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    Posted (edited)

    On 20 May 1900 Maj Gen Sir H E Colvile received an order from the Chief of Staff: “From Ventersburg the Highland Brigade march to Lindley and thence to Heilbron… Brigade will be concentrated Ventersburg twenty-third, reach Lindley twenty-sixth, and Heilbron twenty-ninth.”

    Colvile’s force (the Highland Brigade, Commander Grant’s 2 Naval 4.7-inch guns, 5th Battery, RFA, 7th Company RE and 100 Eastern Province Horse) set out on 24 May for Lindley. 

    He realised that to reach Heilbron on 29 May he would have to make forced marches all the way: it turned out that 16 miles per day was quite the norm. His first encounter with the enemy was on 25 May at Spitz Kop, some 12 miles from Lindley when he lost 1 killed and 7 wounded (mainly Eastern Province Horse).

    The next day, 26 May, he had a sharp encounter at Blaauwberg Ridge on the approach to Lindley, losing 7 
    men killed, 1 died of wounds and 14 wounded. Grant’s Guns played a prominent part by shelling the ridge at 3700 yards and Colvile was sufficiently impressed by the Colonials to write: “The Eastern Province Horse, whose scouting was very bold, suffered much more heavily in proportion, losing 4 men killed and 8 wounded and 6 horses, nearly all in the first fusillade.”


    On 28 May there was again heavy fighting at Roodepoort in which Colvile lost 2 killed and 33 wounded. 
    He wrote:
    “The day had been a trying one, and with less trustworthy troops may have ended badly for us, but the Highlanders, who had always been ready to go ahead against any odds, had by this time picked up a good many wrinkles from their enemies, and were as clever as the Boers in making the best use of ground.


    The excellent practice of the two batteries had enabled us to clear Roodepoort with hardly any loss, and later the naval guns had kept those of the enemy at a distance, while the while the Field Battery had removed the pressure on the Seaforth and materially helped the Argyll and Sutherland to hold their own.


    The Eastern Province Horse, by this time reduced to 35 mounted men, had enabled us to seize the advanced position.” On 29th May, the day on which Colvile had been ordered by Lord Roberts to be at Heilbron, he occupied that town. There are some errors/discrepancies in the SAFF Casualty Roll, as well as in the section dealing with the Eastern Province Horse in Stirling’s “The Colonials in South Africa”. 

    SAFF Casualty Roll: Argyll, Sutherland Highlanders & Royal Highlanders: Casualties for “Bloemberg 26 May” to read “Blaauwberg 26 May”. Eastern Province Horse: Casualties for “Roodepoort 28 May” to read “Blaauwberg 26 May”.
    Stirling: The sentence “At Roodepoort the tiny mounted force…” on p181, should read “At Blaauwberg the tiny mounted force…” It refers to the men mentioned by General Colvile on p180.

    The corrections are confirmed by the QSA roll for the Eastern Province Horse, Colvile’s “The Work of the Ninth Division” and the “List of Graves in the Orange River Colony” (1904).

    Edited by archie777
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