That is a superb group of medals. Thank you for showing it.
The mention of Bird's River reminded me of a later action at this location that resulted in several more hard-won single clasp 'Cape Colony' QSA's being awarded. After the action on 6 February 1900 that you described, the Colonials under General Brabant regrouped before pushing forward again. For a second time, contact was made with the Boers at Bird's River. On 15 February, an advance patrol of men from Brabant's Horse and the Cape Mounted Rifles was fired upon by the Boers and several men were killed, including Captain E C H Crallan, Brabant's Horse. Their lonely graves are shown below.
(From the book 'A Guide to the Battlefields, Graves and Monuments of the Anglo-Boer War in the North-Eastern Cape. Published by the War Museum of the Boer Republics.)
I have in my collection the Zulu War medal awarded to Crallan when he was a Sergeant in the Natal Mounted Police. His single clasp QSA (CC) was sent to his widow, but it has since been separated from the Zulu War medal.
Crallan was evidently held in high regard and, after visiting the site of the Bird's River skirmish, General Gatacre wrote a personal letter of condolence to his widow.
Herbert Howell's diary refers to the action you refer to as 15th Feb as 16th Feb and comments as follows: "Left Bird's River at 3.00 AM to attack Dordrecht and co-operate with Gen. Brabant.Arrived 7.00AM. Boers driven from ridges west of town and fallen back on East ridge. Boers about 2,000 strong (nb, marginal note by diary editor says about 600) with one gun. Our force 2000 (nb diary editor says 1600) with six guns and four 2.5" guns and 2 maxims. Fight lasted two days. Our tactics were very feeble. Centre section with two guns got into a very tight hole but got out with one man severely wounded. Two horses killed and seven wounded. Boers cleared off with loss (nb editor notes British lost about 7 killed and eight wounded, Boers one killed and eight wounded) and took their gun with them which we ought to have captured. Splendid work by our guns. 15 pounders silenced Boer gun first shot. Brabants Horse dead off charging."
He later comments that Dordrecht occupied by our troops on 17th.
I sincerely trust you will run across that missing QSA!
Regards to all
Thank you for that information. The researcher in Cape Town who copied some of Crallan's papers for me, also sent me copies of pages from a book which dealt with Crallan's fatal engagement. As I remember it, there was no record of the author, title and publisher of the book, but I suspected General Brabant might have been the author. I will check and post again later.