In his despatch of 2nd April 1901 Lord Roberts says: "To do justice to the excellent work done by the Army Service Corps during the war, and to give lengthy details of the magnitude of the task assigned to this department, are beyond the limits of a paragraph in a despatch.  It is, however, estimated that since the war began, and up to the 30th October 1900, the approximate number of rations issued to the army operating from the Cape Colony north of the Orange River has been:

  Nr of rations Approx tonnage
Soldiers and natives 45,000,000 90,000
Animals 20,000,000 100,000


The strength has been approximately-

  Nr Req'd daily tons
Soldiers and natives 179,000 358
Animals 93,000 465

 

Lord Roberts points out the difficulty of getting up supplies by trains, and says, "Again the supply of the army after leaving Bloemfontein was a matter of very grave anxiety, and it was only by the devotion and zeal of the Army Service Corps officers that the supplies were brought from the rail-head to the troops in sufficient time to supply their daily wants".  After mentioning the fact that until September 1900 the army was dependent on 95 old engines, while the Orange River Colony and Transvaal found in peacetime 250 engines were necessary for their daily use, Lord Roberts says: "In the above I have only referred to the work done in supplying the troops based on the Cape Colony.  The Natal Army has reason also to be entirely satisfied with the manner in which it has been supplied, and the occasions have been rare when any portion of this army have had anything but full rations.  These services reflect the greatest credit on Colonel W Richardson, CB, and Colonel E W D Ward, CB, directors of supplies, and the Army Service Corps serving under them". 

General Buller in his final despatch, under "Supply", speaking of Colonel Morgan, ASC, says: "Has been throughout in charge of the supply of the Natal Field Force.  In addition to undertaking the extremely onerous duties of supply, he also charged himself with the supervision of the Natal Field Force canteen, an institution which proved the greatest possible boon to all officers and men, and which, under his able direction, supplied the best possible goods at the lowest possible rates.  Colonel Morgan's arrangements for it were admirable, and will, I hope, be made a model for use on any future occasion.  The advantages to the soldier of being able to spend his money regularly on luxuries, which afford him a change from his daily rations, however good that ration may be, are indescribable".  Every one who had friends in the Natal Field Force has heard the praises of Colonel Morgan's canteen.

An admirable account of the work of the Army Service Corps, instructive alike to soldiers or civilians, is found in Sir Wodehouse Richardson's ' With the Army Service Corps in South Africa.' London, 1903.

If any lesson is to be learnt by the Army Service Corps, it is that they must use all legitimate influence to see that the escorting of convoys be not considered a matter of form.  It is just possible that the mobility of the army and its power for striking hard and fast were seriously diminished by the loss of the convoy on 13th February 1900; indeed this is borne out by many witnesses before the War Commission.  Other convoys were lost, but this was an example of the inadequacy of an escort having serious results.  Nothing seems to encourage an enemy more than the knowledge of the fact that he has stolen his opponent's dinners.  Of course the difficulty of conveying and guarding supplies by waggon to outlying towns and posts was inconceivably great, and indeed it was found necessary to evacuate many towns because the convoys to them could not be protected.  In what is absolutely their own department the Corps seem to have had little to learn, even at the commencement of the campaign.

In addition to honours conferred on Colonel Richardson, Colonel Ward, and the other principal officers, the mentions gained by the Corps in the chief despatches are as follows:—

By Sir George White— Despatch of 2nd December 1899; 1 officer and 1 NCO and men.  Despatch of 23rd March 1900; 4 officers and 15 NCOs and men.

In speaking of Colonel Ward Sir George White said: "As the siege continued and the supply difficulties constantly increased, Colonel Ward's cheerful ingenuity met every difficulty with ever fresh expedients.  He is unquestionably the very best supply officer I have ever met, and to his resource, foresight, and inventiveness the successful defence of Ladysmith for so long a period is very largely due". 

  Officers NCOs and men
General Buller - 30 March 1900 31 18
General Buller - Final Despatch 30th March 1900 26 35
Lord Roberts - 31st March 1900 8 2
Lord Roberts - Final Despatch 55 78
Lord Kitchener - Various despatches 16 10
Lord Kitchener - Final Despatch 24 46

 

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