War Heroes Honoured


(from the Globe & Mail newspaper for Wednesday January 7th 1903.)


A Reception and Presentation at Guelph




King’s Sergeant John Wilkinson and Corporal Minchin

Each man presented with a purse of gold ─ a complimentary banquet




A public reception was held in the Guelph City Hall tonight, January 6th, by members of the 1st Brigade of  Field Artillery, their friends in Puslinch and in Guelph, to King’s Sergeant John Wilkinson and Corporal Minchin, two heroes of Hart’s River, South Africa, who were severely wounded in that stubborn engagement.


Before 8 o’clock, the hall was filled and many had to be seated in the old hall.  Lieut.-Col Nicoll and the heroes of the evening entered the hall, followed by a large number of gentlemen in military uniform, who took their seats on the platform amidst prolonged cheering.  Among those present were Lieut.-Cols. Acheson, Mutrie, MacDonald, Davidson, McCrae, Higinbotham, white, Major Merewether, Capt. And Adjt. Wideman, Capt. Limpert, Capt. Bruce, Capt. P. D. McLaren, Capt. A. T. Hobbs, Lieuts. Gilchrist, Knowles, Foster, Brigade Sergt. Young, Lieut. Wideman, Lieut. Zoar.


When Lieut.-Col Nicoll stood up, with Sergt. Wilkinson on his right and Corp. Minchin on his left, the building rang with cheers, while heartfelt sympathy went out to the maimed heroes, Wilkinson minus his right eye and arm, and Minchin, so maimed from a bullet wound in the leg that he had to support the maimed member on a chair.


Lieut.-Col Nicoll delivered an able and patriotic address.  It gave him great pleasure on behalf of himself and military men in general to see such a large turnout to express and recognize the services of two esteemed citizens, who to many of them were comrades at the home camp, and who recently had done soldiers’ duties on the field in South Africa.  They were two young men who had volunteered to assist in upholding the dignity of the British Empire.  They had not done that alone, but they had also brought before the world the real mettle of Canadians.  We had reason to be proud of them and the duty that they had performed.  They had the true British spirit and determination to “do or die” and the Canadians who fought bore their wounds unflinchingly and died before they would yield.  All credit to them.  The Colonel’s remarks were received with cheers.


Lieut.-Col. Davidson was called upon and read letters of regret from Police Magistrate Saunders, Capt. Clarke, Lieut.-Col. Peters, Col. Drury, Col. Cotton, Sir Frederick Borden, Lieut.-Col. Duff, and Capt. Bruce Carruthers.


Sergt. Broadfoot read an appreciative address.  Sergt. Robertson presented both men with well-filled purses of gold.


Sergeant Wilkinson did not think the English language could express his feelings at the great reception which he and his comrade had been tendered tonight, and the manifest kindness and interest which one and all seemed to take in them, especially himself, from the time he had left Guelph until the time he had returned.  He was always proud of the old County of Wellington, and had endeavoured to be no disgrace to it.  On the field of battle, he had only done a soldier’s duty.  He did not regret going to South Africa, nor the wounds that he had received.  If he was as good a man as he was thirteen months ago, he would return again.  He had been maimed for a good cause.  He then related the incidents of the fight at Hart’s River, where a handful of men were surrounded by 600 Boers.  He gave particular praise to Mrs. Manning, in Natal, for nursing the wounded.


Corporal Minchin made a brief reply, paying a high compliment to his comrade’s bravery.  He had just come from the hospital in Galt to attend this meeting.  He would have to return again tomorrow.  He did not like to be penned up, but he could not help it.


Complimentary and appropriate speeches then followed, by J. P. Downey, M.P.P., Lieut.-Col. White, Lieut.-Col. Acheson of the 29th, Chaplain Ridley, 20th, and Hugh Guthrie, M.P., after which the meeting broke up with cheers for the King, the heroes, and the Chairman.


After the meeting, the soldiers were entertained to a banquet at the Commercial Hotel.




Note:  Although Corporal Minchin’s first name was not mentioned in the report, it is likely that the Corporal is John K. Minchin, of Milton.



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