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    Posted (edited)

    The disaster at Lindley was a telling humiliation for the British. The 13th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry, under the command of Lt-Col Basil Spragge, had been ordered to join the 9th Division under Maj Gen Sir Henry Colville at Kroonstad. 

    Due to a mix up in communication (Spragge claimed he was sent a telegram, Colville denied sending one) the battalion instead headed for Lindley where the Boers were waiting for them. 

    On the afternoon of 27 May 1900, the 13th Battalion rode into Lindley and were shocked to find that it was not Colville but a large contingent of the enemy that met them. Spragge made the decision to hold his ground in a group of hills to the north west of Lindley and await help.


    Messages were sent but they did not contain the required tone of urgency. After choosing his ground the situation for Spragge and his battalion grew rapidly worse: they were surrounded by a numerically superior enemy who also had artillery (it arrived on 29 May under the command of De Wet). 

    By the morning of 31 May the situation had become almost untenable and the final outcome was sealed when the party of the 47th Company commanding a critical position surrendered. With no chance of holding out, Spragge surrendered early in the afternoon, having lost an officer and 16 men killed while another officer and 3 men died of wounds.The Boers captured more than 400 men: a huge shock, especially to the public back in Britain. To make matters worse, the men of the 13th Battalion were the Duke of Cambridge’s Own and the three Irish companies: symboluzing the wealth and power that had been associated with this corps. 

    The D.C.O. had been nicknamed the “Millionaires’ Own” because of the number of hugely wealthy men in its ranks and the Irish companies contained large amounts of money and title from the landed families of Dublin and Belfast. However, within a few months of arrival in South Africa the elite yeoman had been given a bloody nose.


    F H Hopland, an American War Correspondent for the London Daily Mail and the Providence Journal offered the following basic version of the Lindley Affair in his book “The Chase of De Wet”:
    “That corps of Imperial Yeomanry known as the Duke of Cambridge’s Own, and, unofficially, as “The Millionaires,” were gathered in by De Wet outside of Lindley because their Colonel didn’t know how to select a tenable position nor how to make it more secure, and because, lacking good military judgment, he sent word to Lord Methuen, advancing to his relief after General Colville had declined to turn back, that he could easily hold out for three days longer.


    Lord Methuen timed his arrival accordingly; but De Wet brought up a couple of guns two days earlier, and the Colonel surrendered just that much ahead of time. Lord Methuen arrived to find nobody to relieve and no captors to attack.”


    Edited by archie777
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