Rob D wrote: I found it sobering to read: ..
"We took about 40 prisoners (stragglers), shot three of the ringleaders..."
The ringleaders of what? Were they picked out at random, as an example to the rest?
MWidnall, here's some more information on the doings of the 32nd Company.
From Lance Corporal John Pendlebury, "on the veldt, grazing near Draghoender", letter dated May 25th 1900: "An order came for the Lancashires to find a patrol of 12 to ascertain the strength of some rebels about 40 miles away over the Orange River to Griqualand West, who had taken stores from a Mr Morris, and were living there, having raided his farms, cattle, &c. We marched on Thursday, 17th. Mr Bretherton, a sergeant, myself, and 9 men went 30 miles camping on the banks of the river at Buchuberg. The following day we went 20 miles, 4 of them along the banks in a valley passing the rebel's laager 6 miles out, and on to Kuikendraai, without being molested in any way. That night Mr B. told me we had been sent out as a bait for them to try and capture, having a cart and five days' rations driven by two Kaffirs. He (Mr B.) determined to find out if there were any knocking about the stores, so we rose at 2-15 a.m., and marched back at 4, and very cold it was, getting opposite the laager by daybreak. All dismounted except three, who held the horses. Crossing the jungle to the edge of the river we emptied our magazines (10 rounds) into the buildings. After the first few shots nine men took to their heels to some kraals of brick and mud for safety. We could see dust rise out of them as they were struck by the bullets. We made very good practice seeing that it was 1,500 yards, but we were able to rest the barrels on trees. We waited for half an hour, and fired another 20 rounds or so, but never saw anyone. We came away and had breakfast near a Mr Davies's two miles from the river, intending coming on our way here at 12 o'clock, but Mr B. having a walk to a kopje with his glasses could see any amount of them mounted and armed. We saddled up in quick time and galloped back, intending having another pop at them. But they must have seen some of us, as when we got opposite again we never saw anything of them. We galloped five miles down, thinking they might cross the river, a drift near Mr Morris's who lived at Brand Boon (Burnt Tree), but all we could see of them was a few scouts, three miles away. They must be cowards, or otherwise they didn't know our number. I would have been better satisfied if they had fired back, but I suppose we were playing at their game (sniping). I can fancy the bullets would make nice music in the stores, as it was made of corrugated iron, and maybe they had only just got out of bed. Making back to the cart at Davies's we fired a few shots at the horse, kraal killing one. Another dropped, but got up again, the glasses made it out to be an English horse, probably one of the 14 Cheshire horses captured over the pont here at Rietfontein. Having knocked our horses up we encamped on Stuft Kraal, a position we could have held against hundreds, but they didn't cross the river, there were over 50 prowling about the morning we left (Sunday), doing 34 miles before reaching here. A man came in on Tuesday to say they had crossed, wounding Davies in the arm and taking him prisoner, also Morris. The messenger should have been taken as well, but pretending to be one of their friends they allowed him to go out with two of their number to bring the sheep and cattle in belonging to Davies. He gave them the slip and galloped here. Captain Jones and 25 men went out at 4-30 along with the Colt maxim guns there, but returned last night without seeing anybody. Nesbitt's Horse, 44th Battery Gloucester Mounted Infantry, went that way this morning. Directly after the Warwicks came in from Kenhardt, and are going with us on a three days' patrol over the pont at Rietfontein, and will probably go up the river. Nesbitt's coming down. We start 8 a.m. to-morrow (Saturday 26). If the rebels lay down their arms we shall probably make for De Aar, or Cape Town, and soon be in dear old England."
From Pendlebury again, from Kheis, letter dated June 7th 1900: "No doubt you will have read of our little engagement last Monday week and the grand victory gained over the rebels here. They had a splendid position. We left Draghoender on Saturday, May 26th, camping 18 miles out, and on to Stuff Kraal the following morning, where we joined the Gloucester Mounted Infantry, Nesbitt's Light Horse, and the 44th Battery of Artillery, they were passing through Draghoender the day before we left. The Warwick Yeomanry should have joined us the same night, Sunday, but missed their way in the dark. However, they found the drift they were supposed to cross at daybreak (Monday). The column marched out of Stuff Kraal at 7 a.m., the Artillery going 3 miles down the river side to a kopje where they could shell the enemy's laager at 2,700 yards range, the troops remaining at the same place that we fired from the week before. The first shot from cannon was the signal to cross, "B" Troop first, the others to follow if the enemy's fire was not heavy. Several shots came, but no one was hit, from seven men entrenched opposite the drift. The sound of the Artillery's guns must have frightened them as they left skins, blankets, shawls, and saddles in the trenches, going bareback. If they had remained they must have killed a lot, so well were they situated. The pits were from 5 to 7 feet deep lined with boulders to rest the barrels of their rifles on, and only 150 yards range. While watering on Sunday morning the Artillery horses were fired at by the same seven. All being across, the order was advance in skirmishing order, gallop, and after about 2 miles had been covered, right shoulder. The Lancashires were on the right, Gloucesters left, and Nesbitt's centre. There was little opposition for a while, several shots coming, but when near the place from whence they came, there was a white flag held and no rifle to be seen, probably it had been dropped and covered with sand. Closing in to here you could see nobody, but shots whizzed by, and to make it worse the Artillery's shells were dropping uncomfortably near, they not expecting our men up so soon. While under cover from shell fire a great many of the rebels made their escape without being seen. Sergeant Ward and J Fairclough were killed, Roberts wounded in the knee, Dancer neck, and Swire top of head and leg, the bullet going through both trousers pockets. All these were "B"; Sergeant James Macdonald and Bennett wounded, "D." Clarke of "A" died on Wednesday morning from wound in neck, and was buried by the side of Captain Tyndall, staff officer, and Lieutenant Matthews, Gloucesters, who died during Tuesday night. Captain Jones (our captain) was shot in the ankle. The Gloucesters had 2 wounded, a sergeant and a private, opposite here at the drift, where the Warwick Yeomanry tried to cross. Major Orr-Ewing, a corporal, and private were killed and several wounded, including our doctor (Dr Dunn)."
From Trooper William Swire, from Draghoender, letter dated June 8th 1900: "I dare say you will have had it in the papers of the skirmish we had with the rebels at Kheis, on the 28th of May. We marched away from Draghoender on the 26th, and marched a distance of 36 miles in the two days. On the 28th early in the morning we saddled up, and prepared for the attack on the rebels at the other side of the Orange River. We halted just under cover of the trees on the banks, and got the order to follow one another across in single file as soon as we heard the first artillery gun fire. The 44th Battery, Royal Artillery, Glosters, Nesbitt's Horse, Warwick Yeomanry, and Lancashire Hussars took part. The Lancashire Hussars were the first to cross the river with B troop in front. Captain Jones followed the guide, then Sergeant Ward, then the troopers. Arthur went about the sixth. I thought the rebels would have fired on us as we crossed, but the shells from the artillery had cleared them from there, and I am afraid it would have been bad lines for us all, for the horses were up to their stomach in water, and then we had about six yards of slutch the same depth to go through, before we got to solid ground, and we were all very glad to get on the solid, for some of the horses got their noses in, and nearly went down, so you may guess we were all fairly slutched. We advanced in skirmishing order, but the rebels had fled from just about there, so we galloped on as hard as we could, but we fairly meant to have a go with them if we possibly could, for we have been disappointed so often. After a good stiff gallop when the horses were nearly all blown, for we galloped in one long line in skirmishing order, we got such a volley of shots fired at us through the bushes. We could not see the rebels at all at first. We then dismounted and commenced firing on them. B troop were the worst off, for the ground on the extreme right had no bushes nor stones to cover them, your Arthur [Hodson] behaving proper plucky, and when Captain Jones got shot through the ankle he bandaged his wound up for him. We drove the Boers from their position, captured their laager and goods, along with tremendous lots of sheep, cows, and horses, and burned their farms; in fact, I think, gained a complete victory. Colonel Adis, who was in command, gave the Lancashires a splendid name. I have come down to Draghoender with some wagons and the best of the wounded."
This is just fascinating !! I'll plot out these locations on Google Earth to get a better idea of movements but these letters bring such a personal aspect to what is otherwise a cold series of dates and locations.
You whetted my appetite with your query about addresses earlier. James Griffins discharge papers indicate an 'Intended Residence' of Spring Hill, Rugby, despite having no know connections to the Town (he was born in Waterford in 1880, attested in Newton-le-Willows in 1900). Via this web site I've established that a Captain Edward Darley Miller also served in the Lancashire Hussars. With his brothers. Captain Miller established the Rugby Polo Club which is based at Spring Hill, Rugby. So this almost certainly seems the reason why my great grandfather as a boy from Waterford ended up in Rugby (via Lancashire and South Africa).....!! I am indebted to you !!
The only mention of a troop in the 32nd Company that I've come across was B Troop, which was comprised of St Helens men; therefore, James Griffin probably wasn't in B Troop.
He's not included in the list of men from the Newton-in-Makerfield district (which included Earlestown and Newton-le-Willows) who served in the 32nd Company, nor is Captain Miller.
That would usually be because neither of them were residents there - the eligibility of names to be included on towns and villages' Boer War memorials and rolls of honour was generally much more limited than those from the Great War. Someone who was born in a village but had moved away wouldn't be included (probably not 100% of the time, but nearly always). If we knew why Captain Miller joined the 32nd Company, rather than another Company, there might be a clue as to why James Griffin did also. Would a captain in the Imperial Yeomanry have had a servant in South Africa? Is that why James Griffin put down Spring Hill, Rugby, as his intended residence, because he was going to be employed by Miller after the war?
Again, many thanks for this. I'm now challenged as to why a lad from Waterford, Ireland, ended up in the Lancashire Hussars !!
It seems the Lancashire Hussars did have an A, B, C and D Troop, that information comes from an article David Fearnley wrote for the magazine of St Lukes Church, Ashton-in-Makerfield (amazing what the internet can turn up !!). David does seem to be quite an authority on the Lancashire Hussars. Would you know if its possible to contact him - either directly or via this Forum ?? I can't track any form of contact details down.
I have David's email address, having had some correspondence with him in 2017 about one of the troopers in the 32nd. I could try contacting him to let him know that a relative of James Griffin is looking for information on him, and could he help you. If you send me a PM with your email address I can add that to the email.