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Lieut-Col F S Tatham leaves SA Defence Force

Article in Natal Witness, Aug 1925


A recent Union Defence Force General Order intimates that Lieut.-Col. Frederick Spence Tatham, D.S.O., V.D., of the Reserve of Officers (Field Artillery Branch), having reached the age limit on April 15 last, has been placed on the retired military list.

Lieut.-Col. Tatham served first as a trooper in Willoughby's Horse (Irregular Mounted Corps) in the Basuto War (1880-1881) at the age of 16 years.

He was then promoted sergeant and, meeting with an accident in the field, resulting in a broken leg, was invalided out in June, 1881. His service was in Pondomisiland and Basutoland, for which he received a medal with clasp.

In December, 1881, Lieut.-Col. Tatham joined the Natal Carbineers as a trooper and was promoted sergeant in 1885, and to commissioned rank in 1887. He raised the Ladysmith troop of Natal Carbineers in 1887, which he commanded until 1889. Further promotion to captaincy came in 1893.

Having served on Sir George White's staff during the Siege of Ladysmith and being mentioned in despatches, after the relief Lieut.-Col. Tatham served with the Natal Cavalry Brigade as Brigade Major under General Sir J. G. Dartnell until the disbandment of the Brigade in October, 1900.

He then served in the Orange Free State as Chief Intelligence Officer to General Locke-Elliott's Cavalry Division, and was again mentioned in despatches and was awarded a medal with six bars.

At the close of the Boer War he raised and commanded a Battery of the Natal Field Artillery, now known as the 7th Citizen Battery, which was commanded by his son, Capt. Tyrone Tatham, during operations in German South-West Africa (1914-1915).

Lieut.-Col. Tatham was promoted to his present rank in the Natal Defence Force in 1903, and joined the Reserve of Officers, Natal Defence Force, in 1905.

On the outbreak of the European War and De Wet's rebellion he was Chief Intelligence Officer in Natal under Colonel Sir George Leuchars, and in 1915 proceeded to England on the invitation of General Sir Ian Hamilton, commanding in Gallipoli, to join his staff. Evacuation having been decided upon in the interval, Lieut.-Col. Tatham was sent to Egypt, and commanded a post outside of Alexandria from December, 1915, to May, 1916.

He was then appointed to the staff of Lieut.-General Sir Alex. Godley, commanding the 2nd Anzac Corps, and proceeded with that Corps to France and served there and in Flanders until February, 1918, and relinquished to take up an appointment to the Supreme Court Bench, which he still occupies.

Lieut.-Col. Tatham was present at the battles of the Somme, Messines, and the third battle of Ypres. He was twice mentioned in despatches and awarded the D.S.O. The mentions in despatches were for "distinguished and gallant conduct in the field."

Two sons, Lieut. Errol Victor Tatham (2nd South African Infantry), who fell at Delville Wood-on July 18, 1916, and Sub-Lieut. William Inglis Tatham, R.N., who fell at sea in the Submarine H.3, on July 15, 1916, were killed in the War. The late Lieut. W. I. Tatham, when he fell at the age of 19 years, was the youngest second-in-command in the British Navy; and the late Lieut. E. V. Tatham was posthumously mentioned in despatches for "gallant and distinguished conduct in the field."

Lieut.-Col. Tatham, who holds the honorary rank of Major in the British Army, was, on his relinquishment of service in Europe, placed on the Reserve of Officers of the Union Defence Force.

He is the holder of the following medals:- Distinguished Service Order; Basuto War; Boer War, with six clasps; King Edward's Medal for Boer War; 1915 Star; Great War Medal; Victory Medal; Auxiliary Forces Officers Decoration ; Long Service Medal.

[Reprinted from the Natal Witness, Aug 1925; reproduced in Curtis, p. 40]

Owner of originalNatal Witness
DateAug 1925
Linked toFrederick Spence Tatham

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