The diary of I E C Rice-Jones, Strathcona's Horse 9 months 6 days ago #66609
IVOR EDWARD CECIL RICE-JONES
TROOPER Reg. No. 241
FEB.6th, 1900 TO JAN. 27Th, 1901
The original diary was kept by Ivor E.C. Rice-Jones during his service with Strathcona's Horse in the South African War of 1899-1902. The diary was written in pencil in three small notebooks. These books are in the Regimental Archives of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) in Calgary Alberta, the regiment that in 1909 inherited the title of the unit that was disbanded in 1901 as mentioned herein.
Ivor E.C. Rice-Jones enlisted at Maple Creek, North West Territories, (now Saskatchewan) on 6th February, 1900 and was posted to “B” Squadron. On enlisting he was given the Regimental Number 145 but that was later changed to 241. Seventeen other men enlisted at Maple Creek for service with Strathcona's Horse.
The diary covers the period of 6th February, 1900 to 27th January 1901. On the latter date the regiment was en-route to England from South Africa. Where a word or words are not legible in the original diary it is shown in the text as (.....?) also spelling is as shown in the diary.
FEBRUARY - 1900
6th Sworn in for Strathcona's Horse at Maple Creek.
7th Rode out to Grant's Ranch to collect horses, temp. 24 Below Zero.
8th Rode from Grant's to Fawcett's
9th Ed Clayton, Pete Armstrong and I rode into Maple Creek. Went to a dance at the barracks given for us. Slept down town.
10th Reported at barracks at 9 am. Given 4 hours drill. Got leave down town at 3.30 pm. Went to Smoking Concert at barracks in the evening. Had a very good time. Slept in barracks.
11th Got up at 7:30. We were driven to the station in sleighs at 9:45. Train came through at 10:30. Great crowd to see us off. Moose Jaw at 8:00 pm, Regina at 10:00 pm. Great crowds to meet train at both places.
12th Arrived at Winnipeg at 6.am. We were taken to drill hall in the electric cars. Were given a very good reception and supper. Marched back to the station. Tremendous crowd to see us off. We had a job getting on the train.. Left Winnipeg 9 am Very Cold. Raised the devil on the train.
13/14th Very Very Cold, had great sport at Ignace, Fort William and Nipigon. Great crowds along the line on the 14th.
15th Arrived Ottawa at 9am. Were taken to the Exhibition Grounds in electric cars and quartered in the cattle stables. Had blankets served out to us.
16/17th Reveille at 6 am. Breakfast at 7:30 am, Parade 9 to 11. Dinner 12:45, Parade 2 to 4. Supper 5:30, Roll Call 9:30 pm. Lights Out 10:15.
18th Sunday No Drill. Ed Clayton and I went downtown in the evening.
19th Order of the day the same as the 16th. 90 head of horses came in. Went downtown in the evening.
20th/21st Usual detail plus swimming at the YMCA and going to town in the evening. Regular stable routine commenced on the 23rd.
24th Off duty. Bad cold and cough. 193 more horses arrived from the west. Gramophone entertainment at the Russell.
25th No Drill Dull and stormy weather for the last week and very cold.
26th February to 12th March 1900
Nine of us started to ride and break the horses, being excused most of the drill on that account. Went to theatre several times. Lord Minto gave us a dinner at Government House and there was an amateur play acted there. Guard and stable picquet commenced. Had a mounted parade through town to the Parliament Buildings. Presented with Flag and Gidons by Lord Minto.
MARCH – 1900
13th Entrained for Montreal. We were given a great sendoff at the station. Marched through town with the bands.
14th Pass through country with about 6 feet of snow on the level. We were presented with a Flag at Moncton N.B. We had stopped at Montreal for six hours and paraded through town. Dinner at the Hotel Cecil. All kinds off speech making. Tremendous send off.
15tth Arrived Halifax. Marched to the militia barracks. Wend down in the evening.
16th Embarked on H.M.T. Monterey. Steamed out into harbour and lay there all night. Had another tremendous send off.
17th/18th Sailed for Cape Town and got rather sick but recovered on Sunday March 18th.
19th MARCH to 10th APRIL
Guards, Stables, Drill and Fatigues were carried out. During that period 162 horses died and er had a pretty rough time of it.
APRIL – 1900
10th Sighted Table Mountain. Anchored in Table Bay off Cape Town. Several other troop ships anchored in the Bay waiting to disembark their troops. The town lighted up at night presented a very fine sight.
11th We disembarked, unloaded the horses, saddled them up and led them up to camp. Camped at Green Point under Signal Hill. Pitched tents and put up horse lines. Had plenty of fun putting heel ropes on the horses. 11 pm before we got through. Very hard days work. Bully Beef and Hardtack for supper.
11th APRIL to 23rd MAY
Drills and parades, guard and stable picquets. Marched into country for manoeuvres.
MAY - 1900
24th Queen's Birthday. Had a mounted parade through Cape Town and were inspected by General Forrest-Walker and Sir Alfred Milner.
25th We received orders to hold ourselves in readiness to embark at any moment. Stowed away kit bags and things to be left behind.
26th “A” and “C” Squadrons ordered to sail for Durban much to their disgust. “B” strengthened to 200 and still under orders to be ready to move at any time. It is rumoured we have been chosen for some pretty ticklish piece of work and consequently “A” and “C” are very jealous. They embarked for Durban. Very heavy rain. We are drowned out of tents for the night and have to find the best place we can sleep.
27th Orders to embark, We embark on the “Wahool” and “Columbrian” and anchor in the harbour over night.
28th We sailed under sealed orders. Fair weather.
29th Rough weather. I was sea sick. Very poor grub.
30th Weather moderated. Nothing particular happened. The Colonel ordered a better supply of grub, paying for it himself.
31st Fine weather. Sailed close to shore near it all day.
JUNE – 1900
1st Weather moderate. Saw lights of Durban 10 pm. On stable picquet. Rumours that Koshi Bay is our port.
2nd Reached Koshi Bay where 2nd Class Cruiser “Doris” is waiting for us in case our landing is opposed and to cover our retreat if we have to retire. There is no sign of habitation except a few natives on the shore. We are to go ashore in life saving apparatus and swim the horse. To be told orders tonight.
3rd Sunday – Forty of us detailed to attend divine service on board HMS Doris. After service we were shown all over the ship by the sailors. Preparations for landing were commenced but during the afternoon a cruiser came in from Delagoa Bay with orders from Lord Roberts for us to return to Durban as the plans for the expedition had been betrayed and the Boers were massing 30 miles inland to cut us off. We were told the scheme had been for us to make a run for Komati Poort and blow up a bridge on the railway line from Delagoa Bay to Pretoria by which the Boers were bringing in provisions. After we had done that we were to make a run for it and join “A” and “C” Squadrons at some point in the South East of the Transvaal. We sailed to return to Durban.
4Th / 6th Reached Durban at 7 am and unloaded the horses next day on the 6th exercised the horses and unloaded cargo from the ship.
7th Had a mounted parade through Durban. On quarter guard. Camped in the goods shed at the wharf.
8th Entrained and started for Lower Tugela. Left Durban at 7 am. Reached Tugela at 3 am of the 9th, then detrained the horses and the equipment. Saddled up at 6 am and crossed to where “A” and “C” Squadrons were encamped.
10th Struck camp and marched 9 miles towards Eshowe, Zululand. Was on outpost duty all night.
11th Marched to Eshowe 16 miles. On outpost duty all night again. Have been on duty four nights out of five and am just about played out.
12th It looked like rain and we pitched tents. Received orders treturn to Durban. Eshowe is one of the prettiest places I have ever seen.
13th Started a forced march to Durban. Reached Tugela, 25 miles at 7:30 pm.
14th Marched to Umplali river 34 miles. Camped for 2 hours at noon at Stranger. Townspeople gave us lunch. Started to rain just as we reached camp and poured until 10 pm. No tents and had a pretty wet time of it but slept well.
15th Revelle at 3 am. Everything wet through. Marched to Durban, another 36 miles. Made camp at 7 pm. Had no bedding. The Regiment was complimented by the General on marching 95 miles in three days.
16th Entrained and left Durban at 5:15. I slept under the seat of the railway carriage.
17th Sunday. Reached Estcourt about 7 pm. Newcastle at 8 pm. Stayed in the train all night on the luggage rack, remainder under the seat. Stayed at Ladysmith for about 2 hours during the day and saw all the places of interest along the line. Graves all along the line also.
18th/19th Went into camp at Newcastle and next day marched to Ingogo Camp. 13 miles to base camp. Very rough country.
20th Pushed on 27 miles and joined General Buller. We were attached to Lord Dundonald's 3rd Mounted Brigde. Got to Sandspruit at 7:30 pm pitched in the dark. Midnight before we settled down. Camped for noon at Charlestown. Town deserted.
21st Marched 12 miles and camped at Goed Kop. Country getting flatter.
22nd Pushed on another 20 miles to Standerton, expected Boers to make a stand but they evacuated the town without firing a shot except for one or two snipers. Large railway across Vaal River blown up also bridge along the river.
23rd Remained in camp. On horse herd duty most of day.
24th Regiment paraded for divine service with South African Light Horse and Thornycroft's Mounted Infantry. Sermon by Vicar of Standerton. Pitched tents.
25th On fatigues all day.
26th Regiment on foraging duty. Sent to search a number of farms for arms. 3rd and 4th Troops of “B” Squadron and a few men of “C” Squadron were in the vicinity and night found us 16 miles from Standerton. Camped at deserted farm house. In saddle for 12 hours. On guard part of night.
27th/28th Up at daybreak. Got back to Standerton about 10am. Very tired. Next day on quarter guard. Had letters from May, E and N., McL., and Mrs. Wilkinson.
29th Went out with party searching farms for arms. Only men with Canadian horses sent. Ten miles down the river and back. Went down to hospital tents in evening to see Clayton.
30th Struck camp and marched 15 miles. Flank advance party. The Thornycroft's Mounted Infantry was fired on (by Boers)
JULY – 1900
1st Sunday. Advanced 9 miles. 3rd and 4th troops of “B” Squadron were out on right flank of transport. We ran into an outfit of Boers and had a lively time of it. Boers 12 to our 1. Jenkins Killed, Captain Howard and Trooper J. Hobson captured. 2 Horses killed. 1 Wounded, 4 Missing. My horse played out. Had to leave him on the road after the fight. Jenkins buried in garden of farm house.
2nd Reveille at 4:30 am. Advanced 10 miles to Greylingstad. Saw a number of Boers and expecting some fighting but they did a little sniping and then cleared out.
3rd Camped all day at Greylingstad. A few of us sent out to commandeer Boer horses if we could find any. I got a rather slick little pacing sorrel. On outpost duty all night.
4th Advanced to Vlaakfontein. Thornycrofts Mounted Infantry skirmished
5th 50 Men, 3rd and 4th Troops “B” Squadron, myself included sent as rear flank guard with infantry sent to repair railway bridge 8 miles up the line, 4 miles from Heidleberg. Under saddle at 8:30 but did not start until 11:30 owing to fog. Got back to camp at 6 pm and found the “A” Squadron were in action 4 miles from Greylingstad, 1 man killed, 5 missing. (Note: This was the Farm House Incident)
6th 80 men of the regiment along with Thornycrofts M.I. Some artillery and infantry sent 5 miles towards Greylingstad to scene of yesterdays action to meet General Buller and escort him to camp. Shelled by the Boers. Shells landed very close but owing to sandy nature of ground did not explode.
7th/8th Had a days rest. Wrote to Mrs. Deeds. On outpost duty all night, very cold. In morning regiment attended church parade. Very good sermon. Colonel Steele made a little speech after the service.
9th Marched back to Greylingstad by a different route to avoid a trap laid by Boers. They have six guns. Our guns shelled Boer transport.
10th Moved camp about half a mile. They sent out as left flank guard to Buller's escourt. Occupied kopjes commanding pass through hills. Our pom-pom fired a few shots at Boers who were worrying our left flank and scattered them in great shape. Sent out to draw fire from a ridge supposed to be held by the enemy but they did not bite. Back in camp by 5:30.
11th/12th On horse guard all day and next day on outposts guarding the railway while it was being repaired.
13th On outpost duty. Boers played on some of the outposts with pom-poms and big guns, but did not worry us. Boers opened with heavy rifle fire, our men drove them out of their positions. Our regimental casualties 2 wounded and 4 missing.
14th/15th Had a days rest but on outpost duty all night. Next day, Sunday on foraging expedition.
16th Struck camp and moved to a bridge 4 miles down the railway. On advance guard. On horse guard all night. Very Cold.
17th Marched to Wachout Spruit and joined other forces. Our guns shelled Boers who were sniping at the camp.
18th Marched 10 miles out. Big gun opened up on Boers, from camp to let them know where it was.
19th Marched 10 miles north to Standerton. We had skermish with Boers on our left flank but our big guns shelled them out.
20th Camp moved across Vaal River. Escourted mule teams part way to Standerton. Some sniping going on. On horse herd.
21st/24th Marched and camped 15 miles NW of Standerton as advance guard. Then marched to Wafshout Spruit on Sunday. Next day marched to bridge 4 miles east of Greylingstad. On advance guard, outpost and horse guard. On the 24th we moved into Greylingstad and camped.
25th Escourted infantry to bridge which they were repairing. On outpost on hills commanding the bridge all day.
26th Struck camp at noon and marched to Vlaakfontein. Advance guard, did not get into camp until late. Then on quarter guard.
27th / 29th Marched to Lagerbosfontein and next day to Heidleberg. Got some grub in town. On Sunday had a grand wash in the morning and fatiques in the afternoon.
30th / 31st Struck camp at noon and marched 14 miles to Lagerbosfontein. On site piquet. Next day marched 17 miles to Greylingstad where my horse played out and died.
AUGUST – 1900
1st Waited all day for train. 12 of us slept in railway carriages after leaving Standerton by rail, 34 miles without horses. No supper.
2nd / 4th Stayed at Standerton. Squadron arrived in evening. On the 3rd marched 17 miles towards Parde-Kop and the next day another 12 miles to Parde-Kop. Pitched tents.
5th Sunday. Camped for the day. Regimental muster parade for men and horses. Had wash and shave. Two miles to closest water.
6th Still camped. On stable picquet nearly all day. Got remount, an old crowbait of an Argentine. Bad sandstorm, not very plesant on horse herd. Struck tents in the evening.
7th Very cold morning. Got mixture of sand and grub. Struck camp. Advance guard. Boers sniped at us all day, one man wounded. Camped 20 miles north of Parde-Kop. Started at 7 am, did not reach Amersfoot until after 7 pm. Had a near shave from getting cut off by Boers. Transport did not keep up with us.
8th Did not march. Transport arrived at noon. One of the boys got a pig so we did not do to badly. Had a fine bate. Enemy sniped at outposts and gave them a fine time. Turned our pom-poms on them which soon quieted them down.
9th Moved about 8 miles. Boers sniped at advance guard.
10th Moved 8 or 9 miles. Advance guard. Plenty of sniping going on. Cam across Boer camp, fires of previous night. Pom-pom in action.
11th We got into Ermlo, the first in town after a race with some Lancers. Rode last 5 miles at a good pace as our horses could make, through a dust and sand storm over freshly burnt ground. Something chronic. Only RHA and SALH got in today. “B” Squadron camped in town by hotel. Slept in stables, pretty lucky. Had got hold of some grub in town and we had a pretty good feed. Waggons arrived about 10 om, without blankets.
12th Sunday, moved camp about 200 yards in morning. On fatigues. Then moved camp again in the afternoon to the main camp. Some slight swearing done. On town picquet.
13th Moved camp about 10 miles.the enemy. Had just got out of range and unsaddled when “B” Sqn was ordered out. We were in saddle 5 minutes and were sent out a couple of miles with the pom-pom to put the Boers out of a farm house. The pom-pom fired about 50 rounds and 10 men left the house. We were dismounted for action but nothing came of it.
14th Marched about 5 miles and camped a mile west of Caroline as “C” Sqn. Was sent over to take the town. The Boers sniped and they had a (......?). We were ordered out of camp to cover their retreat at 4:30 am. Rode 7 miles north of Witbank and got back to camp at 9 am.
15th Marched 9 miles. Sniping going on. Two SALH killed.
16th/18th Remained in camp on 16thth and on outpost duty on 17th. On the 18th “B” Squadron was ready to turn out but no orders came.
19th “B” Squadron turned out at 8 am and marched 8 miles to Strathburg. (.....? met (.....?) and escourt back to camp (.....?) Scots Greys there.
20th Regiment in camp at Twyfelaar 9 am to 8 pm.
21st Marched 5 miles. We were rear guard. Some very heavy fighting, numerous guns, many shells (.....?) Boers occupying very strong positions, several infantry killed and wounded. The Gordon's were in a tight place, made a bayonet charge and drove Boers out. “B” Squadron on outpost and did not get into camp until 7:20 pm. Fall in for outpost 8:00 pm. Walked 3 miles carrying our bedrolls. We were posted at 10:30 pm and relieved at 8:30 next morning.
22nd Remained in camp. Klop Farm. Washed and shaved. Left during afternoon.
23rd Marched 4 miles to Geluk Farm. Artillery shelling Boers out of position and silenced their guns. A lot of sniping. Quite a number of casualties. “C” Squadron on outpost, One man wounded.
24th Remained in camp. Horrible dust and sand storm. Blew all day. Big guns in action.
25th Remained in camp. Had a wash. Wrote to Mrs. McBean, Heavy sniping and artillery duel. Boers shelled our camp. Our 4.7 guns silenced the Boer high velocity gun.
26th Sunday. “B” Squadron and two Troops of “C” relieved the infantry of outpost duties. We got up at 3:45 am saddled up and pulled out none to soon. Boers sniped heavily all day. We returned fire with our pom-pom and two 15 pdrs shelled the Boers most of the day. They replied with a few pom-pom and Creusot shells. Heavy fighting on our left flank. We returned from trenches at dusk with three casualties (wounded) which were very lucky. Marched 3 miles camp. Arrived 9 pm. No water until 4 pm. During the day and 3 hardtacks for supper at 10 pm. Terrible muddle in camp.
27th Reveille 5 am. Ten minutes for breakfast. 3rd and 4th Troops “B” Squadron on left flank as baggage guard all day. Big guns in action and a good deal of sniping. Big fight near Machadorp. Enemy had strong position but was driven out in the afternoon. Big guns shelled with lyditte and infantry charged the position under their cover with fixed bayonets. The slaughter was terrible the battlefield with dead and wounded and shot and shell. Boer losses 600 British 150.
28th We advanced 10 miles to Machadorp. Terribly rough country. Boers landed shells right into us but our guns drove them back. Camped 2 miles north of town for the night. Transport very late.
29th Marched 6 miles. French camped near us. My horse went lame. On outpost duty at night.
30th Marched 8 miles. I had to walk. We were a few miles from Watervaal Boven where Krueger was. Boers released 2000 British priconers among them 9 of our men including Hobson. They joined French.
31st We halted for the day. I had a wash. Arms and Kit inspection. Commenced burning Boer farms 2 days ago.
1st We marched to Badfontein 12 miles. I had to foot it. “B” Squadron on outpost. We did 5 1/2 hour beat.
2nd We advanced 3 miles when enemy opened up on us with three big guns. We remained under fire all day and our guns replied now and then to keep up the enemy's fire to allow Hamilton to get into Lydenburg. A good many casualties. Two of our men wounded. I had a fine bathe in the river.
3rd Remained in camp. No fighting except a little sniping. Infantry entrenched and big guns got into position and sand bagged.
4th Remained in camp. Can hear boom of big guns in the distance. “A” and “B” Squadrons on outpost. Just when dinner was ready word was brought in that 4 men of “C” Squadron had been cut off. We were ordered to catch our horses and saddle up and 3rd and 4th Troops of “B” Squadron were sent out. We dismounted at the foot of the hill and went up on foot. We ran into an ambush and had a very hot time , only getting away with the loss of 2 men killed, Sgt. Brothers and Private Cruickshank. The next day the other four men found dead as well as McGillivery who was missing the day before.
(Note: 89 Pte. A.C. Garner, 151 Pte. A. McGillvery, 297 Pte. A. Jones, 284 Pte. W. West, 312 Pte. H.J. Wiggins)
5th Boers brought a Long Tom up on the east side of the valley and shelled our camp but did not do much damage. We moved down to the river bank for the day but returned to our old camp at night. Infantry advanced up the hill in the afternoon without much opposition, the long tom having been moved.
6th Moved camp 10 miles further on. The infantry did not start until 3 pm. Got into camp about 9 pm. No Opposition. Ian Hamilton's Brigade camp is a few miles west of us.
7th Marched to Lydenburg. Got into camp about 2 pm. Boers shelled camp from hills east of town and did good shooting. We returned to the river for shelter and I had a bathe. The whole regiment on outpost.
8th The Boers shelled the camp early in the morning. Our guns replied making excellent practice. We took left flank position of the enemy and infantry remained there all night. Camp moved to one mile east of town. We got to camp at 7:30 pm. No meat ration and 3 1/2 biscuits each.
9th Advanced 9 miles. Enemy getting pom-pom to work on our men. Two slightly wounded. Big guns made fine practice. Terribly rough country. Did not get into camp until 2 am. Some of the transport did not arrive until the next day.
10th Moved 5 miles farther on. Very bad trail. Two dead Boers found, also Boer cashe of food, about 40 tons. Boer waggons found thrown down into ravine. Reached camp 8 pm.
11th 3rd Brigade remained in camp, also 100 dismounted men. SALH and remainder of column moved on to Spion Kop. We camped on hill 1 mile from main camp. On outpost.
12th / 14th Moved camp half mile in afternoon. Next day on outpost duty all day. Nothing very exciting. Caught a kid which went very well for supper on the 14th, which was added to the Boer rice.
15th Did nothing particular. Had a good wash. Very hot. On outpost duty at night.
16th/17th Wrote to Mrs. Wolsley. Next day lay in camp and baked in the sun. Went to church service.
18th Cold windy day. Commenced to rain in the evening. Rained all night with heavy mountain mist. We got drowned out. Several Boers have surrendered during the last few days.
19th Heavy mountain mist during the day with showers of rain. Received orders at 3 pm to move camp as escort to 21 RRSA to Lydenburg. Marched 3 miles but hard time getting up hills. Camped at 8 pm. No blankets or supper. Very cold night.
20th Got rations at 9 am. Commandeered a sheep. Arrived at camp 6 pm where we received orders to march 3 miles to catch guns as Boers had been causing trouble on the trail. Arrived camp at 8:30. On outpost duty all night. No blankets.
21st/23rd Marched on to camp on hill 5 miles east of Lydenburg. Camped by Lichenburg. Next day moved camp up hill and commenced outpost duties with CR. On 23rd “A” and “B” Squadrons on outpost at 6 am
24th At 6 am saw about 20 Boers whom guns shelled. Had a good view of Baboons. On fatigues building a stone shelter. Had a bathe.
25th On building fatigues 9 to 12 noon. Orderly for the day. On outpost 6pm to 6 am.
26th / 29th On building or QM fatigues and gathered wood. Very short of rations.
30th Outpost 6 am to 6 pm.
1st Building fatigues. On outpost and fired 4 shots at two Boers during the night.
2nd Building fatigues. Nast all day. Commenced to rain at night and rained nearly all night. Fairly dry in lean=to.
3rd Miserable day. Rained all day. On outpost 6 pm to 6 am.
4th Passed miserably cold night. Order to pack and move. Marched for camp at town at 5:30 am. Joined the regiment. Letter from Mrs. Deeds.
5th Remained in camp. Inspection of arms. Got a horse.
6th Marched to Crocodile Valley, 18 miles. Rear guard. Very hot.
7th Sunday. Call (.....? of T.L., relieved .....?). Marched to Helvetia. Advance guard. On herd and night post.
8th Marched to Machadorp. Rear guard. General Buller made his farewell speech and said goodbye to us. Had a bathe.
9th Remained in camp. On saddle fatigue. S.A. Light Horse sent home. Very hot.
10th On sick horse fatigue. Had a bathe. Made Acting Corporal.
11th In charge of herd. Turned in horses. Packed saddlery for shipment.
12th Regiment entrained for Pretoria at 3 am after having laid around station all day in a terrific sand storm. Reached Middleburg at 7 pm. Camped by side of railroad for the night. Very cramped in the cars. Rain during the night with heavy lightning and thunder.
13th Reveille at 4 am. Entrained at 5 am. Saw T. Callaghan. Arrived at Pretoria at 10 am and passed through some pretty country. Marched to a rest camp 1/2 mile from station carrying bedding. I was on quarter duty with three men.
14th Very nasty dust storm. Guard dismounted 10 am. Sid. McL., appeared in camp. We had a good long talk about everything. We moved camp to the other side of town about 2 miles, i the afternoon.
15th Did nothing in particular except square up around camp. Terribly hot. We lay and baked in the sun. Sid came up.
16th I got a pass and was down town all day. Met Sid and we went to the baths and had 3 good meals. Got back to camp at 5 pm and found the squadron re-mounts there.
17th On stable picquet all day. Horses detailed to en.
18th On fatigues in the morning. Exercising horses after dinner. Then went down town to the baths and had a good bathe. Was very pleased to find tents removed and horse lines down when we got back to camp.
19th Got a pass from Noon to 7:30 pm. On fatigues all morning. Then went to S.I. And wrote a letter. Had tea there. Saw krueger's house. Received letter from Mr. Deed's and Arthur, dated September 17th.
20th We struck camp and moved out at 3 pm. Made 9 miles to camp at Irene. Arrived there 7 pm. No transport until nearly midnight.
21st Sunday. Reveille at 4:30 am. Marched at 6 am. Arrived Elandsfontein about 7 am, 21 miles. Horses very tired. On Outpost. No supper until 10 pm. No bedding. Passed cold night. Very Damp.
22nd Relieved at 8 am by “C” Squadron. Orders at 10 am to strike camp and entrain. Marched to station and entrained at 6 pm. Got to Johannesburg at 9 pm. Slept in tracks beside cars. Squadron Orderly Corporl for a week.
23rd Reveille at 4:30 am. Pulled out at 5 am. No rations. Got to Welerdiend 11 am. Commenced to rain about 6 pm and rained nearly all night. Got rather wet.
24th Reveille at 3 am. Pouring rain. Marched at 6 am. Left flank. Sniping all day. Heavy fighting at Frederickstadt. Got there 1 am. No rations.
25th / 27th We did not move. Rained. Left camp 7 am next day. Got back 6:30 pm. Rain. Got tents.
28th Sunday. Reveille 3 am. Stood by our horses until 7 am when we rode back to our camp ground. Rained all day.
29th / 30th Reveille at 2 am. Marched at 4 am. To Pochefsroom. Got there 11 am. I was General Barton's orderly today and next day.
31st Reveille at 2 am. Marched back to Frederichstadt.
1st Remained in camp. Had a bathe. Grazed horses and rustled forage.
2st Reveille at 2 am in the pouring rain. Heavy rain all day. Marched at 4 am. Made recce in force for 12 miles south. Got drenched through. Went to be at 6 am. Slept to 5:30 am next day.
3rd Remained in camp. Grazed horses and rustled forage nearly all day. Wet clothes (.....?) in morning. Then going around with blankets on.
4th / 5th Went to church parade in morning. Forage fatigue in the afternoon. Ordered to saddle up at 7 pm. Pulled out at 9 pm and marched til 3 am. Halted for 2 hours two miles west of Pochefstroom then marched 6 miles, then went on outpost till 9 pm.
6th / 7th Reveille at 5:30 am. Grazed horses. On stable picquet.
8th Reveille 12:30 am. Made night attack from Frederichstaadt on a village 6 miles away. Got 12 priconers with horses and mules. We got any amount of loot. I got a suckling pig and 2 chickens and some onions. Got back to camp at noon. Fatigues in the afternoon.
9th Remained in camp. Had a bath. Grazed horses. On stable picquet.
10th Reveille at 10:30 pm. Marched 12 miles south. Surrounded Boers but owing to infantry did not capture any. A lot of sniping. We had some shots back at them. They got in at us when we were leaving the kopjes. One man wounded, one captured. Gor back to camp at 7 pm.
11th / 12th / 13th Grazed horses and went to church service on Sunday. Monday remained in camp, grazed horses. Struck tents and ready to move. Next day reveille a5 2 am. Marched to Potchefsstroom. Camped at 10 am. Had bath and washed clothes.
14th Reveille at 3:30 am. Marched 8 miles and camped. Got a calf, had a great feed. Rained a little. One of our scouts, Pte. W. Stewart wounded near Machavies Station.
15th Reveille 5:30 am. Marched 6 miles. On outpost till 6 pm. Escort to Royal Engineers,
16th Reveille 2:30 am. Marched back to Machavies Station. On to Klerksdorp 8 miles. Left flank. Camped in Exhibition Grounds at 1 pm. On quarter guard. Heavy rain. 40 Prisoners.
17th / 18th Reveille at 2:30 am. Marched back to Machavies Station. On 18th reveille at 2:30 am. On outpost at 4 am. Left flank. Got back to Pochefstroom at 10 am. On QM fatigue.
19th / 24th Remained in camp. On 21st a heavy wind and rain storm tore the tent in half.
25th Reveille at 2:30 am. Marched at 4:40 am and made a recce 12 miles out.
26th Moved camp to other side of town for the week.
27th Reveille 2:30 am. Marched 9 miles starting at 4:30 am. Brought in 30 waggon loads of forage with women and children. Outpost most of the day.
28th Muster parade of horses. Struck camp in afternoon. Entrained the horses in the evening. Slept at station.
29th Pulled out at 5:30 am. Reached Elandsfontein at 7:30 am. Unloaded, watered, fed and reloaded horses.
30th Pulled out at 4:30 am. Breakfast at Vilgeers Drift 9:30 am. Watered horses with pails. Reached Kroonstaat. To bed at 11 pm.
1st Reveille at 3 am. Pulled out at 4 am. Unloaded, watered, fed and reloaded horses. Reach Bloemfontein. Unloaded horses, watered and fed them. Waited all night to re-load but did not do so until 3 am Sunday.
2nd Sunday. Pulled out at 4:30 am. Got to Bethune 7 pm. Unloaded horses. Marched at 12 midnight.
3rd Made 15 miles by morning. Fought DeWet's rear guard all day. Six horses killed and several wounded. Got in two pretty hot corners. Captured the position in the afternoon. Made camp at 8 pm.
4th Reveille at 4 am. Rained all night and all day. Camped at noon then received orders to march again. Campted at 7 pm at a farm. We through all day. No Transport, unable to get over trails.
5th Reveille at 2 am. Marched to Caledon River. Some of the transport crossed but the rest left unable to do so. Rain all day. Still wet through. DeWet left a pom-pom and a 9 pounder Krupp gun behind.
6th Reveille at 2 am. River swollen. Rest of transport unable to cross. We managed to do so. Very heavy rain during the night. Had to get up as we were lying in water. Marched to farm 12 miles north of Aliwal North. Rained all day. Camped at 6 pm.
7th Marched to Rouxville. Reveille at 2:30 am. Made camp at 3 pm. Horse took sick and had to be shot. Got a played out Boer pony. DeWet just ahead of us all day.
8th Reveille 4:30 am. Did not march. Got new shirt and sox. Had a wash and a bathe We relieved off Squadron Orderly. Orders to march at 5:30 pm. Got to Smithfield Bridge at 11 am. 16 miles. On picquet duty.
9th Reveille at 6 am. Our transport rejoined us. Orders to march at 8 am cancelled. 3rd and 4th Troops “B” Squadron sent out on a scouting expedition to see if DeWet had moved or not. Saw a good number of Boers but did not have any trouble. Got back to camp by 7 pm.
10th Reveille at 3 am. Marched to Smithfield then struck North. Camped at 12 miles from Smithfield. Heavy shower of rain.
11th Reveille at 2 am. Sighted DeWet's transport at 8 am. Fought his rear guard all day. Some horses wounded. DeWet left waggons and cape carts behind.
12th Reveille at 2 am. Marched 25 miles. Sighted Boer transport five miles away. Cane in contact with General Barton's column.
13th Reveille at 3 am. Marched 8 miles. Sniping with Boer rearguard. Camped at 4 pm. Got a calf and had a good feed.
14th Reveille at 4 am. Marched 6 miles at 6 am. Soon came into helio communications with two other columns. Passed a few miles east of Dewetsdorp. Joined Thornycroft's Mounted Infantry at Springbok Nek at night. DeWet having got through that morning with 3500 men. He lost one 15 pounder gun, one pom-pom and som waggons with 6500 rounds of Mauser ammunition in the attempt, besides a good many killed and wounded and nearly 150 Boer prisoners and a lot of horses. We reached Driefontein at 5 pm.
15th Reveille at 4:30 am. Remained in camp. On herd till 10 am then “B” Squadron went out to bring in a convoy. On stable picquet.
16th Sunday. Reveille 3:30 am. Marched at 5:15 am. Camped at noon having marched 9 9 miles. Terribly hot. Rain at night. In charge of water cart for a week.
17th Reveille at 3 am. Marched at 8 am, about 10 miles. Halted two hours at noon. Rained a little during the day and night.
18th / 19th / 20th Reveille at 3 am. Ordered to be ready to saddle up at any moment, but did not move. Next day was the same but on 20th moved at 1 pm and marched 5 miles.
21st Reveille 3 am. Marched 6:30 am Made a long march. Camped after dark 6 miles west of Cocolan.
22nd Reveille at 3 am. Marched at 6:30 am to Cocolan. Had a bathe.
23rd Sunday. Reveille at 2 am. “B” Squadron and part of “C” went out with pom-pom on a recce. Pte. Ingram killed. Cpl. MacDonald wounded. Column marched at 9 am. Went out about 5 miles then came back to camp at 4:30 pm. On cossack outpost.
24th Reveille at 3 am. Came into camp off cossack post at 4:30 am. Went out to farm house with Cape carts for wood. Got back at noon. Had a bathe.
25th Xmas Day. Reveille at 3 am. Stood to arms as on other mornings. Nothing to do all day except stables. Convoy arrived yesterday. Extra jam rations and meat. Concert at night (given by the Irish Yeomanry)
26th Reveille at 3:45 am. Marched at 5:15 am. On advance guard camped for night at noon on Basuto border 12 miles from Ficksburg. On outpost all day and for night until 9 am when orders came to march. Crossed Calidon River into Basutoland and marched all night. Very sleepy.
27th Got to Ficksburg at 6 am. Boers nearly all gone. Crossed river again to get into Ficksburg. Breakfast at 10 am. Camped all day. Had fine feed of fruit at farm house. On quarter guard.
28th Reveille 3 am. Marched at 4:30 am. Some sniping at farm house in the afternoon. Some farms burned. Got some Boer waggons and ammunition.
29th Reveille at 3 am Marched at 8 am. Camped 15 miles from Winburg. Very short on rations. Had a bathe.
30th Reveille at 3:30 am. Marched at 6 am. On prison guard. Camped NE of Winburg.
31st Reveille at 3:30 am. Marched at 5 am. On advanced guard. Engaged Boers during the afternoon. One man wounded. About 500 Boers there. Camped 12 miles south of Lindley. On herd guard.
1st Reveille at 3 am. Marched to Lindley by circuitious route. Sniping on the way.
2nd Reveille 5 am. Did not march. Arms inspection.
3rd Reveille 3:30 am. Marched 5:30 am on advance guard. Sniping all day. Camped 9 miles east of Lindley. Body Guard cut up.
4th Marched 6 miles, Heavy sniping. On outpost. Dug trenches. Night attack on opposite side of camp.
5th Reveille at 3:30 am Marched within 6 miles of Heilbron then turned back and camped at Elandskop. Sniping all day.
6th Reveille at 3:30 am. On rear guard. Boers following us nearly all day and we had plenty of work to keep them off. Big guns and pom-pom got in some fine
7th Reveille at 3:30. Sniping all day. Camped 2 miles west of Lindley. Some Lancers killed.
8th Reveille at 3:30 am. On advance guard. Heavy sniping all day. Pom-pom got some splendid work in. Camped 11 miles to the east of Kroonstadt.
9th Reveille at 3:30 am. On right flank. A few snipers about. Camped 3 miles south of Kroonstad.
10th Reveille at 5:30 am. Did not move. Had a good bathe in the Valsch River. Turned horses in.
11th Reveille at 2:30 am. Entrained at 4:30 am. Travelled to Viljoens Drift and camped there. Told we were going home.
12th Reveille at 3:30 am. Came to Kroonstadt. Camped near railway station.
13th Sunday. Reveille at 5 am. Turned in Saddlery etc. Had a shave and haircut. Sixty of our men rejoined us.
14th Reveille at 5 am. Remained in camp. Had a fine bathe. Parade of the Regiment. The Colonel (Steele) gave us a choice of which way we should go home.
15th. Reveille at 5 am. Ordered to strike camp at noon. Paraded in front of Lord Kitchener who gave us great praise. Entrained at 2 pm but did not start until 4 pm. Got to Viljoens Drift. And stayed there for the night. Had first class apartments to travel in.
16th / 17th Got to Glenrand and stayed there for he night. On 17th got to Bloemfontein for breakfast and picked up some of our men. Reached Norvals Pont at dark but travelled all night.
18th / 19th At De Aar for breakfast. Next day passed through Drakensberg Mountains and over some very rough country.
20th Cape Town at 7 am. Shunted around until noon then ran us down to wharf and we loaded our bedding on the steamer “Lake Erie” and sailed at 2 pm. I was sick for about an hour but did not miss a meal.
21st Fine weather. Nothing particular happened. Clean blankets and hammocks issued.
22nd / 24th Enroute to England the weather was fine and the sea calm. Complete issue of uniforms. Routines for the voyage – parade to all meals – clean up in the morning – inspection at 10 am.
25th Pay parade with an advance of three pounds (English money). Sighted two steamers. Had a bathe.
26th Weather fine. Had a bathe. On guard at 6 pm.
27th Sunday. On guard. Had a bathe. Fair weather.
END OF DIARY
The SS Lake Erie arrived at Gravesend, England, on February 13th, 1901. Queen Victoria had died on January 22nd 1901 while the Regiment was at sea. While in London, from February 13th to 23rd, 1901, the troops were quartered at Kensington Barracks and at St. John's Wood Barracks.
On Friday, February 15th, 1901 the Strathcona's paraded at Buckingham Palace where King Edward VII presented a King's Colour to the Regiment and personally presented each Officer, Non-Commissioned Officer and Man with his Queen's South Africa Medal.
Strathcona's Horse left London on February 23rd 1901 and sailed from Liverpool that evening on the SS Numidian arriving at Halifax, Nova Scotia, late on Friday March 8th, 1901.
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The following user(s) said Thank You: djb, Elmarie
The diary of I E C Rice-Jones, Strathcona's Horse 9 months 5 days ago #66644
Very interesting, Mike. Many thanks for taking the time and trouble of posting his diary.
Dr David Biggins
The diary of I E C Rice-Jones, Strathcona's Horse 9 months 5 days ago #66647
Thanks David..... When you are on your gluteus maximus for a few weeks, up now, have to keep yourself busy some how..... LOL..... Mike
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