South African units

Queenstown Rifle Volunteers

In the reports by General Sir Forestier Walker, dated 17th and 26th October 1899, the Queenstown Rifle Volunteers, strength 245, were stated to be part of the garrison of that town, and they were then mobilised and under arms. After General Gatacre arrived the corps, slightly increased in strength, were under his command and did useful service, freeing the regular troops for action at the front. By-and-by the authorities came to think more highly of the various Colony Volunteer Battalions, and when Brabant was clearing the Dordrecht - Jamestown district in February and March 1900 (see Cape Mounted Rifles), the Queenstown Volunteers formed part of his force. They were not with Colonel Dalgety in Wepener in April, but under General Brabant took part in the operations for the relief of the brave garrison: thereafter they formed part of the Colonial Division in the advance northwards (see Cape Mounted Rifles and Brabant's Horse). The corps seems to have always done well.

After Prinsloo had surrendered, the Queenstown Volunteers continued to operate in the Orange River Colony, and in August General Kelly-Kenny issued the following Order, which speaks for itself: "The Lieutenant General commanding the Line of Communications wishes the following incident to be made known throughout his command. Colonel Ridley, Imperial Yeomanry, with about 240 men mostly Colonial Troops—Queenstown Volunteers—while engaged in a reconnaissance north-east of Winburg on August 23rd was cut off and surrounded by 1500 of the enemy with three guns. Ridley and his little force, notwithstanding two days' shelling and rifle fire, and three nights' sniping, held their position until relieved. The enemy twice demanded his surrender without avail. His loss was 30 killed and wounded. The Lieutenant General brings this gallant defence to the notice of his command with the view of showing how a few determined men, skilfully commanded, can hold their own even in an unprepared position, much more so in positions carefully entrenched such as ours". Lord Roberts in his telegram of 26th August also referred to the engagement with satisfaction, and praised the defence. Three of the Queenstown Rifle Volunteers were killed and 14 wounded, including Lieutenant C Smith. In his despatch of 10th October 1900, paragraph 43, Lord Roberts mentioned that "on the 27th August a Boer force, 1400 strong, under Olivier, attacked Winburg. They were repulsed by Bruce Hamilton, 29 prisoners being taken, including Olivier and his three sons, who were captured by a small detachment of the Queenstown Rifle Volunteers". Nothing could be more creditable than these two references.

Towards the close of 1900 and in 1901 a company, mounted, of the Queenstown Rifle Volunteers was in Colonel Crewe's column which operated in the Orange River Colony and afterwards in Cape Colony. The company were present in the severe fighting about Tabaksberg towards the end of January 1901 (see Kaffrarian Rifles). They then took part in the weary pursuit of De Wet, and the endless chasing and fighting which resulted in his being driven from Cape Colony.

The Mentions gained by the corps were as follows:—

LORD ROBERTS' DESPATCH: 2nd April 1901.—Majors J W Bell and H L Haliwell, Captain H G Bell, Lieutenants Collins and Robins (killed), Sergeants Arnott and Temlett, Corporals. F Hayes and W W Richards, Privates H N B Helms, W M Sladdin, P G Stillwell, T N Niland, C Currie, D Barton, G Bourchier.

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