In the despatch of 6th February 1900 Lord Roberts, after referring to the organisation of the Colonial Division under Brigadier General Brabant (see Cape Mounted Rifles), said: "Two other regiments, designated, at the particular request of the members, Roberts' Horse and Kitchener's Horse, have also been formed, chiefly from men who have found their way to South Africa from various parts of the world". These corps were at first intended to be called 'The second and third regiments of the South African Light Horse', but the names were changed as a compliment to the new Commander-in-Chief and his chief of the staff.
Both Kitchener's Horse and Roberts' Horse were employed in the operations undertaken by Lord Roberts in February 1900 for the relief of Kimberley and in his advance to Bloemfontein; but one squadron of Kitchener's Horse was left on the lines of communication, and was utilised as part of the force with which Lord Kitchener and General Settle put down the rebellion in the Prieska district, March and April (see Orpen's Horse).
On 9th February the Mounted Infantry Division, under Colonel Hannay, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, left Orange River station. After some fighting, the Division on the 12th reached Ramdam, where Lord Roberts was concentrating his army; but the bulk of Kitchener's Horse had preceded the rest of the Mounted Infantry, and had joined General French before midnight on the 11th. At 2 AM on the 12th they set out with French for Dekiel's Drift, on the Riet. On the 13th, General French, who had crossed the Riet River on the 12th, left a squadron of Kitchener's Horse at Blaauwbosch Pan, about eight miles north-east of Dekiel's Drift, on the Riet, in order to protect the wells until the infantry, who were following, should arrive. Unfortunately the infantry took a different course, and instead of them a large force of Boers turned up, who attacked the squadron and compelled their surrender after they had made a very creditable defence in a farmhouse for two days. Lieutenants Carstens and Buchanan were killed in action about this time. Another squadron was part of the slender escort of the convoy which was lost on the Riet on the 13th. The convoy is said to have been seven miles long, and the escort, left to see it over a most difficult drift with Boers all round, was 300 strong. The escort was not captured. Notwithstanding this bad luck, the corps did excellent work before Bloemfontein was reached. About one half of the regiment was with Colonel Hannay when Cronje was discovered to be trekking across the front of the Vlth Division on 15th February, and they took part in the pursuit and the other operations which led to his capture. On 7th March they were engaged at Poplar-Grove. Five officers and five non-commissioned officers and men gained mention in the despatch of 31st March for good work on the way to Bloemfontein. According to the official statement, the strength of the corps when it entered Bloemfontein on 13th March was 26 officers, 402 men, 270 horses, and 2 maxims.
About the beginning of March Kitchener's Horse had been, along with the 6th and 8th Regiments of Regular Mounted Infantry, the City Imperial Volunteers Mounted Infantry, Nesbitt's Horse, and the New South Wales Mounted Infantry, put into the 2nd Brigade of Mounted Infantry under Colonel P W J Le Gallais, 8th Hussars,—a splendid officer, who led his brigade to victory on many occasions, but who afterwards fell at Bothaville, 6th November 1900, in the moment of success. The regiment fought with Le Gallais and General Tucker at the battle of Karee Siding on 29th March 1900, and they were attached to Ian Hamilton's force, which, towards the end of April, set out first to clear Thabanchu and thereafter take part in the northern advance, during which the regiment, along with the 2nd Mounted Infantry Regulars and Lovat's Scouts, was in the 6th corps under Colonel Legge, who was afterwards killed at Nooitgedacht.
Mr Churchill, in his 'Ian Hamilton's March' relates that on 26th April Kitchener's Horse and a company of regular mounted infantry were told to hold a kopje near Thabanchu for the night, but about dusk they were ordered to retire. This the Boers endeavoured to prevent, attacking the force with great determination: however, the attack was driven off, and the little body got into camp during the night. Captain F J Warren was severely wounded, 1 man killed, and several wounded. On the 30th, at the battle of Houtnek, the regiment, with great boldness and skill, seized Thoba Mountain, and it was during the enemy's attempt to regain this commanding position that a party of about 12 Gordon Highlanders and 13 of Kitchener's Horse under Captain Towse of the Gordons made the famous stand and bayonet charge. The incident is admirably described in 'Ian Hamilton's March' by Mr Churchill, who was a spectator. Captain Towse, blinded by a bullet in the hour of triumph, got the VC. Lieutenants Parker and Munro and 5 men of Kitchener's Horse were killed, and Captains Ritchie and Cheyne and 8 men were wounded at Houtnek. In his telegram of 2nd May Lord Roberts remarked: "Kitchener's Horse is spoken of in terms of praise". On 4th May Ian Hamilton was again engaged, "and succeeded in preventing a junction of two Boer forces by a well-executed movement of some of the Household Cavalry, 12th Lancers, and Kitchener's Horse, who charged a body of the enemy and inflicted serious loss. They fled leaving their dead on the field, and their wounded to be attended by our doctors" (see Lord Roberts' telegram of 2nd May). In this affair Lieutenant Patrick Cameron was mortally wounded. The 'Standard' correspondent drew attention to the good work of the regiment at the crossing of the Zand River on 10th May.
The regiment was present at Ian Hamilton's other actions on the way to Pretoria and at Diamond Hill (11th and 12th June). They started as a portion of Hunter's force designed to surround Prinsloo, but like Roberts' Horse were detached to pursue De Wet. On 24th July the regiment lost 9 men wounded at Stinkhoutboom. but about the same date they captured 5 of De Wet's waggons. When De Wet left the Reitzburg Hills Kitchener's Horse again crossed to the north of the Vaal and operated under Ridley, Hart, Clements, and other commanders in the district west of Johannesburg and Pretoria. In the despatch of 10th October 1900 Lord Roberts mentioned that "De Lisle's corps of mounted infantry was withdrawn from Clements' column and moved by rail on 17th September to Rhenoster, where it was joined by 250 men of Kitchener's Horse from Kroonstad". The work of De Lisle's men is briefly sketched under the 1st and 2nd New South Wales Mounted Infantry. This portion of Kitchener's Horse took part in the pursuit of De Wet on the south side of the Vaal and other operations under General C Knox in the Kroonstad district during September, October, and November, and were present on 27th October when 2 guns were captured at Rensburg, and in the very successful action of Bothaville on 6th November when 6 guns, a pom-pom, a maxim, and 130 prisoners were taken.
Another portion of the corps was employed in the Eastern Transvaal, and frequently had odd casualties about Brugspruit in September and the first half of October. They took part in French's march from the Delagoa Railway to Heidelberg in October 1900,—a march which only a great leader could have brought off successfully, having regard to the strength of the enemy in the district at the time. The fighting was continuous and the strain on all most severe. In Lieutenant Colonel Watkin-Yardley's 'With the Inniskilling Dragoons', page 217, speaking of the arrival of the force at Heidelberg, he says: "Lieutenant Elphick, with his troop of Kitchener's Horse, which had requested to be attached to the Inniskillings at Machadodorp, and fought gallantly with us throughout the march, also left the column". On this march the troop lost Sergeant Hunter killed, 2 wounded, and 2 missing.
A detachment which had remained in the Gatsrand and Krugersdorp district on the north side of the Vaal operated throughout September with Clements and Ridley, and had sharp fighting under General Hart on 23rd and 24th November 1900, when they lost 2 men killed.
This portion of the regiment was with General Clements when he was attacked and met with disaster at Nooitgedacht in the Megaliesberg on 13th December 1900. It will be remembered that a high hill commanding the camp, and which was garrisoned by 4 companies of the 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, was assaulted by the enemy in great force and was captured. Kitchener's Horse and the 2nd Battalion Mounted Infantry were on the west or left front of the camp; the enemy attacked upon this side in the most determined manner, and although some pickets were captured or wiped out entirely, the attack on the west was driven off, the enemy losing very heavily in his endeavour to push into the camp from that direction. When, however, it was seen that the high hill commanding the camp had been captured by the enemy, the General decided to retire. With difficulty General Clements got away his guns and most of his ammunition, but the camp was left standing and some stores were lost. The losses of Kitchener's Horse were severe: Lieutenant Skene and 8 men were killed, and Captain Stevenson and about 12 men wounded and about 40 taken prisoners. Some of the latter were wounded. Several mentions were gained by the corps on this occasion, and those who were present praised very highly the conduct of Kitchener's Horse and their old comrades the 2nd Battalion Regular Mounted Infantry, also the 2nd Battalion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.
The regiment, sadly reduced in numbers, operated in the second phase of the war chiefly in the Western Transvaal, and had a few casualties on various occasions. A reference in the despatch of 8th May 1901 to a very valuable bit of work by men of Roberts' Horse and Kitchener's Horse has already been quoted under the former corps. Both regiments were for a time in a column under Colonel Hickie (despatch of 8th July 1901), and continued to do good work in the Transvaal. On 8th and 9th July both Roberts' and Kitchener's Horse were sharply engaged and suffered casualties. They were, during the next few months, constantly in touch with the enemy, and often suffered losses, as on 4th November 1901, when Kitchener's Horse had 5 men wounded at Vaalbank.
The Mentions gained by the corps were as follows:—
LORD ROBERTS' DESPATCH: 31st March 1900.—Major N Legge, DSO (20th Hussars); Captain W N Congreve, VC (Rifle Brigade), H J Macandrew (5th Bengal Lancers); Captain and Adjutant G H M Richey; Lieutenant J E Jackson; Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant D P Bree; Troopers T Maldrett, T Huckle, A Miller, A Lewis.
FINAL DESPATCHES. — Major F J Warren; Captains G H M Richey, W Vaughan; Lieutenants Clayton, J E Jackson, Skene; Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant Bree; Sergeants Drannette, Brunette, Coopers, G Dawes, W White, W O'Shaughnessy, G Hoitzel; Corporal G Hill; Troopers O S Purchase, Suckle.
LORD KITCHENER'S DESPATCHES: 8th March 1901.—Lieutenants L A Myburg and G Dobree; Corporal G Pitt; Troopers H Anderson, C Brown.
8th July 1901.— Private G Davidson, promoted Corporal; as a scout he has shown exceptional skill and nerve. With Private Wilson, Victorian Rifles, and alone, voluntarily took most important messages through Boer lines.
8th December 1901.—Lieutenants M Chinnery and J Monro, gallant leading under heavy fire and capturing prisoners. Troopers G H Brown and G Swift, for gallantly sticking to retreating enemy, Barnard's Kop, 14th October 1901.
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