Personal info

  • Name: Joseph John FARMER
  • D.O.B: 5th May, 1855
  • D.O.A: 27th Feb, 1881
  • D.O.D: 30th Jun, 1930
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Provisional Lance Corporal, Army Hospital Corps
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
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Sources & Acknowledgements

Majuba Hill, Natal, South Africa 27 February 1881

27 February 1881

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The British government, which considered Sir George Colley’s advance too hasty, was prepared to offer the Boers almost any concession short of outright independence. President Brand of the Orange Free State called for talks and even Kruger was prepared to negotiate. On 21 February 1881 the British government offered to set up a Royal Commission to discuss a settlement if the Boers laid down their arms, but events in the field overtook the proposal. Realizing that the flat-topped Mount Majuba overlooked the Boer positions at Laing’s Nek, Colley set out just before midnight on 26 February 1881 with 550 officers and men from the 58th and 92nd Regiments, and the Naval Brigade. Before daybreak on Sunday 27 February 1881 it was occupied. Colley unfortunately failed to erect any defences and early that afternoon the Boers stormed Majuba driving the British from the summit. Two thirds of Colley’s force were killed, wounded or captured, Colley himself being among the dead. On 5 March 1881 an armistice was agreed and the war ended on 23 March 1881. By the Convention of Pretoria on 3 August 1881, modified by the Convention of London in 1884, the Transvaal effectively regained its independence, though Britain sought to control its relations with foreign states.


 For conspicuous bravery during the engagement with the Boers at the Majuba Mountain, on the 27th February, 1881, when he showed a spirit of self-abnegation and an example of cool courage which cannot be too highly commended. While the Boers closed with the British troops near the wells, Corporal Farmer held a white flag over the wounded, and when the arm holding the flag was shot through, he called out that he had “another.” He then raised the flag with the other arm, and continued to do so until that also was pierced with a bullet. 

The London Gazette of 17 May 1881, Numb. 24973, p. 2553

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