I've no reason to doubt that Richardson was wounded on 6 January 1900 but just not at Wagon Hill. Units were deployed at other points on the perimeter to counter Boer diversionary attacks and these included the Leicesters, Gloucesters, Liverpools and even some of the Devons.
British histories tend to ignore this aspect of the 6 January operations but Deneys Reitz was there as he describes in his book "Commando". 400 men of the Pretoria Commando plus his unit of Free Staters set off from Bell's Kopje in a diversionary attack on the northern perimeter defences and in particular a feature he calls the Red Fort. The Boers appear to have come off worse suffering a number of casualties. Richardson must have been one of the British casualties of this action.
Although not a Wagon Hill casualty Richardson was a scarce casualty of the attack on the perimeter line. I certainly don't recall seeing a QSA to one on the market before.
QSA (4) Talana, Defence of Ladysmith, Laing’s Nek, Belfast (4204 Pte. F. R. Ward, 1: Leic: Regt.)
Provenance: Sotheby’s, November 1981; Spink, March 1986.
F. R. Ward attested for the Leicestershire Regiment, and served with the 1st Battalion, attached to the Mounted Infantry, in South Africa during the Boer War. For his gallantry at Swartz Kop on 13 February 1901 he was Mentioned in General Kitchener’s Despatch (London Gazette 9 July 1901) and was promoted Corporal by the Commander-in-Chief. The citation for his gallantry states: ‘In retirement from Swartz Kop on 13 February 1901, the shaft of a machine gun broke; the enemy, pressing close, endeavoured to capture the gun. Privates S. Johnson and F. Ward stuck to the gun, mended the shaft, and brought the gun away by hand.’
Sold for a hammer price of £550. Totals (inc VAT on the commission for the UK only): £708. R14,300. Au$1,200. Can$1,200. US$900
QSA (6) Talana, Defence of Ladysmith, Laing’s Nek, Belfast, Orange Free State, South Africa 1901, last two clasps loose on riband (8087 Bugler J. Douglas. K.R.R.C.)
James Douglas was born at Willington, co. Durham, and attested for the King’s Royal Rifle Corps on 9 June 1893. He served as a Bugler with the 1st Battalion in South Africa during the Boer War, and was killed in action at Brakenlaagte on 30 October 1901.
In his book ‘With the Mounted Infantry in South Africa’, Lieutenant F. M. Crum gives the following account:
‘Our extended line soon came under a sniping fire from several directions, while Lynes on my left was also busy. We had to hang on till the baggage was well away, and our infantry Battalion had retired beyond the village of Dulstroom. We were to retire by sections, Lynes’ section first. After a long wait, with occasional shots coming pretty close, the time came for us to retire, which we were in the act of doing, when I saw that Bugler Douglas, who had been sent over to me with a message, had got badly bogged. Telling my section where to go to, I went back with Sergeant Rowat to try and help him out. But it was a bad place, and the horse was exhausted. The stupid Argentine brute refused to make an effort, and sank deeper and deeper. A few Boers at about 500 yards had got our range, and were getting unpleasantly near, so we packed Douglas off on foot, and only stayed long enough ourselves to destroy the horse and saddle before the Boers could get them. Poor Douglas had a long run - he was picked up by Scratchley, who with some difficulty got him to the rear un-hit but rather agitated.’
A similar version of the incident is told in another book by Captain Crum, in which he finished ‘This good man was later killed at Bakenlaagte’
What happened next (at Brakenlaagte) is thus described by an eye-witness, who was near camp with No. 1 Company, K.R.R.C.: “Suddenly,” he says, “there was heavy firing to our rear. Three hundred mounted men shot out and extended at a very fast gallop, joining hand with about 700 mounted men to the rear. There must have been a thousand of the finest Boers in the country, all shouting, shooting and thrusting, storming the rearguard. Soon I saw this flood mix with the infantry and come right on and on up to the two guns, a mile in rear of me. One gun kept firing away, but as the flood still came on it had to be sent away. We lined out in the best positions available, and wonderfully soon we were under a heavy fire ourselves.”
Facing this rush stood Colonel Benson, coolly directing to the last. Colonel Guinness himself fired the last round of case, as his guns and gunners were swamped. The Yorkshire Light Infantry lost all their four officers in as many minutes. Of the twenty Riflemen of Sergeant Ashfield’s Section only three were unhit, and these three, who were holding the horses in rear, had to be ordered back twice before they would leave their comrades.
A book by Sergeant Rowat, ‘A soldier you did his duty’, prints a different version of the same incident under the heading ‘Bugler Douglas’: ‘One of our men stuck in a bog, and seeing it was useless to try and get the horse out (for the enemy was pinging away about 500 yards distant) our officer, Lieutenant Crum, sent the man off, shot the horse, cut the saddle, and then retired as fast as his horse could carry him to cover. The man on foot reached a kopje without being hit, but now the numbers of the enemy increased, for they opened a terrific rifle fire on the kopje behind which we were. We now had our orders from Captain Scratchley to mount and gallop as fast as possible as possible to fresh cover, for we were now fighting a rear-guard action, and it was not our desire to hold ground longer than necessary. We were not long in going about a mile, our Captain staying behind to bring the man along on foot, not very pleasant work considering the enemy were rapidly advancing, but they all reached fresh cover in safety. I now took a turn with the man whose had been horse shot, lending him my horse to get further to the rear, while I ran as fast as my short legs would carry me, with a few pieces of whistling lead to help me along.’
Douglas was one of 20 men of the First Section, No. 1 Company, 25th (K.R.R.C.) Mounted Infantry under Sergeant Ashfield at Bakenlaagte, where they were detailed to escort the guns. While three men held the horses in the rear, the other 17 settled into three small depressions to defend their position on Gun Hill. In the fierce Boer attack all 17 were hit, only the horse holders remaining unscathed. Relating to No 1 section Rowat wrote: ‘No. 1 section were practically cut-up. I have heard from one of the wounded of that section, that as soon as brave Sergeant Ashfield saw the intention of the Boers was, he got his men to rally round the guns, and there they fought, like true Britons until they dropped, except two’ (ibid).
Sold for a hammer price of £650. Totals (inc VAT on the commission for the UK only): £837. R16,900. Au$1,500. Can$1,400. US$1,000