|This photograph has been filed away for many simply because I had been unable to confirm the story that came with it when
purchased in 2000. According to the information that accompanied the sale the great-great grand daughter of this Highland
sergeant stated that his name was William Henry Jenkins of the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) and had been born in
England in the 1870s. He supposedly stood over 6 feet tall and had served at some point as a member of Queen Victoria’s
bodyguard. Additionally she stated that he had married his 2nd cousin Mary Jenkins and that the couple had two sons:
Stewart, born at Edinburgh Castle and James born at Sterling Castle. It was also said that the family moved to Canada
sometime around 1905.
Unfortunately I had not been able to confirm or disprove any of this story. I always take any oral history that may be attached
to a photograph (or any historical artifact for that matter) with a grain or two of salt not so much because I disbelieve the
integrity of the teller but simply because I know how jumbled family history can become after the passage of 100 years.
Recently I reopened the file on William Henry Jenkins and was able to confirm a greater part of the recollections of his great-
great grand daughter.
William Henry Jenkins was born at Hastings, Sussex on 8 March, 1868 the son of Frederick and Sarah Jenkins.
He attested for short service with the Royal Highlanders (The Black Watch) on 16 June, 1890. He was 21 years, 3 month old
at the time and was a stone mason. He was stated as standing 5 feet, 10 ½ inches tall. This was not the “over six feet” that his
great-great granddaughter recalled but still rather tall for the time period.
Jenkins’ Statement of Service is rather brief and to the point. Posted with the 2nd Battalion he was appointed Lance Corporal
in 1890 (the some details of his records are difficult make out) and promoted Corporal in March, 1892. Appointed lance
Sergeant on 24 October, 1895 and promoted to Sergeant on 18 December 1896. He was permitted to extend his service to 12
years on 4 May, 1897.
He was posted as Sergeant to the Depot, Royal Highlanders on 25 August, 1898 and extended his term of service once again
on 1 November, 1902 to complete 21 years with the colours.
Jenkins received a certificate of cooking from Aldershot on 13 September, 1891 as well as one other qualification certificate
at Aldershot the nature of which can not be made out due to the low quality of the document image.
On 4 December, 1902 Jenkins transferred to the Military Prison Staff Corps as No.1322 Sergeant William Henry Jenkins was
discharged at his own request after 18 years of service on 11 June, 1908.
Jenkins’ deployment history is equally short and to the point:
Home: 12 June, 1891 – 21 October, 1899
South Africa: 22 June, 1899 – 21 August, 1901
Home: 25 August, 1901 – 11 June, 1908
According to his service papers Jenkins was entitled to the Queen’s South Africa Medal with the single clasp “Cape Colony”.
The medal rolls for the Queen’s South Africa Medal dated 10 June, 1903 states that he was entitled to a pair of clasps” “Cape
Colony” and “South Africa – 1901”. This same roll mentioned Jenkins being invalided home. His medial history sheet states
that he was an attack of neuralgia that sent him home from South Africa.
His service records state that William Henry Jenkins married Miss Mary Hannah Jenkins in October, 1897. With their
surnames being that same it is quite possible that they were indeed cousins. Their two sons are also mentioned: Stewart
William, born at Edinburgh Castle on 31 August, 1902 and Frederick Norman on 25 August, 1907 (the location is unreadable
in the document).
The family arrived at Quebec, Canada on board the RMS Empress of Britain on 5 June, 1908 (his retirement date from the
army at stated in his service papers as 11 June, 1908 some six days after the family's arrival in Canada ans Jenkins must
have received permission to depart Britain before his formal retirement date.) They lived in Quebec for several years where
William took the time to join the (53rd) Sherbrooke Regiment. He served with that unit for a total of 3 years, 5 months. The
family moved on to British Columbia sometime before World War One where William once more sought out the local regiment
– this time the 30th British Columbia Horse – which he joined and in which he served 2 years, 11 months.
On 1 August, 1918 the now 49 year old William Henry Jenkins attested as No. 2706155 for the Canadian Over-Seas
Expeditionary Force at Vernon, British Columbia. Interestingly his gives his family’s address as the Internment Camp,
Vernon, British Columbia.
This mentioned camp was one of many set up throughout Canada during World War One to house enemy aliens. The camp at
Vernon held several thousand people of Ukrainian descent who were considered subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It
must be assumed that the Jenkins family were not internees but that William was employed in some fashion at the camp. His
attestation papers gives his profession at this time as a wood carver.
I have not found any record that specifically states as to or in what capacity Jenkins may have served during the war. Based
on a letter from the British Pensions Commission – Imperial Section dated 27 September, 1921 seems that he may deployed to
Europe with the CEF. It stated that: “…re-enlisted or commissioned service during the war of 1914-1919 with a force under
the British flag shall count for re-assessment of service pension.” This letter also gives Jenkins. This letter also sates that
Jenkins WWI re-enlistment took place on 1 July, 1915 and his final discharge date was 20 April, 1920.
William Henry Jenkins passed away at Naksup, British Columbia on 15 April, 1943.
Jenkins great-great grand daughter also related one other story regarding him. She said that had once been appointed to
serve as part of Queen Victoria's bodyguard. I found nothing in his service records to show he in served in such a capacity
while in England. Perhaps members of his battalion had performed guard duty for the Queen during her travels about Great
Britain and that event made it into the family memory as more than it actually was. Relating to this issue and offering another
possible answer I found a reference to the Sherbrooke Regiment (that Jenkins had been a member of) which provided bulk of
the troops to the 117th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War One. According to this source the battalion
was the first Imperial unit to provide bodyguard troops to the King at Buckingham Palace. Perhaps Jenkins was part of this
same battalion during the war and time and memory and exchanged Queen Victoria with her grandson King George V.
|Sergeant William Henry Jenkins of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Highlanders (The Black Watch) and his son Stewart taken
sometime prior to his discharge and the family's journey to Canada. This photograph came from a family album that last
belonged to Jenkins' great-great grand daughter.
Mounted Photograph (cut album page)
8 1/4 Inches x 5 3/4 Inches
Unknown British Location