William Francis Drummond Jervois

Shortly after he was commissioned, Lieutenant Jervois was posted to South Africa.

In 1842 he served as Brigade-Major in a British force under the command of Sir Harry Smith. This force marched against the newly formed Boer Republic of Natal and occupied Durban. The British dismantled the Boer Republic and three years later formally annexed Natal to the British Empire [4]. Jervois was still in South Africa when this annexation occurred.

In April of 1846 an expedition was mounted against the Gaika Kaffirs who were then under the leadership of Chief Sandilli [5]. Lieutenant Jervois took part in this expedition which lasted until October of 1847. During that time he produced military sketches of 2,000 square miles of Kaffirland (Kaffraria) and actually survey 1,100 square miles of the area [6]. For his service during the war, Jervois was awarded the South Africa 1934-1853 Medal [7]. This would be the only significant war service he would see during his long and illustrious military career.

Jervois returned to England after the war against the Gaika Kaffirs and was assigned to the London District. In September of 1847 he was assigned the job of designing the powder magazine at Fort Glamorgan in East London [8]. In addition to this work, he was also assigned the task of drawing some of the earliest maps of East London [9].

Following his promotion to 2nd Captain, Jervois was given command of 11th Company, Royal Engineers at Woolwich. On the 30th of June 1852 he and his company arrived at Alderney, the northernmost of the Channel Islands. There, on that 4.5 mile long, 3 square mile island in the Guernsey bailiwick, the 11th Company was employed on the construction of defensive works for the island.

Jervois left the Channel Islands in 1855 and was assigned as the Commander Royal Engineers (C.R.E.) for the London District. In the following year he was assigned to the War Office as Advisor to the Secretary of State for War, Lord Palmerston. His job at the War Office was to advise Lord Palmerston on the state of the fortifications of Portsmouth, Plymouth, Pembroke, Portland, Cork, The Thames and The Medway. While only 35 years of age, Major Jervois had apparently gained the reputation as an expert in fortifications. This reputation would guide his postings around the world for about the next 20 years.

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Author: Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis

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Keywords: William Jervois, Engineer, Fortifications, British, Biography


Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis

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