The 2nd Battalion sailed on the Norman on 2nd December, arrived at the Cape about the 19th, and was sent round to Durban. Along with the 2nd King's Royal Lancaster Regiment, 1st South Lancashire Regiment, and the 1st York and Lancaster Regiment, they formed the 11th Brigade under Major General Woodgate, and part of the Vth Division under Sir Charles Warren. The work of the brigade has been sketched under the Royal Lancaster Regiment, and that of the Natal Army generally under the 2nd Queen's, Royal West Surrey.
When Sir Charles Warren with three brigades was sent across at Trichard's Drift, it will be remembered that the intention of the Commander-in-Chief was that the force should push, via Acton Homes, round to the rear of the Boer position. Sir Charles decided that this was not feasible, and he set about clearing the hills on his right front. On the 20th January he proceeded to put his new plan into execution. The IIth Brigade were on the British right, to the west of Spion Kop. The Lancashire Fusiliers on the right, and York and Lancaster on their left, were ordered to attack a strong position, being assisted by the other infantry, notably the Irish Brigade in the centre, and by six batteries of artillery—7th, 19th, 28th, 63rd, 73rd, and 78th—massed at Three-Tree Hill, and the naval guns at Spearman's. The ground was very difficult, and the Fusiliers were at times greatly cramped for space. About three o'clock the visible crest was stormed by a grand rush, but the troops on reaching the top found themselves in face of another and stronger position. They could do nothing but hold on like flies on a wall, as one writer says. That day cost the battalion 4 officers wounded, 18 men killed and about 90 wounded.
On the 21st the fighting was carried on chiefly at the left flank by Hildyard's brigade.
On the night of the 23rd Spion Kop was taken, the Lancashire Fusiliers being part of Woodgate's force and remaining on the summit all the 24th. An account of the Spion Kop combat is given under the 2nd Royal Lancaster. The Lancashire Fusiliers along with the other troops on the summit earned the praises of General Buller. The losses of the battalion were very severe—3 officers killed, 5 wounded, about 40 men killed, 100 wounded, and some missing.
At Vaal Krantz the brigade was ordered to make a feint attack on the British left; this was carried out satisfactorily. The battalion did not take part in the fighting between 13th and 27th February, being left along with other troops under Colonel Burn-Murdoch to hold an intrenched post near the bridge over the little Tugela at Springfield, and other positions on the left and rear. The Lancashire Fusiliers, now reduced to about 500 men, held Frere till the 26th February, when they were moved to Gun Hill and Chieveley. Nine officers and 16 men were mentioned in General Buller's despatch of 30th March 1900, chiefly for exceptional gallantry at Spion Kop, 5 being recommended for the distinguished conduct medal. In his final despatch of 9th November 1900 General Buller mentioned 7 officers and 2 non-commissioned officers; and in Lord Roberts' final despatch 10 officers and 19 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.
When General Buller moved into the Transvaal the Vth Division remained about the railway, and then operated in the south-east of that country, the Utrecht-Vryheid district, and frequently saw tough fighting. The Mounted Infantry of the Lancashire Fusiliers formed part of the garrison of Vryheid when that town was attacked on 10th-11th December 1900. After very severe fighting the enemy was driven off with a loss of 100 killed and wounded. The men of the battalion had about 10 casualties.
At Fort Itala on 26th September 1901 (see 2nd Royal Lancaster) the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers were represented in the little force which made one of the finest stands recorded in the campaign. One man of the battalion was killed and 5 wounded.
In January 1901 the battalion entrained at Dundee for the Pretoria district. On arriving about Elandsfontein five companies were put into the column of Colonel Allenby, and three companies, under Major Tidswell, into the column of Colonel E C Knox; these columns being two of those then commencing the great sweep under General French to the Piet Retief district. In the beginning of May the battalion got together again at Middelburg and relieved the 2nd Berkshire Regiment on the railway line. Headquarters were at Wonderfontein. The battalion remained in the Eastern Transvaal till peace was declared.
Some Mounted Infantry of the battalion were present at Kaffir's Spruit on 19th December 1901, when 1 non-commissioned officer and 2 privates gained mention in despatches by Lord Kitchener. In the final despatch 5 officers and 8 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.
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