South African units

Natal Volunteer Medical Corps

 

In October 1899 they were commanded by Major W Hyslop, had a strength of 76 and were based chiefly in Ladysmith.

When the siege commenced the following were part of the garrison:

 

 

 

 

Volunteer Staff, including Medical and Veterinary

11

 

Natal Carbineers

390

 

Border Mounted Rifles

260

 

Natal Mounted Rifles

200

 

Natal Naval Volunteers

65

 

Hotchkiss Detachment

20

 

Natal Police

40

 

 

986

On the 22nd Surgeon Hornabrook, medical officer of the Natal M.R., when seven miles out from Ladysmith, met a Boer patrol of 25 men. Although alone he shouted to the party to surrender, as the Boers had been defeated and they were surrounded. The demand was promptly obeyed, the party giving up their rifles to three of their own number, and the triumphant doctor led his 25 prisoners into Elandslaagte Station. If this tale were not vouched for by the Natal Staff it would probably not be credited.

The following is the report furnished by Colonel Royston to the Chief of the Staff: "I have to report that on Saturday, 6th inst., at about 4.15 am, I received information by telephone from headquarters that the enemy were making an attack on Wagon Hill. I at once despatched 80 men of the Natal MR, under Major Evans, to strengthen the outposts on the Flats, then held by 1 officer and 40 men Natal Police, attached to Volunteers, and 1 officer and 20 men Natal Carbineers. The Town Guard was also directed to stand fast at its post on the left bank of the Klip River. As it had been intimated that a battery of artillery would be placed at my disposal, I directed two squadrons Border MR, with one maxim, to accompany the guns. Major Abadie, at about 5.40 am, reported his guns in position near the point where the road to Caesar's Camp crosses the town rifle-range. On my arrival at the outpost line, at 5 am, the enemy were occupying the extreme south-eastern point of Caesar's Hill, well under cover amongst the rocks and bushes. About 50 men were visible from the Flats, but more appeared to be pushing on from the west in small parties. These men were being fired on from the thorn trees and from sangars below by my men as soon as they appeared in sight. A few minutes after my arrival the enemy advanced north along the top of the hill, firing at a party of 'Gordons' near a sangar about 500 yards to their front. I requested the officer commanding the battery to open fire, which he did with good effect, stopping the enemy's advance, and driving them into the rocks. As there appeared to be only a small party of the 'Gordons' opposed to the enemy at this spot, as far as I could see from below, I directed a squadron of Border MR, under Lieutenant Royston, to climb the hill and go to their assistance dismounted. This would be about 6 am. On my men joining the Gordons the party advanced towards the enemy in the rocks, but were at first driven back by their heavy fire, and the enemy again advanced. The battery again opened fire, and the 'Gordons' and the Border MR again advancing, drove the enemy over the point of the hill, and they never again mounted to the crest. At mid-day the enemy had retired about half way down the southern slope of the hill, but still kept up a heavy fire. Unfortunately, it was impossible to get at these with artillery fire from where the battery was limbered, owing to the danger of hitting our own people on the crest of the hill, and the officer commanding the battery did not consider it advisable, owing to the rough ground to cross, and to exposure to Bulwana, to advance any of his guns as far as our outpost line, from which point the enemy could be reached. Rifle-fire was kept up until the enemy finally got into the bed of the Fourie Spruit, where he could only be reached from the top of Caesar's Hill. A heavy fire was kept up until dark, when it gradually ceased, and the enemy appeared to be retiring up the Fourie Spruit. My casualties were 4 men killed and 2 officers and 10 men wounded. I wish to bring to notice the gallant manner in which the battery of artillery, under Major Abadie, stuck to its ground under the very heavy fire from the 6 inch gun and another long range gun on Umbulwana, and also the excellent practice made by the battery. I also consider that Lieutenant Royston, Border MR, did good service with his men. The behaviour of Captain Platt and Lieutenant Hornabrook, Vol. Med. Corps, in attending to the wounded throughout the day under heavy fire, deserves special mention; the last-named officer was wounded, besides having his clothes pierced by a bullet."

On 21st September 1900 authority had been obtained from Lord Roberts to raise among the Natal Volunteers a composite regiment of 300 mounted men to take over the duties hitherto performed by the Volunteer Brigade, and thus facilitate the return of the remainder of the Brigade to their daily avocations. The Volunteer Composite Regiment was made up as follows:

 

 

Officers

Men

 

Natal Carbineers

6

125

 

Natal Mounted Rifles

5

32

 

Umvoti Mounted Rifles

1

13

 

Border Mounted Rifles

3

48

 

Natal Field Artillery

-

19

 

Natal Royal Rifles

-

8

 

Durban Light Infantry

-

39

 

Hotchkiss Gun Detachment

-

6

 

Volunteer Medical Corps

1

4

 

 

16

294

Sir G. White's Despatch 23rd March 1900: J. Hyslop, PMO; Captain H. T. Platt, Medical Staff. Vols. with Bearer Coy.- J. Taylor, R. H. Coventon, W. Jackson, F. Ellis, P. Smythe.

Sir R Buller's despatch: 30th March 1900: Naval Vol. Ambulance Corps - Privates J. Domingo, F. Clark, G. H. Howard, G. Smith.

Lord Robert's despatch: 2nd April 1901: Natal Vol. Med. Corps - Privates E. Clark, J. Domingo, G. H. Howard, G. G. Smith. Majors J. Hyslop, PMO.

Lord Kitchener's despatch 23rd June 1902: Natal Police Field Force - Sub-Insp. J. Hamilton; Sergeants Newson, Goode. Natal Vols; Lieutenant J. W. V. Montgomery; Hospital Sergeant Major A. C. Wearner, Sgt. A. H. Bramwell.

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