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1899, Battle of Colenso

SCHOFIELD, HARRY NORTON, Captain, was born on 29 January 1865, son of Christopher James Schofield, JP, Lancashire. He entered the Royal Artillery from the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, as Lieutenant, in February 1884, and became Captain in February 1893. Captain Schofield served in the South African War in 1899 and 1900, as Aide-de-Camp to General Sir Redvers Buller, VC, GCB, GCMG. He was present at the Relief of Ladysmith, including the action at Colenso; at the operations of 17 to 24 January 1900, and the action at Spion Kop. Operations of 5 to 7 February 1900, and action at Vaal Krantz; operations on Tugela Heights (14 to 27 February) and action at Pieter's Hill. Operations in Natal (March to June, 1900), including action at Laing's Nek (6 to 9 June). Operations in the Transvaal, East of Pretoria (July to October 1900), in­cluding the action at Belfast (26 and 27 August) and Lydenburg (5 to 8 September). At the Battle of Colenso General Buller had ordered Colonel Long to take two batteries of Field Artillery and six naval guns to support the main attack. The 14th and 66th Field Batteries were accompanied by six naval guns (two of 4.7-inch and four 12-pounders), under Lieutenant Ogilvy of the Terrible. At an early stage in the action, Long's field guns unlimbered within a thousand yards of the enemy's trenches. From this position he opened fire upon Fort Wylie, which was the centre of that portion of the Boer position which faced him. The two batteries were without shelter of any sort, and in full view of the strongly-entrenched and invisible enemy, and a fearful storm of bullets broke over them. After same time, owing to the ammunition running out, it was thought advisable to retire the officers and men to a small donga behind the guns, to which the wounded (including Colonel Long) had been taken. About 800 yards to the rear of the guns was a deep donga or nullah, in which the drivers and teams were taking cover; along this Captain Schofield was riding with Sir Redvers Buller, who expressed a wish to try and get some of the guns away; so Gerard (Lord Gerard) and Schofield rode their horses into the donga and got some men and two teams out. Congreve, Schofield and Roberts, three aides-de-camp of the Generals, were the leaders in this forlorn hope, the latter being the only son of Lord Roberts. As soon as the teams were hooked in to the limbers on the bank of the donga, Captain Schofield gave the order to gallop for the guns, and, as they got nearer, directed them on to the two on the right, as they appeared to be clear of dead horses. Corporal Nurse galloped out with Schofield, and Roberts joined them, and was galloping along on Captain Schofield's left. Congreve, after helping to hook a team in a limber, got his horse and came after them. On going about 400 yards, Roberts was shot and fell backwards. Congreve fell wounded when about 100 yards away from the guns, on reaching which Captain Schofield and Corporal Nurse jumped off their horses and hooked in the two guns, with which they returned. The drivers, Henry Taylor, Young, Petts, Rockall, Lucas and Williams, of the 66th Battery, all received the DCM for his services in this campaign Captain Schofield was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 26 January 1900, and London Gazette, 8 February 1901 (Sir Redvers Buller, 30 March and 9 November 1900)]. He received the Queen's Medal with six clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 19 April, 1901]: "Harry Norton Schofield, Major, Royal Artillery. In recognition of services during the recent campaign in South Africa". The award was cancelled nearly two years after the Battle of Colenso, when he was awarded the Victoria Cross instead of the DSO [London Gazette, 30 August 1901]: "The King has been graciously pleased to signify His intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross upon the undermentioned Officer, whose claims have been submitted for His Majesty's approval, for his conspicuous bravery in South Africa, as stated against his name: Harry Norton Schofield, Captain, Royal Field Artillery. Date of Act of Bravery: at Colenso on the 15th December 1899. When the detachments serving the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, had all been killed, wounded or driven from them by infantry fire at close range, Captain Schofield went out when the first attempt was made to extricate the guns, and assisted in withdrawing the two that were saved. Note: In consequence of the above, the appointment of this Officer to the Distinguished Service Order, which was notified in the London Gazette of the 19th April, 1901, is cancelled". Captain Schofield was promoted to Major in 1900. Major Schofield retired in December 1905. He was one of His Majesty's Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms. Major Schofield was re-employed, 1914 to 1918, firstly on the British Remount Commission in Canada and America, and afterwards as Commandant on Lines of Communication, BEF. He was temporary Lieutenant Colonel, 1915 to 1918, and retired in 1918 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In June, 1917, he married Dorothy Evelyn Vere, eldest daughter of Arthur Charles Isham. Lieutenant Colonel Schofield died in London on 10 October 1931, aged 66. He was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery.

VC, reverse of suspension bar engraved (Captain H.N. Schofield, Royal Field Artillery)reverse centre of the cross dated '15th Decr 1899, QSA (6) CC TH OFS RofL LN Belf (Major DSO RA), 1914-15 STAR (Lt Col); 1902 Coronation, 1911 Coronation. Kaplan Jul 85. Sothebys Nov 1988. DNW Jul 93 £19,000.


Staff travelling from London with Sir Redvers Buller

The Zibenghla arrived with battery and a half the day before we did having left 10 days before.

9th Lancers arrived from India; had a whole squadron of horses either washed overboard or killed in a storm.

October 14th, Saturday

Left London by special for Southampton. A great crowd including Prince of Wales at station; all the way to Southampton people collected and cheered. Train took us alongside the Dunottar Castle and General was met by General Sir B. Russell and Admiral Sir Guliver Seymour. Crowd at Southampton enormous and most enthusiastic, the whole length of the docks covered with people, a wonderful sight from the ships when we moved off. Arrived Madiera after rough passage early morning on 18th. Very warm and oppressive at Madiera and then warmer day by day 'till near the Equator, where it got cool, in fact quite cold about the 27th when I caught very violent cold. We passed a ship going home on the 29th, quite close, and she put a large blackboard up for us to see with "Boers defeated three battles, Penn Symons killed"; we arrived Cape Town after fine passage all the way from Madiera. News came on board of the fights; much greater losses than had been expected, evidently our troops had got the best of it in three fights, Glencoe, Elandslaagte and Rietfontein Farm; we heard this news the night of our arrival on the 30th October (arrived 9,30pm 30.10.99). Went ashore about 9.30 am. on the 31st and all staff drove to Government House; Sir R.B., Sir G. Forestier-Walker, Col. Hanbury Williams and self in first carriage.

A tremendous crowd in Adderley Street (the main street) and one deafening cheer from end to end. At Government House Sir R. had a long conversation with Sir A. Milner and as far as I could judge afterwards His Excellency took dismal view of situation of Sir G. White in Natal, the troops at Dundee etc. having had to fall back on Ladysmith being outnumbered. Valuable communication was just received that a detached force under Col. Carleton, consisting of Gloucester Regt. (6 Companies) and Royal Irish Fusiliers (4 Companies) and half a mountain battery, had got into difficulties and taken prisoners; the mules of the half battery had stampeded, and the reserve South African mules of infantry also, which left Regiments short of ammunition. We then went to Mount Nelson Hotel to stay; a very good hotel indeed, nicely furnished, clean and good food, but very full.


November 2nd all communication was cut off with Ladysmith. On Sunday November 5th went with Sir R. to lunch at Rhodestown, near Roudebosh about 5 miles out; Lady E.Cecil living there with Sir C. Bentinck. A most delightfully pretty place, a sort of mixture between Scotland and The Riviera, the latter as regards colour of trees and plants. The lion cub, a playful little thing about the size of a retriever and chained to a stick, that C. Rhodes presented to the Pretoria Zoo and had returned, was there. A message came from Durban, which had arrived by a pigeon from Ladysmith saying Gen. French had made a reconnaisance on November 2nd and Col. Brocklehurst on the 3rd and Boer losses heavy and some prisoners taken. Several of our wounded from Natal arrived on or about the 2nd and were taken to hospital at Wynberg, all doing extraordinarily well and apparently the mauser bullet either kills or does little damage beyond making a hole clean thro'; one man had a bullet clean thro' from below his collar bone and out at the shoulder blade behind, and already on Nov. 3rd he is up and walking about; another had one right thro' his head like this >—and is alright beyond losing his sense of smell, this practically went thro' the top of the cheek bones furthest from his ear. I have forgotten to say I got 6 months supplies for the personal staff, getting the food and brandy, whisky and claret from Morel's in Piccadilly:- 105 boxes food, 600 bottles claret, 240 brandy, 140 whisky and 16 dozen of champagne to last 6 months for 10 officers.

November 4th, Saturday

Rather amused at seeing little black boys letting off fireworks in honour of Guy Fawkes Day. The climate of this place just now is very changeable, one day one wants winter things and the next quite as hot and the sun stronger than the hottest day in England and sometimes the wind blows a dreadful hurricane, blowing the dust up in sheets, most unpleasant. We moved into a private home (Sir R. and personal staff) on Nov 6th and run it practically with our own cook, whom we brought from England, and servants; much more convenient than hotel.

Nov 7th

First day I felt anything like fit and beginning to conquer my cold which has been the most severe I've had for years.

Nov 8th

Gen. French and staff arrived, having fought at Ladysmith, a reconnaisance on the 2nd, and then got thro' to Durban, their train being shot at twice by Boers; a lucky escape, a shell went thro' a trunk in van.

Nov 9th

Tried a lot of remounts for the staff, all ponies ranging from 14.3 to 13.1 hands; rather good little beasts, much better than they look. Mackenzie sent on two from DeAar, a dun and brown, both good sorts. A "cipher" telegram came from Durban today, received them by pigeon from Sir G. White at Ladysmith, saying all well there, in spite of Boer bombarding; also that Boers had sent in a lot of refugees under flag of truce; he sent a party to meet them outside line of piquets, and the Boers, the beasts, fired on them before they had reached the line of piquets again. Quite beautiful day today like the best of English Spring. The Roslin Castle arrived with Gen. Hildyard and staff and 2/W Yorkshire Regt; sent on immediately to Durban. The Moor, the mail, arrived having broken down 4 times; very late. General Ld. Metheuen and Sir Gatacre and Sir G.F. Clery and staffs, and A.S.C. on board. I got a wire from on Nov. 8th, sent on Nov 1st, asking where 62nd

Battalion, answered it; to DeAar.

Nov 10th

Mails came in, got news from home, all right, dated Oct. 20th; also heard from M at DeAar, seems to have had a fine time with 1000 mules just sent, mostly stallions, breaking down his fences, getting loose and generally playing the devil with the mares; I pity him; they came from Italy. T. Atkins with an obstreporous one heard saying "now you long faced......, none of your pranks, you haint in th' Italy now my son". Written this up to date now. I forgot to mention that Schreiner came to lunch with Gen'l first day we landed, struck me as being a bit cunning.

November 11

Busy trying horses for General, think I've got one to do. Then had a long time at Sir G.White's despatch giving account of battles at Glencoe and Elandslaagte; about 3000 words to "code" which would have filled 100 at least of Eastern telegraph forms, but Gen. came to conclusions it was not worth it. The Boer position at Glencoe or Dundee appears to have been a very strong one and the losses seem to have been more or less equal on both sides, tho' the victory rested with us; but with what object?!

A great many more Boers might have been killed being within 2000 yards of R.A. but the G.O. would not fire on them, as they put up white flag, without apparently having any idea of surrendering, and they were allowed to retire thus. Three troopers arrived today, the Yorkshire, Aurania and Lismore Castle; the Yorkshire and Lismore sent on to Natal and the Highland Light Infantry and R.E. disembarked here for DeAar way. Two more arrived in the evening, the Trojan (hospital ship) and Howarden Castle, latter unable to get into harbour because of gale.

November 12

Went to Cathedral, as I did last Sunday, very good organist and choir; quite nice service. Lunch with Sir R. at Mr Frost's at Roudebosch about 5 miles out, where we went by train.

19th November

Took despatch to be sent on as quick as possible to Gen. Clery, sent in Pavonia as she starts today. Very hot last two days. We are preparing for a start to Natal. Algy King came to see me and passed afternoon.

20th November

Mail came in, got letter dated 3rd Nov. and others; extraordinary reports seem to have been spread at home. Gen. Clery now commands at Maritzburg and is getting a fairly stong force. Found my brown pony today possessed of a deuce of a temper and very mulish; fear he won't be much good in action. Glenggly with o/R.H.A. and Siberinen with Ld.Gt. and 1 squadron Inniskilling Dragoons and German with 1/Rifle Brigade went temporarily to Maitland and R.Brigade to Natal. Very busy all day with cipher telegrams.

22nd November

Bustled about getting servants and grooms ready to start off, only having before been able to hint at a start soon as Gen. wished it as he kept as quiet as possible. Got horses (20) on board, and baggage, by about 5 pm. S.S. Mohawk, and Gen and ourselves, personal staff, left in launch at 6.45 and went on board ship which had gone into harbour to allow Kildonian Castle with 1/Welsh and 2/Northumberland Fusiliers to dock, they go on to E.London. Manchester Port with Royal Dragoons went out of port in front of us for Durban. The Briton which brought mails, also brought Somerset Lt. Infantry. Government pay £17,000 a month for Kildonian Castle, 10,000 tons. They returned to Cape afterwards. This ship Mohawk we are on now 4,200 tons; they pay 17/6 a ton a month. Luckily we are having a very nice smooth passage and it is rather nice having the rest. Two R.E. officers, Gironard and Manifred, come with us for service in Natal on railway work.

24th November

Ld. Methuen is now on his way to relief of Kimberley and Sir R. expects will be there by the 28th. Gen French has gone to Naawport or that way to engage commandos about Colesburg. Gatacre at Queenstown. The telegraph wire was cut South of Estcourt where Gen. Hildyard is with his brigade on the 20th; Mr Lause of the bond ministry took a special train for Dordrecht on the day we left Cape Town, was going by Patiala to E.London, whereby hangs a tale!, it remains to be seen why.

25th November

Nearing our destination, in sight of land all yesterday and today, most unarbitory. Sandy country yesterday but today nothing green, a certain amount of trees, wooden houses dotted here and there, and rocky boulders, high hills in the distance; arrived Durban about 5.30, had dinner on board and came up by special to Maritzburg, arrived at about 11.30.

Sir R. and self came up to Government House to stay; the others at Imperial Hotel. Got news from Ld. Methuen that he had routed the Boers near Belmont on 23rd, inflicting large losses, our troops behaved very gallantly and turned enemy out of strong position; our losses were

November 13

Oriental arrived with Brig.Gen. Barton and 1/R.W. Fusiliers; sent on to Natal (Yorkshire had 2/R.W. Surrey and Lismore Castle 2/E. Surrey Rgt). Gascon arrived with 2/Coldstream Guards, sent DeAar way. Rumours arrived that Joubert wounded or dead. Howarden Castle (2/R. Irish Fusiliers) sent on to Natal.

Nelbia (1st Scots Guards and half 2/Northamptons) and Ariucian (7.4.66th RFA) arrived. Ariucian to Natal.

14th November

Mail boat arrived, went for a gallop on the sands this morning on brown pony, broken a small bloodvessel in his nose or head. Brittanic (2/R.I. Rifles) and Harlech Castle (half 2/Northamptons) arrived, went to Orange River.

15th November

No letters by mail from home except a bill. Ghurka with Maj. Gen Sir H. Colville arrived and 3/Grenadiers, Nomad with horses for Cape Colony. Manila with 2/Devons and M.I. Rode out yesterday to see the S.A. Light Horse who are being raised, they were started about a week ago and are 500 strong having ......300; struck me as good looking lot of men; a parson joined as a trooper, sporting of him. Been hard at work on Col. George Gough's despatch on his reconnaisance near Belmont, 4 men wounded and 2 officers killed and 2 wounded, rather large percentage! Young Brooke 9th Lancers had narrow escape.

16th November

City of Cambridge (2/Scottish Rifles), City of Vienna (12th Lancers) and the Malta arrived. 1/Coldstreams disembarked Cape Town for Orange River, City of Cambridge went on. City of Vienna 12th Lancers for Cape.

17th November

Mohawk, Oriana (A and S Highlanders) and Gepholonia (1/D.L.I.). Pigeon wire yesterday from Ladysmith to say all well. Boers rumoured last week that Gen. Buller had been to Orange River and so disgusted with British troops, had gone home. Another that he was spitting blood in Cape Town!

18th November

Forbueng arrived, Mongolia, Seaforth, Jamaica, America and .........

Blackheath, Pavonia; telegram yesterday from Ladysmith saying all well, sent by pigeon post. Went down to docks to see R battery arrive in America, saw Johnny Robinson and the others all well, also Algy King; dreadful ship - took 24 days; horses looked well. Inniskillings (1 Squadron) in Jamaica, thought horses looked bad. Prah had mules from N.Orleans - took 40 days. R. goes on to DeAar. Gepholonia brought Gen. Lyttleton and 1/Durhams who go on to Natal. Pavonia also goes to Natal with 2/R. Fusiliers and 2/R.I.Fusiliers.

Grenadiers Officers Men

2 26 Killed
7 36 Wounded

1/Coldstreams 8 Killed
17 Wounded
5 Missing

2/Coldstreams 2 6 Wounded

1/Scots Guards 9 Killed
3 34 Wounded

North'd Fusiliers 2 12 Killed
4 32 Wounded

D.L.I. 3 Wounded

2/Northamptons 2 Wounded

26th November

Went to church with Gen'l. and the Governor Hon. Sir Hely Hutchinson. Gerard came up to stay here also. Governor's a.d.c. was in that capacity with Penn-Symons when he was killed at Glencoe; his name is Murray in the Black Watch; tells me the guns fired too long on the Boer positions and killed some of our men storming it. Ronald Brooke 7th Hussars, a.d.c. to Sir G. White is laid up here in the house, he was out with Ian Hamilton at the Elandslaagte battle and got hit twice, one thro' his thigh about 8 inches above the knee which just grazed the bone; he showed it to me, quite healed up having 2 small round scars; has to lay in bed as he has got water on the knee from it; the other wound was with a piece of shell close to the left eye which has partly damaged his sight but occulist says not permanently. Another telegram came just before dinner from Methuen saying he had had another desperate fight near Grasspan, where he had gone after the previous fight, and defeated the Boers again, no detail as to our losses except that Naval Bde. fought gallantly (afterwards found out fought as infantry); 50 horses (Boer) were found dead in one place which seems to show our shells played pretty good havoc there.

A telegram later came with casualties. R.N. had 2 officers killed, one a midshipman, 2 other officers of Naval Brigade killed, about 160 men wounded, 19 killed; evidently the officers wearing no uniforms diminished the percentage of loss in them.

29th November

Sat next to Brig.Gen. Yule at dinner the other night who told me about the retreat from Dundee; it was a wonderful piece of endurance, 60 miles in drenching rain; they moved out of Dundee only with things they stood in, all baggage lost. No sleep for 6 nights and days.

Got a wire early this morning giving account of Methuen's having had to fight at Modder River; he describes it as one of the hardest in the annals of the British army; they were fighting for 10 hours, 8000 Boers (found out after to have been 11,000), and drove enemy from position and Pole-Carew's Brigade had just crossed when wire was sent. He praised the work done by the 2 batteries of R.F.A. very highly. I bought a chestnut horse, an Argentine, yesterday for £60.

November 30th

Went out early this morning as no telegrams to do and saw the Royals and had a gallop on the race-course, like any new horse. Two men, Young, a correspondent to Natal paper, and Michell, a telegraphist, came to see General. They had come thro' the Boer lines from Ladysmith and got safely to Weenen, which came into our possession again yesterday, a force of 4000 strong of Boers with they thought Joubert went thro' it only the day before; the men told us it was quite wonderful the little damage the shells fired into Ladysmith had done, only at the time of their leaving 8 men killed by them; also during all sorties only 100 killed and wounded; they also said that on the 9th when Boers tried to take Ladysmith they were driven back with great loss, 800 men. Kruger is reported to have been at the end of the telegraph all yesterday; looked on as ominous! This place, Maritzburg, is quite nice and airy and pretty, one might looking over the distance imagine one was in Northumberland, except the roads are all red.

I think it rather interesting now to mention the fact that Cecil Rhodes wired a few weeks ago to Milner to urge the relief of Kimberley as there were plenty of troops at Orange River; 2 regiments and a battery! this reminds one of the raid time; Jameson, Willoughby and F. Rhodes are now at Ladysmith.


December 1899

1st December

Heard today that Ld. Methuen was slightly wounded at Modder River, will be fit in 10 days; his division will have to rest for 6 days to recoup and reinforce.

3rd December

Church this morning. Talking to the Gen. in hall after lunch and remarked it seemed curious that by now they had not established communication with Ladysmith by heliograph and just that moment a boy came up with a telegram to Sir R. conveying news that they had, what a true saying "talk of the devil". We got full list of casualties at Modder River the night before last. 4 officers killed including Col's Stopsford and Lt. Col. Northcott and A.A.G. 19 wounded, 58 men killed, 370 wounded and missing. Communication to Ladysmith was established from Weenen. I have forgotten to mention that Gen. Hildyard made a night attack (small), a battalion and a half at Willow Grange and did good work. Rather an important engagement as to its bearing on campaign.

4th December

Temperature yesterday was 100 in shade and today 74. Got mail of 11th Nov.

5th December

We left by the 10.15 mail for Frere where we arrived at 3.45 am and encamped close to station. All my horses coughing.

6th December

Went out in afternoon to outposts, could see a few Boer tents some 6 or 7 miles to the front. Very warm.

8th December

Went to outposts again this morning, say Boer big gun either on or beyond Imbulwana Mountain fire one shot at Ladysmith; a man was shot yesterday just beyond the outpost line. We have our mess here in the station meeting house, the Boers were in it a fortnight ago and luckily did not damage it. The Frere Bridge the Boers blew down about a fortnight or 3 weeks ago is a few hundred yards down the line from here, it was very well done and must have delighted them to see it, it looks like this

The new bridge has taken a week to make just alongside and a train went over it yesterday. Along the line towards Chievely is the armoured train that was derailed some 3 or 4 weeks ago when they captured a company of Dublin Fusiliers and Winston Churchill, it was returning at the time and they had pulled the line up or something after letting it pass, it was fired on from both sides. The grave of the men who were killed is just alongside with the inscription done with used cartridge cases they fired; a service was held there on 5th Dec. The new railway bridge was built by the N.G.R. railway people. Dined with Byng, who is commanding the S.A. Light Horse, last night; Fraser 1st L.G. the adjutant was there and 30 others

10th December

Saw the gun on Imbulwana fire twice yesterday at Ladysmith. Heard yesterday that a sortie had been made at Ladysmith, very successfully blowing up a 6"gun, a 5" howitzer, and captured a maxim of the Boers, also destroyed their telegraph communication to the North. It's very curious to see odd prisoners brought in, unfortunately they seem to be mostly blacks, tho' 4 Boers with 3 ponies and a fool were brought in the other day and Lees R.N., naval a.d.c. who joined us here has got one of the ponies, not much of a one, and extraordinary little beast; heard a wire today from Gen. Gatacre from Molteno to say he has had a serious reverse and endeavouring to concentrate on Queenstown.

Went out in afternoon to outposts, could see a few Boer tents some 6 or 7 miles to the front. Very warm.

8th December

Went to outposts again this morning, say Boer big gun either on or beyond Imbulwana Mountain fire one shot at Ladysmith; a man was shot yesterday just beyond the outpost line. We have our mess here in the station meeting house, the Boers were in it a fortnight ago and luckily did not damage it. The Frere Bridge the Boers blew down about a fortnight or 3 weeks ago is a few hundred yards down the line from here, it was very well done and must have delighted them to see it, it looks like this

11th December

Saw the big gun on Imbulwana fire four times between 7 and 7.3 0; found in the evening part of Boer camp had been moved but could only see two newly placed tents. Heard news of reverse at Magersfontein but no particulars.

12th December

The naval searchlight signalled 2 nights ago to Ladysmith by order of General to say (in clear) that Ld. M. had been very successful Modder River way and that the report Boers had spread about number of their casualties was erroneous, Lord M. Had buried 80 of them himself tho' their official list only said 12 killed; this of course they would read. Last night was sent "I commence my attack by a bombardment; of course Sir G. White has been told that all messages in clear are only bogus". Maj. Gen. Barton's brigade and some naval guns moved forward today early N.W. of Chievely and encamped on the side of a hill overlooking Colenso. On the 14th we moved with all troops to about 2 miles North of Chievely Station (list of troops in pocket of this book)!

15th December

Struck camp at 2 am. and started off at 4 am to cross the river at Colenso; the naval guns 2x4.7 and 4 long range 12 pdrs. had been firing at Fort Wylie and shelter trenches on two mounds to the west of it practically all previous day, these were the first shots I ever saw fired "in anger". The battle was begun practically at 5.45 by the naval guns who were placed on a Kopje about 4800 yards South W. of Colenso, they firing at the above named mounds; only one or two stray Boers were seen and I doubt if any real damage was done, there was absolutely no reply from the Boers and one began to think there were none there, when a terrific fusilade started; meantime while the naval guns above mentioned were firing (the Comm. in Chief and staff were at that place) the 4 brigades were moving up; Barton on the right was N.E. with the idea, I believe, of flanking the enemy on his left; Hildyard moved directly on to Colenso with the idea of crossing the road bridge there; Lyttleton was on his left to support Hildyard or Hart, who was on the extreme left and his (Hart's) objective was to cross the river over a drift some two miles to the West of Colenso.

As remarked above, there was all at once a tremendous fire opened; it came from Fort Wylie and along the river bank beyond, and also to the West, in the direction where Hart's Bde. was likely to be; one could see naval guns in action in the plain to our right front and also hear other guns which turned out to be 2 of the 3 batteries with Barton's Brigade; the Gen. sent me to see what guns they were and if they were under fire which I discovered to be the case and this was my baptism of fire as evidently a few long shots were taken at me being alone and on a horse, several spits of bullets hit the ground near me, my impression at the time was that they were chance richochets but after further experience I think they were as I say.

The 2 batteries, the 14th and 66th of Col.Hunt's Bde. division were ordered by Col. Long C.R.A. to go on into position right up to within 1200 yards of Fort Wylie; the river here also took a bend round the place where the batteries took up position (see end of diary). White-Thompson, adjutant to Col. Hunt told me he went up with the range-finders and took the range all according to rule and when the batteries came into action a murderous fire was opened on them all round; they gallantly stuck to their guns and shelled Fort Wylie with great effect as the fire was got under there, but after using nearly all their ammunition and Cols. Long and Hunt wounded, Capt. Goldie and Lt. Schreiber killed, Capt. White-Thompson (wounded afterwards),. Lieuts Gethin, Halford, Grylls, Capt. Elton wounded and several men killed and wounded, they had to abandon their guns and retire into a donga close by for cover where they were shot at for the rest of the day if they showed an inch above it. White-T. tells me young Holford was grazed in the chest and then in the face and still went on all by himself serving his gun most gallantly; the horses in the limbers were also put into another donga, the "back donga", about {6 to 800, 8 to 1000} yards back I calculate; one could not see this at the time from the naval position but Capt. Herbert came later to inform us how things were; before he came we saw some of Hart's brigade retiring (and I saw a party of Boers rise from the ground and run into some bush to fire on them), who somehow had got wrong, to their regiment. Col. Parson's Bde div. of two batteries (one was lost at sea) 64th and 73rd made good practice and I saw some then burst most beautifully where the enemy appeared to be from the firing; all this time one could not see a Boer so well were they hidden; Hart's Bde. seemed to be heavily engaged and as were heard afterwards was heavily damaged; in one place the grass had been burnt so as to show up the khaki uniform and the Boers played the waiting game and did not attempt to shoot 'til our men were quite close up. About 8.30 the General moved off to the right, having sent Trotter to see what Hart was doing, and on the way we met Herbert with the news that the 2 batteries on the right were being knocked out, he himself had had two horses shot. When we got down to the right and behind the 2 batteries in the plain there was a very hot fire of both shell and small arms; we found the R.A. guns standing alone with no men and the naval guns had lost their ammunition, the bullocks gone off. We then tried to find Barton which took some time and after he was seen by the General who about this time or before saw that the attack must fail with all the guns out of action, ordered a general retirement. General retirement not ordered till guns found irreparibly lost. Then we went back to the back donga where all the horses and drivers were, which was under a hot fire and the General personally tried to get some of them (men and horses) out to try and recover the guns but there were no officers there; so General and Congreve (R.B.) and self set to work to get some out and we got 2 teams and a corporal and hooked in the teams to limbers just in front; doing this was no easy matter as it was rather difficult without N.C.O's to get men on foot to come and help to hook in; Gerard was coming out when I shouted to him to send me a man or two to help; we got the teams hooked in somehow, I forget how (except I saw Congreve doing his) and then I started off at a gallop with the limbers for the two guns on the right and Roberts,60th, joined in; also Congreve came on tho' I did not find this out till after; the impression I had going on was galloping on a carpet spotted thick thick with spots, it was a very hot fire; after we had gone about 400 yards young Roberts on my left was shot and fell backwards, he had just before been looking at me and smiling, waving his stick in a circular motion like one does one's crop sometimes when one goes away from covert, thinking to have a good burst; Congreve tells me he himself was shot just before this and also his horse and the latter plunging badly, threw him; so so the Corporal and self were left.

When on the way, I saw the lead driver of the right guns riding very wildly; I shouted to him to keep his horse in hand, which I think took them off thinking of the bullets, as it did me a little; on getting to the guns I howled out "wheel about on your guns", which they did quite splendidly, as if on parade; Corp. Nurse and self jumped off our horses and ran to hook on the guns, I found mine rather too far off to drag up alone so told the Corporal to come and help me, which he did and then he put his own gun on which was just in the right place; while he was doing this my wheel driver turned round and said "elevate the muzzle Sir", which I did; they all kept their heads most admirably; we then mounted, galloped for the centre sunken road running across the far donga and I left them in a place of safety some way behind; after crossing the Donga a spent bullet hit me on the thigh, only a tap and didn't leave a mark. Corporal Nurse, drivers Henry Taylor, Young, Potts, Rockall, Lucas, Williams, all of the 66th battery were not touched; 3 or 4 horses got hit; luckily not enough to make them falter or we should not have got off that particular plain I think. The corporal and drivers behaved most admirably and no doubt if they had bungled in their driving on to the guns we could not have got out, they were nailers♦ Afterwards I came back to the donga and found that Hughes, such a nice chap, our H.Q. Staff doctor had been killed. Sir R. had been struck in the side but only enough to knock his wind out and afterwards to raise a bruise which was providential; he seemed to have the most supreme indifference to bullets or shells and at one time of the day I saw him try and make his horse drink some water being then under a moderately hot fire; I think we left this donga about 1.30 and went leisurely to the original position of the naval guns; there we could see the brigades on the right retiring under a hot fire just as if they were on parade; the Naval guns went further to the rear and Col. Parson's brigade division (2 batteries) came into action in their place to cover the retirement. Firing practically ceased about 3 o'clock; the day was very hot and tiring; Roberts, it was afterwards found, was hit thro' the abdomen, the knee and arm; he died next day poor chap, I saw Congreve the next day looking quite well and he was just going to be sent off the to the hospital at Maritzburg, shot right thro' the calf of the leg. The thing that struck one most I think in the battle was the almost entire absence of the sight of a Boer, tho' the fire was something terrific and they must have lined the river bank for some miles; on the exteme right they were on our side South of it on Hlangwane Hill. My impression is that the naval guns did little damage in comparison to their amount of fire, too anxious to fire at too many things without having any definite object. I felt very tired the day after the battle and found it hard to sleep for 2 nights, tho' it did not arrive from excitement but from nerves held in tension I think; I did not find it in the least exciting to be riding about all day and most of it under rather a hot fire; several shells burst quite close to us and if they had been good ones would no doubt stretched most of the staff out. The Boers made very good practice at long ranges and, given good shells, their guns of position would have been most formidable. On the 16th an armistice was made to bury the dead and on the 17th 2 brigades with the artillery and most of the cavalry encamped 2 miles North of Chievely, and the rest and Highlanders staff came back to Frere for water and also to better position our communications. Two or three days after the Naval guns shelled Colenso Bridge with Lyddite and managed to destroy it. I forgot to mention that Congreve, besides being shot thro' the calf, got grazed on the shoulder, the elbow and his horse got hit in the rump and another in front besides the bullet thro' his rider's calf. Gerrard's horse got hit in the neck half way thro' the day but went on all right and I think will get well. Some of the Devonshire Rgt., 2nd Queens, actually got across the river at Colenso and defended themselves for some little time ;

20th Hussars on the left, Hart's brigade, suffered severely, exposed in the open to a withering fire from the enemy on the opposite bank in trenches, but no doubt except for the river they would have turned them out;

Several men got drowned trying to cross the river which apparently had been dammed at the drift.

The following is list of casualties

                                                    Killed officers

RFA

Capt. Goldie

 

 

Lieut. Schreiber

 

R.D.F

Capt. Bacon

 

 

Lieut. Henry

 

Staff

Lt. Hon. F. Roberts

 

R. Inniskilling F

Lieut. Loftus

 

 

Capt. Charley

 

R.A.M.C.

Capt. Hughes

attached to our staff

Thorneycroft M.I.

            Lt. Jenkins


Officers wounded

 

 

 

Col. Long

R.H.A.

 

Lt. Col. Hunt

R.F.A.,                 prisoner

 

Capt. White-Thompson
Capt. Reed

not prisoner
not ditto

 

Capt.  Elton

not a prisoner

 

Lieut. Goodson

not ditto

 

Lieut. Gethin

R.F.A.                 prisoner

 

2nd Lieut. Holford

R.F.A.                    prisoner

 

Capt. Hon. H.St.L. Jervis a.d.c. to Gen. Hart

 

Capt. Congreve

R. Brigade

 

2nd Lieut. Graham

- " -

 

Maj. Gordon

R.D.F.

 

Capt. Sheivan

- " -

 

2nd Lieut. Mcloud

- " -

 

Capt. Goodwyn

Devons

 

Capt. Radcliffe

- " -

 

Capt. Vigor

- " -

 

Lieut. Gardner

- " -

 

2nd. Lieut. Storey

- " -

 

Col, Brooke

Connaught Rangers

 

Lieut. Brooke

- " -            (7 wounds)

 

Lieut. Tufurd

2nd Devons

 

Lieut. Vessey

- " -

 

Maj. Heygate

Borderers

 

Capt. Probyn

- " -

 

Lieut, Marsh

- " -

 

Capt. Hancock

R. Inniskilling F.

 

Capt. Hessey

- " -

 

Capt. Buckley

- " -

 

Lieut.  Leverson

- " -

 

Lieut. Whiffin

- " -

 

Lieut. Best

- " -

 

Lieut. Weldon

- " -

 

Lieut. Devenish

- " -

 

Capt. Brush

R.  Irish F.

 

Capt. Brannigan

R.A.M.C.

 

Lieut. Otto

Thorneycrofts

 

Lieut. Ponsonby

- " -

 

Lieut. Holford

(19th Hussars)

 

Lieut. Bathurst

S.A. Lt. Horse

 

Lieut Kock

- " -

 

Lieut. McKay

Natal Carabiniers

 

Lieut, Wilson

- " -

 


Officers taken prisoners
 

 

 

Major Bailward

R.F.A.

 

Major Foster

- " -

 

Lieut. Birch

- " -

 

Col. Bullock

Devons

 

Major Walter

- " -

 

Lieut. Smyth Osborne

- " -

 

Capt. Dick

R.S.F.

 

Capt. Northey

- " -

 

Lieut. Christian

- " -

 

Lieut. Rumbold

- " -

 

Lieut. McConoghey

- " -

 

2nd Lieut. Briggo

- " -

 

Lieut. Bonham

Essex Rgt

 

In many cases I expect officers and men taken prisoners had been wounded and left on the ground before assistance could be procured.

 

N.C.0.'s and Men

killed

 

wounded

R.F.A.

10

 

43

S.A.  Lt.H

4

 

19

Imp. Lt.H.

3

 

7

Thorneycrofts

5

 

27

Natal Carabiniers

4

 

6

2nd Queens

3

 

89

East Surrey

1

 

31

Devons

9

 

60

R.  Inniskilling F

.      19

 

76

Borderers

6

 

42

Connaughts

 24

 

103

R.D.F.

 38

 

148

R.S.F.

 12

 

20

R.I.F.

2

 

 

 

  140

R.W.F.

3

 

 

R.F.

2

 

 

R.B.

6

 

 

R.I.F.

20

 

 

D.L.I.

2

 

 

13th Hussars   

                     2

 

 

R.N.

3

 

 

 

709

       

 

Totals

 

 

       
  Officers                             9 Killed  

 

46

wounded

 

 

N.C.O's                    140

killed

 

 

709

wounded

 

Officers missing and presumed

 

 

not in above

13

 

 

N.C.O.'s and men

ditto                       220

 

 

 

Total                     1137

 

 

 

It was impossible to force an opinion as to Boer losses. The great majority of our cases of wounded were slight.

23rd December

Foreign attaches, German, American, French, Russian, Italians, Japanese, Austrians arrived early this morning; in charge Col. Ivor Herbert; arrived early this morning and I went with them to Colenso, or rather Chievely, to a place where they could see the scene of the battle the other day; they all sketched the looks of the hills etc. beyond, which could not possibly give an idea of the place; the Boers making new intrenchments.

The place certainly looks impregnable unless one had 100 guns and even then would require a lot of doing; what a pity White is shut up in LadysmithS I forgot to say that when I got back to the donga the other day after taking the guns to a place of safety, I found Reed R.A. just off to try and get some more guns; he took 3 teams and drivers up with 5 men without limbers (intending to hook in up there) and make most gallant attempt, but out of the 18 horses 13 were shot and 7 of the men and himself, and he had to come back.

26th December

Went down at 7.30 pm to Maritzburg, as far as Estcourt on an engine, and arrived there 3.30am to meet our stores coming from Cape Town, which were coming with Col. Wymore and some of the H.Q. Staff that had been left behind. Stayed at Imp. Hotel, went to see the wounded officers and found them all doing well, including Col. Long who had had a bullet thro' his arm, liver and kidneys and he is expected to live; Congreve had been sent to Wynberg the day before, the bullet had just grazed the bone and his wound not so slight as was thought.


2nd January 1900

Very hot again after four nice cool days following heavy rains last week, of which now there is little sign left; inpleasant climate. Provost-Marshall went down to Estcourt yesterday to see that L.S., who has been behaving in an extradordinary way, sent away to Durban. He found that the station master, rather a particular man, being so ashamed of seeing her "half --- over" on the station and mixing with soldiers, had put her into his house; she was found in his bed, wearing his pyjamas! I find the Corp. Nurse was a reservist living in Guernsey before he came out here.

6th January 1900

On walking this morning about 4.30, heard a lot of guns firing in the direction of Ladysmith; came to conclusion not entirely Boer guns. Went out with Gen. to Chievely and whilst ther a wire came to him from Gen. White saying "Boers had attacked at 2.45am and had been beat at all points, fighting still going on"; this was received about 10am. and we could hear a few guns up to then, when it ceased.

Another wire came, sent off 12.45 from White saying he had beat enemy off for the present but they were still in large numbers to the South and he thought another attack probable; this arrived about 2.30 and was not so reassuring. Nothing more was heard that day as sun went down. Gen. Clery went out towards Colenso with the whole of his force and made demonstration and R.A. fired at Boer entrenchments and baskers lining river but got no reply from Boers. Sir. G.Warren and staff lunched with us.

7th January

No sun except at intervals but no news, only rumours of which it was difficult to fathom the source, but on the morning of the 8th wire came from White saying that they had fought 'till 7.30 pm. on the 6th; the Boers had taken one position 3 times and as many times had been turned out; another position in his line they had occupied all day and the Devon Regiment under Col. Park had turned them out in the evening at the point of the bayonet. Thus Ladysmith held its own but the fighting must have been desperate as White had been obliged to put his reserves in the firing line; the Boers apparently fought with great valour and energy showing for the first time that they will attack a strong position; their losses stated to be large and far exceeding ours. On the evening of 7th a telegram came from the High Commissioner saying news had been received from Father Matthews at Delagon Bay that Kruger had twice wired Joubert to storm Ladysmith, which seems to have a bearing on the above.

9th January

Sir G. Warren's division minus two regiments and with a howitzer and field battery in addition arrived at Frere; a regular downpour all day and the night before, water simply streaming past one's tent and the river getting nearly impassible.

10th January

Above division marched on towards Springfield bivouaccing on their way and they had a bad time during the night as heavy rain came on again.

11th January

We started from Frere at 5 am. The roads in a dreadful state of mud and slipperyness; after going about 3 miles we came across the supply column, hundreds of ox wagons struggling along and before reaching Pretorius Farm there were two drifts which as a rule are dry but which were 3 feet deep with running water and on both sides steep banks a foot or more deep with thick sticky mud; the difficulties of transport are simply enormous under these conditions and must be seen to be believed; a regular babel at these drifts with the yelling of drivers, the cracking of whips trying to get them through and every now and then one fairly stuck and had to be double spanned (32 oxen). We stayed at Springfield the night.

12th January

Moved on at 5am. to Spearmans Farm about 3 miles from the river where we camp. Farm formerly occupied by man called Pretorius, rather a good one; he apparently has gone over to the Boers.

14th January

The Bishop of Natal (Bagnes) took the service this morning as he did last Sunday and preached another very good sermon; he is a credit to his profession coming out to the front like this and roughing it like the rest. Had quiet day both yesterday and today; went up to top of hill to see enemy's position; the hill top here has got plenty of vegetation and is quite pretty and the view glorious, the Tugela just below, a most extraordinary winding and most difficult to cross as the banks shelve straight down 30 ft to it and it is deep; they have entrenched themselves very strongly and have worked day and night at it and to a frontal attack would form a sort of horseshoe and how a flank attack is to be made is difficult to say, which can be seen from a look at the map. The S.A.L.H. (5) collared the punt at Potgeiter's Drift, some swam across and got it, a first class bit of work under fire; they did this a few days ago. One can see the Ladysmith outpost where the helio is; I wish we had got there. Got the English mail of 16th Dec. yesterday by which one learns they got news of the 3 reverses in one week, Magersfontein, Stoemberg and Colenso. Most of the war news in the way of forecasts seems rather ridiculous, for instance I read one paper stating how many troops we shall have presumably in battle array which totally ignores the necessity of keeping our lines of communication open. For this country and this class of fighting we want much more artillery.

16th January

White lost 14 officers killed and 31 wounded, 130 men killed and 240 wounded when attacked on the 6th. The distance one can see in this country is quite wonderful, 10 miles one can nearly always see quite plainly and see men, and a day like today one can see the Drakensburg 45 miles distant and with a good telescope distinguish cattle grazing; hence a gun can well be laid at a 10,000 yards range. Went out about 4.30 on to Kopje overlooking Potgieters Drift and the plain below and saw 2 regiments of Lyttleton's Brigade go down and across the drift without a shot being fired, but it was very interesting to see the Boers come in in their hundreds a long way off then leave their horses and run into the trenches.

19th January

Went to a Kopje west to see Warren's army progressing the other side of the river and on the way met 15 Boer prisoners which some of Dundonald's force captured yesterday (they also killed 20), not a bad looking lot of men at all and seemed to be rather pleased than otherwise at being prisoners; Gerard gave them a tot of brandy, a few said thanks but most didn't.

20th January

Warren, who started getting his force over the river at Wagon Drift on the morning of 17th, only succeeded in getting it over by the morning of the 19th and today he is little advanced which is a pity as the idea of the flanking movement is mainly based on speed; later on I find that his force has had to fight it's way all day and from this, spot it is difficult to see anything but our guns firing and their fire become very hot and continuous about 3pm, 6 batteries. We heard in the evening that about 280 had been wounded,

21st January

The battle on Warren's side still goes on, the guns being in the same position; the force was reinforced today by 2 howitzers from Lyttleton. Lyttleton yesterday made a demonstration on the enemy's left, had 2 killed and 12 wounded. Boers owned to 21 wounded.

22nd January

Went to see how things were getting on with West to Warren's army and found that it must have been a difficult task to get as far as they are;

it looks from below the absolute skyline and is a steep climb up. As we were standing behind 2 batteries firing, 2 shells came in near proximity so we came home to lunch!

23rd January

All staff went with General to Warren's side, came back in afternoon; position remains the same, our left front being about 1000 yards from the enemy, a continuous but slow fire going on. In the evening the Royal Lancasters and Lane. Fusiliers and some Thorneycroft's M.I. started off at 7 pm. to take Spion Kop, a high hill (about 700 ft climb) on the right of Warren's position; after a most arduous climb they arrived at the top and seem to have taken the Boers by surprise and they bolted, only 3 of our men being wounded; they arrived at the summit at 4 am. and entrenched themselves; a thick mist enveloped the hill till about 8 am. after which a very heavy fire broke out of musketry and about 9 am. shell fire began to burst over them and we could see they were beginning to retire; reinforcements were sent up which relieved them, 3 regiments, and stopped the retirement. The fight went on all day and from what we could see our poor men were getting dreadfully hit. About 12pm West was sent over to Warren, 6 miles, with a message and eventually came back saying that Warren was quite satisfied with the way things were going, but apparently he had managed to get no news from the hill except in the morning about 10am. when Col. Crofton heliographed down "send reinforcements or all is lost, General (Woodgate) dead"; it appears that the fire was so hot the signallers and their apparatus on the hill got knocked out; it seems to me strange that no messenger was sent either by Warren or down from the hill to Warren to tell real state of affairs which were most critical and our men were falling in dozens. However our men stuck on till nightfall and it was arranged to send up 2 Naval 12 prs. and 2 13pr. field guns during night. We heard heavy firing after dark. Lt. Col. Thorneycroft (to whose gallantry the taking of the summit was a good deal due, helped by Lt. Col. a Court) who had been put in command of the summit when Gen. Woodgate was hit, decided to evacuate the hill and on the morning of the 25th, to our dismay, we found the place emptied of our men. It seems to me on reading the official accounts that Col. T. had good reason for evacuating and did what was right according to his lights; his men had been exposed to a most galling fire from artillery all day, from guns which were absolutely hidden from ours where they were and so simply pouring in shells at their own sweet will; he had received no intimation of further help from Warren. (Apparently no communication had been established between Warren and Thorneycroft). I cannot think why Warren did not advance his force or do something to relieve the distress. The losses on the hill were about 200 killed and 800 wounded.

We went over to Warren early on 25th and Sir. R. took command himself and things being as they were he decided to retire Warren's army back across the river; indeed Warren had rather anticipated the order and the supply wagons had already begun to go across the pontoon bridge and the wagon drift; without seeing this sort of thing it is impossible to realise the enormous amount and length of impedimenta connected with an army, even carrying only 3 or 4 days rations. (R.Bull and B.Burleigh state our R.A. fired on own people on Spion Kop, a d........d lie!)

The bullock wagons went across at the rate of 6 an hour at each place. We left the battlefield at about 6 pm and came across the bridge where I got a telegram from Forester-Walker telling me that Gorty Mackenzie, my dearest friend, had died the day before of enteric at DeAar (24th); I didn't even know he was ill till 2 or 3 days ago before this when I got a wire from Ernest Holland saying "Gorty still improving", so I wired asking what was the matter and heard he had enteric but doing well; I got a letter from- him written on 6th last, which by carelessness of post office didn't reach me till the 27th. We slept in the open on night of 25th and at 3.15 am. on morning of 26th I was sent with a message to Col. Parsons commanding Warren's guns; in the evening went with Gen. hustling up all wagons and carts still not crossed etc. Got some food about 7.30 and. then went out again to see troops crossing river which was done by 2 pontoon bridges, one for mounted troops and infantry, and other for artillery and regimental carts etc. Was standing at top of road leading to bridge for wagons (which was cut out of bank and none too wide with river on left side) from then till 3.15 am. without even a "sit-down", directing how to go down in dark; only one accident occured, 1 ammunition wagon and mules falling into river, wagon and 1 mule undrowned recovered after. We then went and got our ponies and proceeded with messages for troops as to taking up position and defend baggage coming back towards Spearman Camp and the sappers taking bridges away.

Positions were all occupied by about 6 am; a wonderful retirement for a largish army and a lucky one, performed on a dark night; during night an alarmist came down to General saying Boers had rushed Connaught Rangers trenches and turned them out and they had had panic and fled; as matter of fact Boers evidently from seeing lights feared night attack and had fired from their own trenches; if they had followed up it would have been awkward.

The direction for troops to make for for bridges was done by having two large beacons burning on hills other side of river which when troops got them aligned showed where the point was between the two bridges and a staff officer along this line showed various troops which road to go for their particular bridge. About 7 am. (27th) when we were waiting in position and the mist cleared (but before this sniping shots from Boers were heard) we could see no sign of Boers beyond 2 or 3 on skyline looking over their trenches, they not having any reply to their sniping shots began to tumble to it that no one was there and first I saw 2 men scout forward and then go right up to where Gen. Hart's brigade had been on left, then they galloped back to their comrades and one saw Boers getting up all along their trenches. Soon after a long-range gun was fired by them and shell fell about 100 yards from pontoon bridge, removed by now; 6 men of ours came over in morning having lost themselves in dark I suppose. Thus the retirement came off without loss and we got to camp (Spearmans) about 10.30 am; I have never been so tired in my life. Warren's & Clery's division are camped not far off.

30th January

Two 5" guns on 40 pr. carriages arrived under command of Maj. Caldwell R. G. A.


1st & 2nd February

Seedy with chill or something

3rd February

'A' Battery R.H.A. arrived

5th February

During the last few days a road has been made for taking guns to the top of SwartzKop, a kidney - shaped high hill on our right and South of the river, and 6 naval 12 prs, 2 13 prs and a mountain battery were on the summit on the morning of the 5th, the day the General fixed on to make another attack; this time the idea was to take Vaal Krantz to our right front which seemed to be the key of the situation in so far that the main trenches across the Ladysmith Road and opposite Potgeister's could be enfiladed from there it was thought. Swajdtzkop is a kidney shaped mountain about two miles long with very steep and rough sides, it runs practically West - Easterly and has the Tugela running alongside it for a little way. The North side faced the Boer position and Vaal Krantz is opposite the Easterly end; there is only one main road running at the bottom of the North side along which, after passing over the flats under Spearman's Hill, supplies etc. could come up. Wynne's brigade occupied the Kopje in front of and the enemy's side of Potgieter's Drift and Clery's and Warren's divisions moved from their camp behind Spearman's. Clery's division moved later to the right, crossing a back-bend (from SwartzKop) over a pontoon bridge to the bottom of Swartzkop at the North East corner and Lyttleton's brigade went on crossing another bend of the river by pontoon and going left-handed attacked Vaalkrantz after a furious bombardment from our guns.

Our guns on the plain by the Kopjes at Potgieter's were under heavy fire from 2 Long Toms of the enemy's on Spion Kop and were very heavily shelled on limbering up to come over to their right. Lyttleton succeeded in getting to the top of Vaal Krantz, and about half way along it by the evening.

A'Court was sent up to find out and report on the situation and on coming down he said it was an awkward place and absolutely impossible for artillery to get to without previous preparation. We saw Boers this day place a pom pom in position out of an ambulance.

On the 6th a whole crowd of baggage, cavalry and infantry were on the side of Swartzkop, a very good mark for a hidden Long Tom which the enemy had on a mountain on our right flank. Dornkloof, which began firing at it, one shell bursting within 15 yards of the General, who seems to like putting his position under shell fire, very unpleasant. Heavy fighting began early in the morning and the enemy got what seemed to be from us, a nasty cross fire of guns on Lyttleton's men; they however made progress along the hill and took the whole of it, but at 4 pm. a determined counter-attack was made on one corner by the Boers and the front line there began to retire but were all right, our second line coming up; later in the evening a pontoon having been built just under the front of Vaal Krantz as looked at by us, Gen. Hildyard's brigade was sent up to replace Gen. Lyttleton's. On the 7th Long Tom dropped a shell into our bivuaac soon after we had left it to sit on the hill and continued making it very uncomfortable. During the day enfilade fire was brought on Hildyard and Vaal Krantz was rendered bad to hold and it was found that the country beyond did not offer much inducement to go on, so in the evening it was decided to evacuate. Hildyard's brigade came down at night and on the morning of the 8th the whole force had to move back along the one narrow road along Swartzkop about which I must confess to having grave fears, however they only fired their long range gun on the right at us which even if well directed might have caused great damage and havoc enfilading troops in fours as it did; the night before it showed it could range us all the way by putting a shell into the hospital right on the left of Swartzkop; I think we got out of a very ugly trap very luckily. Our loss taking Vaal Krantz about 300 killed and wounded. We marched on to Springfield Bridge and had the Little Tugela to bathe in which was one of the nicest things I've met with in the Campaign, we stayed there next day and marched to Chieveley on the 10th where we camped till the 14th, on which day we marched forward to occupy Hussar Hill and this we did with little opposition. Our headquarters were taken up just behind the 5" guns which fired at Hlangwane and that side; it seems to me a most curious thing but here was a prominent knoll with no cover, signallers put on it, everyone standing or sitting on the skyline, messengers and officers coming up to the General, taken up as the Headquarters; very naturally 2 concealed guns of the enemy opened up on it and so again we had to sit doing nothing under a nasty shell fire. Gen. Lyttleton's division(Clery sick) had occupied the right of Hussar Hill down to the Blaaukrantz River on the 15th and the weather being so hot they remained on the 16th; we still sat on the prominence and as I expected one. shell wounded one of us (Corporal Jenner (our Colonial orderly) and another man) bursting within 10 yards of us and must have just passed over the General's head. We remained here the rest of the day and in the evening moved to bivouaac to our right , close to Lyttleton. On the 17th he moved forward to attack Cingolo Mountain our guns being very well placed and giving the Boer trenches a tremendous shelling; by the evening Lyttleton's division was halfway up Hildyard's Brigade on the right and Norcott's (Lyttleton's) on the left with Barton again on his left in the plain; Wynne (Woodgate's) brigade was left at Hussar Hill and Hart at Chieveley. On 18th Cingolo was taken.

Dundonald having gone round to the right with Irregular Cavalry, and the troops proceeded along Monte Cristo; Boers were seen riding away down the other end of Monte Cristo; in the evening Barton attacked the Green Hill to West of Monte Cristo and took it. Went forward in the evening with General and found we had captured a Boer laager, a few ponies and a good deal of ammunition in trenches. Thus Hlangwane was outflanked and made untenable to the enemy. On the 19th our men pushed forward towards Hlangwane which was occupied by our troops at the Southerly end and we could see the enemy trekking away having crossed the river to the North on the road towards Ladysmith; it began to be thought by some that they were clearing altogether. On the 19th it was found that enemy had evacuated Hlangwane entirely leaving tents (mostly taken at Dundee), plenty of ammunition, grain etc. In the evening we moved our bivouaac to the foot of Hlangwane very adjacent to where shells were coming. Intelligence Dept. reported Boers going away North and only fighting a rearguard action.

20th February

Colenso occupied by our troops. Everything seemed pretty quiet(a bad sign in Boers) and towards noon a pontoon bridge was thrown over Tugela about 1| miles North of Fort Wylie and troops commenced to cross; Thorneycroft in meantime had occupied Fort Wylie and Kopjes north of it. Went with General down to Tugela to see place for bridges and got fired on by guns from our right somewhere. In the afternoon troops crossed except Barton's Brigade left on Hlangwane and a battalion on Monte Cristo; the two naval 12 prs which had a very good commanding position had been brought down the day before. I thought it a pity to leave our right which seemed to be the first time we had got anywhere that the enemy did not outflank us. Moved our bivouac close to Tugela east of Colenso and close to where our guns got lost; galloped round there in evening to look at place; about 15 dead carcasses of horses lying there.

When I see this place it strikes me as very lucky we did not get across Colenso day, I believe we should have been wiped out with Hlangwane untaken and the place absolutely commanded all round.

21st February

Began to fight northward along railway and went with Trotter and General to a Kopje forward; was sent to find Sir C. Warren (who could not be found anywhere) and fetched him up walking along the railway in front of a brigade and not very far from firing line, lots of bullets flying about.

22nd February

All went out early and stayed on battlefield all day and in the evening moved our bivouac forward (only 1 mile) but where shells fell and a few bullets came over.

23rd February

At dawn again to battlefield and General took up headquarters on to a small Kopje in front where there was a damnable shell fire and several men wounded; 3 general including G.O.C. and 1 divisional general were sitting here, I thought very unnecessary and quite wrong, lucky shrapnel might have had the lot; Hart attacked.

24th February

Went to same place and had same experience; eleven days continuous fighting and feel perfectly sick of it and very fagged and done. All these days on an awfull tea in my waterbottle generally.

25th February

Armistice made to bury dead and get wounded in lying between the 2 forces who were only about 3 or 400 yards apart in our place; poor fellows, they had been there 24 hours or more. This hardly looks like a rearguard action. Average killed and wounded I believe 100 a day. 4 naval guns sent back to Monte Cristo and all artillery except for battery brought back over bridge on to Hlangwane.

Out all day, dead tired, riding first to Monte Cristo and then over Hlangwane and got back about 4.30 and tried to sleep but too tired. From 14th to 20th did not manage to get a bath of any sort, in fact very little water even to wash one's hands or face. A great deal of the ammunition found consisted of expanding bullets which made dreadful wounds one doctor told me, and others had been dipped in some green poisonous looking stuff like "verdigris".

26th February

Hot sun and very trying; it's quite hot. Following guns were in position on Hlangwane - 4 4.7 Lyddite R.H.A. battery, 6 field batteries, 4 12 pdr naval, howitzer battery; 4 mountain guns, 4 5" with R.G.A. detachments; 4 12 pdr naval and 2 mountain guns were on Monte Cristo; 1 field battery was down in the plain to the left of Hlangwane. A good many of the field guns had got worn out and 1 battery entirely replaced with others. Last night the Boers opened a heavy fire all round; place for a position was chosen over the river directly under the north of Hlangwane, a very steep approach to it on both sides, but fairly well under cover. Talbot Coke's brigade now was holding our left flank along the ridges from Colenso running to North, Hildyard with 2 regiments on his right, then Hart still holding position which he had gained with large loss; there remained to be taken two high and strong hills to our front which looked a most uncompromising undertaking. I may mention that about 40 shells fell into the place we had our bivouac where we were for 3 nights below Hlangwane, but during the daytime when we were out fighting; if they had burst well it would have been very awkward for our servants and horses.

27th February

MAJUBA DAY. Yesterday the trenches and kloofs and dongas were all well bombarded by the guns. Today we started off at daylight from our bivouac on the plain and took up our position at naval guns on the left; the pontoon was thrown over the river at chosen spot; at about 9 o'clock the following wire came from Lord Roberts, "Have captured Cronje and all his following at daybreak today, he is now a prisoner in my camp, will let you know numbers later, hope that Her Majesty's Govt, will consider the event satisfactory occuring as it does on the anniversary of Majuba". Was sent with orders to tell them begin attack and told several the news of Cronje.

At 9.30 Barton's brigade crossed the pontoon and went to the right along the river bank some distance and in due course began to ascend Pieters Hill from the right flank when a simply tremendous bombardment was kept up on the trenches, then I saw them arrive at the summit apparently with no opposition; then Kitchener's brigade supported by Norcott's began to mount the centre hill under cover of the same hellish fire from guns and they too arrived at the top and took some of the trenches at the point of the bayonet and capturing about 50 prisoners. Barton's men met with a good deal of opposition further along the hill but eventually cleared it losing about 180. About 4.30 pm I was sent to tell Dundonald to take his cavalry (Irregulars) down to the pontoon and also the horse battery and one field with view of following enemy who now were clearing; but Dundonald's men being far away from their horses and Dundonald himself not visible, as usual, anywhere (tho1 I gave order to Byng instead), it was late before he moved and Sir R. finding road so difficult for artillery to get up on other side sent them back when they had got down there, thus ended the anniversary of Majuba Day, the enemy defeated in both colonies.

28th February

Went over bridge early to Sir C. Warren and everything seemed quiet; day taken up with getting the guns over. Saw the Boer prisoners, for the most part a blackguard looking lot. The whole cavalry was ordered over bridge, Lyttleton reported no enemy in front of him. We went forward to Kitchener's hill in centre and saw the Irregular cavalry working in plain; enemy seen going away but on the left suddenly beyond Pieter's Station heavy fire was opened on S.A.L.H., evidently a few of enemy's rearguard. The Kopje from which this fire was opened was afterwards occupied by our cavalry. We bivouaced that night in a most pestilential spot above the river on the Pieter's side.


1st March

Message came sometime during night and given to Trotter which on opening was found to contain news that Dundonald and a few of his men had ridden into Ladysmith the evening before. I went back to get up our wagons and some champagne for Sir G. White and while waiting for them received order to say bring right on to Welthorpe from which I gathered Boers had cleared; got there about 4.30 and found General and staff had ridden into Ladysmith and lunched there; we bivouaced that night at Welthorpe and during dinner telegram came from the Queen saying "Thank God for news you have triumphed for me, Congratulations to you and all serving under you".

2nd March

Rode into Ladysmith with Gordon (D.A.A.G.) to take over and fix up quarters at the Convent for us and to give message to Sir G.White to say Sir R. would arrive sometime during day to take up headquarters. The first man I saw whom I knew was Henderson (A + S.H. ) whom I last saw leaving by the Scot on July 1st with Mackenzie. May came and looked me up and I went and fed with him; saw Wing, Abdy and Tyler, none looking bad except Wing of the Gloucesters.

3rd March

The troops marched in and. we "processed" thro' the town with the relieved garrison lining the streets, they looked very weak and sickly, poor chaps, and I don't think could have lasted another fortnight; had fed on a biscuit and a quarter a day, and horse flesh. Considering the number of shells fired into the town, about 10,000 or more, really very little damage has been done; this place has 3 rooms knocked to bits but I hear they fired at it a good deal. Long Tom on Bulwana fired some 2000 rounds 6".

4th March

Thanksgiving service, all relieved garrison attending, a monster church parade.

I never expected to get here and don't think we should but for Lord Roberts relieving Kimberley and surrounding Cronje which took Free Staters away. Hear that Long Tom's gunners were composed of all nationalities including English (deserters of old), in fact among the prisoners taken the other day was an Englishman. Such pleasure this peace at last, for a bit anyhow.

Got several letters from home the day before yesterday and most of them referred to Sir R. Bullerfs despatch on Colenso and recommendations for V.C's and my belongings. Very angry and I must confess the despatch astonishes me very much indeed, as Sir R. the day after Colenso called me into his tent and said "I've recommended you for the Victoria Cross, Schofield, on which I said "I hope you won't Sir," thinking I was being singled out for it and feeling not so deserving as Congreve and certainly no more so than Roberts, on which he said, "its done, I've done it", thereby leaving me to think he had, and when afterwards I found he had recommended Roberts (who was given it before he died) and the others. I felt easy in my own mind about it; so it to say the least of it, rather an "eye opener" to see his "differentiation" in the London Gazette which I see today for the first time.

5th March

The Governor arrived today with Pte Sect. Robinson; Sir C. Warren and his division leave for Port Elizabeth. The Intombi Hospital camp which is 3 miles out and was neutral, looks enormous and there are a very large number of cases of enteric there.

7th March

The Governor goes to Town Hall "in state" and makes a happy speech, followed by the Mayor; very few civilians.

8th March

Rode out nearly to Grobler's Hill to see Governor back to Colenso.

9th March

Sir. G.White left by train with some of his staff, all officers of garrison present; poor old White looked very infirm and ill. I went a couple of days ago and had a look at Wagon Hill and Caesars Camp (went over the former); this is where Boers made their determined attack on the 6th Jan. The place I hear was absolutely without defences then; and the right end, looking from here, had only a working party of Engineers and Gordons on it, making an emplacement. When attacked in the morning, who of course were driven off and some Boers occupied this end all day and did great damage as they got an enfilade fire on our men; they were dislodged in the evening by our men (the Devons) by bayonet. It appears to have been quite a touch and go business whether the Boers took the place or no.

Went up Bulwana Mountain with May but unfortunately a storm came on and we didn't see much; the Long Tom emplacement is about 14 ft thick of stone and sandbags. Many Boers appear to have been on the top and around Bulwana

10th March

Went round Nicholson's Nek way and saw the hill where the Gloster's and I.Fs and mountain battery got lost; I fancy there must have been something very wrong with the force to have surrendered like that.

12th March

Rode to Elandslaagte and back with General (32 miles) where Lyttleton's division is close to the battlefield; every culvert and bridge smashed up by Boers; they are about 6 miles further on. Kruger was down there the other day to rally them. Hear Veyheid Commando gone home. Kruger then went to Bloemfontein. to find his army retreating fast there too. Littleton's camp not far from where cavalry charged Boers in the evening when unluckily it got too dark to do much.

13th March

Lady R. Churchill and Miss Warrender came up to see Ladysmith from the Maine, their hospital ship, with young C, dined and stayed night.

14th March

Hear that Campbell who is in Intombi hospital got a wire to say he was promoted so I suppose I must be. Got a letter from Gorty which he had written at De Aar on 25th December.; it has. apparently been at Durban all this time. Sir C.Warren and his division by the way were stopped going to Cape on the 12th. Hear Lord Robert's force has got to Bloemfontein. Stifling hot last two days and this afternoon a tremendous hailstorm and then heavy rain.

16th March

Seedy, inside wrong; better on 18th but beastly weak. 19th got up but beastly weak, lost 6 pounds in weight. These are some prices paid in Ladysmith during siege.

Eggs per doz 48/-

Small plate grapes 25/-

1 vegetable marrow 28/-

1 tin marmalade 21/-

1 dozen matches 13/6

1 pkt cigarettes 25/- and probably very bad ones commonly sold at 6d

¼lh tin Capstan Navy Cut 60/-

23rd March

Rode with West to Colenso about 15 miles by the Onderbrook road; about 4 miles out the place is one mass of trenches of the very strongest description, all along the road and at either side; the ground here too is dreadfully rocky and even to walk on it on foot would be difficult, quite impossible for horses except at a slow walk. Besides this there were trenches all along the river; Colenso no doubt was an absolutely impregnable position to our force and I wonder the Boers did. not let us over as there were no positions for our artillery this side and they absolutely dominated us with theirs. We rode back by Pieter's over our battle ground here and one cannot but keep admiring our infantry for taking such strong hills as they did. Had lunch at the 1/K.R.R. mess.
*Ref to remarks on this page, see end of book.

24th March

Hear poor Gen. Woodgate died at Mooi River Hospital, who was wounded at Spion Kop, part of his head and brain taken off by shell, it's a mercy but strange he lived so long.

27th March

Rode with May to the Brakfontein and had a good look at Boer position in front of Potgeiters; very strong tho' not so formidable as their position at Colenso. Mail came today; not had any letters for 3 mails.

29th March

Charles Howard arrived as extra-aide. Powell and Toby Talbot have also come up here. A good deal of enteric is going about.


5th April

Hear A'Court, who was sent down to Maritzburg, sick a few days ago, has got enteric. Got wire on 2nd thro' G.O.C. R.A., Bloerafontein to Chief of Staff communicating a telegram to me from London, which seems strange.

7th April

10,000 cigarettes arrived, present from Boguslasky my cigarette shop in town.

11th April

Heard firing from direction of Elandslaagte about 8 am. Went out with Gen. and stayed at Modder Spruit about 1| hours waiting news; Hart's Brigade on the move en route for Cape; went on to Elandslaagte to Sir C. Warren's camp close to railway station. His camp had been struck. Gen. Clery's camp at Sunday's River was heavily fired on by Boer guns, the first shot killed 2 naval men and six others were wounded afterwards. Several parties of Boers had been seen moving from N to South. Probably the Boers reconnoitering our position. We came back by train. Mail coming in since the 9th by driblets.

Life very dull here, nothing to do except ride about over very uninteresting country when once seen.

16th April

Rode out with Gen. to Elandslaagte. Lunched with Sir. C.Warren, went on to Gen. Clery's camp and came back by train. I brigade of Gen. Clery's goes to Modder Spruit tomorrow, where also is Brig. Gen. Howard's Brigade

19th April

Sir C. Warren came in today to say goodbye; he goes to the Cape in a semi-civil capacity; Maj. Gen. Hillyard takes his division over. Rumoured here yesterday Kruger shot by a woman, afterwards enlarged into Mrs Joubert!

20th April

Boers fired a little at Elandslaagte.

22nd April

Rode out with Gen. to Dundonald's camp.

25th April

Sent ponies on yesterday to Colenso and went down by train with Lees in the morning. We started by going to the rise on which the Naval guns began bombarding on the morning of the 15th. I spotted the exact place where I first saw some of Hart's brigade retiring under a hot fire and we went straight down to it. Close by, about 300 yds, was a clump of little trees which I saw a party of Boers run into from behind all our men retiring. The river here took a loop-like bend to the North and it was on this ground the Boers had let our men advance and then had them at short range in flank and front, a regular trap. The map of the river just here is incorrect and most misleading and if Hart had nothing else to depend on but his map it was no fault of his. We then rode along the river bank to see where the drift was but could see none and then we went straight across the railway to the "back donga" and sunk road place where the horses and drivers were. We galloped to the exact spot where the guns were, the two on the right that I went for; the horses are all buried now. I paced the distance to the right where the river bends round, with trees sheltering the sight of it from the guns but I had an instinctive feeling a good deal of the fire was coming from there; I found my idea was correct as far as the river went and it was only 450 yards distant. From the guns to the front straight to Fort Wylie was 900 yards to the river bank our side, so I suppose 1200 to the top of Fort Wylie. From the back donga to the guns is about 700 yards. It certainly was a marvel we managed not to get hit and the only way I can account for it is that I happened to go for the guns on the right which were on rather lower ground than the ones on their left and so not so easily seen from the river bank on the right and that when we were in view from there we were galloping. Of course they were just as easily seen from the front except there were a few trees about 50 yards to their front which might have obstructed their view somewhat. I draw a rough sketch of the place and it is in pocket of this book. We went to the top of Fort Wylie from which one gets a beautiful view of the site where guns were and the sunk road, and considering what a long time we were hanging about the back donga it is quite extraordinary how little damage was done amongst the staff. We then went along the railway across the Kopjes (Hart's) thro' Langewacht Spruit and found the ground here strewn with shrapnel bullets; then on to Pieter's Hill which was taken by Barton, and down via Welthorpe and back; a very interesting day.

28th April

Went (riding) with Lees to Dornkloof to the position where the Boers had the 6" gun which annoyed us so much at Swartz Kop and Vaalkrantz. The emplacement was made by simply cutting straight down behind the ridge, the earth being thrown as wings, quite invisible to us, thus

There were at least 150 to 200 shell holes all round and about, 20 very close and I think that shrapnel in a pit like that was about the only thing to touch them as the rectangle for a hit was so very small. This gun had a splendid command of our flank and ought to have done much damage. When we rode back thro' the Laager which the Boers had behind the DornKloof range, apparently a pretty large one.


1st May

Went out with Gen. and some of staff close to Acton Homes. Sent on the day before horses and half the escort to Clydesdale Farm beyond Dewdrop. About 20 miles to where we went, unfortunately very hazy or one would have had a good view of Van Reevens and the other passes. A squadron of 13th Hussars scouted in front of us from Clydesdale, no Boers were seen.

5th May

Rode out with Gen. to Dundonald's camp, had lunch there.

Added later

Re. Sir R.B's wording of recommendation etc, for V.C.'s at Colenso:~

What suggested the thought to me to have a try for the guns was this; I was riding a few yards behind Sir R. along the back donga (where the drivers and horses were) when I heard Sir R. saying to the men "For God's sake come out men etc". So I went up to him and said "What do you want Sir" and he said "I want to try and get some of those guns away", so Gerard and self rode our horses into the donga and got some men out as described before.

Mr Proctor Long (M.P.) told me in 1910 when lunching with him that Botha had told him he wanted us to cross at Colenso and expected to envelope us and give us a crushing defeat; but some Boers started firing and spoilt his place.

White-Thompson's account (in my war book) is most interesting as showing what happened actually with the guns.

Apparently they considered they had got the fire from Fort Wylie well under, but the non-appearance of the infantry and the running out of ammunition decided the commanding officers to take shelter in a donga close to until they came up, when the attack could be renewed.

May 10th

Started from Ladysmith almost due East to Sundays River and bivouaced on river bank; the dust something dreadful at times, couldn't see a yard in front of me. (This was when we caught up the supply column). (20 miles)

May 11th

Crossed Sundays River and marched to just beyond Washbank River, country very rough going for about 4 miles after S.River and then flat, good going; bivouacced about 1 mile past Washbank; Boers driven back from Kopjes 3 miles to front and left flank; saw them firing the grass under the Berg. (10 miles)

May 12th

Marched to Vercuaates Farm, no opposition; saw Boers standing on skyline of Berg and looked as if digging a gun pit so was sent off to tell Col. Parsons to get a 4.7 ready to fire in case gun opened on us who were well within range, also huge armoury of supply column. (9m)

May 13th

In charge of our baggage, had breakfast at 5.45 and got packed up soon as possible expecting to be fired at; got away at 6.45 and went some distance away to the right and stopped with baggage till orders to move came. At 8 a Boer gun opened fire and dropped some shells close to where our bivouac had been at the farm, so lucky we got out as mules are inclined to stampede.

I went up to top of a Kopje and had a good view of 1 brigade (Hamilton's) of Gen. Clery's division advancing to attack a high hill which was entry on to the Biggarsberg; infantry arrived at top without opposition. Dundonald's irregulars went round to the right and climbed up in front and also A Battery R.H.A.; Bethune's M.I., who had been operating away from us since Feb 12th. Greytown and Pomeroy way, also came up and Boers evacuated their trenches and took up a position just South of Helpmakaar and had a pom pom and a high velocity Krupp in position which fired on them; a very successful day as we got a footing on the Biggarsberg by a flank march and with the loss of 3 men wounded, (late note - 10 men). Bivouac about 2 miles down from the road from the top; 2 4.7's and 4 12 pdrs manned by R.G.A. were got into position in the evening. (10m)

May 14th

Started out at daybreak and rode up to top of Biggarsberg, a beautiful cool morning, and was much struck with the difference of scene, the ground being a beautiful grassy flat, without the eternal ant heap dotted about, and one could see for miles; a certain amount of woods dotted about, almost like some of the Salisbury Plain country; below one saw the unending hills and Kopjes; now we have got into a country more suitable for fighting and one that cavalry can act in. We found that the Boers had evacuated the position which they had held against us the evening before so the whole force moved forward. At Helpsmakaar I went into a house which the Boers had been using as a hospital; found nothing in it except a lot of newspapers, mostly Le Petit Blau and a few "Standard and Diggers News", the former copy which I got had long and amusing anti-English accounts of the war and a little map of Helpmakaar road, curious coincidence; the other paper made light of their retirement from Brandfort. About a mile further on we came across Dundonald who reported the enemy were holding a ridge about 5000 yards further on, so off the cavalry and A Battery went and the battery came into action while part of the cavalry worked round, but the Boers fled and now commenced a pursuit which went on for some 12 miles or more. The enemy had fired all the grass and when we got to the top of the ridge one saw the whole country one mass of smouldering grass and smoke; luckily the grass was short or we couldn't have moved on, as it was it sheltered the enemy from view or we should have bagged a lot. They retired very well, taking up positions as they went; the S.A.L.H. found themselves fired at once at 150 yards, not seeing the enemy for the smoke. We got to Beith and found 2 Boer women in a house on the road with their children who hadn't managed to get away; one of them was a most villainous looking woman and her children filthy dirty. About 2 miles further on we came across the battery in action and Dundonald was told to go on about 3 miles and we came back to bivouaac at Kamp's Farm near Beith. At about 4.30 we heard guns firing further on which turned out to be Boer guns near Fort Pine.

The cavalry bivouacced about 3 or 4 miles in front of us where they could get water; the horses were pretty beat. Ten men were wounded. Gough (16th Lancers) in Command of the composite M.l. had been working on the Boer left all day and succeeded in capturing 5 wagons and trains, apparently the only baggage with them, the rest having been sent through Dundee the day before. (14 m).

May 15th

Started out at daylight and marched to Dundee without opposition. Near Fort Pine the country is very rough and the road goes down a steep hill and if the Boers had stood there it would have been a very awkward place. We got into Dundee at 10.15, the few inhabitants left being very pleased to see us; they say the Boers had gone through the evening before and seemed to be in a great hurry and state of demoralisation. Dundee not a bad little place and the houses seem much nicer than the Ladysmith houses; they were all in a beastly state having been occupied by Boers. The collieries had had their machinery broken but it was antiquated I hear. From all we can learn the enemy were in such a hurry they have not done much damage to the line (Find my information wrong); their last train from Glencoe went about 5 am and the telegraph clerk left post office here at 7 am, thus ending the reign of the " Z.A.R." there. Six and half months since Talana and retreat of poor Penn Symons' column under . Rather a contrast of marches. We bivouacced on the cycle race track. (15m)

May 16th

Temperature early this morning 39 F., very nice and fresh. Hildyard got to Wessels Nek on the evening of 14th with his division having occupied Kidoda as we marched on. General and selves and HQ Staff marched to Glencoe and bivouacced near railway station; a large Boer laager must have been here, ground very foul and many flies. Went some miles along road South towards Washbank, came across a wagon with some ammunition on it, some Mausers and shells like what was fired at us at Hussar Hill.

May 17th

Marched to Dannhaus and bivouacced near railway station. Several rehabs coming in to surrender. (13m)

May 18th

Troops started about 3.30 am and we started at 4.45am for Newcastle.. Very cold misty morning just like November in England till about 8.45 when we got to the top of some hills above Newcstle from which one could see Majuba in the distance. The railway bridge over the Ingagona 3 spans blown up, evidently by a man who wrote his name in large letters, close to where the charge would be on one of the girders, thus "H.A.Wilson 15/5/1900". Probably a Britisher. A few inhabitants left at Newcastle who cheered as we came in and a "ladee" stood bowing wearing a body of union jack stripes, rather funny. We took up quarters at the house of a Mr Watts and bivouacced in the garden. (23m)

May 19th

General and some of his staff went to Ingago, found Boers occupying Laing's Nek.

Dew drops frozen on the back of my looking glass this morning. Dundonald is near Majuba; our brigade at Ingago. Climate quite nice and refreshing now but sun still too strong.

May 25th

Rode with General to see Gen. Clery at Ingago and Lord Dundonald at farm beyond river, then went on to outposts under Inkwelo; saw Boers on Majuba, lining Laing's Nek and also on Pongwane, a very strong position. There is plenty of grass round Newcastle except where Boers have burnt.

May 26th

Went with Gen. to Ingagona bridge, first train got there today. Gen. Lyttleton's division arrived there and Gen. Hillyard's here.

May 30th

Flag of truce sent out from Clery pointing out that new line cut off by Roberts at Elansfontein and our occupying Utrecht? it seemed pity to shed further bloodshed. Answer came back 31st to say letter sent on to Botha.


June 1st

Sent out again to say operation would not be delayed longer than midday tomorrow if no answer coming; answer came back saying Botha expected at noon and would then give "his plans".

June 2nd

Gen. goes out to meet Botha half way between outposts, very interesting situation, not returned yet as I write... They got in late and discussion decided by an armistice being arranged till evening of 5th to allow time for Botha to communicate with his Government to see if they would accept Gen's terms; this is Chris Botha, a man of about 35 they say and well educated fine-looking chap. General proposed that they should disperse to their farms in which case they would be left alone and to leave their big guns behind.

June 3rd

Telegram came causing Stopsford great excitement from Roberts sending congratulations to General on surrender of Botha and his army; evidently he had misread B's wire about conference. Heard afterwards news had not been repeated to England luckily.

June 5th

Went to Ingago and bivouac close to where battle was fought. Very cold at night. Telegram from Roberts at Pretoria came, also answer from Botha refusing to accept terms.

June 6th

Gun on Pongwane commenced firing at ours on Inkwelo about 9 am; very hot sun today. One sees Laing's Nek and Majuba etc.

June 8th

Hildyard's division at Yellowbloom Farm, some heavy guns on Van Wyk, both on top of spurs to the right; 2 5inch and 2 12 pounders on Ingago plateau; 2 5inch on south spur of Inkwelo and 2 4.7's on the easterly apron, and others. Lyttleton's 1 bde. close to Buffalo River in Transvaal abreast of Cilery's brigade at Ingago; Dundonald at Mt. Prospect and Brocklehurst with 18 and 19th Hussars with Hildyard. We started from Ingago at 7.30 and rode over to Hildyard who commenced to march towards Botha's Pass at about 9: Van Wyk had been in Aachen the day before. The guns bombarded the Berg and at about 11 the infantry opened to attack formation, Hamilton's brigade on the right and Wynne's on the left. They got to the top of the Berg with little opposition, all on the right of Botha's Pass but there was some firing when they arrived at the top and the enemy opened with a high velocity gun and a pom pom but were soon put to flight. We arrived at the top of the Pass at about 4pm and found the Boers had set fire to a good deal of the grass. I saw them retiring over the brow about 4 miles to our North West. Brocklehurst then went forward with all his cavalry and 4 field guns, at a walk, why not faster I don't know.

We bivouacced at the side of a steep kloof at the top of the Berg, a bitterly cold wind blowing and our baggage didn't arrive till 7.30. 6200ft above sea.

June 9th

Remained at same spot to give time for baggage to get up on top of Berg.

Went out in afternoon and went around the Boer trenches which were along the Berg and also a long line of them along Inweloane which was taken by Hamilton's brigade; why on earth they were turned out so easily as they were I cannot conceive as they were very well placed and made, mostly on the front side of slopes with earth thrown behind about 2 ft broad and 4 ft deep and quite rectangular; on the Berg they were placed mostly to command the sides of the slopes with a crossfire by which our men could have come up; on Inweloane they were about 1/2 mile back from the crest line. I think the fact of our holding Inwelo and getting guns on the Southern ridge of it rather broke their nerve and also the fact of our left getting to the top of Botha's Pass threatening their right rear though some way off. Dreadfully cold night and very damp.

June 10th

Marched to a point about 2 miles beyond guns — . We arrived about 2.30, I was in charge of our baggage and found the guide who showed the way; took us to the right of our flank which was a trifle uncomfortable. I went out to the front about 3.45 hearing the guns open fire to see what was up, having heard from Gen. Hildyard that it had been reported that about 600 Boers had been seen moving from East in a North Westerly direction. I saw Byng who told me he had taken a high Kopje in the morning on the lower slopes of which I found him; he had had a small fight with about 60 Boers and driven them off; after that he told me he saw a regular Boer army about in his estimation 3500 men; he sent off a squadron to a Kopje on the left front to try and head the advanced guns which they did and had a hot fight for the remainder of the day, in some cases they were within 12 yards of one another, the main portion of the Boers apparently stopped on either side of Almond's Nek. Our guns came into action at about 3 pm.

June 11th

Started towards Almonds Nek in the morning. Wynne's brigade on the left, Hamilton's in centre and Coker's on the right; met with no resistance for some way but at about 2 o'clock we heard the horse artillery guns (A Battery) to our front and we galloped forward to them; they were about 4 miles from Almond's Pass and shelling a hill to our right front to support Gough and his composite regiment which was taking a Kopje there; a Boer gun opened fire from somewhere, I couldn't make make out where, at the battery a few minutes after we arrived; the infantry were halted for some little time but began to advance about 3 o'clock, Hamilton's brigade going for the left and centre of Pass and Coker's the right; Wynne now occupying hills on our extreme left. As soon as infantry began to advance a heavy pom pom fire was opened on them; our artillery consisting of 2 field batteries (under Paget) Gordon's howitzers, 4 12 pounders under May and 4.7's under Jones R.N. came into action and also our pom poms. Soon after the infantry began the advance the Boers turned one of their pom poms on to the place General and staff were and also the high velocity gun and for about 2 minutes it was very hot and unpleasant, about 60 shells coming all round the place and they were very near some of them, luckily only one horse got hit, but it fairly scattered the men holding them; the General, Trotter and self with some of staff then went down to our left front and I was sent forward to find out what the Queens were doing as seemed to be getting too much to the left; I found Burrell (Major) who was commanding them somewhere near the front line and he told me of where he had seen Boers retiring into position behind the rocks and also suggested where he would like a battery to help him , a place I thought to be good as it would enable a good fire to be directed up to where the Boers went, rather flanking them. I reported this back to the General and he moved practically all the mobile artillery there and it was quite beautiful to see, when they came into action, how it moved the enemy, our right (the Dorsets) directly on the right of the pass being then stopped from crossing a very "hot" zone got up again after the hills on the right were crowned. This fight lasted about 2| hours and completely routed the enemy and we hoped would have effect of turning off Laing's Nek as ground all beyond Almond's was reported to be flat and clear of Kopjes on which the Boer's won't fight. Went up with the General just as it was getting dark on to the hill on the right to see Gen. Coke but we didn't find him. I should say the Boers got a heavy knocking in this fight as the artillery were playing on the rocks at a good range and to a certain extent flanking the spurs. Our casualties were about 130 killed and wounded. Boer doctor here says loss 140 killed and 510 wounded.

June 12th

Went up the Pass having bivouacced just below, about 7.30 with General and rest of staff. Found when mist cleared that the next 4 miles was by no means a plain but that if the Boers were holding the hills beyond they had a strong position. About 9 am the S.A. Light Horse were sent on and we went on till about a mile from the ridge in front when some firing took place but the enemy soon cleared and all the baggage supplies were brought up. We then went on to the ridge and could see the Boers retreating over the hills some miles ahead, some in direction of Ermelo and others towards Standerton. It was then a case of finding water. We bivouacced about 3| miles from Volkseurt, west of it Joubert's 2nd son who was living in a farm close by, came up and asked that his farm should be let alone as he had several of his father's things there; of course he was left alone on signing the declaration of neutrality; he said that if the Burghers only knew they were going to be treated like that he was sure very many of them would come in and surrender. I went to two little farms and bought some butter at one; full of women and children, the men away fighting and one woman said Kruger had threatened that if they didn't continue fighting they would be shot and also if they surrendered they would be sent as slaves to St.Helena; this was confirmed by the Landeart at Volkseurt next day.

June 13th

General and rest of us with 2 squadrons of Cavalry (19th) rode into Volkseurt, a rotten place, and received the keys and surrender from Landeart who seemed to be in a great "funk", he was going to be hanged or something. Rode to station and found everything in order there and then to Charlestown, which had been completely looted by the Boers, on to Laing's Nek where we encamped on the same spot where Boer general was at Majuba, rather a luxury to get a tent especially for having a bath as wind very cold. Rode with General up the trenches on the Nek, a tremendously strong place, the trenches running right along the crest line from Majuba to Pongwain, quite 6 miles; the trenches are about 2 ft. broad and 4 ft deep and to a great extent excavated in solid rock, the time and trouble expended on them must have been enormous; they also had "running in" trenches from the back so that they could run in unseen and under shelter. The gun emplacements had regular burrowed holes on either side with baulks of wood on the top; the trenches running round to Pongwain entirely enfiladed anyone coming up through the Nek and I think any troops coming into the basin below the Nek with Pongwain on one side and Majuba on the other must have been annihilated.

June 14th

Went up Majuba with Lees and West and had our lunch there. We rode up nearly to the top to the Western part and had to climb the rest, very steep. Found trenches were made all over the place especially to resist an advance from the direction in which Colley made his; they also ran right away east on to Nikenteno. A heap of stones marks the spot where Colley fell and there are many graves at top, of the 58th Regt. It seems extraordinary how we were turned off in '81 with even half precautions being taken, there being only two places the Boers could have climbed up by. I forgot to say yesterday I again walked over the Nek trenches with Trotter and saw the ends of the rail trench blown in and the lines all pulled up; a memorial stone also marks where several of our men, mostly 58th, fell at the battle of Laing's Nek and how they managed to get up as far as they did is wonderful; it was all on the East side of the Nek. On one of the doors of a house near our bivouac is written up "Rache fair, Samo Fashada, Jameson, Confarentie Bloemfontein, Majuba, Schimohortze, Leve Gladstone". The Boers evidently entered the house on the 21st October last as it was written up in large letters and Z.A.R.

June 15th

Rode over with Lees to cemetary at the bottom of Nikenteno where Colley is buried, also many other officers and men who fell at Majuba and Laing's Nek. Cemetary wall kept and I hear paid for by Government.

June 16th

Roberts apparently has been in some difficulty with his communications, having them cut North of Kroonstadt. Rode in afternoon down to Buffalo River, the clearest water I've seen in this infernal country and then went up to the extreme left trenches of Boer position.

June 17th

Bitterly cold wind today, no sun and constant showers. Rode to see trenches on the lower slopes of Nikotein, practically the Laing's Nek position is entrenched for 7 miles.

June 18th

Rode by myself to 0'Neil's Farm and went up to place where Colley dropped his post below Majuba then went across to Nikotein Pass and so round the bottom of Majuba back to camp.

June 19th

Marched to Volkeist

June 20th

Marched without oppostion to a mile or two beyond Zandspruit; we waited at the railway station for some hours for Gen. Hilliard and his column from Makkerstrom and it arrived about 3. We bivouacced as darkened.

June 21st

A very misty morning, very cold; started early and marched in fighting formation to Paardekop Station where we bivouacced for the night.

June 22nd

Marched to Katsbork Spruit, no opposition; our baggage though it started after the cavalry, got in front of it! Clery made a forced march with the infantry and the cavalry were to get to Standerton and receive its surrender or to send word back if occupied by the enemy. The country is over rolling terrain after Paardekop all the way to Standerton, splendid cavalry country. Dundonald's lot got to Standerton in the afternoon. All the railway stations and the line itself in this country are very well made and appointed.

June 23rd

In charge baggage, very misty cold again; got to Standerton pretty early; the Landeost bolting yesterday and also police and Boers who were here; a few English left in place and also the railway officials, Hollanders of whom about 30 or 40 have been stuck in goal as apparently they made offensive demonstration on Gough arriving with his composite regiment yesterday. The railway houses are very neat and well kept. We are staying in a house on the side of the square. I live in a room. We hear about 600 prisoners of ours, mostly Imperial Yeomanry, went through here the other day, taken at or near Lindley; Rundle seems to be stuck up that side and immovable, which is a pity. In searching for a house yesterday for Gen. Clery I came across a Hollander doctor who was with Boers at Magersfontein; he said they had a great many wounded there but that the day they were bombarded not a single man was touched.

June 24th

Church this morning with 3rd M. Brigade; parson preached sermon who has been in S.A. 36 years, nearly all oration on the causes of the war and pointing out the righteousness of it. Find my friend of yesterday, the doctor, being moved off to jail, arms being found under his floor. The Boers burnt £30,000 worth of teak sleepers just before leaving, also blew down one span of railway bridge over the Vaal.

The identical flag that was hauled down at Pretoria in '81 was hoisted here today on the Courthouse flagstaff.

June 26th

The telegraph line behind us cut.

June 28th

Telegraph again destroyed.

June 30th

Gen. Clery moves towards Greylingstaadt with a brigade 1000 cavalry and some guns.


July 5th

Had a race on ________ against Guyzer's Brown Ginger. Life very dull and __________ is in very confined space.

July 6th

General and Stopsford and West go to Pretoria.

July 10th

Above returned. They got by train all night to Greylingstaadt and then had to go by road; they caught up with a convoy which the enemy attacked but were repulsed.

The Boers apparently got wind of the General going and tried to get him coming back and when they arrived back they found the line cut, also telegraph. The C.S.O. here rather disturbed as a native came in to say Boers were intending to attack us; altogether a feeling of alarm prevailed with some. The Hollanders last night loosed off a lot of trucks, which had had brakes put on all night and sleepers also in front of them, down the diversion of the railway which had been just finished. Some trucks had been left on the temporary bridge over the river and they smashed into these and got overturned and broken up, besides damaging the line. They are a mischievous lot and the sooner put out of the country the better.

July 18th

Life dreadfully dull, a little diversion caused by young Duke of Westminster coming up trying to return to Pretoria by this way which is impossible, so he returns tomorrow.

Had not seen him since Cape Town and it was interesting hearing of their doings on other sides; seems to have been quite a "jolly" for staff there in contrast to us.

War seems as far from the finish as ever and ideas of getting home hopeless.

July 20th

The way we make war is rather ridiculous, I mean the lenient way we treat our enemy and no end will ever come unless we really make them feel uncomfortable; here we have round us houses flying the white flag where it is well known the owners go every night unmolested and shoot at us in the day time, why should they ever stop under conditions like that, and we don't take their cattle, horses or anything in spite of their having destroyed everything in Natal they could; the Boer does not understand it and has not feelings beyond, what you give him by coersion; it seems to all that by this leniency we are treating our own unfairly now. The war proper is really over and guerilla tactics begun, so strict measures ought to be taken and a chance given of surrender and the alternative of having the country devastated, the only way of bringing our might home to them and I fancy it would be the saving of many lives likely to be lost under present conditions in a very unsatisfactory way.

July 24th

Had a sort of Regimental dinner at refreshment room at station, about 25 there; felt very ill next day; both food and liquor very indifferent; everybody made speech, rather rot. Boers attacked 2 Dublin Fusiliers up line at Zuckerbosch, got beat off. Clery returns after short trip towards Bethel, back to Greylingstaadt. Hildyard is making demonstration towards Awersfoot. Gen. Wyven the other day burnt some farms as telegraph got cut, including L. Botha's which seems to have had effect of stopping it, I'm sure it's the right thing to do.

July 28th

Several of us went out yesterday afternoon to find a hare, which we did and had a great hunt, he went a devil of a pace at first making, after one turn straight back, a direct line for railway heading down line towards town, then straight up for § mile, then back into a drain; Col.Parsons threw stones through and he came out and ran down line again into another drain where he was killed on coming out, rather a good hunt. We didn't find any more. Reuter says Mrs Steyn has been found at Fouriesberg.

July 30th

General got wire this morning to say Prinsloo has surrendered to Hunter with 5000 men; the best news we've had for some time and makes the end loom a bit nearer.


August 1st

Marched to Platrand, bivouacced the night; beastly wind blowing and horribly dusty. Prinsloo surrender not so good as first thought but details not come yet.

August 2nd

Marched to Paardekop and bivouacced. Generals Lyttleton and Hildyard here and lunched; former told story he had met a burgher named Coetzen the other day who said Keuper had sent someone down to make a speech to burghers to tell them from him (and they could cut his head off if not true) that the English wanted to take them prisoners and send them to India as soldiers.

August 3rd

Rode with General to Meersicht Camp where Gen. Brocklehurst is with cavalry brigade (18,19 Hussars and 5 Lancers), also Gen. Howard; hear Prinsloo surrender consisted of 3800 men and 4 guns; Olivier got away with about 1500 and 10 guns.

August 7th

Started first thing in morning to Meersicht and sat on Kopje some little time looking at infantry advancing; Howard's brigade on the right and Kitchener's on the left, mostly composed of regiments in siege at Ladysmith. Dundonald's cavalry on left, Brocklehurst1s on right, a long front. No opposition for some time but we got information Boers putting up some guns on a hill some 7 miles to our front. About 2.30 we were going along when suddenly some shells began to fall amongst us and we saw some shrapnel bursts and pom pom ditto in front.

Our guns came into action and enemy soon retired theirs and we went on and occupied the hill and then by nightfall arrived at Amersfort. A beastly cold wind blowing all day and the dust and black from burnt grass awful. Our baggage didn't get in till 10.30, a wretched cold wait for it. Got some hot soup and dinner about 11.30: 19 wounded.

August 8th

Remain at Amersfort, misty morning, a few Boers sniping. Manage a bath.

August 9th

Breakfast at daylight (6 am.), about 20deg. of frost, hands so cold could not use knife and fork till warmed up a bit. Went with Col. Stopsford to superintend baggage coming over lift drift, the amount something awful and what with the yelling, whipping and breakdowns, truly maddening; our lot over soon after 2 pm; it makes one realise the enormous amount of baggage we are encumbered with as 2 other drifts were going as well. Marched to Wedspruit about 7 miles. Rearguard not in till 6 pm. No opposition and find that a tampion belonging to 66th Battery (4 guns taken at Colenso) and a Scott sight were picked up on the 7th by our men on spot where Boers had their guns, so probably they were using one of our 15 pdrs.

August 10th

Marched at 9 to the Vaal and bivouacc to the north of bridge. No opposition, just a few shots fired.

August 11th

Marched about 8 miles to the North, some fighting on the right front. A dreadful gale blowing, simply blinding with dust and burnt grass. Two or three grass fires which burnt at rate of quite 6 miles an hour. One of the most unpleasant days from wind I ever experienced.

August 12th

Marched to Ermelo where 3rd Mounted Brigade got into last night; rather a nice little town for S.Africa; plenty of trees planted and houses mostly built of brick instead of tin. We got a little house for our meals and manage a hot bath, much needed after yesterday's blackening.

August 13th

Marched to a place called Klipfontein, about 15 miles; irregular cavalry (Byng's) had a brush with a few Boers on the right flank and wounded 4 of them, they having 1 wounded. About 3 or 4 miles out of Ermelo came across a coal mine, the coal being got straight out of the side of a hill from under a strata of rock; the cavern made by the got coal ran back about 60 yards, the rock being supported by pillars of coal left; it looked very good.

August 14th

Marched about 8 miles North; got communication, by helio with French's cavalry, no opposition except when a few Strathcona were entering Garolina where they were fired on from inside the town but the Boers soon cleared.

August 15th

Marched to Vaal water, slight skirmishing on right front. Find Gordon's cavalry (Robert's army) about 7 miles off; hear we are likely to remain for about a week as apparently the force that is to act in co-operation with us is not ready, not very cheering.

August 16th

Gen. Brocklehurst dined. Cartwright told us that one of the 19th Hdrs. was approaching house flying white flag when at about 150 yards he was received by a volley and wounded in two places, one an expanding bullet; they then took his water bottle and no aid was given him even by the women in the house; the Boers went before the patrol came up. I am glad to say they burnt the house there and then and it's a great pity they don't do more of it and our stupid leniency is costing the country lives and prolonging the war. Much warmer today though a little frost in the night.

August 17th

Convoy goes to Wonderfontein to fill us up with supplies. Jackson's Inniskillings came in from post about 5 miles off where they are.

August 18th

Rode with Crichton to see cavalry from other side which has moved up close to us about 5 miles off, Carbineers, Greys and. Inniskillings. Saw Fielden, Harrison and several of Greys and Lecky and Stanton T. R.H.A., U battery also there.

Gen. French arrived with his staff while I was there and had talk to them; rather interesting hearing their news, seem to have done very badly in the way of food, Kitchener apparently not allowed any private stores up; Hunter-Weston with French now: all seemed to be as much sick of the war as ourselves, if not more so, though they have had nothing like the knocks, I suppose it is their feeding has been bad. I should say many of their horses have been lost through not having been given time to water, and the loss has been something enormous.

August 19th

Went to cavalry camp (Good Hope Farm), lunched with T. R.H.A. commanded by Lecky; young Stanton was taken prisoner at Sanna's Post and told me the story of it from their point of view, rather interesting. Went after lunch, had talk to Greys and on to see Ewert Holland of Inniskillings. Cavalry regiments only about 260 strong. Find they stopped over field force canteen at Pretoria. Very annoying and impolite I think as it's a great thing for keeping our men in fettle.

August 20th

Fellow called Healy in the Imp. Yeomanry came to see me, says he knows Kate; he escaped from Nooitgedacht quite recently.

August 21st

Marched to Van Wyksvlei, a very bad spruit close to which made the baggage a great difficulty, taking no less that 4 hours to get over. Our right flank was attacked and Boers seem to have got into strong position against them. The cavalry was engaged all day and the Gordon Highlanders had to go up to help some out, there were about 30 casualties including 2 officers wounded and about 6 or 7 men killed. Bivouacced at Farmhouse flying white flag with owner fighting against us, we pay for butter and vegetables got!, thus we make war and although I fancy everyone knows by now that the only way of ruling a Boer is by fear.

We go on in a ridiculous lenient way much to the damage of our men in my opinion; the idea is I believe that they have to be our subjects afterwards and leniency pays in the long run; so it does with the ordinary man of some sort of honour, but not the Boer.

August 22nd

Stayed at Van Wyksvlei. A force consisting of 2 reg., 4 squadrons S.A.L.H. 1 battery and 2 howitzers went out to drive enemy away from our right flank which they were harassing.

August 23rd

Marched to Geluk and on arrival met with stubborn opposition on our front and right flank; off the ridge on which we marched country very broken and Kopje - like, affording enemy excellent cover and very difficult to get at. A fight lasted all the afternoon and we had a good deal of loss, at present ascertained about 100: 2 guns were sent to our right and were under heavy shell and pom pom fire, losing 1 man killed and 2 wounded. The Liverpools, who had advanced rather far to our front, lost a good deal on retiring back for the night when the battery which was supporting them had to cease firing owing to dark. Col Rainsford-Hannay who came over here on leave to see his son, went into action with him with the two guns to right and I expect they will both remember it. French's cavalry line our left to the railway, Gordon's and Dickson's brigades. A most horrible windy and dusty day and our bivouacc a filthy one on red loose sand.

August 24th

Stayed at Geluk.

August 25th

I think yesterday was one of the most miserably uncomfortable days I've ever spent in the way of wind and dust, one literally could not keep one's eyes open, and of course everything got covered with red dust; but today is quite lovely. Boers sent some shells into camp.

August 26th

Started to march N.E. to Vraal Kraal, was in charge of our baggage. We went almost due North for about 4 miles, then had to turn East; here we got very strongly opposed and were unable to move; the ridge we were on ran North and South and directly our troops began to show their noses they got very heavily fired on from the Boer trenches which were not more than about 2000 yards down the slope (quite open); it was also quite impossible to see because of the mirages, the artillery came into action but were quite nonplussed by the above; there was a tremendous amount of rifle fire and I thought from where I was with the baggage that lot of damage must be done against us as the Boers opened with many guns including a Long Tom; we had to bivouacc where we were and the troops in front line did the same, entrenching themselves. Was very glad to hear when it was all over that our casualties were only about 10 killed and 24 wounded. At night the brutal Boers shot an apothecary dead who was searching for the wounded with a red lamp.

I learn from the P.M.O that the other day when Liverpools got into a bit of a mess that the Boers went on shooting at the wounded on the ground and many had 6 holes in them, also that explosive bullets were largely used and they took every particle of clothing, short of nakedness, off them; in one case actually dragged the boots and trousers off a man who had a shattered leg.

Glad to see some farms burnt today for being improperly used for sniping.

August 27th

Started out first thing in the morning. All troops including artillery (with exception of 2 regiments, 1 battery and 2 x 12 pdrs (entrenched) and some S.A.L.H. which held our right) were moved left-handed to the North of ridge to the N.E of which the enemy held a very strong position on a Kopje which appeared to be the key of the position. Along the ridge running from North to South were A Battery, 21st, 53rd, 61st howitzers, 2 12 pdrs, 2 x 5inch, 2 x 4.7's. The R.Brigade went North and then wheeled round to the right to attack the Kopje with the Inniskillings on their right to work round.

Gen Brocklehust cavalry with the M.I. went still further to our left and on turning East and getting near the Kopje were received with a very hot fire and were driven back. Not a Boer was to be seen but evidently they were there in some force so a heavy artillery fire was opened on it and the Rifle Brigade soon after were seen, in extended order, stopped by a heavy musketry fire. (Battle of Bergendal) The enemy there began to shell us on the ridge pretty heavily with 2 pom poms and a high velocity gun; none of which could be located for some time. Lees and self had a very narrow squeak of being hit by a high velocity shell. It passed between us who were about a yard apart, I was about 5 yards behind Lees on his right and heard the whizz and at the same time saw the shell pitch just a yard in front of his right foot, however a miss is as good as a mile. The front company of the Inniskillings just then were turned back by a very sharp and well-directed pom pom fire but they soon rallied and managed to get on a little. All this time a pretty heavy fire of artillery was kept up but then the enemy's rifle fire continued pretty hot, and the pom poms of the enemy kept going, one from somewhere in the direction of the Kopje and another in the valley to our right. Then there seemed to be a lull in the firing and the Rifle Brigade and Inniskillings kept both closing round slowly, then a heavy fire again was opened on them from the direction of the Kopje though we thought it had been made untenable, and to make matters more certain one or two Boers were seen moving on it, so a simply tremendous artillery fire was opened on it and after about half an hour we saw Boers running down and evidently they were beginning to get uncomfortable. I saw one man suddenly appear on a horse and gallop away for his very life. Then the pom pom (which had been on the Kopje all the time) was seen being dragged down but the fire was so hot on them they had to abandon it. There was a square wall Kraal at the back of the Kopje into which many ran but one or two shells being put there they all made a bolt for it, some on horses and most on foot, who I think had their horses behind some trees which they made for; a heavy shrapnel fire was opened on them when they left and I should say few got away unwounded of those who stood the place. By this time the Rifle Brigade and Inniskillings had got fairly close and as soon as the Boers began to bolt they fairly ran after them and it looked as if the shells from our guns on the far right might not see them and they would be in danger of getting shelled from them, so I galloped back as hard as I could to tell them. This was the best and most plucky stand I've ever seen the Boers make; we found that they were (the particular men on the Kopje) the Zarps or Johannesburg Police, a fine body of men. The Inniskillings got to the pom pom first but the General awarded it to the R.A. and I think quite rightly. The top of the Kopje was a gruesome sight, 12 men killed all by Lyddite in one place and all together, and another man had nothing left of him except legs and one arm, I believe, but I didn't care to look at it. 19 prisoners were taken ( 8 wounded) including the Commandant. The Lieut, was killed. The Sergt. Major was found wounded next morning who said he wouldn't have been caught only he gave up his horse to 2 wounded men as he thought he could walk but found he couldn't. There were many traces of wounded Boers found which seemed to show many wounded had got away. Of course this turned the whole position and the Boers who had been entrenched all along the line all left, to number of 3000 so we heard next day.

Lord Roberts with some of his staff (Cowan, Rawlinson, Westminster) rode over afterwards. We had 1 officer killed and I fear 2 mortally wounded in the Rifle Brigade, and altogether about 100 killed and wounded. We bivouacced about 300 yards below the Kopje. Brocklehurst's cavalry tried to get on to Dalinanother but couldn't as dark came on and they were opposed. The artillery practise was first rate; I believe a salvo of howitzers with a salvo of shrapnel on their striking caused great effect, but I must confess I don't understand how more weren't killed under that terrible fire except that they had natural rock Shaintzes about 2 to 3 ft. high round each man or set of men which was supplemented by big stones placed by themselves and of course shrapnel was of little avail against that.

August 28th

Marched early towards Dalinanother Station though a bad bit of country if the Boers had held on; then along road to Machadodorp and when we got to the last hill overlooking the town we saw on the opposite hill about 4| miles off a large convoy of Boers; Dundonald pushed his cavalry forward but soon got stopped by a heavy velocity gun which unfortunately wounded Birdwood, his Brigade major; the R.H.A battery came into action and shelled the station but I fancy they had all left by then. The country here is admirably laid for rearguard action. When the enemy cleared from the ridge it was occupied by Dundonald and they found the enemy again holding a very stong position on the next ridge about 7000 yards off with part of their convoy not yet up to it. Was shelled as soon as the 5 in. guns could be got up. These guns can trot on the flat having 12 horses in 4 abreast. The Boers shelled them pretty heavily and they bivouacced for night there. I saw by the way no less than 7 horses lying dead in the howitzers battery lines the morning before last, and hear altogether 17 had died and 50 were off their feed, probably from eating "tulip". Got 2 cases of milk, some cocoa and 6 bottles of Vermouth out of a store at Machadodorp. Railway appears to be intact up there.

August 29th

Marched to Helvetia enemy having cleared, a tremendous long pull up out of valley which one descends to after the ridge on which cavalry were, and rises quite 1500 feet. We got in helio connection with French yesterday to our left front and heard Pole Carew's division had joined him. When we got to Helvetia found French and his cavalry there and Pole Carew's division arriving. Some of enemy to our front being driven off. Hear from French's people the Boers turned out of a very strong and well prepared position at Elandsfontein without firing a shot after our fight of the other day. French went on towards Watervalsonder and we and Pole Carew's division bivouaac at Helvetia.

August 30th

Was with baggage and we marched northwards for about 6 miles when we were told to stop; General went forward with Dundonald's cavalry to Wettenveeden overlooking Noositgedavecht, found country absolutely impossible for movement, great enormous hills with vertical declivities. They saw what looked like our prisoners walking along line to Watervalsonder and heard from native reports Kruger and following gone to Retzsen Rest N.E. of Lydenburg.

Awful nuisance and d......d discouraging. Came back about a mile and bivouac at Vluckfontein, enemy sniping on our left.

August 31st

Gerard damaged cartilidge of knee just before dinner yesterday and leaves for Pretoria, carried in a to Machodadorp. There was a tremendous flash of lightning during dinner last night, made us jump. Killed a Mr Lauderson, a guide, who joined us only 2 days ago, 60 yards from our tent. Stayed at same place, apparently they are not certain where Kruger and Boers have gone or what is going to be done now. We had our first rain for some time the night we stopped at Machodadorp. Very grieved to hear when we met French the other day that Harrison (Greys) had been mortally wounded on their march, shot through the neck and spine. The Boers have taken away the cog-wheel engines which run between Watervalcoven and Onder.


September 1st

Marched to Badfontein on Lydenburg road; no opposition. Saw Boers in distance with a few wagons but Dundonald said he couldn't catch them. Rather grand country, very hilly and berg-like round the valley.

September 2nd

Marched out at 8 am on the Lydenberg Road and after going about 4 miles cavalry were received with very hot shell fire from the top of hill about 5 miles off, from a Long Tom and high velocity gun, and a pom pom from somewhere.

Found enemy occupying a large Kopje to our right front also; hills in shape of horseshoe in front of us to both flanks, very like Laing's Nek. Boers soon opened with 2 more Long Toms, one on the right and other in front not far from the first, then with 2 4.7 howitzers, 2 high velocity and one or two field guns and another pom pom. The S.A.L.H. were going on to the Kopje and I was sent forward to stop them which was some difficulty as the going very rough and stony for riding. The General came to conclusion must have more troops to attack place so sent back for another battalion and half which would take some time in coming. In meantime from information received it was found that artillery could be taken up nowhere except by main road. (Louis Botha commanding here). Altogether it looks a very nasty and impossible place to take without great loss even if successful. He wired to Roberts to say very strong and nasty place but would try it tomorrow but I am glad to say Lord Roberts says don't I believe, as it should be capable of being turned. I never saw Boer guns fire so much, the Long Toms fired about 120 rounds, luckily and mostly at the road or somewhere where there was no one.

We sat on the plain all day and shells went over us and to our right in great number; the Boer artillery tactics and practice was on whole execrable.

We made no reply to guns and only R.H.A. which had gone forward with cavalry, came into action. They were fired at all day and had 5 horses hit and two men wounded. The last shell but one killed 8 and wounded 7 horses. Our casualties were 15 altogether, only 1 killed I am glad to say. About half only were wounded by shells.

September 3rd

Stayed in bivouac, heat very great during day in this valley, beastly dust.

September 4th

Remained same place. Gerard sent wire to say he was going home. Prisoners released the other day amounted to about 1900 but only 6 officers who escaped. Boers kept remainder.

September 5th

Boers got a Long Tom round to our right and shelled the camp, not at all unexpectedly to the ordinary "lay" mind. We have a large hill on our right flank and the top of which is about 6000 yards, nice range for a high velocity which, truth be told, had not been occupied by us, but cavalry just went up part of it the first day and patrols of ditto on succeeding days. It should and would have been easily held by a regiment or less, and certainly would have stopped them putting a Long Tom up which they did on a hill behind it about 3000 yards. However as soon as we got shelled 2 regiments and a battery were turned to go and take it, the hill, which they did before dark, the Boers retiring off it and consequently the Long Tom going and no other gun being brought up!

I think it the greatest luck that it didn't prove very inconvenient our not having occupied this place besides which if we had attacked frontally it was the only place where our long range guns could be put to any advantage. Ian Hamilton is now beyond Dullstrous where Brocklehurst's cavalry went to meet him. He has made a very good march and will probably turn this position.

September 6th

We went up to top of hill mentioned yesterday, a rough climb. Cavalry were held in readiness to go forward in valley and the 2 regiments on top of hill went a short way over to the "Long Tom" hill but saw no Boers.

We soon saw General Ian Hamilton's helio to our west about 10 miles and cavalry were ordered forward up the road at the top of which they arrived in due course, Boers having been turned out of their position by Hamilton's flank march. A very strong position and well nigh impregnable from the front, certainly without great slaughter, a great number of men and guns neither of which we have too many for this job; in fact much too few .

Rode over to Hamilton's camp, about 3 miles off, was much pleased to see Algy King and Rouse there (latter taken prisoner at Sanna's Post in Q battery).

Bivouac about 3 miles North of top.

September 7th

Marched to Lydenburg, a pretty green town, best I've seen in this cursed country. Boers began to shell us soon after 2.30 with 2 Long Toms and are still doing so. Very pleasantly we are in a nice little villa residence belonging to one Archer, an English store keeper.

September 8th

Got shelled again soon after 8 am. when troops were getting under way. Find a few men and horses got hit yesterday in camp; it is strange that the General seems to have a "penchant" for bivouacing within range of enemy's guns. This Long Tom is a most formidable weapon when firing shrapnel which it does at over 10,000 yards but luckily they burst most of them badly, very often miles high; the other day when they fired so many a well-burst and directed shell killed 8 and wounded 7 horses of the battery, and today on the Gordons marching out of camp one shell burst well at a range of 11,400 yards, hitting 19 or 21 men, killing 1 man, dangerously wounding 3, and 9 others; even after all this I believe we shall camp under shell fire if possible!, which seems to be rather senseless. We atacked the position to our right, a strong one and rising nearly 2000 ft. up, on a broad front. Ian Hamilton with his three regiments 1/Gordons, Royal Scots and (space left by author) on the right, with Brocklehurst's cavalry protecting our right flank and rear and Kitchener's Brigade Gordons, Dundonald and 60th Leicesters, on the left with Dundonald's cavalry on left rear and flank. By about 4 pm we had driven Boers off top, Algy King's (20th) battery doing very good work and also Rouse with his pom poms; unfortunately a very heavy cloud came over and one could not see, but it lifted for a moment and one saw Boers going for all they were worth, and a heavy fire was opened on them; the position took a sudden and deep drop in rear and then a gradual rise comparatively. We saw them put men up to move their Long Tom about midday but the 5 inch were not very enterprising in firing at it. Ian Hamilton's lot seemed to me to be handled very well and he seems a good chap; dined with us last night. Dreadfully cold night.

September 9th

Ian Hamilton returned to Machadadorp so we are left to go on with the 60th and Gordons only with 2 5inch, 2 12pdrs and 53rd battery and irregular cavalry under Dundonald, not quite a command for a General, a Lt. General and a Major General, which we have got, and I expect it will be a case of too many cooks etc, besides of course Dundonald and his cavalry, Brocklehurst remaining at Lydenberg. Started on at about 8 and after going some way to the skyline of gently sloping ground were met with a very heavy pom pom fire in the middle of which we of course got. A battery came up and fired at the place it was thought to be and got heavily shelled, 2 men hit and 8 horses; after a bit we got on to the edge of the Manchberg (8700ft) and there below us was the Boer convoy trekking across our front below. The colt guns (6) all came into action and men fired rifles ad lib at it. The R.H.A. was then brought up, (alas we hadn't a single 12pdr or 5inch up), and fired at it but couldn't reach. It was over 7000 yards off! The S.A.L.H. and Strathcona's and M.I. all went down the road towards it, an awful road cut out of the side of the mountain, but they got stopped at bottom by Boer rearguard.

Most of baggage didn't get in 'til the early hours of morning as only one road and very bad and steep in places, very trying for them who didn't get blankets as freezing.

September 10th

One of the guides tells me that he lives close to here, that he has frequently known the Berg covered with snow at this time of year and seen Kaffirs sled from coll; it's certainly the highest (8700) point I've ever been; the Drakensberg range again. The infantry started down the hill about 8am and also the 12pdrs and soon after they debouched below, a Long Tom opened on them from beyond the Devil's Knuckles and continued firing with common shell and did no damage, also a high velocity and a pom pom. The 2 5inch guns had been got up early in the morning and had been firing at the tail end of the convoy; they then turned on to the Long Tom; the men of the Long Toms and also the other guns for that matter also dig deep trenches for themselves and run in as soon as the report of a gun goes off so are practically safe and I have never seen a Boer fire his gun absolutely in the open. The Gordons went forward and got to within about 4000 yards of the gun and the 53rd battery was taken down to a good position partly flanking Long Tom and it could get on to it with shrapnel so it seemed we had the gun in our grasp, but unfortunately the General had given orders for the 5inch to come down the hill so that when the Boers began to take the Long Tom away it only had the field battery at a difficult range to fire at it whereas the 5inch absolutely commanded it where it was, and also all the way up the road and my opinion is it was a fatal and stupid thing to do and it was most tantalising to see their annoying gun wend its way slowly off into safety; while it was so doing the General and General Littleton all worried, the battery and the 12 pndrs. firing at it so that they layed very badly and the General then said they shot very badly; no wonder! It's perfectly fatal the way some senior officers meddle with this sort of things. Strathcona's went forward and got as far as the bend in the road and were held there but they got 3 or 4 Boers. Another Long Tom began firing at them from below with shrapnel. We went forward beyond the Devil's Knuckles and saw the Boers again trekking below the road off the Manchburg; all down is perfectly awful and quite impossible for going up with heavily laden wagons. Bivouac about 1| miles our side of Devil's Knuckles. I saw about 60 Boers during day go off to the right.

September 11th

Started off down the hill again, could see a few Boers on skyline all round, but no wagons on the Neloprint road as expected, found afterwards they were going away on Pilgrim's Rest road. The infantry got fired on from front when they got on flat and momentarily checked and I was sent forward to tell Col. Strele of Strathconas to push forward on a high hill on left and so turn the few Boers who were standing; by time I got to him right in front found he had done so and saw a few Boers on Spitz Kop just in front also further on 3 wagons and several oxen trekking towards Komatipoort. Arrived close to Spitz Kop at about 2.30, and bivouac ordered to be in valley, chancing as usual enemy bringing a gun up to shell us. Went up to hill in front of one I had been on in morning and there got the grandest view I've seen in South Africa. Saw, about 10 miles off, Boer laager and Long Tom trekking to Pilgrim's Rest, also another 5 miles further on, should estimate numbers at 2,000. Fine country this, would grow anything and there is gold about, a gold mine (Glynn Lydenberg) just about 6 miles from us. The variety of flowers growing is wonderful. Forgot to say we got about 15 tons of sugar, flour and rice and coffee on the 9th; here at the gold mine we found stored about 100 tons of ditto and 300 boxes small arms ammunition, mostly Martini Henry which we send for tomorrow.

September 12th

Hear Kruger went thro' to Pilgrim's Rest on 9th. The idea was to move a little South to block roads from Nelspruit, evidently General changed his mind and ordered things already started to stop, then went up Spitz Kop in search water, not much found so 2 companies and 2 guns left here and guns etc on their way up ordered back again, rather useless expenditure of energy! Col.Parsons and staff dined; hear now Kruger supposed to be at KaapMaiden! also our mails captured near Badfontein leading to outbursts on General's part of raillery against R.E. presumably because staff officer who brought news belongs to that corps, reminded me of way he went for me at Ladysmith on the R.A. as a means of exploding temper. Glad to hear mail not bagged, only some telegraph stores and sappers. Remained same place.

September 14th

Intelligence says Kruger, Steyn, L.Botha and Reitz all at Kaap Maiden. Went up Spitz Kop yesterday with Trotter and coming back an enormous cloud of locusts came over us; perfect myriads of them.

September 15th

Intelligence says Boers not gone to Pilgrim's Rest but to Belvedere where the General believes they are in cul de sac and bet they aren't! Hear Kruger has gone Komati Poort. French has got to Barberton, found and released 28 officers and about 56 men, collared about 40 engines and large supplies.

September 18th

A few surrenderers have come in last few days. Mail of 11th Aug arrived safe yesterday. Dull work this, nearly a week since we got here.

September 20th

A few surrendered Boers being allowed to trek their cattle back to their farms; Col. Parsons asked one yesterday "how did you manage to get away from your commando?" "Well you see" answered the Boer "I look after other peoples as well who are on commando and besides I've not a good shot and my friend with me is very delicate and I was only used in the hospital"; Thus we make war! I hear for certain we'd all hoped and thought not today that the General goes on North towards Belvedere where Botha's or now Viljoen's army is, with what idea I cannot conceive as we are numerically only about 3000 or about same as Boers! They have 3 Long Toms, we only 2 5", which gun for gun are not their equal. If we manage to drive them, to what purpose? We hold the roads here; we certainly cannot expect to defeat and capture them, so with what object? Are we to trek to Leydsdorp and get into a hole? I trust not but it seems to me a curious move. I heard the General the other day send a telegram to say Boers had retreated in a "mob", all the same they seem to me to have fought good rearguard actions and certainly kept us from taking waggons or Long Toms or anything but what was stored. I wonder if Lord Roberts really knows true facts and thinks we have nothing to run our heads against. It seems to me a very strange thing and certainly contrary to the spirit of decentralisation recently preached at house by people in high places, now on the spot here, that a full General commanding Natal army which is scattered so far down as Newearth, should go right away from it with a matter of 3000 men when there is a capable Lt. General here with 2 Maj. Generals besides, instead of being somewhere central, as there is or may be to look after; apart from it being a trifle ignominious to the Lt. General (Lyttleton) and putting him altogether in a false position; what a strange thing it is people never practise what they preach, even in this very serious business of war but sometimes put personal consideration before others; perhaps a touch of obstinacy.

September 22nd

Still here and I suppose Comm. in Chief of Natal Army is going on commanding this "large" force; Gen Kitchener who went down to Nelspruit returned yesterday, says Lord Roberts goes home at once and Lord Kitchener going to India; fear we are in the cart, goodness knows when we shall get home, never I suppose, if we only keep going to command the various little forces which go out, rather sickening. Heat intense and most trying, feel perfect rag.

September 23rd

Shifted camp to east of Spitz Kop and presume we shall shortly start on our way North, seems to me a rotten move from any point of view and haven't met anyone yet who can explain it except that road back to Lydenberg via Pilgrim's Rest is supposed to be better than other but I hear it isn't, curious to see; in any case it is miles further, besides we had troops back towards Manchburg and only baggage for 2 regiments of infantry, Strathcona, 1 battery Artillery would have had to return all the way, the rest were already on their journey so to speak. Besides which it is quite on cards the Boers may be holding good position on the road and if we are unable to drive them, besides costing life, things would look very awkward. The. infantry soldiers are out of boots in many cases.

September 24th

Conway is arriving back from Nelspruit with 6 days supply, we had them 6 days ago and if move was to have been made should think it better to have done it then instead of wearing out men's boots and tiring arrivals for nothing. As it is our cavalry has moved to Labu R. drift, and most others here, the Manchburg being evacuated and re-occupied by certain amount of Boers.

September 25th

Move to Labu R. drift. Many scorpions and a few snakes round this country. All round her quite a fine country and seems to be rich in gold; the land mostly belongs to gold mining companies.

September 26th

Move at daylight, saw a few Boer outposts falling back and met with no opposition for some way. When we got to where road bends to the left towards Burghers Pass and Pilgrims Rest we saw Boers trekking right away North on Belvedere Road, about 700 of them with wagons and 2 guns, they offered no resistance, but firing began on our left front and eventually our M.I. got stick there in front of Burghers Pass, a very formidable position and unassailable except from left. (Badly handled by "Bimbash Stewart", men put on open slope to be shot at!). The R.H.A. came into action but it was very difficult to make out where firing came from. The Devons were sent up on the left and scaled the heights very well and at about 3.30 got on top of mountain on the left of pass; a very lucky thing for us the Boers were only few here as if they had held it with 600 to 1000 men I doubt very much if we could have taken it without incurring very large loss, if at all. Our baggage had to be brought down into a sort of basin under the Pass and would have been in a very nasty place if Boers had had guns, they only fired one, a pom pom that, could only fire one shot at a time. The country quite grand all round., great mountains, some falling perpendicularly down 1000 ft and over. We sat by the H.A. guns while Boers sniped which was a little useless I thought and a trifle dangerous, as certain little whisperings announced!

September 27th

Started out at 5.30am and everything was started up pass, very steep. The horse artillery had great trouble in getting up, our generous far-seeing Government not yet having supplied them with the proper horse gun; they still have the old 12pdr; also trailers don't pull up hill like ours. Looked on at baggage till dark and went down hill on other side about 3 miles where our camp was. The baggage didn't get up to top of hill till about 10pm. Our advanced people got into Pilgrim's Rest about 6 miles on, and were sniped at there.

September 28th

Started 5.30 and went along road to Pomerkraus, snipers reported about but we weren't shot at. Went as far as Camp there and then went into Pilgrim's Rest; (Road to Pomerkraus has no less than 9 drifts to get over, luckily no rain or couldn't have done it), gold mines all about and they say they are good; the workings round Pomerkraus belong to Transvaal Gold Mining Co. Commandeered 3 bottles of champagne from a former belligerent called Steyn and had lunch in hotel. The cavalry were sent in early morning up road or path running straight west on to Dorwhoek and they there turned North and turned about 50 Boers out of an unassailable position from us, at the top of very steep pass leading up from Pomerkraus to top of mountains; they collared about 3000 sheep, some cattle and 2 prisoners; a very good move as it made our road clear, the only one we could bring traffic up, very mountainous country. Steyn, expressly, was in Pilgrim's Rest on 22nd and a photo was shown us of him and about 10 other truculent-looking Boers which had been taken there. Gravett, who commanded this lot of Boers, left last night; they are apparently going to Obeigstaat en route North. Howard marches out of Lydenberg today I believe (did not do so Stopsford said) through Kruger's Post towards us.

September 29th

Started daylight and went up to top of mountain, about 5 miles, very steep and a deuce of a pull for guns and baggage. Very nice and fresh on top and grand scenery. I really am beginning to think the chance of going home is looming nearer.

September 30th

Stayed same place to give animals a rest, they are pretty well done, very lucky no rain "till now" though it looked very like it last night; we should have been hung up if there had been, and only about 2 days supplies left. I consider we have been extraordinarily lucky to have got here and cannot conceive why the risk of this march should have been run, nothing to gain and a great deal to lose. Air quite charming up here which is between 7000 and 8000 ft high.


October 1st

Started at daylight and marched to Krugersport. Brocklehurst and his cavalry with about 600 infantry and a battery of artillery occupied Kruger's Port yesterday, had a little fighting and enemy took some guns away West. We met with no opposition to speak of, a little sniping when we got to turn off the road fork. Bivouacced in some nice shady ground at school house.

About 4pm a Long Tom and a Howitzer opened fire on camp from ridge to our West, evidently guns which had gone before Brocklehurst yesterday and should have been driven away. They went on firing 'till about 5.30 and killed 2 S.A.L.H. and wounded 4 more, very unpleasant, At about 6.45 when dark and camp had lit fires, the howitzer began again and did a good deal of damage, killing one officer in Devons and wounding some more S.A.L.H. and doing for 20 horses. (Another officer dangerously, 7 or 8 bullets and thigh broken, going on well). Sat down to dine under fire, Brocklehurst and Myndham dining, glad to say they stopped at about 7.30.

A party of volunteers from Brocklehurst's lot and some guides went up about 11pm to try and capture guns, heard next morning that they found guns gone when they got there. The infantry might easily and so could the cavalry have moved out of range but suppose they thought it too much trouble or else would not take initiative having thinking they ought to ask the General first. Artillery only people who had sense to do it.

October 2nd

Marched into Lydenberg, got very nice little house and good garden with plenty of roses round edge and some vegetables belonging to one Pentnow, a prisoner in Pretoria; Stayed some place thundered and lightening last night and most of this morning; very wet and rather cold.

October 4th

Charming day, best I've known in S.A. Got 3 mails day before yesterday of Aug. 17,24 and 31st. Truculent looking Boer woman wife of Schoemann, head Boer this commando camp to ask General to let her go out see her husband. General let her! and shook hands, a beastly woman.

October 5th

Hurrah, thank Heaven the General announced at breakfast this morning that we started back tomorrow to Machendodorp en route for England and with luck we may catch the mail from the Cape on the 24th; it's almost too good to be true and I shan't feel out of the wood 'till we get on the sea.

October 6th

Started at 8.30, troops in Lydenberg lining the road and cheering, the same men that did the same at Ladysmith. They looked fine and healthy and very different to what they were then. Gen. Lyttleton takes command of the line from Middleberg to Lydenberg, Generals Howard and Kitchener left behind, also Brocklehurst. S.A.L. H., Strathconas and some M.I. and A Battery R.H.A. come with us as far as Machendodorp. Bivouac at Badfontein close to where we were before. Beastly stuffy hot valley here. Dead cattle and horses all along road. Fellow called Turner in R.B. bought my cream pony for which I gave for it £26.

October 7th

Marched to close to Helvetia. Tremendous gale of wind in afternoon. Davidson in Inniskillings commands post at Badfontein, used to be pal of mine in Singapore; he got shot right thro' head at Pieter's, then lay between the two fires for 36 hours, was sent home and got out again before we left Paadekop.

October 8th

Marched to Machadodorp. Road all the way strewn with dead oxen etc; arrived about 9am and found Gen. French and staff just got there. Handed over all hired horses, lunched with French and then took train and we got as far as Belfast. Engine ran out of water and we stopped close to the Kopje at Bergendal; had a look at position North of line which Pole Carew had in front of him, very strong and trenches ingeniously placed.

October 9th

Started at 5am and reached Pretoria about 2pm. Gen. Stopsford, Miles and Trotter went to Grand Hotel, Lees and I to cavalry Hd Quarters where Miller (Greys) put us up; his servant shook mine warmly by the hand, found he had been at Faxton some years ago with Adams. Saw a great many chaps I knew in Pretoria, dined at club and had Miller to dinner.

October 10th

Settled train and take General's and other horses etc. down to the Cape. Hear line blown up last night and some men killed and taken prisoners at Vlanlangte on Natal line last night. Gen. goes that way tonight. A train just behind us ran off line yesterday, not altogether safe travelling. Miss Roberts sent over to me asking me to go and see her, which I did of course to tell her about her brother. Lees and self dined with intelligence (H......., Furse, Forestier-Walker); took our own last 4 bottles champagne.

October 11th

Started 12.30 for the Cape, reached Viljoens Drift at dark and stayed night. Only one 2nd class carriage put on for Cape; train arrangements shocking at Pretoria; had a bit of a row with 'em. Found a saloon put on at Elandsfontein, which tried to get. Capman said belonged to Gen. Manager and has orders to return safely. Had several goes at him thro' Station staff officer and at last prevailed and we slept in it and also took a man called Paget (of Somerby, Leicester), in with us.

Hear line whipped up at Bethuline.

October 12th

Started off early about five, and got to Kronstadt at 11.30am. when we wasted nearly two hours as train stopped by line being broken in two places last night between that and Bloemfontein, also telegraph for 3 miles. Went on about 10 miles and have now been standing still for 3 hours. Got as far as Ventenburg having passed over the breaks, and saw telegraph down for about 3 miles. Saw commandant who said a commando of 1500 men was reported to West and about 500 to East with 2 guns; reinforcements came down in our train for him, attack not improbable.

October 13th

Move off at daylight and not sorry to leave, reached Bloemfontein at about 3. Got a bath etc and went to see Col. Long, who is commandant; dined with him and had long talk over Colenso; he is quite right now in spite of his wounds, (bullet went thro' right arm, lungs and liver). From intelligence received, things look uncomfortable for our journey tomorrow. Small parties of Boers all over the place and they killed an officer and took 5 men near Jagersfontein Road.

October 14th

Reached Norvalls Post, thank goodness, now we can run at night; we were quite defenceless so it was not quite a comfortable journey as really one felt it would have been very easy for them to take us, feel we are fairly set for home at last. I think the O.R.C. one of the most godforsaken looking countries I've ever seen, nothing but a great flat waste, little herbage and all brown and dusty.

Pity the poor devils left behind on lines of communication. A young officer came into our carriage at Jaggersfontein Road to ask if any news, seemed to be rather concerned, they evidently were having an anxious time there; Boers who shot the officer the day before sent in an impertinent and brutal note with the men they released: saying "we have caught five of your sheep and killed one"; I hope they will soon get the brutes, the line really is very unsafe.

October 15th

Woke up and found we were just leaving DeAar.; I wish I could have got out and seen my dear friend Costy Graine but couldn't; how I wish he were with me now. Oh well, it's not to be.

October 16th

Left Town's R. Station at 7am and got into Cape Town after many annoying waits, at about 9pm. The country from Hex River all the way down is charming, grand and picturesque and the green quite beautiful and abundance of flowers; the mountain tops were just covered with snow which adds much to the beauty; I must say our two old colonies but for the gold are far the nicest. Go to Mt. Nelson Hotel.

October 17th

The luxury of sleeping in decent sheets and the getting of a real nice large hot bath in the morning beggars description.

 

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Category: Victoria Cross
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