Royal Irish Regiment, attached 5th Battalion Mounted Infantry,
Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for Gallantry at Tabaksberg, South Africa in January 1901,
From Blanchardstown, Dublin,
Edward Lovely was born in the Parish of Blanchardstown, near Dublin, in the summer of 1870. He worked as a labourer in the Ordnance Survey before enlisting into the Royal Irish Regiment at Clonmel on 24 January 1890, for a term of 12 years. He was 5ft 7, with brown eyes & brown hair. His next of kin was his brother John, who lived in Marlborough Street, Dublin.
Edward served at home until October 1890, when he was posted to the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment in India. During his time in India, Edward took part in the campaigns on the Northwest Frontier, receiving the Indian General Service Medal with clasps for the Punjab Frontier 1897/98 & Samana 1897. In total Edward served almost 7 1/2 years in India returning home in January 1898, before transferring to the Army Reserve.
With the outbreak of the Boer War in South Africa, Edward rejoined the colours in May 1899, arriving with the 1st Battalion at Cape Town in January 1900. Edward then transferred to the 5th Battalion as part of the Regiment’s Mounted Infantry.
When the South African War broke out it became apparent that more mounted troops were needed to cover the great distances. The infantry regiments were asked to provide men to train as mounted infantry.
The 5th Regiment saw action at, Paardeberg, 18th-27th Feb 1900 & at Bothaville, 6th Nov 1900 before arriving at Tabaksberg late in January 1901.
‘Towards the end of January, 1901, it was discovered that De Wet was secretly concentrating his burghers for another attempt to raid into Cape Colony. Many columns, including that in which the 5th M.I. were serving, were directed against him and caught up his rear-guard at the Tabaksberg, where on the 29th of January the Boers fought a delaying action, in the course of which a handful of the Royal Irish earned praise for their dash in “rushing” a kopje, and then for holding it against very heavy odds.’
It was here that Edward was recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). The Regimental history states that ‘‘An intelligent & most useful N.C.O. Showed great gallantry in rushing a Kopje at the fight at Tabaksberg in 1901.’
For the rest of the war the 5th Regiment MI were involved in escorting convoys and clearing farms. But there were also skirmishes to break the monotony. On 17th Oct 1901 a detachment of the RI company was surrounded by a large force of Boers, and after a fight in which the officer and 3 men were wounded, were compelled to surrender. This was an unfitting end to the RI’s part in the Mounted Infantry campaigning in South Africa. Those men of the 5th MI who survived to the end of the war were awarded the South Africa medal with clasps for the Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill and Wittebergen.
Edward was discharged on 5 January 1903, on termination of his limited period of engagement and received a gratuity of £20.