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    On this date, Maj Gen French’s cavalry division occupied both sides of Nelshoogte Pass during their advance to Barberton.


    This action forced the Boers under Assistant Commandant General Tobias Smuts to retire.
    DCM (EdwVII): Tpr. Latham Imp: Lt Horse; 
    QSA 4 clasps RoM, Tug H, RoL, Tvl: 155 Tpr. G.W.J. Latham Imp: Lt Horse

    George Latham enlisted in the ILH at Pietermaritzburg on 22 September 1899 and was discharged on 12 October 1900.


    His DCM, as well as that awarded to Tpr James was gazetted on 27 Sept 1901 without a citation.


    However, Gibson in “The History of the Imperial Light Horse”, p220/1 describes the event that led to the two awards:
    “When the column was climbing the high Nelshoogte (Nels Heights), which could have been held by a thousand determined men against an army, great difficulty was experienced in dragging the Naval guns and the wagons up the steep hills.


    To add to the difficulty, a sniper on the side of the mountain kept up a persistent and effective fire, at about 800 yards range, getting a horse or dropping an ox dead in its yoke with every other shot.


    Two of the most experienced I.L.H. scouts, Troopers James and Bob Latham, were despatched to deal with the lone sniper and the firing soon stopped. The two scouts on rejoining the Regiment reported that they had found an old Boer with long white hair and beard, firing at the column with an ancient Martini Henry with a 100 or more cartridge in an old haversack by his side.

    “What happened to him?”. “We had to shoot the poor old chap, and this is his rifle, haversack and ammunition.”

    “Why on earth did you not ‘hands up’ the old man and take him prisoner?”


    “It is all very well to talk like that. The old chap had taken up such a position that we could neither flank him, or get behind him and it meant that we had either to get him or he would have got us, so in shooting him it really amounted to shooting in ‘self defence’!”

    It was felt that it was an unique achievement for one old man, about 70 or 80 years of age to put himself against some 5000 troops. He must have realised that there could only be one end to his foolhardy but glorious act.


    The men thought that the poor old Burgher was, no doubt, too old to go on Commando and scorned to be relegated to the lowly position of doing odd jobs about the wagons for the women and children, so he took a hero’s way out of his dilemma.


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