Captain Frederick Melchior Raphael, Fallen at Spion Kop

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Frederick Melchior Raphael was the son of George Charles Raphael[1.55] and Charlotte Hanne Melchior[1.56], and grandson of Lewis Raphael[1.57][47] and Rachel Mocatta[1.58]; he was born in a family of bankers and financiers but chose to have a military career. That ended with his life when he was only thirty years old, during the Boer war.

"Fear not death that is your doom; remember all that went before and that will follow you." - Ben Sira 41:5[250].

Fredrick was born in London, in 1870, he was well educated and joined the Rifle Brigade in 1889, and the British regular army in 1891, being assigned to the First Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment[48]. Commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1893, he was promoted to Captain in 1898. His regiment was mobilized to South Africa in November 1899, as the Boer war began, as a senior subaltern officer and acting captain with command over 130 men and a machine gun[46].

In January 24, 1900, he died in battle during General Sir Charles Warren's erred engagement at Spion Kop.

The soldiers sailed on a ship named Canada, departing from the UK on December 1, 1899 and arriving about twenty days later[48]; evidently inexperienced in the terrain they confronted, so different from what the soldiers had known in the British Isles, they had to take part on the Spion Kop battle as part of the Ladysmith relief efforts. Frederick died shortly after the mountain was initially taken by the British Army. During that part of the battle, losses had been severe and ultimately, the battle ended in a British defeat.

The British forces in South Africa were commanded at the time by Major General Sir Redvers Buller, who was actually nicknamed "Sir Reverse Buller" by his troops due to his many mistakes and some disastrous defeats that they suffered, such as in the battle of Colenso and Spion Kop. The topic is deeply covered by military historians, but despite that Sir Redvers Buller's reputation had been tainted by these defeats, it should be said that he was initially in charge of a regular force confronting an enemy that made very good use of unconventional warfare and guerrilla tactics in order to survive against the more powerful British forces. Hence, Buller had to adapt to these new circumstances and in the meantime, paid dearly.

About 350 men were killed, while 1000 were wounded, plus 300 Boer fighters that also became casualties of war due to the contradictory and uncoordinated orders of the British command.

His death, as well as the deaths of all those men in that battle, was a waste. As the British forces initially took the hill during the night and the subsequent morning fog evaded, they found themselves pinned down by fire from Boer positions in other peaks around them. The British command did nothing effective to secure the position neither guarantee the survival of its own men, officers and soldiers.

Commanders sent contradictory orders while their men were being pinned down by effective Boer fire; theey wanted to keep the hill by sending reinforcements, but at the same time considered a retreat. The whole exercise ended in a disaster. Trenches were dug, but they were too shallow and by the end of the day, they were completely filled with corpses. It was decided then to bury the fallen inside those same trenches. Memorials were later erected on top.

Winston Churchill participated in the battle, describing it in these words: "Corpses lay here and there. Many of the wounds were of a horrible nature. The splinters and fragments of the shells had torn and mutilated them. The shallow trenches were choked with dead and wounded." Gandhi also took part in the battle, working as a stretch-bearer.

Later, during WWI, H.R. Tolkien became also a member of the Lancashire Fusiliers. The unit fought in many different battles such as:

Prior to WWI: Dettingen, Minden, Egmont-op-Zee, Egypt, Maida, Vimiera, Corunna, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol, Lucknow, Khartoum, Relief of Ladysmith, South Africa 1899-1902

Great War (30 Battalions): Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914 '18, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1915 '17 '18, St. Julien, Bellewaarde, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916 '18, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Thiepval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916 '18, Arras 1917 '18, Scarpe 1917 '18, Arleux, Messines 1917, Pilckem, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Béthune, Scherpenberg, Amiens, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Épéhy, Canal du Nord, St. Quentin Canal, Courtrai, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Doiran 1917, Macedonia 1915-18, Helles, Landing at Helles, Krithia, Suvla, Landing at Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915, Rumani, Egypt 1915-17

Second World War: Defence of Escaut, St. Omer-La Bassée, Caen, North-West Europe 1940 '44, Medjez el Bab, Oued Zarga, North Africa 1942-43, Adrano, Sicily 1943, Termoli, Trigno, Sangro, Cassino II, Trasimene Line, Monte Ceco, Monte Spaduro, Senio, Argenta Gap, Italy 1943-45, Malta 1941-42, Rathedaung, Htizwe, Kohima, Naga Village, Chindits 1944, Burma 1943-45

The Raphael family name is one of the derivatives from Schoenberg; as the Sampayo – Belmonte family from Portugal went into Holland and changed its name into Schoenberg during the sixteenth century, one branch of the descendants of Bartholomew von Schoenberg retained the name, while some of his other sons began using the family names Joseph, Emanuel and Rapahel.

For centuries these names continued to be related by inter marriage and in general most people belonging to our large family were dedicated to finances. The case of Frederick Melchior Raphael was the exception rather than the rule. There are others named Raphael around in the world, unconnected to this family, but Frederick was directly related to the Montefiores. Bartholomew de Sampayo - Belmonte[1.60] and Ana de Lancastre[1.6] are the common ancestors that we share with the late Frederick, twelve generations ago. By the usual intermarriage found in this large family, there were more blood links developed over generations rather than just a common ancestry. The Montefiore family is related to the Rothschilds, Goldschmidts, Oppenheimers and Wertheimers, who are, in turn, related to the Schoenberg family name, and that's us.

British dead after the battle at Spion Kop. 24th Jan. 1900.
British dead after the battle at Spion Kop. 24th Jan. 1900, from Wikipedia, public domain[49].

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