On April 13th, 1901, General Walter Kitchener commenced his long trek with a night march.

His force consisted of—

Two guns 53rd F.B.R.A. under Major Johnson and Captain Talbot-Ponsonby.
One 5-inch gun.
One 5-inch howitzer.
One naval 12-pounder.
One company mounted infantry.
1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment (20 officers and 900 men).
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade.
The 6th Western Australians.

General Walter Kitchener's column formed one of the many operating at the time in a combined movement in the Northern Transvaal and bush veldt, under the direction of General Sir Bindon Blood.

Two columns were sent north to drive the bush veldt, forcing any Boers that might be located there on to the other columns, who were acting as stops near the Tautes Berg and Bothas Berg, immediately north of the Pretoria-Lorenzo railway line.

General Walter Kitchener decided to start his operations with an attack on Schoeman's laager, and for this purpose the Regiment was ordered to take up a position before dawn which would cut off the laager, situated in the Steenkampsberg mountains, near the entrance of the Lydenburg road into the hills, from the north. This entailed a night march of about sixteen miles. The remainder of the column was to proceed by the main road and attack the laager at daybreak.

The Regiment rendezvoused on the west side of the river, clear of the town, before dusk. Here the men had food, and a start was made at 7 p.m. The going at first was fairly simple, but once the track was left the ground became rough, stony, and intersected with dongas. The advance was then made in single file.

As an instance of how a small obstruction delays troops marching in the dark, one small water-course 1-1/2 feet wide and about 1 foot deep delayed the head of the column for some thirty-five minutes, till all the men had crossed and were closed up again, and then in crossing one in every ten fell into it. The top of the Steenkampsberg was reached at about 1 a.m., after a steep climb over a rough track. The difficulty of the march was increased by a thick fog. On the far side a steep cliff, at the bottom of which was a deep donga and a mountain torrent, was encountered, and this had to be negotiated on hands and knees. Slipping and sliding down, the bottom of the donga was reached and the mountain torrent waded, and then after a steep ascent the top of the plateau was reached.

It was here that the laager was supposed to be situated, and an extension was made and the advance continued. Just as the dawn was breaking some flying Boers, appearing and disappearing in the fog, were fired at by the leading extended company. The Boers had been disturbed prematurely and had escaped, taking with them their pompom, but the wagon containing its ammunition fell into the hands of the Regiment.

The actual position of the laager was found to be about one mile away from where it had been previously located, and was very difficult to find in the dark owing to the undulations of the ground at the top of the ridge. Complete success under these circumstances was scarcely probable, but as a test as to what a regiment could do when called upon, the undertaking was effective and complete.

After the Regiment had been engaged in long-range firing for some time, the head of the main column appeared on the Lydenburg road, and the force finally went into bivouac for the night at Boshhoek. About 400 sheep and some cattle were picked up on the neighbouring farms.

The following morning the column marched north down the Waterval valley, and after the mounted troops had experienced some opposition in very hilly and rough country, Boshfontein was reached.

Shortly after the force had settled into camp heavy gun fire was heard from the direction of Waterval. The Boers' shells exploded in the valley immediately to the north of the camp and in the vicinity of a farm, where it would appear the Boers considered the column should have bivouacked. After the explosion of some twenty shells a louder report than usual was heard, and the shelling ceased.

The mounted troops reported that the Boers were in position above Waterval, where there was a large women's laager.

In the dark of the morning, at three o'clock, General Kitchener set his column in motion: four companies, with a 12-pounder and two 5-inch guns, under Major Davies, preceded the force, with the intention of capturing the big Boer gun; four companies, with two field guns, under Captain Jacson, made a flanking movement through scrub and dongas round the left. Very little opposition was met with. The mounted troops captured a few prisoners, and it was found that the Boers had blown up their big gun. This was the gun that had been situated on Pepworth Hill, and which had been disabled by one of the Naval Brigade's shells during the siege of Ladysmith. Its muzzle had been shortened, showing that it had been damaged. The Boers had blown the gun to pieces. The barrel of the gun was blown about fifty yards in front of the emplacement, whilst the breech-block was found afterwards 1-1/2 miles in rear. They had destroyed also one pompom and one Maxim. Twenty-eight Boers were captured, with about sixty head of cattle and thirteen wagons. The Australians had one man killed and one man wounded.

The Waterval valley was well watered and exceedingly rich in crops, and the numerous farm-houses were full of families. These were collected afterwards by Colonel Park's column and sent into Lydenburg.

On the 16th the column set out from Waterval in a north-westerly direction, the objective being Secoconi's country and Magnet Heights. The first day found the force on the east bank of the Steelpoort River. The Dwars River, which was found in full flood owing to a very violent thunderstorm, had been forded on the way. The Regiment was rear-guard to the column, and, owing to delay in passing the baggage over the river, reached camp some considerable time after dark. The Australian mounted troops did not halt at the Steelpoort, but, fording the river, pushed on to Magnet Heights, which they occupied the same night. Park's column had been in touch with Kitchener's in the morning.

On the banks of the Dwars River Secoconi's men were first met with. These, armed with rifles of various patterns ancient and modern, were out scouting for General Kitchener in all directions.

At dawn on April 17th the crossing of the Steelpoort River was commenced. One company of the Regiment was first sent across to occupy the high ground on the far side and to cover the crossing. The river was in flood owing to the heavy rain of the previous day, and the water above the men's waist. The advanced company having got safely across and having occupied the high ground, the remainder of the infantry were sent over without casualty. The march was then continued towards Magnet Heights, which was reached at dusk. Here camp was formed, and on the following day the march was again resumed with mule transport only, through Secoconi's land.

Secoconi was at the time at war with a neighbouring tribe, and a fringe of hills only, divided the combatant parties, but an interval was called in their operations by mutual consent to allow of the passage of the British through their respective countries. On leaving behind the outposts of one, the outposts of the other were met with.

Having reached this point to the north of the Transvaal, General Kitchener's column was in a position to turn south, and, in conjunction with other columns on his right and left hand, to sweep the bush veldt and mountains southward towards the railway, near which another force under the personal command of Sir Bindon Blood, who was in charge of the entire operations, was drawn up ready to intercept any Boers who might try to move across the railway from north to south.

At Vergelegen, where the column halted for the night of the 18th, some of Secoconi's headmen came into camp for an interview. They were much impressed with what they saw, patted the 5-inch gun with friendly concern, and having relieved the General of his tobacco-pouch and a box of cigars, and offering their assistance when not busy with their neighbours, returned to their kraals.

The mounted troops were sent on ahead the same day to Pokwani town, where it was supposed the Boers had collected a quantity of cattle. No trace, however, of either Boers or cattle was found there.

The columns comprising the drive southward were in constant communication with each other by signalling. Plumer's column was immediately on Kitchener's right, holding the line of the Oliphant's River, thus preventing the Boers, who were scattered in small groups in the bush veldt, from escaping in the direction of Pietersburg, whilst Park's column was operating on Kitchener's left, thus preventing the Boers breaking back towards Waterval and the Steenkampsberg mountains.

Gradually Kitchener's column moved southward, driving the Boers off the high ground and picking them up with their cattle and families in the low or bush veldt. To do this with greater effect the column was divided, one portion consisting of the battalion, one gun, the I.L.H. and Australians under Colonel Davies proceeding in a north-westerly direction to stop the Boers breaking back into the bush veldt in rear, whilst General Kitchener with the remainder of the column marched over the high ground overlooking the bush veldt, and on the direct road to the south. On the 22nd Davies' column reached Enkeldedoorn, whilst General Kitchener with the Rifle Brigade occupied Vaal Kop on the morning of the 23rd. On the first day out the mounted troops of Davies' force, scouring the bush in their advance, captured 23 prisoners, 8 wagons, 450 head of cattle, and 4000 sheep. They also brought in a number of families, some of whom had been hiding for months in kloofs and dongas in great fear of the Kaffirs. One woman with her children was seen weeping by the side of the track, and on being asked the reason, she implored that she also might be taken into the railway and not left behind. She was comforted by an assurance that the column would return and that she would be taken in.

Stores were now running short, and the biscuit and sugar rations were reduced to half.

In order to keep connection between the two portions of General Kitchener's column, two companies were left at Enkeldedoorn under the command of Captain Bartlett. These also formed a "stop" to prevent the Boers breaking back, and a post to which prisoners' families and cattle could be forwarded on their way to join the head-quarters at Paardeplaats, whither General Kitchener had gone from Vaal Kop.

The Regiment, with the Australian mounted troops, operating through dense bush proceeded in the direction of the Oliphant's River, capturing a considerable number of prisoners, cattle, wagons, and families, amongst the prisoners being Commandant Fourie.

Eight privates of the Regiment, who were escorting an ammunition cart, and who had lost their way, captured six Boers with all their cattle and brought them into camp.

When within twelve miles of the Oliphant's River, Davies, hearing that Commandant Schroeder with a small commando was directly between him and Plumer's column on the Oliphant's River, split his force into two. The infantry, comprising five companies of the Regiment, were sent back under Captain Jacson, with all the prisoners wagons and families to Enkeldedoorn, while Davies himself, with the Australians and one gun, started in pursuit of Schroeder. On nearing the Oliphant's River it was ascertained that Schroeder, with forty-one men and one Maxim gun and several wagons, had been forced by Davies' mounted troops across the river into the hands of Plumer, who had them in safe keeping.

Jacson's train of prisoners reached Enkeldedoorn on April 26th, and on the following day he received orders to proceed at once to Zuikerboschplaats and to take with him Bartlett's two companies from Enkeldedoorn. This place was reached at dusk, and shortly afterwards Davies brought up his Australians to the same camp, his column being then again united. The northern part of the bush veldt having been swept clear of Boers, Davies then moved due south and scoured the country round the Tafel Kop mountain, capturing a number of prisoners and wagons. Haartebeestfontein was reached late in the evening of the 28th, some of the companies of the Regiment having marched over hill and dale through thick scrub more than twenty miles. Four men had lost their way and were missing.

Orders were received on the following day from General Kitchener for Davies' force to rejoin head-quarters at Paardeplaats. An early start was made at 6 a.m. Lackau, 12-1/2 miles, was reached at 11 a.m., and here the column halted and the cattle outspanned till 2.30 p.m. The heat in the bush veldt was excessive, and was very trying to the men and cattle. At 2.30 p.m. the march was again resumed, and after another ten miles Paardeplaats was reached at dusk.

It had been a hot and dusty march of 22-1/2 miles, and the men and cattle were rather "done up." On arrival it was found that the General had moved on to Goedgedacht.

As soon as it was dark rockets were fired to try and direct the four missing men into camp, but without success.

On the following day the battalion with the Australians marched down the steep Zaaiplaats Pass to Buffelsvlei, bivouacking for the night on the banks of the Buffelsvlei River.

On arrival there it was again found that the General had moved on to Rooi Plaats, and that the 2nd Rifle Brigade had proceeded by the Tautesberg road with prisoners and families and cattle to Wonderfontein on the railway line.

May 1st found the force at Rooi Plaats, and here a halt was made on the 2nd. Two companies under Captain Bartlett were dispatched to Diepkloof and two companies under Captain Wren to Waterval in order to block the two roads to the north from the Botha's Berg, and to stop the Boers breaking back.

On May 3rd the Regiment with the Australian mounted infantry reached Waterval, and on the following day proceeded to Blinkwater. Two companies with two guns under Captain Ponsonby, R.A., were left behind to cover the retirement of some mounted infantry, with orders to rejoin in the evening.

General Blood, with the whole of his personal command, had left Blinkwater on the previous day for Middleburg, and on the 5th General Kitchener received orders to follow him. The column marched that day to Rooi Kop, twelve miles distant on the Middleburg road, and on the following day two companies Devon Regiment, two companies Rifle Brigade, five guns and one howitzer, with the sick, the whole under Captain Jacson, left for Bankfontein, where they were joined next morning by the remainder of General Kitchener's column.

At Bankfontein a telegram was received which announced that Major Davies had been promoted to the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel, Major Curry granted a D.S.O., and Captain Jacson was to be promoted to the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel on attaining the rank of major.

A halt was made at Bankfontein from the 8th till the 11th, when the force refitted, and on May the 12th the column marched to Rondebosch on the outskirts of Middleburg.

In the early part of May, 1901, a further drive on a large scale was organized by head-quarters. This was intended to traverse the whole of the Eastern Transvaal south of the railway. The columns were to be extended from Middleburg through Carolina up to the Swazi border on the east, and then, with a circling movement based on Middleburg, gradually to sweep the country through Ermelo towards Bethel. Having rounded up all this country, the drive, extending from Bethel on the south to the Pretoria-Lorenzo railway on the north, was by a combined movement to the westward, to push all the Boers remaining in this part of the country with their cattle on to Johannesburg-Springs and the Pretoria-Standerton railway lines, which were guarded. The movement was under the direction of Sir Bindon Blood, and his forces consisted of eight columns.

The battalion found itself again under the command of General Walter Kitchener, forming part of his column, which was composed of the following troops:—

1st Devonshire Regiment.

2nd Rifle Brigade.

6th West Australians (450 strong).

2nd I.L.H. (800 strong).

Four guns 53rd Field Battery R.A.

One 5-inch gun.

One naval 12-pounder.

Its position in the drive was on the left or outside edge of the circle of the operations.

{192}    The forces were put in motion on the 13th May, on which day Kitchener, advancing in the direction of the Swazi border, marched to Zaaiplaats (12-1/2 miles), and thence

without incident through Riet Kuil, reaching Schoonora on the 15th. In the neighbourhood of Schoonora Commandant Trichardt, with 170 of his followers, was surprised by the Australian mounted infantry, who killed one Boer and captured 300 head of cattle. A considerable number of Boers were reported to be in the neighbourhood.

The drifts over which the column had to pass after leaving Riet Kuil were bad, and only two companies reached Schoonora that night. The remainder of the battalion, which was rear-guard to the column, bivouacked with the baggage three miles out of camp near a branch of the Klein Oliphants River, and joined up with the column next morning. The following day Mooiplaats was reached, when a large number of cattle and some families were taken.

On May 16th the column moved to Grobellars Recht. Here the Boers were found in large numbers under Botha. The 5th and 6th West Australians whilst operating on the right flank of the column were ambushed, losing one officer and six men killed and thirteen wounded. The Boers were very truculent and gave considerable trouble, and the force was not in camp till dark. It was not, however, disturbed during the night.

The column left Grobellars Recht on the 16th with the 5th and 6th West Australians as rear-guard, supported by the Devonshire Regiment. The Boers followed up smartly for some hours, but there were no casualties, and camp was reached at Kromkrans at about 4 p.m. Smutsoog was reached the next day. On the march Pulteney's column, which was seen in the distance, mistaking Kitchener's column for a commando of Boers, shelled them with field guns. Their shooting was accurate, and it was not till General Kitchener threatened to send a 5-inch shell at them that they desisted. Fortunately no damage was done. From Smutsoog the column proceeded to Goedevervachting, a few Boers sniping the column on the march.

Much inconvenience was experienced from the cold, as it froze hard every night.

On the 20th the column marched to Florence, passing Bothwell and Lake Chrissie, and on the following day reached Veltevreden. Here the 2nd Rifle Brigade and the West Australians left the column. On the march to Veltevreden a few Boers were seen, and there was some firing at the rear-guard.

On the following day a short march brought the force to Uitkyk, where a halt was made on the 23rd.

On the 24th the column on its march to Schapenberg captured 800 cattle and 4000 sheep, and five Boers surrendered.

A halt was made on the 25th and 26th at Schapenberg. Here 16,000 sheep, which were being driven along with the column, were slaughtered. These, daily increasing in number, hampered the movements of the rearguard on the march to such an extent, that it was found impossible to drive them on to the railway; they were therefore slaughtered.

Lekkerloop was reached on the 27th, on which day the I.L.H. captured twenty-two prisoners. A halt was made at Lekkerloop from the 28th to 31st, during which time the I.L.H. under Colonel Mackenzie were busy capturing prisoners and clearing the country.

On June 1st the column marched to Bushman's Kop, proceeding on the following day to Vierwonden, crossing the Theespruit en route. The I.L.H. brought six prisoners into camp with them. The main column halted at Vierwonden from the 3rd till the 8th, whilst Captain Bartlett left for Hoilake on the 3rd in command of three companies as escort to a convoy, and on the 4th Captain Wren was ordered with one company and five guns to Bonnybraes. On the 9th the column marched to Bonnybraes, Colonel Mackenzie and the I.L.H. bringing in eighteen Boers and about 400 cattle and some families.

A halt was made at Bonnybraes on the 10th. The column was reunited on the 11th at Fernyhaugh, and on the 12th marched to Busby, the march being greatly delayed by a bad drift over the Umpolosi River. Ring Kink was reached on the 13th, and Woodstock on the 14th. Thirty Boer rifles were found on Woodstock Farm.

The column was then divided. Seven companies of the Regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Davies, with the 2nd I.L.H. and the 5th and 6th West Australians, left Woodstock at 1 a.m., the remainder of the column proceeding, under General Kitchener's personal command, further south towards Bank Kop to round up some Boers reported in that neighbourhood.

Davies' mounted troops captured during the day fourteen Boers, some families, 100 cattle, 1000 sheep, and six wagons. This column marched twenty-two miles and camped for the night at Blaukrans, where Colonel Davies rested his men on the 16th.

Colbank was reached on the 17th, when all mounted troops left to join Kitchener's column at Bank Kop.

The following day the Regiment marched to Kranspan and joined up with General Kitchener. The column captured that day several families and twenty-two Boers. On the 19th the whole column marched in the direction of Ermelo, and camped for the night on a hill overlooking the town. Camp was reached at nightfall after a very long, dusty, and tiring march, the rear-guard getting in after dark.

On the 20th the force marched through Ermelo to Driehook. A number of Boers followed up the rear-guard, and there was a good deal of firing, but no casualties. The march was resumed on the following day and Kranspoort was reached. On the 22nd the column marched to Witbank, the rear-guard being engaged almost the whole march. A halt was made at Witbank. The West Australians were here again ambushed, losing two men killed, one officer and two men wounded, and five taken prisoners.

Three hundred Boers were reported on the left flank at nightfall, and preparations were made to receive a night attack, which, however, did not come off. On the following day a dense fog delayed the march till 9 a.m., and it was not till late that Vaal Bank was reached. The rear-guard, consisting of the Devon Regiment and the 6th West Australians, was engaged the whole day with the Boers, who followed the column right up to the new camp. That night the whole Regiment was on outpost duty.

The rear-guard was engaged heavily the following day during the march to Bankpan.

Campbell's and Babington's columns were on the immediate right. The Devons halted for the day at Bankpan, when the 5th and 6th West Australians left to join Campbell's column at Middlekraal, the 18th Hussars exchanging over to Kitchener's column.

A night march was made on the 26th for the purpose of surrounding a farm some eight miles distant. This was accomplished by midnight. No Boers were taken. The column halted till daylight, when the march was again resumed, and Erstegeluk reached in the afternoon. A number of Boers were surprised in the neighbouring farms by the mounted troops; and shortly after camp was formed, a body of Boers attempted to drive in the outposts and to attack the camp, but without success.

The following day Bethel was reached, and camp was formed close to Colonel Babington's column. The 18th Hussars, reconnoitring to the south-east of Bethel, were surprised by a large party of Boers. Lieutenant Green, Devonshire Regiment, who was in charge of the Colt gun attached to the 18th Hussars and which was manned by men of the Devonshire Regiment, behaved very gallantly in bringing his gun at once into action and engaging the Boers within a range of 500 yards, thus covering the cavalry and giving them time to rally.

On June 29th the march was resumed, and the column reached Schurvekop, the rear-guard receiving a good deal of attention from the Boers. Camp was formed at Middlekraal on the following day. Here Campbell's column was again met with.

Middlekraal was left on July 1st, and the column marched in the direction of Springs. A number of Boers were in the vicinity of the first camp, Witbank, and the camp was sniped during the night. The following day the column marched to Bakenlaagte, the scene of the disaster to Benson's column, the rear-guard being followed up by a few Boers.

After a short march the following day Grootpan was reached, and at 8 p.m. three companies of the Regiment under Captain Bartlett, and the 5th and 6th West Australians, made a night march to the south, capturing a picquet of six Boers early next morning. The column, after a twelve-miles' march, reached Sondagskraal on the 4th at 1 p.m. On arrival there news was received that a Boer convoy, accompanied by Louis Botha, was in the neighbourhood of Trichardtsfontein, about fifteen miles from Sondagskraal.

General Kitchener determined to intercept this convoy, and for this reason the following force under his personal command, viz. two squadrons 19th Hussars, 5th and 6th West Australians, and four companies of the Devonshire Regiment under Captain Jacson, set out the same evening. The mounted troops of Colville's column co-operated. Trichardtsfontein was reached an hour before dawn, when the place was found deserted. A halt was made there for the day, when Colville's column left.

It nightfall several Boers were seen on the hills in the vicinity, and there was every reason to suppose that a night attack was contemplated by them. Preparations were made accordingly, but the night was passed quietly.

At dawn the return march was commenced. The Boers attacked the rear-guard before it left camp and before it was formed up, and engaged it the whole way back to Sondagskraal, until finally they came under fire of the 5-inch gun in position in that camp.

During the preceding thirty-one hours the four companies of the Regiment had marched forty-two miles.

Whilst this enterprise was being undertaken the remainder of the battalion, with the transport of the column, had remained at Sondagskraal under Colonel Davies.

On the 7th the force marched to Goedehoop, and proceeding without incident on the 8th to Brakfontein, on the 9th to Strypan, reached Springs on the 10th. The last two marches were long and tiring, and what little strength was left in the oxen was exhausted. The men likewise required a rest and a refit after their long trek from Lydenburg, which had extended through Secoconi's country in the Northern Transvaal, down south to Middleburg, thence east to the Swazi border and over the Eastern Transvaal, reaching as far south as Bethel, to Springs, near Johannesburg. Eighty per cent of the men had on arrival at Springs neither shirts nor socks, and the bitter cold of the high veldt pierced keenly through the thin Indian khaki drill. The column required generally doing up before again "taking the floor." It was expected by all that the infantry at least would be relieved by a fresh battalion.

But it was not to be, for General Walter Kitchener insisted on the Devons accompanying him, and his column set out again from Springs on the 14th on a trek to the north, and without much fighting or incident reached Middleburg on July 22nd. The country through which the column passed was cleared of everything living, including Kaffirs.

Three days' halt was allowed the column at Middleburg, and on the 25th a start was again made for the north. It was now composed as under:—

Four guns 81st Field Battery R.A., under Major Simpson.

One pompom.

19th Hussars.

5th and 6th West Australians.

Half company Scottish Horse.

Half company Mounted Infantry.

Seven companies Devonshire Regiment.

Two companies under Captain Bartlett had left on the 24th July to garrison Elands River station, on the Pretoria-Lorenzo railway.

The seven companies with General Kitchener marched out 723 strong.

Two other columns were operating with General Kitchener, one under Colonel Park and the other under Colonel Campbell. The whole were under the supreme command of General Walter Kitchener.

On the first day out the 19th Hussars captured a pompom and about sixty prisoners of Ben Viljoen's and Muller's commandos after a very gallant little action in which five men of the 19th Hussars especially distinguished themselves. A great number of cattle and many wagons were also taken, and the Boers lost about twelve killed and twenty wounded.

General Walter Kitchener's column encamped at Rooi Kraal for a few days before moving to a camp at Diep Kloof, from which place convoys were sent to the railway for stores for the three columns.

The first of these convoys under Lieutenant-Colonel Jacson left on August 1st, marched to Middleburg, by Blinkwater and Elandslaagte, and reached Middleburg in three days; halted one day there to load up, and returned via Elandslaagte and Noitgedacht to Diepkloof in three more days, receiving on their return the congratulations of General Kitchener on their performance.

On the 10th another convoy, again under Lieutenant-Colonel Jacson, with an escort composed of men of the Devons and Leicesters and some Scottish mounted infantry and two field guns, started for Wonderfontein.

This convoy consisted of all the wagons of the columns of Colonels Park and Campbell and General Kitchener, which had to be filled up at the railway line and brought back.

Waterval was reached on the 10th, Rhenoster Hoek on the 11th, Sterkloop on the 12th, Uitflucht on the 13th, and Wonderfontein on the 14th. Slight opposition was met with, and three Boers were captured with wagons containing a quantity of grain.

The convoy having halted and loaded up on the 15th, started on its return journey on the 16th.

The journey to Wonderfontein had been up the Steelpoort valley, and the road had been found difficult. It was very much intersected with water-courses running off the high veldt, and these necessitated frequent halts to allow of the passage of the wagons in single file, and the reclosing up of the convoy after crossing.

A different road over the high veldt, thus avoiding the water-courses, was chosen for the return journey, and it was perhaps fortunate that this new road was selected, as it was reported afterwards that Ben Viljoen had taken up a position at the time in the Steelpoort valley to intercept the return column.

On the 16th the convoy marched to Panplaats; on the 17th to Roedekop (where some of Viljoen's men were met with and some more of his grain carts captured), Blinkwater on the 18th, and Diepkloof on the 19th.

After a few days' scouring of the country round Diepkloof and the valley towards the Oliphants River, the three columns concentrated at Blinkwater. Here an entrenched camp was formed under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Jacson, consisting of the baggage of the three columns, the hospitals, and most of the field guns, with a garrison included amongst which were four companies of the Regiment.

Park's and Campbell's columns marched east into the hills in the Ohrigstadt direction, Park penetrating almost as far as Pilgrim's Rest, while General Kitchener's column moved south towards Middleburg. On September 3rd the force was broken up, Colonel Park's column being left in the neighbourhood of Blinkwater, whilst General Kitchener's column marched towards the railway at Wonderfontein, which was reached on September 5th.

On arrival at Wonderfontein it was found that trekking was for the time being, finished. Orders were received for the Regiment to entrain for Machadodorp for the purpose of garrisoning the railway blockhouses.

The General's farewell order to the Regiment on its leaving the column with which it had been so long associated was as follows:—


"Wonderfontein, September 5th, 1901.

"It has been the privilege of the Major-General to include the 1st Devon Regiment in his command since the relief of Ladysmith, and it is with great regret that he has now to part with the last fighting unit of the 7th Brigade. The reputation earned by the Regiment at Elandslaagte and Ladysmith is a matter of history. Since that time this excellent corps has fought and marched in summer rain and winter frost during many long months, through the length and breadth of the Eastern Transvaal.

"The face of the country will remain for many years scarred with the trenches they have dug and the works they have made. They have proved on all occasions what a sound regimental system worked by thoroughly sound officers, N.C.O.s, and men can do.

"The Major-General and all in number one column wish the Devons good luck and a pleasant time in the near future."

On September 6th the Regiment entrained. The General and his staff and the whole column turned out to give the Regiment a hearty farewell. Machadodorp was reached at about 2 p.m., and all the posts round the town were taken over from the Royal Irish Fusiliers. The railway blockhouses in the neighbourhood of Machadodorp were also taken over. Colonel Davies was appointed commandant of the station, and Captain Ravenshaw station staff officer.

During September and October six companies were located on the Lydenburg road as far as Witklip, holding the following posts:—Helvetia, Schwartzkop, Schoeman's Kloof, Badfontein, and Witklip. Two companies remained at Machadodorp with the battalion head-quarters.

In October, one company under Captain Holland and Lieutenant Willis, whilst acting as escort to a party erecting blockhouses in the Badfontein valley, was attacked by Ben Viljoen and about three hundred Boers. The Boers galloped down from the hills on to the extended company. The men behaved with great gallantry, and finally, after a sharp and mixed-up fight, drove off the Boers. One man of the company fell into their hands and was stripped and left. Lieutenant Willis, for gallantry on this occasion, was rewarded with the D.S.O., and Lance-Corporal Cummings was promoted corporal by the Commander-in-Chief for gallantry in the field.

During the first week of November, orders were received for the 1st Battalion to proceed to Standerton en route to India. The 2nd Battalion had been quartered there for a considerable time, and a transfer of men was effected from one battalion to the other. The two battalions spent Christmas together.

On January 1st (1902) the 1st Battalion entrained at daylight for Durban.

The battalion met with a great reception at Maritzburg, where a halt was made for nine hours. Here each man was presented by the ladies of that place with a pipe, half a pound of tobacco, and a pockethandkerchief.

The battalion sailed from South Africa for India, with the following officers and 922 rank and file:—

Bt. Lieutenant-Colonel T.A.H. Davies, D.S.O.
Bt. Lieutenant-Colonel M.G. Jacson. Captain E.C. Wren. T.C.B. Holland. G.H.I. Graham. Lieutenant T.B. Harries. G.I. Watts. D.H. Blunt. H.R. Gunning. S.T. Hailey. H.W.F. Twiss. E.S.C. Willis.
W.E. Scafe.
G.F.A. Kane.
2nd Lieutenant C. Edward-Collins.
M.D. Young.
C.W. Hext.
A.M. Mills.
R.C. Wrey.
Brevet-Major and Adjutant H.S.L. Ravenshaw.
Of the above, it may be noted that the following left India with the battalion in 1899:—
Bt. Lieut.-Colonel M.G. Jacson.
Captain E.C. Wren.
G.H.I. Graham.
Lieutenant T.B. Harries.
G.I. Watts.
D.H. Blunt.
H.R. Gunning.
S.T. Hayley.
H.W.F. Twiss.
Bt-Major and Adjutant H.S.L. Ravenshaw.
The following officers of the battalion remained behind in South Africa:—
Colonel C.W. Park, A.D.C., commanding a column.
Captain and Bt.-Major E.M. Morris, South African Constabulary.
Captain Bartlett, D.A.A.G. for Intelligence.
Vyvyan, Provost Marshal, Barberton.
Travers, South African Constabulary.
Lieutenant-General Lyttleton met the battalion at Howick on its way to Durban, and wished them "farewell."
The following telegram was received at Durban from Lord Kitchener, commanding the forces in South Africa:—
"To O.C. 1st Devon Regiment,
"From Lord Kitchener,
"Please express to officers and men of the Regiment under your command my high appreciation of their services in South Africa during the war, which has already enhanced the great reputation of the Regiment. In bidding you good-bye, I associate myself with all your comrades remaining in the country in hearty wishes for your future good luck."
It should be added to the records of the battalion, which throughout two years and three months had fought and marched incessantly in South Africa, that it had never once experienced the slightest trace of an "unfortunate incident," and had during that time lost only three prisoners of war, two of whom lost their way in the dark at Geluk and marched into enemy's lines, the third having been taken during the company fight in the Badfontein valley against 300 of Ben Viljoen's men. The miles traversed by the battalion in the long continuous treks during the war are summarized as under. The miles are measured off the map simply from place to place and from camp to camp, and they do not include the distances marched in fighting, flanking, or other movements, or in convoy work and expeditions in the Lydenburg district, which, if included, would probably double the distance marched.
Trek under Sir Redvers Buller.
August 7th till October 2nd, 1900.
Zandspruit to Lydenburg, 271 miles in 54 days, including all halts.
Trek under General Walter Kitchener.
April 13th till September 2nd, 1901.
Lydenburg, Secoconi's country, Middleburg, Swazi Border, Bethel, Springs, Middleburg, Bothas Berg, and country north of the railway line. 1006 miles in 141 days, including all halts.
On the evening of January 1st the Regiment embarked on the s.s. Armenian, and was followed by the 2nd battalion Gordon Highlanders, who embarked on January 2nd.
On January 3rd the ship conveying the two regiments sailed for Bombay, which port was reached on January 18th.
Lord Northcote, the Governor of Bombay, received the two regiments on disembarkation and addressed them, congratulating them on their good work in South Africa.
The Devons entrained the same evening for Shahjehanpur in the United Provinces.

The honours gained by the officers and men of the battalion were as follows:—

1. Colonel Yule to be C.B.
2. Lieutenant-Colonel Park to be Brevet-Colonel and Aide-de-Camp to the King.
3. Major Davies, D.S.O., to be Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel.
4. Major Curry granted D.S.O.
5. Captain Jacson to be Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel on promotion to the rank of Major.
6. Captain Norton Goodwyn, D.S.O., to be Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel on promotion to the rank of Major.
7. Captain Travers granted D.S.O.
8. Captain and Adjutant Ravenshaw to be Brevet-Major.
9. Captain Masterson to be Brevet-Major and awarded the Victoria Cross.
10. Captain E.M. Morris to be Brevet-Major.
11. Lieutenant Emerson granted D.S.O.
12. Willis granted D.S.O.
Attached Officers.
13. Lieutenant Tringham, the Queen's, granted D.S.O.
14. Lieutenant Cowie, Dorset Regiment, granted D.S.O.

The following officers of the 1st Battalion were mentioned in dispatches:—

Colonel Yule—once.
Brevet-Colonel Park, A.D.C.—twice.
Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Davies, D.S.O.—twice.
Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Jacson—twice.
Major Curry, D.S.O.—twice.
Brevet-Major Ravenshaw—four times.
Masterson, V.C.—twice.
Captain W.B. Lafone—twice.
Travers, D.S.O.—once.
Lieutenant Field—twice.
Emerson, D.S.O.—three times.
Willis, D.S.O.—once.
Tringham, D.S.O. (attached)—once.
Cowie, D.S.O. (attached)—twice.Twiss—once.

Non-commissioned Officers and Men.

The following were granted Distinguished Conduct Medals:—

Colour-Sergeant Payne. Horswell. Palmer. Burnell. Webb. Aplin.
Sergeant Pitt. Downing. Hudson. Williams.
Lance-Sergeant Poulter. Young. Rowe.
Corporal Hansford. Private Boulton. Davies.

The following non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in dispatches:—

Colour-Sergeant Palmer—four times. Payne—twice. Horswell—once. Burnell—once. Webb—once. Burchell—once.
Sergeant Hudson—once.
Lance-Sergeant Rowe—twice.
Corporal Hayes—once (promoted sergeant).
Lance-Corporal Cummings—once (promoted corporal).
Private Brimicombe—twice.
Norman—three times.

The following is a list of the killed and wounded and of those who died of disease during the campaign:—

Officers: Killed.

Captain W.B. Lafone.
Lieutenant Field.
2nd Lieutenant Cumin.
Lieutenant Walker, Somerset Light Infantry (attached).


Captain Lafone—twice.
2nd Lieutenant Twiss.
Lieutenant Caffin (attached).
Tringham (attached).
Byrne (attached).
2nd Lieutenant Gunning.

N.C.O.'s and Men.

Killed and died of wounds and diseases.

Private Taylor, died of disease Ladysmith.
Forman, killed Ladysmith.
Nolloth, died of disease Ladysmith.
Paddon, died of disease Transvaal.
Morgan, died of wounds
Manley, died of disease
Goff, killed Transvaal.
Brockett, killed Ladysmith.
Cook, died of disease Ladysmith.
Banfield, died of wounds Ladysmith.
Sullivan, died of disease "
Woolacott, died of disease Transvaal.
Silvester, died of disease Ladysmith.
Lance-Corporal Leonard, died of disease Ladysmith.
Private Evans, died of disease Ladysmith.
Parrott, killed Transvaal.
Arthur, died of disease Transvaal.
Clements, died of disease Ladysmith.
Seager, died of wounds Ladysmith
Connabeer, died of disease Ladysmith
Lance-Corporal Spear, died of disease.
Private Litton, killed Ladysmith.
Vinnicombe, died of disease.
Lance-Corporal Pratt, killed Ladysmith.
Private Bibb, killed Ladysmith.
Woods, died of wounds received Ladysmith.
Hornsby, died of wounds received Ladysmith.
Private Milton, died of disease Ladysmith.
Lance-Corporal Vern, killed Ladysmith.
Private Bamsey, killed Ladysmith.
Lance-Corporal Pigeon, died of wounds received Ladysmith.
Private Bevan, died of wounds received Ladysmith.
Private Page, died of wounds received Ladysmith.
Private Vern, died of disease.
Rosser died of disease.
Jeffries, died of wounds.
Young, died of disease.
Lance-Corporal Murfin, died of disease.
Private Livermore
Corporal Wright
Private Humphrey, killed.
Bowles, died of disease.
Winsor, killed Reitfontein.
Mayne, died of disease.
Salter, killed Geluk.
Lashbrook, died of wounds.
Rowe, died of disease.

N.C.O.'s and Men Wounded.

Private Bidwell. Turner. Pirouet. Spiller. Laycock. Wright.
Col.-Sergeant Webb. Corporal Shapland. Bradford.
Lance-Corporal Millward. Lance-Corporal Bennet. Lance-Corporal Whitman. Private Cox. Norman. Palmer. Webber. Lemon. Private Lock. Hutchings. Bevan. Orchard. Spreadbury. Barnett. Cox. Hay. Page. King. Saunders. Wheaton.
Colour-Sergeant Burchell.
Sergeant Williams.
Corporal Lovell.
Private Lupton.
Sergeant Leach.
Private Capp.
Private Gregory.
Lance-Corporal Bromford—twice.
Private Rowe.
Col.-Sergeant Palmer.
Private Bray.
Lance-Corporal Spear.
Private Kean. Welch. Peckham.
Lance-Corpl. Quick. Private Burns. Simmons. Palmer.

Total number of killed and wounded and died of disease:—


Killed and died of disease







N.C.O.'s and men




Total casualties




A large memorial is erected to the memory of those who fell on January 6th at Wagon Hill, Ladysmith, on the spot where the charge took place. It bears the following inscription:

To the glory of God,
and in memory of
the following Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers,
and Men of the
1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment,
who fell in the gallant and
successful charge made across this
place by three companies during the
fight on 6th January, 1900.
Siege of Ladysmith.
Captain W.B. Lafone.
Lieutenant H.N. Field.
Lance-Corpl. J. Pigeon.
W.D. Pratt.
A. Vern.
Private T. Bamsey.
A. Bevan.
J. Bibb.
W. Brown.
A. Curtis.
W. Davidson.
Private W. Fair.
W. Harvey.
E. Hornsby.
T. Litton.
H. Marden.
W. Newcombe.
F.W.J. Page.
G. Roper.
J. Seager.
W. Woods.
Lieutenant E.E.M. Walker, Somerset Light Infantry (attached).

"Semper Fidelis."
A marble monument is erected in Ladysmith cemetery to those who were killed or died of disease during the siege of Ladysmith, and their names are recorded on it. A small iron cross was also placed at the head of the grave of every man of the Regiment who was killed or who died of disease during the war.
These memorials were erected by the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment, to the memory of their gallant comrades.