Lot Archive


№ 270


12 May 1993

Hammer Price:

An important D.C.M. group of five awarded for Colenso and Spion Kop to Captain J.H. Jeoffreys, Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry, who raised the South African Irish Regiment at the outbreak of the Great War

DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL, V.R. (Sgt. J.H. Jeffries, Thorneycroft's M.I.) officially impressed naming after which his name has been engraved neatly in the correct spelling; QUEEN'S SOUTH AFRICA 1899-1902, 5 clasps, Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal, Laing's Nek (7139 Sergt., Th'croft's M.I.) officially impressed naming; 1914-15 STAR (Capt., S.A. Irish Rgt.); BRITISH WAR AND VICTORY MEDALS (Capt.) some contact marks, otherwise very fine (5)

D.C.M., London Gazette, 19th April, 1901: - Colenso 15th December, 1899 and Spion Kop 24th April, 1901 (details London Gazette 8th February, 1901, p.940)

Captain J.H. Jeoffreys was born in County Cork in 1873 and emigrated to South Africa in 1896. He found employment in railway construction work, being at one time an assistant engineer. On 6th October, 1899 he applied to join the Imperial Light Horse, but his application was refused on the grounds that the regiment was fully up to strength. Not with standing, on 20th October, 1899 he attested for service with Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry, seeing action the very next day at Mooi River. On 15th December, 1899 he distinguished himself in the action at Colenso, was mentioned in despatches and thereafter was engaged as a scout to the column commanded by Major General the Earl of Dundonald. Jeoffreys subsequently participated in the engagements at Acton Holmes, Bastion Hill, Fairview, and in the storming and defence of Spion Kop. He was once again mentioned in despatches for the conspicuous gallantry which he displayed throughout the day at Spion Kop. He was the Chief Scout at Pieter's Hill and again complimented for his role in the operations which culminated in the flanking of Botha's Pass and the attack on Laing's Nek. According to his obituary notices he was responsible for rescuing the colours at Botha's Pass and personally thanked by the Earl of Dundonald. During 1900 he foiled a sabotage attempt to dynamite a mine. He was officially discharged from the Imperial Forces on 11th November, 1900, with the rank of Sergeant. At Spion Kop Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry led the advance up the Kopje, followed by the Lancashire Fusiliers, Royal Lancaster Regiment and 2 companies of the South Lancs. Regiment. By far the heaviest casualties were suffered by the company of Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry, who fought with such blind devotion on that blood-stained summit. They went up 194 strong and returned with only 72 unwounded men. An eye-witness account of Spion Kop by Captain Jeoffreys was published in 'Battles of the Boer War' by W. Baring Pemberton (B.T. Batsford, 1964). Captain Jeoffreys re-emerged in the Transvaal Volunteer Corps which was established after 1902. He was appointed to the commissioned rank of Lieutenant with effect from 1st April, 1905, and to Captain on 20th August 1909. In this rank he was posted to the Reserve of Officers on 1st July 1913.

South African Irish Regiment

Within five days of the outbreak of World War 1 Captain Jeoffreys had mustered together leading members of the Irish community in Johannesburg and proposed the formation of an Irish Brigade. 'this initiative was accepted and the south African Irish Regiment formed. Jeoffreys served as Company Commander, C Coy., in German South West Africa until transferred to the General Staff of 4 Brigade. He was released from the regiment on 23rd July, 1915 and obtained permission to travel to Europe at his own expense. He served with the Royal Scots Fusiliers until the battalion in which he was serving was virtually annihilated. He then served in the Middlesex Regiment until, seriously gassed, he was medically discharged. After the end of the war he was appointed to various posts in the South African public service and retired after 30 years service, holding the post of Collector of Customs and Excise, and Senior Examining Officer to the Union Government. He was a most active propagandist for the cause of ex-servicemen and wrote numerous articles for the press on the labour question. In 1930 he contested Turfontein as the Labour candidate. Captain Jeoffreys played a leading role in the resuscitation of the South African Irish Regiment in 1939. A contemporary newspaper carried the following report: ’Official sanction for the formation of the 1st South African Irish Regiment has been received from the office of the Adjutant-General, Defence Headquarters, Pretoria, following representations by Captain J.H. Jeoffreys, D.C.M., of Johannesburg, to General Sir Pierre van Ryneveld that Irishmen and South Africans of Irish descent be encouraged to form a special unit for service anywhere in Africa or overseas, according to the decision of the Union Government. Captain Jeoffreys died on 5th January, 1940, five months before his son, Marcus, enlisted with the 1st South African Irish Regiment (see lot 387)