James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Nigeria & the Mounted Infantry

During his war service Gethin was awarded the Queen's medal with 3 clasps and the King’s medal with 2 clasps (King Edward succeeded Queen Victoria in 1901). Having missed the heavy fighting of 1899 and the relief of Ladysmith, the 2nd Battalion’s losses in this conflict were comparatively light. It remained in South Africa, at Klerksdorp until October 1902 then at Bloemfontein for nearly eighteen months, where the men were reunited with some of the heavy baggage they had had to leave behind in England. After a month’s manoeuvres in Kroonstad in the autumn of 1903, the men were occupied improving the hutted camp at Tempe in which they were quartered. In May 1904 they entrained for Capetown and boarded ship on 20 May, arriving at Southampton on 9 June. They were then quartered in huts at Tidworth until December.

From 31 December 1904 until 16 March 1910 Gethin served with the Mounted Infantry of the West African Frontier Force in North Nigeria. He left Liverpool aboard SS Sobo on 31 December 1904 bound for Forcados, Nigeria (map). Some of his voyages to and from UK included in April 1906 together with other officers to UK aboard SS Mendi, sailing back aboard SS Nigeria in August, aboard the Tarquah to Forcados in April 1908 and from Forcados in November 1909. His duties were mainly in Kano (the Emirate of Kano in Kano State, capital Kano city) in northern Nigeria (map). Its people intended to oppose British rule when, at the turn of the century, the British appointed the first High Commissioner of the Protectorate of Nigeria. The British invaded and colonised Kano in 1903, closing its slave market. (see the native viewpoint). It was a difficult time and the newly formed MI was involved in suppressing unrest on several occasions. Towards the end of 1905, once the native people had been disarmed, the MI headquarters moved to the city of Kano. In 1907 the colonial police force was withdrawn to leave the native rulers to maintain law and order using their paramilitary gendarmes or dogarai. This led to more civil unrest. In April 1907 fighting broke out between two factions at Dan Zabuwa, west of the capital city of Kano. Gethin led sixty men of the MI, marching to the scene. In the event, the protagonists stopped fighting when they learned the MI was on its way but several arrests were made. The MI was also required to control agitation when a new tax system was imposed and some natives refused to pay. Gethin and his men were sent to round up the ringleaders and to patrol the areas of unrest. There were no really serious incidents, mainly factional brawls, minor protests though there was some criminal activity; parcel post was a regular target.