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    Two British columns under Methuen and Von Donop had left Zeerust on 17 October 1901 in order to sweep the surrounding country, the one working in the direction of Elands River and the other towards Rustenburg. 

    On 24 October, during the march back to Zeerust, the column under Colonel von Donop, was surprised by De la Rey at Kleinfontein, 6km west of Groot Marico.


    The column, accompanied by a procession of 100 wagons, was marching along a bad road. Patrols were working on either flank; but Yeomanry scouts were powerless.

    At 7 am, some Boers having showed themselves on high ground to the front, the advance-guard guns halted and opened fire.


    Then, without a moment’s warning, some 500 Boers under Kemp, Steenekamp, Oosthuizen and other leaders charged down from the heights on the left in three ordered lines, struck the centre of the mule-convoy, shot down numbers of the native drivers and threw the whole into confusion. 

    While some Boers endeavoured to drive off the wagons, the rest whirled away to their right and fell upon the rear-guard, consisting of two guns of the 4th Battery, a company of the 1st Northumberland Fusiliers and acompany of the 5th Yeomanry. 

    The troops, resisting with bravery, received severe punishment. Both gun detachments were cut, the Fusiliers lost half their number in killed and wounded; the Yeomanry a quarter of their number and half their horses, and the guns for a considerable time were in Boer hands; but, the teams having been shot down, there was no means of removing them. 

    Meanwhile the column was cut in two, and fully two hours elapsed before von Donop was able to get back to the relief of the rear-guard.


    Then the Boers, who had succeeded in driving away 12 wagons with supplies and in burning one limber, were beaten off. 


    The British losses were 38 killed or died of wounds, 46 wounded and six missing in action. The Boers lost 20 men killed and 31 wounded.

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    MBE (2nd Type) Civil;
    DCM (Victoria): 104 Sergt: R. Rowland. Bechuanaland Rifles; 
    QSA, 3 clasps OFS, DoM, Tvl: 104 Serjt: R. Rowland. Bechuanaland R.; 
    KSA, 2 clasps SA’01, SA’02: 104 Sjt: R. Rowland. Bech’ld Rifles; 
    Coronation Medal 1902 (Bronze): Unnamed 
    Jubilee Medal 1935: Privately named Richard Rowland, Esq. D.C.M., J.P.


    Richard Rowland’s first recognition for Gallantry was during the Defence of Mafeking when he commanded the Barolongs during the Boer attack of 12 May 1900.


    He was mentioned by Col. Baden-Powell in the Mafeking Garrison General Orders, as published in the Mafeking Mail of 22 May 1900:


    “Corporal R. Rowland (30 men), Bechuanaland Rifles (wounded), in charge of Natives. Assisted the Barolongs materially in the defence of their Stadt, especially at the Western end in the evening, when, with a small party, he successfully contested the exit of the Boers till ordered to retire being wounded himself, and losing one killed and one wounded of his party.”

    Following the Relief of Mafeking the Bechuanaland Rifles saw service in the Cape Colony and the Western Transvaal. In early 1901 a squadron was in Lord Methuen’s column and they were in action in a running fight of almost 24 hours duration south of Wolmaransstad against the local Commando. 

    Rowland was slightly wounded on this occasion, and it is quite possible that the MiD (London Gazette, 16 April 1901, p2609) for Rowland and his C/O, Captain Cowan, was for this event.


    After the Kleinfontein action, Rowland was mentioned by Col von Donop (LG 17 Jan 1902, p379):
    “For marked gallantry in collecting men and carrying messages under heavy fire. Has been twice previously mentioned.”

    The award of the DCM to Sgt Rowland was published in the LG of 28 Jan. 1902, p582.


    In 1902 Rowland was one of the 5 NCO’s and men of the Bechuanaland Rifles chosen to form part of the Coronation Contingent. In the official motivation for his inclusion it was stated that he had enrolled in the unit on 18 July 1899, that he had rendered good service since the outbreak of hostilities and that he had earned a DCM.


    After the war, Rowland settled in Kanye, Bechuanaland.
    An entry in the “Historical Dictionary of Botswana” p296 covers his later life:


    Early trader and confidant of BaNgwaketse diKgosi. From Mafikeng, Rowland was of mixed (“coloured”) descent but could pass for white. He moved to Kanye in 1912 as a trader. Alongside his many trading ventures, he acquired a mining concession and ran the Moshaneng asbestos mine until his death.


    Kgosi Seepapitso II used Rowland to reorganize local commerce and to increase local cattle prices. Rowland was also crucial to Seepapitso’s road and dam building schemes.


    Always close to local diKgosi, he became an adviser and aide to Bathoen II, and also hired Johnny Masire (father of future president Quett Masire) as his store manager.


    During the 1930s depression, he raised much money for poor relief. Rowland was very popular among the BaNgwaketse, and upon his death they demanded that he be buried locally.” 


    By 1935 he was a Justice of the Peace and awarded a 1935 Jubilee Medal, with him noted on the roll as Trader of Kanye-Bangwaketsi Reserve, Bechuanaland Protectorate.


    His final award was in the 1938 New Year’s Honours (Suppl LG 1 January 1938, p13) when he was appointed MBE (Civil) as follows: Richard Rowland, Esq., J.P., of Kanye, Bechuanaland Protectorate. For public services.


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