On October 26th, the day we arrived back, Ladysmith was very full of troops. The following were the different regiments assembled there, not including the Dundee troops :
5th Dragoon Guards.
1st Brigade Division Royal Artillery (21st, 42nd, and 53rd Batteries).
10th Mountain Battery.
2nd Battalion King's Royal Rifles.
1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment from Allahabad.
1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment from Jullundur.
1st Battalion Liverpool Regiment from Capetown.
1st Battalion Manchester Regiment from Gibraltar.
2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders from Solon, India.
1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers from Egypt.
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade from Crete.
About 500 Imperial Light Horse.
Detachments of Natal Carabineers.
Natal Border Rifles.
Durban Naval Brigade.
Durban Light Infantry.
100 Mounted Infantry of Leicestershire Regiment.
Fifty Mounted Infantry of the 1st K.R.R.
Two 4.7 naval guns and two twelve pounder guns, with a detachment of the Naval Brigade.
The 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade and the naval contingent did not reach Ladysmith till the 30th October. The Dublin Fusiliers, of the Glencoe Field Force, were sent off immediately after their arrival at Ladysmith to hold Colenso railway bridge.
This left a total available fighting force in Ladysmith of, roughly, 6,500 men and about 2,500 horses, or, with the Glencoe Field Force added, some 9,000 men and 3,100 horses.
The " Eighteenth " remained in their quarters at the Tin camp on the 27th and 28th, and on the 29th they went out with most of the other mounted troops on a reconnaissance in the Modder Spruit direction.
This reconnaissance was productive of very little result; patrols from " B " Squadron proceeded to Limit Hill and Lombard's Kop, and a few Boers were sighted, but enough information was to hand from various sources to show that the Boers were now in considerable strength along Pepworth Hill and Long Hill, while Free State commandos were encircling Ladysmith on the western side.
October 30th.—Acting on the information he had obtained of the dispositions of the Transvaal Boer forces on the north side of Ladysmith, General White determined to attack them whilst, as he was informed, they were separated from the Free State commandos, who had trekked round the west side of the town to take possession of the Colenso railway bridge. The inglorious encounter at Farquhar's Farm and the surrender at Nicholson's Nek were the unprofitable result of the day's fighting.
The 18th Hussars took part in these operations, and started out from Ladysmith camp at 2 a.m. to Limit Hill, where they were joined by the 5th Dragoon Guards and Imperial Light Horse, and waited there till daybreak under the command of Brigadier-General Brocklehurst. The battle commenced with an Artillery duel, and when that had slackened off a little, at about 7.30 a.m., General French, who was in command of the mounted troops, decided to take all the Cavalry to the right flank, and the 18th Hussars and General Brocklehurst's other troops proceeded to Lombard's Kop. The 18th dismounted there and lined the summit and sides of the hill, where they came under a heavy fire from the Boers, who were posted on a ridge in front of them. The cover was good however; there were no casualties, and the Boers eventually retired out of range. The Regiment remained for some hours at Lombard's Kop while the Infantry attack by Farquhar's Farm on Long Hill was developing, but the country beyond the kop was too difficult for the Cavalry there to be of any assistance in the Infantry's forward advance, and at the same time the position they were in was too far back from the right flank of the Infantry to cause their presence there to be any check to a commando of Boers, which had quickly outflanked our Infantry's right.
As they could make no further forward progress they were ordered, about midday, to withdraw, and the mounted troops on Lombard's Kop covered their retirement. In performing this duty they were most ably assisted by the batteries of Artillery, who effectively prevented the Boers gaining possession of Lombard's Kop when the Cavalry had at last to leave it. The " Eighteenth " got back to Ladysmith about 2 p.m. The report by General Brocklehurst on the action of the Cavalry under his command is given below.
REPORT ON ENGAGEMENT AT LOMBARD'S KOP. 30TH OCTOBER, 1899.
From Brigadier-General J. F. Brocklehurst, M.V.O., Commanding Cavalry Brigade.
To the Chief Staff Officer, Natal Field Force, Ladysmith, 80th October, 1899.
I have the honour to report that I arrived at Ladysmith by train at 3 a.m., and proceeded at once to Limit Hill, where I joined my Brigade, consisting of 5th Dragoon Guards, 18th Hussars, and Imperial Light Horse. The remainder of the Cavalry being on the extreme right, under command of Major-General French.
At 7.40 a.m. two squadrons, " I.L.H.," under Major Doveton', took up a position behind three kopjes on the extreme left, a little to the east of Observation Hill, to check the enemy who were attempting to outflank our left. The enemy retired north. About 11 a.m. the remainder of the " I.L.H." were ordered to report to Sir George White, Commander-in-Chief, and passed out of my command. I attach Major Davis's report, and would bring to your notice the action of Lieut, and Adjutant Fitzgerald, 11th Hussars, therein described.
About 8 a.m. I received an order from the Commander-in-Chief to proceed to the right. The Chief Staff Officer accompanied the Brigade. 0\t arriving at Lombard Kop I heard heavy firing, and received an order from Major-General French to reinforce him with all I could. Two-squadrons 5th Dragoon Guards advanced to the eastern slope of Lombard Kop and acted dismounted. I attach Major Gore's report, and would bring to your notice the conduct of Second Lieut. Norwood and Private Sibthorpe therein described.
The 18th Hussars, on arrival at the valley below Lombard Kop, sent one squadron to reinforce the 19th Hussars, holding the north end of the western slope. The remainder of the regiment held the position on the right of the 5th Dragoon Guards, on the eastern slope of the valley.
The whole of the Cavalry were engaged in a warm fire action until the Infantry had retired about one mile. The Brigade then withdrew by the Helpmakaar Road, arriving at camp about 1.30 p.m.
I attribute the little loss in retiring to the accurate fire of our batteries firing through the Nek, which kept down the enemy's rifle fire, and prevented his advancing to Lombard Kop.
The 19th Hussars and 5th Lancers were not under my command. The reports of the Officers Commanding these two Regiments have been rendered separately. I have, etc.,
(Signed) J. F. BROCKLEHURST, Brigadier-General, Commanding Cavalry Brigade.
The regiment was fortunate in escaping without any casualties on October 30th, for Colonel Grimwood's Brigade of Infantry close by had suffered very severely.
October 31st was a quiet day, given up to getting the women and children out of Ladysmith; the Eighteenth turned out at 4.30 a.m. to a rendezvous near Cove Redoubt, where the Cavalry Brigade, under General Brocklehurst, assembled on this and subsequent days till the 10th of November, so as to be ready for any emergency in the early mornings. After parade the regiment returned to the Tin camp for the remainder of the day and night, but our occupation of this spot was destined to be of short duration.
The Boers were putting up guns all round the town and rapidly encircling it, but so far the railway was intact, and remained so till the 2rid of November.
It is not intended in this book to give any description of the general disposition of our troops, during the subsequent siege of Ladysmith, nor yet to recount any of the collective actions of the Natal Field. Force besieged there, which do not directly affect the regiment. The services of the latter only will be hereafter referred to, together with the particular localities they garrisoned, the duties they had to perform, and the manner in which they executed them.
The 18th Hussars were now brigaded with the 5th Lancers, 5th Dragoon Guards, and 19th Hussars, and placed under the command of Brigadier-General Brocklehurst, M.V.O., who had to help him on his staff; Major Wyndham, 16th Lancers, Brigade Major; Lieut. Lord Crichton, R.H.G., as A.D.C. ; and Captain Harrison, 11th Hussars, as Provost Marshall.
November 1st was spent quietly, except for the Boer bombardment of the town, which proceeded intermittently throughout the day.
Early on the morning of November 2nd, at 2 a.m., to be accurate, the regiment turned out and proceeded to the iron road bridge over the Klip river, and waited there till daybreak, when they, together with the rest of the Cavalry Brigade, some Natal Mounted Volunteers, and one Battery Royal Artillery, proceeded off along the Maritzburg road as far as Range Post, with the intention of seizing a Boer laager on the west side of Ladysmith. At Range Post the force turned south and occupied the Nek just north of Bester's Farm, and the one to the west of it. From here the 5th Lancers went on a little further, and our guns were brought into action to shell the laager, which lay on the east side of the Maritzburg road, and about three miles from Bester's Farm. A few rounds were fired at it and a certain amount of uproar created therein, but our attack was not pressed home, and the whole of our force was soon withdrawn to camp, which we reached about 10 a.m. General Brocklehurst's report on the morning's work is as follows :—
SKIRMISH NEAR MIDDLE HILL. 2ND NOVEMBER, 1899.
From Brigadier-Qeneral J. F. Brocklehurst, M.V.O., Commanding Cavalry Brigade.
To the Chief Staff Officer, Natal Field Force,
Ladysmith, 2nd November, 1899.
I have the honour to report that my Brigade and the Natal Mounted Volunteers, and one battery, rendezvoused at the Iron Bridge under Major-General French, commanding Cavalry, at 4 a.m. The force advanced across Long Valley.
The Volunteers, under Colonel Royston, and one section "R.A.," held the Nek between Waggon Hill and Middle Hill. From here a laager of the enemy could be seen, but it was out of range from that point. The remainder of the force advanced to the Nek between Middle Hill and End Hill; one squadron 5th Lancers held the ridge dismounted.
The remaining four guns and two squadrons 5th Lancers pushed on about 3,000 yards through the Nek, and the guns placed about ten shells into the laager. The enemy lined a ridge and opened rifle fire, their guns also coming into action.
Major-General French having effected his object, withdrew the guns and the force retired, reaching camp before 10 a.m.
I have, etc,
(Signed) J. F. BROCKLEHURST, Brigadier-General, Commanding Cavalry Brigade.
During our absence from the Tin camp the Boers had been getting to work putting up guns in position to shell it, and no sooner had we returned than they opened fire on us, and we had to withdraw with our horses to the gully, where the footbridge to the rifle ranges crosses the Klip river, and there we remained till dusk.
November 3rd.—Next day we proceeded to the same spot instead of going to Cove Redoubt, as the Cavalry Brigade was undertaking another reconnaissance along the Maritzburg road, an account of which is given in the accompanying report. The i8th Hussars were ordered out at about 11.30 a.m. to join the remainder of the Brigade which had started from Ladysmith early in the morning.
From Brigadier-General J. F. Brocklehurst, M.V.O., Commanding Cavalry Brigade.
To the Chief Staff Officer, Natal Field Force,
Ladysmith, 3rd November, 1899. The Brigade rendezvoused at the old transport lines, and was disposed, so as to support the Helpmakaar Post in case of an expected attack at dawn.
At 9.45 a.m. patrols reported enemy moving west of Ladysmith.
The Brigade rendezvoused at once at Range Post. The following is the report rendered on the day's operations:—
"At 10 a.m. the 19th Hussars, 5th Dragoon Guards, and the 21st Field Battery assembled at Range Post. Four squadrons 'I.L.H.' were already about one mile to the front, in the direction of Lancer's Nek, and had located the enemy with one gun on the ridge to their front.
" At 11.15 a.m. I advanced the battery, with escort of one squadron 5th Dragoon Guards, direct on the hill reported to be held by the enemy; with the other two squadrons 5th Dragoon Guards on the right rear of the guns. The 19th Hussars advanced over the Long Valley to the ridge to our left and outflanked the enemy's left. I sent orders to the 18th Hussars to turn out and watch the right rear of my advance. I requested General Hamilton to guard my left rear, and he occupied the detached hill one mile south of Caesar's Camp with two companies of Infantry, and sent one company Mounted Infantry to a large round topped hill east of Colenso Road.
"At 11.40 a.m. the enemy opened fire. My battery advanced to effective range, and in about four shots silenced the enemy's gun. It then turned its fire on a kraal enclosure, in which some enemy appeared to be laagered.
" At 12.15 p.m. the 19th Hussars reported Artillery fire to their right at about 2,000 yards range, and they halted under the ridge and occupied it with dismounted fire. The 18th Hussars halted still more to the right behind the kopje near the nek on Van Reenen's Road.
** I sent back then to headquarters for two more batteries. About this time it appeared to the officer commanding ' I.L.H' that the balk of the enemy had retired from the ridge, and dismounting his men he advanced close up to it. The advance was most gallantly made, but being unsupported, it was an error of judgment, and I would not have sanctioned it had I been aware that it was contemplated. The enemy returned to the ridge, and our guns had to fire on the ridge and a green kopje to our left to keep down their rifle fire.
" In order to facilitate the retreat of the ' I.L.H.' I ordered Major Gore, commanding 5th Dragoon Guards, to send one squadron forward to take up a position to cover their retirement, which he did, finding shelter in a nullah 1,000 yards to my front.
" At 1 p.m. the Natal Mounted Rifles, under Colonel Royston, came up, and I sent them on the high hill to my left, where they became warmly engaged till the withdrawal of the force.
"Two more batteries also arrived. The 42nd was sent to the right to silence the enemy's gun there, and to act with the 19th Hussars. The 53rd came up in line with the 21st.
" At 1.30 p.m. a large body of the enemy was reported by the 18th and 19th Hussars trekking east to west. The officer commanding 19th Hussars called up the battery on the right, and the enemy came under their fire and that of the dismounted men, and suffered considerable loss. At about 4 p.m. I concentrated the Artillery fire on the ridge, and the ' I.L.H.' withdrew behind the guns at a gallop in extended order. About fifteen minutes later the squadron 5th Dragoon Guards withdrew in the same manner.
"I decided to attempt nothing further till assured that Colonel Royston had entirely cleared the hill on the left, but, on his signalling that the enemy was advancing in great numbers, I turned the Artillery fire on the green kopje which was bringing a cross fire on the Volunteers, and ordered a retirement from the left. This was carried out with the greatest steadiness. The enemy was too distant for the heavy rifle fire they kept up to molest us, but again opened fire with their guns from front and both flanks.
"I would like to mention the excellent practice made by our Artillery, and the capable way in which Colonel Royston, with the Volunteers, secured my left. I also wish to commend the able way in which Major Heneage's squadron, under direction of Major Gore, advanced and covered the withdrawal of the ' I.L.H/
"General Hamilton brings to my notice the judgment shown by Captain Bridgford, commanding the Mounted Infantry, Manchester Regiment, in covering the retirement.
"I regret the great expenditure of Artillery ammunition, but it was necessary to keep down the enemy's rifle fire to avert considerable loss to the 'I.L.H.' and Major Heneage's squadron, 5th Dragoon Guards.
"I attach reports of General Hamilton, Colonel Jenkins, Colonel Royston, and Major Davis." I have, etc.,
(Signed) J. P. BROCKLEHURST, Brigadier-General.
The siege had now regularly set in in earnest, the railway line had been cut the day before, and the Boer commandos completely encircled the town. We were cut off from the outside world, though we then hardly realised it, and when we did give it a thought, we reckoned that it was only an incident in the war, and our further offensive operations would be resumed at a very early date.
The regiment got back to the Tin camp about 5 p.m., and spent the night there, parading again next morning as usual under Cove Redoubt.
November 4th.—The Boers sent our wounded officers and men, who had been left behind at Dundee, into Ladysmith, and took advantage of this to send one of their Staats Artillerie men as a waggon driver with a red cross on his arm to spy out our defences, and we did not become aware of the ruse till after it was too late to take the man prisoner.
It was unsafe to occupy the Tin camp any longer by day, so we bivouacked instead in the gully by the footbridge during the day time, and retired to the Tin camp at night. This procedure we continued for a few days, but the Tin camp very soon became unsafe at night as well as day, and we had to make a permanent camping ground of the gully instead.
The next few days were uneventful, the Boers regularly shelling the town and outskirts intermittently during the daytime, and our patrols were regularly shot at when they went their usual useless rounds to the different points of the compass they were ordered to go to, and which by now were well-known to the Boers.
On November the 9th the usual monotony of the siege, which we were becoming quite accustomed to by now, was broken by a more vigorous bombardment on the part of the Boers, and by two distinct attacks executed by them on Signal Hill and Caesar's Camp. The attacks were easily repelled, and the mounted troops did not take part in the fight.
Cavalry are certainly an anomaly in a beleaguered town, and during the commencement of the siege of Ladysmith there is no doubt that the regular Cavalry assembled there was a puzzle to the Staff to dispose of. On the face of it it would appear to have been more practical to have come to a sweeping decision before the siege commenced, and despatched a greater portion of the Cavalry to Escourt to await there the relieving army, retaining in their place the battalion of the Dublin Fusiliers sent to Colenso after the retreat from Dundee. For the mobility of the Cavalry within Ladysmith was practically no greater than that of the Infantry had the latter been placed on waggons; the roads were the only routes they could move along at any pace, for the country was too steep and rocky to move fast over, moreover the Cavalry force available was too small a one to launch at the enemy unsupported by other troops, and so it was tied down to the Ladysmith enceinte, and its every movement therein was an immediate object for the attention of the Boer gunners, and one they seldom failed to take advantage of. However, after the beginning of November, the die was cast, it was too late to get rid of the regular Cavalry, and for a time something had to be found for them to do, and headquarters puzzled their heads to find the something. As the siege wore on and actual men for the defences became scarcer, the problem automatically solved itself; there was no question about what the horses would be wanted for, and work for the men was plentiful enough in the latter days of the siege.
A small camp was arranged for the Regiment at this period in the gully by the footbridge, and a few tents and cook houses were rigged up, and the men and horses made as comfortable as it was possible to be in that confined area.
So events progressed without much excitement out of the ordinary until the 14th of November was reached, when another of the many fruitless " reconnaissances in force an ill-omened term which we got to regard with dire suspicion long before the end of the war—was undertaken by the Cavalry Brigade, again along the Maritzburg road. Lieutenants Thackwell and Dugdale were sent out very early in the morning in the direction of Middle Hill and End Hill, where they reported that a Boer gun epaulement was erected, and that it was pretty certain that the epaulement contained a gun. Their report was, however, received with credulity until subsequent events lent weight to their story. The whole Cavalry Brigade and two batteries of Artillery proceeded out at daybreak to attempt the capture of a gun the Boers put up on Blaubank ridge, and all went well till a position was reached near the peach trees on the Maritzburg road.
The Blaubank gun was apparently silenced by fire from our batteries, and all that remained was to storm the position on foot and capture the gun. But the Boers on Middle Hill and End Hill, and those at Hussar Hill, held us in check with Mauser fire, supported by guns on End Hill and Telegraph Hill, and the Cavalry Brigade was not considered strong enough to go through with the fight. A retirement was soon ordered, and we were treated to a very heavy shelling on our way back, crowded on the narrow surface of the Maritzburg main road, and it has always been a puzzle to us why we escaped as lightly as we did. There were practically no casualties; shells came from every point of the compass and fell right among the troops, but as usual the Boer shrapnel fire was a minus quantity, and the " common " ones burst under our feet with little or no damage. We got back to our bivouac at 4 p.m., not at all pleased with the importance of the " arme blanche " when opposed to rifle and gun fire in a trappy country.
That night the Boers varied proceedings by a midnight bombardment, and in spite of the annoyance of having our well-earned rest broken, we could not help admiring the weird effect the bursting shells had in the inky darkness of the night.
For some days after this we pursued the even tenor of our way in the Happy Valley," as we called the gully we were bivouacked in, without anything of note occurring to personally affect us. Our patrols were regularly fired on, and had some miraculous escapes.
We lived, too, in constant fear that our hiding place, none too secure a one, would be eventually discovered, and our fears were very soon to be most abundantly realised. A description of the adventures of one of our patrols, under charge of Sergeant Hamilton, may be of interest at this period:—
Patrol Work in the Siege.
" One day, in the early part of November, 1899, I was sent on the usual daily patrol, which went out in the direction of Blaubank kopje, on the Van Reenen's road. As soon as we reached the open ground in the 1 Long Valley' the sergeant in charge sent me on as 4 advanced scout,' telling me at the same time that a small hill to my right front, known to us as 4 Star kopje,' had been reported clear in the early morning by a patrol of the Mounted Infantry.
" I had proceeded about half a mile, when, on a small kopje, about midway between 4 Star kopje ' and 4 Blaubank,' I saw two or three figures moving about, and one of them commenced to wave a white flag, or what appeared to me to be one. I was then about nine hundred yards away from them, and having no field glasses with me, I cantered back to the sergeant and asked him to look through his and see if he could distinguish what the objects were. He did so, and told me they were only Kaffirs. So going on in front again I continued to advance until I had reached the right rear of the kopje, from where I could see parties of Boers travelling to and from 4 Blaubank ' and 4 Field's Farm.' The figures on the hill still continued to wave the flag and swing their arms about, and as I saw the sergeant looking at them again through his glasses, and got no further information from him, I concluded they were Kaffirs, as there were Kaffir kraals at the foot of the place they were on, so thinking they wished to give me some information, I started to go over to them, and as soon as they saw me making towards them, they also commenced to come down the side of the hill, and I soon found myself face to face with three typical Boers. They understood very little English, but their idea seemed to be that it was Sunday, and all shooting was postponed for the day. They sat down quietly and began to smoke, and were soon joined by three other of their friends. They seemed very anxious to know when we were going to surrender, and tried to impress on me that they would very soon take the town when they really set to work. I waited with them till I saw the rest of my patrol within supporting distance, then I quietly retraced my steps, and we returned towards camp, halting for a short time near ' Star kopje,' about which the sergeant wished to take some notes.
" The Boers had, however, now occupied the position, and we very soon had to hurriedly depart to camp."
The gully we occupied on the south side of the Klip river, near the Tin camp, was well enough in its way, but it gave little cover from the direction of Surprise Hill, and in those days one wanted cover all round.
On November 20th we were bivouacked there as usual, spending our time at the usual routine, and in the afternoon, about 3 p.m., we were in our tents, or shelters we had rigged up in place of them.
The Boers had meantime " spotted " our retreat, and at that hour opened fire from Surprise Hill with a forty pounder Howitzer, dropping some twenty shells most accurately into the narrow valley we were in. There was nothing for it but to clear out, and as we were pretty used to shell fire at that time, we did so in a most orderly manner up the road to the rifle range, halting in rear of some kopjes, which lie between the Colenso road and the Klip river, until we could select a more suitable spot for our permanent camp. Although the forty pounder shells had landed, everyone of them, in the midst of the regiment, before they moved off and as they were doing so, yet only one effected any real damage; this one lit in a temporary cook house we had rigged up by the banks of the river and knocked it down, wounding four men, one of them, Private Cawthorne, seriously.
We had previously marked down what looked like a good place for a camp in the valley of the Klip river, about halfway between the Tin Camp-Rifle range road and the commencement of Ladysmith town, where the river flows through a gorge, the cliffs on either side being nearly precipitous. On further examination we found that with a little trouble we could make a very fair road down to the river bed on the south side, and that alongside the river was a stretch of grass, some 300 yards long and about eight to ten yards broad, a sort of ledge of flat ground about six or eight feet above the level of the river. The bank above this rose fairly steeply, but contained a few small level ledges here and there; there was plenty of shade, the soil was good, and cover was excellent.
Here we took up our new quarters, the General Officer Commanding 2nd Cavalry Brigade allowing us to remain here on our representing that from this spot we could reach any threatened portion of the defences as rapidly as we could from anywhere else.
We quickly made the place habitable, building all sorts of shanties and levelling ledges to pitch the tents on. The horses did well as long as we were able to feed them, and did not suffer at all from horse sickness, and the men of the regiment were far more healthy than those of any other corps. The whole regiment remained in this spot till the end of January, and after that date we still kept a squadron here to look after what remained of the horses. Our duties were fairly light, each squadron in turn had to remain for twenty-four hours on duty at Range Post, a point where the road from the Tin camp to the rifle range crosses the Ladysmith-Colenso road, leaving their horses in the river bed. Besides this we had one or two other small piquets to furnish.
For some time past the Staff had an idea that it was possible to make a dash from Ladysmith on some Boer convoys which were supposed to pass round the west side of the town, and every day a look out post on Observation Hill was employed endeavouring to find some likely-looking string of wagons suitable for the Cavalry Brigade to move out after. But it was an impracticable idea; the route the Boer wagons took was, roughly, some seven miles distant, where they crossed the Zandspruit, they then converged in a little to where their line of circumvallation crossed the Colenso road, then bore still further away to reach the positions they had taken up between Colenso and Ladysmith. To reach them our mounted forces would have had to break through the encircling cordon, a feat which could have probably been done at many points if done quickly, but by the time the distance to the convoy had been covered, a very considerable force of the enemy could have been collected to bar the return journey, and it is very doubtful if any great number of our mounted troops would ever have been able to get back. The harm they could have done to a Boer convoy would also have been infinitessimal, knowing as one did the nature of such convoys. The country to be moved over was most unsuitable for fast Cavalry work, as we well knew, though, looking at it from a distance, it appeared quite level and the best of good going. We knew it, however, and were not at all sanguine for this particular performance of cutting out convoys, and were well enough pleased when, towards the end of November, the subject seemed to be dropped and we had no longer to stand to, all saddled up, ready to turn out at a moment's notice for one of these wild rides over some of the most treacherous ground in South Africa.