3 June 2009

7162 Private Alexander Burns - 1st Royal Highlanders

Medals held:
Queen's South Africa Medal and three clasps (Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal), King's South Africa Medal and two clasps (1901, 1902), 1914 Star and bar, British War Medal, Victory Medal, King George VI Defence Medal.

This was the first group that I bought and there is still a lot of research to be done.

Alexander Burns's service record does not appear to have survived in the WO 363 and WO 364 series at the National Archives. His number indicates that he joined the Royal Highlanders in late 1898 or early 1899 and he may have been with the original draft when the 2nd Royal Highlanders embarked for South Africa from Tilbury Docks on 22nd October 1899. The battalion comprised 29 officers and 887 men and they sailed aboard the SS Orient. Alexander's Boer War medals are inscribed to 7162 Pte A Burns, 2nd Rl Highlanders.

When the First World War was declared, Alexander Burns should have completed his seven years with the Colours and five on the Reserve. It seems possible though that he either extended his service before war was declared or rejoined his old regiment and was allowed to retain his earlier number. Certainly, by 26th August 1914 he was in France albeit with the 1st Battalion Royal Highlanders rather than his old battalion. His medal card indicates his entitlement to the three WW1 medals noted above, as well as the clasp and roses. He was also entitled to a silver war badge (not in this collection) and was discharged from the army as no longer physically fit for war service, on 9th August 1915.

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