Imperial units

Leinster Regiment (Prince of Wales's)

1st Battalion

The 1st Battalion sailed from Halifax, and arrived at the Cape about 10th May 1900. Along with the 2nd Grenadier Guards, 2nd Scots Guards, and 2nd East Yorkshire Regiment, they formed the 16th Brigade under Major General Barrington Campbell, and part of the Vl11th Division under General Sir Leslie Rundle. The work of the brigade and of the division has been briefly sketched under the 2nd Grenadier Guards.

In May, June, and July 1900 the battalion was chiefly about Hammonia, on extremely low rations for most of the time. Sir Wodehouse Richardson points out that the VIIIth Division was the only one without an Army Service Corps officer on the staff. Certainly it cannot claim to have been decently fed, even after making all allowances, and it is a question whether a general is justified in putting such a strain for so many months on his men. In the proceedings of the War Commission Sir Leslie Rundle's difficulties regarding supplies are mentioned, and he stated that he was told the division must live on the country. He went on to say, "You will understand that the British soldier is taught in England that he is not to touch anybody's property, and is brought up in the right way of going about people's grounds with game and so on, and it took a little time to teach him that he was to look after himself and take anything he saw". Apart from the question whether men are not entitled to look to their general to feed them, there seems to be most abundant evidence that General Rundle's men were not allowed "to look after themselves" until the campaign was a year old, and the generals had become convinced that to denude the country was the only way to end the war. Mr Corner in his 'Story of the 34th Company Imperial Yeomanry', speaking of a farm in the Hammonia district where the people had ample provisions which they refused to sell, and which were being kept as stores for our enemies, says: "Yet by reason of general orders touching these matters, if any man is caught commandeering or even molesting such stores he is very severely dealt with. It is a policy which must undoubtedly hinder a speedy cessation of hostilities. Quite recently I have seen men ordered to give up chickens which had been paid for, and that at a round price. A preposterous sort of warfare this which makes troops fight upon a hungry stomach when plenty is around".

The Leinsters kept wonderfully cheerful amid their hardships, and Mr Corner has many humorous tales showing how the Irishmen managed to replenish the larder and keep fit for fighting in spite of these "general orders".

In September 1900 the battalion formed part of a column under Campbell, based on Harrismith.

In October 1901 the battalion was left as garrison at Vrede, in a neighbourhood they were long to operate in.

Eight officers and 12 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in Lord Roberts' final despatch.

In the ' Household Brigade Magazine' for December 1901 an officer of the Guards, writing from the Brandwater basin in October 1901, says: "The Leinsters garrison the blockhouses; they are splendid fellows; just as Irish as they can be, and work like slaves; it doesn't matter whether it's a fort or an earthwork or a cask of rum, they'll go on till it's finished. They generally manage to get a pig from somewhere, and if there is no room for it in the blockhouse, they just make a pig-sty of an ant-heap". Before October 1901 British generals had acquired saner views about the enemy's live stock.

During the first five months of 1902, while the series of great drives were taking place in Rundle's district, the battalion had heavy and responsible work, holding lines and assisting columns. They had fighting about Bethlehem on 8th April, losing 14 wounded. In Lord Kitchener's despatches during the campaign about half-a-dozen mentions came to the battalion, and in the final despatch the names of 2 officers and 5 non-commissioned officers were added.

2nd Battalion

The 2nd Battalion arrived in South Africa from the West Indies in January 1902.

In February they were holding the Heilbron branch line during the big drives. They were moved to the Wilge River to hold a line there, and on 27th February had 10 casualties. They were afterwards taken to Pretoria and the Central Transvaal.

Lincolnshire Regiment

The 2nd Battalion sailed on the Goorkha about 4th January 1900, and arrived at the Cape about the 25th. Along with the 2nd Norfolk, 1st KOSB, and 2nd Hampshire, they formed the 14th Brigade under Brigadier General Chermside, and part of the VIIth Division commanded by Lieutenant General Tucker. For the work of the brigade and division see notes under 2nd Norfolk Regiment.

The Lincolns had no very heavy fighting on the way to Bloemfontein. One officer was mentioned in Lord Roberts' despatch of 31st March 1900.

At Karee Siding the battalion was not heavily engaged. Their losses were 2 men killed and 1 officer and 4 men wounded.

After Pretoria was occupied the 14th Brigade was detailed to garrison the Boer capital and neighbourhood.

Early in July 1900 the post at Zilikat's Nek, Uitval's Nek, or Nitral's Nek, in the Megaliesberg Mountains, was taken over from Baden-Powell's force by a squadron of the Royal Scots Greys, five companies of the Lincolnshire Regiment, and two guns O Battery, RHA, the whole under Colonel H R Roberts. On 11th July the enemy in great numbers attacked the position, and "owing mainly to the defective dispositions of the commanding officer, the enemy gained possession of the pass and captured the two guns, almost an entire squadron of the Scots Greys, and 90 officers and men of the Lincolnshire Regiment, including Colonel Roberts, who had been wounded early in the day".

The battalion was present at the ceremony of proclaiming the annexation of the Transvaal in Pretoria on 25th October.

Seven officers and 13 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in Lord Roberts' final despatch.

In the later phases of the campaign the battalion furnished infantry for columns as well as doing garrison duty. In 1901 two companies were under Colonel Grenfell when he operated on the Pietersburg line.

The Mounted Infantry Company of the battalion did very excellent work in many districts, and gained no fewer than six mentions in Lord Kitchener's despatches during the war. In his final despatch 2 officers and 6 non-commissioned officers of the Lincolnshire Regiment were mentioned.

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