This corps was founded on 12th December 1900, and soon two battalions were recruited. They had the good luck to get as commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel H K Stewart, Reserve of Officers, and under him did much valuable service. The greater portion of the corps was in the early part of 1901 stationed in the Springs district, where they always had the enemy near them and used worthily the opportunities they got. They had casualties at Springs on 6th January 1901 and on several other occasions during the three following months. In March and April two companies were in Colonel Colville's column, based on the Standerton line, and were said to have done good work particularly in an affair at Roberts' Drift. Both battalions afterwards did much column work. Early in 1901 part of the corps was sent to the Zululand border, a district in which they saw much arduous service. Towards the end of April 600 were with Colonel Stewart in a column working from about Volksrust. Colonel Stewart had also under him Gough's Mounted Infantry, 600; the Commander-in-Chief's Bodyguard, 1000; the 74th Battery Royal Field Artillery, and a pom-pom. In July 1901 the two battalions were put together, and under Colonel Stewart operated as a column, which did much trekking and skirmishing generally in the east of the Transvaal and about the Zululand border. A Standerton telegram of 5th August mentioned that by a night raid on Amersfoort the JMR had captured a laager and 20 prisoners.
Much of the work of the corps and of the columns which worked in conjunction with Colonel Stewart's is described in 'Two Years at the Front with the Mounted Infantry', being the diary of Lieutenant B Moeller, who had gone out with the City Imperial Volunteers, and who was afterwards mortally wounded at Holland, in the Eastern Transvaal, on 18th December 1901.
In September 1901 Colonel Stewart, with his own corps and Gough's Mounted Infantry, was operating to the north of the Natal Border. Gough, who, as stated in Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th October 1901, was in advance, decided on 17th September to push on towards the Blood River in order to gain touch with the enemy about Scheeper's Nek. Gough, thinking he had about 300 of the enemy in front of him, galloped his force to seize a commanding ridge, but the enemy were at least 1000 strong, and the three companies of Mounted Infantry and two guns of the 69th Battery Royal Field Artillery were surrounded, and after a fierce fight, in which Gough's force suffered very severe casualties, were forced to surrender. Colonel Stewart, having to protect the baggage of both bodies, fell back on De Jager's Drift, thus at same time covering Dundee. In his despatch Lord Kitchener said: "Lieutenant Colonel Stewart, in falling back when he did, showed great judgment and a sound appreciation of the situation in a position of considerable difficulty". The Boers had collected in the Vryheid district in great strength to attempt a re-invasion of Natal, and on 26th September made most determined attacks on Forts Itala and Prospect, which were repulsed. Major Gough had on many occasions proved himself a fine soldier and most capable leader of mounted infantry.
Towards the close of 1901 and during the first quarter of 1902 the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles were chiefly employed in the Ermelo district of the Transvaal. In May 1902 they crossed the Vaal and had some skirmishes in the Frankfort district of the Orange River Colony. Down to the close of the campaign they did service which proved them a most useful and well-led body.
On 17th June, after peace had been declared, the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles, Imperial Light Horse, Kitchener's Fighting Scouts, and the Scottish Horse had the honour of marching past and being inspected by the Commander-in-Chief in Johannesburg. Lord Kitchener referred to the fine service of these splendid irregular regiments, and indicated that there was a prospect of permanent volunteer regiments being formed which would be successors to the work, traditions, and organisation of each of them.
The Mentions gained by the corps were:—
LORD KITCHENER'S DESPATCHES: 8th July 1901.—Lieutenant S A Anderson and Captain D W Talbot, for good service in ambushing some Boers near Springs, 17th January. Lieutenant C G Greetham, at Edenkop, Eastern Transvaal, 30th June, twice went out under heavy fire to bring in his brother, who was stunned by fall of his horse; Lieutenant Greetham had gained mention by Lord Roberts while serving as troop Sergeant Major of the Kimberley Mounted Corps.
8th October 1901.—Lieutenants Nicol and O Wells, for dash and judgment in attack on position at Waterval, 10th September.
8th April 1902.—Captain J Mossop.
23rd June 1902.—Captains R Wishart, J Laing, F C Beaumann; Corporal A Matthews; Private G Smith. Colonel Stewart, the commander, was awarded the CMG.
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