TOPIC: A Maxim Trooper with the Belingwe Column - J.T. Whitty
A Maxim Trooper with the Belingwe Column - J.T. Whitty 9 months 2 weeks ago #58602
Whitty became a convicted felon whilst serving with the Cape Mounted Rifles - he went on to redeem himself in the Matabele Rebellion
John Thomas Whitty
Trooper, Cape Mounted Riflemen
Gunner, Maxim Troop, Belingwe Field Force
Trooper, Artillery Troop, Mashonaland Mounted Police (M.M.P.) – Matabele Rebellion
Gunner, Diamond Fields Artillery - Bechuanaland Campaign
- British South Africa Company Medal (Rhodesia 1896 reverse) to Troopr. J.T. Whitby, Art. Troop, M.M.P.
Tracking down John Whitty in the records proved to be an onerous task. Who would have thought that, in fact, his surname was Whitty and not the Whitby in the records. But, in so far as these small details are sent to try us, they also serve to hone our detective skills and here I have Cameron Simpson to thank for his work on my behalf in tracking down Whitty’s true identity. Once started it all fell into place.
John Whitty was an Anglo-Indian born to parents Thomas and Sarah Whitty (born Phillips) in Kirkee, Bombay on 1 April 1863. Perhaps he was destined to don a uniform at some stage in his life considering the fact that his father was a Sergeant Major in the Royal Artillery serving in India. His parents had married in the same church in which he was later baptised on 28 March 1862 when his father was a Battery Staff Sergeant in rank.
1869 was a traumatic year for the Whitty family – John’s sibling Charles Robert came into the world but at a heavy price – the cost of his mother’s life and that of his own. Possibly as a result of this Whitty senior decided it was time to call it quits and, on 17 May 1870 having returned to England, he took his discharge after 22 years service with his intended place of residence being Spilsbury, Lincolnshire.
The 1871 England census showed that the Whitty family had decided to settle in London as opposed to Lincolnshire and ad taken up residence at 17 Victoria Street in Paddington. Thomas Whitty was now a Beadle and had remarried taking for his wife a 42 year old lady named Jane. The only other family member was 8 year old John.
A further glimpse into John’s life came via an article in the Surrey Comet dated 25 September 1880. The article entitled “Drunk And Assaulting The Police” read as follows:-
“Samuel Randall, labourer, Minniedale, Surbiton, a powerfully built fellow, was charged with being drunk and disorderly, using obscene language, and assaulting P.C. Myers, on Saturday afternoon. – The prisoner entered the private bar of the Southampton Hotel in a drunken state and called for some beer, but the manageress declined to serve him, and requested him to leave. Prisoner refused to do so, and used disgusting language. Myers was called in and ejected the prisoner, and upon getting him outside, requested him several times to go away. As he refused to do so he was taken into custody, when he immediately kicked the constable in a very dangerous part of his body. Myers closed with the prisoner and threw him on his back, and while on the ground the latter kicked and bit at the constable like a maniac. – John Thomas Whitty, barman at the Southampton Hotel, having given evidence as to the prisoner’s conduct in the hotel, Inspector Croucher handed in a list of eight convictions recorded against the prisoner during the past four years.”
Further proof that Whitty was in England comes courtesy of the 1881 England census where an 18 year old Whitty was confirmed as the Barman of the Southampton Hotel, specifically resident in the Hotel Tap section, where he was under the under the management of the Housekeeper, Elizabeth Green. The census return confirmed that he was born in Kirkee, Bombay.
Perhaps it was this brush with violence in which he most likely almost played a part that decided Whitty to leave his employment a few months later. Whatever the case may be he opted for a life under South African skies, enlisting with the Cape Mounted Riflemen in England on 18 January 1882 at the age of 20 (so claimed). Assigned the rank of Trooper he was awarded no. 736 and, having arrived in South Africa, was sent to the Eastern Cape/Transkei area where he was employed in policing duties in what was, despite the Kaffir Wars having come to an end in 1879, still a volatile region.
Whitty was not what one would call a model Trooper – his service record is littered with misdemeanours – the first of which, being absent from Watch Setting on 7 July 1885, carried an Admonishment. On 3 October 1886 he was sentenced to a fine of £3 for “Losing a horse when on guard” at Mount Frere. Life on the eastern Frontier was lonely for a single man and his next offense was indicative of this – on 27 December 1886, whilst still at Mount Frere, he was charged with “Having a Prostitute in his Quarters and “Using threatening and abusive language to Pte. Killian”. Killian had no doubt caught him in the act. For his efforts he received an Admonishment from Captain Dalgety.
But Whitty was slowly building up a head of steam as a precursor to the main event – on 5 May 1889, whilst stationed at The Gorge, he was charged with “Firing off his carbine in Camp without permission.” – for this latest offence he was again Admonished but it was the direct consequence of this action that had dire consequences for Whitty – on the same day he was charged with Culpable Homicide – obviously the firing off of his carbine had led to the death of a comrade although no mention is made of who. On this occasion there was no chance of a rap over the knuckles – Whitty was tried and sentenced by a Civil Court in Queenstown to 18 months imprisonment with Hard Labour.
Having served his time he returned to the C.M.R. and was posted to King Williams Town where on 21 June 1891 he was found guilty of being Drunk on Guard Mounting Parade receiving 21 days Confinement to Barracks by way of sentence. He had no sooner completed his sentence when he followed this up with the same offense on 12 July 1891 on which occasion he was sentenced by a Board of Officers to 30 days imprisonment without hard labour.
It had become abundantly clear that Whitty and the C.M.R. needed to part with one another and, on 12 August 1891 he was discharged with services no longer required. An unfortunate period in his life had now come to an end.
Several years later, either drawn by a sense of adventure or the prospect of military action Whitty headed north into the, at that stage, relatively wild and untamed interior of what became known as Rhodesia. Signs of trouble in the territory, beginning in February 1896, grew more ominous through the agitation against the Whites conducted by the so- called priest, Mgwati, one of Lobengula's close associates. With the 1893 defeat of the Matabele armies still a matter of recent memory, the fire spread through countless kraals, fanned by the knowledge that the Colonists possessed only a minimum of arms and food.
Moreover, the recent outbreak of Rinderpest made transport much more difficult than in normal circumstances. As March drew to a close, the first killings were reported, of a Bantu policeman at Dawson's Store at Essexvale and several white men around Filabusi and Insiza, Bulawayo itself lay only a short distance from the scene and by March 25 the town was in ferment. Guns and ammunition were given out at the stores of the British South Africa company, a laager of ox-wagons reinforced with trenches was prepared on the Market Square and on the edges of the encampment Maxim machine guns were planted among barbed wire entanglements.
From all sides stories came in about outrages by the Matabele, and urgent arrangements were made against an attack. As women and children were brought in from outside districts, the Bulawayo Club was turned into a temporary shelter. In the daytime inhabitants were still allowed to go about their business, but all were expected to sleep in the laager. For very few remaining natives a curfew was introduced from six in the evening until six in the morning, and a numbers of Volunteer Companies were set up.
An account of the Rebellion issued by A. Davis describes the situation in the middle of April 1896. "Several parties of Matabele", he said, "approached the town very closely at night, murdering the boys in charge of the cattle. Thousands of rebels were camped all along the Umguzu, numbers of them being actually within three miles of the town. A large impi lay at Mr. Crewe's farm on the Khami River, 12 miles to the West. Two large impis had quartered themselves on the Elibaini Hills and the neighborhood of Intaba Unduna. Altogether, not less than 10,000 hostile natives were spread out in a semi-circle from the West to the North-East". While attacks were made on the outskirts of the European position, the beleaguered inhabitants made repeated attempts to assail their foes.
Whitty, finding himself in Bulawayo, enlisted for service as a Trooper with the Artillery Troop of the M.M.P. (Mashonaland Mounted Police) and was attached or seconded as a Gunner with the ‘Maxim’ Troop of the Belingwe Column Corps on 26 May 1896 taking part in what was called the Matabele Rebellion. The Belingwe Column and Field Force were under the command of Major D. Tyrik Laing and developed quite a reputation as they went along.
A Maxim Gun detachment not unlike that to which Whitty belonged
Tyrik Laing immortalised their prowess in his book “The Matabele Rebellion 1896 – with the Belingwe Field force” from which numerous excerpts have been taken to illustrate just what role Whitty and his Maxim Troop comrades played under the command of Captain Hopper to whom they reported.
“On the morning of May 26th (the day Whitty joined their ranks) the relief column arrived at Setoutsi's, where I took over command from Lieutenant Yonge. The strength was about 130 white men, 70 Cape boys, 150 horses, 25 wagons, and 350 mules.
After taking over command I decided to rest that day and organise the force. Three mounted troops were formed, namely, Maxim Troop, under Captain Hopper, with Lieutenant Stoddart ; A Troop under Lieutenant Yonge, with Lieutenant Bates ; B Troop under Lieutenant Beisly, with Lieutenant Bell. Each of the above troops were about thirty strong. The remainder of the white men formed an infantry or laager troop.
On inspection of the men I found I knew a great many of them. They had come from all parts of South Africa to render assistance to their countrymen in distress. Many had given up lucrative employment in the Transvaal and elsewhere to answer the call for aid and, taking them all in all, they were a first-class lot to look at, and I had every confidence they would do the work in front of them well.
Captain Brabant. Lieutenant Posselt, and Trooper West rode ahead on the afternoon of the 26th to M'Tipi's to find out what was going on there and gather the feeling of the natives now that they had had time to think over the prospect of a fight with the Matabele.
On the morning of the 27th the reorganised column, with the Victoria convoy in front, marched from Setoutsi, and reached the Bubye River in the first trek. The column marched again during the afternoon, and laagered for the night on the west bank of the Umquqe River.
On the following morning, the 28th, M'Tipi's was reached and laager formed by 8 a.m. I resolved to remain here long enough to give the men some drill and musketry practice, whilst the M'Tipi contingent was being got ready. The Victoria convoy marched on again during the afternoon, but before this took place Captain Brabant had returned and reported that he believed the M'Tipi natives loyal and very friendly but disinclined to take the field; that he had not pressed this point on them, and that as the indunas were coming to have an indaba with me shortly perhaps an understanding would be arrived at then.
The strength of the column as it now stood comprised 14 Officers and 180 men of whom the Maxim Troop comprised 2 Officers and 28 men.”
M’tipi a “friendly” native chief who was assisting the column and supplying them with information was often quoted:-
“Yesterday five of their scouts (Matabele’s) came close up to my kraal, but they would not enter. They were armed with Martini- Henri rifles and assegais. They inquired for information in regard to the movements of the white men to the south. My people told them that the white men had all passed on to Tuli.
They did not stay any longer, but went off to the northward in the direction of M'Posi. Some of my young men have been over to M'Posi's kraal. M'Posi is working with the Matabele, about two hundred of whom are staying with him. They have blocked the pass that you came through, and intend to surround you in it when you go back. If you had waited another hour the morning you left M'Posi's kraal your party would have been surrounded. You were followed until the rebels heard the Maxim firing at Dooboolelo's kraal. This astonished them, because they did not know you had a Maxim with you, and they decided to wait for your return, in the hopes of being able to get an advantage over your party. They have set traps at several points along the road, but as you have come this way you have avoided them.”
Tyrik Laing continued,
“Leaving Captain Hopper in charge of the laager, I started the following morning before daybreak, and rode on with a small party of horsemen to Belingwe, for the purpose of arranging the relief of the garrison there. We got there before the convoy which had preceded us the previous evening. It did not take long to make the necessary arrangements.
When we got back to camp the sun was all but down, and the night-watch set. I at once sent round for volunteers to attack Selemba's stronghold. Every man wanted to go, so a party from each troop had to be selected by their troop officers. The detachment from Belingwe volunteered to a man, and they were allowed to go along with detachments from the Maxim Troop under Lieutenant Caldecott. One from A Troop, under Lieutenant Bates, and another from B Troop, under Lieutenant Beisly, the whole making about eighty white men.
The march commenced at 12.15 a.m., and about an hour brought us to the first part of really thick bush, at the foot of the Belingwe slopes. Here the mounted men gave up their horses. A short halt was then ordered to give the footmen and M'Tipi's boys a rest. Then the ascent of the first foot hill was commenced. Another hour of silent marching through dense bush brought us to the point where the attacking force was to divide into three divisions, climb the steep slopes, and surround the enemy's position.
The only audible sounds that reached us, however, were the cry of the night-birds, the occasional howl of a wolf, or the baying of a pack of jackals. There was not the faintest indication of the presence of an Impi, not even the barking of a dog, and it appeared that up to the present our approach had not been detected by our foes. While the men were resting, the officers met and held a council of war, at which it was decided that no signals were to be made until Captain Brabant had got into position. His party having furthest to go, it was reasonable to expect that the other divisions would be in their appointed places before him. As soon as he was ready he was to cause the "Alert" to be sounded, and then wait for my bugler to sound the "Advance" and "Commence firing."
We wished each other God-speed, and took command of our respective divisions and moved off in different directions as silently as possible. I led the white men and Cape boys, Captain Frankland being next in command. For the first half-hour we skirted along the foot of a gentle slope, where the bush was not very thick, rendering our progress comparatively easy. The Cape boys were now placed in front and in single file, and laid down to wait for the word from the rear that all were through.
After a short but very tedious lapse of time, the word was whispered from the rear " All through," and then we moved on up the hill under the direct guidance of two of M'Kati's sons, who did their duty in a most admirable manner, and succeeded in getting us on the top of the first ridge, where we could then see the watch fires of the enemy. Meanwhile our guides had gone forward under cover of the bush, and got close up to the first watch-fires, which had been deserted.
The guides were now at a loss, and were not able to form an opinion as to the intentions of the enemy. They said the outpost might have heard our approach and gone back to report, or they might have gone back to headquarters, thinking that all was safe. I did not like the absence of the rebel outposts nor yet the silence. I was afraid that the enemy knew what we were up to, and that very probably they were already arranging a surprise for us.
The order was sent back to be more on the alert than ever, and if attacked, the men were at once to lie down, the Cape boys facing the front, the Maxim Troop to the right, A Troop to the left, and B Troop to the rear.
After the first ridge was passed, our advance became easier. The slope was not so steep, and we had got out of the Mahobo on to bare soil which gave a much better foothold. Our guides now reported that we were very close to the position we wanted to occupy, but as the intense darkness was so deceptive they would hope to go forward with only one white officer to make sure. The only signs of life to be heard were the movements of the cattle and goats inside the enclosures. We were confident the Impi was asleep, and so were the native guides, one of whom had advanced and got into the first breastwork, on the lower edge of the krantz.
This was very exhilarating information and not a minute was to be lost before we made sure of our position. The darkness was already showing" signs of giving way to the first glimmer of daybreak, and Brabant's bugle might be expected to sound within the next half hour.
Lieutenants Campbell and Howe advanced with the Cape boys, with instructions to man the first breastworks, facing the main exit from the gorge in which the Impi lay, and to hold it at all hazards; it being very desirable to keep the enemy out of the krantz, and away from the stone breastworks which they had erected at every place of vantage. We again advanced, and whilst Campbell and Howe were posting their men the Maxim Troop was extended along the ridge facing the enemy's position. B Troop then prolonged the line to the right, with their right flank thrown forward to form a half circle. A Troop's turn came next, but they could not be found, and it was then discovered that nearly half of the white detachment had diverged and gone astray but were later found.
All that was wanting now was Brabant's signal to establish absolute confidence. I was now beginning to grow anxious about Brabant. It was high time he sounded, to let us know his whereabouts. Daylight was coming in rapidly, and objects at a distance of fifty yards were becoming quite distinct. As daylight became stronger the line of skirmishers grew more distinct, and many irregularities could be noticed. I decided to wait for Brabant before correcting them.
It was quite plain that most of the men were fast asleep, stretched out face down, with their rifles clasped in their right hand and a few loose cartridges in the left, all ready.
I was pleasantly, and perhaps I may be pardoned for saying proudly, contemplating the scene, when, welcome sound, from far up the mountain on the other side of the gorge came the first note of the bugle from Brabant. The bugler must have been a little nervous, because his first attempt at sounding a call ended in a most discordant wail, but, evidently recovering himself, the next blast brought the "Alert" ringing clearly across the gorge. The men all jumped to a kneeling position, and kept an anxious and expectant watch to their front.
After the last sound of the bugle had echoed itself out along the krantz on either hand, silence again took command, but only for a few seconds. During that short period, however, it was very distinct, all eyes and ears being fixed on the gorge in front. Presently from the thick cover of the bushy slop a buzz as of many voices commenced to reach our ears. This gradually increased until it was quite an uproar, and then it subsided, when the distinct calls of two or three chiefs could be heard giving orders and shouting, "The white men are coming! Make for the krantzes! "
I concluded that now it was time to make a general attack. Accordingly the "Advance and commence firing" was sounded, and responded to by a cheer from all sides. The sun had now made its appearance, and everything seemed to be in perfect order, and from the position I took up about the centre of the line of white skirmishers I could see all that was happening. Brabant's men now opened fire from the krantzes opposite, and M'Tipi's main body emerged from a large patch of bush, and advanced rapidly over an open space of about two hundred yards and halted when they got in line with our right.
As our advance was converging I now pushed forward the Cape boys on the left into the bush, and supported them with the Maxim Troop, ordered a few rounds to be fired, and moved the whole line forward about thirty yards. Halting the white skirmishers where they had a good view of the krantz over the tops of the trees, our advances roused up M'Kati's men, and after firing a volley into the bush in front of them, they charged it in a body in a most gallant manner. They were checked at the fence for a few seconds, but the rifle fire from the Cape boys cleared the front, and very soon Cape boys and Basutos were out of sight in the thick bush. Then the rattle of musketry with a mixture of savage yells was all that could be heard, but it was soon evident the rebels were not holding their own. The attention of the white skirmishers was drawn to the krantzes, upon which large numbers of the enemy were seen swarming, firing their rifles at anything and covering their retreat by a shower of large stones, not being at all particular whether they struck friend or foe as long as the individual made good his retreat and got in behind a stone barricade, from which fire was opened, but did no harm worth speaking of, and as they were surrounded on three sides and exposed to a cross fire from good shots under cover, they soon gave up attempting to return our fire.
At the end of an hour resistance was practically finished. The white men were kept in their position, and Brabant's men moved off to the right, and getting on top of the mountain, advanced along on to the breastworks. As they approached some very exciting hand-to-hand encounters took place on the cliff, in which assegais, battle axes, and shields played a prominent part. The attack virtually ended in a proper Kaffir fashion, the white men and Cape boys having been drawn back and not allowed to enter the enclosure. By nine o'clock the position was taken and the Impi which had contributed to organise the bands that committed so many cruel murders amongst the white people in the Lower Inseza and Filabusi districts was practically disbanded.
Soon after this action the men from Belingwe were distributed among the troops already formed, and what was afterwards known as the Belingwe Field Force was constituted with the Maxim Troop with its 30 men forming part of this outfit.”
Tyrik Laing went on to describe another action in which he and his men were involved:-
“On the afternoon of the 30th May, with a party of M'Tipi's boys, was sent off to scout the neighbourhood of Senda's position, with instructions to remain in the vicinity until the arrival of the column. Towards evening a messenger was sent back from "May" to say that Senda's people were defiant, and had strengthened a naturally strong position by every available means, and challenged the white men, to take them out of it. On the afternoon of the nth the column moved up to within two miles of Senda's Stronghold, and laagered up in a good position.
I rode on towards Senda's with a small mounted party, under Lieutenant Beisly, to make a reconnaissance, and try, if possible, to find out the designs of the enemy. The position the rebels held here was a high granite hill, with a small oval-shaped ball top, about a mile long, and five hundred feet high, the slopes of which were covered with a jumbled mass of high boulders piled on top of each other, in all sorts of fantastic shapes, forming large spaces or cavities, which were termed caves.
Our party rode on to the edge of this open space, and then along it for about half a mile, keeping a sharp look-out in case of getting cut off, but we learned afterwards that the latter event was not likely to happen, it being the intention of the rebels to keep to the rocks. With the exception perhaps of about ten natives perched on the top of the highest rock, evidently as sentinels, there was no sign of the position being occupied by a force of rebels. There was scarcely a sound to be heard except now and again the bleat of a goat. The rebels kept perfectly quiet.
During the night the rebels made a considerable noise, but whether it was to impress us with their numbers, or whether they were moving out and in, I never learned, but probably they were strengthened during the night by recruits from the surrounding hills. The following morning, shortly after daybreak, Captain Hopper, myself, and a small mounted party, rode forward again to reconnoitre the position from a different point of view. On our approach the sentinels commenced to blow their horns, and we could see a distinct commotion all about the hillside. The natives seemed to be everywhere about, and commenced to shout insulting and defiant threats to us.
It was now quite evident that they were in force, and meant fighting if their position was attacked. I decided therefore to move the laager on to a small rise, about five hundred yards from the foot of the hill, and nearly opposite to its centre. This would bring the greater part of the hill under fire from the laager; and the centre part, which seemed at present to be more thickly populated, would be within easy range of the Maxim. The laager was moved up accordingly on to the desired position.
As soon as laager was formed, the Cape boys, under Lieutenants Campbell and Moore, were sent off to the right, so as to turn the left flank of the enemy's position, and, if possible, to climb a good way up the ridge and attack downwards on the centre. As soon as they were ready C Troop was extended and advanced on the centre, to within two hundred yards, where they had a fairly good view. It was of no use going closer up as the rocks and bush obstructed the vision. The Maxim gun was trained to work over them, and had a splendid field, varying from five hundred to a thousand yards.
Every arrangement for making the attack was completed by 1 1 a.m. Then the "Commence firing" sounded. M'Tipi's men were the first to open fire. The firing on the right caused a commotion among the rebels in the centre. Many of them clambered up the rocks to see what was going on, and exposed themselves to the fire of C Troop and the Maxim. Then the Cape boys commenced to attack downwards from the left flank. This evidently upset the philosophy of the defenders, who began to yell and move about rapidly amongst the bush and rocks, letting loose their rifles and blunderbusses, but doing no harm.”
On another occasion where Whitty’s Maxim Troop were in action:-
“Time flies rapidly in a fight, but up to the present I don't suppose we had been over ten minutes engaged and the worst of the battle was yet to come. Whilst the attack on the rear had been going on the men on the front faces had not been idle — in fact, the rebels had so arranged that their heaviest attack should be delivered from the front. The party attacking from the rear were to make a throat noise to draw our attention in that particular direction, whilst the main attack would rush in on us from the front. This they did attempt, but the fact of their first having to deal with the native contingent somewhat spoiled their plans, although the latter did not make anything like a good stand. Still they acted as a buffer, and by the time the enemy had dealt with them Hopper had his Maxim trained and the men on the front faces thoroughly in hand, and opened a steady and destructive fire as soon as the friendlies cleared the front. This they did by rushing out in the open ground on our left and lying down, afterwards gaining the laager and packing themselves away under the wagons in huddled masses. I never hope again to see such an abject lot of human beings.
The seven-pounder was employed in shelling wherever a party of rebels were seen to congregate. Sergeant Perry handled his gun splendidly, and made some excellent shooting. By about 8 a.m. the rebels had virtually given up firing, and I gave the order to inspan with the intention of moving forward to the entrance to the Cheleh valley, when Lieutenant McDonald reported the rapid approach of a fresh Impi from the left front. I sent him back with instructions to keep the position held by the native contingent on the rocks, and had the Maxim and seven-pounder trained on the edge of the bush, through which the fresh Impi was advancing. They soon made their appearance, coming on in very good style. They crouched down on the edge of the bush with their shields in front of them and commenced singing a war song as they waited for their reserves to close up.
They certainly looked well, and we could enjoy the sight all the better from knowing the game was now in our hands. I gave the order to open fire. The seven pounder sent a shrapnel right into their centre, and Hopper stirred them up with a shower of lead from the Maxim. The new Impi burst and scattered in every direction; the greater part of them going straight back. The remainder rushed to take cover in the rocks, but finding them occupied on top did not go very far. The next one burst about twenty yards from the tree and sent the rebels flying again. They never halted until they got on to the bush-covered slopes of the hill about a thousand yards away. Here the shells found them, and they soon disappeared over the ridge of the hill.”
The last incident relating to Whitty and his Rhodesian service comes when he had returned to his parent unit, the Artillery Troop of the M.M.P. – the Leeds Times edition of 10 October 1896 carried the following article:-
EXPLOSION OF THE POWDER MAGAZINE AT BULAWAYO
The powder magazine at Bulawayo has exploded killing Gunner B.W. Downes, Artillery Troop, M.M.P. and eight natives; wounding W Cooper, Transport Department….
The houses were badly shaken, and many windows were broken. Masses of rock are lying in the streets and the veldt is littered with debris. The magazine which exploded so disastrously contained 735 cases of dynamite and 88 cases of gelatine.
The causes of the explosion is to be investigated officially, but meanwhile an explanation is forthcoming. A Trooper was practising with his rifle at a mark in the vicinity of the magazine, and a bullet is believed to have ricocheted and penetrated a small magazine which was filled with detonators. These blew up, and the concussion exploded the chief central magazine near to it.
The magazine was built with solid stone walls, fragments of which were hurled in every direction, killing and wounding in a frightful manner. Many of the dead were crushed and mutilated beyond recognition. The explosion made a big hole in the ground extending about 60 feet in length and breadth, and with a depth of 15 feet.”
It is to be hoped that Whitty, given his recent Culpable Homicide conviction, was not the Trooper practicing with his rifle!
Whitty took his discharge from the M.M.P. on 30 September 1896. He was awarded the British South Africa Company Medal c/o Mr J. Hallifax of Moyeni in Southern Basutoland. Hallifax was a successful trader with a store in the vicinity of Morosi’s Mountain and most likely a friend of his.
Having had his full of action he could have been forgiven if he went home but he was made of sterner stuff – trouble in Bechuanaland had broken out and he enlisted for service as a Gunner in the Diamond Fields Artillery, taking part in the Langeberg Rebellion in late 1896.
Nothing more is known about this interesting man.
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