Service Details
Given Name:
Service No:
Other Casualties of this Rank
South African Artillery
Other Casualties from this Regiment
1 A.A. Regt.
Other Casualties from this Unit
Date of Death:
Other Casualties on this Date
Date of Birth:
Cause of Death:
Died of dysentery
Son of William and Rosetta (nee James) Townsend. Born in Newport in 1896. At the age of 16, Townsend was working as a shipbroker's clerk and on 15 November 1913 he left his mother and caught a ship, the "Guildford Castle" from Southampton and disembarked at Delgoa Bay in Mozambique. He was listed as being 18 and his occupation as a stevedore. It was his intention to take up permanent residence in South Africa. In 1914 he was selected for the Natal rugby team at scrum half. He was just 19 years old. He served with the Natal Mounted Rifles in the 3rd Mounted Rifles in German South West Africa in 1914-1915 before volunteering to serve in France and Belgium with the South Africa Brigade in 1916. Corporal Townsend won a boxing medal issued by the Royal Navy and Army Boxing Association on 23 February 1918 whilst serving in France. While waiting to return to South Africa, young Townsend was selected to play for the South African Services side in the King's Cup of 1919. They began by defeating the Royal Air Force 12 - 0 at Twickenham on 8th March 1919, when he scored a try. By then he was known by his Army mates as "Taffy". The next match against Australia at Rodney Parade, Newport on 15th March 1919 was lost 5 - 8. On 22nd March he scored a try in the 31-0 win over Canada at Swansea and on the 29th March his side lost 5 - 14 to the New Zealand Services at Twickenham. The SA team then lost 12-21 to Mother Country (the British Army) at Twickenham, when again he was a try-scorer. On returning to South Africa, he was selected for the Natal side against the touring New Zealand Army Team on 27 August 1919 (L 3-17) and again on 16 September 1919 (L 4-11) when he dropped a goal. "Taffy" represented the Old Collegians RFC in Durban and his occupation was listed as a diamond digger. In 1921 he was selected for the first South African tour to Australia and New Zealand. He played in 11* of the 19 tour matches, including the first Test. (*Metropolitan Sydney, Wairarapa Bush, West Coast Buller, South Canterbury, Southland, Otago, NZ 1st Test, Auckland / North Auckland, Waikato, NZ Maoris and Nelson/ Marlborough/ Golden Bay/ Motueka.) He scored a late try that enabled the Springboks to beat the NZ Maori team 9-8. Taffy captained Natal in the drawn match against the British Lions touring side of 1924. He retired at the end of the 1927 season, having played 52 games for Natal. In WWII, he volunteered to serve in North Africa with the 1st Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the South African Artillery. He was captured at the fall of Tobruk in June1942. He was transported to Italy by ship and died of dysentery on 27 January 1943.
Other Casualties commemorated in Italy
Other Casualties commemorated in this Cemetery
Grave Reference:
IV. K. 34.

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