This corps was raised and took the field in the Queenstown-Dordrecht district. Major Pollock in his volume frequently refers to them in appreciative terms. On 28th November he visited their camp and saw them at drill and musketry. "The progress already made quite astonished me ... Poor De Montmorency was then adjutant, and judging by the results, both he and his predecessor, Collins of the Berkshire, had a great deal to be proud of. The shooting on the range was very good". These facts are noted to show how quickly the volunteer and irregular troops got into fighting trim. The regiment was very soon sent to hold various posts, and when General Gatacre went out to attack Stormberg, on the night of 9th December, 160 of Brabant's were intended to join the attacking force from Penhoek, but it will be remembered the telegram was not delivered. The detachment under De Montmorency did arrive at Molteno on the afternoon of the 10th, and scouted back on the line of the British retreat.
On 22nd and 23rd December De Montmorency and his men had skirmishes near Dordrecht, in which they got the better of the enemy, who had the stronger force. About this time Captain De Montmorency raised his body of scouts, all picked men, who did some very fine work. On the 28th, with some of his own scouts and some of Brabant's Horse, he was out near Dordrecht, but little was to be seen of the enemy. On the 30th, however, there was quite a stiff little fight, in which a party of the Frontier Mounted Rifles was cut off and only rescued the following day (see Cape Mounted Rifles). Captain Flanagan's company of Brabant's was said to have done very well. The corps did an immense amount of patrol work throughout January, and Captain Flanagan's company were the first troops in the Queenstown district to gain touch with the Vlth Division, then approaching the Stormberg country from Cape Town via Thebus.
Lord Roberts had in January announced the appointment of Brigadier General Brabant as Commander of the Colonial Division, which included the two regiments of this corps, and under that general they did excellent work in the clearing of the north-east of Cape Colony. In the fighting about Dordrecht, in the second half of February 1900, the corps took a very prominent part and were several times very heavily engaged. In Lord Roberts' telegram of 18th February he mentioned that Brabant "had attacked Boer position on 16th. He gradually closed in on laager during the day. Fighting lasted from 9 am till dusk. At midnight Captain Flanagan, 1st Brabant's Horse, attacked and took laager at the point of the bayonet, capturing the stores". Captain Crallen and Lieutenant Chandler and 4 non-commissioned officers and men were killed, and 5 non-commissioned officers and men wounded. On 5th March there was again severe fighting near Dordrecht, in which the Cape Mounted Rifles bore the heaviest share of the losses. At Aliwal North, on the 11th, Brabant's Horse had 3 killed and 6 wounded.
A second regiment having been raised in December, Lieutenant Colonel H M Grenfell, 1st Life Guards, was appointed to command it, and when Colonel Dalgety was besieged in Wepener (see Cape Mounted Rifles), the first and a portion of the second regiment were with him, their strength being respectively 345 and 459. One squadron of Brabant's Horse took part in the relief of Wepener. During the siege Lieutenant Thurston and 4 men were killed, and 5 officers— Surgeon Captain Perkins, Lieutenants W E Holford, Turner, and Duncan, and Quartermaster Williams— and about 30 men were wounded.
In the advance northwards, and in the operations preparatory to the surrounding of Prinsloo, the corps was very frequently engaged. In the Hammonia district they had an immense amount of difficult scouting, and several times, in the latter half of May and in June, they had encounters with superior forces and rather heavy losses. On 29th June Lieutenant J S Orr was severely wounded, and other casualties were suffered in an action in which the enemy had to be driven across the Zand River. On 3rd July Lieutenant and Adjutant A F C Williams was shot through the lung. On the 6th to 8th July at the capture of Bethlehem, on the 16th near Witnek, and on the 23rd, 24th at Slabbert's Nek, Brabant's Horse were in the forefront and gained distinction, but, as a matter of course, had to pay the price. 'The Times' historian points out that it was some "adventurous scouts" of Brabant's Horse who, by discovering on the night of the 23rd a commanding summit to be unoccupied, enabled Clements to seize the ridge at daybreak—the corps being entrusted with this task.
The 1st Regiment of the corps, now commanded by Major Henderson, 8th Hussars, accompanied Dalgety to the Reitzburg district, and thence in August across the Vaal in the pursuit of De Wet (see Cape Mounted Rifles). In his despatch of 1st September 1900 Lord Roberts said that "the enemy managed to derail another supply train south of Klip River (Johannesburg district) early this morning. Two men were killed, 1 wounded, and 35 taken prisoners. The engine was blown up, and thirteen trucks were burned. A party of Brabant's Horse on duty at Klip River Bridge followed the enemy as soon as the report of the accident reached them, drove them into the neighbouring hills, and recovered all the prisoners".
The 2nd Regiment was ordered to the eastern Transvaal in August, to take part under General Button in the movement from Belfast to the Portuguese border, crossing some of the most difficult country in South Africa. In November they were operating about Frederickstad in the Central Transvaal with General Barton. They had skirmishing very frequently, and on 11th December had 1 man killed and 3 wounded. A detachment of Brabant's Horse remained in the Orange River Colony in August. On the 27th of that month Sergeant Major Rutters of the 2nd Regiment was killed, and Corporal Abernethy was wounded at Winburg. During the last quarter of 1900 a portion of the corps was with Bruce Hamilton in the Orange River Colony. In the despatch of 8th March 1901, dealing with the events for the preceding four months, Lord Kitchener said that when, in November, it became apparent that De Wet was to attempt to invade Cape Colony, he (Lord Kitchener) railed certain forces from the Transvaal to the south of the Orange River Colony; these included the 2nd Regiment of Brabant's Horse. In his telegraphic despatch of 15th December 1900 Lord Kitchener said, "During the recent operations in the Zastron district, a party of Brabant's Horse became detached, and being surrounded in a defile had to surrender". The casualty list showed 3 men killed, 11 wounded, and 106 missing. The mishap was unfortunate, coming after so much good sound work; but at that time numerous small columns and patrols were then pursuing the enemy, who was in great strength in the south-east of the Orange River Colony, while to keep touch with him forces had to be greatly scattered, and there was always a chance of any little detachment being cut off. About 18th to 24th December the 2nd Brabant's had much fighting about Steynsburg, Cape Colony—the object being to prevent the Boers working south. On 28th December the 2nd Regiment had Captain Cholmondley and 5 men wounded. When it was seen that Kritzinger and Smuts, about 16th December, had effected an entrance into Cape Colony with about 2000 men, more troops were railed from the Transvaal to Naauwpoort, and in this second batch were the 1st Brabant's Horse.
In February 1901 a portion of Brabant's Horse was operating in the south-west of Cape Colony, and Lieutenant J M Grant gained mention near Lambert's Bay on 1st March. Near Jansenville on 20th March 2 men were killed and 6 wounded in an action when Colonel Scobell and Colonel Colenbrander inflicted a severe defeat on Scheepers and Malan. About this time there was fighting daily, and casualties came often. The despatch of 8th July 1901 shows that two squadrons of Brabant's Horse were in May and June, along with a squadron of the 9th Lancers and three companies of Imperial Yeomanry, operating in the Cradock and Richmond districts, chiefly against Malan's commando. On 28th June the 1st corps were heavily engaged near Richmond, and had 2 officers, Captain M Bowker and Lieutenant J R Thompson, and 6 men wounded. On 18th July Captain W J S Rundle and several men were wounded. During the remainder of the war Brabant's Horse were employed in Cape Colony, traversing almost every part of it. On 5th February 1902 they were in the sharp fight at Uitspanfontein near Beaufort West, when they had about half a dozen casualties. During the last year the work was harder than ever, and there was seldom the satisfaction of a fight, except when the enemy was confident that he had a successful trap laid.
The Mentions gained by the corps were as follows:—
In his despatch of 2nd April 1901 Lord Roberts referred to Brigadier General Brabant, and said, "Has been in chief command of the Colonial troops from the Cape Colony, which, amongst other distinguished actions, furnished the contingent which, under Lieutenant Colonel Dalgety, so gallantly defended Wepener. Colonel Brabant is a fine leader of men; he represents the true Imperial feeling in the Cape; and, aided by his fellow-colonists, has furnished an object-lesson in loyalty and devotion to the Crown".
In Colonel Dalgety's Report as to Wepener, 29th April 1900, "Lieutenant Colonel Grenfell, commanding 2nd Brabant's Horse, my second-in-command, rendered most valuable assistance. Private Anderson, assisted in bringing in wounded comrades under heavy fire".
LORD ROBERTS' DESPATCH: 2nd April 1901—Lieutenant Colonel H M Grenfell (1st Life Guards), Captains H R Cholmondley, J S G Douglas, Honourable L Ogilvie, Surgeon Captain R C Perkins, Lieutenants E S Stephenson (appointed to Gloucestershire Regiment), A F C Williams (Adjutant), Sergeant Campbell, Corporal Dutton, Trooper P E J Kornell.
LORD KITCHENER'S DESPATCH: 8th May 1901.—Lieutenant J M Grant, for coolness and skill handling men in action near Lambert's Bay.
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