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A new addition to a former Indian Army sepoy who was unfortunately captured in Singapore after hard fighting in the Malayan Campaign.  This is a Calcutta Mint issue IGS with the clasp NW Frontier that was minted after the war.

A group of five to 14434 Sepoy Mohd Sadiq, 2/12th Frontier Force Regiment

1936 India General Service Medal (Clasp - North West Frontier 1937-39) named to 14434 Sep. Mohd. Sadiq, 2-12 F.F.R. 
1939-45 Star unnamed as issued 
Pacific Star unnamed as issued 
War Medal 1939-45 unnamed as issued 
Pakistan Independence Medal 1947 named to 3442323 PA/NK Mohd Sadiq 12 F.F.R. 

The 2/12th F.F.R. was part of the Bannu Brigade and was sent to Malaya in 1941 as part of the 22nd Indian Brigade. It fought a successful but costly rearguard action on the east coast of Malaya and surrendered when Singapore fell on 15/2/42. The C.O., Lt-Col. A.E. Cumming*, received the Victoria Cross for bravery at Kuantan on 3/1/42 when his battalion held out against a strong Japanese attack, allowing the rest of the Brigade to withdraw.

*For more information on Brig. A.E. Cumming see, http://www.vconline.org.uk/arthur-e-cumming-vc/4586316447

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Another Boer War acquisition to a sergeant Cyril Reuben Twigden who was captured twice; the first time on 12 February 1901 at Klip River and the second time on 31 March 1901 at Boschbult. 

 

QSA: CC, OFS, TR, SA01 - 5675 Serjt. C. Twigden, Lanc Fus. (C 28th MI)

       Dehli Durbar 1911 – unnamed as issued

 

Cyril Reuben Twigden 

 

Twigden

C

5675

Sergeant

28th Mounted Infantry
Source: QSA roll

Twigden

C

5675

Sergeant

Prisoner. Boschbult, 31 March 1902
1st Battalion. 28 Ml. Released
Source: South African Field Force Casualty Roll

Twigden

C R

5675

Sergeant

Prisoner. Klip River, 12 February 1902
1st Battalion. 28 Ml
Source: South African Field Force Casualty Roll

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle of Boschbult farm

Another important battle for the Canadians was the Battle of Boschbult farm — also known as the Battle of Harts. It took place on the 31st of March 1902 as the war was drawing to a close.

The British, along with 21 Canadian riflemen, found themselves facing a surprise attack while out on patrol in the Transvaal area.

The British were outnumbered. They tried to defend themselves from their positions around the farm buildings. The battle was intense, and they eventually surrendered when they had used all of their ammunition.

A total of 13 Canadians was killed and 40 wounded at the Battle of Boschbult, which was one of the fiercest battles on the Boer War.

Hart's River (Boschbult)

31 March 1902

By late March 1902, the character of the war had changed dramatically. The British had sectioned off large portions of the veldt with long lengths of barbed wire strung along railway lines, connected by as many as 8000 specially-built blockhouses. More than 23,656 square kilometers of the Transvaal and 27,358 square kilometers of the Orange Free State had been thus enclosed. Some 50,000 troops manned these lines, while another 80,000, all mounted, pursued the Boers, attempting to trap them against the blockhouse lines. There were, however, a number of gaps in the network of blockhouses. One of these was the desert-like western Transvaal, an area half the size of New Brunswick.

The 900-strong 2nd Regiment, Canadian Mounted had arrived in the region in mid-March 1902, and already had taken part in a major offensive involving 16,000 troops. The operation drove 2500 Boers into the desolate far western reaches of the Transvaal. The British were soon on their trail again. Early on the morning of 3 March, a column that included the 2nd Regiment embarked on a 65-kilometre search for Boers along the bed of the practically dry Brak Spruit, which ran off the much larger Harts River. By mid-morning, the scouts had struck a fresh trail, apparently made by a small number of Boers.

Sensing an easy victory, the column went off in pursuit, leaving the 2nd Regiment to follow, escorting the slow-moving baggage train. Prospects seemed good, but the Boers, in fact, outnumbered the British force, and had the advantage of terrain. The British commander decided to set up a defensive position around a farm called Boschbult. By the time the Canadians arrived with the baggage train, the Boers were beginning to push back the British defenses.

All during the afternoon the Boers shelled the camp with artillery, while their riflemen on the surrounding ridges poured down a steady fire. They also made a series of mounted charges during one of which a party of 21 Canadians, under Lieutenant Bruce Carruthers, was cut off by a vastly superior force. Rather than surrender or run, the men fought until their ammunition was exhausted and their position was overrun. 18 of the 22 were killed or wounded. At 5:00 p.m. the Boers suddenly broke off the engagement and withdrew.

The battle was a British defeat. Out of a total force of 1800 men, the British lost 33 killed, 126 wounded, and over 70 missing. Canadian casualties were 13 killed and 40 wounded. With the exception of the first engagement at Paardeberg on 18 February 1900, Harts River was the bloodiest day of the war for Canada.

 

London Gazette 13 July 1918  (8272)

R. Fus. – Clr. Sjt. Instr. (acting Sjt.-Maj.)

Cyril Reuben Twigden to be 2nd Lt., and

To be sedc. For emplt. As Adjt., Ind. Vols.

18th May 1918.

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QSA with Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg. Driefontein to: 2344 Pte. W. Speck, Glouc Regt

taken PoW 25 November 1900 at Dewetsdorp.  Entitled to the SA1901 clasp.

Walter Speck an 18-year-old laborer from Gloucester joined the Gloucester Regiment at Bristol in 1888, having previously served in the 1st Gloucester Royal Engineer Volunteers, He served in South Africa from January 1900 and was taken PoW at Dewetsdorp on the 25th of November 1900.  He left South Africa in June 1901 and was discharged from the army in August 1901 after 12 years’ service

 

 

Speck

W

2344

Private

Prisoner. Dewetsdorp, 23 November 1900
2nd Battalion. Released 5 December
Source: South African Field Force Casualty Roll



In November, three companies of the battalion were part of a garrison at Dewetsdorp, which came under siege on the 17th. The garrison were short of water, which had to be carried in each night by volunteers. "November 23 was the hottest day of the siege. The men's tongues began to swell from thirst, and their situation was pitiable, as the enemy's fire was coming from every direction. Major Massey decided that it was impossible to continue the struggle and at half-past 5 the white flag was hoisted. De Wet congratulated Major Massey on the plucky defence made by the garrison and Steyn said that the losses of Boers in killed were greater than those of the British in wounded. The Boers had lost their best men at Dewetsdorp and would never again attempt to take a fortified post." (The Times). In his history of the war Conan Doyle wrote: "The thirst in the sultry trenches was terrible, but the garrison still, with black lips and parched tongues, held on to their lines." Speck is confirmed among the prisoners. The prisoners, except officers, were released 5th December.
 

2nd Battalion

 

In the summer of 1899, the 2nd Battalion was stationed at Aldershot and was commanded by Lt Col Lindsell. They sailed on the Cymric on 1st January 1900, and arrived at Cape Town on the 21st. Along with the 2nd East Kent Regiment, 1st West Riding Regiment, and 1st Oxford Light Infantry, they formed the 13th Brigade under Brigadier General C E Knox, and part of the VIth Division under Lieutenant General Kelly-Kenny. (See notes under 2nd East Kent)

The whole division did splendid work in the advance from Modder River to Bloemfontein. At Klip Kraal the East Kent, Gloucesters, and Oxford Light Infantry had sharp fighting with Cronje's rear-guard. On the 18th at Paardeberg the Gloucesters were not so seriously engaged as many other battalions, but between the 18th and 28th they did good work in seizing positions of importance, and driving back the Boer reinforcements. Their losses were about 6 killed and 20 wounded, including Colonel Lindsell.

The correspondent of the Press Association, whose work was generally very reliable, telegraphing from Paardeberg on 26th February said: "Last Monday night (19th) a brilliant piece of work was performed by the Gloucesters. During the afternoon they approached within a short distance of a Boer kopje and contained the enemy until nightfall, when 120 men charged the kopje with bayonets and drove off the Boers with loss, bayoneting several". On 28th February Lord Roberts wired: "Cronje with his family left here yesterday in charge of Major General Prettyman, and under an escort of the City Imperial Volunteers' Mounted Infantry. Later in the day the remaining prisoners left under the charge of the Earl of Errol, and escorted by the Gloucester Regiment and 100 City Imperial Volunteers". The Gloucesters soon rejoined the main army to take part in some further hard marching and fighting.

At Driefontein on 10th March 1900 the 13th Brigade had the toughest of the work, and although the Gloucesters were not in the original first line, they did their part splendidly, and had again about 5 killed and 20 wounded.

Three officers were mentioned in Lord Roberts' dispatch of 31st March 1900.

On 22nd November 1900, when De Wet made his famous rush south, he snapped up on his way the garrison of Dewetsdorp, consisting of three companies of the 2nd Gloucesters, one company of the Highland Light Infantry, and some of the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, so that both battalions of the regiment have had the nasty experience of losing a large proportion of their men in surrenders.

Three men of the battalion were mentioned in Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th March 1901, presumably for gallantry at Dewetsdorp.

In 1901 the battalion furnished about three companies as the infantry of a column which operated in the Orange River Colony under Colonel Henry.

The Mounted Infantry company of the battalion saw a good deal of fighting, and gained several "mentions". In the final dispatch of Lord Kitchener 4 officers and 6 non-commissioned officers of the battalion were mentioned.

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QSA with RoK, Paard and TR to: 3046 Tpr. H. R. McLeod, Kitchner’s Horse
PoW 18 Feb. 1900 Paardeberg

Medal with original long length of ribbon


On 18 February, Lord Kitchener ordered Colonel Hannay to take his men in the dark on to Koedoesrand Drift close to the main Boer laager. It became the prelude to the battle. Kitchener’s Horse were ambushed and a company of 7th Mounted Infantry crossed at Paardeberg Drift and engaged the Boers some two miles from the main laager.  In this ambush Kitchener's Horse had 7 officers and 28 other ranks killed wounded or taken POW.


McLeod

H

3046

Trooper

Prisoner. Near Paardeberg, 18 February 1900
Source: South African Field Force Casualty Roll

Mcleod

Harold Reuben

3046

Trooper

Source: Nominal roll in WO127

 

https://www.britishbattles.com/great-boer-war/battle-of-paardeberg/

 

 

In the dispatch of 6th February 1900 Lord Roberts, after referring to the organization of the Colonial Division under Brigadier General Brabant, said: "Two other regiments, designated, at the particular request of the members, Roberts' Horse and Kitchener's Horse, have also been formed, chiefly from men who have found their way to South Africa from various parts of the world". These corps were at first intended to be called 'The second and third regiments of the South African Light Horse', but the names were changed as a compliment to the new Commander-in-Chief and his chief of the staff.

Both Kitchener's Horse and Roberts' Horse were employed in the operations undertaken by Lord Roberts in February 1900 for the relief of Kimberley and in his advance to Bloemfontein; but one squadron of Kitchener's Horse was left on the lines of communication, and was utilized as part of the force with which Lord Kitchener and General Settle put down the rebellion in the Prieska district, March and April.

On 9th February the Mounted Infantry Division, under Colonel Hannay, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, left Orange River station. After some fighting, the Division on the 12th reached Ramdam, where Lord Roberts was concentrating his army; but the bulk of Kitchener's Horse had preceded the rest of the Mounted Infantry, and had joined General French before midnight on the 11th. At 2 AM on the 12th they set out with French for Dekiel's Drift, on the Riet. On the 13th, General French, who had crossed the Riet River on the 12th, left a squadron of Kitchener's Horse at Blaauwbosch Pan, about eight miles north-east of Dekiel's Drift, on the Riet, in order to protect the wells until the infantry, who were following, should arrive. Unfortunately the infantry took a different course, and instead of them a large force of Boers turned up, who attacked the squadron and compelled their surrender after they had made a very creditable defense in a farmhouse for two days. Lieutenants Carstens and Buchanan were killed in action about this time. Another squadron was part of the slender escort of the convoy which was lost on the Riet on the 13th. The convoy is said to have been seven miles long, and the escort, left to see it over a most difficult drift with Boers all round, was 300 strong. The escort was not captured. Notwithstanding this bad luck, the corps did excellent work before Bloemfontein was reached. About one half of the regiment was with Colonel Hannay when Cronje was discovered to be trekking across the front of the Vlth Division on 15th February, and they took part in the pursuit and the other operations which led to his capture. On 7th March they were engaged at Poplar-Grove. Five officers and five non-commissioned officers and men gained mention in the dispatch of 31st March for good work on the way to Bloemfontein. According to the official statement, the strength of the corps when it entered Bloemfontein on 13th March was 26 officers, 402 men, 270 horses, and 2 maxims.

About the beginning of March Kitchener's Horse had been, along with the 6th and 8th Regiments of Regular Mounted Infantry, the City Imperial Volunteers Mounted Infantry, Nesbitt's Horse, and the New South Wales Mounted Infantry, put into the 2nd Brigade of Mounted Infantry under Colonel P W J Le Gallais, 8th Hussars,—a splendid officer, who led his brigade to victory on many occasions, but who afterwards fell at Bothaville, 6th November 1900, in the moment of success. The regiment fought with Le Gallais and General Tucker at the battle of Karee Siding on 29th March 1900, and they were attached to Ian Hamilton's force, which, towards the end of April, set out first to clear Thabanchu and thereafter take part in the northern advance, during which the regiment, along with the 2nd Mounted Infantry Regulars and Lovat's Scouts, was in the 6th corps under Colonel Legge, who was afterwards killed at Nooitgedacht.

Mr Churchill, in his 'Ian Hamilton's March' relates that on 26th April Kitchener's Horse and a company of regular mounted infantry were told to hold a kopje near Thabanchu for the night, but about dusk they were ordered to retire. This the Boers endeavored to prevent, attacking the force with great determination: however, the attack was driven off, and the little body got into camp during the night. Captain F J Warren was severely wounded, 1 man killed, and several wounded. On the 30th, at the battle of Houtnek, the regiment, with great boldness and skill, seized Thoba Mountain, and it was during the enemy's attempt to regain this commanding position that a party of about 12 Gordon Highlanders and 13 of Kitchener's Horse under Captain Towse of the Gordons made the famous stand and bayonet charge. The incident is admirably described in 'Ian Hamilton's March' by Mr Churchill, who was a spectator. Captain Towse, blinded by a bullet in the hour of triumph, got the VC. Lieutenants Parker and Munro and 5 men of Kitchener's Horse were killed, and Captains Ritchie and Cheyne and 8 men were wounded at Houtnek. In his telegram of 2nd May Lord Roberts remarked: "Kitchener's Horse is spoken of in terms of praise". On 4th May Ian Hamilton was again engaged, "and succeeded in preventing a junction of two Boer forces by a well-executed movement of some of the Household Cavalry, 12th Lancers, and Kitchener's Horse, who charged a body of the enemy and inflicted serious loss. They fled leaving their dead on the field, and their wounded to be attended by our doctors" (see Lord Roberts' telegram of 2nd May). In this affair Lieutenant Patrick Cameron was mortally wounded. The 'Standard' correspondent drew attention to the good work of the regiment at the crossing of the Zand River on 10th May.

The regiment was present at Ian Hamilton's other actions on the way to Pretoria and at Diamond Hill (11th and 12th June). They started as a portion of Hunter's force designed to surround Prinsloo, but like Roberts' Horse were detached to pursue De Wet. On 24th July the regiment lost 9 men wounded at Stinkhoutboom. but about the same date they captured 5 of De Wet's wagons. When De Wet left the Reitzburg Hills Kitchener's Horse again crossed to the north of the Vaal and operated under Ridley, Hart, Clements, and other commanders in the district west of Johannesburg and Pretoria. In the despatch of 10th October 1900 Lord Roberts mentioned that "De Lisle's corps of mounted infantry was withdrawn from Clements' column and moved by rail on 17th September to Rhenoster, where it was joined by 250 men of Kitchener's Horse from Kroonstad". The work of De Lisle's men is briefly sketched under the 1st and 2nd New South Wales Mounted Infantry. This portion of Kitchener's Horse took part in the pursuit of De Wet on the south side of the Vaal and other operations under General C Knox in the Kroonstad district during September, October, and November, and were present on 27th October when 2 guns were captured at Rensburg, and in the very successful action of Bothaville on 6th November when 6 guns, a pom-pom, a maxim, and 130 prisoners were taken.

Another portion of the corps was employed in the Eastern Transvaal, and frequently had odd casualties about Brugspruit in September and the first half of October. They took part in French's march from the Delagoa Railway to Heidelberg in October 1900,—a march which only a great leader could have brought off successfully, having regard to the strength of the enemy in the district at the time. The fighting was continuous and the strain on all most severe. In Lieutenant Colonel Watkin-Yardley's 'With the Inniskilling Dragoons', page 217, speaking of the arrival of the force at Heidelberg, he says: "Lieutenant Elphick, with his troop of Kitchener's Horse, which had requested to be attached to the Inniskillings at Machadodorp, and fought gallantly with us throughout the march, also left the column". On this march the troop lost Sergeant Hunter killed, 2 wounded, and 2 missing.

A detachment which had remained in the Gatsrand and Krugersdorp district on the north side of the Vaal operated throughout September with Clements and Ridley, and had sharp fighting under General Hart on 23rd and 24th November 1900, when they lost 2 men killed.

This portion of the regiment was with General Clements when he was attacked and met with disaster at Nooitgedacht in the Megaliesberg on 13th December 1900. It will be remembered that a high hill commanding the camp, and which was garrisoned by 4 companies of the 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, was assaulted by the enemy in great force and was captured. Kitchener's Horse and the 2nd Battalion Mounted Infantry were on the west or left front of the camp; the enemy attacked upon this side in the most determined manner, and although some pickets were captured or wiped out entirely, the attack on the west was driven off, the enemy losing very heavily in his endeavor to push into the camp from that direction. When, however, it was seen that the high hill commanding the camp had been captured by the enemy, the General decided to retire. With difficulty General Clements got away his guns and most of his ammunition, but the camp was left standing and some stores were lost. The losses of Kitchener's Horse were severe: Lieutenant Skene and 8 men were killed, and Captain Stevenson and about 12 men wounded and about 40 taken prisoners. Some of the latter were wounded. Several mentions were gained by the corps on this occasion, and those who were present praised very highly the conduct of Kitchener's Horse and their old comrades the 2nd Battalion Regular Mounted Infantry, also the 2nd Battalion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

The regiment, sadly reduced in numbers, operated in the second phase of the war chiefly in the Western Transvaal, and had a few casualties on various occasions. A reference in the dispatch of 8th May 1901 to a very valuable bit of work by men of Roberts' Horse and Kitchener's Horse has already been quoted under the former corps. Both regiments were for a time in a column under Colonel Hickie (dispatch of 8th July 1901), and continued to do good work in the Transvaal. On 8th and 9th July both Roberts' and Kitchener's Horse were sharply engaged and suffered casualties. They were, during the next few months, constantly in touch with the enemy, and often suffered losses, as on 4th November 1901, when Kitchener's Horse had 5 men wounded at Vaalbank.

 

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Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902, 3 Clasps: Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal, South Africa 1901; (3888 SGT. W. MANSELL. 5TH. DRAGOON GUARDS)

Hansell W H 3888 Sergeant Missing - released at Volksrust. 15 Aug 1900.
Source: Natal Field Force Casualty Roll, page 2 line 14

Mansell W 3888 Sergeant QSA (3). Missing - released, Volksrust, 14 Aug 1900.
Source: QSA medal rolls

Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902, 3 Clasps: Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal, South Africa 1901, awarded to Sergeant W. Mansell, 5th Princess Charlotte of Wales’s Dragoon Guards, who saw service during the Boer War on operations leading to the relief of Ladysmith in late February 1900, and was later present in the Transvaal, and was taken prisoner of war on 15th August 1900, and released on 13th September 1900 at Barberton.

William Henry Mansell was born in Finchley, London, and having worked as a clerk, then attested for service with the British Army at London on 15th November 1892, joining as a Private (No.3888) the 5th Princess Charlotte of Wales’s Dragoon Guards. Posted out to India on 6th September 1893, he was promoted to Corporal on 1st December 1894, and to Sergeant on 20th June 1895, before being appointed Orderly Room Sergeant on 20th June 1895. Having then returned to duty as a Sergeant on 1st May 1898, he was posted to South Africa after the outbreak of the Boer War on 4th December 1899.  Mansell then saw service during the Boer War on operations leading to the relief of Ladysmith in late February 1900. Subsequently present on operations in the Transvaal, Mansell was taken prisoner of war on 15th August 1900, and released on 13th September 1900 at Barberton.  Mansell was posted home on 2nd June 1901 and transferred to the Army Reserve, being fully discharged on 14th November 1904.
 

The regiment arrived in Natal from India before the war broke out. They took part in the battle of Elandslaagte on 21st October 1899l. The regiment was not present at Rietfontein, 24th October, but on the 30th in the battle of Lombard's Kop they were engaged. Lt. Norwood gained the VC on that day for galloping back 300 yards for a wounded man, carrying him on his back, at the same time leading his horse, all under a heavy and incessant fire. After the investment of Ladysmith was complete the regiment was frequently engaged, particularly on 3rd November 1899 and on 6th January 1900, the day of the great attack. In his dispatches of 2nd December 1899 and 23rd March 1900 General White mentioned 3 officers.

In the northern advance from Ladysmith to the Transvaal the 5th Dragoon Guards were brigaded with the 1st Royal Dragoons and 13th Hussars under Brigadier General Burn-Murdoch. When General Buller moved north towards Lydenburg from the Standerton line Burn-Murdoch's brigade was employed in the south-east of the Transvaal. In General Buller's final dispatch of 9th November 1900 4 officers and 3 non-commissioned officers and men of the 5th Dragoon Guards were mentioned for gallant work while the regiment was under him, the cause of mention in the case of Captain Reynolds being, "on 15th August with a party of 20 men of the 5th Dragoon Guards surprised and routed a commando of 400".

In Lord Roberts' dispatch of 4th September 1901 8 officers and 5 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.

In the first quarter of 1901 the regiment had arduous work in the south-east of the Transvaal while General French was driving Botha's forces into that angle. They frequently had skirmishing, but perhaps their hardest work was the escorting of convoys from the railway to French's men during a time when the weather scarcely ever faired up for weeks at a time, and the endless spruits could only be crossed with great difficulty. The regiment was afterwards taken to the Western Transvaal, and did much work in the Klerksdorp district. They were for a time in columns under Colonel Western and Brigadier General G Hamilton, and they afterwards operated under Brigadier General G Hamilton east of Pretoria. The regiment sailed for India shortly before peace was declared.

History of the 5th Dragoon Guards in the Boer War

The regiment were stationed in India from 1893. They were one of the last regiments to sail from Portsmouth to India as a complete unit on a Government transport, because in the following season the use of transport was discontinued. In 1899 they were sent direct to South Africa, arriving in Natal before war broke out. They were posted to Ladysmith, the first arrivals being C and D Squadrons, arriving on 12th Oct. The remaining two squadrons arrived on 26th Oct making a total of 18 officers and 476 other ranks. The commanding officer was Lt. Col. Robert Baden Powell but he was kept busy at Mafeking. Major St. John Gore was the actual commander and was regarded by Sir Henry Rawlinson as, 'a long-nosed jabbering ass, with none of the qualities for a cavalry leader'. The journey from Bombay had been a difficult one because of storms, and the three trains that they had to take from Durban were even worse because wet weather caused the horses to slip around disastrously in their open carriages. Several animals were lost through injury in this way.

Elandslaagte 21st Oct 1899

The role of the 5th Dragoon Guards at Elandslaagte was that of pursuing the defeated Boers at the end of the battle. Elandslaagte, situated northeast of Ladysmith was occupied by 1,200 Boers under the aged General Kock. Major-General French was sent out with a force from Ladysmith to clear the Boers from the area. This force was made up of Imperial Light Horse, half a battalion of the Manchester Regiment plus gunners and sappers. But the force was too small and French called for reinforcements. These included the Devons, Gordon Highlanders, two squadrons of the 5th Lancers and two squadrons of the 5th Dragoon Guards. The mounted troops had the task of riding alongside the train that transported the infantry to Elandslaagte. They were kept busy driving large numbers of Boers away from the track.

The Boers entrenched on the heights were subjected to an assault by the infantry which turned into a horrendous ordeal for the Manchesters, Gordons and the dismounted Imperial Light Horse who were pinned down by accurate rifle fire and were also soaked in a tremendous thunderstorm. Theirs was a flanking attack which was intended to distract the Boers from a frontal assault made by the Devons who went in vigorously and achieved success but the Boers regained the heights again in a desperate fight. More hand-to-hand fighting took place and the British finally forced the retreat of the Boers who took to their horses and fled as the light of day began to fade. It was here that the Lancers and Dragoon Guards began their pursuit of the enemy. The ground was difficult for the cavalry at first, as St John Gore relates:

'At last I saw the Boers apparently coming down...by twos and threes: great uncertainty in the bad light as to what they were doing. Then "They're off!" "No, they're not!" "Yes, they ARE!" I sent back word to my two squadrons to "advance in line at extended files" [ie. 4 yards interval between each horse]. After half a mile our heads rose over a fold in the ground, and showed us a long stream of Boers going leisurely away from the position at right angles to my line of advance, and about 300 yards off. I gave the word "gallop". When they saw us, the Boers broke in every direction and galloped away. The ground was very stony in most parts, but there were some good grassy bits along which I was able to pick my way (being one single man), while most of the men had to go over the bad places as they happened to come to them in their line.'

They made three charges against the Boers. There was much blood spilt in these charges and the Boers harbored a deep hatred of the British after this 'massacre', especially the Lancers. They swore that any lancers they captured in the future would be killed. But there are conflicting accounts from those that took part in the charges at Elandslaagte. One lancer wrote home: 'They threw up their arms and fell on their knees for mercy; but we were told not to give them any, and I can assure you they got none. We went along sticking our lances through them - it was terrible thing: but you have to do it in a case like this.'

The accounts written by men of the 5th DG all talk of taking prisoners. Troop Sergeant Savage said, 'The pace increased, on and on, until we could see and pick out our man. After this I no longer tried to follow my Troop leader, but rode as hard as I could for that one man. As I approached him, he dropped off his pony (a grey) and fired at someone to the right. I overtook him and rode on for another who was some little distance in front. This fellow, by the time I got up to him, was laid on his back, and looked so helpless and so much like a civilian, that I took his arms and ammunition, and as by this time the troops were rallying, I marched him up a prisoner and handed him over to Corporal Howard, who was taking over the prisoners. This man, whilst I had my lance to his breast, asked for no mercy, but handed over his arms like a soldier who could do no more. I took the precaution to make him hand me the butt first. There was nothing of the coward about him.'  This narrative is interesting as it indicates that the 5th DG were using lances. Lieut Philip Reynolds wrote, 'Men were dismounted by twos and threes to make a single Boer prisoner, and our ranks were soon thinned out. At last we came to a spruit and the whole line halted. A few Boers here were dismounted, and fired a few shots without doing any damage. I took a few men, and we surrounded them and made prisoners of them.' Thus it becomes obvious that the taking of prisoners was detrimental to the pursuit.

Lombard's Kop 30th Oct 1899

The battle of Ladysmith, or Lombard's Kop was General White's attempt to take the offensive against the combined forces of General Joubert's Boers, General Lucas Meyer's force, and a commando from the Free State. The British were outnumbered and the Boers had powerful artillery building up to besiege Ladysmith, especially their Long Tom positioned on Pepworth Hill. White's forces were split into three and concentrated their attacks on the hills ranging around Pepworth in the north and Lombard's Kop 5 miles east of the town. The cavalry was made up of the 5th DG, 5th Lancers, 18th and 19th Hussars and the Natal Carbineers. They were all jammed into a nullah one and a half miles long and 10 or 20 yards wide and came under heavy fire from the Boers who had out-maneuvered the British completely. They were forced to retreat in a disorderly manner described by an infantry officer as 'very nearly a stampede' It was only the brave and efficient actions of 53rd Battery RA under Major Abdy that saved the cavalry from serious casualties. As it was, they came off lightly compared to the infantry who had many men taken prisoner, 954 in all, and 320 casualties. It was during the scramble to get away from Lombard's Kop that 2nd Lt John Norwood won the VC and Private William Sibthorpe was awarded the DCM. Norwood galloped back 300 yards under fire to help the wounded Private Mouncer. He carried him on his back and led his own horse. Sibthorpe came to assist him and helped carry Mouncer, still under heavy fire. Norwood made a report about Sibthorpe's bravery but omitted his own part in the action. When Sibthorpe was asked by the Squadron commander why he did what he did he said, "I only followed my officer's example." thus revealing Norwood's part. When the Squadron commander sent in his report he wrote, 'It is against the expressed wish of 2nd Lt Norwood that I report his share in this act of gallantry'.

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Edited by azyeoman
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  • Blog Comments

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