later, another battle followed the Battle of Graspan, where he received his serious wound.


This would end his war and as reported in the local newspapers be the beginning of a long and painful recovery.


1911 Census lists him, married to Margaret Alice Counsell (B 1869), with his family at 30 Temple Street in Nelson, Lancashire.