The 2nd Battalion sailed on the Gascon on 16th December 1899, and arrived at the Cape on 7th January. Along with the 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment, 1st Royal Irish Regiment, and 2nd Worcestershire Regiment, they formed the 12th Brigade under Major General Clements. The work of the brigade while they acted together has been sketched under the 2nd Bedfordshire.
The battalion had some heavy fighting in the Colesberg district after General French's mounted troops were withdrawn for the advance from Modder River.
On 12th February 1900 the enemy in great force attacked the positions about Rensburg. On that day the battalion lost 2 men killed and 1 officer and 11 men wounded, the 2nd Worcesters losing much more heavily. On the 14th there was again heavy fighting, in which the Wiltshires lost 12 killed and 45 wounded, and over 100 taken prisoners.
General Clements had found it necessary to order a retirement from the Rensburg positions on Arundel, in order to cover Naauwpoort Junction. From the proceedings of the War Commission it appears that the general announced he would retire at 5 am, but that he altered the hour to 12.15 am. Due notice of the alteration was not sent to two companies on outpost. When they came back to camp it had been occupied by the enemy. Endeavouring to follow the rest of the force, these two companies were surrounded and most of them taken prisoners, after making a good defence. No one could blame the two companies; they suffered because there had been an inexcusable want of care in the collecting of the regiment.
Having moved north from Arundel via Colesberg, Fauresmith, etc., the brigade joined the main army at Bloemfontein on 2nd April, and when Lord Roberts moved north in May they occupied the line in his rear. The brigade was ordered to occupy Senekal on 31st May, and this was done. Here Clements remained until the big operations against De Wet and Prinsloo commenced in June (see 2nd Bedfords). In these operations there was much heavy fighting, particularly on 6th and 7th July at Bethlehem, on the 23rd at Slabbert's Nek, and on the 28th at Slap Krantz (see Royal Irish Regiment). The casualties, however, were not excessive for the great result obtained.
The brigade having been broken up, this battalion was, along with the West Riding Regiment (which see), put under Major General Paget, and did good work in the districts north-east and north-west of Pretoria.
In Lord Roberts' final despatch 13 officers and 23 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.
In his despatch of 8th March 1901 Lord Kitchener says, para 9, that in consequence of De Wet's effort to get into Cape Colony he brought the troops under Generals Paget and Plumer from the Transvaal to Naauwpoort, Cape Colony, in February 1901. The Wiltshires had some skirmishing about Richmond and other places, and some hard marching in February and the beginning of March.
In April 1901 the battalion was, along with the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, on the Pretoria-Pietersburg line. Early in May the battalion provided four companies as the infantry of a column under Lieutenant Colonel Greenfell, which did very successful work in the Northern Transvaal.
One officer and 3 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in despatches by Lord Kitchener during the campaign, and in his final despatch he added the names of 5 officers and 6 non-commissioned officers and men.
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