Queen’s South Africa Medal, bar Natal, 156465 A.B. W. Bassett. H.M.S. Philomel, officially engraved navy naming.
Only 230 Q.S.A. medals were issued named to HMS Philomel, of them 152 were to seamen who remained on the ship and did not earn any bars. 78 men earned bars to their medals, for various battles they took part in, with Bassett being one of only 30 to be sent to Zululand earning the Natal bar, which for these men was their full entitlement and they were the only ones from the ship to earn the Natal bar.
William Bassett was born on 27th December 1874 in Mary Tavy, Devon. A Farmer’s assistant, Gardener and Landscaper he was 15 when he joined the Royal Navy onboard HMS Impregnable as a Boy 2nd Class on 28th July 1890.
He saw service on a number of ships leading up to the Boer War, before joining the Crew of HMS Philomel as an A.B. from 1st December 1898, on board until 10th September 1900.
Official ships service in the war shown as :
HMS Widgeon between 11th September 1900 and 30th September 1900.
HMS Vivid I 1st October 1900 to 28th April 1901.
HMS Cambridge 29th April 1901 to 9th June 1901.
HMS Vivid I 10th June 1901 to 25th June 1901
HMS Black Prince 26th June 1901 to 1st November 1902.
During his time in the Boer War he saw service detached on land with the guns of the Naval Brigade, with the Zululand Field Force, only a small number of men from each ship were sent ashore with the accompanying the ship’s guns.
The Book, With the Naval Brigade in Natal, 1899-1900 by Lieut Burne records the Natal Advertiser on the men’s return from Zululand in October 1900:
“Among the first of the ‘handy men’ who with their 4”7 guns, went to the front, were those of HM Ships Philomel and Tartar. Though in many of the reports HMS Terrible’s men got the credit of the work done, the duties were equally shared by the two other contingents from the cruisers.
On October 19th , 23 men of the Tartar left Durban, and on the 11th November, 33 men and 2 officers of the Philomel were entrained to Chieveley. These men went forward to the relief of Ladysmith, and had to face many hardships and a stiff fight. Today the last of them returned to the front. Out of the 29 men of HMS Tartar that went forward, one 18 returned; and out of the 33 men and 2 officers of HMS Philomel, 23 men and 2 officers came down.”