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TOPIC: 3568 Pte. John Burns, Seaforth Highlanders PoW 4/6/1900 Zwavelkranz

3568 Pte. John Burns, Seaforth Highlanders PoW 4/6/1900 Zwavelkranz 4 years 1 month ago #42775

  • azyeoman
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Group of four to 3568 Pte. John Burns, Seaforth Highlanders.

I.G.S. 1895, clasp, Relief of Chitral 1895, (Pte. 2nd. Seaforths),
Sudan, (Pte. 1st. Seaforths),
Q.S.A. 2 clasps, C.C. Paard., (Pte. 2nd. Seaforths),
Khedives Sudan, 2 clasps, The Atbara, Khartoum, (Pte. 1st. Seaforths)

John Burns was wounded at Paardeburg on18/2/1900 and prisoner of war at Swalkrantz on 4/6/1900.

Zwavelkranz:
[2726: 2715-2743] a farm, since considerably subdivided, in the Orange Free State (Koppies district; Free State), 25 km north-west of Heilbron. A weakly guarded British convoy of 60 waggons loaded with food for Lt-Gen Sir H.E. Colvile's column in Heilbron* left Vredefort Road* on 2 June 1900 and on the evening of 3 June found Chief-Cmdt C.R. de Wet's commandos blocking its way at Zwavelkranz. De Wet demanded its surrender and whilst Lt Corballis, Army Service Corps, in charge of the convoy, engaged him in discussion a force of some 600 men went out from Vredefort Road under Maj A.E. Haig, but returned having heard no firing. The convoy laagered and on 4 June surrendered to de Wet without opposition. HMG III pp.126-128 (not named) (not mapped); Times IV pp.262-263; Wilson II pp.668-669; De Wet pp.129-130. From A Gazetteer of the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (Military Press, Milton Keynes 1999)

More info below from the Handbook of the Boer War published in 1910.

De Wet now set himself in person to execute the task entrusted to him by Botha of getting behind the British force in the Transvaal and breaking or interrupting the line of communication in the Free State. He had not long to wait for opportunities. He left Frankfort with 800 men, and on June 2 placed himself in observation near Heilbron, where Colvile was awaiting a supply column from the railway at Roodeval. The convoy was harassed from the first by mischances. Against Colvile's orders it was despatched with but a small escort and without guns. When he heard that sufficient protection could not be given, he counter-ordered the convoy, but the message did not arrive until after it had started. On the second day of the march a body of the enemy was found blocking the road at Zwavel Kranz between Heilbron and Heilbron Road Station. It was De Wet waiting for the convoy. The news of its plight reached Heilbron Road Station, and a relieving column was sent out, which came within four miles of Zwavel Kranz. No firing, however, was heard, and the officer in command, hastily concluding that all was well, returned to the railway without finding the convoy, which next morning surrendered, the victim of easy-going indifference and neglect.

The 2nd Battalion sailed on the Mongolian about 21st October 1899, and arrived at the Cape about 16th November. Along with the 2nd Black Watch, 1st Highland Light Infantry, and 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, they formed the 3rd or Highland Brigade, first under Major General Wauchope and after his death under Brigadier General Hector Macdonald. The work of the brigade is dealt with under the 2nd Black Watch.

At Magersfontein (see 2nd Black Watch) the Seaforths saw their first fighting in the campaign. The regiment was not so severely cut up in the first outburst of fire as the Black Watch, but during the day its losses became very heavy, 5 officers and 53 men being killed or mortally wounded, 7 officers and 136 men wounded, and about 14 taken prisoners. The battalion moved to the right of the Black Watch after the firing began, and pushed very close to the trenches at the south-east of the hill; indeed it is recorded by 'The Times' historian that a party of the Seaforths actually got round to the east of the hill and ascended it from the rear. They were driven down, partly by the fire of the British guns, and were all either killed or wounded. Three officers and 1 non-commissioned officer were mentioned in Lord Methuen's despatch of 15th February 1900 for great gallantry.

At Koodosberg in the beginning of February the battalion lost 1 officer and 3 men killed and 17 men wounded.

At Paardeberg (see 2nd Black Watch) the losses of the battalion were again appalling, 2 officers and 50 men being killed or dying of wounds, and 5 officers and 95 men wounded. Their advance that day, like that of the Black Watch and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, commanded the admiration of all onlookers, some companies of the Seaforths being specially praised for the way in which they pushed down to the river, crossed it, and worked up the right bank along with some of the Black Watch. In Lord Roberts' despatch of 31st March 1900, 3 officers, 2 of whom were killed, and 6 men were mentioned for their good work at Paardeberg.

During General Colvile's march from the Bloemfontein Waterworks to Heilbron some very severe fighting fell to the lot of the Seaforths, and they always earned the highest commendation of the divisional commander.

At Roodepoort, 28th May 1900, the battalion had to hold a position on the right. "They were heavily attacked from the right rear by a force which far outnumbered them", but "held their own all day". Colonel Hughes-Hallett was wounded, and the Seaforths had another officer and 15 men wounded.



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3568 Pte. John Burns, Seaforth Highlanders PoW 4/6/1900 Zwavelkranz 4 years 1 month ago #42815

  • Brett Hendey
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John
Thank you for showing what I think must be the best Boer War PoW group in your collection. I like the combination of medals for campaigns in India, Sudan and South Africa, and to a Scottish soldier makes it even better.
I wonder if you can discover more about Burns' life pre-India and post-South Africa?
Regards
Brett
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3568 Pte. John Burns, Seaforth Highlanders PoW 4/6/1900 Zwavelkranz 3 years 10 months ago #44279

  • davidh
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John - Nice to see that the group has ended up in a good home. It used to be in my collection but I moved it on to fund another purchase about 10 years ago.

Regards

David
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3568 Pte. John Burns, Seaforth Highlanders PoW 4/6/1900 Zwavelkranz 3 years 10 months ago #44281

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Thank you. I'm glad you did as I'm very fond of it. :) cheers! John

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