H.M.S. Raleigh 1890/93

Following the Matabele Rebellion of 1896/97 the 'Matabele Memorial' was erected at the junction of Main Street/Selborne Avenue, Bulawayo, the names of whites who died during the rebellion were inscribed on tabelets adorning the sides of the plinth, and on the top was a statue of a lion, the symbol of the old British South Africa company, but this lion was an unfortunate portrayal of a rather limp wristed lion, was derisively known as 'The Poodle Lion', and unfailingly daubed with paint by the high spirited people who would gather round it on New Year's Eve, much as they did at the Bradfield Traffic Circle in later years for thiose of you who know Bulawayo, not forgetting of course seeng the sun rise on New Year's Day from View of the World in the Matopos Hills.

Now to go back to the Battle of Bembesi 1st November 1893. A Gardner Gun was there, and it was the very same gun which was in the Bulawayo Laager in March 1896 at the start of the Rebellion, andby public demand was placed atop the plinth to replace the 'Poodle Lion.

The gun was restored in the 1970's, and I have full details of that, and its subsequent display at the Natural History Museum, Bulawayo, then Cranborne Barracks, home of the old Rhodesian Light Infantry. I do not know what became of it after that.

I have tracked the serial number of the gun as being 557 and established it almost certainly came from H.M.S Raleigh, a twenty two gun iron-built frigate of 4 700 tons built at Chatham, the fourth of the line to bear the name, which was Flagship at Simonstown, South Africa between 1890 and 1893 so was in the right place to have unshipped the Gardner gun in question.

And that is where the trail ends for me. I have been in touch with the Royal Armouries who confirm the gun would almost certainly have come from a RN source, but to trace a serial number of a particular gun to H.M.S.Raleigh will prove almost impossible. They do suggest however that it might be found in a batch or ordnance recorded in the Admiralty records of the National Archives, or through Navy museums or the like.

Can anybody please suggest how I might ask somebody to do a search at National Archives, or any suggestions as to where I might take the search to from here.

Many thanks.
Off topic, H, but this obituary was in the DT yesterday.

Lieutenant-General Peter Walls, who has died aged 83, was the last commander of Ian Smith's Rhodesian armed forces; his otherwise distinguished military career ended in humiliation when he became involved in the political turmoil that surrounded Robert Mugabe's accession to power in Zimbabwe in 1980.


As you were with the Rhodesian Military perhaps you knew him and have some spare dits??
Lt.Gen Peter Walls was a hell of a lot senior in rank to me, and I never got the chance to chat him up, but I was so sorry to read of his passing which was out over the Rhodesian Army Association network within a few hours, and I have no doubt over the BSAP Association and the Rhodsian Aior Force Association links. None of us like to see one of our own going.

R.I.P. General
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