RACA Journal Shamus Rennie 60years - Page 5

William Rennie’s 1880 letter to a customer. colonels of existing yeomanry regiments in Britain to provide forces for deployment in South Africa, some at no cost to the British government, but all had been firmly refused. The yeomanry was a volunteer organisation that, by 1900, had been in existence for over 100 years. A decision was taken by the War Office on Wednesday, 13 December 1899, to allow a contingent of volunteer forces, based on the existing yeomanry regiments, to be deployed in South Africa. The birth of the Imperial Yeomanry was through a Royal Warrant, dated Sunday, 24 December 1899. The new Imperial Yeomanry was to be raised on a county basis, with the core of the men drawn from existing volunteer units, the remainder being recruited from individuals who met the criteria for admission. A company normally consisted of 120 men, but often their ranks swelled to much greater numbers: a battalion, including a machine-gun section, totalled 526 men. ‘Her Majesty’s Government have decided to raise for active service in South Africa a mounted infantry force, to be named ‘The Imperial Yeomanry’. The force will be recruited from the Yeomanry, but volunteers and civilians who possess the requisite qualifications will be specially enlisted in the Yeomanry for this purpose. The force will be organised in companies of one hundred and fifteen rank and file, one captain and four subalterns to each company, preferably Yeomanry officers. The term of enlistment for officers and men will be for one year, or not less than the period of the war. Officers and men will bring their own horses, clothing and saddlery. Arms, ammunition, camp equipment and transport will be provided by the government. The men to be dressed in Norfolk jackets, of woollen material of neutral colour, breeches and gaiters, lace boots, and felt hats. Strict uniformity of patterns will not be insisted upon. Pay to be at Cavalry rates, with a capitation grant for horses, clothing etc. Applications for enrolment should be addressed to the colonels commanding Yeomanry regiments, or to general officers commanding districts, to whom all instructions will be issued. Qualifications are: Candidates to be from twenty to thirty-five years of age, and of good character. Volunteers or civilian candidates must satisfy the Colonel of the regiment through which they enlist that they are good riders and marksmen, according to the Yeomanry standard.’ His attestation took place straightaway in Belfast, where he was living at the time. His residence was recorded as 32 Wellesley Avenue, Belfast. The street still exists with many of the original buildings still standing, including number 32. As his service papers record his next of kin as his mother, living at this address, and not his father, it is likely that his father had died by then. His profession was recorded as veterinary surgeon. He lied about his age: he was actually still only 19 years old at the time and this was obviously done so that he would meet the criteria to join the Imperial Yeomanry. He stated that he had been an apprentice for one year to a Mr James Marks Newry, no doubt a relative. On the same day of his attestation, he was medically examined and pronounced fit for service in South Africa. James is recorded as being six feet and a half-inch tall and weighing 153 pounds, with Copies of James Rennie’s service papers from 1900. www.shamusrennie.co.za • 0860 SHAMUS SHAMUS RENNIE • 60 YEARS • A THIRD GENERATION FAMILY BUSINESS • 3 The Royal Warrant read as follows: