The 1st Battalion sailed on the Bavarian about 10th November 1899, arrived at the Cape about the 28th, and was sent to Durban. Along with the 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1st Border Regiment, and 1st Dublin Fusiliers, they formed the 5th or Irish Brigade under Major General Fitzroy Hart. The work of the brigade is sketched under the 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and that of the Natal Army under the 2nd Queen's, Royal West Surrey.
At Colenso the Connaught Rangers were in the thickest, and their losses were very heavy, being approximately 24 men killed, 2 officers and 103 men wounded, and 2 officers and 23 men missing: these latter had got so far forward that they either did not receive the order to retire or were unable to get back. General Buller mentioned one incident which will long be remembered by the regiment. "His colonel being severely wounded, Private Livingstone removed him through a hot fire, and though receiving a bullet in the neck, continued until he had put Colonel Brook under cover, 200 yards back".
At Venter's Spruit, 20th to 24th January, the battalion was not so heavily engaged as the Border Regiment and Dublins, and their losses were trifling.
In the attack on Hart's Hill or Inniskilling Hill on 23rd February 1900 the assault was delivered by the Inniskillings, the Rangers, and part of the Dublins. That day the battalion lost 7 officers wounded, 19 men killed and over 100 wounded. Four officers were mentioned in General Buller's despatch of 30th March 1900, and 3 men were recommended for the distinguished conduct medal.
About the middle of April 1900 the battalion, along with the Border Regiment and 2nd Dublins, came round to Cape Colony, Major General Hart remaining as brigadier, and the place of the Inniskillings being taken by the Somerset Light Infantry. The brigade having assisted to relieve Wepener, was railed to the Transvaal western border, and the greater part of it marched east with Sir Archibald Hunter, whose task it was to give the Mafeking relief column a clear start and thereafter occupy the towns in the Western Transvaal. In the latter half of June the Connaught Rangers and Border Regiment were at Irene, east of the Pretoria-Johannesburg line, where they were placed under Colonel Mahon, just returned from his brilliant relief of Mafeking. On 18th July the battalion, along with the Royal Fusiliers, joined a column north-east of Pretoria which was to support Ian Hamilton's larger column in his movement on Bronkhorst Spruit by the north of the railway line. In the autumn the Rangers were brought down to Cape Colony to assist in keeping the enemy to the north of the Orange River, an endeavour which was not completely successful.
Fourteen officers and 17 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in Lord Roberts' final despatch.
At the end of November 1900 Major General Macdonald was in command of a strong force in the Aliwal North district, which included this battalion and, temporarily, the 1st Suffolk. In this neighbourhood the battalion remained till about the close of the war. They were frequently engaged. "On 14th July 1901 the Connaught Rangers under Major Moore, intrenched in a position at Zuurvlakte, between Aliwal North and Jamestown, had to withstand a determined attack by the combined commandos of Fouche and Myburg. The enemy pressed forward with great boldness, but were finally driven off at dusk after many hours' fighting, during which our casualties were 7 men killed and 3 officers and 17 men wounded". All these belonged to the battalion.
Three men were mentioned in despatches by Lord Kitchener for gallantry on this occasion. Five officers and 5 non-commissioned officers were mentioned in Lord Kitchener's final despatch.
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