At the commencement of the war the Diamond Fields Artillery (DFA) had a strength of 97 and 6 guns.
Of course the DFA's guns were hopelessly outranged, and it was not until the De Beers workshops had, on 19th January 1900, turned out 'Long Cecil', under the superintendence of the gifted Mr Labram, that the British had a gun worthy of modern warfare. 'Long Cecil' was a 4'1 breech-loading weapon, and threw a 28-pound shell. The manufacture of this powerful gun was commenced about Christmas, and it was completed in a very short time.
On 25th November Major Scott Turner with the mounted troops made a reconnaissance, and succeeded in surprising the enemy at Schmidt's Drift Road. He inflicted some loss and captured 29 prisoners, his own casualties being—Diamond Fields Artillery, Captain Hickson and 2 men wounded.
In his report, para 34, Colonel Kekewich said: "My general pIan for the defence of Kimberley was based on the principle of always keeping the enemy on the move and constantly in fear of attack from an unexpected quarter … It will be observed that portions of the mounted corps were employed on every occasion. The work which fell on the detachment (mounted) of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Cape Police, Diamond Fields Horse, and Kimberley Light Horse, and the Diamond Fields Artillery was in consequence very arduous: not only did the corps mentioned respond cheerfully, but nothing can exceed the bravery and dash with which these troops attacked the enemy on several occasions in his entrenched positions".
According to the casualty list 'during the siege', published on 24th April 1900, the colonial forces had the following losses; but this list is clearly supplementary to the losses already noted on the occasion of the sorties in November:—
Diamond Fields Artillery—Sergeant Major Moss killed and 11 men wounded.
From May 1900 to May 1901 a section of the Diamond Fields Artillery was in the garrison of Boshof which successfully held that town and repelled many attacks.
Among the numerous columns at work during the second phase of the war was one known as the Kimberley Column, which for some months was composed as follows: 74th Squadron Imperial Yeomanry, 125; Kimberley Light Horse, 94; Dennison's Scouts, 81; Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 20; Volunteer Company of the Northumberland Fusiliers, 102; 3rd Leinsters, 100; 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers, 38; 2 guns of the 38th Battery RFA; and 13 men of the Diamond Fields Artillery with a maxim. During 1901 this column under Major Paris long operated in the west of the Orange River Colony, and was also at work in the south-west of the Transvaal. On 2nd August 1901 Captain G C Gory Smith, of the KLH, was wounded at Zwartputs, and there were several other casualties on this occasion.
In 1902 the Diamond Fields Horse and Artillery still kept the field and were in many engagements. Major Paris's column was part of Lord Methuen's force in his disastrous engagement of 7th March 1902 (see Cape Police). In his report Lord Methuen said that the column before being reinforced at Vryburg consisted of the 86th Imperial Yeomanry, 110 men; Diamond Fields Horse, 92; Dennison's Scouts, 58; Ashburner's Light Horse, 126; 2 guns 38th Battery; 1 pom-pom of the Diamond Fields Artillery. In the fighting on the 7th the Kimberley troops suffered very severely, the Diamond Fields Horse having about 20 casualties and the Artillery detachment had several killed and wounded.
COLONEL KEKEWICH'S REPORT: 18th February 1900.—Captain (local Major) May, invariably handled his guns with much coolness under fire, is a most deserving and efficient officer. Surgeon Lieutenant A J Ortlepp, attached, rendered considerable assistance to wounded in the field.
LORD ROBERTS' DESPATCH: 2nd April 1901.—Major T J May, who afterwards got the CMG, Surgeon Lieutenant Ortlepp, Gunner F D Payne.
LORD KITCHENER'S DESPATCHES: 8th October 1901.—Lieutenant A Kidd, for excellent work in difficult situation near Griquatown, 24th August.
23rd June 1902.—Captain C C Sheckleton.
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