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    “On the farm Nooitgedacht, at the foot of the Magaliesberg range, Major-General RAP Clements, recently joined by Colonel Legge, commands about 2000 men and ten field-guns. He has placed pickets in small fortified positions forming a 3km perimeter on the high mountains above his camp on both sides of the gorge. 

    In the valley, he has positioned his guns and defences in a 3 km radius semicircle around the mouth of the gorge, with small pickets on isolated outposts at various distances from his camp. The strongest is on a prominence called Yeomanry Hill, some 3 km south-east of the camp.

    General De la Rey’s plan of attack calls for General CF Beyers to clear the British positions on the mountain with about 1000 burghers, while De la Rey and Smuts, exercising independent command for the first time, will attack the main position with about 700 men.

    The nature of the terrain to be covered makes it difficult to estimate the time needed by the different groups to reach their starting points. De la Rey’s plans go slightly awry when his left flank under Commandant Badenhorst gains contact with the enemy outposts at about 03:30 – earlier than expected.


    He immediately attacks but draws fire from all sides. Both sides suffer casualties - Colonel Legge is among the first to fall –and Badenhorst is repulsed. On the mountain, the sentries are alerted by the shooting and they open fire on Commandant Krause’s approaching burghers 


    At sunrise, Krause, on Beyers’ right, starts the attack against the emplacements on the western mountain and his yelling burghers charge forward. Covering each other’s advances with heavy rifle fire, Commandants Krause and MP van Staden systematically overrun the positions on the western ridge.


    They pour fire into the retreating troops below and support Commandants Kemp and Marais in their assault on the eastern side of the gorge. At about 07:00 the troops there also surrender, and the summit is in Boer hands; the defenders suffering 97 killed or wounded.


    Sergeant D D Farmer, 1st Battalion, the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, with fifteen men, going to the assistance of the embattled pickets on the ridge, come under heavy fire. Two are killed and five are wounded, including Lieutenant Sandilands.


    Without hesitation, Sergeant Farmer goes to his assistance, carrying him to safety before returning to the firing line until taken prisoner. For this courageous act, he receivesthe Victoria Cross.

    Directing fire from the ridge, Beyers forces the major part of Clements’ force to flee, enabling De la Rey to take the camp. De la Rey and Smuts, however, their line of attack having been altered by Badenhorst’s early setback, are not in position to prevent Clements’ retreat.


    Smuts is too late and Clements, leaving behind most of his supplies, reaches Yeomanry Hill under the covering fire of the Yeomanry and Yorkshire Light Infantry. Again, the burghers, anxious not to lose out on the looting, are half-hearted in their pursuit of the fleeing British and are soon back at the camp to share in the booty.


    Genl Broadwood’s force, less than 20 km away on the northern side of the mountain range, can hear the firing but they are put at ease when a Boer heliographist, using captured equipment, signals: All’s well, no assistance needed.


    The British casualties – the heaviest they 
    have suffered since arriving in the Transvaal – include 109 killed, 186 wounded and 368 taken prisoner, while the Boers lose 32 killed and 46 wounded. They also take 70 laden wagons, 200 tents, ammunition of all types, 700 horses and mules, and about 500 head of cattle.


    When he discovers that one of the wagons is carrying liquor, General De la Rey presents it to his prisoners and is astonished when they crowd around him, singing For he’s a jolly good fellow.” 
    “The Anglo-Boer War: A Chronology” by Pieter G. Cloete.

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