HOMEWARD BOUND—APPROBATION FROM LORD ROBERTS—CAPE TOWN’S ACKNOWLEDGMENTS—FAREWELL TO SOUTH AFRICA
Though they did not know it at the time, Lumsden’s Horse as a corps had done their last march in the Transvaal, and fired their last shot against the Boers. They had begun to think that others, with less chance of serving the Empire elsewhere and fewer interests calling them home, could very well do all the work that remained to be done in South Africa. Yet up to that time their expressions of a wish to be relieved, as other Volunteer contingents had been, from the fruitless pursuit of guerilla raiders, was productive of no result. It is hardly surprising, therefore, after the miserable experiences of a sweeping movement, by which nothing of any importance had been achieved, and from which nobody suffered much except the troops engaged in it, that a spirit of discontent should have begun to manifest itself among men who knew that every day they remained in South Africa might jeopardise all their future careers. They were running the risk of losing all and gaining no commensurate advantage either for themselves or for the Empire. It is little to be wondered at, therefore, that they should have envied the City Imperial Volunteers, the Canadians, and some other Colonial contingents which had been allowed to leave for home when Lord Roberts declared that regular warfare was at an end. Even the departure of some of their own comrades, whose plea of urgent private affairs had prevailed over military considerations, seemed to some extent a grievance, so that when Thesiger, Townsend-Smith, and Moir-Byres were allowed to go many others regretted that they also had not applied for passages to India instead of England. So far back as October 9, Army Orders had contained the following:
It has been brought to the notice of the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief that many men of the Colonial contingents made arrangements before leaving their homes for only one year, which has now nearly expired. Though precise date cannot yet be fixed on which all will be free, commanding officers may submit names of any urgent cases at once, and the Field-Marshal hopes that within the next few weeks he may be able to dispense with their services, which have proved invaluable to the Empire.
But Lord Roberts, with every wish to meet the convenience of those who had sacrificed much for the sake of serving under him, found himself hampered by unforeseen circumstances, which were fully explained in one of his despatches about this date. ‘There still remained much for the Army in South Africa to do before the country could be said to be completely conquered. Certain Boer leaders, notably De Wet and De la Rey, had still to be dealt with, and the guerilla warfare carried on by them put a stop to.’ This state of affairs made it imperative that the Army should be broken up into several comparatively small columns of increased mobility. Mounted troops were therefore in more demand than ever.
Great difficulty was experienced in carrying out these necessary changes owing to the time having arrived for the withdrawal of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, the Royal Canadian Regiment, the three batteries of Canadian Artillery, and the greater part of the first contingents furnished by Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania, and allowing the members of the second South African corps to return to their homes and employments after having been embodied for twelve months. It was impossible to disregard the urgent reasons given by our Colonial comrades for not being able to remain longer at the seat of war. They had done admirable service and shown themselves well fitted to take their places by the side of Her Majesty’s Regular troops, and I witnessed their departure with deep regret, not only on account of their many soldierly qualities, but because it materially impaired the mobility and efficiency of the Army in South Africa for the time being, a very critical time, too, until indeed a fresh body of Mounted Infantry could be formed from the nearest available Line battalions, and the several South African local corps could be again recruited up to their original strength.
Thus, the Commander-in-Chief, having declared that regular warfare was at an end, found himself unable to deal effectually with raiding guerilla bands for want of enough mobile troops. In this difficulty he kept faith with those who had completed the year of service for which they had enlisted by letting them go. Lumsden’s Horse did not come within that category, and, though Lord Roberts recognised the justice of their Colonel’s plea on behalf of men who were sacrificing much, he would promise nothing until fresh companies of Mounted Infantry could be formed to fill the places left vacant by Canadians, New Zealanders, and Australians who had gone. Colonel Lumsden’s ceaseless efforts, however, had so impressed the Commander-in-Chief that he sent a cable message to the Viceroy urging him, as Honorary Colonel of Lumsden’s Horse, to use all his influence with employers on behalf of members of the corps, so that their appointments in India might be kept open for them a little longer. Lord Roberts added: ‘I trust the war is nearly over, but it is essential that all shall hold together till the end, and it would be a hardship to members of a corps that has done such gallant service if they were to suffer for their devotion to the cause of the Empire.’ Several men whose cases were exceptionally urgent got permission to leave for India, and others who had accepted commissions in Regular regiments or civil appointments were necessarily taken off the strength of the corps, which consequently became reduced to little more than a full company. One of the Colonel’s Staff, therefore, thought it an opportune time to trace the whereabouts of men who had ceased to serve in the ranks of Lumsden’s Horse. He therefore prepared a record in tabulated form, which was at that time the most complete return available, though he prefaced it with an apology for incompleteness:
The corps has shifted about such a lot recently that it is difficult to know accurately what has happened to many men who were left sick at various points in the march. But the following is pretty correct so far as it goes.
Follett, M. Died in hospital Maclaine Adlam Burnett Bankes, E.N. Bewsher Birch Burn-Murdoch Campbell, H. A., Sergeant Campbell, L. C. Cheshire Cooper Dawson, Ernest Elliott, Sergeant Glascock Hunter-Muskett Invalided, Jameson, J.V. England Keating Logan McMinn Martin, A. Martin, C.K. Mitchell Neville, Lieutenant (since rejoined) Oldham Saunders Skelton Thelwall, H.W. Walton A.N. Woods Baldwin Invalided Thompson, F.C. India Turnbull Howes—Invalided, Burma Follett, F.B. (convalescent) Invalided, Gough, H. (convalescent) Cape Noblett, Captain (since rejoined) Town Bearne—Military Governor’s Office, Pretoria Booth—Corps Depôt, Pretoria Chartres, Corporal—Medical Office, Middelburg. Conduit—Pretoria Police Firth, Corporal—Military Governor’s Office, Pretoria Francis—Rest Camp, Cape Town Huddleston—Assistant-Commissioner of Police, Kroonstad Macgillivray—Corps Depôt, Pretoria Morris, Corporal—Remount Department, Johannesburg Pugh, Lieutenant—Assistant-Commissioner of Police, Bloemfontein Richey—Corps Depôt, Pretoria Stuart, C.E.—Military Governor’s Office, Pretoria Shaw, H.N.—Corps Depôt Watson, Remount Department, Johannesburg Warburton—Secretary, Irish Hospital,Pretoria Woollright—Medical Officer, Elandsfontein Anderson P.W. Banks H.K. Dawson Evetts Fuller Transferred temporarily FitzGerald to A.S. F.B. Johnstone Corps, Pretoria Meares Nightingale Pringle Rice Waller
Hayward Regular signallers Longman transferred to Lowe Hamilton’s Division Lee
Braine Chapman, E.S. Charles, J. Hospital, Pretoria Clifford, F.M. (convalescent) Wilkinson
Clerk Hospital, Forbes Germiston Haines, R.P.
Harvey, C.C. (convalescent) Hospital, Kenny (convalescent) Bloemfontein Puckeridge (convalescent) Pryce (convalescent) Hospital, Walker, Arthur (convalescent) Bloemfontein Willis
Jones, B.E.—Convalescent, Elandsfontein Sladden—Hospital, East London Walton, C.F.—Hospital, Johannesburg
Cayley Granted discharge, England Cubitt
Graham, J.A.—Granted leave, India
Of the above-named, Elliott, Burn-Murdoch, and C.A. Walton were invalided on account of wounds. J.S. Saunders cracked a bone in his arm when he took the fall at Spytfontein which cost him his liberty, and he has been sent home by the medical authorities as being incapacitated for further service. C.E. Stuart is also unfit for active service, as the wound in his foot sustained at the taking of Pretoria has left permanent effects. He moves about gingerly, and is buoyed up with the hope of a pension for life. Stuart wears spectacles, and he’ll need ’em badly when it comes to drawing his quarterly allowance.
Poor Maclaine, who died here of pneumonia on August 29, makes the eighth death in the regiment. Though most of us are enjoying splendid health and spirits, it is sad to reflect that to so many our campaign in South Africa has brought but sickness and broken constitutions.
Some record of those old comrades whose services have won well-merited recognition, and whose subsequent movements I have endeavoured to trace for the delectation of cousins, aunts, creditors, and insurance company secretaries, would not come amiss. The home authorities and Lord Roberts himself have treated the regiment most generously in the matter of commissions in the Regular Army, as the following list will show. Men named have been gazetted, as far as I can remember, to the regiments stated below:
W. Douglas Jones, A.S. Corps J.A. Fraser, West India Regiment
Montagu Bates, East Surrey Percy Smith, Oxfordshire L.I. Regiment
J.S. Biscoe, West India G.P.O. Springfield, 3rd Regiment Dragoon Guards
P.J. Partridge, P. Strahan, South Northamptonshire Regiment Staffordshire Regiment
B.C.A. Steuart, Black Watch F.W. Wright, A.S. Corps
Arathoon, 3rd Dragoon Guards H.S.N. Wright, A.S. Corps
R.G. Collins, West India T.B. Nicholson, West India Regiment Regiment
Fletcher, A.S. Corps Norton, West India Regiment
C.R. Macdonald, Argyll and Hugh Blair, Somersetshire L.I. Sutherland Highlanders
Of the above, Macdonald’s, I think, has not yet been confirmed, but all the others have gone, some to their regiments in the country, and others to report at the War Office. Arathoon, who has been one of the best and cheeriest of the regiment, is, I am sorry to say, in the Irish Hospital here recovering from a bad go of rheumatic fever, which will prevent him from joining his new regiment for a long time.
Meanwhile it appears that Colonel Lumsden had been trying to secure for Calcutta one of the guns so gallantly captured by his men. He received the following letter:
Army Headquarters, Johannesburg: November 8, 1900.
DEAR COLONEL LUMSDEN,—With reference to your request to be permitted to take back to Calcutta one of the guns captured from the enemy, the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief desires me to inform you that he fears you must wait until he knows definitely what guns he has to dispose of.
Believe me, yours sincerely,
H.V. COWAN, Lieutenant-Colonel, Military Secretary.
That the corps were not so homesick as to have lost their zest for sport or for the simple pleasures that came in their way may be gathered from the following note furnished by their late Adjutant:
On the conclusion of the march from Machadodorp we were left to re-equip for ten days at Pretoria, and were one day asked to produce an officers’ polo team. We had some seven officers to choose from, and a few chargers which were small enough for the game; no sticks, and only parade saddles, and we had never played together. However, we produced a team and went to the fray. We found it was quite a big affair. There was a crowd of spectators, with a fair ground, umpires, whistles, &c., and we agreed to play ‘Hurlingham Rules,’ which none of us knew. They kindly lent us polo-sticks of sorts, and the game began. It was a really good game, and the chargers, rendered docile by work and starvation, played wonderfully. However, we were beaten by two goals to one, and in the return match we each got one goal. We were quite proud of the show, as our opponents represented the whole garrison, including one Cavalry division, and were in some practice.
One day about this time the Editor was present at a little scene which may be interesting as an example of the many strange meetings that characterised a campaign in which men from all parts of the world came together. His son, a lieutenant in the Army Service Corps, had just been transferred from an Irregular Cavalry regiment, and they were celebrating the first occasion of being together since the relief of Ladysmith. At another table Colonel Lumsden and some of his officers were dining. Introductions followed, when suddenly Captain Holmes and the young lieutenant greeted each other by familiar nicknames which neither had heard for some years. As students they had served together in the Artists’ Volunteers, of which Lord Leighton was then Honorary Colonel. They had been fighting through the campaign, one from Natal, the other from Bloemfontein. Their paths had crossed several times without either knowing it, and here at the end they met in Pretoria for the first time since boyhood. Such incidents occurred frequently until they ceased to be strange, and they illustrate the all-prevailing power of a sentiment that drew men from every quarter of the globe to South Africa, where the Empire’s interests centred. All were then beginning to think that there might be still a long spell of campaigning before them, and, in spite of a little natural grumbling, they took the prospect philosophically enough, as we may see by the following extract from a trooper’s letter:
At Pretoria we were joined by Captain Noblett and Captain Stevenson, who had been away on two months’ sick leave visiting Natal battlefields, and Lieutenant Neville, who had left us sick in June, been to England, and come back, and little expected to find any of us still there. We were overjoyed to hear we were to have ten days’ rest in tents, the first we had seen for many months. We were now living on the fat of the land, with—luxury of luxuries—a dry canteen where you could buy at half price those necessaries of life which had lately been considered luxuries, the balance being paid out of the funds provided by our kind friends in India. Here we waxed fat. Colonel Lumsden, in his absence from the corps, had not been idle, and had been putting before the highest authorities the real urgency in many cases to men for whom prolonged absence from India would mean absolute ruin. To such purpose did he work that a week after arrival we received the welcome news that seventy of the most urgent cases were permitted to go. We saw them off on November 15 under Major Chamney, and then returned to camp in full anticipation of another year of it. A week after this came the joyful news that the whole corps was also to return at once, and on the 22nd we entrained for Cape Town. Despite various alarms, railway accidents, and breaking up of the line in front of us, we arrived in Cape Town without mishap.
Alas! for the horses. Only four remained to come back with the corps. Some troopers hoped to have brought the regimental dog, who was quite a veteran and by distinguished service fully entitled to ease, with a pension for life. Trooper D. Morison gives the following sketch of him:
He first attached himself to the regiment at Irene in July 1900. He very soon became a popular character among us, and went by the name of Kruger, and from that time on he was always to be found with the regiment. His intelligence was almost human, and it is a mystery how he could always find the regiment when marching with other troops. On more than one occasion he has been the means of finding men in distant parts of the field owing to his white colour. That dog and Trooper Burgess seemed to understand each other perfectly. He started from Pretoria with the regiment en route for India, but unfortunately got left behind one morning at a wayside station.
On November 21 Lord Roberts telegraphed to Colonel Adye, A.A.G. for Colonial Forces:
Please convey the following message to Colonel Lumsden. Am extremely sorry to be unable to see Colonel Lumsden’s regiment and say good-bye before they leave South Africa. I am telegraphing to the Viceroy, who is Honorary Colonel of the regiment, to express my appreciation of the admirable work done by all ranks during the present war. Colonel Lumsden and all serving under him have my best wishes for their future success.
Lieutenant-Colonel Lumsden replied:
Kindly convey to Field-Marshal Lord Roberts the deep appreciation felt by my regiment and myself of the great kindness expressed in his telegram and shown to us throughout the period we have had the honour of serving under him.
That telegram was not known in Cape Town when, on November 22, Major Chamney, with the convalescents and those who had been allowed to leave the corps a week earlier, marched to the Docks, headed by the band of the Cheshire Regiment, and embarked for India on board the ‘Catalonia.’ They went off amid loud cheers from ship and shore, little thinking that the corps would so soon follow or that its departure would be marked by a great demonstration complimentary to every man in its ranks.
Sixteen of the corps embarked, under Major Chamney’s command, in the ‘Catalonia,’ and sailed from Table Bay in the company of 600 Boer prisoners. At Durban, finding measles on board the ‘Catalonia,’ they disembarked, and took the Clan steamer ‘Sinclair’ to Calcutta, calling at Galle by the way. They were Sergeants Stewart, Pratt, and Oakley; Corporal Horne, Lance-Corporal Phillips, Troopers Dalton, Clarke, Elsie, Biscoe, H. Allardice, Elwes, Hight, Lucas, Moore, Brown, and H.C. Wood. The last named was seized with measles and had to be left at Galle.
On November 23 Field-Marshal Lord Roberts telegraphed to His Excellency the Viceroy of India (Lord Curzon of Kedleston) as follows:
Lumsden’s Horse left Pretoria to-day for India, about 120 strong. I cannot allow the corps to leave South Africa without expressing to your Excellency, as their Honorary Colonel, my appreciation of the excellent services rendered throughout the war by officers, non-commissioned officers, and men. Many of them have received commissions in the Regular forces, and many are remaining in South Africa in various employments, to take their part in the settlement of that country which they have assisted to add to Her Majesty’s dominions. It has been a pride and a pleasure to me to have under my command a Volunteer contingent which has so well upheld the honour of the Indian Empire.
The Viceroy, on November 26, replied:
It is a great satisfaction to me, as Honorary Colonel of Lumsden’s Horse, to receive the message in which you have testified to their gallantry and services in the war. India will welcome those who are coming back with enthusiasm, and wish God-speed to those who stay and have served in such a campaign, and have earned the praises of such a commander.
Colonel Lumsden, with the remainder of the corps, embarked in the ‘Atlantian’ on December 5, at Cape Town, after a farewell speech from the Mayor of Cape Town, Mr. T.J. O’Reilly.
The following appeared in the ‘Cape Times’ of December 6:
About 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon His Worship the Mayor (Mr. T.J. O’Reilly), accompanied by the Town Clerk (Mr. C.J. Byworth) and the Mace Bearer, attended at the South Arm to say farewell to the Indian Volunteer contingent known as Lumsden’s Horse, under the command of Colonel Lumsden. The men were drawn up on the South Arm, alongside of which lay the huge transport ‘Atlantian,’ which was to convey them to India.
Colonel Lumsden, having called the men to attention, stated that it was very gratifying to him to know that His Worship the Mayor had so kindly come down to the Docks to say a few words to them before they sailed.
His Worship said: Colonel Lumsden, Officers, and Men of Lumsden’s Horse,—I am very pleased indeed to have the honour of saying a few words to you to-day before you leave South Africa. We are all very grateful to you for the noble services you have rendered in the field for us for upwards of twelve months. You are now going home covered with honour and glory, and I earnestly trust you will find all those you left behind you well and anxious to give you a hearty welcome, which I feel sure awaits you on your return. On the outbreak of hostilities in this country Colonel Lumsden at once offered his services, and also to organise a corps to proceed to South Africa to fight for Queen and country. Out of 1,000 men who eagerly offered themselves in response to the call for volunteers, 250 were accepted. This gratifying response is an eloquent testimony to the patriotic spirit by which the British race all over the world are animated. To the public of India and to Colonel Lumsden belong the credit for the equipment of your corps with everything needful excepting rifle and bandolier, and I can only characterise the action of your Colonel as patriotic in the highest degree, and deserving the hearty thanks of all, apart from the splendid services rendered in the field. I feel assured that if Lord Roberts were now to ask Colonel Lumsden to again return to the field, his request would be most willingly and promptly complied with by one and all of the contingent here to-day, who would be only too eager to follow their trusted and tried leader to further honour and glory. Some of your members have fallen in the field fighting bravely for the dear old flag and the honour and prestige of the Empire. Others, more fortunate, have secured civil and other appointments in the country in which they have acquitted themselves with so much credit to the corps and the country from which they hail. Out of the 250 men comprised in the corps as originally organised, twenty-five have received commissions, a most gratifying percentage, while fifteen men have received civil appointments and thirty have joined the constabulary force commanded by General Baden-Powell, so that on the whole your corps have done exceedingly well as regards employment in South Africa. It is also very pleasing to learn that the contingent holds a splendid record from Field-Marshal Lord Roberts downwards. I wish to impress upon you the fact that, after your Queen and the Empire, you were fighting for the vital principles of right and justice claimed by Mr. Chamberlain and Sir Alfred Milner, and if Mr. Kruger and Mr. Steyn had been willing to recognise the equity of such claim there would have been no necessity to have recourse to the sword. It is recognised that the only man who is capable of establishing permanent peace and settlement in South Africa is His Excellency Sir Alfred Milner, and by urging this fact, in season and out of season, whenever the opportunity occurs upon your return to India you will be rendering a further service to the country which you have already placed under a lasting debt of gratitude for services already performed. We are going to send you a little souvenir of your sojourn in South Africa, and as a slight token of our gratitude and appreciation for the great work you have done for us; and as the years roll on and your children and grandchildren gather around you, probably you may be asked by a son or a grandson as to the history of the souvenir from South Africa. In telling the story remember the refrain of the soldier’s song:
Roll drums merrily, march away, Soldiers glory famed in story. His laurels were green when his locks were grey, Hurrah for the life of a soldier.
When you look at the souvenir in after-years, when, perhaps, your locks are grey, you can always bear in mind that the laurels you have won in this country will remain ever green with us, and we hope ever green with you. Colonel Lumsden, officers, and men, I now bid you bon voyage, a safe return home, a happy Christmas on board the good ship ‘Atlantian,’ and a bright and prosperous New Year in your distant homes in India.
Colonel Lumsden said: Your Worship,—On behalf of Lumsden’s Horse and myself, I thank you most cordially for the eloquent speech you have made to-day, and I also thank you for coming down here, I feel sure at no little inconvenience, to bid us farewell on our departure from these shores. We shall ever think of the time we spent in South Africa, but I should like you to understand, Mr. Mayor, that in coming here we were only actuated by our duty to our Queen and to our country. I have again to thank you for the trouble you have been good enough to take in coming down to the Docks this afternoon, and to assure you that we greatly appreciate your courtesy and kindness.
Colonel Lumsden then called upon the officers and men to join with him in giving three hearty cheers for the Mayor, and the call was enthusiastically responded to. His Worship then shook hands with the Colonel and officers, and expressed the hope that the men would enjoy their voyage and have a happy Christmas.
So, amid cheers and many good wishes, Lumsden’s Horse took their farewell of South Africa, leaving behind them a reputation of which any regiment might have been proud. They had fought side by side with Regular soldiers of the British Army, and earned a character for courage among men whose self-sacrificing devotion they, in turn, regarded with admiration and strove to emulate. They had made many friends among all branches of the Service, Imperial and Colonial, and had won the respect even of their enemies. It had been their good fortune to serve under three at least of the ablest leaders who came to the front in the course of that long campaign, and from every one of these they won commendation as a body of troopers on whom reliance might be placed in any emergency. No better name need any soldiers want to take home with them and hand down to their children’s children.