Trooper, Gorringe’s Flying Column and
Private, Bluecliff and Glenconnor Town Guard – Anglo Boer War
-Queens South Africa Medal with clasps Cape Colony and South Africa 1901 to Tpr. E.B. Foxcroft, Gorringe’s F.C.
Eric Bertram Foxcroft was born on the farm “Stockdale” in the Oatlands area near Graaff Reinet in the Eastern Cape of South Africa in about 1884. His father, Jeremiah Foxcroft was a first generation descendant of an 1820 Settler to the region who met and married his mother, Elizabeth Kelbrick on 25 August 1864.
The Foxcroft’s were prolific with Elizabeth giving birth to new fewer than eleven children of whom Eric was the youngest. With him on the farm were sisters Alice Maud and Hilda Florence, along with brothers William Wallace, Albert Edwin, Arthur Henry, Percy Edward, Walter Edward, Charles Eustace, Reginald Vivian and Cecil Voiles.
With the advent of the Anglo Boer War in October 1899 a very young Eric enrolled, on 28 January 1901 with “B” Squadron of Gorringe’s Flying Column for service in the war. Gorringe’s column was raised by Lt. Colonel G.F. Gorringe and saw much service against various Boer Commandos in the Cape.
On 19 February 1901 the G.F.C.’s, or Gorringe’s Light Oxen as they were sometimes called because of the rapidity of their movements, were in the Bethesda Road area of the Eastern Cape hot on the heels of the Boer Commandant Gideon Scheepers who had split off from Kritzinger in an attempt to evade capture. Kritzinger himself was in an engagement with Col Gorringe north of Cradock at the Fish River Station on 23 and 24 February but gave the British the slip and on 3 March 1901 surrounded the village of Pearston.
Foxcroft was joined in this unit by no fewer than two of his many brothers, making it almost a family concern. On 17 June 1901 he took his discharge and returned home.
Not one to remain idle for long he next joined up with the Bluecliff and Glenconnor Town Guard, No. 4 Area, where he saw service from 27 January 1902 until 30 April 1902 when the Town Guard was disbanded. Despite having seen service with the Town Guard subsequent to the Flying Column it was off the Gorringe’s Flying Column roll that his Queens South Africa Medal, with clasps Cape Colony and South Africa 1901, was issued. The term “Town Guard” is applied loosely in this case as there was (and still is) no town to speak of – rather all that is there is a railway siding and a smattering of farms – typically a District Mounted Troop would serve this very agricultural scene far better than a Town Guard who were dismounted.
The war over Foxcroft became embroiled, over the course of many years, in several court cases. In one in particular he was the Applicant in an “extension of time to appeal” – what was the issues here? In papers before the Supreme Court, Cape Division in April 1914 it was stated that: -
“The Appellant was convicted on the 3rd day of March 1914 by the Resident Magistrate of Steytlerville, of the crime of contravening Section 6 of Act 13 of 1870 in that he did exercise the calling of a Commercial Traveller without having taken out the necessary licence, and fined £1.”
Foxcroft was now applying to the Court not for relief but for time to consider his appeal against sentence. This was agreed to but no record exists of whether he was successful or not.
The last trace we have of him comes courtesy of the South African Directory which showed that, according to the Johannesburg North Voters Roll of 1929, he was resident at 66 African Gardens, Highlands North and that he was still pursuing the occupation of Traveller – it was to be hoped that, this time round, he had a “licence to operate”.