Images courtesy of Kelvin of the Bramford Local History Group
Born: 1871, Ipswich.
Baptised: 22nd October 1871, at St. Matthew’s Church, Ipswich.
Died: 5th February 1900; age: 28; KiA at Vaal Krantz (Vaalkrans), KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Residence: Church Green, Bramford, Suffolk.
Rank: Sergeant; Service Number: 3413.
Regiment: Durham Light Infantry, 1st Battalion.
Clasp Awarded: Relief of Ladysmith.
1881 Gipping Cottage, Bramford, Suffolk.
William was 9 years old and living with his parents & sisters.
Joseph Hardwick, 33, a Labourer – Manure Works, born Bramford.
Maria Hardwick (nee Munson), 30, born Bentley, Suffolk.
Mary Hardwick, 8, born Ipswich.
Grace Hardwick, 6, born Bramford.
Maria Hardwick, 2, born Bramford.
Martha Hardwick, 11 months, born Bramford.
In February 1896, William, formerly a sergeant with H.M. Army submitted an advert in the local Suffolk newspapers seeking a situation as a Caretaker, or any position of trust. He recorded that he was 25 years old and of good character.
On the 25th March 1896, at St. Mary’s Church, Great Blakenham, Suffolk, William married Eliza (Tot) Brown, born 1861, Bramford, Suffolk, youngest daughter of James & Susanna Elizabeth Brown.
(William on the right)
Undated letter home:
Dear Mother and Father
Just a few lines hoping you all are well. I am quite well and I wish Lizzie lots of happiness. We have a hard battle to fight in a day or two, we are face to face with our enemy and we mean to do our duty to a man and go through at this time. We can see the Boers from here and they are in a very strong position. Do not worry for me. I feel if I get through this it will be a good step towards the return to Old England – God bless you all and my poor wife. If I fall, try and comfort her, we must do our duty and fight like British soldiers as our Country has a lot at stake and we have an artful and deceitful enemy to cope with but beat them we must and will, we hear there are nearly 50,000 to fight here, they are stronger than us. The paper came in handy. I had none. We have never received anything from England yet only a small piece of pudding but we are not near the railway now so it is hard to get things to us but it is worst for the poor fellows in Ladysmith, Walter is sending one as well as he is alright and sends his best respect to you all – give my love to all the girls and tell them to accept this as a letter to all, I was pleased with yours today, the heat is 114 in the shade today.
Goodbye this time, from your affectionate son William Hardwick xxxxxxxxxx
Tell Joe to be a good boy.
William is also remembered on a plaque at St. Mary the Virgin Church, Bramford, Suffolk, and a dedication on his mother-in-law’s headstone at St. Mary’s Church, Great Blakenham, Suffolk.
The Battle of Vaal Krantz. 5th – 7th February 1900.
To attempt the Relief Ladysmith, General Buller was running out of options to move his troops and artillery across the Tugela River. Two battles at Colenso and Spion Kop had cost the British forces over 3,000 casualties and as yet no real bridgehead across the river. The Durham Light Infantry and The Rifle Brigade, east of Spion Kop attempted to take the heights and ridge of the Kopjes, after three days fighting with little or no artillery support it was recorded that, they had taken 330+ casualties. The attack was halted and a fourth successful advance across the river was made on the 14th February with the Relief of Ladysmith finally taking place on the 28th February 1900.
Image taken following a visit by Ralph Hardwick in 2019.