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TOPIC: Boer War DSOs

Boer War DSOs 2 years 9 months ago #48571

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There were some 1,160 DSOs awarded for the Boer War. At the time of the Boer War it was given to officers with senior command responsibilities, typically upwards of Major, however it was bestowed upon junior officers, usually in cases of conspicuous valour. The majority of awards have no citation but, because the officer had to be mentioned in despatched, an idea of the cause of the award can sometimes be gleaned.

The list of DSO recipients is available here: angloboerwar.com/medals-and-awards/briti...uished-service-order


Picture courtesy of DNW

DSO VR
QSA (3) CC OFS Tr (Lt. D. L. Campbell, D.S.O., Welsh R.)

DSO LG 5 July 1901: ‘For the defence of a train near Alkmaar on 20 May 1901, with four men against 50 Boers at close quarters.’

Duncan Lorn Campbell was near Murree in India in June 1881, the son of Brigadier-General L. R. H. D. Campbell, C.B., and was educated at the United Service College, Westward Ho! Gazetted to the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, Welsh Regiment in November 1900, he was embarked for South Africa, where he served on attachment to the 1st Battalion in operations in Cape Colony, Orange Free State and the Transvaal during 1901 (Queen’s Medal & 3 clasps).

His immediate award of the DSO stemmed from a “mention” in Lord Kitchener’s despatch, dated in July 1901: ‘2nd Lieutenant D. L. Campbell, 1st Battalion, Welsh Regiment: near Alkmaar on 20 May 1901, he most gallantly held an armoured truck for more than hour with only three men. The Boers had possession of the rest of the train and were firing into the truck from the roof of the next carriage and from the sides of the cutting. He was repeatedly called on to surrender but refused.’

Campbell and his small party held out for nearly two hours, when a mounted patrol of the Royal Welsh arrived on the scene and drove off the enemy. In Wilson’s After Pretoria: The Guerilla War, it is said the Boer Commander has just issued orders for the truck to be blown up with dynamite.

Having been seconded to the Indian Staff Corps following the Boer War, Campbell resigned his commission in November 1904 and was placed on the Special Reserve of Officers. Recalled as a Captain in August 1914, he served in the 3rd Battalion, Welsh Regiment in Gibraltar until 1917, when, it would appear, he deserted. Certainly he faced a Court Martial there in April 1919, and was dismissed the service. As a consequence he was not awarded any campaign medals for the Great War and he died in February 1923.

Dr David Biggins
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Boer War DSOs 2 years 9 months ago #48576

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CAPTAIN HOVELL, H. De B., (Hugh de Berdt), WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT





Q.S.A.: CAPE COLONY, TRANSVAAL, WITTEBERGEN
K.S.A.: SOUTH AFRICA 1901 AND 1902

Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 27 September 1901]: "Hugh de Berdt Hovell, Major, Worcestershire Regiment. In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa". The Insignia were sent to the GOC Transvaal 15 November, 1902, and were presented at Bloemfontein 16 March, 1903.

From the Diary of

No.4399 Private Thomas Ford, 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.


February, 1900

Took part in operations round Colesberg, culminating in the attack on British outposts, Monday, Feb. 12th.

Casualties – Officers:
Killed.
Lt.-Col. Coningham.
Bt. Major A. K. Stubbs.

Wounded.
Captain B. H. Thomas (died).
Lieut. C. F. Ruxton.
2/Lieut. M. R. Carr.

Casualties - Other ranks:

Killed.
Sgts. Watkins, Carter; Cpl. Pritchard, L/Cpl. Allen, Ptes. Mason, Carrington, McNaughton, Parton, Danks, Pinner, Parker, Lammas, Weissner, Morris, Deverill, Turley.

Wounded.
28 (1 died of wounds); missing and prisoners, 19 (2 died of wounds).

The following notes are from Mr. A. Bradish who served with the battalion in the South African War. His Company Commander was Captain C. M. Edwards.

12th February 1900

The action of Sligersfontein, named after the farm there, was our first engagement exactly one month after landing in South Africa. This successful engagement with the Boers brought the first honours to the battalion—two D.S.O.'s, immediate awards to Captain H. de B. Hovell, O.C. "A" Coy., and Lieutenant H. V. Bartholomew, O.C. "E" Coy.

Three companies bore the weight of the attack, "A," "E," "C." "A" and "E" held the Kopjes, with "C" in support. Lieut.-Colonel Conningham went from the H.Q. Camp immediately he heard the Boer attack was in force. He was leading the supporting company, commanded by Captain Thomas, " C " Coy. Both fell very early, the Colonel killed and Captain Thomas severely wounded, afterwards died. The Colonel had been in command of the battalion only two months. Major Stubbs, O.C. "E" Coy., was killed and Lieutenant Bartholomew took command of the company. Captain Hovell immediately assumed command of the three companies, and the position was held against great odds without one yard of ground being yielded. Severe casualties were inflicted on the Boers. This outpost line, of which Sligersfontein was the extreme right flank, was 20 miles in length and held by four battalions of infantry, the 12th Brigade commanded by General Clements.

On 13th February the whole brigade retired to Rensburg and then on to Arundel, closely followed by the Boer General, De La Ray, and his commandoes, a distance of 30 miles. At Arundel reinforcements arrived and the Boers were halted.

On the 12th February 1900, the right flank of the British at Slingersfontein came under a strong attacked by the Boers commanded by General De la Rey's. The key of the British position at this point was a kopje held by three companies of the 2nd Worcester Regiment. Upon this the Boers made a fierce onslaught, but were as fiercely repelled. They came up in the dark between the set of moon and rise of sun, as they had done at the great assault of Ladysmith, and the first dim light saw them in the advanced sangars. The Boer generals do not favour night attacks, but they are exceedingly fond of using darkness for taking up a good position and pushing onwards as soon as it is possible to see. This is what they did upon this occasion, and the first intimation which the outposts had of their presence was the rush of feet and loom of figures in the cold misty light of dawn.

The occupants of the sangars were killed to a man, and the assailants rushed onwards. As the sun topped the line of the veldt half the kopje was in their possession. Shouting and firing, they pressed onwards. But the Worcester men were steady old soldiers, and the battalion contained no less than four hundred and fifty marksmen in its ranks. Of these the companies upon the hill (later named Worcester Hill) had their due proportion, and their fire was so accurate that the Boers found themselves unable to advance any further. Through the long day a desperate duel was maintained between the two lines of riflemen.

The Worcestershire Commander Lieut.-Colonel Charles Cuningham and his second in command Brevet- Major Arthur Kennedy Stubbs were killed while endeavouring to recover the ground which had been lost.

Hovell and Bartholomew continued to encourage their men, and the British fire became so deadly that that of the Boers was dominated. Under the direction of Hacket Pain, who commanded the nearest post, guns of J Battery were brought out into the open and shelled the portion of the kopje which was held by the Boers. The latter were reinforced, but could make no advance against the accurate rifle fire with which they were met. The Bisley champion of the battalion, with a bullet through his thigh, expended a hundred rounds before sinking from loss of blood. It was an excellent defence, and a pleasing exception to those too frequent cases where an isolated force has lost heart in face of a numerous and persistent foe. With the coming of darkness the Boers withdrew with a loss of over two hundred killed and wounded. Orders had come from General Clements that the whole right wing should be drawn in, and in obedience to them the remains of the victorious companies were called in by Hacket Pain, who moved his force by night in the direction of Rensburg. The British loss in the action was twenty-eight killed and nearly a hundred wounded or missing, most of which was incurred when the sangars were rushed in the early morning.

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Boer War DSOs 2 years 8 months ago #48911

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From the next Woolley and Wallis auction


Picture courtesy of Woolley and Wallis.

The Boer War D.S.O. pair to Captain Harry Crewe Godley, Northamptonshire Regiment: Distinguished Service Order, Victorian with second type crown, minor loss to fine details of enamel but otherwise nearly extremely fine; Queen's South Africa Medal 1899-1902, clasp, Belmont (Capt. H.C. GODLEY, D.S.O., North'n R), officially engraved naming, ghost dates, toned but otherwise good very fine; mounted for wearing and together with associated mounted miniatures.

Harry Crewe Godley was born at Fermoy, County Cork, Ireland, 30th October 1861, Son of Major H.R.C. Godley 28th Regt (see lot **). He was in South Africa from October 1899 to January 1900, was mentioned in Despatches (L.G. 16 April 1901), and created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (L.G. 19 April 1901) for his service in command of two Companies of the Northamptonshire Regiment in the defense of Enslin Railway Station in December 1899: "The D.S.O was awarded for the excellent service he rendered during the campaign, when he was left in command of a post with two companies of the Northampton Regt., to command Enslin Railway Station.......and defended it for nine hours against a force of from 900 to 1,000 mounted Boers with two guns, under Commandant Prinsloo, who made a suprise attack in order to destroy the line and capture the stores which were being guarded; and notwithstanding the very superior force of the burghers, the two companies....successfully resisted the attack until relieved by reinforcements.....when the enemy retreated." (Creagh and Humphris, 'The Distinguished Service Order 1886-1923')


QSA (1) confirmed on WO100/193p1. Note says invalided.

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Boer War DSOs 2 years 4 months ago #51902

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Boer War ‘gallantry’ DSO group of three awarded to Lieutenant A. F. de Trafford, South Staffordshire Regiment

DSO VR;
QSA (3) CC Tr Witt (Lieut: A. F. de Trafford, D.S.O., S. Staff: R.);
KSA (2) (Lt. A. F. de Trafford. D.S.O. S. Staff. Rgt.)

DSO LG 27 September 1901: ‘Augustus Francis de Trafford, Lieutenant, 3rd South Staffordshire Regiment For services during the recent operations in South Africa.’

Augustus Francis de Trafford was born on 27 October 1879, son of Augustus Henry de Trafford and Gertrude Mary (née Walmesley). He died in hospital after a lingering illness on 1 June 1904.

When a memorial to Lieutenant de Trafford was unveiled, Colonel Raitt said of him: “Here, among those who knew him, there is no need for me to say he was a well-loved comrade. You all know that his amiability of disposition, straightforwardness, modesty, and charm of manner would have been sure to endear him to those around him. But we also call him a most gallant comrade, and to show you these words also are used in all sincerity. I would like to give you two instances of his conduct in action. In June and July 1900, he was with a wing of the battalion under my command at a place called Willow Grange, near Ficksburg, in the Orange Free State. The enemy's position was two or three miles in front of us. The intervening ground was a plateau running from our position up to theirs. One day we went out to cut barbed wire from the farm fences in front that we required to strengthen our defences. The Boers came out and shot at us, but did no harm. Apart from the incident I am about to relate, it was an insignificant affair. I left Augustus de Trafford with half a company on a little kopje to our right rear, in order to prevent the Boers working round under cover of the edge of the plateau, to enfilade us. When we had got all the wire we needed, I rode back to the kopje where I could get a better view, in order to see when I could safely retire the covering parties. It appears that the Boers had tried to get round our flank, and were under cover in some rocks at the edge of the plateau about 300 or 400 yards away. I did not know they were there, and those at the kopje, no doubt thinking I knew, never told me. I saw two soldiers lying alone a short distance in front away from their section. I asked what they were doing, and said they were to be ordered to rejoin it. I never meant Augustus de Trafford himself to go to them. The next thing I saw was he walking quietly up to them. The Boers opened fire on him, they had the exact range, and the bullets were striking the ground all round. Horrified at the result of my order, I shouted to him to run. He would not run, but walked quietly up to them, gave them their orders, and returned. Every moment I expected to see him drop. Well, I think a man might be brave enough, and yet have run without even waiting to be told to do so. At this time he was a subaltern in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, and there was some difficulty about getting his commission in the line. I had an opportunity some time after of relating this incident to the General, who at once interested himself in the matter, and got his commission. I think, therefore, we may fairly say he gained his commission by his gallantry in action. The next incident was related to me by Major Williams, of our battalion, who was himself afterwards killed in action, and by Major Going, who is here today. It occurred with the Mounted Infantry near Vereeniging, in the Southern Transvaal, in July 1901. They were being closely pressed by a very superior force of Boers; de Trafford's section, which was out in front, was ordered to fall back to a ridge, where the remainder of the regiment were. While they were doing so, he saw Major Williams' horse shot. He at once rode up to him and begged him to take his. Major Williams refused, and told him to go on after his section. He would not, and before Major Williams could persuade him to do so his horse also was shot. The Boers were right on to them, and they were surrounded and captured. Major Williams reported this incident, and it gained him the Distinguished Service Order”.

Dr David Biggins
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Boer War DSOs 2 years 2 months ago #52857

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Boer War DSO with unconfirmed second award bar to Major J A Warwick of Warwick's Scouts.


Picture courtesy of DNW

DSO VR., silver-gilt and enamels, mounted with second award bar;
BSA CM rev Matebeleland 1893, (1) Rhod 1896 (Corpl. J. A. Warwick. Salisbury Horse);
QSA (3) CC, OFS, Tr (Capt: J. A. Warwick. Warwick’s Scouts.);
KSA (2) SA01, SA02 (Capt. J. A. Warwick. F.I.D.) naming re-engraved;
1914-15 Star (Major J. A. Warwick 1. Rhodn. Rgt.);
British War and Bilingual Victory Medals, with (MID) (Major J. A. Warwick.);
Jubilee 1935;
Coronation 1937

D.S.O. London Gazette 19 April 1901: ‘John Abraham Warwick, Captain, Warwick’s Scouts. In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa.’

Note: Despite mention in his obituary notice of his being awarded a bar to the D.S.O. there is no evidence to support this.

John Abraham Warwick was born at Durban on 14 August 1871, son of Mark Warwick and Esther Linnell, both of Warwickshire. He was educated at St Cyprian's, Kimberley, and in Cape Colony, and served two years with the Bechuanaland Border Police, seeing active service in the Matabele War of 1893 and in the Matabele Rebellion of 1896. He served in the South African War, 1900-2, in Lieutenant Gifford's Horse and as Captain commanding a troop of Matabeleland Mounted Police, raised by himself for the duration of the war. He was mentioned in Despatches; received the King's Medal with two clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order. The Insignia were sent to the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, and presented there. Captain Warwick was Managing Gold Mining Commissioner in Rhodesia. He was a member of the firm of Macandrew and Warwick, Engineers and Contractors, Bulawayo, and acting as Intelligence Officer with the 1st Division, Western District, he led the section known as Warwick’s Scouts. His sister married Mr R H Henderson, C.M.G., who was the Chief Citizen of Kimberley when it was besieged by the Boers.

In 1914 he enlisted for service in German South West Africa, first being a captain with the 1st Rhodesia Regiment and later being promoted major and adding a bar to his D.S.O. (sic). In March 1917 he was permitted to resign his commission on taking an appointment under the Civil Administration in East Africa, becoming a Customs officer at Mombassa, where he remained until his death on 14 May 1937.

Warwick’s Scouts was a small body raised by Captain J. A. Warwick early in 1900, primarily for the class of work indicated by their name. They saw service in many parts of the seat of war. After the relief of Kimberley they operated with Lord Methuen in the Boshof and Warrenton districts of the Orange River Colony. They accompanied that General eastwards towards Lindley, and saw some fighting there at the end of May and in June. Along with the remainder of Lord Methuen's column they were railed from Kroonstad to Krugersdorp in the Transvaal on 12th July, and advanced with him in a pursuit of De Wet northward to Olifant's Nek, where there was some fighting which Warwick's Scouts had two casualties. After this the corps saw endless marching and skirmishing in the Western Transvaal. On 16th February 1901 when operating with Lord Methuen, Captain Warwick was seriously wounded in the severe engagement a Hartebeestfontein. Captain J. A. Warwick and Lieutenant H. Macandrew were both awarded the D.S.O. for their services. The medal roll for this unit contains the names of two officers and 43 N.C.O.s and men.

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Boer War DSOs 2 years 2 months ago #52957

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Boer War DSO to Maj A S Orr, RIR.

Picture courtesy of DNW

DSO VR;
Egypt (1) Tel-El-Kebir (Lieut. A. S. Orr,. 2/R. Ir: R.);
IGS 1854 (1) Hazara 1888 (Lieutt. A. S. Orr. 2d Bn. R. Ir. R.);
IGS 1895 (2) PF 97-98 Sam 97 (Captn. A. S. Orr 2d Bn. Ryl. Ir. Regt.);
QSA (3) CC OFS Tr (Major A. S. Orr. D.S.O. Rl. Irish Rgt.)
KSA (2) (Maj. A. S. Orr. D.S.O. Rl. Irish Rgt.);
Khedive's Star 1882

old with original commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Regiment, dated 21 October 1881, and original Warrant for the D.S.O., dated 26 September 1901.

D.S.O. London Gazette 27 September 1901.

M.I.D. London Gazette 10 September 1901 and 25 April 1902.

Alexander Stewart Orr was born on 10 May 1861, son of William Orr, of Hougomont, Ballymena. He was gazetted to the Royal Irish Regiment on 22 October 1881; served in the Egyptian Expedition, 1882, being present at the action at Kassassin and at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir (Medal with clasp, and Khedive's Star); was promoted Captain on 30 October 1888; took part in the Hazara Expedition, 1888 (Medal with clasp); participated in operations on the North-West Frontier of India, 1897-98, being present at the operations on the Samana (Medal with two clasps); was promoted Major 31 May 1900. Major Orr served in the South African War, 1899-1902, taking part in operations in the Orange Free State, March to May 1900; operations in the Transvaal, east of Pretoria, in November 1900; operations in Orange River Colony, May to November 1900; operations in Cape Colony, south of Orange River, 1900, including actions at Colesberg (24 January to 12 February). He was afterwards Station Staff Officer. Operations in the Transvaal 30 November 1900 to 31 May 1902. He was mentioned in Despatches, received the Queen's Medal with three clasps, the King's Medal with two clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order: "Alexander Stewart Orr, Major, Royal Irish Regiment. In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa". The Insignia were presented by the King on 24 October 1902; the Warrant, etc, sent on 4 November 1902. He was promoted Lieutenant Colonel on 19 February 1905, given the Brevet of Colonel, 19 February 1908, and retired with the rank of Colonel in 1909. Colonel Orr died on 10 January 1914, and is buried in Epsom cemetery.

Although there are no specific details for the award of his D.S.O., Colonel Orr did receive considerable publicity, and a second mention, for a significant exploit in 1902, which resulted in the capture of the Boer General Ben Viljoen, who, with a unit known as the Johannesburg Commando, operated in the north-east of Transvaal. The British had a garrison at Lydenburg, which was in Viljoen's area of operations, and Orr, then a Major, was stationed there with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment. In the spare words of Lord Kitchener, as contained in a telegram dated 27 January 1902 and published by The Times of 29 January, 'At Lydenburg, receiving news of intended meeting between Schalk Burger and General Ben Viljoen, parties sent out under Major Orr, Royal Irish Regiment, ambuscaded General Viljoen's party near blockhouse line south of Lydenburg on Friday night. Adjutant Nel was killed. Adjutant Besters, and one other, besides general, captured'.

The following account of General Viljoen's capture at Lydenburg on 25 January 1902 is taken from his own book, My Reminiscences of the Anglo-Boer War:

‘We were just approaching Bloomplaats, which is about two and half miles to the west of Lydenburg, when we observed something moving. A deadly silence enveloped the country, and the brightly-shining moon gave a weird appearance to the moving objects in the distance which had attracted our attention. Our suspicions were aroused and we went in pursuit, but soon lost sight of the object of our quest. We discovered afterwards that our suspicions were well-founded, and that the moving objects were kaffir spies, who returned to the British lines and reported our approach. Having failed in this enterprise we returned to the road, I riding in advance with Adjutant Bester, the others following. Presently we approached a deep spruit, and having dismounted, we were cautiously leading our horses down the steep bank, when suddenly we found ourselves the centre of a perfect storm of bullets. We were completely taken by surprise, and almost before we realised what had happened, we found ourselves confronted by two rows of British soldiery, who shouted "Hands up," and fired simultaneously. Bullets whistled in every direction. The first volley laid my horse low, and I found myself on the ground half stunned. When I recovered somewhat and lifted my head, I discovered myself surrounded, but the dust and the flash of firing prevented me from seeing much of what occurred. It seemed hopeless to attempt escape, and I cried excitedly that I was ready to surrender. So loud, however, was the noise of shouting that my cries were drowned. One soldier viciously pressed his gun against my breast as if about to shoot me, but thrusting the barrel away, I said in English that I saw no chance of escape, that I did not defend myself, and there was no reason therefore why he should kill me. While I was talking he again drove his rifle against me, and I, having grasped it firmly, a very animated argument took place, for he strongly resented my grasping his gun. Outstretching my hand I asked "Tommy" to help me up, and this he did. I afterwards learned that the name of my assailant was Patrick, and that he belonged to the Irish Rifles.

My capture

Four or five soldiers now took charge of me, and at my request consented to conduct me to an officer. Just as they were about to lead me away, however, they all fell flat upon their chests, and directed their fire at an object, which turned out later to be a bush. I very soon discovered that the "Tommies" were not very circumspect in their fire, and I sought safety by lying on the ground. Having discovered the innocent nature of their target, my guards conducted me before one of their officers, a young man named Walsh, who seemed to belong to the British Intelligence Department. This officer enquired, "Well, what is it?" I answered him in his own language, "My name is Viljoen, and not wishing to be plundered by your soldiers, I desire to place myself under the protection of an officer." He was quite a minor officer this Mr. Walsh, but he said kindly, "All right, it is rather a lucky haul, sir; you look quite cool, are you hurt?" I replied that I was not hurt, though it was a miracle that I was still alive, for a bullet had struck my chest, and would have penetrated had my pocket-book not stopped it. The fact was, that my pocket-book had served the providential service of the proverbial bible or pack of cards. Bester was with me, and not seeing my other adjutants, I enquired what had become of them. Walsh did not reply at once, and one of the "Tommies" standing close by said, "Both killed, sir." This information was a terrible blow to me.

Major Orr, of the Royal Irish Regiment, was in charge of the force that had captured me, and presently I was taken before him. He greeted me most courteously and said, "I believe we are old friends, General Viljoen; at least you captured some of my comrades in that regrettable affair at Belfast*." I was greatly touched by Major Orr's kindness, and asked that I might see those of my men who had been killed. He immediately consented, and led me a few paces aside. My gaze was soon arrested by a heartrending spectacle. There on the ground lay the two lifeless forms of my brave and faithful adjutants, Jacobus Nel and L. Jordaan. As I bent over their prostrate bodies my eyes grew dim with the sad tears of my great bereavement. Major Orr stood uncovered by my side, touched by my deep emotion and paying homage to the brave dead. "These men were heroes," I said to him with broken voice. "They followed me because they loved me, and they fearlessly risked their lives for me several times." The good Major was full of sympathy, and made provision for the decent burial of my poor comrades at Lydenburg.

Bester and I were now conducted under an escort of 150 soldiers with fixed bayonets to the village, which was two and a half miles off. We reached Lydenburg very wet and gloomy, after having waded through a drift whose waters reached up to our armpits. Major Orr did his best to console us both with refreshment and kind words.

Our procession was presently joined by an officer of the British Intelligence Department, and this gentleman told me that he knew of the approach of my party, and that the chief object of the British in attacking us was to capture our itinerant Government, who they learned were to accompany us. He was very anxious to know where the Government was, and whether it was intended that they should pass that way. But I answered his queries by telling him that it was quite unworthy of a gentleman to put such questions to me, and to attempt to exploit my most unfortunate position.

Arriving at the village, I was treated with great courtesy, and was introduced by Major Orr to Colonel Guinness, the commanding officer. Colonel Guinness declared that he regarded it as an honour to have a man of my rank as a prisoner-of-war, and that we had fought so frequently that we were quite old friends. I thanked him for his compliment, expressing, however, my regret that we had renewed acquaintance under such unfortunate circumstances.’

General Viljoen was exiled to St Helena for a short time and then led a most interesting and adventurous life until his death in 1917.

Dr David Biggins
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