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    After alternately occupying and abandoning Willow Grange Station during the previous weeks, Major-General H J T Hildyard, commanding officer at Estcourt, decides on 22 November to take Brynbella Hill, overlooking the station with a force of about 5,200 men with 14 field-guns. He orders a force under Colonel F W Kitchener 
    to occupy Beacon Hill from where he plans to make a night attack on Brynbella, supported by one of his naval guns.


    It is a very hot day and the un-acclimatized troops are exhausted and thirsty before reaching the foot of Beacon Hill. A heavy thunderstorm first alleviates their plight, but it changes into a hailstorm that leaves them battered and bruised. The Boers also notice their struggle in dragging the naval gun up the steep slope and open fire with their Creusot field-gun. 

    The British persevere and are soon able to position their naval gun on the summit and return fire until the renewed thunderstorm and darkness suspend the action. After dark, a tremendous thunderstorm engulfs the landscape. Two British soldiers and two burghers are knocked unconscious by lightning and a burgher and six 
    horses are killed on Brynbella.


    Slipping and sliding, the British proceed with their night march despite the appalling conditions. After a short rest on the slope, they charge the summit at about 03:00. The small Free State picket abandons their position,blankets and a few ponies to avoid the loathed bayonets and flee down the back slope, leaving the summit in the hands of the jubilant British. At dawn, part of the Krugersdorp commando open fire on the summit.


    They are soon joined by two field-guns and a pom-pom. As the light improves, Boer rifle fire increases and Kitchener’s position on the summit becomes steadily worse. At about 09:00 he realises that he will have to retreat to avoid being cut off and surrounded. The retreating British troops are raked by Boer shellfire. Only when their own artillery return fire, can they fall back to Beacon Hill and from there to Estcourt, arriving at about 11:00. 

    The British lose 11 killed (including Percy Fitzpatrick’s brother, George), 67 wounded and eight captured. 
    The Boers lose two killed and two wounded.
    “The Anglo-Boer War: A Chronology” by Pieter G. Cloete.

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