A short biography “Clinkers” and “Pump” Willis of Steinaecker’s Horse

WILLIS Bertram Churchill,
Trooper No. 1233:
Was born in Natal.

Steinaecker's Horse

Steinaecker’s Horse

He was a locomotive driver and bushveld elephant hunter. He worked on the Rand Mines and before the war was in partnership with his brother Percy in running a farm and a store.

During the Anglo-Boer War he was stationed at the Sabi Bridge (Skukuza) camp during 1901, and one of his duties was to keep the fire going for the pump which supplied the camp with water, hence his nickname “Clinkers”. Harry Wolhuter, in his book, related how Churchill and his brother, Percy (below), were always known as  “Pump” and  “Clinkers”.

Selati Line Locomotive

Selati Line Locomotive

Churchhill had no previous military experience or previous service. He enlisted in Steinaecker’s Horse at Komatipoort on 11 December 1900. Acting as train driver for the Corps, he operated the engine on the Selati Railway for the unit after the death of Tom Boyd.

He was discharged “time expired” at Komatipoort on 22 November 1902 after the cessation of hostilities. He qualified for the QSA medal with clasps Transvaal, SA 1901 & SA 1902, but just failed to qualify for the KSA as his total service was 17 months and 21 days.

Badge Imperial Light Horse

Badge Imperial Light Horse

1914 - 1915 Star Medal

1914 – 1915 Star Medal

In World War I he served as Private in the 2nd Imperial Light Horse and was discharged on 12 June 1916.

He earned the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and the bilingual Victory Medal for this service.

WILLIS  Percy Wood,
Corporal No. 1200:
Was Born 1876.

Steinaecker's Horse

Steinaecker’s Horse

He worked at Forges Reduction Works, Randburg, prior to the end of 1895. Because of his knowledge of the local geography he became involved in the last episode of the Jameson Raid.

After working on the Witwatersrand he and his brother went into partnership in a store and farm. They were the first white men to settle in the Bushbuckridge area of the eastern Transvaal and they were also involved with elephant hunting in Portuguese East Africa.

Percy had no previous military experience or service He enlisted in SH at PMB on 7 December 1900. While serving at the Sabie Bridge (Skukuza) camp of Steinaecker’s Horse during 1901 he was in charge of the pump which provided the camp with water from the Sabie river and was always known by the nickname “Pump”.

Queens South Africa Medal

Queens South Africa Medal

He was discharged “time expired” at Komatipoort on 22 November 1902 after the cessation of hostilities. He qualified for the QSA medal with clasps Transvaal, SA 1901, SA 1902.

After the Anglo-Boer war he went into business storekeeping at Bushbuckridge and Acornhoek with his brother “Clinkers” and also became an honorary Game Ranger/Warden for the Sabi Game Reserve and later the Kruger National Park.

Distinguished Conduct Medal

Distinguished Conduct Medal

When World War I broke out he joined the 2nd Imperial Light Horse and served in German South West Africa (Namibia) where he lost his right leg during a night attack at Gibeon, and was also decorated with the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry.

After his return he and his brother “Clinkers” operated a chain of sixteen stores in the Acornhoek area and also had extensive farming interests covering 18,000 morgen. “Pump” Willis also enjoyed an inter­national reputation as a wildlife photographer.

He retired in 1948, and married Mrs Ronnie Bester of Karino. They lived in Nelspruit where he died in 1959 at the age of 83.

Gleaned from “Steinaecker’s Horsemen” by Bill Woolmore

Trips ZA Logo

Trips ZA Logo

For exciting History, Scenic, Wildlife and other Special Interest tours throughout the Panorama, or Kruger Regions and beyond, call our Dream Merchants on
013 764 1177.

Email us at johnt@tripsza.com

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Biography, History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>