William Dearg’s Medals

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William Matheson (Uilleam Dearg) was born to 2 Geshader in 1877, the youngest son of William Ruadh.  As a young man he went off, presumably to join the Seaforths, though his family heard nothing of him until he turned up in a picture of a company in Egypt or the Sudan, about 1898. He served in the Boer War then settled in South Africa, worked as a prospector, joined up again in 1914 (despite severe bouts of malaria) and in 1940, at the age of 63, served finally in the South Africa First Reserve Brigade.

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William never returned to Lewis but his daughter Annie, now living in Australia, has visited (her nearest relations being the Mackays at Reef) and the Comann Eachdraidh is delighted to have received recently her father’s medals, which will be on display in the museum.   In a Great War chocolate tin (above right) are the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the British Empire Service League badge (South African Legion of Military Veterans); and in a WW2 chocolate tin, the War Medal (1939-45), the African Service Medal, his bar of ribbons and two cap badges from the SA First Reserve Brigade.  Many thanks to Annie and her daughter Felicity for their generous donation. We’re looking forward to gathering more detail about William’s adventurous life – and to identifying his two missing medals, which from the ribbons on the left end of the bar seem to be the Queen’s South Africa Medal (Boer War, 1899-1902) and the King’s South Africa Medal (for troops completing at least 18 months service, 1902.)

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