The extremely rare Great War Jubaland 1917-1918 operations group awarded to Captain C.B. McMullin, 5th Battalion, King’s African Rifles, sometime South African Infantry, and formerly a Lieutenant in the 3rd Militia Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who was one of only a handful of European Officer’s to see service in the Jubaland Expedition of 1917 to 1918, as part of the force under Lieutenant Colonel W.E.H. Barrett, in the military operations against the Northern Aulihan tribe between 23rd July 1917 and the 24th March 1918, which occurred due to the murder of a Lieutenant Elliott and men of the Jubaland Constabulary at the Serenli Post back in 1916.
Group of 3: British War Medal and Victory Medal; (CAPT. C.B. Mc MULLIN.); Africa General Service Medal 1899-1956, GVR bust, 1 Clasp: Jubaland 1917-18; (CAPT: C.B. Mc. MULLIN. 5/K.A.R.)
Condition: last with very slight edge bruise at 5 o’clock, overall Nearly Extremely Fine.
Together with a related private prize medal of Kenya Coffee Estate interest, as issued by the firm ‘R.A. & H.S. of K’, a coffee business in Kenya, and issued at Nairobi in 1931, this with the reverse engaged ‘Roasted Coffee Beans’. Silver, and housed in its fitted presentation case.
Charles Beatson McMullin, whose was also known by his christian name as both Charlie and Charley, was born on 14th November 1865 in Mussoorie, Bengal, India, the eldest son of Charles Noble McMullin, a late Captain in the 73rd Regiment of the Bengal Army, and his wife, Marian Jane Beatson, who had married at Meerut back on 7th November 1864. His uncle was General John Robert McMullin, Indian Staff Corps. He was baptised under the christian name of Charlie on 10th May 1866 at Mussorie. Shortly after the death of his father in March 1871, he is shown as at school in Swindon, Wiltshire, and by 1881 was living in Siston, Gloucestershire, and still at school.
McMullin was commissioned into the Militia as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Militia Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, on 25th July 1883, and by 1891 is shown as living on private means and sharing a house with his mother at Henbury, near Bristol, Gloucestershire. He was at the time claiming benefits from an India Pension which was paid due to the death of his father. It is possible that as of 1896 he was involved in Amateur Boxing, as there is an entry in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 13th April 1896 in which it is recorded that a ‘C.B. McMullin’ of Fernhill was beaten by an F.G. Parkes of Stanhope Boxing Club in the Middleweights competition.
It is unclear what McMullin got up to in the years leading up to the Great War, but he clearly went out to South Africa, as he then enlisted into the South African Infantry, before being commissioned into the 4th Battalion, King’s African Rifles, and then saw service as a Captain with the 5th Battalion, King’s African Rifles, and was one of only a small number of European’s to take part in the Jubaland Expedition of 1917 to 1918, as part of the force under Lieutenant Colonel W.E.H. Barrett, K.A.R., in the military operations against the Northern Aulihan tribe west of the Juba River and north or east of a line Waregta-Lak / Abaleni-Lorian / Swamp-Eli / Wak-Dolo, between 23rd July 1917 and the 24th March 1918.
During the Great War, with the withdrawal of most of the regular troops from Jubaland, there was much tribal unrest. An armed constabulary, mainly mounted on camels, was formed to keep the peace, but the Aulyehan and Marehan tribes continued to carry out raid and counter-raid. In 1916 Abdurraham Mursaal, the leader of the Aulyehan, had become so arrogant that he refused the arbitration on a dispute by Lieutenant Elliott, the officer commanding the Constabulary at Serenli. Finally, when Abdurraham was treated with arrest if he did not pay blood money, he collected a force of 1500 tribesmen from the Hellished area, and attacked Elliott’s camp.
He had previously tricked Elliott into believing that trouble would occur if the Constabulary carried their rifles outside the boma when off duty at night. Accordingly, most of the police force’s rifles were kept locked in the guardroom and when the attack came, many of the police were unarmed. Elliott and 30 of his police askaris killed, 7 were wounded and 3 deserted. 50 civilians were also murdered ands a machine gun, 50 rifles and 12,000 or so rounds of small arms ammunition captured. As there were no troops available. nothing could be done to avenge this outrage for a year.
In August 1917 Lieutenant Colonel W.E.H. Barrett. commanding the 5th King’s African Rifles, left Gobwen by river steamer for Northern Jubaland to re-establish pax Britannica in the area west of the Juba River. Our allies, the Italians, assisted operations by preventing the tribesmen crossing the Juba River into their territory. The Serenli post was re-occupied, the resistance of the Aulyehan overcome, and Captain O. Martin was left in command.
By then, command of the troops in Jubaland had devolved on Major E.G.M. Porcelli, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, and he ordered Martin to drive the enemy south away from their water supplies, towards another force advancing from Yonte, with the object of capturing those responsible for the attack on Elliott’s camp. The Marehan tribesmen were co-operating with the Administration against their old rivals and in December a small party consisting of 15 mounted infantry, 15 askaris, 350 Marehan riflemen, and 450 spearmen set off for Haras where 2,000 camels were captured. The Aulyehan immediately counter-attacked, the Marehan tribesmen ran away and all but 160 of the camels were recaptured.
When the wells at Hagagabli dried up the Aulyehan had to return to the Juba River to obtain water and there they were attacked and defeated. Eventually Abdurrahan’s camp was overrun, but he escaped, though many of Elliott’s effects were recaptured together with 1,233 camels and 3,000 goats. These were slaughtered and a further 600 camels were captured at Hafanli. Thereafter patrols caught most of the chiefs. Terms were imposed, fines levied, and 5,000 camels brought in, together with 450 large bore rifles including the rifles and ammunition taken at Serenli. Eight of the men responsible for Elliott’s murder, including Gabodi Ali, Chief of the Rer Afgab, were hanged, whilst Abdurrhan took refuge in Ethiopia. In July 1925, the districts of Juba River and Kismayu, 33,000 square miles of territory, were ceded to Italy and became part of Italian Somaliland.
In total there were 925 awards of the clasp for Jubaland 1917-18 to the Africa General Service Medal, 657 going to men of the 5th Battalion, King’s African Rifles, though only a very small number would have been issued to European officers. Probably no more that 20.
McMullin is known to have gone on to work as an Estate Manager for a Coffee Company in Kenya from the 1920’s onwards.