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The 1st Battalion sailed in the Nubia on 20th October 1899, and arrived at the Cape about 13th November. Along with the 3rd Grenadier Guards and 1st and 2nd Coldstream Guards they formed the Guards Brigade under Sir H E Colvile. The work of the brigade has been sketched under the 3rd Grenadiers.
The battalion had very heavy fighting at Belmont on 23rd November. Lord Methuen said, "The Scots Guards carried out their instructions to the letter, and gained the heights at the point of the bayonet". Colonel Paget and three other officers were highly praised by Lord Methuen and General Colvile. The battalion's losses were severe, being approximately 10 men killed, 3 officers and 34 men wounded.
At Modder River the battalion was on the right of the Guards Brigade, the 1st Coldstreams afterwards prolonging the line to the right. The battalion suffered very seriously when, as they were advancing to the river, the enemy's fire suddenly burst forth. In a few minutes many casualties occurred, their "maxim detachment were completely wiped out". The battalion's losses were 11 men killed, 2 officers and 37 men wounded. When Lord Methuen was wounded in the afternoon Major General Colvile took over his command and Colonel Paget acted as brigadier of the Guards.
At Magersfontein the Scots Guards were in support and had trifling losses.
After the brigade came back from Koomati Poort to Pretoria the battalion, now under Colonel Pulteney, was employed for a time in the Krugersdorp district. On 7th November 1900 they were railed to Springfontein to assist in keeping De Wet out of the colony. When the pressure was over in the south they were sent in December back to the Transvaal, and in 1901 in the column under Colonel Pulteney they did endless hard marching, taking part, inter alia, in General French's operations against the commandos who had defeated General Clements on 13th December. In General French's great drive through the Eastern Transvaal in the first quarter of 1901, when he captured 7 guns, a maxim, and many prisoners, and in Sir Bindon Blood's operations between the Delagoa and Natal Railways. In July 1901 the battalion was railed to Bloemfontein, where they remained a long time. In February 1902 they furnished two companies as infantry for Colonel Lawley's column, which did much hard trekking in the north of the Orange River Colony and afterwards in the Transvaal. When the battalion was at Vryheid in April 1901 General French addressed them in a speech deservedly printed in the Brigade Magazine. No regiment ever received greater praise from a general.
In Lord Roberts' final despatches 29 officers and 27 non-commissioned officers and men of the Scots Guards were mentioned; these embraced both 1st and 2nd Battalions. One major and 4 non-commissioned officers and men of the Scots Guards gained mention in Lord Kitchener's despatches during the war, and in his final despatch 9 officers and 8 non-commissioned officers and men of the regiment were mentioned.
The 2nd Battalion sailed on the Britannic on 15th March 1900, and arrived at the Cape on 5th April. Along with the 2nd Grenadiers, 2nd East Yorkshire, and 1st Leinster Regiment, they formed the 16th Brigade under Major General Barrington Campbell, and part of the V111th Division under General Sir Leslie Rundle. The work of the brigade and of the division has been briefly sketched under, the 2nd Grenadier Guards.
The 2nd Scots Guards were present at Biddulphsberg on 29th May 1900, but were not so hotly engaged as the Grenadiers. The battalion's losses were approximately 5 men killed, 1 officer and 20 men wounded.
In September 1900 the battalion formed part of a column based on Harrismith under Campbell. In October 1900, along with the 2nd Grenadiers and some Imperial Yeomanry, they were trekking with General Rundle in the Bethlehem district, and on 26th October, when marching back to Harrismith, a strong force of Boers were found posted on hills commanding the road. The positions were cleared "in spite of a very stubborn resistance". Rundle's casualties were 3 killed and 17 wounded. Four weeks later Campbell again found the enemy in a strong position at Tiger's Kloof. "After sharp fighting their main position was taken by the Scots Guards". The casualties included Lieutenant Southey, shot through the head while gallantly leading his men, and Major E E Hanbury, hit in three places. Strangely enough, the other casualties were only 1 killed and 2 wounded.
The battalion took part in many other operations in the north-east of the Orange River Colony during the remainder of the campaign. In August they had a welcome break, being ordered to Pietermaritzburg in connection with the visit of the Prince of Wales to Natal. In September 1901 they were, along with the 1st Oxfordshire Light Infantry, employed in the erection of a line of blockhouses running from Kopjes Station, near Kroonstadt, to Potchefstroom, in the Western Transvaal; thereafter they were taken east to Wakkerstroom, and were employed along with the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment in building another line of blockhouses from that town to Piet Betief, near the Swazi border.
(Duke of Edinburgh's) Wiltshire Regiment
The 2nd Battalion sailed on the Gascon on 16th December 1899, and arrived at the Cape on 7th January. Along with the 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment, 1st Royal Irish Regiment, and 2nd Worcestershire Regiment, they formed the 12th Brigade under Major General Clements. The work of the brigade while they acted together has been sketched under the 2nd Bedfordshire.
The battalion had some heavy fighting in the Colesberg district after General French's mounted troops were withdrawn for the advance from Modder River.
On 12th February 1900 the enemy in great force attacked the positions about Rensburg. On that day the battalion lost 2 men killed and 1 officer and 11 men wounded, the 2nd Worcesters losing much more heavily. On the 14th there was again heavy fighting, in which the Wiltshires lost 12 killed and 45 wounded, and over 100 taken prisoners.
General Clements had found it necessary to order a retirement from the Rensburg positions on Arundel, in order to cover Naauwpoort Junction. From the proceedings of the War Commission it appears that the general announced he would retire at 5 am, but that he altered the hour to 12.15 am. Due notice of the alteration was not sent to two companies on outpost. When they came back to camp it had been occupied by the enemy. Endeavouring to follow the rest of the force, these two companies were surrounded and most of them taken prisoners, after making a good defence. No one could blame the two companies; they suffered because there had been an inexcusable want of care in the collecting of the regiment.
Having moved north from Arundel via Colesberg, Fauresmith, etc., the brigade joined the main army at Bloemfontein on 2nd April, and when Lord Roberts moved north in May they occupied the line in his rear. The brigade was ordered to occupy Senekal on 31st May, and this was done. Here Clements remained until the big operations against De Wet and Prinsloo commenced in June (see 2nd Bedfords). In these operations there was much heavy fighting, particularly on 6th and 7th July at Bethlehem, on the 23rd at Slabbert's Nek, and on the 28th at Slap Krantz (see Royal Irish Regiment). The casualties, however, were not excessive for the great result obtained.
The brigade having been broken up, this battalion was, along with the West Riding Regiment (which see), put under Major General Paget, and did good work in the districts north-east and north-west of Pretoria.
In Lord Roberts' final despatch 13 officers and 23 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.
In his despatch of 8th March 1901 Lord Kitchener says, para 9, that in consequence of De Wet's effort to get into Cape Colony he brought the troops under Generals Paget and Plumer from the Transvaal to Naauwpoort, Cape Colony, in February 1901. The Wiltshires had some skirmishing about Richmond and other places, and some hard marching in February and the beginning of March.
In April 1901 the battalion was, along with the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, on the Pretoria-Pietersburg line. Early in May the battalion provided four companies as the infantry of a column under Lieutenant Colonel Greenfell, which did very successful work in the Northern Transvaal.
One officer and 3 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in despatches by Lord Kitchener during the campaign, and in his final despatch he added the names of 5 officers and 6 non-commissioned officers and men.
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