• Simon Biggs

HMS Doris Boer War Field Gun Memorial


Boer War memorial. Erected on 27th February 1904; by Harry Hems, inscribed with the words 'Ready-Aye-Ready'.

Erected as a memorial to the crew of HMS Doris who died fighting in South Africa alongside the army at the Battle of Paardeberg. This field gun was captured from the Boers and dragged the distance of 800 hundred miles back to their ship HMS Doris.

In 1901 HMS Doris returned to Devonport to an heroic welcome and the crew decided there should be a memorial to the sailors who died in the battle. The memorial was unveiled in 1904 by Admiral E.H. Seymour. It is said that the exploit was the origin of Royal Navy field gun trials.

Image: Royal Marines from HMS Doris in Cape Town. Captain Senior is marching on the right. Senior was killed in the storming of the Boer position by the Naval Brigade at the Battle of Graspan on 25th November 1899 in the Great Boer War

Extract from The Last Post - Roll of Officers who fell in South Africa 1899-1902 by Mildred G Dooner, published by Naval and Military Press Plumbe. -

Major John Hulke Plumbe, Royal Marine Light Infantry, was killed in action at Graspan, Nov. 25th, 1899. The third son of the late Dr. S. A. Plumbe, of Maidenhead, he was born in 1858, and educated at the Oxford Military College. He entered the Royal Marines in 1877, was promoted Capt. 1880, and major 1885, and is stated to have been a highly qualified officer, being a specialist in gunnery, fortification, torpedoes, and other subjects.

He served in the Royal Marine Batt. in Egypt in 1882, and was present at every action in which it was engaged from the occupation of Alexandria to the actions of Tel-el-Mahuta, Kassassin, Aug. 28th, Kassassin, Sept. 9th, and Tel-el-Kebir, where he was slightly wounded in the hand and hip. He received the medal with clasp and bronze star. In the battle of Graspan Major Plumbe was in command of the Royal Marines belonging to the Naval Brigade. In this action their losses amounted to forty-three per cent., due to the “unflinching and self-sacrificing heroism of the troops that led the assault.”

Three officers and 72 men of the Royal Marines were killed or wounded out of a total of 5 officers and 190 men. In the Naval Brigade Major Plumbe, Commander Etheiston, Captain Senior, and Midshipman Huddart were killed, and almost all the petty and non-commissioned officers were struck down.

Just before he was killed Major Plumbe said, “Rush for the hill, men,” and when mortally wounded his last words were, “Forward! never mind me.” A pet dog he took into action with him watched by his body for six hours, until the arrival of the ambulance. Major Plumbe was at first buried on the battlefield, but on the morning of Nov. 26th his body was moved, and he now lies close to Enslin Station beside Commander Etheiston and Capt. Senior.

Their graves are marked by a large cross. Major Plumbe’s servant, Private Doran, died of his wounds. The names of Major Plumbe and his servant are inscribed on the monument erected in the Cambridge enclosure, St. James’s Park, by the officers and men of the Royal Marine Artillery and Light Infantry, in memory of their comrades who fell in South Africa and China.

BOYLE, John, Private, Royal Marine Light Infantry

DORAN, Francis, Private, Royal Marine Light Infantry

HUDDART, Cymberline Alonso Edric, Midshipman, Royal Navy.

COLEMAN, Francis, Able Seaman

WISE, Matthew, Able Seaman

EDWARDS. Albert C, Able Seaman

HOOK, John E, Ordinary Seaman

LOCKETT, William, Storeman

PHILLIPS, W J, 2nd SBS WILLS, Lewis, 2nd (Dom)

Inscription: Ready-Aye-Ready Read More/ Web Link: Roll of Honour.com

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