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    DTD & ABO: Veldkornet H.C.W. Vermaas;
    1914/15 Star: Kapt. H.C.W. Vermaas, Lichtenburg Kdo.;
    BWM & AVM (Bil) with MiD Oakleaf: Mjr. H.C.W. Vermaas.

    Veldkornet Vermaas claimed on his Vorm “A” (DTD Application) that he was the person who fired the 2nd shot of the 3-Year War. After the Kraaipan Skirmish he served for the full duration of the War, including Actions at Kalmberg/Rooidam on 5 May 1900:

    “At Kalmberg, with the assistance of three others, I saved the gun when the majority of the gun-crew were wounded” and at Silkaatsnek on 11 July 1900 “I was the first person to disarm the English artillery while they were still asleep”. He was also present at, inter alia, Magersfontein, Kimberley, Ysterspruit (Van Donop) and De Klipdrift (Methuen).

    He stated that he initially served as Adjutant to Field Cornet J C Coetzee (the man who is documented as firing the first shot) and Commandant Vermaas (his father), then as Lieutenant of a Spy Corps under Captain J J Pienaar and finally as Field Cornet of Ward III, Lichtenburg Commando.

    During the First World War Vermaas served as Captain/Major in the Lichtenburg Commando in German South West Africa (Left Wing, 1st Mounted Brigade, Northern Army) and was Mentioned in Despatches:
    “For conspicuous gallantry in action at Riet; he is an obedient and hardworking Officer and maintained good discipline among his men”.


    The action of 14th October, before the investment was complete, was fought at Five Mile Bank north of Mafeking. An early morning patrol exchanged shots with the enemy advancing along the railway and an 
    armoured train with a 1 pounder Hotchkiss, a .303 Maxim, and 15 BSA Policemen were sent out. It became heavily engaged with Boers who had a 7 pounder Krupp and a 1 pounder Maxim. 

    Captain Fitzclarence attacked with a squadron of the Protectorate Regiment, the train being on his left. Another troop under Lord Charles Bentinck with a 7-pounder reinforced the situation, and after four hours' fighting, the enemy was driven off. Baden Powell later stated that the armoured train put the Boer Krupp out of action before it had fired a shot, and drove the Maxim from the field. When Captain Fitzclarence withdrew, the enemy made no attempt to follow.

    Casualty figures for this action, as quoted by various sources, differ dramatically. 
    Baden Powell claimed that the Boers lost 53 killed, including 4 Field Cornets, and many wounded. However, the Boer Casualty Returns, as compiled by the Red Cross and published in the ZAR Government Gazette of 13 December 1899, list 2 Burghers killed and 8 Burghers wounded. 


    The names of the 2 Burghers who were killed are confirmed in the published diary of a Boer participant. The British loss, as stated by Baden Powell, consisted of 2 men killed with 2 officers (Lieutenants Lord C C 
    Bentinck and Brady) and 14 men, all of the Protectorate Regiment, wounded and 1 cyclist taken prisoner. The SAFF Casualty List, however, contains the names of 7 men killed, another 2 men who died of wounds and 2 officers and 14 men wounded.


    Baden-Powell commented: "In this, their first engagement, the Protectorate Regiment showed a spirit and dash worthy of highly trained troops and were most ably led by Captain Fitzclarence and Lord C Bentinck. This smartly fought little  engagement had a great and lasting moral effect on the enemy".



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