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     “As soon as the troops engaged in the pursuit of De Wet became available for operations elsewhere, I redistributed the field army with the object, first, of advancing along the Delagoa Bay Railway to Komati Poort, and, secondly, of forming flying columns… the military situation was as follows: 

    On l0th August, Sir Redvers Buller’s forces reached Twyfelaar. French was in command at Middelburg. On the 18th August, the Mounted Infantry were holding the line stretching from Wonderfontein to Doornkop, 12 miles north of Middelburg, and French’s Cavalry was distributed between Wonderfontein and Twyfelaar. 

    On that date French rejoined his two Cavalry brigades. On the 21st, Buller marched to Van Wyk’s Vlei, 15 miles south-east of Belfast, and two days later the 11th Division, under Pole-Carew, was concentrated at Wonderfontein.


    Buller met with some opposition on the 23rd in the neighbourhood of Van Wyk’s Vlei, and towards evening two companies of the 1st Battalion Liverpool Regiment entered by mistake a hollow, out of sight of the main body, where they came under a heavy fire,  losing 10 men killed, and one Officer and 45 men wounded. The other casualties on this occasion were one man killed, and three Officers and four men wounded. 

    On the 24th August, I left Pretoria for Wonderfontein, and on the 25th proceeded to Belfast… occupied the previous day by the 11th Division. Some opposition was encountered, our casualties amounting to one man killed, and one officer and 14 men wounded. 

    As soon as I arrived, it became apparent to me that we were already in touch with a part of the Boer main position. This position, extended from the neighbourhood of Swartz Kopjes on the north to Dalmanutha on the south, a distance of some 20 miles. It was furnished with numerous artillery… and was entrenched at various points of importance. My first idea was to hold the enemy in front with the 11th Division, whilst Buller and French turned their loft from the south.


    On consultation, however, with General Buller, it seemed that the ground was not favourable to a turning movement from this quarter, and I therefore decided to contain the enemy’s front by the 18th Brigade and turn his right flank with the Guards Brigade, assisted by General French and Colonel Henry’s Mounted Infantry.

    With this object French moved, on the 26th, from Geluk, 12 miles south of Belfast, and passing to the west of the town reached Lakenvlei, 6 miles to its north on the evening of this day. Pole-Carew, with the 11th Division, endeavoured to advance along the Lydenburg road in his support but came under so heavy a shell and rifle fire that he made but little progress.


    Buller, whose Artillery was engaged throughout the day, pushed back the Boers, who were holding a series of strong positions to the south-east of Belfast, to within 4 miles of the railway between that town and Dalmanutha. 

    Our casualties on this date amounted to five men killed, and two Officers and 56 men wounded.” 
    Roberts’ Despatch of 10 October 1900, published in the LG of 8 Feb 1901, p867.
    DCM (EVII): 4572 Pte. J. Trainor. Liverpool Regt. 

    On 21 August, during the operations near Van Wyk’s Vlei, Corporal Knight, Liverpool Regt., was posted in some rocks with four men, covering the right rear of a detachment of the same company, who, under Captain Ewart, were holding the right of the line. The enemy, about 50 strong, attacked Captain Ewart’s right and almost surrounded Corporal Knight’s small party.


    This NCO held his ground, directing his party to retire one by one to better cover, where he maintained his position for nearly an hour, covering the withdrawal of Captain Ewart’s force and losing two of his four men. He then retired bringing with him two wounded men; one of these he left in a place of safety, the other he carried for nearly two miles. The party were hotly engaged the whole time.

    For his gallantry on this occasion Knight was rewarded by the Victoria Cross.
    4572 Pte. J. Traynor and 5360 Pte J McNamara were in Cpl. Knight’s party and were both awarded the DCM for the part they played in this VC action.


    All published accounts (Regimental History and London Gazette) as well as the DCM Issue Register incorrectly refer to No 4572 as Trainor, hence spelling of surname on the DCM. Traynor was also awarded a 3-clasp QSA and a 2-clasp KSA.
    DCM Provenance: H Y Usher Collection.


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    About three miles east of Van Wyk’s Vlei, where the country begins to dip in a succession of ledges to the valley of the Komati, Privates Evans and Bee, who were leading men of a patrol of Lieut. Field’s  troop, came suddenly on a number of Boers who were artfully concealed near a farm.


    The Boers opened fire, hit both Privates Evans and Bee, and captured Private Bee and the horses, but Evans, seeing that the Boers were lying in wait at this spot, where the ground kept dropping so sharply that their presence could not be detected, and that part of a company of the Gordon Highlanders were rapidly advancing into the same trap as he had fallen into, managed, in spite of his wound, to wave his helmet and shout to the Gordons, preventing them advancing to probably the same fate as he had met.

    Lieut. Field, seeing that his patrol had got into a tight place, went forward to their aid, and finding Evans severely wounded, endeavoured to get him away out of fire, but in doing so he was hit himself in the shoulder, and had difficulty in crawling away under the heavy fire he had provoked. 

    This resulted in the following memo from his Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel E.C. Knox, to the Brigade Major, 2nd Cavalry Brigade:
    “I forward herewith a statement from Lieut. And Adjutant Shee, 19th Hussars, concerning No. 4480 Private Albert Evans, of the Regiment under my command.


    Private Evans was employed as a scout yesterday in front of his Squadron “C” and was wounded severely while reconnoitring near a farm. I have the honour to request that you will bring the conduct and behaviour of this man to the notice of the General Officer Commanding for favourable consideration.”

    Lieut. Shee’s statement read: 
    “With reference to your memorandum of today, asking me to give the particulars in the case of Private Evans, 18th Hussars, I have the honour to state that yesterday afternoon, the 21st of August, I was walking across the plateau above the farm, two miles east of this camp, and met a company of Gordon Highlanders advancing to the edge of the ridge overlooking the farm.


    About 500 yards off, on the left flank of the Gordons, a man was waving his helmet whilst lying on the ground, and the officer commanding the party asked me to find out what he wanted, and I did so. I found the man to be a Private of the 18th Hussars, who was wounded in two places.


    He told me that he had waved his helmet in order to attract attention, and let the Gordons know that the enemy were holding the farm (about 400 yards from the ridge), and that if they, the Gordons, advanced to the edge they would show up against the sky line with no cover. I galloped back and told the officer of the Gordons before mentioned, whose name I do not know, and then went back and brought Private Evans into the doctor.


    He informed me on the way that one of his patrol had been killed close to the farm, and that he had crawled away over the ridge and lay there until the Gordons advanced.”

    The 18th Hussars in South Africa, p102-3.


    Although Lieut. Field was subsequently Mentioned in Despatches, Private Evans did not receive any form of recognition for his gallant act.

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