Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me
  • Page:
  • 1


Hendrik Korff - a "bitter einder" with the Zoutpansberg Commando 5 days 2 hours ago #71739

  • Rory
  • Rory's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 2235
  • Thank you received: 878
Hendrik Johannes Gerhardus Korff

Burgher, Zoutpansberg Commando

- Anglo Boere Oorlog Medal to BURG. H.J.G. KORFF

Hennie Korff was born in the Lydenburg district of the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek (Transvaal) on 11 October 1869, the son of Abram Johannes Korff and his wife Elsie Katrina Korff, born Venter. The Korff’s were, like most burghers of the Transvaal resident in the rural hinterland, of farming stock; tilling the land and tending the livestock.

At some point the family moved further north, to the fertile plains of Zebediela outside Pietersburg, where they farmed on “Marsfontein”. Towards the end of the 19th century, the festering sore that was the relationship between President Paul Kruger of the ZAR and the government of Great Britain, burst, leading to a declaration of war between the two on 11 October 1899.

The forces of both Boer Republics, the Transvaal and their ally the Orange Free State, had been preparing for such an eventuality for several months before this and the Commandos, the Boers military system, had been called out and ordered to assemble at certain points along the various borders, preparatory to the commencement of war.

Hendrik Korff in later years

It was here that all able-bodied Burghers were informed of their duties in the two regionally based commandos the Zoutpansberg Commando in the north (about 1 287 men); and the Waterberg Commando in the north-west (732 men). These commandos were placed under the joint command of Assistant Commandant-General F A Grobler and it was to the Zoutpansberg Commando that a 31 year old Korff answered the call to arms.

Fortunately for the collector, the Vorm B that the Boer combatants were required to complete when applying for their medals (from 1921 onwards), contained the details of where each man saw action, under whom he served, if he was wounded and if he was taken prisoner of war. Those like Korff who joined the fight from the outset and saw it through to its conclusion on 31 May 1902, were called “bitter-einders” – a doffing of the cap to those who fought from start to finish, not succumbing to the many inducements to get them to surrender and not allowing themselves to be deterred from the fight whilst their farms were burned and their families incarcerated in concentration camps.

In Korff’s case he was present at the battles of Modderspruit; Colenso; Ladysmith (Vaalkrantz and Pieter’s Hill) and Donkerhoek (Diamond Hill) – the Zoutpansberg Commando were also present at Tuli in the Northern Transvaal, Colesburg in the Cape Colony, Laing’s Nek, Nooitgedacht, Pienaar’s River, Pietersburg and Springs but, as none of these are specifically mentioned by Korff, it cannot be assumed that he was present at these engagements.

Modderspruit (30 October 1899) - Davitt

It is always instructive to view the battles from both sides – in the case of Modderspruit, outside Ladysmith and the first battle in which Korff participated, I have elected to use the Boer version of events, written by the Irish politician and Boer sympathiser, Michael Davitt. He wrote as follows:

The successful retreat of General Yule from Dundee added fully 5,000 troops to General White's army and raised that officer's force in Ladysmith to near 12,000 men. With these forces there were the batteries of artillery which had served at Talana and at Elandslaagte, and also the guns that had been retained in Ladysmith for the protection of the chief base of the British in Natal. There would thus be, altogether, seven batteries of artillery, with some mountain guns and Maxims, available for whatever plan of operations the arrival of Joubert and his commandoes to the north and west of White's position might necessitate.

On the 26th of October General Lukas Meyer and his column marched south from their laager behind Talana Hill, and proceeded over the Helpmakaar road, by which Yule and his forces had retreated four days previously. Erasmus and his Pretoria commandoes followed from Dundee. No explanation of this delay in pursuing the beaten British force has been given except one— the Commandant-General's reluctance to press too hard upon a fleeing Christian foe!

The Commandant-General moved from Glencoe by Washbank on the 27th, and found himself on the 29th south of Elandslaagte, joining hands with Lukas Meyer's men, and with the Free Staters who had been attacked by White and the Ladysmith army on Tuesday at Reitfontein. Counting the various burgher forces which were thus within reach of Joubert's immediate command on the 29th, the men available for the expected fight on the morrow would be about 8,000 Boers, as against 12,000 English.

The Boer positions, though hastily chosen, were well selected. Joubert’s centre was strongly posted on and near a flat-topped hill, northeast of Ladysmith, between the Modderspruit and the railway line from Ladysmith to Elandslaagte, near Reitfontein, and distant six or seven miles from the English lines.

The Ermelo, Pretoria, and others burghers, under Commandant Erasmus, with the Irish Brigade under Blake, about 2,000 in all, were the centre forces; with Colonel Trichardt and Major Wolmarans in charge of the artillery, which consisted of one large Creusot (Long Tom), two fifteen-pound Creusots, and three pom-poms.

The laager and ammunition wagons were to the right of the long kopje, on the road to Reitfontein.

The left wing, about 4,000 strong, extended eastwards from the centre, bending a little south at the extremity, where Lukas Meyer, with the men who fought at Talana, Commandant Weilbach and his Heidelbergers, and General Schalk Burger, with supporting commandoes, held the kopjes near Farquhar's Farm, directly north of Lombard's Kop, the nearest point of the enemy's lines.

Joubert's right bent westward from the long kopje as far as Nicholson's Nek, and was composed mainly of the Free Staters who had held these same hills on Tuesday against White's attack. Some of the Pretoria commando, and Van Dam with his corps of Johannesburg Police, were a little southeast of Nicholson's Nek to watch for any turning movement in that direction by the enemy.

Joubert's positions were selected with the object of inviting the main British attack upon his centre near Pepworth, which he had purposely rendered comparatively weak for the special observation of General White's Ladysmith balloons; his object being to expose the expected assaulting column to a flanking fire and attack by his left division under Meyer, Weilbach, and Burger, which was rendered exceptionally strong in men and guns for that object, and was partly concealed from the enemy's balloons.

General White's plan of attack turned out to be almost exactly what his astute adversary had anticipated.

He sent forward a strong force of Gloucesters, Royal Irish Fusiliers, and other troops with a mountain battery on mules, on Sunday night, with orders to envelop or turn the Boer right—which extended to a position near Nicholson's Kop—by the occupation of this hill, and a surprise action at daylight on Monday morning. In any case this column was expected to cut in between the Free Staters and the Transvaal burghers, and thus to divert attention from the scene of the contemplated main British attack on Joubert's centre. This force was under the command of Colonel Carleton. It marched north from Ladysmith under cover of night, and followed the railway leading to Besters, until reaching a spruit southwest of the Boer right wing, where a turn north was made along a valley, so as to reach the western side of Nicholson's Kop unobserved.

General White was equally busy with his main forces on that Sunday night. He pushed them forward under the shelter of darkness to the positions from which he intended to strike Joubert's centre on the following morning. A strong body of cavalry and mounted infantry under General French was sent eastward, round Lombard's Kop, to protect the advance of the English right column which was to move northward from Ladysmith, parallel with the railway line and under the protection of intervening hills, With Lombard's Kop and Bulwana Hill to his right, Ladysmith in his rear, and all the elevated positions to the immediate north and west of the town within the ambit of his operations, White was well prepared and equipped with his 12,000 men and forty guns to decide the issue of the day with Joubert and his 8,000 burghers.

The battle, which the English have named both Lombard's Kop and Farquhar's Farm, and the Boers, Modderspruit, began soon after four o'clock on Monday morning in a fierce artillery duel. The enemy had sent forward two strong columns, with most of his guns, to a point near the railway at Limit Hill, from whence the main attack on Long Hill was to be made, after the British batteries had prepared the way. Joubert's guns on Long Hill were only seven, but "Long Tom" and his two fifteen-pound Creusot consorts maintained the unequal combat for three or four hours; the big gun sending his shells occasionally a distance of 9,000 yards into the town of Ladysmith.

While this artillery fight was proceeding, Generals Lukas Meyer and Schalk Burger had engaged, both French's mounted column and White's right wing so hotly that the plan of assaulting Joubert's centre had to be abandoned in order to rescue the forces which Joubert's left had furiously assailed both by Mauser and artillery fire south of Farquhar's Farm. An incident had happened which may be said to have decided the fortunes of the day for the Boer forces.

General Meyer had been unwell since the battle of Talana, and became indisposed during the progress of the fight at Modderspruit. Louis Botha, who had been attached to the Vryheid commando was at hand. The command of Meyer's force at a most critical moment in the battle of the 30th was virtually placed in his hands, and he directed the operations which largely helped to achieve the victory that was to be won for the Vierkleur before the sun went down.

He urged a concentration of artillery and Mauser fire upon the position gained by a part of White's force from the Heidelbergers. Under cover of this fierce attack, a body of Meyer's men advanced on the English from their concealment, and drove them from the spur of the hill back upon some of the reinforcements which White was sending at that very time to the assistance of his right.

This unexpected counter attack on his right compelled White to abandon the contemplated blow at Joubert's centre, which General Hamilton, with the bulk of the British troops and thirty guns, was to deliver. Generals French and Grimwood had got their men into such serious trouble north of Lombard's Kop, where they had run up against Meyer's and Burger's changed positions, that a large force from the enemy's left column had to be sent across to extricate White's right from its perilous situation. This change in the English general's plan of battle was giving the Boer artillery splendid practice on the flanks of his right and left, and rapidly determining the fortunes of the combat, when two events occurred in this battle of surprises which changed and re-changed the checkered chances of the fray.

At the time when White was forced to send a large part of his centre column to the help of his right, and when the Boer guns were pouring a most deadly fire into the English lines, a body of marines in charge of two huge naval guns arrived on the scene and joined at once in the fight. These guns were most ably handled, and after a few trial shots at the Boer artillery, a shell fired at " Long Tom " at Pepworth killed and wounded half a dozen burghers. This startling intervention of the navals in the battle arrested the tide of Joubert's artillery success, and enabled White to pull his right wing out of Botha's reach, and to prepare his centre again for the desired but delayed attack upon Joubert's position at Pepworth.

At this juncture "Long Tom" became suddenly silent, and it was believed in the English lines that the naval guns had succeeded in putting him out of action. What really happened was this:

Ammunition for the Boer guns at the centre had given out. Supplies were to the left of the hill on which the now silent Creusot stood, away in a location which was being remorselessly shelled by the British naval guns. No effort was being made by the men in charge of the artillery, or by the burghers on the hill, to go for a fresh supply. Every moment was of vital value, and a suggestion was actually made to remove the big gun to the laager in the rear so as to save it from possible capture.

Colonel Blake's Irish Brigade were on this hill, as an extra guard for "Long Tom," awaiting impatiently a possible infantry advance by the British. Seeing the situation in the matter of the ammunition, Blake instantly ordered his men to go and procure what was required. The order was carried out with pluck and promptness. They raced across the zone of fire, and the needed ammunition was soon brought for the huge gun. The renewed activity of the big Creusot had such a discouraging effect upon the English batteries and the mass of infantry who were preparing again to advance towards the Boer centre that both retired precipitately on Ladysmith, and the fight was over.

The British retreated, having doubtless learned by this time of the surrender of the Irish Fusiliers and Gloucestershire regiments at Nicholson's Nek, two hours previously.

Colenso (15 December 1899)

With the Siege of Ladysmith reduced to desultory firing into Ladysmith from the Boer guns on the surrounding hills, the Boer command decided to remove some of the investing commandos and send them to Colenso where Buller was seen to be planning one of his many attempts to break through to relieve the town. Here, once more, the Boer version of events is provided by way of illustration, in the words of none other than General Louis Botha himself:

We had taken up our positions all along the river, from the great hill south (on the opposite side therefore) of the Tugela and east of Colenso, and in the koppies and the plain west of that hill and on this side (north) of the river. The koppies were entrenched by the packing of stones and sand-bags, while in the plain trenches were dug for the protection of our burghers against the enemy fire. The enemy divided themselves into three distinct formations, and formed a left and right flank and a centre.

The most westerly flank marched forward in full array in a northerly direction towards the bend in the river near where Doorn Spruit falls into the Tugela, straight towards the trenches held by Comdt. C. Botha of Swaziland and his men. To the right of Comdt. Botha lay Comdt. Van Rensburg of Zoutpansberg and his men, and still a little higher up Comdt. Grobler of Ermelo and some of his men. This flank of the enemy marched under the protection of a full battery to a distance of about 2 000 yards from our positions where the battery unlimbered, and then, under cover of a heavy shell-fire from this battery, the infantry began the attack. In addition to the guns mentioned, the attack was supported by two other batteries of four pieces each, placed approximately a thousand yards ahead of the enemy's big naval guns. The latter - four in number - mounted on the koppie immediately in front of the camp, also maintained a brisk fire on all our positions.

Our burghers as well as our artillery allowed the enemy to advance unmolested to a range of about 1 500 yards with their guns, and having allowed the infantry to approach to approximately 500 yards, they suddenly unleashed a heavy fire. The enemy had orders to cross the river at this point, and although they stormed repeatedly, the fire of our burghers and artillery was so well directed and had such good effect that only a captain, two lieutenants and a few men were able to reach the river bank. Here the enemy suffered a tremendous loss in dead and wounded.

The leading battery had meanwhile been transferred in a westerly direction to a cluster of trees approximately 1 500 yards from the Ermelo positions in the ditch. On the mountain right behind these positions stood our two Creusot guns, and on these pieces the enemy battery directed its fire - however without any effect. Our burghers soon perceived that this most forward English battery was within range of the Mausers. It was thereupon subjected to such a severe and accurate fire with Mauser and Creusot that it had to withdraw precipitately, leaving one gun behind in the agaves, as we discovered later when the enemy suddenly dragged the piece away again with a team of horses. The two Creusots, one of which was sited rather more behind the Soutpansberg positions, were of very great assistance to our burghers with their Mausers and inflicted awfully heavy losses upon the enemy, hurling their shells upon the advancing troops rather than engaging the hostile batteries.

The enemy's centre advanced in extended order in such a way that it could at any time, if necessary, render assistance to either the left or right flank. At the same time two full batteries moved in a more easterly direction to just opposite Colenso, probably with the intention of taking up position there. But when they found that they were not being fired on, they advanced further and took up position in line with the railway bridge and east of Colenso, probably in order to provide cover for the troops who were marching on the wagon bridge, i.e. the enemy's right flank.

As soon as the guns had been unlimbered and had taken up position and opened fire, our burghers blasted the batteries with their Mausers, while the big Maxim, the Krupp and the Howitzer, which stood in our centre, supported them vigorously. The fire of our burghers, namely the Krugersdorp commando and the Heidelberg commando under Comdt. Buys, was now so heavy, so well-aimed and excellently sustained, and, in addition, so splendidly supported by our artillery, that the gunners - those who had survived - soon had to abandon the guns.

Concerned that the enemy, who now charged repeatedly in an effort to recapture the guns, might force their way through sheer weight of numbers into the entrenched hill of Field-cornet Van Wyk of Krugersdorp, I sent Field-cornet Emmett, with his men (about 80 in number) to that position as a reinforcement - under heavy artillery-fire - and later also Lieut. Pohlman of the mounted police of Van Dam's commando, likewise with 80 men.

A most violent action thereupon ensued along the whole length of our positions against the enemy's right flank, which was pressing forward towards the bridge and part of which attempted to relieve the guns, bringing along with them fresh limber teams. Under cover of the naval guns and of another battery stationed along the road to Weenen, east of Colenso, the infantry charged no less than five times, but in vain. At length the enemy succeeded in limbering up quickly and taking away two guns, but not without having suffered heavy loss, including 32 artillery horses. In addition to the 10 guns, the enemy here left behind many dead and wounded, and were completely defeated and repulsed.

In the afternoon and while the battle was still in progress Field-cornet Emmett with 15 men and some Krugersdorpers crossed the river in order to take possession of the guns, etc. The guns, ammunition wagons and caissons were now quickly taken in hand by our burghers and pulled into the mimosas near the railway bridge, from where they were hauled with mules, etc. over the wagon bridge to our positions and lined up in our centre behind the hill on which the Krupp gun was mounted.

A force consisting of infantry, cavalry and one battery moved in an easterly direction in support of the enemy's right (eastern) flank. A part of this force, so it proved later, had instructions to take possession, if possible, of the hill on the opposite side of the river, held by Comdt. Joubert (J.A.) of Wakkerstroom and Comdt. Muller of Standerton, assisted by Field-cornet Gouws of Olifants River, Middelburg district, Field-cornet Strydom of Soutpansberg and Acting Field-cornet Steyn of Ermelo with their men. Our burghers here allowed the enemy, who were apparently unaware that the hill was occupied by us, to approach to approximately 60 yards and then opened fire on them. It need hardly be said that this fire was highly effective and immediately put to flight what was still left of the enemy. At about three o'clock in the afternoon the enemy, having been repulsed at all points, began to retreat along the entire length of the front under cover of their big naval guns, leaving behind on the battlefield their dead and many of their wounded.

Vaalkrantz – (5/6 February 1900)

The next engagement in which Korff and his comrades fought was the battle of Vaalkrantz – this was Buller’s third attempt to break through and relieve Ladysmith. Vaalkrantz was on the left flank of the Boer positions around Spion Kop, the battle beginning in the early hours of 5th February 1900 with the British long-range naval guns shelling the line of kops on the far bank of the Tugela River while the Lancashire Brigade demonstrated across the river at Potgieter’s Drift.

The real attack force, Lyttelton’s Fourth Brigade, crossed by a pontoon bridge at Munger’s Drift, a mile to the east of Potgieter’s and headed for Vaal Krantz, a hill at the bend in the river. The deliberate slowness with which Buller permitted Lyttelton’s force to begin the attack and the sight of the single pontoon bridge being assembled at Munger’s Drift gave the Boers ample warning that the true line of assault was up onto Vaal Krantz.

The Boer positions were as follows: Tabanyama was held by Commandant Steenkamp of Heilbron; Spion Kop by Field-Cornet Breytenbach of Ermelo; the Twin Peaks by the Rustenburg, Vryheid, Carolina, Lydenburg Commandos, and a small German contingent as guard to the guns (three Krupp 7.5-cm., two Krupp howitzers and one pom-pom) which were posted along the heights descending from the Peaks to Brakfontein. From the Twin Peaks to Krantz Kloof the main position was held by Ermelo, Senekal, Vrede, Frankfort and Zoutpansberg Commandos in the order named, the Transvaalers under Tobias Smuts of Ermelo, the Free Staters under various commandants. East of Krantz Kloof Viljoen had now, in all, at the most 1,200 men. Two Creuzot 7,5-cm. and two pom-poms were at Krantz Kloof.

The battalions of the Fourth Brigade, with the 2ndDevons from Hildyard’s brigade, scaled Vaal Krantz, driving the Boers from the lower slopes of the hill and coming under heavy fire from the surrounding higher positions. The initial plan was for Hildyard’s Brigade to cross the Tugela River immediately after Lyttelton and storm Green Hill. The cavalry brigade would then cross and make for Ladysmith followed by Hart’s brigade. But the ever-hesitant Buller lost all confidence in the attack as Lyttelton crossed and cancelled the order to Hildyard to cross the river, leaving Lyttelton to make the assault alone.

The 1200 Boers, under the overall command of Viljoen, made a spirited defence of Vaal Krantz, while the Boer rifle and artillery fire built up from the surrounding hills. The Boers were initially in considerable difficulty but their numbers were being added to by those returning from their homes. Buller’s reaction to this stiffening resistance was to order Lyttelton to abandon the attack and retreat. Lyttelton ignored the order and called for reinforcements. He urged Buller, in particular, to bring more troops across the river and attack Doorn Kloof, the hill position on his right flank. But Buller convinced himself the Boer positions were too strong to be forced. The most Buller would risk was to reinforce Lyttelton with Hildyard’s brigade.

At dawn on 6th February 1900, the Boer artillery began a heavy bombardment with guns that had been brought up during the night. On the Thursday night. the operation was abandoned and the British troops withdrew across the Tugela River, ending the battle. The British suffered 400 casualties and Buller attracted the nicknames of ‘the Tugela Ferryman’ and ‘Sir Reverse Buller.’

Tugela Heights – (14-27 February 1900)

By the morning of the 21st there were probably 5,000 Boers established and partially entrenched in a complete line of positions extending from the heights west of Colenso on the right to beyond Pieter's Hill on the left, and divided into two equal halves by the Langverwacht Spruit. Lukas Meyer commanded the left wing with the Piet Retiefers on the extreme left, the Heidelbergers, Lydenburgers and some Standerton men on the Pieter's Heights east of the railway, and the Johannesburgers, Boksburgers, Krugersdorpers and Rustenburgers on the hills afterwards known as Railway and Inniskilling Hills, between the railway and the Langverwacht. Botha commanded the more immediately threatened right wing, with the Ermelo and Middelburg men on the low hills known afterwards as Wynne Hills, and beyond them, in the under features of Grobelaar's, and on both sides of the valley of the Onderbroek, the Carolina, Bethel, Swaziland, Standerton and Zoutpansberg contingents. Of their guns, a Krupp and a pom-pom were well out on the flank, on high ground west of the Onderbroek, two Creuzots and a howitzer on the lower plateau of Grobelaar's, two pom-poms, a howitzer and two field-guns at various points in rear of Meyer's positions west of the railway. But though the Boers had recovered courage sufficiently to take up these positions, they were still very unsteady. Their leaders looked to the impending advance with the greatest anxiety, hardly daring to hope that the burghers would sustain a determined attack at any point.

That Buller had no intention of attacking at all, but was simply proposing to trundle his army by road all along the front of their positions, and between them and the Tugela, was more than they could have imagined in their wildest dreams. Buller's orders on the morning of the 21st were simplicity itself. The troops, first line transport, artillery and all, were to cross over as soon as the pontoon bridge was thrown across the Tugela immediately west of Hlangwane, and to the right and follow the river. "Warren's division was to go first, then Lyttelton's. Barton, whose brigade was extended along the right bank to the Falls, was to cover the movement, helped by the artillery. Hart was to cross at Colenso and occupy the Colenso Kopjes in order to cover the left rear. At 10.30 A.M. the bridge was begun under intermittent fire from the Boer guns, and finished three hours later. Meanwhile Thorneycroft, who had crossed over with his men at Colenso soon after daybreak, had sent several messages back to Warren informing him that a large body of Boers were in the bed of the Onderbroek Spruit south of Grobelaar's, on the flank of the proposed advance. In view of this, Buller decided to let the advance wait while the Boers were shelled, and thus induced to hasten their departure.

Coke, whose brigade was the first to cross, was ordered to push forward his men across the plain west of the low bridge-head kopjes, so as to cover the coming into action of a couple of batteries. At 2 p.m. the 10th Brigade began to cross, and occupied the bridge-head kopjes without further opposition than a certain amount of shell-fire. But the moment the Somerset Light Infantry, Coke's leading battalion, debouched on to the open plain beyond, they met with heavy rifle-fire from their right front and from two low kopjes 1,000 yards away on their right flank. Coke sent two of their companies and half the Dorsets to take these kopjes, but, though this was successfully done, the pressure on the Somersets' right flank was not much eased. They pushed on gallantly, and eventually were halted some 1,300 yards in front of the bridge-head kopjes. With admirable steadiness they remained lying in the open for the rest of the afternoon, subject to galling short-range fire from almost every quarter, as the Boers, undeterred by the shrapnel of the guns, which came into action about 4 p.m., flocked down to the Onderbroek, to get such good shooting as they had not had for many a long day. After dark Coke withdrew his men from their untenable positions. This first encounter with the Boer "rearguard" cost the Somersets 90 casualties.

A few days later, Buller having steam rollered his way through, Ladysmith was relieved and the demoralised Boer Commandos fled, either back across the Drakensberg or through Northern Natal, via the Biggarsberg, back into the Transvaal – pursued by Buller’s army.

Donkerhoek/Diamond Hill – 11/12 June 1900

Korff’s next engagement came in the Cullinan district, 30 km east of Pretoria, where the battle of Diamond Hill (or Donkerhoek to the Boers) was fought. With Pretoria recently occupied by the British forces it became imperative to prevent the Boers from recapturing their previous Capital City and seat of power.

On the 12th June, the cavalry of John French with Hutton's brigade attacked on the left in an attempt to outflank the Boers to the north, while the infantry of Ian Hamilton with De Lisle's corps attempted an outflanking movement on the right. In the centre, the infantry of Pole-Carew advanced towards the Boer centre, with the gap between Pole-Carew and French covered by Colonel Henry's corps of mounted infantry.
On the left, the cavalry of French entered a valley and attracted fire from three sides. De Lisle's corps was similarly pinned down on the right flank in a horseshoe-shaped group of hills. As a detachment of 10th Hussars swung off to the right, they were attacked from Diamond Hill. A section of Q Battery RHA attempted to return artillery fire, but had no infantry support, until the 12th Lancers arrived on the front line. Lord Airlie took 60 men to clear the Boers from the guns, and in the ensuing exchange of rifle fire at short-range, was killed. The Boers pressed the matter hard. Two squadrons of the Household Cavalry Regiment and one squadron of the 12th Hussars charged at full gallop at Boers firing from concealed positions. The enemy dispersed. Following the indecisive results of 11 June, Roberts decided to make a frontal attack on the next morning.

The morning of 12 June broke with artillery fire from guns escorted to forward positions by a squadron of New South Wales Mounted Rifles, allowing a Regular infantry advance that captured Diamond Hill. A counterattack was planned by Botha, supported with fire from Rhenosterfontein Hill. The regular Mounted Infantry from De Lisle's corps advanced to a farm, where two rapid firing pom-poms were positioned, supported by the Western Australian Mounted Infantry. The hill was attacked by the New South Wales Mounted Rifles, who trotted across the plain in extended order, then increased to a gallop under Boer fire before they dismounted at the base of the hill. The mounted rifles advanced up the hill and charged the Boer defenders, forcing the latter to retreat. They held the hill despite Boer artillery fire, which forced Botha to call off the counterattack, as British artillery fire from the hill carried the potential to confusion with the Boer retreat.

This was the last recorded action in which Korff claims to have taken part – he then served under General Chris Muller of the Boksburg Commando and, doubtless, took part in the many skirmishes and fighting in which that highly esteemed Boer leader was involved. With the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902, the Boer War came to an end and the remaining combatants surrendered their arms and were allowed to return to their farms and homes.

Korff returned to his farm “Magersfontein” in the Zebediela district of the Northern Transvaal from where, on 20 April 1943, he claimed his war medal.

Living a full life until the ripe old age of 80, Korff passed away on 12 September 1949 on his farm near Pietersburg. A farmer to the last he was survived by no fewer than 15 children from two wives – 4 from the first and 9 from the second.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Page:
  • 1
Moderators: djb
Time to create page: 1.467 seconds
Powered by Kunena Forum