Queen’s South Africa, 4 bars, Defence of Kimberley, Relief of Mafeking, Orange Free State, Transvaal, King’s South Africa, 2 bars, SA 1901, SA 1902, Siege of Kimberley Star, 774 Private J.E. Harding, Cape Police.
A rare and interesting group to Joseph Ernest Harding, who served during the Defence of Kimberley with the Cape Police No. 3 Maxim Gun Detachment, which consisted of 8 men, during the siege the Cape Police manned 3 Maxim Guns & a 7 Pounder.
Joseph Ernest Harding, who goes by “Ernest” first joined the Cape Police aged 20 on 10th July 1899, a local who had been born in Kimberley and live there all his life, he spoke the languages Dutch, Sechuana & Griqua being able to also understand Basuto but not fluently.
The perfect recruit, he stood at 5 foot 9 inches, accustomed to travel on Horseback having spent been working as a Horse Trainer and Farmer, familiar with the use of Firearms and able to swim.
He was recommended for service by his father W. Harding who wrote:
“9th March 1899, Kimberley. This is to certify that the bearer of this Ernest Harding is an honest and sober lad. I can strongly recommmend him for any post of trust. He speaks Dutch, Khoemana (Griqua) and Sechuana. Yours Faithfully, W. Harding.”
His second recommendation was from Robert Brophy who wrote:
“I have known bearer Ernest Harding for a long time and have always found him to be a sober, honest and intelligent man. I can recommend him with faith for any position of trust, Yours Faithfull, Robt Brophy.”
Private Harding was one of approximately only 125 men present in the 50 year reunion of the Defence of Kimberley held on 15th February 1950, and is in the identified group photograph of the veterans taken on that day.
Only shortly after joining the Cape Police, and a member of Cape Police District 2, the war broke out and even sooner he was besieged in Kimberley during October 1899
After being relieved on 15th February 1900 he seems to have rode out with the flying column to relieve Mafeking, the siege was ended on 17th May 1900, when a flying column of 2,000 British soldiers, including many South African Volunteers from Kimberley (such as Harding who had been cooped up for months), under Command of Colonel Mahon of Lord Robert’s Army, relieved the town after fighting their way in, amongst the relieving force was Major Baden-Powell, brother of the Mafeking Garrison Commander.
The story of the Flying Column is recorded in “The Relief of Mafeking, How it was accomplished by Mahon’s Flying Column” by Filson Young.
With copy medal rolls confirming entitlement and copies of Cape Police attestation papers.
Provenance: City Coins February 1987, DNW June 2002, Liverpool Medals February 2003.