The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra
|The Diary of Trooper Frederick Edwards|
Diary of 349 Trooper FH Edwards Fifth South Australian Contingent (Imperial Bushmen)
The Contingent comprising 23 Officers 296 NCO’s and men, with 292 horses left the wharf, Port Adelaide, on Saturday February 9, 1901, on the 'Troopship Ormazon' for Cape Town, South Africa, the scene of the Anglo Boer war declared October 11, 1899, terminating June 1, 1902
We anchored off the Semaphore at 18:00 until Sunday 10 February 1901, to the great disappointment of all the troops on board. A number of relatives and friends came out in launches, but were not allowed on board. Started the long voyage at 14:30.
Monday 11 February 1901: About half our number turned up for breakfast, the remainder being seasick, as the ship was rolling heavily in a rough sea. During 'stables' one unfortunate man had his leg broken through a kick from a horse. The horses behaved splendidly, and soon settled down to the rolling of the ship.
Tuesday 12 February 1901: Very rough sea, had to slow down and at times barely moved, during the 24 hours we progressed 27 kilometres. Hear that we shall have to call at Albany for water and provisions. Nothing of note occurred until we reached Albany.
Saturday 16 February 1901, At breakfast time. The transport 'Cornwall', with the New Zealanders on board was anchored in the harbour, and as we slowly steamed past them, the troops cheered one another. Shortly after breakfast the Victorian Transport 'City of Lincoln' entered the harbour and anchored close by. Several other steamers came in during the day, making the harbour look very busy. At 14:00 half our number went on shore, paraded several of the streets, and then dismissed for an hour. No cheering greeted us and everything was very quiet. The town and surroundings are very pretty, especially from the harbour. Arrived back at the ship at 16:30 when the rest went ashore. They came back after tea many of them with a 'load up' (drunk), numerous rows and fights in the different messes, 10 were put in the guard room, and afterwards 'tried', and sentenced to 2 hours 'pack drill' every day before breakfast until the end of the voyage. This spoilt the day's outing, also our chance of going ashore again, while in the harbour. The 'Cornwall' had on board 17 Officers, 560 men and 580 horses. 'City of Lincoln' 4 Officers and 52 men, in charge of a number of horses, the Victorian Transport 'Argus' with 52 men in charge of 470 horses came in on Tuesday evening 18th and left Wednesday 19th. We steamed out at 08:15 on 20 February 1901 after staying four long weary days, everyone was glad when they heard the anchor being hauled up. Just at the entrance to the harbour we passed the 'Orient’ with 1200 troops on board mostly Victorians, we were within hailing distance, and cheered loudly as we passed one another, not having horses aboard she was beautifully clean, quite a treat to see, much different to our boat. We lost 2 horses while in port, one had to be cut up, before it could be hauled up. As soon as we passed Breaksea Island, the boat started her rolling again, which soon upset a number of men. Land was kept in sight all day.
Saturday 23 February 1901: A very successful concert was held in the evening, all the items being well rendered. The mess deck was decorated with as many flags as could be found in the boat. Major Scriven acted as chairman.
Sunday 24 February 1901: Church parade at 11:00 conducted by Lieut Maurice. A row occurred between two of the Native crew, and not being satisfied with punching each other, drew knives and were not separated until one of them got a nasty cut on the arm.
Monday February 1901: Beautiful day with a calm sea . Rifle practice was held on the poop during the afternoon, at boxes which were thrown over at intervals. Some excitement was caused among the troops, when a shoal of flying fish, flew out of the water. At dinner time pickled ox tongue was served out, it was certainly very 'strong' and when the 'Officer of the Day' on asking men if there were 'any complaints', was shown four tongues tied with rope to the gangway, he walked around them, but holding his nose. There was nothing better for the troops, so we had to make the best of it. As for myself I fared better, being one of four orderlies to look after the Sergeants, 31 in number, who have a separate mess.
Tuesday 26 February 1901: Broke nice and fine, but towards evening banks of dark clouds loomed up in the west, bringing along a heavy downpour of rain , with strong wind, causing a sea, that had the boat rolling nicely by tea time. Just after we had started to clean up after tea, the boat was brought “to the wind” causing her to give a few extra heavy lurches; we had a bad time of it, as the table, on which stood all the plates etc, was turned upside down with two pans of scraps, all of which rolled backwards and forwards as the vessel rolled, and to make matters worse one of our orderlies who was carrying up a bucket full of slops, fell, and our mess being at the foot of the stairs, received the lot, making it in a nice mess, we all had a laugh and took it in good part. Extra piquets were put on, on account of the rough night.
Wednesday 27 February 1901: At 01:30 the ship's whistle sounded the alarm, but the only one who turned out was the Major, who thought that a man had fallen overboard. It was to alarm the piquets (who had all gone to sleep) to attend to a horse that had fallen down. In the afternoon we were instructed what to do in the case of a 'Fire' or 'Man Overboard'. Rough sea all day.
Thursday 28 February 1901: 26o42: S 90o7 E Boat still rolling heavily. No more washing to be done until further orders, short of water.
Friday 1 March 1901: Fine day, calm sea.
Saturday 2 March 1901: 26o39 S: 81o48E, 3,320 kilometres from Albany. Instructions on how and what to carry on horseback when in the field. Horse rug to be properly folded and placed under saddle on horses back, own blankets and WP Sheet on back of the saddle, overcoat and spare boots on pommel, change of clothes in offside wallet, curry comb, brush etc, near side, nosebag, shoe pouch, hanging from saddle. Another successful concert held in the evening, 28 items on the programme. During the night a heavy storm of rain came on suddenly, drenching all those who were sleeping on deck.
Sunday 3 March 1901: 26o 48 S: 78o1 E, 3,968 kilometres from Albany
Monday 4 March 1901: 26o45 S: 74o14 E, 3,968 kilometres from Albany. Heavy squalls of wing and rain during the day. One of the men, when ordered to do something by an Officer, refused to do so, he was told as to what the result would be, was put in the guardroom, and afterwards court martialled, sentenced to 12 hours pack drill, fatigues etc. During the afternoon, he fell from the pantry roof on to the main deck, and sustained concussion of the brain, and did not regain consciousness for several days. Early in the night, while most were sleeping on deck, a very heavy storm broke and everyone was wet through before they could scramble down the hatchway to find that the troop deck was flooded, there was nothing else to do but make the best we could by sleeping on the tables and forms for the rest of the night .
Tuesday 5 March 1901: Pouring with rain all the morning. No parades or inspections, between decks in a terrible mess, wet hammocks and blankets all over the decks. Rough sea, with waves continually breaking on board. Buckets, mess tins, plates careering from one side of the mess deck to another. Another man fell from the pantry roof on to the Vet Surgeon’s head, both had a severe shaking, but nothing serious
Wednesday 6 March 1901: 26o59S 67o 10 E 4592 kilometres from Albany. Ship rolling heavily, no trouble to get from one side to another, just balance, and slide over. Our table was again upset at breakfast, and a stew pan full of curry was spread all over the deck, causing a good laugh, and a nice mess. There is always plenty of cheering when anyone falls with a pan full of food.
Thursday 7 March 1901: Very heavy thunderstorm broke over us before breakfast, we watched it coming for fully half an hour, it was a grand sight, banks of black clouds rolling up, throwing their shadows on the water, and the wind lashing the calm sea into foam, shrieking through the rigging, the rain came down in torrents, completely flooding the mess decks. Soon after breakfast, we sighted a ship under full sail about 16 kilometres off our starboard bow. We altered our course and came up with her at 11:00, as we passed within about 150 metres from her, our 'mate' spoke through the speaking trumpet, and was asked to report the ship 'all well', it was 41 days out from Port Pirie, bound for Queenstown, south of Ireland, for orders; could see her name quite plainly, the ship 'Craigmore', she looked very nice indeed with all sail set. Mrs Walker (the Captains wife) took a photo of her as we passed, and our three trumpeters, saluted the ship with a call, after which all of us gave three cheers, answered by the crew of the 'Craigmor'”. Having seen nothing but sea for the last 15 days it was quite a novel and exciting time to see a ship in mid ocean. Rifle practice was held during the afternoon.
Friday 8 March 1901: 27o 35 S 59o42 E, 5,220 kilometres from Albany. On turning in at 21:30 it was beautifully fine, stars and moon shining brightly, there was also a pretty rainbow in the sky. The first I have seen at night. About 02:00 we were awakened, with rain pouring down on us, a number of us laid there, as it looked as if it would soon clear off, when everything was wet through, we dived down below in our shirts, to pass the remainder of the night on forms or wherever there was room without any blankets.
Saturday 9 March 1901: 29o42 S 55o42 E 5,558 kilometres from Albany. Fine day with smooth sea. In the afternoon the 'Dead Horse' was buried; on account of our being paid a month in advance, before we left our time is now up. A straw and canvas horse was made by some of the men on board. It was hauled up from below at 14:30 and mounted on it was the midget of the contingent. The procession started from the poop, the horse being carried in front, then came about 40 of the men in different costumes. Sergeant Edge the tallest man on board, in underpants, with as sack drawn over his shoulders was “Little Eva” . Lieutenant Ferguson as a Kaffir (dark skinned man) looked the best, in 'war paint'. After these came the rest of the men and marched to the Port side just forward of the 'bridge', where it was photographed by Mrs Walker. The 'Special Burial Service' was read, the 'first post' sounded, then a volley fired by 12 men, the 'last post' - volley - then the 'lights out' and another volley, the horse was then dropped overboard, amid great weeping and wailing. A minstrel concert was held in the evening and was a great success.
Sunday 10 March 1901: Church at 11:00. Calm sea.
Monday 11 March 1901: 27o13S 47o13 E. Raining heavily. Orders, that anyone wished could have a bath on deck, a great number took advantage of it. Camera in use.
Tuesday 12 March 1901: 28o35S 44o16E 6,534 kilometres. Vessel rolling heavily, in a rough sea. Showering best part of the day.
Wednesday 13 March 1901: 29o10 S 40o24E, 6,854 kilometres. Fine day, with smooth sea.
Thursday 14 March 1901: 29o59S 36o55 E, 7,171 kilometres. Raining during early part of the day, strong wind, with a moderate sea. Lecture in the evening on 'Scouting and Outpost Duty' by Capt Hipwell, (since deceased).
Friday 15 March 1901: 30o41S 33o 21E, 7,483 kilometres. Fine day, smooth sea. A drilling competition was held at 14:00, between each troop, 10 in number, 20 picked men to the troop, judged by Majors Scriven and Edwards. First prize C4 while C2 and ER2 tied for second place, they were drilled again, and the second prize was awarded to C2. I was among the picked for our troop D3 and we came fourth, but there was no fourth prize. There were only 6 points difference between the whole of the 10 troops. A number who had seen the Imperial troops drill, said that the drilling today was equal to that done by the home troops. The prizes were 10 pounds first, 4 pounds second 2 pounds third. Great interest was taken in the competition. Then during the evening the Health of the Officers and Sergeants in charge of the winning troops was drunk. There were numerous speeches.
Saturday 16 March 1901: 30 o 2 S 29o 40 E, 7,814 kilometres. Raining heavily before breakfast. 'Land Ahead' was shouted at 07:15 at which everyone rushed to where it could be seen. High, rugged land and about 40 kilometres off; we gradually drew neared in, and at dinnertime we were within 16 kilometres of the shore. The distance was narrowed considerably, and everything on shore could be seen distinctly. The country looking beautifully green. At 20:15 we passed East London, the lights from the town looking very pretty. Along this coast there is a '6.5 kph current', which is a great help to the boat, the sea is also a different colour. At tea time eggs were served out, and the noise made by the men, when anyone struck a “chicken”, was more like a huge farm yard than a troopship. There were numerous 'chickens'. During 'stables', a horse slipped under the lower rail of its stall, and fell to the bottom of the hold about 7 metres breaking its neck, several men who were below sending up fodder, had a very narrow escape from being killed. This makes the fifth horse that we have lost, very few considering the time they have been on board, and the little space for them.
Sunday 17 March 1901: 34o 05 S; 25o45 E; 8,198 kilometres miles. Strong head wind, and the heavy sea, kept continually breaking over the bow. Port Elizabeth was passed and signalled at 12 midday, could not distinguish the town on account of a haze over the land. Cape St Francis abreast at 18:00.
Monday 18 March 1901: Another very wet night. I did not wake up until wet through, went below and changed, passing the rest of the night, under a form, the only place I could find. Rough sea.
Tuesday 19 March 1901: Very high land in sight at sunrise, Strong wind, with a rough sea.
Passed “Cape of Good Hope” at 10:00, about 10 kilometres off. Sighted 'Table Mountain' at 11:00. The mountains along the coast are very rugged, and appear to be covered with low undergrowth. Anchored in 'Table Bay' at 1600 about half a kilometre from shore. There were over 60 vessels in the harbour, it was a grand sight. The town extend for over 5 kilometres along the lower land, near the beach, and also back towards the mountains. 'Table Mountain' looms up at the back of the town, to all appearance about a mile away, but is almost 8 kilometres from the water’s edge. On its right looking from the harbour, rises 'The Lion's Rump', and 'Signal Hill', which has a signal station at the top. Immediately after anchoring the Chief Transport Officer came off, and we heard that we were to leave for Port Elizabeth the next day, not being allowed to land here, on account of the plague. At night we witnessed a grand sight, the electric lights extending along the shore, Table Mountain shining out in the background, with the lights from the various vessels adding to the grandeur, making it a most magnificent sight.
Thursday 21 March 1901: We left Cape Town.
Saturday 23 March 1901: Arrived at Port Elizabeth.at 11:00. The work of unshipping the horses was started without delay, and the Kaffirs (dark skinner natives of Africa) who organised it had them all on board the lighters in a couple of hours. Kits etc were put into another lighter, and with the troops were towed to the jetty a short distance from the ship. The horses were trucked here, and the troops all served out with magazine rifles, bayonets, ammunition, mess tins, etc, etc. No one was allowed to leave the jetty. A number of ladies from the town, very kindly provided tea- cakes etc for us all, which was much appreciated.
In South Africa
At 18:30 we were all mustered and marched off to the railway station, a short distance from the jetty, here our train was waiting for us, 27 carriages and baggage truck, the horses etc were in a separate train, with a number of men to look after them. Before leaving, the ladies again provided tea for us. Orders that we must be ready in case of an attack, as the enemy had been troublesome along the line. We steamed out of the station at 20:15 amid great cheering. Very little sleep that night, all full of excitement. It was a beautiful clear night and we soon got into the hilly country, steep grades and sharp curves. Passing 'Barclay Bridge', Allansdale, we reached Ripon Bridge at 04:40 guarded by 'Marshall's Horse'.
Sunday 24 March 1901: At Middleton our baggage train caught us, and we had our days ration issued out to us, bully and biscuits. 'Witmoss', 236 kilometres from Port Elizabeth was reached at 11:30, very small place. There is a tunnel close to the station. 'Craddock' was reached at 15:15; the horses were taken out here, fed and watered. Left again at 18:30. Crossed the Fish River Bridge at 20:20, guarded by 40 men of the 4th Lancashires. They fairly rushed the train to hear the latest news. 'Noorew Pooryt Junction' was reached at 05:00.
Monday 25 March 1901: Another engine was put on the back of our train here. 'Arundle' was passed an hour later then 'Rensburg', reaching Colesburg Junction at 08:30. A number of large cases were seen on the platform here, and when it was found out that they contained pineapples, a general rush was made and the boxes were soon smashed open, and the contents taken into the carriages, a guard was placed over the boxes, but not until all the fruit had been taken away. The store owner, to whom they belonged, made a terrible fuss, but nothing came of it. He said that he would remember the Bushmen. At Norvals Pont we had breakfast. Horses were taken out and exercised. There is a garrison of 1,600 men here. Immediately after leaving the station, we crossed the long bridge over the Orange River and entered the Orange River Colony at 13:00 531 kilometres from Port Elizabeth. Springfonteen at 16:00. At Jaggersfonteen which we reached at 18:00, we passed a large Kaffir Location Camp, the inmates all turned out to see us. Bloemfontein was passed during the night
Tuesday 26 March 1901: At Virginia we crossed 'Grand River' 07:30. The country very bare of vegetation. Reached Kroonstad at 11:00. Everything was unshipped here, the horses first being fed and watered. Had to wait for the other train, which arrived at 18:30 before anything else could be done. The horses were then all picqueted, and the men except those on duty were allowed to sleep in the goods shed. It was very cold as we had neither overcoats or blankets.
Wednesday 27 March 1901: Very cold and frosty. All our gear was now packed on mule wagons, horses saddled; we then marched through the town, such as it is, to our camping ground, about 2 miles from the station . The “Tommies” were much amused at the way a number of our horses carried on. They had not forgotten the way to back, although they had been standing for 6 whole weeks, without a chance to lie down. On reaching our camp the horse lines were immediately put down. There being no tents 'Kipsies' were made out of our blankets. Most of us took advantage of a swim in the 'Valsch River' which flows at the foot of the rise on which we camped.
Thursday 2 March 1901: Spent the best part of the day, swimming and fishing. We had one great disadvantage, we had to carry the drinking water, from the well on the other side of the river to our camp, about two kilometres. Fresh meat issued out, first time for 7 weeks. Several accidents. One man had his arm broken, another accidentally shot in the foot.
Friday 29 March 1901: Very busy fetching out supplies, fodder etc from the depot
Saturday 30 March 1901: Mounted parade at 08:00 and marched to Kroonstad, where we were inspected by Maj Gen EL Elliot CB DSO. Very heavy rain, flooding several kipsies.
Sunday 31 March 1901: Mounted Parade at 10:00. The patrol which went out in the morning, returned during the afternoon, carrying a number of pigs, which had been 'commandeered'.
Monday 1 April 1901: Mounted drill now held daily. Fresh meat being rather scarce, night excursions take place, to several Kaffir Kraals in the vicinity, and generally result in a good haul of fowls etc.
Tuesday 2 April 1901: Very wet day
Wednesday 3 April 1901: River in flood. Col Bethuen’s column came in during the afternoon and camped near us. Sergeant Hamilton while trying to cross the river on horseback, was washed down stream and drowned. Estimated that the current was running at 30 kilometres per hour, a search party was sent down, but nothing found beyond his hat. He was quite a young fellow and liked by all. Several sheep were commandeered while watering at the river. Fared badly for bread, ours got 'lifted' from the kipsie.
Thursday 4 April 1901: Inspected by Col Bethuen. The patrol that went out in the afternoon exchanged shots with several Boers, who soon galloped away. Country here beautifully green, with numerous wild flowers.
April 5 April 1901: Good Friday Read out in daily orders, to commandeer everything, destroy all crops, household goods etc,. occupants to be sent to nearest station, male portion on commands to be taken prisoner of war, houses to be burnt down if any treachery shown, horses. Cattle etc to be brought in. Orders that 200 men to be ready to march at 6pm, after everything was packed the order was cancelled. This is a taste of what we are to get.
Saturday 6 April 1901: In the afternoon our troop was out with a transport for wood. While we were pulling down the doors etc from the farm, several men were sent out to round up some sheep , between the farm and the railway line, and were mistaken for Boers, by the men in a blockhouse who immediately opened fire on our men, who retired for the farm. Lieut Muir, our officer, immediately sent out another man with a white flag to the blockhouse, and explained matters, about 50 rounds were fired, but luckily no one was hit, they were only about 400 metres from the railway line. At 8pm orders to pack up, and be ready for marching, but it was again cancelled.
Easter Sunday 7 April 1901: At 13:00 we received orders to pack up, this time in real earnest, and punctually at 14:30 we were in the saddle, and marched through the town, until after dark, camped at 20:00 near a small spruit, all very tired and hungry.
Monday 8 April 1901: Marched at sunrise to 'Honnings Spruit' which we reached at 10am. We were joined here by Col H deB De Lisle (whom we were now under) 400 men of the 'Sixth Mounted Infantry' 2 guns of the 62nd Battery RFA, and one pom-pom A1 section, besides a number of transports etc etc.
Tuesday 9 April 1901: Left at 09:00 for Rhenoster Kop 16 kilometres west of the line, the scene of several fights during the early stages of the war. We saw a number of the enemy who were shelled by the guns. There were no casualties on our side. At a farm close by we made short work of a number of geese, fowls etc, which were much appreciated when we arrived back at camp, about dark. Remained in camp until 11th.
Thursday 11 April 1901: We moved out at 03:00, taking with us 2 guns. A number of the horses not being used to the holes in the ground, came down, rider and all. At sunrise we halted at an unoccupied farm, and from here a number of Boers were shelled by the pom-pom. Four of our men who had been sent out on 'Observation Post' and were surprised by a party of Boers, one was wounded, the others captured, but allowed to go, after handing over rifle etc arrived back at Honnings Spruit at 14:00.
Friday 12 April 1901: Struck camp and left at 7am for 'Langs Hill', reached at 10:00 and camped here for the night. We reached “Rhenoster River”.
Sunday 14 April 1901: Crossed the river, camping for the remainder of the day at 'De Wets Farm' which is about two kilometres from the Rhenoster Railway station.
Monday 15 April 1901: Slight skirmish with a party of the enemy, one of our horses was shot. Camped at Olivier's Farm. Spent one of the worst nights in South Africa, on outpost duty at a spruit, and was almost eaten alive by mosquitoes
Tuesday 16 April 1901: Halted until 15:00, when we struck camp and marched until after dark.
Wednesday 17 April 1901: Arrived back at Olivier's Farm. From here we sent 20 wagons, full of refugees, and a number of cattle and sheep were also driven to the station. Camped until 19th.
Friday 19 April 1901: Marched at 07:00 and camped shortly after dinner time.
Saturday 20 April 1901: Reached ‘Bredefort Road'.
Sunday 21 April 1901: Reached Rhenoster, where we remained until 24th.
Wednesday 24 April 1901: Marched at the usual hour, and camped at “Roudevaal”. We received our mail here.
Thursday 25 April 1901: 'Tulbah'.
Friday 26 April 1901: Our D squadron was right flank and about 09:00 when near a large farm our scouts were fired on from the farm, then while our troop was busily engaged, the other troops (3) were engaging about 80 Boers on a kopje to our right, after about half an hour continuous firing, 16 Boers rushed away from the farm, and joined the rest of them now on a ridge. We were kept busy for about another 2 hours. Had 2 men wounded, including one from our troop, and nine horses were also shot. Another man in our troop had a lucky escape, a bullet cut away the rim of his hat. We received no assistance from the column, as they had changed direction, and were about 11 kilometres off. Joined them at 16:30. We had a splendid dinner, roast fowl, duck, turkey, mutton, pork, potatoes, tomatoes, spring onions, quinces and eggs, which we made short work of.
Saturday 27 April 1901: Marched at 07:00 the advance guard, being continually fired on; while the guns were kept busy; we being 'main Body' had several gallops with them. Camp at 14:00. Wet night.
Sunday 28 April 1901: Boers troublesome on the left flank kept firing at us, but kept at a distance. Heard at Kaffir kraal, that a Boer convoy of 34 wagons had passed there early in the morning. On outpost until 06:00 on
Monday 29 April 1901: When 100 men with pom-pom left camp to escort a convoy with provisions back from Col Bethuen’s column, then about 20 kilometres off. Coming back we secured a large number of chooks etc from different farms, and were fortunate enough to find some sugar, the first and only time while in South Africa. Also found some honey and butter.
Tuesday 30 April 1901: Very wet. Halted early for the day at a very nice farm
Wednesday 1 May 1901: Camp struck at 07:00 and marched until 11:30, when we had a midday halt until 13:00. Our squadron was then sent out some miles on the right flank, we heard that there was a convoy in the vicinity. We found an abandoned wagon, fully loaded, which was burnt where it stood, also destroyed several farms and a quantity of “mealies’ . We reached the 'Wilge River' at dark, crossed over the big bridge, into the town of 'Frankfort' to find the column camped on a rise, at the back of the town,
A number of Boers were in the town when the column arrived, but soon cleared out after a few shells were fired at them.
Thursday 2 May 1901: At 04:00, 400 men with 3 guns left camp. It was bitterly cold and foggy. After we got through the rough hills, we had a good gallop for some distance, when crossing a spruit on what I thought was hard ground, my horse sank down in mud so deep that the flaps of the saddle were covered, but with the assistance of several others and a shovel we dug him out. At about 11:00, we came up with a number of Boers on some rough kopjes, we kept on , but were continually shelling them. A couple of hours later on, wagons were sighted, and 17 were captured, the men who were with them clearing in all directions. One armed prisoner was captured in a mealie field, who fired at a Captain of the 6 MI at 40 metres missing him. We covered 64 kilometres during the day, and the remainder of the Boer convoy was left to Gen Broadwood to chase, who was about 13 kilometres off on our right.
Friday 3 May 1901: Our squadron advance guard, No 3 troop, being 'right advance' soon after leaving camp, the right flank was engaged, from some kraals on a small kopje, these were charged by 2 companies of the 6 MI under shell fire, the enemy did not stay long. All the morning we were busily engaged on all sides, and it was estimated that there were 500 Boers around us, several times our troop had to charge kopjes on which there were Boers, being as close as 200 metres, we lost 2 horses, no soldiers were hit, yet the bullets kept cutting up the ground all round the horses, this continued until midday, when we arrived at 'Tafel Kop'. It was said that the guns, including the pom-pom, fired 800 shells. The campo was pitched at the foot of the 'Kop'. We were outpost at a farm that night, and one of the Officers when visiting was fired on and had a narrow escape.
Saturday 4 May 1901: On 'Observation Post' until 19:30 when we were relieved. Being short of rations the column halted for the day.
Sunday 5 May 1901: Moved at 03:30, just after leaving camp, a very heavy fog came on and after waiting for it to clear off for several hours, it was decided to camp at a farm close by for the remainder of the day. Our convoy which we left at Frankfort arrived during the afternoon. Two of the guns which were posted on a kopje opposite Tafel Kop were kept busy, by a party of Boers who kept hanging about some kraals some distance from the camp. Double issue of rations at night.
Monday 6 May 1901: Left with a party of men, and a gun to go foraging, and brought several loads of hay etc also a quantity of fowls, pigs etc QMS Schumann while out looking for a mule that has been lost, was overtaken by some Boers outside the outpost, fired on and killed. He was unarmed. Was buried that afternoon, near the spruit, which runs at the foot of the camp. At about 22:00, the outposts were fired on, we were all turned out, and lay in the cold for an hour or more, no more alarm, so we returned to our beds
Tuesday 7 May 1901: Column halted for the day. At 02:30 a large patrol went out, saw a number of enemy after sunrise Shots were exchanged, but no damage done as far as we could see.Returned at 11:00 and remained in camp until 06:00 on
Thursday 9 May 1901: when our squadron was to escort the refugees, captured wagons etc. After a bout a six or eight mile ride we handed them over to the escort of a provision convoy which was for our column. At 19:30 our troop with some more men making the number up to 30, under Lieut Muir, left the camp in dead silence to try and capture a Boer outpost that had been seen all day, on a kopje about 4 miles from the camp. Myself and 3 others acted as scouts and we had great difficulty in finding the farm near which the Boers had been seen, we had numerous fences and spruits to cross. It was very dark and cold. We were very cautious on nearing the farm, but found no one there, although a number of turkeys and geese, were very alarmed at us and I think gave warning to the outpost at our approach. We left our horses here in charge of a few men. Crept through a mealie field, sometimes on our knees to the kopje, about a mile from the farm, on reaching the top we found that the piquet had gone, although they left a pair of field glasses and some turnips freshly peeled. Returned to the farm, which we reached at 23:30 and those not on watch had ¾ of an hours sleep, on the filthy floors of the farm. We were again on the move at 1am and reached the column which was moving at 02:30 on
Friday 10 May 1901: We marched all night, very sleepy, and halted at sunrise for half an hour, camping at dinner time. The rear guard and right flank were engaged several times during the morning, and had several wounded, also a few captured, but not until all their ammunition had been fired..
Saturday 11 May 1901: Very cold and frosty. Rear guard again in trouble. Several casualties.
Sunday 12 May 1901: Our squadron on the right flank. During the morning everything was very quiet , and we saw what we thought was a troop of our own men, crossing our front some distance ahead, we gradually approached the ridge, where these men went to, and were within about 300 metres when we were surprised at getting a crashing volley at us, we soon got to cover but not before we had one man hit and 2 horses shot in our troop. We camped shortly after at Tweefontain.
Monday 13 May 1901: During the day the Sixth Contingent (6 SAIB) joined us from Standerton bringing with them a provision convoy. We remained camped until 07:00.
Wednesday 15 May 1901: Passing the deserted town of Vrede on our right. The right flank was continually being fired at, our troop being engaged several times. At a farm where we camped, we found a large quantity of goods buried in a spruit.
Thursday 16 May 1901: Camped at 'Tweyfel Hoek'.
Friday 17 May 1901: Camped at 'Storm Hoek”
Saturday 18 May 1901: Reached 'Waterval', very cold.
Sunday 19 May 1901: Column remained camped all day. Left in the morning with 200 men to escort refugees and a large quantity of stock to Newcastle (Natal). About 13 kilometres from Waterval we crossed the border into Natal, then over the Drakensberg Mountains by way of 'Bothas Pass' We could see “ Amajuba Hill” on our left. Handed our convoy over several miles from the town, and returned to the pass where we halted for dinner. Joined the column at dark.
Monday 20 May 1901: Charged several high kopjes on foot during the morning, and on reaching the top found that the “birds” had flown just as well as we were thoroughly exhausted when we reached the top. Reached “Mowbray” at dark, and immediately sent to the top of the kopje, on outpost, two of us came down for rations later in the evening, but had difficulty getting back as we had lost the one and only track.
Tuesday 21 May 1901: Reach 'Wet Kopjes' which were said to be in possession of a large force of Boers. We charged these, under cover of our guns, which were shelling over our heads. The scenery among these kopjes is very beautiful Cornelia River was reached before dark, and was frozen over, a number of us walked across in parts, on the ice. Passed a very cold night, but was lucky enough to have plenty of wood, which we secured from a farm close by.
Heavy firing on our right flank, we had several wounded; whilst several Boers were unsaddled. Pass through very rough, hilly country cross the Mile River at Kranz Drift where we remained for the night.
Thursday 23 May 1901: Long march to Harrismith, which we reached late in the afternoon. Our rear guard had several wounded and 4 captured. Camped some distance from the town, near the main blockhouse on the Bethlehem Road.
Halt for the day and those not on duty were allowed leave to go into the township, which is very prettily situated at the foot of 'Platberg', a long flat mountain, which is at the back of the town. Harrismith has a population of 450 whites and 1,100 blacks, and is strongly garrisoned. We all spent a very enjoyable day in town.
Saturday 25 May 1901: After getting our supplies, we left at 8am and camped again about 8 miles from the town. A number of Boers were seen on our left flank and the Yeomenry who were on the flank got into a corner. We were immediately sent out with a gun, which soon despatched the enemy. The Yeomanry had 5 casualties. Soon after camping, the enemy set fire to long grass, and the strong wind which prevailed at the time soon swept down on the camp. Everyone was ordered out with blankets, but it broke through in one part , and swept through the right front of the camp, burning a number of the tents, belonging to the Officers. From this out we burnt a stretch of grass around the camp.
Sunday 26 May 1901: At 02:00 100 South Australians left camp for bridges crossing the Mollen (Mill) River. The fifth went to one bridge, while F squadron (The Sixth Contingent) went to another. We reached ours at daybreak hands and feet numbed with the cold. This was the coldest night I felt while in the country. Our horses were placed under the bridge, while we prepared ourselves to ambush any Boers who might come along. Just at daylight, a horseman was seen approaching from our rear, one man challenged him, but got no answer so fired and dropped him off his horse, he was horrified to find that he was one of own men, Trooper Bennier, who was acting as scout to A squadron, who had missed the road to the bridge that they were to go to and were returning to join us. We afterwards heard that 40 Boers crossed the bridge where they should have been.
Monday 27 May 1901: We arrived at “Kaffirstad’. Trooper Bennier was buried in the afternoon near the River Cornelia.
Tuesday 28 May 1901: Boers engaged the advance guard from some rough ridges, the South Australians were ordered out and charged the ridge, under cover of the pom-pom. A man slightly wounded. Continual sniping at the flanks. Just as the column was camping, our squadron in advance, was crossing a heavy mealie patch when we were suddenly fired on from a farm close by, got out of the heavy ground as quickly as we could and got cover. It was wonderful that not a horse or man was hit, and yet from about 300 metres from the farm. Very large outpost that night, and several times a few shots were fired.
Wednesday 29 May 1901: Our squadron being outpost for the night, were rear guard, and No 23 troop was the last to leave. We had not gone far when we were again fired at from the rear. We immediately galloped to a kopje on our left front dismounted, and opened fire on the coming Boers. The remainder of the squadron came back to our assistance. Another party of about 100 Boers galloped up under cover of the smoke from a grass fire, and joined their friends who were now in a donga. A gun was sent to our assistance, but later in the morning was taken in towards the column, as it was almost captured at one time. The country was rough, and the gunners waited too long before limbering up. F Squadron bringing us some more ammunition, came back as reinforcements, also 1 company of the 6th MI. During the whole of the morning we were busy with the enemy and galloped first from one ridge then onto the next. We halted half an hour for dinner. During the afternoon the grass was fired on the left flank, the wind being strong, carried it flames along at a great rate and we, the rear guard, were nearly cut off, as it was we had to gallop for a mile or more, through blinding smoke, heat and dust. After this we went along in quietness. And after a long, weary, hard days marching, we reached the town of Vrede at 17:00. All the troops being allowed to camp in the houses for the night.
Thursday 30 May 1901: Halt for the day. Also had a good look through the town (deserted). In many houses it looked as if the people had just left, all the furniture being there, pianos and organs. Four of us occupied the parson's house (Rev AJ Griffin) opposite the fine Reform Church, which had a splendid gallery and a good organ, which was made use of while we camped there. We had spring mattresses, settees etc and also had a nice stove to cook on. Spent a good part of the day cooking. Made a plum duff (but no plums)and boiled it in a blue handkerchief that we found, and were disappointed at taking it out of the saucepan, to find that the dye had taken to the pudding, never the less it went high with some jam at tea time.Very heavy thunderstorm, during the evening. After tea we had a “musical evening” in the “front room”. Sergeant Leach taking the chair. We had a good issue of rum, and what with a bottle of gin, that we had given to us, we had a very enjoyable time. At 9.30 an on
Friday 31 May 1901: At 09:30 we had short notice of half an hour to have everything packed and be on the move, needless to say we did it. Soon after starting, the sniping again started , at times with great vigour.
Saturday 1 June 1901: Right flank heavily engaged, the three guns were in action, but the enemy was not to be shifted by shells. The South Australians were ordered out to charge the ridge. With Capt Watt at our lead, we rushed madly across about two kilometres of open ground, to the ridge, up which we rushed, only to find our 'friends' about 150 in number, just mounting the top of the next ridge beyond. Terribly cold day.
Sunday 2 June 1901: Freezing all day. Did not shift camp until late in the morning, and then only about a mile. Remained there, expecting a convoy, until 8am
Tuesday 4 June 1901: A party of Boers kept following the rear guard all the morning but did no damage. Camped at Woodade(?). The convoy arrived during the afternoon with a reinforcement of 500 IY’s and 2 guns of O Battery RHA (12 pounders)
Wednesday 5 June 1901: Pom-Pom did splendid work in the advance guard, where the enemy were very troublesome. Halted at midday for an hour, when news was brought in of a Boer convoy ahead. D squadron was told off from the main body to go ahead, and after a 10 kilometre gallop we reached the Wilge River and crossed at Stale Drift, we here sighted some wagons, and a mile further on caught and turned them back, there were 9 wagons and several carts, loaded with flour and wheat mostly. We halted at some kraals, while the wagons were being sent back. There were numerous Boers, continually firing, mostly from the other side of the river. The party at the kraal where I was had no officer of our own, but an English Officer who was there, ordered us not to return fire. Shortly after the order came for us to retire and from the kraal to the ridge where we had to go, we got it hot. Needless to say we did not take long to reach the ridge, where we joined the rest of our men and were safe. Recrossed the drift at dark; several of the wagons had to be burnt, on account of them breaking down. Rejoined the column at 21:00. Horses and men both very tired.
Thursday 6 June 1901: At 04:00 F and E half squadrons with a few MI’s making in all about 120 men, left camp to go in chase of the remainder of the convoy, the tail end of which we captured last evening. Our squadron was sent out at 06:00 to bring in several families, some distance back. It was a terribly cold morning and we had a bad time in getting the wagons over a drift. We rejoined the column which had halted at a drift, crossing the river at about 10:00. We then acted as rear guard, and were very busy all morning. We missed one splendid chance but not our fault. We had halted on a ridge to allow the column to get on ahead when a party of about 80 horsemen rode along the foot of the ridge at about 300 metres range, they all wore greatcoats, one officer said he was sure they were Boers, but another said they were IY’s and would not let us fire, they rounded a kopje and we heard from them showing they, showing they were not IY’s. During the afternoon we got news back at the rear guard, that the party who left camp that morning had been cut up. Did not hear particulars until we reached camp after dark, where everything was all excitement. The convoy had been captured by our men, with scarcely any firing, it was 'laagered up', so we were told, and a party of about 400 men were seen approaching, taken to be men from the column, as a relief, the mistake was not found out until too late . A fierce fight resulted at close quarters resulting in loss of life to both sides. The convoy again fell into the hands of the Boers, and was recaptured by a reinforcement coming up from the column, who chased the enemy some distance, the pom-pom again doing excellent work. We camped about a 1.5 kilometres from the scene of the disaster. 'Graspan'
Friday 7 June 1901: Was over at the scene, with the remainder of the squadron, and the sight was one I shall never forget. Our own dead were laying in one long line, while those of the enemy in another. They were all placed in wagons. Number of wagons many of them broken, while others had dead and dying bullocks in the yokes, dead horses lying everywhere, the contents of the wagons, clothes, beds etc, scattered all about. The rifles, ammunition etc was burnt, along with the clothes, and the wagons. Reached deserted town of Reitz about dinner time. The dead were buried in the cemetery during the afternoon. A number of wounded Boers were found in the houses of the town, being too bad to be taken by their own people.
Saturday 8 June 1901: Moved early in the morning. Our column now almost 10 kilometres long. The rear guard had a long, weary day.
Sunday 7 June 1901: Long march to Lindley, another deserted town, which was reached in the afternoon. Our prisoners were handed over to Col Lowe’s column which was camped to the north of the town.
Monday 10 June 1901: Camp was shifted about 3 kilometres out of town.
Tuesday 11 June 1901: At 03:00 400 men with 2 guns, the same number from Col Lowe’s column moved out of camp and marched without halting until midday, when we halted for two hours. A number of Boers were seen, and 5 were captured, with 7 wagons, 3 of them being loaded with flour. We found a number of wounded Boers from Graspan at the different farms. Passed through Lindley after dark, and joined the column camped at Stentefontein at 21:00 all thoroughly knocked up, having covered a little over 100 kilometres.
Wednesday 12 June 1901: camped at Tweefontein.
Thursday 13 June 1901: Heavy rifle and shell fire, several of the enemy killed, while a couple of their wounded were picked up and brought to camp. A large number of cattle were captured, our troop alone bringing in over 2,500 pounds worth. Camped at Bleisbokfontein at midday. Was killing sheep all afternoon, several thousand were killed.
Friday 14 June 1901: Enemy troublesome. The IY’s who were on the left flank, were driven in and had to be reinforced. Official report of losses to the Boers received at Granspan on 6 June. 16 killed 6 wounded (left on field) 44 prisoners, 71 wagons, 43 other vehicles 77 rifles, 7,000 rounds small arms ammunition, 4,250 cattle 3,500 sheep, 92 women, 342 children and 29 natives.
Saturday 15 June 1901: We were rear guard, and before we had left our position, the enemy started sniping at us. After leaving we doubled back, meeting the Boers, who were coming towards us, all the rear guard being now engaged for about half an hour, a big gun also assisting us. They followed us all morning. Lat in the day we camped at Kroonspruitt, 8 kilometres from Kroonstad, where we remained until 17 th.
Monday 17 June 1901: when Lord Kitchener Commander in Chief of the British Forces in South Africa, reviewed the whole of our division, about 10,000 mounted men, and 30 guns, on the flat a few kilometres from Kroonstad. The 'March past' was a brilliant spectacle, and Lord Kitchener expressed great satisfaction at the soldierly appearance of the men and horse. Also for the splendid work we had done. Our losses received at Graspan on June 6 were 27 killed including 8 Australians and 20 wounded.
Saturday 22 June 1901: After having thoroughly refitted etc we left Kroonspruit at 09:00 with Colonels Lowe and Broadwood's columns working on our right, and Bethuens on our left. We camped late in the afternoon, having seen a number of enemy who did not trouble us. Nothing of importance happened until 24th.
Monday 24 June 1901: After marching about 20 kilometres, camp was pitched, for the night we thought. But just when 'turning in', the order came for everything to be packed and be ready to move at 20:00. This was done amidst the usual and seasonable cursing, which always happens on a night march. Punctually at 20:00 the column moved, with the usual orders, no smoking, no talking, no lights to be lit, no noise of any kind to be made. We marched until 02:00 when we halted for an hour, the convoy was now left in charge of a number of men, the remainder moving on with the guns until daybreak when we halted on the river bank close to the deserted town of Tenckal supposed to be in the possession of De Wet, Steyn and their commando. It was immediately surrounded, and the South Australians charged at daylight, about 05:00 on
Tuesday 25 June 1901: we went through the town at a mad gallop, to the other side of the town to find it was deserted, except for several families of Kaffirs, who told us that De Wet had slept near the town that night, but had been warned of our coming, his scouts had seen lights lit by our men, and had left about 2 hours before our arrival. We camped for the remainder of the day in the houses. The church which stands in the centre of the town has a splendid pipe organ, but I am sorry to say was of not much use when the column left the town. There is also a fine clock in the church tower. “Broadwoods” Column, arrived during the evening and camped on the outskirts of the town
Wednesday 26 June 1901: Halted for the day. A concert was held in the church yard during the evening. A huge bonfire was lit in the centre, made of from fixtures, counters, chairs etc from the shops. We had a crowded house and the most successful concert we had in South Africa, it concluded with all hands singing the National Anthem.
Thursday 27 June 1901: Marched at 08:00 camping again early in the afternoon, finishing the remainder of the day killing sheep. Report of captures during the last trek. Boers killed 45 prisoners 94. Wagons captured 211, Carts etc 89. Rifles 87 Ammunition, 8000 rounds. 15000Horses, 16000 cattle, and 176000 sheep.
Friday 28 June 1901: Pass through very rough, hilly country
Saturday 29 June 1901: Camped at the lagoon, 1.5 kilometres west of 'Bethlehem'. From here to Magors Drift (on the Wilge River) about 26 kilometres from Harriesmith which we reached at midday on 2 July.
Tuesday 2 July 1901: We had a very quiet time, not having seen anything of the enemy. By night time 5 other columns came in, making it a very busy scene. We finished getting supplies.
Thursday 4 July 1901: At 08:00 we headed out. Numbers of Boers were seen on the flanks, and kept continually sniping, the first we have heard from them for about 12 days.
Friday 5 July 1901: Enemy very active. Part of the main body, went out during the day, returning at dark having captured several wagons with refugees in them. At 20:00, just after going to bed, our troop, with F and E squadrons, were turned out; moving out of camp with a machine gun at 21:00. It was a very cold, frosty night, and we marched to “Reitz”, which was reached at about 03:00 on 6 July.
Saturday 6 July 1901: All dismounted at the edge of the town, which was searched, nothing being found except a dog. The horses were then brought up and all put inside the houses. We then waited for anyone who might come along, but sighted nothing until 08:30 when the column arrived, for which we were glad, as it was terribly cold inside the houses, and no fires were allowed to be lit until the column came. Left Ritz at 15:00 camping at dark. We had continual sniping until 9 July.
Tuesday 9 July 1901: During the morning the enemy were very busy at the rear guard. They were constantly shelled, but took no notice of the shells, which at times seemed to cover them with dust. At 20:00 C D and E squadrons (about 150 men) with a colt gun left the camp, marching until 02:30 when we took up several positions overlooking the drift. Another awfully cold and miserable night. We sighted nothing as usual, and left there at 08:30, joining the column at 10:00.
Thursday 11 July 1901: Very misty day, could see very little distance ahead; advance guard were surprised, but the enemy were soon shifted by the pompom.
Friday 12 July 1901: A large patrol went out from the column, and made a big sweep, capturing several prisoners, along with a few wagons and carts. Joined the column which was camped at 'Elandskomp' From Reitz to the 'Komp' was nothing but a sea of grass, no trees of any kind to be seen excepting at the farms.
Saturday 13 July 1901: Camped early 1.5 kilometres from the town of Heilbron.
Sunday 14 July 1901: The camp was shifted, about a kilometre, along the branch railway line from Heilbon Road, close to the railway bridge for better water. Church parade at 10:30 conducted by the Chaplain from Gen Elliot’s Staff; Captain Young.
Monday 15 July 1901: Column marched at 08:00 reinforced by a section of 15pr guns from G Battery RHA.
Tuesday 16 July 1901: Crossed the main railway line at 'Kopies' about midday, and camp at 'Essenbach', a few kilometres from the line, and remained camped here until 07:00 on 18 July.
Thursday 18 July 1901: No one being sorry to leave, as we had a great scarcity of wood, while being in camp.
Friday 19 July 1901: Pass through a range of rough rocky hills; a large party with 6 guns, charged through some hills which were covered with low undergrowth, there were numerous falls, owing to the exceptionally large number of holes in the ground. On reaching the top, a large number of Boers were seen ahead, and after shelling, the troops again advanced but could not get within range of them. Camped at a very pretty spot, between the 'Wet Kopies'
Saturday 20 July 1901: At 02:00, two companies of the 6 MI, C and F squadrons SA with 3 guns left camp, for a drift on the Vaal River, and joined us again that night, having captured several prisoners.
Sunday 21 July 1901: At 03:00 D squadron and a company of the 6 MI left camp, for some drifts on the Rhenoster River. The MI left us at daylight (about 06:00) at a large farm close to the river, whilst we proceeded further up the stream, some Boers were surprised here, and 5 captured along with some carts, horses, cattle, women and children. We remained here until about 11:00, when more troops with some guns joined us. After crossing the drift we continued on at a gallop, after a few wagons that had been sighted. These were captured along with some carts containing women and children. During the afternoon, Regimental Sergeant Major McGillavray was killed, supposed to have been shot by a woman in a Cape Cart, which he was leading. The woman was afterwards court martialled, and acquitted, there being insufficient evidence to prove her guilty. The following appeared in orders that night:
'The OC regrets to announce the death of Sergeant Major McGillavray, whilst riding down the enemy this morning. He was a brave fighting man, with a sound sense of duty, and a staunch fighter. Whilst he leaves us to deplore his loss, he also leaves behind him a soldierly like record, which any man would feel justly proud of. The funeral will take place tomorrow at 08:30am.'
Monday 22 July 1901: After the funeral, the column marched at 10:00, reaching the Vaal River at 16:30, and crossing at Coal Drift”into the Transvaal. Colonel Western’s column was camped here.
Tuesday 23 July 1901: Pass through a mining district, gold and coal, camping at 15:00 at 'Schoens Spruit', 5 kilometres from Klerksdorp and remained in camp until 08:00 on 27 July.
Saturday 27 July 1901: marching until midday.
Sunday 28 July 1901: Several prisoners were galloped down by C squadron, near the banks of the 'Vaal'.
Monday 29 July 1901: At 22:00 C, D and F squadrons were ordered out, and marched until 23:00 following the river down until 03:00 on 30 July.
Tuesday 30 July 1901: C squadron was left at a drift in ambush, the remainder moving on, until daylight, when fires were seen through the brushwood on the banks of the Valsh River, a crossing was found with much difficulty, and we charged across, and at a gallop rushed into a lot of screaming women, and a number of Boers who were scattering in all directions, who were chased through the trees and hills at the back of the farm. Their wagons etc were laagered in a very pretty spot, and the women were just preparing breakfast, when we rushed in upon the scene. Two Boers were killed, and 14 captured, along with 10 wagons and several carts. Several wagons had teams of donkeys, then had a difficult job getting our captured wagons, up the steep banks. Rejoined the column at Walkraal, on the banks of the Vaal. We were all very tired and hungry, not having had any provisions with us. C squadron also captured 6 Boers.
Wednesday 31 July 1901: at 11am we again crossed the Vaal, the last of the convoy not being over until 16:00, camping at Withrams after dark.
Thursday 1 August 1901: Continued following the river, camping at midday at 'Commando Drift'. At 22:00 D and F squadrons, comprising 120 men in all, left camp on a night march, which turned out to be one, if not the most exciting that we had taken part in during the last few months. We marched until 06:00.
Friday 2 August 1901: when we reached the banks of the Vet River, not very far from its junction with the Vaal. It was breaking dawn and several fires were seen near the farm. Bayonets were fixed as we rode along, and when within about 300 metres, we were ordered to charge, and with a yell we galloped headlong down upon the enemy at the farm, who were now out of bed, some rushing to their horses, some firing madly, cries of 'Hands Up' from both sides, and a shot rapidly followed it the enemy did not reply. The enemy were now scattered everywhere, and many escaped through the gaps in the fences, which our men knew nothing about. After searching the thick scrub, which fringes the river, we gathered at the farm called 'Grootolie'. Five of the enemy were found to have been killed, and 11 captured, while we had 2 wounded, and the Major’s Indian servant killed. It was now daylight and the enemy were seen, about 300 of them, but out of range, we were now all posted at the strongest positions, breastworks etc built, as it looked as if the enemy intended to rush us. An Officer and 3 men were now despatched to hurry up the guns with 100 men, who were to leave camp at 02:00 to reinforce us, and they were chased by 15 Boers, for 10 kilometres when they joined the relief, which now started to our relief at a full gallop. All of us were indeed thankful, when we saw the dust rising, telling us they were near. They reached us at 09:00 and were joined by the column at 15:00. Major Shea ( our Commanding Officer) received the 'DSO', for conspicuous gallantry, and Corporal Kermode the DCM for bravery, both on the same occasion.
Saturday 3 August 1901: Cross the drift to a better position, about 1.5 kilometres from the farm.
Sunday 4 August 1901: Halt for the day. Church service held at 10:30, a piano being used that was found buried at the farm. While the column was proceeding to join us on Friday, the rear guard was attacked, and we had one killed, and one wounded, During the day Major Shea, OC of the South Australians received the following letter:
'Please convey to the gallant regiment under your command, mu high appreciation of the three successful night enterprises, they have lately carried out, and especially of the very dashing night attack on the Grootolie Farm, a performance worthy of the very best tradition of Australian Troops in this war.' H deB DeLisle Colonel
Monday 5 August 1901: moved at 04:00, marching until 10:00 when we halted until 13:00, when we received news there was a Boer convoy ahead. D and E squadrons with a pom-pom set off, and after an 8 kilometre gallop, we sighted wagons, the country being very flat, the enemy saw us coming who cleared in all directions. When heading the wagons we heard some one cry 'Hurrah boys, saved at last, thank God', found out later that it was a Sergeant from Driscoll's Scouts who had been kept a prisoner by the enemy for a month. After turning these wagons we continued along for another 8 or 9 kilometres, capturing 6 more wagons, and a mob of 5,000 cattle making 51 wagons in all. Reached camp after dark, thoroughly 'knocked out', and now our squadron then had the pleasure of going straight away on outpost duty.
Tuesday 6 August 1901: Shifted camp a few miles during the morning. A patrol while out, came across 9 wounded Boers at a farm near Grootolei 'Inkpan'.
Wednesday 7 August 1901: At 07:00 D and F squadrons left the camp, for Colonel Owen’s column which was reached at 11:00 for the mail rejoined the column at 'Boesmansfontein'.
Thursday 8 August 1901: At 02:00 150 S Australians, 200 6 MI’s with 3 guns left camp and marched until daybreak, when we halted at a farm, for half an hour to 'light up'. After moving on several kilometres we caught up to a large number of horses and cattle, being looked after by some Kaffirs, we knew now that a convoy was somewhere handy, a short distance on we came upon 10 wagons, the people just getting out of bed, halting here for a minute and leaving a few men to bring them on, we continued on at a gallop. About another 6.5 kilometres on we came in sight of a large number of wagons; and Boers were to be seen in all directions, fleeing from their wagons. The enemy were shelled and chased for several kilometres, until the Pom-pom from Broadwood’s column was heard, as the enemy was drawn right into him, who was some miles to our left.
The wagons were now collected, which took us about 3 hours, as they were much scattered. On being counted it was found that we had 110 wagons and carts, 964 women and children. When all was ready we journeyed on with our capture, reached the column camped at ' Leewofontein' at 14:00. We had just off saddled, when a heliograph message was flashed, from Colonel Fanshawe, who was out some kilometres to our right wanting assistance, we at once saddled up, and started off with the pom-pom; we had not gone far , when a galloper came up saying that we were no longer needed, as the Colonel had shifted the enemy, who were very troublesome. He came in with his men some time after bringing another 17 wagons.
Friday 9 August 1901: Crossed the 'Modder River' at Truters Drift, which was reached during the afternoon. The Drift is guarded by 70 men, 'Canadians and Oxfords'.
Saturday 10 August 1901: Shift camp a short distance up the river. We buried another of our men, Trooper Whittle, who died of fever in the morning.
Sunday 11 August 1901: Church Parade at 11:00 Camp was struck at 15:00, camping again shortly after dark.
Tuesday 13 August 1901: During the morning our squadron was told off to escort the prisoners, wagons etc captured from the enemy at Bloemfontein, we left the column which proceded on its way to the 'Glen', at about midday, and after a long, dusty ride reached Bloemfontein at 16:00. Marched with the wagons through the town, to the Concentration Camp which was several kilometres out of the town. All the women and children were left here, as were the wagons. We stayed here for an hour or more, then with the prisoners in several wagons, journeyed to some Military Offices opposite the 'Raddzall', where all the captured rifles were left. Quite a crowd collected around us for news and they told us it was quite a treat to see anyone in the town, straight from the veld”. Our clothes were all grease, some torn, while our faces and hands were very dirty , from the dusty road which we had all the way after leaving the column. We escorted the prisoners to the Goal, where they were handed over to the authorities there. It was after dark when we left the supplies, where we had to get rations for ourselves and fodder for the horses. Had great difficulty in finding our way to the Remount Depot, near which we camped for the night, at the outskirts of the town. The town being under Martial Law there was no one about after 21:00, except the Town Guard, who was halting us every few minutes.
Wednesday 14 August 1901: We were allowed leave, until 13:00 , when all of us took advantage of going into the town. Leaving the remount depot at 14:00, we reached the 'Glen' at dark where the column was camped
Friday 16 August 1901: Again took advantage of the leave which was granted to us, and journeyed into town by rail, on top of cattle trucks. At night several of us went to the theatre, and saw “Charlies Aunt”. We spent a very enjoyable day, but had a bad night, as we slept on the railway platform; not having any blankets etc we were terribly cold. It was a very frosty night. We caught the 'Pretoria Mail' train which left at 16:00, arrived camp shortly after 18:00.
Sunday 18 August 1901: Left the Glen at 09:00, camping at 'Thekgakegan' for the night
Monday 19 August 1901: 'Vlakfontein' reached at midday
Tuesday 20 August 1901: Short march to 'Bushman’s Kop'. Soon after camping, the enemy started sniping at several of the outposts, which were driven in. The pom-pom which shelled from the camp soon quietened the snipers
Wednesday 21 August 1901: Halted for several hours midday, at Preniloo’s Farm, camping at dark at 'Bridells Koop'.
Thursday 22 August 1901: At midday we reached “Merrumietzie”, a very beautiful spot, which is at the entrance to a pass, through a range of mountains. At the farm, Commandant Wessel's which is a very fine building, with a beautiful garden, Gen Elliot camped with his Staff; the kopjes were almost perpendicular to a great height at the back of the farm.
Friday 23 August 1901: Our squadron out on patrol, and soon after going about 10 kilometres, we discovered in the centre of the 'Fairy Hills' an engine and flour mill complete, a fire was in the furnace, showing that it had not long been left, all was destroyed along with a quantity of flour which was hidden among the rocks; the scenery here was beautiful, with numerous running streams. The Colonel said that the mill was a good capture, as the enemy had been drawing supplies from it for several months. We did not leave without filling the nosebags with the precious stuff.
Saturday 24 August 1901: Very wet night, almost everyone swamped out, rain cleared off during the morning. In the afternoon sports were held, which were very successful. Our Regiment winning 5 out of the 8 events, including the Brigade Championship.
The “Lloyd Lindsay and the Wagon Race” were the most amusing, in the latter only black africans and mules took part
Sunday 25 August 1901: Church Service at 11:00, and “Camp Fire Service” at 07:00.
Monday 26 August 1901: Shifted camp for better grazing several miles to the other side of the drift.
Tuesday 27 August 1901: Church at 08:00. D squadron sent to escort convoy for Col Lowes column, camped late at 'Jacobsdal'.
Wednesday 28 August 1901: Still very rough hilly country. Reach 'Gouvernoreurs Kop' at 16:00.
Thursday 29 August 1901: Camped at Hammonia.
Friday 30 August 1901: Groenfontein reached at midday. Immediately after camping, all the guns and available men were sent out, after a convoy that was supposed to be in the vicinity. They returned shortly after dark, bringing in a few wagons with a quantity of cattle.
Saturday 31 August 1901: Short march to “Reitvolin”, which we reached at 09:00. At 11:00 all available troops with 3 guns moved out of camp towards the mountains, some few kilometres east of the camp; the entrance – a sort of pass – was shelled, while a number of the troops charged through, but nothing was seen or heard of the enemy. We now started climbing the steep sides of the hills, it was wonderful how the guns got to the top; one of the 15 pounders had to be dug out of a spruit, where it got bogged, the pom-pom had to be unlimbered in one place and was dragged up with ropes, while an ammunition wagon was capsized in going down the side of a hill. After a few kilometres of rough, hilly country we came to what is well known as the 'Brandswaterbasin'. A large number of cattle were found here, also several wagons containing women and children which were hidden in rocky gullies. We also found a large quantity of provisions hidden and buried in the hills. The ridges we had to climb were constantly shelled, in case the enemy should be there. We returned to camp, most of us loaded with flour, butter, eggs etc which we had found. Reached the column shortly after dark.
Sunday 1 September 1901: Halt for the day. Church service at 10.30 and 'Camp fire Service' held during the evening.
Monday 2 September 1901: Marched at 07:30 to 'Brackfontein', the advance guard was constantly sniped at.
Tuesday 3 September 1901: We reached 'Cypres' at 15:00.
Wednesday 4 September 1901: After a long, weary march we reached 'Hartbeestefontein' at 18:00, about 8 kolometres from Winburg township.
Saturday 7 September 1901: During the afternoon, while mounted sports were being held, a rifle was accidentally fired, killing Trooper BH May and wounding another of our men; it cast quite a gloom over the whole camp as he was well liked by all who knew him. He was buried during the afternoon. It happened during the first event on the program, which after the sad accident was stopped.
Tuesday 10 September 1901: Left at 06:00, camping at 'Leydon'. Raining the whole of the day.
Wednesday 11 September 1901: At 04:30am C, D and E Squadrons left camp, reaching 'Pitonis Mill' shortly after daylight, a number of Boers were seen at sunrise; and half the party remained at the Mill, while the remainder went out on patrol, capturing several prisoners and a couple of Cape Carts. The enemy were strongly posted among the kopjes. We were reinforced at the Mill by 2 guns, and one company of 6 MI and after about another 10 kilometres marching we sighted a number of wagons, around which were a quantity of Boers, under Commandant Kooen. These were shelled as we charged down on the wagons, but scattered in all directions as soon as we reached the wagons. The head of the convoy was turned at Lots Pillar and we returned to the column which as camped near Spritz Kop. In all 71 wagons were captured containing 400 women and children. Two Boers were killed and 15 taken prisoners, 9 rifles, 2,500 head of cattle, quantity of sheep, 250 horses and 300 rounds of ammunition. A travelling mill was also captured, which turned out 10 tons of flour daily, 40 tons of this precious stuff was found among the different wagons. The whole of our captures were handed over to Colonel Lowe's men the following day, whom we met. They had been after this same convoy for two days, and were thoroughly disheartened when they found that we had captured it.
Thursday 12 September 1901: Soon after sunrise D and F squadrons with a pom-pom were sent out on the left flank, after some wagons which were supposed to have got away from the convoy that we captured yesterday, we left Gouveneurs Kop on our right; after proceeding about another 8 kilometres, we saw some wagons, slowly wending their way round the foot of some high kopjes. We now set out after them at a gallop, and had reached the wagons without a shot being fired. We could see that the wagons belonged to a British Column, and shortly afterwards several IY’s came up to us, looking rather scared, and told us that we had captured 'Colonel Bethuen’s Convoy'. These were the only troops that we saw near, and they had stayed behind making 'tea'. We afterwards saw the main body, about 8 kilometres ahead but saw nothing of the rear guard. Our Colonel was greatly amused when he heard of our capture. The column camped at Caledonia about 16:00.
Friday 13 September 1901: After a long days march we camped at 'Roode Krans', reached at dark.
Saturday 14 September 1901: Remained camped for the day. Very rough weather, and bitterly cold. During the afternoon a party of 8 of out troop were told of for outpost, on top of a very steep, high, rocky kopje, and after 3 and a half hours weary toiling we reached the top, where it was terribly windy, and shivered for the remainder of the night.
Sunday 15 September 1901: Marched at 08:00, camping at midday at 'Bezunedroutskraal'.
Manday 16 September 1901: The column camped all day. Very wet night, easing about 08:00. At 09:00 a patrol consisting of C and D squadrons SA, one company of 6MI with 2 guns left the camp, for the 'Witte Bergen Mountains', where we collected a large number of cattle, had just started to return, when a terrible thunderstorm broke over us, the rain and hailstones coming down in torrents, the heaviest we have had since being in the country, our horses completely wheeled around and turned their backs to it. It was bitterly cold, with a strong wind blowing. Camp was reached at 16:00, the storm evidently as bad there, as we had had it. We found everything flooded and very little chance of lighting fires.
Tuesday 17 September 1901: Reached 'Taaboschfontein' at midday, after camping our squadron was sent out a few miles, we sighted a number of the enemy, too many for us to engage so we retired to camp, and on our way back we found several wagons and a Cape Cart hidden in a spruit, with a quantity of wheat recently put there.
Wednesday 18 September 1901: Column remained camped for the day. At 07:00 150 SA’s, 150 6MI and 3 guns, moved out from camp on a patrol, and after covering a deal of ground without sighting anything, we returned to camp reaching it at 16:00.
Thursday 19 September 1901: 'Gemsbokfontein' reached at 13:00.
Friday 20 September 1901: Reached the deserted town of 'Senekal' during the afternoon. Terribly cold, a range of mountains some distance South East of the town, being covered with snow.
Saturday 21 September 1901: Camp struck at 07:00 and after a long day’s marching we reached 'Rexford', numbers of Boers seen on our right. Our squadron was rear guard and just before reaching camp, we met one of our ambulance wagons, which was going out on the right flank, to bring in some wounded men. It appears that 8 men from Colonel Lowe’s column (which was some distance on our right) were cut off from their troop, and were holding some Kraals, when a number of Boers charged them. Killing 2, wounding another, and capturing the remaining 5, who were allowed to go after being stripped.
Sunday 22 September 1901: Numbers of the enemy on our left flank and rear, but kept out of rifle range. Camped late at 'Grootlaagte', 1.5 kilometres from 'Bethlehim'.
Monday 23 September 1901: Moved at 08:00 through the township (garrisoned). While the main body were passing a very rough kopje, a number of Boers concealed among the rocks opened fire and were not shifter until 43 shells had been fired at them, besides a number fired from the pom-pom, we had several wounded, and a couple of the gun horses shot. The enemy were continually sniping during the remainder of the day. Reached Halling Nodal at 18:00.
Tuesday 24 September 1901: Marched at 18:00, reached Elands River bridge at 14:00 where we halted for an hour, camping at 'Amatully' for the night, which we reached at 17:30.
Wednesday 25 September 1901: Struck camp at 6am and camped a couple of kilometres from 'Harrismith' at 21:30. The remainder of the Division arrived during the day. After refitting and getting supplies we moved out at 20:00 on 28 September.
Saturday 28 September 1901: Marched to 'Millers Pass', which was reached at 01:00 and halting until 06:00.
Sunday 29 September 1901: Through hilly country to 'Parkhurst' where we camped for the night.
Monday 30 September 1901: At 08:00, 300 men with 2 guns moved out on patrol, returning to camp at 'Rut Vlei' at 14:00. A number of snipers were seen but did no damage.
Tuesday 1 October 1901: Marched at 08:00. Number of Boers, continuously sniping, from the kopjes. camped at 14:00 at 'Roode Bloom'.
Wednesday 2 October 1901: Marched to 'Christina', a very pretty spot, in the centre of a range of hills. Numbers of the enemy were seen during the morning but were not troublesome.
Thursday 3 October 1901: At 07:00, 300 MI’s, 150 SA's and 4 guns left the camp taking 2 days rations with us , we passed through very rough country, and beautiful scenery. We went in the direction of Natal, to 'Mullers Pass' in the direction of the 'Drakensberg Mountains', supposed to be held by the enemy (Gen Louis Botha and Commando). The scenery at the pass was most magnificent, from the top we could look straight down to the beautiful green valleys below, some hundreds of feet. From here we crossed the Border, at abour midday. We halted at 13:30 until 16:00, and returned to Christina, by the same road that we came, reaching camp at 19:00 not having seen or heard anything of the enemy.
Friday 4 October 1901: Marched at 14:00 to 'Stockfontein' reaching camp after dark. We went through very hilly country, and at times so steep, that two teams of bullocks had to be put in to draw one wagon up the hills.
Saturday 5 October 1901: At midnight 200 of the SA’s were ordered to be ready to move at 01:00, and punctually at that early hour, we left the camp, and the moon being up we had to keep on low ground, making it much further to travel. We went in the direction of 'Wit Kopjes'. Leaving our horses in charge of some men, in a sheltered spot, our squadron was sent to take up some positions on some kopjes about 5 kilometres away, these were reached in safety, and after a stiff climb reached the top, then just breaking day. Shortly after , we saw a number of Boers, driving a mob of cattle away from us, from behind some more kopjes. A number of their horses were shot, but were not slow in mounting the spare horse that most of them were leading. We captured one prisoner, his horse having 9 bullets in it, a quantity of cattle and horses were also captured, which the Boers left behind in their hurry. We stayed in these kopjes until about midday, and during the morning, I just happened to walk to another ridge, and on reaching the top came face to face with 2 Boers, about 40 metres off, I immediately had my rifle to the shoulder, shouting 'Hands Up' thinking it the best, as they were two to one, but they wheeled around in an instant, and at the same time I fired, hitting one (so our fellows said who now came rushing up) but they went down that hill and as fast as their horses legs would move, with all of us (about 10) firing at them. We reached camp at about 16:00, which had shifted a mile or more for better water and grazing.
Sunday 6 October 1901: Marched at 08:00 to 'Brewers Hok'. Some snipers who were following from the flank kept firing until 'shifted' by a few shells.
Monday 7 October 1901: Marched about 10 kilometres to 'Brakfontein', snipers still following, and kept on, firing at several of the outposts after camping. Rained hard during the afternoon and night.
Tuesday 8 October 1901: Halted for the day. At 07:00 300 men with 2 guns left camp, to escort back a convoy of provisions from Harriesmith. Very cold and stormy day. Arrived back shortly after dinner time.
Wednesday 9 October 1901: Heavy rain during the night, continuing well into the day. Camped at 'Hermitage' at 13:00.
Thursday 10 October 1901: At midday we reached 'Langerwacht Rust'. Midnight C D and E squadrons were turned out, and after saddling up, and lined up ready to move, the order for the night march was cancelled, the night being too dark and stormy, so we returned to our lines, and turned in until 04:00.
Friday 11 October 1901: to march during the heavy rain which poured down all the afternoon, ceasing during tea time, but coming down with renewed vigour during the whole of the evening. Bitterly cold night
Saturday 12 October 1901: At 02:45 our squadron was turned out and had 15 minutes to roll up our 'bunks' and saddle up, but we were ready and at 03:00 we left the camp for a farm some few miles out of camp. Nothing was seen so we waited there until joined by the column at sunrise. We were again sent out on the right to lookout for Boer scouts, which we found before we knew where we were. The enemy were at us all morning, and we had two of our men wounded, but other troops came up before they had time to strip him. One Boer was captured, and a Kaffir was shot for having the rifle of our captured man. Camped shortly after dinnertime at 'Allewals Kraal'.
Sunday 13 October 1901: 'Twee-kopjes” was reached. A cricket match was played during the afternoon between the Officers and Noncoms, resulting in a win for the latter.
Monday 14 October 1901: Halt for the day. Convoy arrives from Harriesmith during the afternoon, bringing with it the long looked for mail.
Tuesday 15 October 1901: Marched at 06:00 halting for an hour at midday, and camped at 'Middle Kop' late in the afternoon. C and F squadrons, one Company of the 6MI, with 2 guns, who went out on a night march last night joined us here, having captured at daylight, 30 wagons, 13 prisoners, 3,000 cattle and a quantity of sheep and horses.
Wednesday 16 October 1901: Arrived at Newmarket about midday. Numbers of the enemy who were following the rear guard, were constantly being shelled.
Thursday 17 October 1901: Moved a few kilometres to 'Cornelia'. At 22:00 110 SA’s, 2 companies of the 6MI and 2 guns left the camp marching all night until daybreak, when we halted for an hour, reached the Wilge River at sunrise, about 05:30. A number of Boers were seen some distance on the other side of the river, numerous shots were exchanged. Halted here until 08:30 joined the column at midday, which struck camp at 05:00. Soon after we reached the column a party of 100 men, with 2 guns, under Col Fanshawleft the camp, after some wagons that were reported to have been seen some distance down the river. After going some miles a large commando of about 400 Boers were seen between our troops and the wagons, the enemy were too strong to engage so our troops had to retreat towards the camp, while the enemy kept following. Several Boers were killed by the shells, while two of our MI’s were wounded also one of their officers.
The pom-pom, on reaching camp, only had one belt of shells left, while the big gun fired all that there were in the limber.
Friday 18 October 1901: Marched at 08:00. A troop of 30 dismounted men were left in ambush at the farm where we had camped near, while the remainder of the column moved on as usual. A number of the troops, with several guns were left in a hollow, several miles from the farm as a reserve. After about an hour’s time, the reserve galloped back to the farm and found that they had captured one prisoner, the only one that came near. Camped that night at 'Acholea'.
Saturday 19 October 1901: We shifted camp about 6.5 kilometres during the morning. Several dead Boers were found, supposed to have been killed two days previous by the shells. At 20:45 just as number of us were saddling up our horses prior to going out on a night march, heavy firing was heard; any fires that were alight were immediately kicked out, and the troops rushed quietly to their allotted places where we remained until everything was quiet. Numbers of bullets were heard whistling through the camp, several tents were pierced, also a number of wagons, but luckily no-one was hit. At 22:00 240 of the SA’s , 260 of the 6MI and 3 guns , moved silently out of camp. It was very dark and wet, and had not gone many kilometres when the guns got lost, later on the MI ‘s with Colonel DeLisle were missed, who returned to camp, joined us with the guns in the morning. We journeyed on to the Wilge River which we reached at daylight. We remained here for some time until the guns hove in sight, and then returned to camp.
Sunday 20 October 1901: at about 10:00. We here found all the remaining troops in trenches and sangars built rough the guns which were in position, as it was expected the enemy would rush the camp, when most of the troops were on the night march. We were to have gone about 65 kilometres, to Reitz, were DeWet and Steyn were heard to be. The enemy sniped at us all the way back to camp, and one prisoner was captured
Monday 21 October 1901: Camp was shifted about 6.5 kilometres during the afternoon. While a section of G battery RHA, which were with the rear guard, were in position on a kopie one of the guns burst, killing two of the gunners and wounding another. They had been firing rapidly at a number of Boers, in the rear, and were waiting for them to show up again, when without warning the gun went off, blowing the whole of the breach block away, completely disabling it.
Tuesday 22 October 1901: At 04:00 D Squadron SA and a company of the MI’s , with 2 guns, left camp. Soon after sunrise we encountered a commando of about 300 Boers, said to be under command of Marni Botha. We had some sharp firing for about an hour, when the pompom got jammed by a shell sticking in the barrel. This makes number four of our guns out of action. Being outnumbered , it was useless to go on, so we had to retire, very quickly at times. We were chased up ridge to ridge, reaching camp with two wounded and several horses hit. Moved camp to 'Kaffirstad' at 14:00.
Wednesday 23 October 1901: Marched 35 kilometress to 'Worderpan' which was reached at 14:00. Rained best part of the day.
Thursday 24 October 1901: Moved at 07:00 Passing the 'Maidens Breast' at midday, and camping at 16:00 at 'Druidsolui'.
Friday 25 October 1901: 'Platolei” arrived at 13:00, heavy firing in the advance guard. Several of our MI’s wounded, while two Boers were picked up, killed by the Pom-pom.
Saturday 26 October 1901: Moved at 04:00. Marched 22.5 kilometres to DeLongs Drift 'Klip River', border of the Transvaal. Heavy firing in the rear guard all the morning, constant shelling, several MI’s hit.
Sunday 27 October 1901: Marched at 06:00, camping several miles from the town of 'Standerton' at 10:00. On Wednesday while still camped here, a most terrific thunderstorm broke over us, the rain coming down in sheets, while the thunder was almost deafening. It was out turn for outpost duty, and after taking out my bunk, returned to camp, thinking I could find my way out again, it was now pitch black, and after walking about leading my horse, for about an hour in pouring rain, gave it up, so returned to camp guided by the lights in the tents. I here spent a most 'pleasant night', being without blankets and my overcoat soaking wet.
Thursday 31 October 1901: At midday all the troops, and guns from our column were ordered to be ready at 13:30 to move out, camp to remain as it is, each man to take one blanket and an oil sheet which were placed on light transport wagons, did not see these until three nights afterwards. We left camp at 13:30, joined a number of other troops near the town, which we marched through. Here we were joined by General Bruce Hamilton, who took charge of the whole force, 5,000 mounted men and 19 guns. We heard that one of our columns had met with a disaster which we were to relieve. We continued until 23:00, when we halted for the first time since leaving Standerton. We waited some time for a few transport wagons the we had to come up, and were then served out with biscuits and bully-beef. The transports were then left in charge of a party of troops with several guns, the remainder of us being on the move again at 23:00, continuing on until 05:00 on 1 November.
Friday 1 November 1901: At 05:00 we halted for an hour, while a thick fog was on; we were 'fed up' both horse and man, it being very cold and damp. About 10:00 we came upon a large party of Boers, some 400 or 500 of them, these were shelled heavily, while the main party kept moving on. We were told afterwards by a prisoner that we captured, said that the enemy lost 11 killed and 2 wounded here. Halted again from 12:00 until 13:00, our squadron then put advance guard. At 14:30 we saw figures of men on the sky line, word was sent back, and we were told that we had reached our destination, but to approach carefully, as probably the camp would be in possession of the enemy. Soon men were seen coming down the slope to meet us, and on meeting them, were told what an awful time that they had had. They belonged to Colonel Benson’s column, a force of 2,200 men and 5 guns, and had not been able to shift out of their present camp, 'Brakenlaagte', for 2 days during which most of them had been in trenches and sangas which they had dug. Their column had been surprised while on 'trek' on Thursday 31 October, during the heavy mist that prevailed at the time. Eight commandos had joined together from the different districts, under the command of Generals Louis Botha, De La Rey and other prominent Boer leaders, who said that on account of Colonel Benson doing them so much damage lately in the way of captures and night marches; that the Commandos in the districts near gathered together, to 'Smash him up' to use their words. Both sides had a great deal of 'smashing'. There were about 4,000 of the enemy, the first attack being on the rear guard, who were driven on. Two companies of Infantry, 'The Buffs' were posted on a rise, but the enemy galloped through these men, as if no one was there. These infantry were afterwards all captured, taken away some distance, after being stripped allowed to go. Heavy firing was now going on round the guns; (two of them ultimately being captured) great bravery was shown here, especially by the gunners, and the 'Scottish Horse', a Colonial Regiment; and out of one Company alone, 63 men were either killed or wounded. The teams of horses (8) in two of the guns were killed, and as the gunners and drivers brought up a spare team, they were also mown down, as well as 8 of the 10 men. These 2 guns were captured by the enemy, but were retaken again, a week or two after. They belonged to the 84th RFA. Their column camped about 1.5 kilometres from the scene, and the only ones allowed out of the camp until the relief arrived , were the men of the “RAMC”, who attended to the wounded and gathered up the dead. The British losses were 103 killed and 180 wounded, the wounded were taken into a town called 'Springs' in 67 wagons. The Boer losses were estimated at 200 killed. Both Colonel Benson and Colonel Guiness of the guns were killed, Colonel Benson was wounded 4 times, and would not even then leave the guns which he was directing the fire, until he received a wound that proved fatal. Fifteen other officers were also killed, a number in cold blood. During the whole of that night the remaining men dug trenches, built sangas, and made barbed wire entanglements all around their camp. The enemy were still about, and it was thought they would make another fight. When daylight came the field was seen to be covered with white objects, and it was found that they were the bodies of our dead, who had been stripped during the night, the arms of some being broken to get the tunics off, those that were of any use. Many were the stories told, as to the Boer cruelty, one being, shooting the wounded that fell in the firing line. The last of the Boers left the scene about 2 hours before our arrival. Our march to the relief was a record for the campaign, 100 kilometres in 18 hours. The news of the disaster was brought into Standerton by runners who got through the Boer lines. We camped at 15:00 close to Benson’s column, and during the afternoon visited the scene.
Saturday 2 November 1901: Left on our return march at 06:45. A number of wounded Boers were found in different farm houses, also saw one of their ambulance vans, which was trekking. Shortly after midday we met our provision and kit wagons, we then camped with Hamilton and Allenby’s columns. The party that brought on the convoy had 2 killed and 9 wounded coming through. All of us were very hungry at dinner time, but there was plenty for us to eat and drink. This being the first substantial meal for two days.
Sunday 3 November 1901: Up at 03:00 marching at 05:00, halting at midday until 16:00. Just after moving out the rain came down in torrents, with thunder and lightning. We were again the advance guard, and had a nice time of it. Rain continued to fall until 19:00 and then cleared off, continued until we reached the outskirts of the town on 4 November at 00:30..
Monday 4 November 1901: We camped here until daylight, when we again started on the move through the town, to our old camp, here finding a splendid meal waiting for us, as several men from our troop were left in camp, who said that they had not had such a good time since being in the country.
Rained again all the afternoon, and remained camped here until 07:00, on 6 November.
Wednesday 6 November 1901: Halted at midday for several hours at Commandant Scheeper's Farm, and reaching Langes Drift at 17:30.
Thursday 7 November 1901: Long march to Vrede which was reached at 18:00, camping near the town.
Friday 8 November 1901: Left at 15:00 reaching Dripspruit at dark. Soon after we started, a very heavy thunderstorm came on, lasting for several hours.
Saturday 9 November 1901: Marched at 14:00 , camped again just before dark. A party f our squadron were on outpost at a farm, about 5 kilometres from camp, and at 19:00 rain came down in torrents, accompanied by terrific thunder and lightning, lasted for about an hour. At 23:00, 400 troops passed us on a night march, joining again the next day.
Sunday 10 November 1901: Reached 'Leewo Kop', at midday. Rear guard sniped at the whole way. At 16:00 D squadron 5 SAIB, 150 7th Dragoon Guards, 2 companies of 6MI and 2 guns left camp, marching until 20:00 when we camped at a farm house until early next morning.
Monday 11 November 1901: Marched to the Wilge River which we found to be in flood, and could not cross with our horses. A number of enemy were seen on the opposite side of the river, and were constantly shelled. We remained here for some hours. When volunteers were asked to swim the river, a number from our squadron volunteered, but the current was too strong for anyone to swim across, so one of the men said that he would go across on a wire, that was there, which the Boers used as a pulley to drag a small punt across, the punt now being on the opposite side, he had to go over on this single wire, about 100 metres and between 6 and 10 metres above the stream. He reached the other side safely, and the punt was pulled over, by this means, a party of 7 or 8 crossed. A farm several hundred metres from the river was rushed, where a single Boer had been seen to enter, but on the men reaching it, a woman with several children were found, who were all very much alarmed, after recrossing, preparations were made for the homeward journey. Shortly after dark we started back. After marching 27 kilometres, we reached a drift, where the column had crossed that day. It was now midnight. The drift was a very bad one, and what with the river being in flood it was very awkward. The convoy belonging to our column took from midday until 04:00 the next morning to cross. When we arrived at the Drift several of the teams were in the middle of the stream, the poor Kaffirs trying their utmost to shift the bullocks.
The stream here was about 200 metres wide and on account of the convoy trying to cross, we had to find the best crossing we could, after going in about 50 metres, got into deep water, our horses having to swim the remainder of the distance. All or most of us were wet through. The Cape Cart which had our only prisoner in it got stuck in the middle; a rope was passed, to the Kaffir in charge and it was dragged ashore but no prisoner. The Kaffir said 'only see hat, Boss'. An Officer of the MI’s was also washed away with his horse. Reached the camp at 01:20.
Tuesday 12 November 1901: We were quietly told that we had 10 minutes to get rations etc before we moved out again. A double issue of rum was provided, with the usual lot of biscuits and bully. The usual growling and cursing went on with cries of 'hobble him' and 'put his nose bag on' etc, etc, but before 02:00 were again on the march under 'Fanny' De Lisle who left camp during the night with another party. We marched until daylight, and then we could see troops in every direction. All the troops from thirteen columns within a radius of 80 kilometres closed in to a certain spot, but the move was unsuccessful, we did not see a single Boer, although we heard the usual yarn, that 1,400 of the enemy were in the circle, but got through during the night. Continued marching until 14:00, camping for the night at Vlakfontein. We were thoroughly 'knocked out' our squadron having been out, three nights in succession.
Wednesday 13 November 1901: Moved to 'Driftfontein'.
Thursday 14 November 1901: Marched at 05:00, halting at midday for several hours, camping at 17:00.
Friday 15 November 1901: Reached 'Majors Drift'.
Saturday 16 November 1901: Camped 8 kilometres from Harrismith.
Sunday 17th November 1901: Church Service at 07:30.
General Elliott and Staff were present, they came over from General Broadwoods column. After the service General Elliott, presented Colonel Fanshawe, of the Oxford Light Infantry and Lieutenant Longley IBC with the 'Distinguished Servoce Order'.
Monday 18 November 1901: Marched at 05:00. Nine other columns working with us in a Southerly direction. Heavy rain during the afternoon.
Wednesday 20 November 1901: Camped at 'Morfontein' at 17:00.
Thursday 21 November 1901: Very cold and wet. Pass the very rough hilly country. Several Boers were captured hiding in a cave. Camped at 'Modderfontein'. At midnight D Squadron with 1 Company 6MI left camp, and marched back to Morfontein where a number of the enemy were said to be. After 'rushing' several farms we captured one, the only Boer seen. The guns with several squadrons of troops, who came as reinforcements joined us at sunrise.
Friday 22 November 1901: Returned to camp, reaching there at 10:00. Marched again at 14:00 to Peerle which is at the extreme end of this range of hills, the 'Lange Bey'.
Saturday 23 November 1901: Bethlehem Bridge reached during the morning, camped here until 05:00.
Sunday 24 November 1901: marched through the town camping at midday. Eight Boers were captured by a patrol that went out in the afternoon. At 21:00 the whole column moved, leaving the convoy at 22:30 in charge of Colonel Lowe’s column. Marched through the night until 02:00.
Monday 25 November 1901: Halted until day break (04:00) Shortly after sunrise we passed a Salt Mine which the Boers had left early that morning. A quantity of cattle and horses captured here. At 11:00 we camped at Elandsfontein, joined by the convoy during the afternoon.
Tuesday 26 November 1901: Plesierfontein.
Wednesday 27 November 1901: Marched at 03:00, D Squadron advance guard, soon after sunrise, about 05:30 we were sent out on the left flank several kilometres to look for Boer scouts. We had just left a freshly ploughed field , where we broke up several ploughs etc, and were advancing towards a small rise, when we were suddenly fired upon from our front, and left flank, from a ridge about 300 metres off, the only thing for our troops to do was to go to cover, which was a small rise to our right. We circled around towards the enemy, and were immediately joined by the remainder of the squadron, and saw more troops coming from the column, where they had heard the firing, sending out a gun. Dismounting behind a ridge we fired a couple of volleys at the enemy on the ridge in front; mounting again we immediately charged, the enemy at once retired, and we chased them for several kilometres, but could not catch any of them, they knowing all the country, and their horses fleeter than most of ours.
One man had (in our troop) five bullets through his tunic and overcoat; two of our scouts were captured, and relieved of their rifles etc, while the other two threw their rifles down in the thick grass. We also lost 2 horses. Returning to the column, we halted until 10:00.
At midday, when on a high kopje, wagons were sighted about 16 kilometres on our left flank. Our squadron was immediately sent out after them, followed by F Squadron, 1 company of the 6MI and 2 guns. We captured 1 Boer on our way and at 13:30 after galloping nearly all the way, we came within range of the convoy, the enemy, about 150, the wagons scattered in all directions and Boers started sniping from the rocky ridges some distance from the wagons, but they gradually left as our main party came up. The wagons were turned back over the drift, and lined up, and after the bullocks were outspanned, and the women who were with the convoy allowed to take what they wanted, the whole lot, 34 wagons and 6 carts were burnt. We also captured 3,400 cattle and 7,000 sheep. Three of the enemy were wounded including a field cornet. We had two wounded. Left at 16:00 and joined the column, which was camped, at 19:00. In 'Orders' our squadron was 'specially Complimented' by the Colonel.
Thursday 28 November 1901: 'Pardeekraal'.
Friday 29 November 1901: 'Rosepan'.
Saturday 30 November 1901: 'Klipkraal'.
Sunday 1 December 1901: Marched at 05:00, camping at 08:30 several kilometres north of Kroonstad. Remaining here until 16:00.
Tuesday 3 December 1901: Marched along the line of blockhouses which are being built to Lindley, 56 Kilometres from Kroonstad. Camped at 'Borchgas Spruit'.
Wednesday 4 December 1901: To 'Dorm Kop'.
Thursday 5 December 1901: Marched at 05:00 to 'Kalfontein'.
Friday 6 December 1901: Camped at 'Dorn Kloof' until 8 March.
Sunday 8 December 1901: Marched a few kilometres at 03:00.
Monday 9 December 1901: Reached Dewarden Woolwash a very pretty spot on the Leibenburgolei River. Three Boers, and several wagons captured during the afternoon. Heavy rain
Tuesday 10 December 1901: March at 05:00 to Precy Lush. Joined the troops who went out during the night at 22:00, capturing 5 Boers, some wagons and a number of cattle.
Thursday 12 December 1901: While the column was halted at midday, very heavy rifle and big gun fire was heard, some kilometres off, A short while after a 'Helio' message came saying that help was wanted. Two guns and 300 men were at once sent out but we had not gone very far, when a message came through that all was right again. The column had 23 casualties. Joined our column at 'Blesbokfontein'.
Friday 13 December 1901: During the morning we were joined by the troops and guns who had been out on a night march, After 400 Boers, supposed to be De Wet, and Commands, who were within the circle of columns. Colonel Remmington captured his convoy which were mainly Cape Carts. Camped at dark at 'Roodespoorte', within sight of line of blockhouses.
Saturday 14 December 1901: Reached 'Quaggafontein' at 09:00. Our troop with our Officer had a pleasant time, with a party of 15 Boers, who had been trying to drive off a mob of sheep. They got on a kopje about a 1.5 kilometres from us and for several hours, kept firing, on hearing the report we just ducked our heads behind the breastwork that we had made. Then we would hear the bullets fly over us. We replied to every shot.
Sunday 15 December 1901: Halt for the day. Church Service at 07:00. The last five days trekking was a record for the campaign.
Monday 16 December 1901: Marched at 06:00 halting for several hours at midday, then camping at Quefontein at dark.
Tuesday 17 December 1901: To Middlesplaats.
Wednesday 18 December 1901: Marched at 04:00 to Kruisfontein . Official report of captures from the 8 to 13 December for DeLisle’s Brigade captured:
- Horses 660
- Mules 19
- Cattle 1,754
- Waggons 71
- Carts 52
- Sheep 13250
- Prisoners 18
- Rifles 22
- Ammunition 1,118 Rounds 1,058
- Grain 3,493 bags 3,493
- DeLisle’s Brigade also captured 1 Traction engine and Mill
Thursday 19 December 1901: Marched at 04:30 through Lindley to Quaggafontein.
Friday 20 December 1901: Kalfontein.
Saturday 21 December 1901: Shifted camp a few kilometres to near Doorn Kloof. Colonel De Lisle left us in the afternoon, to take command of General Broadwood’s Column, he also took with him the 6MI, and G Battery RHA which were replaced by the 82nd Battery RFA, and 500 Imperial Yeomanry, Colonel Fanshawe now taking command of our column.
Sunday 22 December 1901: Palmeitfontein, we had easy marches until 25 December.
Wednesday 25 December 1901: Christmas Day. Shifted camp several kilometres to Parrd-Fontein. Very dull cloudy morning. We had an excellent dinner. Including a half kilo tin of plum-pudding, and 600 ml of beer, both being Army Issues.
In the afternoon a cricket match was played between the IY's and SA's resulting in a win for SA, the score being 68 and 83. Just as we were finishing our tea, a very heavy thunderstorm broke over the camp, the rain lasting all night. The concert which was to have been held, had to be postponed on account of the weather. We were very lucky in having tents for the wet weather, and spent an enjoyable evening, through the kindness of ouir troop leader.
Thursday 26 December 1901: To Quaggafontein.
Friday 27 December 1901: Marched at 04:30 am to Middlewater, reached at midday. Camped with DeLisle’s troop who had been on a night march, capturing 8 prisoners and 25 saddled horses. Hear of De Wet’s attack on Colonel Ferman’s camp, Christmas morning, resulting in a loss of life and guns. De Wet is now in our vicinity with 2,000 men. Column now laagered up in a new formation in case of attack, our front line of troops covering a kilometre.
Saturday 28 December 1901: Marched at 04:00, halted at midday until 14:00. At about 6.5 kilometres the column laagered up at a farm while all the troops and guns moved on; (including DeLisle who is working with us). At about 17:30 the advance were fired on, and shortly afterwards the enemy’s Pom-pom started shelling in among our troops, our guns were now ordered up which came at a gallop, and for over an hour 9 of them were continually shelling. The enemy had 5 in action including 2 captured at Tweefontein on the 25 December from Colonel Ferman. The guns fired by the enemy were in a splendid position, on top of a Kopje, which had a good retainment, and were surrounded by low stone walls, our guns did excellent work. While the enemy also fired well, shells continually bursting near us, and around our guns, we were to have crossed this and charged the kopje, had not darkness come on. We retired at 19:50 passing the pom-pom wishing the gunners a good night. Reached camp at 22:30.
Sunday 29 December 1901: Marched at 04:30, continuing in until 17:00, having seen very few of the enemy. Covered 56 kilometres during the day, camping at Elands Kop.
Monday 30 December 1901: Enemy very troublesome. Our Squadron on the right flank, at one time when about 10 kilometres from the column, we engaged a strong party of Boers who proved too many for us, a reinforcement coming up to help them. We had to retire, not having any support, and were chased several miles. The enemy charged the rear guard during the morning, but were driven back. Reached 'Schits Kop' at 15:00.
Tuesday 31 December 1901: Halt for the day, supplies being sent out from the line of blockhouses.
- Total Captures from April 7 to December 31:
- Horses 39,270 Mules 65 Killed 79
- Cattle 35,313 Waggons 1,359 Wounded 48
- Sheep 586987 Carts 568 Prisoners 497
- Trek Oxen 5,278 Rifles 391 Refugees 5,209
- Rounds of ammunition 38,759
Wednesday 1 January 1902: Started the New Year well by turning out at 01:00, marching at 14:00, all troops on patrol. Camped at Wondruth during the afternoon joined by 'Byngs' Column'.
Thursday 2 January 1902: 03:00 camping at 17:30. The three columns now working together, the troops from two covering a large area of country, while the remaining troops guard the whole of the baggage etc alternately.
Friday 3 January 1902: 04:00 Our troops, and Colonel Byngs' patrolling (about 4,000). A large number of the enemy sighted; by midday they were lost to sight. Camped at dark at Driftfontein having covered 65 kilometres.
Saturday 4 January 1902: To 'Susanna' enemy constantly sniping. At 20:00 the SA with a few IYs left camp. Very dark and wet night. Continue marching until 04:00.
Sunday 5 January 1902: When we took up positions at a drift, and along a ridge, remaining here until 07:00 when we were joined by the column, having seen nothing of the enemy. Camped at Sodafontein.
Monday 6 January 1902: Reached Mulshoop at midday.
Tuesday 7 January 1902: Marched at 02:30 halting for breakfast at 07:00 until 08:00. Number of the enemy following the rear guard. 'Grootolee'.
Wednesday 8 January 1902: At 02:30 all available troops left camp unexpectantly. When the order was given to turn out, there was never so much seasonable language heard before; we now had to bustle around for rations etc, and we heard that DeWet with his guns were between us and the railway line. Soon after sunrise we sighted De Lisle’s troops on our left rear. Halted from 10:00 till 11:00.
Shortly after dinner the enemy was sighted and we chased them from ridge to ridge, knocking our horses out; sighted many more during the afternoon, lining all the ridges, but our horses were now so done up it was useless to continue on, so we turned back, continuing until 23:30 all thoroughly done up, having 19 hours in the saddle that day. We rested here as best we could until 04:00..
Thursday 9 January 1902: When we moved off and joined the column camped at Dorm Kloof.
Friday 10 January 1902: Marched at 06:00 to Quaggafontein. Remained camped in the vicinity until 16 January.
Thursday 16 January 1902: Protected the line of blockhouses being built to Lindley. During most of the week it rained heavily. All the SA s with 2 guns escorted a convoy from Dorm Kloof to Quagga, which was now main headquarters for the division, there being a 'Detail Camp' formed here, also a large Field Hospital. Very stormy, wet night, numbers of the tents blown down.
Friday 17 January 1902: and following day, we escorted a convoy to Wit Kop, half way to Kaffir Kop, where Colonel De Lisle was protecting the line of blockhouses being built there from Lindley, about 50 kilometres.
Sunday 19 January 1902: After Church Parade which was held at 09:00 General E.L.Elliot presented Corporal Kermode of the SA's with a DCM won at 'Grootvallie' on the morning of 2 August. At 20:00 C, D and F Squadrons SA moved from camp in a northerly direction. It was a very cold, and stormy night. After searching a number of farms during the night, we were unsuccessful until about 04:30 20 January.
Monday 20 January 1902: Daybreak, we captured 9 Boers, part of a Commando of 200, who had been warned of our coming, we also captured several Cape carts and some good horses. No shots were fired at the farm, but it commenced as soon as we left at sunrise, the enemy being seen in large numbers. We marched back about 8 kilometres, where we took up a good position, and waited the arrival of our relief, 300 men and 4 guns, but only 1 more of the enemy was captured. Arrived back at camp at 15:00.
Tuesday 21 January 1902: and the day following, we escorted more convoys to Wit Kop for De Lisle.
Thursday 23 January 1902: at 20:00 all the SA’s left camp, for south of the blockhouses. Had the usual rush on all the farms, but only found women and children. At 2.30 am
Friday 24 January 1902: At 02:30 am we had to halt for about an hour, on account of the thick mist, but as soon as it lifted we charged down on a large farm, but on reaching it we found the Red Cross flag flying. There were several Boers inside the building. We turned back here at sunrise with the enemy sniping freely from the ridges, shortly after numbers were seen going ahead of us. Another lot of troopers, which left at 22:00 last night now showed up, several kilometres away on our left, and it now became difficult to tell the enemy from our own men, numbers of them being dressed in khaki uniforms. Firing now became general which lasted several hours. Continuing on we chased the enemy, who gradually drew away from us, their horses being fresh. Our party lost 1 killed, 3 wounded, and 13 captured, including the Brigade Major who was taken away along with other men and stripped of everything, the Boers exchanging their canvas, skin and leather clothes for our uniforms. One man in my troop was captured and we also lost 2 horses. Five of the enemy were captured and a number wounded. Colonel Fenshawe who was in charge of another party had a very narrow escape. Reached camp at 10:00.
Saturday 25 January 1902: Trooper Horsfall who was killed yesterday, was buried during the morning. Very wet day.
Sunday 26 January 1902: and the following day we escorted convoy to Dorm Kloof and Wit Kopie.
Tuesday 28 January 1902: Left Quaggafontein at 06:00 camping at Vinkfontein midday.
Wednesday 29 January 1902: Reached Blauss Kop.
Thursday 30 January 1902: Everything ready to move at 06:00, but had to wait for orders from Pretoria. Expecting to move at any minute. At 16:00 a patrol of SA's and IY's left camp and returned at dark with several prisoners.
Friday 31 January 1902: Marched at 04:30, halting at midday for several hours, camping at dark.
Saturday 1 February 1902: To Tweefontein the scene of Colonel Furman’s disaster. During the afternoon a number of us visited the scene, which was about 1.5 kilometres from camp, the losses there by the British were 6 Officers and 51 men killed, and 2 guns captured, which were retaken some time after.
Sunday 2 February 1902: To Witkop reached shortly after midday. Colonel Barker crossed our front to work on our left flank.
Monday 3 February 1902: Started on the first big 'Sweeping Movement', fourteen columns taking part in the drive, driving the enemy to the main railway line. Our column covering a frontage of about 10 kilometres. After dark our Squadron were sent halfway between the camp and Blauss Kop, where a force of Yoemanry were sent, between the 'Kop' and our camp, scouts patrolled during the whole night.
Tuesday 4 February 1902: A number of the enemy were seen in front, and during the morning crossed our front, where they bumped into Byngs' Column which is working next to us on our right, and during the day he captured from the enemy, 2 Pom poms, 1, 15 pndr gun, 2 maxims and 30 prisoners. The troops from each column now in touch with each other. Camped at 17:00. Squadrons of men being placed every 500 metres. About 21:00 a party of Boers tried to break through our line but were driven back. Later in the night they tried Colonel De Lisle’s but were again driven back with losses on both sides. One of the MI officers while visiting the posts was mistaken for the enemy, fired upon and killed.
Wednesday 5 February 1902: Halted until dark, when we shifted about 1.5 kilometres. Sentries posted at intervals of 50 metres, the whole distance between the Lindley and Frankfort line of blockhouses.
Thursday 6 February 1902: Marched at 06:00, continuing on until dark. The enemy numbering about 1,000 with De wet, expected to try and break through now that we are nearing the line. All troops and guns placed behind breastworks which are always made after dark. Sentries being posted at 10 metre intervals. During the night the enemy tried to get through Colonel Rawlinson’s line, but was driven back with a loss of 6 killed and 18 captured and wounded.
Friday 7 February 1902: Camp struck at 05:00 marching on until sunset. Shortly after dark we shifted our position back for over a kilometre, troops camped in long lines with sentries every 5 metres. Firing could be distinctly heard, coming from a northerly direction, while the flashes from the search lights on the armoured trains, patrolling the line could be seen at intervals
Saturday 8 February 1902: Everyone up early and standing to arms until daybreak. We were now joined by a number of troops from Barker's column scouting around to our right working north to the railway line which we struck at Honnings Spruit. At Serfonyein we saw one of the armoured trains in action. They were firing at a large number of springboks which were mistaken for the enemy. Reached Rhenoster Rioce at 16:00 where we camped for the night. We were worked out of the move, De Lisle taking our place. Everyone was glad that we were now finished, as most of us had been on duty five nights in succession.
Sunday 9 February 1902: Marched at 05:00, halting at midday for 2 hours at Kopie Siding camping at dark at America Siding.
Monday 10 February 1902: Arrived at Kroonstad camping several kilometres from the town until 12 February.
Wednesday 12 February 1902: We shifted at 15:00 south of the drift crossing the Valsch River. Total captures for the move 440 prisoners, 43 killed. Also a quantity of cattle captured.
Thursday 13 February 1902: Marched at 04:00, camping at sunset, but shifted to a better position shortly after dark.
Friday 14 February 1902: Moved at daylight. Nothing to be seen of the enemy. C and D Squadrons were detached from the main camp after dark, taking up separate positions.
Sunday 16 February 1902: Reached 'Lindley- Kaffir Kop' line of blockhouses, camped near No 111 'Sweethome'. Just as we were turning in for the night, orders were issued for 500 men to move out at 20:15, and at that time we were joined by 500 more men from DeLisle’s camp. Heard that DeWet with 200 Bergers were at Elands Kop. After a very weary march of 56 kilometres lasting all night, we sighted the Kop at daybreak.
Monday 17 February 1902: We halted for half an hour when about 1.5 kilometres off, in a deep valley there we opened out, and galloped towards the Kopie, disturbing a number of Boers at the different farms who galloped ahead the best way they could; the chase was continued, and 13 of the enemy captured. Soon after we turned back, the rear guard was kept very busy, until 13:30 when we were joined by the guns and relieving troops. We camped shortly afterwards.
Tuesday 18 February 1902: Marched at 06:00 and reached camp at 22:00, several kilometres from Lindley. Halting here until 20 February.
Thursday 20 February 1902: At 20:00 all the troops and guns were to have moved out but were cancelled until 01:00.
Friday 21 February 1902: At 01:00 we started out on the second 'Great Drive' organised by Lord Kitchener. We continued on in conjunction with De Lisle’s troops and guns until 11:00. Numbers of the enemy were seen but went ahead not troubling us. We camped at midday, and soon after a heavy rain storm came on, and not having anything in the way of blankets, oil sheets etc, we had to wait until 16:00 when we were joined by our convoy. We had spent a most miserable afternoon.
Saturday 22 February 1902: Moved at 05:30. enemy still ahead, but not troubling us. At 14:30 the column camped, while C, D and F Squadrons, with the Pom-Pom and a machine gun moved on to the Wilge River to hold a drift, but on reaching it we found that it was held by troops from Colonel Wilson’s column. We camped close by, rejoining the column.
Sunday 23 February 1902: Left camp at 09:00, marching until late that afternoon.
Monday 24 February 1902: Camped at 16:45 near the Wilge River. Troops from the column holding about 13 kilometres of the river. Rain started to fall at dark, which continued on through the night, and as no kits were allowed on outpost we did not have too nice a time.
Tuesday 25 February 1902: Shortly after we started, the rearguard, and right flank, escorting the convoy, which was composed of IY’s were engaged for several hours by Ross’ Commando, which had broken through the driving line the day previous. The rifle fire was very heavy at times, and the enemy was not repulsed until reinforcements were sent back. The Yeomanry sustained 7 casualties. At midday we had to halt for several hours, to allow the column on our left to swing around.
Wednesday 26 February 1902: Marched at 04:45 halting from 09:00 until 13:00 camping at dark near 'Majors Drift'.
Thursday 26 February 1902: At 00:40 we were awakened by heavy firing coming from our left, and the rattle of the machine gun could be distinctly heard, this continued on for about an hour. We were immediately turned out, and in ten minutes we were lined out with a pom-pom ready to move out in case the enemy tried to break through our own lines. They rushed De Lisle’s lines and tried to break through, but were driven back with losses on both sides. D squadron were complimented by the OC in orders for being the first to turn out. At 07:00 all the SA’s with 2 pom-poms moved along the line of trenches from Major's Drift to Harrismith, which were held for the last 5 days and nights, by troops from the Harrismith command. We continued on until we reached the Bethlehem line, where we worked out of the move, rejoining the column at 14:00, camped at Elands River Bridge.
Rained heavily during the afternoon and evening.
Friday 28 February 1902: Halt for the day. Total results for the move 1,082 prisoners, and 28,000 head of cattle captured. The captured included 69 Boers killed and wounded. Marnie Botha, one of the Free State best Commandants was among the killed. The whole capture, was the biggest since 'Prinsloos' surrender. The success of the drive was thoroughly deserved; everybody from the Commanders down, worked with admirable spirit and great zeal. In this drive all the columns operating, started in different directions, giving the enemy no indication of the new combination. After several days trekking from the time of starting the move took definite shape, some of the columns doubling back into the line, and to enclose the enemy within the line and the Wilge River, the Vaal and the Klip Rivers on the Natal frontier, then driving on to the Harrismith line. It is estimated that on one day during the move, an extended line of 200 kilometres was held by the troops of the operating columns, both day and night. The following columns took part: Rawlinson’s; Remington’s; Byng; Nixon; Keir’s; Wilson; Scott’s; Briggs; Garrett’s; Barker; Holmes; Plumers; De Lisle; and our own (Fanshawe). The country at the northern end of the line was exceptionally rough, taking Colonel Scott’s column the whole day to cover 20 kilometres, it was found impossible to get over the country with the few wagons comprising his convoy, so they were left, wagons and contents burned.
Saturday 1 March 1902: After getting supplies we marched at 15:00 to Tweefontein.
Sunday 2 March 1902: Reached Tigers Kloof, halting until 4 March.
Tuesday 4 March 1902: Marched at 05:00 camping again at dark.
Wednesday 5 March 1902: Moved at 06:00, through Reetz. A number of us visited the graves of our men, who fell at Grasspan, and we found that new crosses had been made, and erected by the 3rd New South Wales Mounted Rifles. Today we are in position for the third Sweeping Movement, towards Wolverhook, on the main railway line.
Thursday 6 March 1902: Camped near Frankfort at 13:30 halting until 9 March.
Sunday 9 March 1902: After dark sangas were dug, and 10 men posted in each at intervals of about 50 to 100 metres, 2 men being on watch at a time in each sanga. About 22:00 a despatch rider went along the line, reporting a large party of Boers ahead, and would probably try to break through about daylight. They tried to make way though the line some distance south of us.
Monday 10 March 1902: Marched from sunrise until dark. Our squadron was in lying picquet, and had just bunked down when 20 of us were ordered to saddle up, and go and strengthen the sangas, at the end of our line, next to De Lisle’s troops, which were about 6.5 kilometres from our camp.
Tuesday 11 March 1902: Passed Heilbron on our left, marching across the Frankfort, Heilbron Blockhouse line, to Elands Kop, ten kilometres north of the town, where we camped at midday, expecting to remain there several days, as we had drawn out of the move. At 14:00 C, D and E squadrons SA's, 600 IY's and 4 guns were ordered to be ready to move out in half an hour; everyone was now rushing ablout, packing up our kits (which we did not take) drawing rations etc for two days, we also had to take 5 kilos of oats for our horses. At 14:30 we moved out. We were to chase a party of 400 Boers that had been allowed to pass the blockhouses near Heilbron early that morning; where the enemy crossed was about 10 kilometres from Heilbron; where the blockhouses are about 800 metres apart, and in between these, during the breaks, sangas were built and occupied by troops, at intervals of 200 metres. Not a shot was fired by either side. The Rotters! After going steadily for about an hour, orders were given to trot, which is generally a good swinging canter, which we did on this occasion. A number of horses soon began to drop back on account of us having so much work lately, and the pace that they were going. The horse that I rode, a Russian remount, was soon in the rear, and another young fellow in the same troop was with me. At last I had to leave my horse, which I shot, and mounted a spare pony that we had. The troops were now a long way ahead, out of sight, we followed their tracks until it got too dark to see them, and going on slowly until we thought we had missed the troops. Our party now numbered five, and we thought of camping, several times not knowing whether we were going into enemy hands or not. At 21:00 as we mounted the top of a ridge we saw fires ahead which we knew to be our camp, and in another hour we were again among our own men, just in time for a good meal and some tea. We were thoroughly tired out. The troops had come in touch with the enemy, but after a short engagement, the enemy worked ahead, their horses being comparatively fresh. Several of the IYs were wounded
Wednesday 12 March 1902: Moved on at daylight, reaching the banks of the Klep River at 06:00 in heavy fog, not knowing what was ahead, and it being useless going on in the fog, Colonel Fenshawe immediately turned back; halting at midday for an hour. We reached Elands Kop at 17:00 having covered 130 kilometres in the two days.
Thursday 13 March 1902: Heavy rain during the night. The column remained camped for the day.
Friday 14 March 1902: Marched at 06:00, through Heilbron, a very pretty and strongly fortified town. Camped at midday at Rhenoster River.
Saturday 15 March 1902: Marched in company with De Lisle’s column to Potgeiters Rush.
Sunday 16 March 1902: Camped three kilometres north of Kroonstad at 11:00. Soon after camping rain came down in torrents, but cleared off during the afternoon.
Monday 17 March 1902: Anxiously waited for orders, as our time is now up. There were numerous rumours circulated throughout the day. At night we were on outpost, and at 21:00 we could hear loud cheering, we then knew what that meant so one of the men went into camp for the news. He soon came galloping out with the welcome news that we were to entrain in a few days for home. There was great excitement in camp until late that night.
Tuesday 18 March 1902: General Elliot, addressed our Regiment in the morning, complimenting us on our work, and wishing us a safe passage home. He also read out the work done by the South Australians alone, which he said was a great credit.
- Trecked 6224 kilometres Carts captured 409
- Cattle captured 33880 Boers captured 225
- Horses captured 11216 Boers Killed 26
- Wagons captured 535 Boers Wounded 31
Wednesday 19 March 1902: At 10:00 our Regiment was lined up, and addressed by Colonel Fanshawe, who was much liked by all under him; after speaking in reference to our work, he wished us all a pleasant and safe voyage home, where he hoped we would find all our friends and relatives in the best of health. Cheers were then given for Colonels Fanshawe and De Lisle. We were then marched off, amid cheers from our old friends , headed by a piper of the 'Gordons', belonging to the 6MI. Reached our camp inside the town limits about 1.5 kilometres from the station, here to remain until arrangements were made to convey us down the line.
Saturday 22 March 1902: Received orders to entrain at 10:30. There was no time wasted in packing up, drawing supplies to last us until the Cape, and at 11:40 all were bundled into trucks, and the journey started. Reached Ventersburg Road 14:00 where we stayed for 50 minutes, Smalldeal 17:35, Brandfort 20:40, Bloemfontein was reached at 22:56.
Sunday 23 March 1902: We departed Bloemfontein at 01:35, Edenburg 04:55, Springfontein 08:15, Norvals Pont at 11:00 staying here for half an hour where we had breakfast, it being the first place we could get boiling water for tea. At most of the stations, boiling water is always ready for the troops that are travelling. Colesburg, (junc) at 13:17, reaching Naapoort Junction at 15:44 remaining here until 17:25.
We had timed to reach “De Arr” at 21:30 but did not get in until somewhere about midnight. Wet night.
Monday 24 March 1902: Had breakfast at 'Victoria West Road'. From hewre to Renosterkop which we reached at 13:00 we passed through hilly country. Beaufort West 16:00 leaving again at 17:00. Frazerburg Road at dark. Very cold night.
Tuesday 25 March 1902: Reached Touers River Station at 08:00. This place is 2.145 metres above sea level. A few kilometres from the station we started to go up the Hex Riou Mountains which are very high and rocky, but bare of any growth. From the top we got an excellent view, and the scenery on looking down the valley was magnificent. We now started on the decent, the grade being very steep, soon after passing the one and only tunnel, we came upon a grand piece of scenery, the zig-zag line below us; and away in the distance a small town surrounded by vinyards etc. Passing Hex River Station, where we obtained a splendid lot of quinces out of the garden at the station, we travelled along the side of the river for a short distance to the end of the mountains, where we saw the town of Worcester which we reached at midday. We were taken to a siding near the station, to wait for orders to proceed to Cape Town. We were allowed to go into the town, which is the third oldest in Cape Colony, water from the river running on either side of the streets, avenues of oak and gum trees being planted in every street, and the houses, shops and all buildings being painted white. The town has a population of 5,000 people. At 21:00 we again started our journey.
Wednesday 26 March 1902: Arrive Cape Town at 06:00. After 4 days in the trucks we were glad to get out of them. As soon as everything was unloaded, we were marched to Green Point, several kilometres from the city, here we found everything ready for us, tents etc being put up. In the afternoon leave was granted, most of us taking the opportunity to go into town.
Thursday 27 March 1902: All overseas Colonials (1,700) who were now at Green Point, were to have been paraded and addressed by the Governor of the City, but owing to the death of the Right Hon Cecil Rhodes, it had to be abandoned. The South Australians were lined up on our own grounds and addressed by our Commanding Officer Major Shea DSO. After speaking in reference to our work etc he handed us over to the command of Capt Watt. During the day several of us journeyed to Camps Bay about 10 kilometres from the town, by the electric trams. The scenery to the bay is very pretty, travelling the whole distance close to the seashore, with the 'Lions Rump' towering above you.
Trooper Edwards: Returned to Australia: 27 April 1902 on Manchester Merchant
Enlisted on 29 January 1901 aged 22 years and 5 months
He passed away 22 December 1947 at Glenelg, South Australia
He is buried in the Brighton North Cemetery with his parents Thomas Edwards and Elizabeth
FIFTH SOUTH AUSTRALIAN CONTINGENT IN MINATURE
5TH SOUTH AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL BUSHMEN
- Original strength: 316
- Subunits: three mounted rifle squadrons
- Commanding officer: Major W. Scriven then Major H. L. D. Wilson
- Left for South Africa: 9 February 1901 on Ormazon
- Service: March 1901-March 1902 under de Lisle in Free State including defence of Graspan where five dead (6 June 1901) and charge at Grootvlei (2 August 1901); amalgamated with 6th SA Imperial Bushmen May 1901-March 1902 under Major J. S. M. Shea
- Fatal casualties: nine killed or died of wounds, 10 died of disease
- Decorations: two DSOs (E. J. F. Langley, J. A. Watt), two DCMs (J. Berry, T. Kermode)
- Returned to Australia: 27 April 1902 on Manchester Merchant
Useful sources: A. G. Wellington letters and Hipwell scrapbook (Mortlock Library, D733L and PRG183)
Transcribed and notes inserted by Captain Chris Stokes (3/9 SAMR Retd)
Formating, illustrations and metrication - National Boer War Memorial Association Webmaster