The 2nd Battalion sailed on the Roslin Castle on 19th October 1899, and arrived at the Cape about 8th November and at Durban about the 11th. Along with the 2nd Queen's, 2nd Devons, and 2nd East Surrey, they formed the 2nd Brigade under Major General Hildyard. The work of the brigade is sketched under the 2nd Queen's.
At Willow Grange on 22nd November, when Hildyard made the night attack on Joubert's people, the West Yorks had the place of honour and did well. In his report, dated 24th November 1899, General Hildyard said, "Colonel Kitchener, West Yorkshire Regiment, led the assaulting force with energy and judgment, and all ranks of the 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment behaved admirably". The losses of the battalion were approximately 10 men killed, 1 officer and 50 men wounded, and Major Hobbs a prisoner. Major Hobbs was taken prisoner owing to his anxiety to bring in all those who were wounded. At Venter's Spruit the battalion had some very severe fighting on the left of Warren's force, particularly on 21st January. One company got so far in advance of the general line that they had to remain isolated till nightfall. That day the battalion lost 1 officer and 5 men killed, and 1 officer and over 40 men wounded.
At Vaal Krantz the battalion held the right of the hill, and were badly bothered all the 7th February by rifle and shell fire, but of course held their ground without a murmur.
In the great combat between 13th and 27th February the West Yorks were constantly in the thickest. In his despatch of 14th March General Buller says (para 12): "The 2nd Brigade crossed the nek and assaulted Monte Cristo, the steep crags of which were brilliantly carried after considerable resistance by the West Yorkshire and Queen's Regiments. Captain T H Berney, West Yorkshire Regiment, a most gallant officer, led the assault and was the first man up. He was, I regret to say, shot through the head as he got to the top". The battalion's magnificent attack on Railway Hill on the afternoon of the 27th greatly assisted to set the long doubtful issue at rest. That day the battalion was temporarily attached to the Lancashire Brigade, the brigadier being their own former colonel, F W Kitchener. The capture of Railway Hill will always be one of the proudest of the regiment's feats; and it must be remembered that the task was designed for two battalions, that by an accident it was left to this battalion alone, and they did it. Captain Conwyn Mansell-Jones was awarded the VC for "his self-sacrificing devotion to duty at a critical moment" in the action. Seven officers and 9 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned by General Buller and General Warren for exceptional gallantry, 4 of the latter being recommended for the distinguished conduct medal. The losses of the battalion on the fourteen days' fighting were approximately 1 officer and 6 men killed, 6 officers and 85 men wounded.
At Alleman's Nek, 11th June 1900, the battalion supported the two Surrey regiments, but got in fairly close at the finish. Two officers, a sergeant, and a private were mentioned in General Buller's despatch of 19th June 1900, and 5 officers and 4 non-commissioned officers in his final despatch of 9th November 1900.
For a time the Natal Army was largely employed on garrison work and in occupying the south-east of the Transvaal, but soon it had to assist Lord Roberts in other ways, and the West Yorkshire did a lot of trekking and hard fighting under different generals.
In August 1900 the West Yorkshire were placed under Smith-Dorrien, along with the 1st Royal Scots, 1st Royal Irish Regiment, and 1st Gordons. They were railed from Pretoria to Belfast, whence the brigade, exclusive of this battalion, moved north towards Lydenburg in order to assist General Buller, who had found a position near Badfontein too strong to attack frontally.
In September 1900 the battalion was withdrawn from their garrison duties on the Delagoa line and placed along with the 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders under Brigadier General Cunningham, who commanded the infantry of a column under Broadwood. The column marched from Pretoria to Rustenburg; the mounted troops did the clearing of the country, and the infantry garrisoned the town and posts.
In Lord Roberts' final despatch 11 officers and 19 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.
On 3rd December 1900 two companies of the battalion were part of the escort of a convoy travelling to Rustenburg, which was attacked by a large Boer force. After very stiff fighting the Boers were driven off, but they succeeded in destroying half of the waggons. In this affair the battalion lost 9 killed and 13 wounded. In his despatch of 8th March 1901 Lord Kitchener said the escort made a very gallant stand.
On February 1901 a portion of the battalion was with General Smith-Dorrien in the Eastern Transvaal. Before dawn on 6th February he was very heavily attacked at Bothwell, near Lake Chrissie, by a big force under Botha. On that occasion the West Yorks had extremely hard fighting, and lost 19 men killed and 7 wounded. Sergeant W B Traynor was awarded the Victoria Cross for bringing in a wounded comrade, after he had himself been wounded, and then returning to the command of his section. Four non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th March, and 1 officer and 4 non-commissioned officers were subsequently mentioned for their good work on this occasion. The battalion accompanied Smith-Dorrien to Piet Retief. They were afterwards brought to the Western Transvaal to do blockhouse work.
The battalion was not again so heavily engaged as at Bothwell, although they were still to see a great deal of marching and not a little fighting. In September and October 1901 they were with Brigadier General Bullock, along with the 2nd Scots Guards, and under him erected a line of blockhouses between Wakkerstroom and Piet Retief. Until the close of the campaign they were chiefly located in the extreme east of the Transvaal, and had many skirmishes in the difficult country close to the Swazi border, in which work they gained several commendations during the war. In Lord Kitchener's final despatch 4 officers and 3 non-commissioned officers were mentioned.
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