Queens South Africa Medal with three clasps: Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg named to: 5542 Private. J. Ward. East Lanc's Regiment.
J Ward served in the 1st Bn. East Lancashire Regiment, which served as mounted infantry in the Boer War. He was captured and later released at Vereeninging on 4 January 1901.
Mounted Infantry - An unusual feature of the Boer War, and of its guerrilla phase in particular, was the prominence of mounted troops, including Mounted Infantry. The East, South and Loyal North Lancashire Regiments all provided large numbers of Mounted Infantry, including several complete companies. As the cutting edge of the mobile columns the mounted men saw more than their share of the fighting, and there was never any shortage of volunteers for this dashing role.
By December 1899 it was evident that additional troops would be required in South Africa and over the next few weeks the 3rd (Militia) Battalions of the East, South and Loyal North Lancashire Regiments were all embodied, reservists were recalled and active service companies of the Volunteer Battalions of all three Regiments were formed for service with their respective Regular Battalions. On 19 December the 1st Battalion East Lancashires left Jersey and sailed on the Bavarian and arrived at the Cape about 3rd February. Along with the 2nd Cheshire, 2nd South Wales Borderers, and 2nd North Staffordshire, they formed the 15th Brigade under Major General A G Wavell, and part of the VIIth Division under Lieutenant General Tucker. They joined Lord Roberts’ army at the Orange River. Roberts, now C-in-C South Africa, had planned a major offensive to take the Boer capitals, Bloemfontein and Pretoria, and finish the war. The battalion was said to have particvularly done well at Karee Siding on 29th March 1900. They lost that day 5 men killed and 14 wounded. At the crossing of the Zand River on 10th May they also did their portion of the task well.
In Lord Roberts' final dispatch 11 officers and 17 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.
In 1901 the battalion furnished the infantry of columns which operated in the Southern Transvaal and in the Orange River Colony under Brigadier General G Hamilton, Colonel Grey, Colonel Garratt, and others, and necessarily did a lot of very hard marching and had a good many little fights. In 1902 the battalion assisted in holding a line of blockhouses near Vrede during the driving operations. Three officers, 1 non-commissioned officer, and 1 private were mentioned in Lord Kitchener's dispatches during the war, and 4 officers and 4 non-commissioned officers in his final dispatch.
Some of the “good many little fights” were as follows:
Paardeberg The advance began on 11 February and the East Lancashires, after a trying march, took part on the 15th in the capture of Jacobsdal. Their Mounted Infantry Company were also in action that day at Waterval Drift, while on the both they and the Loyal North Lancashire Mounted Infantry were present at the decisive victory of Paardeberg. During the subsequent advance on Bloemfontein the Mounted Infantry were engaged at the battles of Driefontein and Poplar Grove. On 13 March Bloemfontein surrendered.
Karee Siding After a short halt at Bloemfontein the 1st East Lancashires marched north with the 7th Division and, on 29 March, attacked a Boer defensive position at Karee Siding. The Lancashire lads took the Boers’ main position, known afterwards as ‘East Lancashire Hill’, with a gallant charge.
Zand River After a pause for resupply, Roberts resumed his advance north to the Rand, and on 10 May the East Lancashires were in action at the battle of Zand River, capturing the key to the Boer position and beating off a strong counter-attack.
Johannesburg With the East Lancashire and Loyal North Lancashire Mounted Infantry well to the fore, Roberts’ army pressed on to take Johannesburg on 31 May. 1st East Lancashires had marched 126 miles in seven days.
Pretoria and Diamond Hill Then, while the East Lancashires remained to garrison the Rand, the Mounted Infantry companies took part in the capture of the Transvaal capital and the subsequent battle of Diamond Hill, 11-12 June.
During the guerrilla time of the war, Kitchener had some ten times the overall strength of the Boers, but by the time his lines of communication had been secured he had barely more soldiers available for offensive operations than his opponents, perhaps 22,000 to the Boers’ 20,000. In consequence, at local level the game of cat and mouse involved frequent role reversals when the ‘mice’ converged in superior strength to attack convoys and isolated columns. The Mounted Infantry companies were very active at this stage of the war, and the 1st East Lancashire Company in particular took part in many successful engagements.
As the war entered its second year, Kitchener realized that he had to deny both logistic support and freedom of movement to the Boers. His draconic farm clearances were largely achieving the first of these requirements, and to achieve the second he began a comprehensive program of blockhouse building to cordon off great tracts of the country. These blockhouses were miniature forts, sited for all-round defense, each with a garrison of an NCO and 6-8 privates. They were linked by barbed-wire fences and erected at intervals of about half to three-quarters of a mile to contain the Boer commandos so that coordinated search and destroy drives could be mounted by mobile columns. The 1st East Lancashires built and manned a blockhouse line near Frankfort. By October 1901 this system was proving its worth, but it was not until May 1902 that the surviving Boer leaders accepted that further resistance was useless and surrendered at Vereeninging.
South African Field Force. JB Hayward & Sons
[2626: 2640-2755] a town in the South African Republic (Vereeninging district; Gauteng) some 50 km south of Johannesburg. By 23 May 1900 all the Republic's forces engaged in the Orange Free State had withdrawn to Vereeniging. Patrols from Maj-Gen J.D.P. French's cavalry division discovered on 26 May 1900 that the town had been evacuated, the Boers retiring to defensive positions on the Klipriviers Berg*. Cmdt-Gen L. Botha ordered Cmdt A.H. Malan with Theron's Scouts to wreck the railway bridge across the Vaal River south of the town and do as much damage as possible. The town was taken that day by Col St.G.C. Henry's column, including the 4th and 8th corps mounted infantry, but too late to save the bridge. On 27 May, Field Marshal Lord Roberts crossed the Vaal at Viljoen's Drift* and entered Vereeniging. Representatives of the commandos met at Vereeniging on 15 May 1902, with Asst Cmdt-Gen C.F. Beyers, in the chair to discuss the course of the war and elect a commission to discuss peace terms with the British. The commission returned to Vereeniging on 28 May and on 31 May the Assembly voted to accept the terms recommended to them. Although known as the Treaty of Vereeniging, the document was actually signed in Pretoria. Vereeniging was the location of both white and black refugee concentration camps. HMG III pp.71-72 and 74 (map no.38), IV pp.542, 544 and 554-560 (map no.59); Times IV p.136 (map of the Transvaal in the end pocket); Breytenbach V pp.512 and 518 (map facing p.550); Wilson II p.659 (photograph), IV pp.981-4 (photographs); Cassell pp.1,157-1,159; Warwick p.154; Cd.819.
An interesting clip from the British Film Institute of the E. Lancs returning from South Africa and parading through Preston in 1902.
Just back from service in the Boer War, the East Lancashire Regiment parades in the grounds of its Fulwood Barracks in Preston before a party of local dignitaries and others. Afterwards, the pith-helmeted militiamen relax and mingle with their audience. These beautifully crisp images were assembled in something of a jumble, suggesting they may be offcuts left over from another film. The Burnley militia was formed in 1853 and the soldiers form the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment. Fulwood Barracks was on the site of what is now the Queen's Lancashire Regiment Museum. The film was screened by Ralph Pringle in Burnley at the Mechanic's Institute.