The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

 
 
Johannesburg 28 May 1900

"On 28 May Hamilton’s column, French’s division and Hutton’s brigade approached the Klip River to outflank the city from the west while Roberts’ Infantry marched at it from the east. In the distance, ‘dimly silhouetted against the horizon’, everyone could see the ‘long line of chimney-stacks and sheds’ of the legendary Rand, looking ‘for all the world like a fleet at sea’. Louise Botha (pronounced ‘borta’), who would command the Transvaal commandos until the end of the war, prepared to defend the hills behind the Klip, and the first attempt to cross it yielded a ‘nasty check’, according to Harry Chauvel.

Next day French’s and Hamilton’s soldiers edged further west to Doornkop, where Jameson and his raiders had surrendered four and a half years before. Hamilton’s infantry charged and the mounted troops chased some Boers toward Johannesburg. One group seemed to the cavalry too insignificant or troublesome to tackle, but Beauvoir de Lisle led a squadron of New South Wales Mounted Rifles over ditches and fences in a wild ride against it and scooped up a Boer commandant. Over on the other side of the city St George Charles Henry’s mounted corps rode ahead of Roberts’ infantry to seize the junctions of the rail lines linking Johannesburg with Pretoria and Natal, and some MI and South Australians under Lieutenant Frank Rowell, a fruit-grower when not in uniform, scampered into Johannesburg to save its water supply from destruction.

They worried about gunfire from the fort built after the Jameson raid to intimidate the uitlanders. There was no gunfire, it turned out, only petty sniping for nine hours. The result seemed ‘a queer skirmish’ to one South Australian - women and children watching, sometimes cheering, as the soldiers crouched and scurried and fired. On 30 May the city surrendered." Ref No 88 p84

Australian Mounted Troops Involved Included:

NSW Mounted Rifles
SA Mounted Rifles

Reference: Wilcox, Craig. Australia’s Boer War. The War In South Africa 1899-1902. Oxford University Press in conjunction with AWM, Australia, 2002, ISBN 0 19 551637 0 p 81, 84
Austin RFD, ED, Roy. Encyclopedia of the Zulu and Boer Wars, Slouch Hat Publications, Australia, 1999, ISBN 0 9585296 3 9 p 112

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Major John Baines

 


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