|Identified of the reverse this photograph shows No 1015 Sergeant J. Alexander of the Edinburgh Company, Royal
Horse Artillery, Natal Field Force.
Tracking down this sergeant has been difficult probably because his unit (actually Royal Garrison Artillery and not Horse
Artillery as inscribed on the photo's reverse) was a militia company and as such his service records do not seem have to be
included with those of the regulars.
Alexander's militia attestation papers state that he was born at Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland in 1868. No information
regarding his family has come to light. He was a resident of Edinburgh, Scotland at the time of his enlistment and was
described as 5 feet, seven and a half inches tall with a fresh complexion and brown eyes and black hair. The Statement of
Services page of his militia papers is fragmentary but the following can be made out:
Attested Gunner: 6 March, 1888
Promoted Corporal: 21 May, 1888
Tried and Reduced to Gunner: 23 April, 1890
Re-engaged: 1 July, 1893
Promoted Corporal: 27 May, 1895
Attested with Militia Reserve: 11 July, 1896
Promoted Sergeant: 30 May, 1898
Joined Service Section for Service Abroad: 8 July, 1899
Embodied Sergeant: 2 December, 1901
Re-engaged Militia: 18 February, 1902
Re-engaged Sergeant: 3 March, 1906
Absent: 3 June, 1907
Struck off Strength: 24 June, 1907
As stated above No. 1015 Sergeant John Alexander was a member of the Service Company of the Edinburgh Royal Garrison
Artillery (Militia). According to the Queen's South Africa Medal Roll dated 3 September, 1903 Alexander was originally
entitled to the Queen's South Africa Medal with the clasp "South Africa 1901". A second roll dated 15 July, 1907 shows his
entitlement to the clasps for "Transvaal" and "Natal". That roll lists Alexander's medal as "not receivable". A third roll
dated 21 September, 1908 shows Alexander also being credited with the clasp "Orange Free State". This second roll was
amended with the "Orange Free State" being struck through and a note added stating "No clasp"that Alexander had
deserted on 4 June, 1907.
Alexander was not quite alone in disappearing since of the twenty men of the Service Coy, Edinburgh Royal Garrison
Artillery (Militia) listed on that page of the Medal Roll over half had in one way or another fallen by the wayside in the few
short years between the compiling of the first roll in 1903 and the issuance of the second in 1908 - No. 2268 Gunner William
Clark was also listed as a deserter and had his entitlement struck through. Another man, No.2613 Gunner John Cavanagh
was simply listed as "Not heard of for over two years." Eight men are listed as either "No reply" or "No known address".
No. 2704 Gunner Peter Mann had his entitlement struck through with the notation that he had been convicted of a felony.
While the Queen's South Africa Medal Rolls list Alexander as having deserted, his militia service papers simply show him as
absent in early June, 1907 and then being struck from strength later that month. It does not appear that he was ever heard
from again by his militia unit nor does there appear to have been any attempt to find him. For all appearances it looks as if
John Alexander simply quit the militia after almost 20 years of service including overseas during the Anglo-Boer War.
No further record has been found of him after the 24 June, 1907 date.
R. Murton - Photographer
Durban, Natal, South Africa