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    “All day on the 8th and 9th of November, troops, mostly mounted, had been coming in from the west, and on the latter date, to the great delight of everyone, eight of the enemy’s guns were brought in and parked in the market square, together with a large number of prisoners, who were handed over to a guard of the troops in garrison.


    These were the outcome of a most successful surprise of a Boer commando carried out near Bothaville on the 6th of November. The guns were a varied lot: there was a 12pr. Belonging to U battery and lost by them at Sanna’s Post, many months before; there was a 15pr. Which had belonged to the 14th Field Battery; two Krupp 9prs. In splendid condition; a Vickers Maxim, or pom-pom; a one-pounder quick-firing Krupp, a Maxim with a portable tripod stand, and a large quantity of ammunition.


    The successful capture of all these guns, prisoners, ammunition and wagons was largely due to our old friend, Major Lean, of the 5thM.I., and after a good deal of questioning (for, like all good soldiers, he was reluctant to talk about his own achievements), the story of the fight was extracted from him.


    It seems that Le Gallais’ force of Mounted troops, mostly Mounted Infantry, with U Battery, R.H.A., were near Bothaville, when intelligence was received of the presence of a Boer laager in the neighbourhood; so Major Lean with a few men of his own corps, all dismounted, went out one night to reconnoitre.


    They had to ford the river, the water reaching up to their waists, and then went on for some distance, until Major Lean  observed some horses hobbled close to them: thinking this very curious, he went on a little further, and then saw, behind an ant heap, what looked like the head and shoulders of a man: without an instant’s hesitation he dashed forward and yelled to the man, “ Hands up!”

    To his astonishment several other men rose and put up their hands, and he discovered that he had inadvertently held up an entire Boer picket. Handing over the prisoners to his men, he and his party went on cautiously, and on coming to the summit of a rise in the ground saw the whole Boer laager at their feet. 

    The party was discovered, and a heavy fire opened on them at once; but the thirty men of the Mounted Infantry spread out under cover and devoted themselves to preventing the Boers from inspanning their oxen into the guns and wagons. Word had been sent back to Colonel Le Gallais, who came up rapidly and joined in, U battery opening fire on the Boer guns at a range of 400 yards, but from the other side of a ridge, firing by indirect laying. The Boers answered the fire from their guns, and an artillery duel was in progress for some little time. 

    A message had been sent back to General Knox, who, however, was out of reach, and also to Colonel De Lisle, who was some eight miles away; and the latter with his men came up rapidly, travelling the whole distance without drawing rein. They moved so as to envelope the flanks, but on their approach the enemy fled, leaving a large number of killed and wounded, and a considerable number of prisoners (114) twenty-eight of whom were dressed in the 
    blue uniform of the Staats Artillerie.


    Unfortunately our loss had been severe, the gallant and dashing Le Gallais, Lieut.-Colonel Ross of the Durham Light Infantry, and two other officers having been mortally wounded, and seven officers severely wounded, while eight men were killed, and twenty-six wounded; but the success was great, and the rout of the Boers complete.


    They left the whole of their guns, wagons and Cape carts, and fled on their horses, some not even waiting to saddle up first. The prisoners said that De Wet and Steyn had both been with the laager, but that they had fled directly the firing commenced.” 
    “Two Years on Trek” by Lt-Col du Moulin, p237-9

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    DCM (Edw VII): unnamed 
    ABO: Artlst D.F. Botes; Africa General Service medal 
    1902-56, clasp Somaliland 1902-04: 38 Serjt. D.F. Botes. Som. Bur. C.


    David Frederick Botes enlisted in the ZAR State Artillery in 1898 (Muster No 657) and was in action at Magersfontein and Paardeberg. At Bothaville he was one of the 28 “blue uniformed” gunners who were taken prisoner. He was sent to Ceylon (PoW No 15073) and held in the Urugasmanhandija Camp where he signed the Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown on 2 July 1902 and returned to the Transvaal.

    Early in 1903 he volunteered for service in the Somali Burgher Contingent against the “Mad Mullah” in Somaliland. This small mixed force of Boer, Colonial and British Volunteers was commanded by Captain W. Bonham.


    The Recommendation for the award of the DCM to three members of the Somali Burgher Corps as, submitted to King Edward VII, was worded as follows:
    “It is further most humbly submitted to your Majesty that Silver Medals forDistinguished Conduct in the Field be conferred upon the undermentioned soldiers of the Boer Contingent in recognition of their gallant conduct during the operations in Somaliland.


    Sergeant D.F. Botes, Corporal S.J. Herbst, 
    Trooper C.J. Dwyer (sic). War Office July 1903”.
    These awards were duly gazetted on 7 August 1903. A year later, Captain Bonham’s recommendation report dated 3 May 1903 for the award of the DCM to these three men September 1904 was published in the London Gazette.


    He had reported as follows: 
    “Serjeant Botes has always been the first to volunteer for any hard work or arduous duty; has shown fine soldierly qualities throughout the campaign. All these men displayed coolness and steadiness in action, and performed distinguished service in the affair near Gumburu on 16th April, 1903.”

    In his covering report Major P.A. Kenna, who commanded all the Mounted Troops of the Somaliland Field Force, endorsed Captain Bonham’s recommendations and went on to recommend Bonham for the award of the D.S.O.
    The “affair near Gumburu on the 16th April” preceded the disastrous action at Gumburu on 17 April 1903 when a significant British force was surrounded in the thick bush and attacked at close quarters and were virtually annihilated by a far superior force of the Mullah’s mounted riflemen.


    Interestingly Captain Bonham singled out the names of four other men of his Burgher Corps in the following manner:

    “All these men have done exceptionally good work throughout the campaign. It is not recommended that they should receive any military reward or decoration, but, if the General Officer Commanding thinks fit, that their names should be submitted to Lord Milner with a recommendation that their services should be rewarded in such manner as may seem good to the Colonial Government, either by assistance in re-settlement or employment in Government service.”

    In an article by Don Forsyth on the Somali Burgher Corps Botes is noted as “Served previously in Magoto War. Returned from Ceylon & joined SAC”.

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