Sunday, 30 January 2011


Now, no sooner had the Devonshire (left)Regiment commenced to move forward than they attracted the shell of the enemy, but owing to the loose formation adopted, the loss at this time was slight. In spite of the furious fire, the regiment still pushed on to within 900 yards of the position, and then opening fire, held the enemy in front of them till 6 p.m. The batteries also advanced and took up a position on a ridge between the Devonshire and Manchester Regiments, about 3200 yards from the enemy. Then began an animated artillery duel, the roar of guns mingling with the thunder of heaven, which at this juncture seemed to have attuned itself to suit the stormy state of the human tempest that was raging below. At this period considerable damage was done. Captain Campbell, R.A., was wounded, an ammunition waggon overturned, and many men and horses were killed or injured. For some time the interchange of deadly projectiles was pursued with vigour, then the 42nd Field Battery came into action. The Imperial Light Horse now moved left of the enemy's position; some mounted Boers at once pushed out and engaged them. Soon after this the guns from above ceasing firing, our gunners turned their attention to the mounted Boers, who rapidly fell back. Then, as the sun was setting and dark clouds were rolling over the heavens and screening the little light that remained, the infantry pressed forward. The plan was that while the Devonshire Regiment made a frontal attack, the Manchester Regiment, supported by the Gordons with the Imperial Light Horse on the right, were to advance along the sloping ridge, turn the enemy's flank and force him back on his main position. This movement was to be supported by the artillery, which was to close in as the attack developed.

The Devons, under Major Park, marched out, as said, leading the way across the plateau and into the valley coolly and deliberately, though under a terrific fire from above. The Boer guns, which were served with great courage, invariably gave tongue on the smallest provocation, and the ground was ploughed up in every direction with bursting shell. But fortunately few of the gallant Devons were hit. Later on they drew nearer the position, and the regiment, halted under cover of convenient ant-hills, and opened fire. The rifles of the enemy were not slow to reply. Their Mauser bullets whirred like swarms of bees around the heads of the plucky fellows, who, heedless of them, dauntlessly advanced to within some 350 yards of the summit of the hill. There they awaited the development of the flank attack.

Meanwhile the Manchesters, with the Imperial Light Horse and the Gordons, were winding round the lower steeps, the Gordons bearing to the right through a cutting in the hills. Here, ascending, they came under the artillery fire of the enemy, the Boers having moved their guns. Shells, and not only shells but huge boulders, dropped among the advancing troops, crushing and mutilating, and leaving behind a streak of mangled bodies. But though the ordeal was terrible, and the sound and sight of wounded and bleeding were enough to paralyse the stoutest heart, the ever "gay" Gordons plodded on, passing higher and higher, while their officers leading, cheered and roared them up the precipitous ascent. Thus they clambered and plodded, with men dropping dead at their elbows, with torn and fainting comrades by their sides. A storm of rain from the gathering thunderclouds drenched them through to the skin, but they heeded it not. A storm of bullets from the Boers sensibly diminished their numbers, but they never swerved. Then their gallant commander fell. , the honoured and beloved, was shot in two places. Several other dashing Scottish officers were wounded, but many still heroically stumbled and reeled over the boulders, some even waving their helmets to pretend they were unhurt, and to encourage their companions to the great, the final move....

At last the signal for the charge was sounded. The bugle blared out and was echoed and re-echoed. Then came flash of bayonet and sound of cheering throats, the rush of Devons, Manchesters, Gordons, and dismounted Imperials—a wild, shouting mass making straight for the enemy's position.

britains boers

To account for the presence of the Devons in the grand melée it is necessary to go back somewhat, as the great assault was not accomplished in a moment.

Our men were advancing in short rushes of about fifty yards, the Boers all the while lying under cover and shooting till the troops were within some twenty or thirty yards of them. Then the Dutchmen, as suited their convenience, either bolted or surrendered.

When the end ridge was gained and the guns captured, the enemy's laager was close in sight. A white flag was shown from the centre of the camps. At this Colonel Hamilton gave an order. The "Cease fire" was sounded. There was a lull in the action, some of our men commencing to walk slowly down-hill towards the camp. Suddenly, without warning, the crackle of musketry was heard, and a deadly fire poured from a small sugar-loaf shaped kopje to east of the camp. For one short moment our men, staggered by the dastardly action[Pg 25] and the fierce suddenness of the attack, fell back, and during this moment a party of some forty Boers had stoutly charged uphill and effected a lodgment near the crest.

jameson britains cavalry

Plan of Battle of Elandslaagte But this ruse was a failure and their triumph short-lived. The 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment, who, as we know, had been holding the enemy in front during the commencement of the infantry attack, and had since then pushed steadily forward, had now reached to 350 yards from the enemy. Here they lay down to recover breath before charging with fixed bayonets. Five companies assaulted the hill to the left and five to the right; and a detachment of these, arriving at the critical moment when the Boers were making their last stand, helped to bring about the triumphant office rifles from me

Like the lightning that shot through the sky above, the Boers, at the sound of the united cheers, had fled! Some scampered away to their laager on the Nek, and from thence to other kopjes. Others filed in troops anywhere, regardless of consequences. While they were in full retreat, and the mists of darkness, like a gathering pall, hung over the scene, the 5th Lancers and the 5th Dragoon Guards charged the flying enemy—charged not once nor twice only, but thrice, dashing through the scattered ranks with deadly purpose, though at terrible risk of life and limb. Never were Boers so amazed
The despised worms—the miserable Rooineks—had at last turned, and, as one of them afterwards described it, they had "come on horses galloping, and with long sticks with spikes at the end of them, picked us up like bundles of hay!"

The cost of victory, however, was heavy. Roughly estimated, we lost 4 officers and 37 men killed; 31 officers and 175 men wounded. Ten men were missing. The Boers lost over 300 Burghers killed and wounded, besides several hundred horses. Their hospital with wounded prisoners was placed under the care of the British hospital, they having only one doctor, who, with his primitive staff, was quite unable to cope with the arduous work of attending the multitude of sufferers.

Numbers of the enemy of all nationalities—Germans, Hollanders, Irish, and others—were made prisoners, and among them were General de Koch and Piet Joubert, nephew of General Joubert. General Viljoen was killed. The mongrel force, estimated at about 1200 strong, was commanded by Colonel Schiel, to whom it doubtless owed its excellent tactical disposition. This officer was wounded and taken prisoner. The Times gave somewhat interesting character sketches of prominent Boers who were killed or wounded on this occasion:—koch and mates

"General Koch was Minute-Keeper to the Executive, and was President Kruger's most influential supporter. His son, Judge Koch, was appointed to a seat on the Bench, but was not popular, and was regarded as a puppet. The fighting Koch is not to be confounded with the General Koch, who belongs to Vryheid, and is a sterling warrior.

rebel officer conversion by me , not brill but one of my early efforts, you could easily change this to boer based on bmc

"Advocate Coster was State Attorney at the time of the Reform trials, but resigned owing to President Kruger having insulted him at a meeting of the Executive. He was an accomplished man, a member of the Inner Temple, and was very popular with the Dutch Bar.

"General Ben Viljoen was responsible for most of the fire-eating articles which appeared in the Rand Post."

"Colonel Schiel was court-martialled in past days for shooting four natives whom he accused of insubordination."

The courage of the Boers during this battle was immense. About two thousand were engaged, and these, though certainly aided by the strength of their position, fought valiantly, facing doggedly the heavy consummately well-directed fire of the British artillery, and returning it with undiminished coolness.

Daniël Johannes Stephanus Theron, (9 May 1872 - 5 September 1900), often called Danie Theron, was born in Tulbagh, Cape Colony, and raised in Bethlehem, Orange Free State. He is best known as the driving force behind the formation of a military bicycle corps used by the Boer Army for scouting and relaying messages. Originally trained as a school teacher, he became a lawyer and notary with his own law firm in Krugersdorp, Transvaal Republic, and was made a Captain in the Boer Army when the Second Boer War began. During the war, he was put in charge of a significant scouting unit, the Theron se Verkenningskorps (TVK) (Theron Reconnaissance Corps). He fought at the Battle of Paardeberg and one of his most famous feats occurred at the Battle of Spion Kop. The British Commander in Chief, Lord Roberts, called Theron: "the hardest thorn in the flesh of the British advance", put a reward of £1,000 on his head - dead or alive, and dispatched 4,000 soldiers to find and eliminate the TVK

An interesting incident is mentioned in connection with the battle. When the fire of the British guns became overwhelming, eight plucky Boers dashed forward from cover, and, standing together, steadily opened fire on the men of the Imperial Light Horse, with the evident purpose of drawing their fire, while their comrades should change position. Out of this gallant little band, only one man was left to tell the tale!daniel theron was her grandfather

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