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Tour South Africa

Vryburg 7-11 May 1902

The Australian Brigade was part of Lt Gen Sir Ian Hamilton Amy assembled at Klerkdorp to march against the Boer General de la Rey.

“As with the hand-to-hand advances in the Free State three months earlier, his columns scrutinised every kilometre of ground, and when they halted at night the soldiers guarded their wagons, dug trenches, rolled out barbed wire, built miniature redoubts, fixed bayonets, and went on sentry duty. No clothing was removed, not even boots; every man had to be ready to ride or fight at any moment. Local Boers tried driving cattle through the wall but, unlike at Langverwacht, they could not break through. Yet the flanks were open, and hundreds slipped away to the north. More might have escaped had Hamilton not spread false intelligence, and burned the veld one night to prevent the Boers seeing gaps in his bivouac fires. The army, not the Boers, now ruled the veld, and the real enemy was lack of water and lack of sleep.” Ref No. 88 p 339

11 May 1902 Australian Mtd Troops Reached Blockhouse at Devondale Siding, Western Railway. Sth African Boer War

Lt Gen Hamilton Columns, including the Australian Bde led by Lt Col de Lisle, reached the blockhouses that flanked the western Railway link to Mafeking.

“Although most Boers in the region had escaped, hundreds were trapped and faced with the choice of surrender or death. By afternoon the drive was over, and more than three hundred Boers had been swept up including one of de la Rey’s brothers. Only one Boer had been killed, and no Australian soldier had even been wounded.”

Australian Mounted Troops Involved Included:

1st Aust Commonwealth Horse
2nd Aust Commonwealth Horse

Reference:Wilcox, Craig. Australia’s Boer War. The War In South Africa 1899-1902. Oxford University Press in conjunction with AWM, Australia, 2002, ISBN 0 19 551637 0 p339


Major John Baines

© National Boer War Memorial Association Inc ABN 29 293 433 202