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Border Regiment (Spion Kop)?? 4 days 7 hours ago #72314

  • Dave F
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Dear Forum
On researching one of my casualty QSA’s, I see that Forum member Coldstream was the custodian of Private Malhanch’s medal over 8 years ago. (4000 PTE Alexander Malhanch 1st Batt Border Reg)
There are other threads regarding the Border regiment and their time during the Spion Kop attack. His original service papers clearly state his wound was attained at Spion Kop, however his wound occurred 20th January (Natal Field Force states 21st). Looking at the dates of other wounded soldiers of the Border regiment they range from 20th January to 26th of January.
So, my question to the Forum is as follows. Was Spion Kop a generic entry on service papers regarding wounding location? Secondly, as the Border regiment were not involved in the main Spion action of 23rd/24th January. Is it prudent to say that Private Malhanch’s wound was probably inflicted at Ventner Spruit / Tabanyama?... As ever your excellent knowledge will be most welcome.
Kind regards
Dave F
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Border Regiment (Spion Kop)?? 4 days 4 hours ago #72319

  • Rob D
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Dave,
"Spion Kop" at the time referred to all the actions 17-26 Jan, and in Boer parlance it still does mean that. In British literature in more recent times it has come to mean only the action on 24 Jan on Spion Kop mountain itself.
On 20th Jan, the Borders were part of Gen. Hart's attack on Tabanyama. They ended up at the head of a valley at about GPS -28.6318, 29.4837 . This position was only about 800m from the Boer trenches, which overlooked them on three sides, and they were far in front of the rest of the line. They withdrew after dark, but they had a lot of casualties that day.
The Borders did not participate at Spion Kop itself, and on 24th Jan they were firing on Boer trenches from their position on the southern crest of Tabanyama at approx GPS -28.6317, 29.4687.
If you go to Google Maps, and copy-and-paste in the coordinates in the "search bar", it will show you the spots I am talking of.
I am researching the subject in detail, and several forummers have helped me a lot - if any forummer has any obscure sources pertaining to the upper Tugela 17-26 Jan 1900, I should be eternally grateful!

Rob
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Border Regiment (Spion Kop)?? 4 days 4 hours ago #72320

  • davidh
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Hi Dave

The Natal Feld Force Casualty Roll can be notoriously inaccurate in several ways including the place where casualties occured. In fairness it's taken from contemporary casualty lists which are the source of many of the inaccuracies.

The battle of Spion Kop took place on 24th January so that's the only date a KIA or wounded man could have been there. Casualties listed as Spion Kop also cover the sharp action at nearby Venter's Spruit on the 20th and 21st January.

The Border Regiment weren't at Spion Kop but were very much at Venter's Spruit. I have the QSA to one who was wounded there. Most of the regiments at Venter's Spruit weren't at Spion Kop (e.g. Dublins, West Surreys and York & Lancasters) but the Lancashire Fusiliers were. I know of one dealer with a QSA to a Lancashire Fusilier listed as KIA at Spion Kop 20/1/1900, and premium priced accordingly, who was actually KIA at Venter's Spruit but the casualty roll shows Spion Kop.

Frustratingly, the casualty roll also shows some Venter's Spruit casualties as Spearman's Camp or simply Natal. Spearman's Camp was the British HQ at the time where the wounded would have been taken which is where they would have been logged as casualties.

The casualty roll also shows casualties at Potgieter's Drift on 5/2/1900 but these are all for Vaal Krantz or the diversionary attack at Brakfontein. Potgieter's Drift was the British HQ for the Vaal Krantz action.

David
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Border Regiment (Spion Kop)?? 4 days 3 hours ago #72321

  • Rob D
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David H is absolutely correct. Though there were [and still are] a few un-marked graves on the veld, most casualties or burials are named for a camp or hospital.The official British military "Blue Map" was absolutely hopeless and most hills had no name then [and are still nameless today].
Venter's Spruit: Is a tributary north of the Tugela. Sometimes mis-spelt Ventner's Spruit. A spruit is a stream. It was the site of a British camp and also Maj Moir's 11th Brigade Field Hospital. Maj Moir commandeered Fairview Farm and put his hospital tents just west of it. The Rangeworthy Military Cemetery is at the site, GPS -28.6501, 29.4684
Spearman's Farm: It was the site of a British camp and also Surgeon Sir Frederick Treve's No 4 Stationary Field Hospital. Spearman's Military Cemetery is on the site, GPS -28.7227, 29.5433 The experiences of Treves are beautifully described in "The Tale of a Field Hospital", available here www.angloboerwar.com/books/209-treves-th...-of-a-field-hospital .
Rob
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Border Regiment (Spion Kop)?? 4 days 2 hours ago #72322

  • Rob D
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Here's a photo of Spearman's Camp.
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Border Regiment (Spion Kop)?? 4 days 2 hours ago #72323

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Here are the wounded at Venter's Spruit [Rangeworthy cemetery] - Bastion Hill in background.
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