Troopers George Whittington and Milverton Ford, both of the New South Wales Lancers, were taken prisoners by the Boers at Slingersfontein on January 19 and sent to the Waterval Camp. Finding life in camp intolerable, they made up their minds to give the Boers a clean pair of heels, and in company with Sergeant Delaney, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, they made their escape from Waterval on the night of April 22 Leaving their late prison they immediately struck due cast across the veldt, their only guidance being a map and a small appendage compass. Near Middelburg they missed Delaney. For the most part they travelled during the night, but occasionally the thick bush in some parts of the country afforded them sufficient cover to enable them to proceed during the day with comparative safety. Having to wade through swamps and ford rivers, they were compelled to rest in their wet clothes, and this, in the intense cold of the nights in the present season on the high veldt, greatly increased their sufferings. Eventually they struck the Crocodile River, which they followed until, footsore and exhausted, they reached the railway at Waterval Onder. Here they boarded the night goods train bound for Delagoa Bay, and under the tarpaulin sought shelter among the bales of wool. When they arrived at Komati Poort, the truck was searched by two Kaffirs, under the direction of a railway official, but, fortunately, they escaped discovery, and soon they found themselves in “neutral territory,” when the train crossed the border. They arrived safely at Delagoa Bay in the afternoon, and their tattered clothing, shaggy hair, and bruised feet told the tale of suffering which these two members of our Colonial troops had undergone.
Mr George Whittington and Mr Milverton Ford as they arrived in Delagoa Bay
Mr Milverton Ford and Mr George Whittington as they arrived in Cape Town
I appears that "881 Tpr. George R. Whittington" of the NSWL , prior to his capture and escape, had seen considerable adventure in Southern Africa. The invaluable OZ-Boer database reveals him to have been a native of Sydney and thirty-one years of age on enlistment in the NSWL. He is recorded as having served in the Matabele War of 1896 and against Galishwe in Bechuanaland in 1897. The Owen roll for the BSACM shows an entry for one "Tpr.G.Wittington" of E Troop, BFF as entitled to the 1896 medal (note the missing "H" in the surname). The CofCHGSM medal roll is a little more difficult to search; I will have a better try tonight.
Subsequent to the Matabele war, George settled fifty miles from Bulawayo where he kept a store but lost his savings when his store was burnt by natives. He returned to NSW to recuperate from fever. He volunteered for the Cape with the NSWL; "where his knowledge of the country was of great service to his comrades". His QSA medal was entitled to bear the clasps Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal. The NSWL medal roll margin shows "also No.121 Farrier Sgt., Warren's MI".
"897 Tpr. John Milverton Ford" of the NSWL also had a pre-war association with South Africa. He was a Surveyor with the NSW Public Works Dept. (and Master of the Sydney Hunt in 1895) until going to Johannesburg as a surveyor and assayer with United Main Reef Gold-mining Co. and "rejoined his old company (NSWL) upon their arrival at Cape Town". Like his fellow escapee, his QSA medal was entitled to bear the same three State clasps.
Both men - and especially George R. Whittington - certainly left a paper trail for us to follow. And how men travelled far and wide in search of adventure and hopefully Fortune.
(A bit later: on the CGHGSM medal roll I found Pte/Tpr. Whittington, G" entitled to the clasp Bechuanaland with the DEOVR).