Queens South Africa Medal 1899-1902. Silver issue with 2 x clasps 'Cape Colony' & 'Orange Free State' (2470 Pte. D. Canavan, S. Wales Bord:)
Important: Medal and both clasps verified as entitled per the respective campaign medal roll of 2nd Battalion South Wales Borderers, that was compiled and signed 'In-the-Field' at Klerksdorp, South Africa, on, 10 October 1901 (ref WO 100/181), wherein under the remarks column the recipient has the entry 'Invalided'
Outside of his service in the British Army, Dennis Canavan - a 'Fighting Irish' brawler - led a most colourful - if hard - life in, Glamorgan, Wales, where in Dowlais & Merthyr Tydfil, he was a frequent criminal defaulter, and serial offender, in his adopted Welsh home!
Denis Canavan, son of Denis Canavan & Mary Anne Canavan (nee Murphy) was a native of Cork, Ireland, where he was born on 11 May 1868. By the time of the 1881 National Census for Wales, the family had relocated to Wales, where they are recorded as living at, 50 High Street, Merthyr Tydfil. In the period circa 1879-1888 & then circa 1901-1910 (i.e., either side of his 'Military Service), Denis Canavan, appears numerous times in the local (online) Welsh newspapers, with criminal reports, including but not limited to; theft, pickpocketing, brawling, drunkenness, assault, neglect of wife & family etc - for which he received punishments ranging from being on several occasions whipped with a birch rod (at age 11), to periods of 'Hard Labour' in Swansea Prison. There was even a notice posted in the local newspaper highlighting his 'absenteeism' from his local SWB Militia Battalion. Reference HO140 (Home Office) Calendar of Prisoners, for the year 1910, records that on 15 February 1910, Denis Canavan, who had 'prior' of having 14 x summary convictions for drunkenness, neglecting family etc, was on remand for 'Unlawfully & maliciously wounding Thomas Murphy, on the 14th February 1910, at Merthyr Tydfil - for which crime Denis and his accomplice, Patrick Kelly, were found guilty and were subsequently given 4 x months 'Hard Labour'
Denis Canavan - described as 17 years & 9 Months of age and by trade a 'Labourer' - joined the 3rd (Militia) Battalion South Wales Borderers at Brecon, Wales, on 4 August 1886. He was posted to serve in 'F' Company 3/SWB (Brecon Militia), in which unit he was given the regimental number '2016'. At enlistment, Denis lied - unsurprisingly, in light of his criminal history - about his place of birth (he claimed to have been born in Dowlais, Wales). His Militia papers are marked to show that he served in the Militia 04/08/1886 - 18/10/1888, and that his Militia Service was only terminated when he 'Joined Regular Army' 19 October 1888 (his Militia service papers are held and accessible at The National Archives). On leaving the 'Brecon Militia' (3rd Militia Bn SWB), Denis was assigned a new regimental number vis 2470, which from studies of regimental numbers is known to have been in the sequential group of numbers issued in 1888
Presumably Denis had joined the Regular Army on a 'Short Service Contract' comprising 7 x years 'With the Colours' and 5 x years with the Army Reserve, and hence whatever, the demerits of military service may (?) have been for Denis, he did subsequently serve overseas during the South African War, from which war he was returned 'Invalided' (WO refers) back to the United Kingdom sometime before 1901 (the 1901 National Census for England & Wales record him residing at employed as a 'Stoker')
As a flavour of the rich - albeit 'Dark' & brutal - social history that this medal offers researchers we are below providing a couple of quoted reference sources:
Quote (Merthyr Telegraph, and General Advertiser for the Iron Districts of South Wales, issue of, 11 February 1881):
JUVENILE POCKET PICKING AT DOWLAIS. Denis Canavan, Thomas Evan Griffiths, and Lemuel Griffiths, three very ragged, dirty-looking urchins, who had been previously convicted more than once of a similar offence, were brought up charged with stealing a purse containing a sum of 5s 4d from the person of Elizabeth Lewis, the wife of a timekeeper, residing at Gellifaelog Terrace Dowlais on the previous (Friday) morning. - It appeared that Mrs. Lewis visited a butcher's shop for the purpose of buying some meat, and that when about to pay for her purchase she missed her purse and money. Information having been given to Inspector Rodman the prisoners were arrested on suspicion and charged with theft. After a feint attempt at a denial they admitted having committed the offence, the actual perpetrator having been Lemuel Griffiths, the younger of the three. The other two admitted sharing the money between them and throwing the purse away in the works in a spot where the Inspector afterwards found it. Half-a- Crown of the money was also found, was also found by the Inspector under the sofa cushion at the house of the father of the two Griffithses. - The Bench ordered all three to be whipped, Canavan 10, Thomas Evan Griffiths 8, and Lemuel Griffiths 4 strokes with a birch rod
Quote (Merthyr Express, issue of, 25 August 1888)
AN ABSENTEE: Denis Canavan was charged with being an absentee from the Brecon Militia, and was remanded for a week to learn instructions from his regiment.
Reference the National Register of England & Wales (1939), Denis Canavan, who was employed as a 'Rail Planer' was residing with members of his family at, 43 Lower Union Street, Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire, Wales. Denis Canavan is recorded to have died in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, sometime during the first quarter of 1943