1899. Sept. 8.—Sialkot.
Orders received from Punjaub Command for the regiment to be in readiness to proceed on Field Service to South Africa to serve with an Indian contingent (including 9th Lancers and 19th Hussars), forming part of a British force to reinforce the army in South Africa.
All officers on leave, furlough men, etc., and detachments recalled to headquarters.
Sept. 10.—Result of medical inspection wired to Punjaub Command: "Regiment fit up to service strength."
Result of veterinary inspections wired to Punjaub Command: " One for fitness, one for contagious diseases," " Result fit."
Sept. 12.—Telegram sent to Punjaub Command : " Regiment ready to move."
Sept. 14.—Captains Mappin and Gaunt, 4th Dragoon Guards, and Lieutenant Richardson, 11th Hussars, attached to proceed on service with regiment.
Sept. 15.—Lieutenant Mathew Lannowe, 4th Dragoon Guards, attached to proceed with regiment.
Telegram received from Major Gore: " Going Cape to-morrow."
Sept. 16.—Wire received saying halts en route Bombay are Umballa, Aligarh, Jhansi, and Deolali.
Wire received from Colonel Baden-Powell at Mafeking : " Congratulate regiment."
Sept. 18.—Wire received from Punjaub Command directing that a detailed report be prepared on the mobilization of the regiment under the new organization of three service squadrons and one reserve squadron: to be prepared on voyage and posted from Durban.
Wire received from Punjaub Command saying the regiment will probably sail 26th instant, and should arrive complete Deolali morning 25th, booked to Princes Dock; regiment allotted transports, Patiala, Lindula, and Veraiva.
86 time expired. N.C.O.'s and men voluntarily extended their service to accompany regiment to South Africa.
Sept. 19.—Telegram received saying regiment will leave Sialkot in four special trains 20th Sept.
Sept. 20.—Regiment under Major Edwards left Sialkot in four special trains, strength as under—
18 officers including medical officer.
476 W. and N.C.O.'s and men. 57 chargers.
Sept. 20.—466 squadron horses. 36 mules.
18th Bengal Lancers very kindly gave help in entraining horses.
Sept. 21.—Arrived Umballa.
Sept. 22.—Arrived Aligarh. Lieutenant Richardson, 11th Hussars, and chargers joined. Sept. 23.—Arrived Jhansi.
Sept. 25.—Arrived Deolali. Captain Hoare, who had been Adjutant of the Calcutta Light Horse, and his chargers rejoined.
Orders received for " B " and " C " squadrons to detrain at Deolali. "D" squadron went on to Bombay.
Sept. 26.—" D " squadron arrived Princes Dock, Bombay, and embarked in B.I.S.N.Co.'s transport Lindula under Major Stobart, sailing at 12 noon, strength as under—
8 officers, 167 N.C.O.'s and men, 22 chargers, 167 squadron horses, and 12 mules.
A case of anthrax appeared at Deolali. " B " and " C " squadrons were detained in India.
Here we leave " B" and " C " squadrons for the present, and will follow " D " squadron, now in the Lindula.
October 10.—A storm came on in the afternoon, which lasted till about 6 a.m. on the 11th Oct., driving the ship 30 miles out of her course.
The ship was in considerable danger, but owing to the excellent behaviour of all ranks in a trying time, the horses escaped with the least possible damage.
No casualties occurred, although several horses were cast. The good services of Corporal Chamberlain on this occasion were brought to the notice of his commanding officer subsequently.
Major Stobart, who left India in command of "D " squadron, unfortunately suffered from bad health during the voyage, and had to be placed on the sick list; on reaching South Africa this officer proceeded to Pietermaritzburg, and was taken into hospital there : he left South Africa for England on medical certificate almost immediately after.
The command of " D " squadron then devolved on Captain Mappin (4th Dragoon Guards, attached), who brought it to Ladysmith in a most creditable state considering all that had been gone through. It may be mentioned here that a ship, with a squadron of the 9th Lancers on board, was in this storm also, and lost no less than 95 horses in consequence.
Oct. 11.—"D" squadron arrived at Durban, leaving that place the same evening in three trains.
Oct. 12.—"D" squadron arrived at Ladysmith, having experienced heavy rain all the way. The iron floors of the trucks in which the horses travelled, in spite of all precautions, became so slippery that two horses were injured, and had to be left at an intermediate station ; they rejoined the regiment a few days later.
Oct. 13.—Major St. John Gore, who had been on ninety days' privilege leave to England, rejoined the regiment at 6 a.m., and assumed command of it, in the absence of Colonel R. S. S. Baden-Powell, who is commanding at Mafeking.
War with the Transvaal and the Orange Free State was declared in Orders this day, the actual declaration having been made on 11th October.
Oct. 15.—Church parade in the open. Orders received to take over the patrolling duties from the 19th Hussars. Seven patrols are to go out, both at 11 p.m. and at 3 a.m. Very difficult work for commanding officer, first to find out where the patrols were to go, and then to explain to the corporals in charge of them. The commanding officer was very much gratified at the highly intelligent way in which these patrols grasped the orders given them, and found their way in a dark night along tracks which they had never even seen in the daytime.
No maps at all were issued to the regiment.
Oct. 17.—Patrols sent out as before, also a line of outposts about seven miles distant from camp, held during the daytime, in the direction of Dundee. Communication with the camp by heliograph was established by Lieutenant Watson.
Oct. 18.—Patrols and outposts. At 3.30 p.m. got orders to shift camp down to a site near the show ground near river Klip, about south of Lady-smith. Very much crowded here with several other corps.
Oct. 19.—Made dispositions for the defence of new camp. Prepared map of the ground, measured ranges, and made cover for the Maxim gun, etc.
Oct. 20.—Orders received to "stand to" twice, but the squadron did not turn out. Captain Darbyshire and Lieutenant Reynolds, who had been on leave in England, rejoined this evening.
Oct. 21.—Captain Kennard, who had been on leave in England on medical certificate, rejoined early in the morning : just in time !
The squadron marched off at 8.10 a.m., and took part in the battle of Elandslaagte, the official account of which here follows :—
Copy of Report of Action near Elandslaagte on 21.10.99.
From O. C. Cavalry to the Brigade-Major of Cavalry.
I have the honour to report for your information as follows:—
On the 21st instant I received orders at 8.10 a.m. in Ladysmith camp to proceed to Elandslaagte and report myself to Major-General French there. I did so about 11.30 a.m.
At 1 p.m. I was detailed with one squadron of the 5th Dragoon Guards to reconnoitre the country along the west side of the line to Glencoe.
A short distance after passing Modder Spruit my advanced patrols were fired upon at about 200 yards' range with a casualty of one horse wounded.
Our artillery then came into action at a place where about 70 Boers had been seen to go, but the enemy disappeared.
I was then reinforced by one squadron of the 5th Lancers under Captain Oakes, and was ordered to engage the attention of the enemy on the hills to the west of the position. Finding no enemy there, I pushed on to work round the enemy's right flank.
The enemy's guns opened on us from a position in their camp at about 1800 yards' range, but by cutting the wire on both sides of the railway line (which was well done by Captain Mappin, 4th Dragoon Guards, and Sergeant-Instructor of Signalling Read, 5th Dragoon Guards), I was enabled to take the cavalry to a convenient spot, not far from Elandslaagte Station, whence I could command the enemy's line of retreat within striking distance, and time my attack.
I searched Elandslaagte Station and found it deserted, except for some Boer Hospital Orderlies, and some prisoners taken by the Boers, whom I liberated.
The enemy brought about 50 infantry down a spur of the hill towards my position, and opened fire on my scouts at about 600 yards.
At 5.20 p.m. the enemy were seen coming out of their position into the open plain, and taking a line of retreat in the direction of Glencoe : I then gave the order to advance. My two squadrons were formed in line at extended files, and charged right across the line of retreat which the enemy were taking. The latter were going quietly away at a trot, till our men's heads appeared over the crest of the hill; they then changed their direction and galloped straight away in front of us, and in all directions. Their ponies, however, were no match for our horses, and we rapidly overhauled them. Those men who still tried to escape were attacked with the lance or pistol, and those who jumped off their horses and threw down their arms were made prisoners of. Unfortunately it was now quite dusk, and it was extremely difficult to see where the enemy were. The first charge was from a mile and a half to two miles in length. The two squadrons were then halted, faced about, and reformed. They then charged back again almost over the same ground, and encountered a good many more of the flying enemy.
The country thus ridden over was very stony and difficult in many places, and both squadrons deserve credit for the way in which they got over it, and also their steadiness when manoeuvring under the shell fire earlier in the day.
It was now pitch dark, and after feeling the way about carefully for some time, I took my command to Elandslaagte Station, where I bivouacked for the night.
With half an hour's more daylight I believe we could have destroyed almost all of the enemy, or taken them prisoners.
I should wish to recommend to your favourable notice the following officers and N.C. officers :—
Captain Darbyshire, 5th Dragoon Guards, and Captain Oakes, 5th Lancers, both commanded their squadrons very efficiently.
Captain Mappin, 4th Dragoon Guards, acted as my Staff Officer, and was of great assistance to me in many ways.
Lieut. Reynolds, 5th Dragoon Guards, did good service with his patrols, and came under a heavy fire during this duty.
Sergeant Read, 5th Dragoon Guards, did good service in cutting the railway wire as above narrated.
Lance-Corporal Kelly, 5th Lancers, did good service in the pursuit.
Though the enemy's fire was extremely accurate, I was fortunate enough to have no casualties at all during the shell fire : several of the shells did not burst, luckily. I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, (Signed)
St. John Gore, Major, 5th Dragoon Guards.
Ladysmith, 23rd October, 1899.
After this purely official account, perhaps a few-extracts from the diary of Major Gore, who personally led the charge of these two squadrons, might be of interest in future years. They are here quoted below as follows:—
Extract from Major Gores Diary.
Went with " D " squadron about 8 a.m. out on Newcastle Road, and joined a force under Major-General French. Saw dear old "jabber" Chisholme at the "Meet." A lot of waiting about. Then scouted left of railway line. Suddenly my scouts were fired on : one man seen to fall: his horse and the others came galloping back towards us.
Presently saw the man on his legs—he was all right—his horse had fallen only : one horse hit. Gradually drove enemy back to their strong position at Elandslaagte. (Battle description elsewhere.) I was given command of " D" squadron, 5th D.G., and one squadron 5th Lancers : then I went off to the left—with my two squadrons—by myself, and received no further orders during the whole battle. I took my two squadrons under shell fire across the railway line, cutting five, strands of wire on each side of it. A deuce of a job!
The Boers shot very well with their nice Maxim Nordenfeldt guns: our first experience of shells. Some shells seemed right in the middle of the men : all behaved well. Galloped out of fire to west end of enemy's position, near Elandslaagte railway station. Then dismounted my men. I went, with my staff, up closer to see position. Could see right into the Nek, on which the Boers' camp was pitched, from behind it: saw their reserves lying on the reverse slope, sheltered from our infantry fire, but fully exposed to my view. If I had had a section of guns with me, it would have been most useful. Our shells seemed bursting well.
Sent a report from here to General French. His reply never reached me at all: he must have been nearly three miles away at a guess. Heavy rain came on—very bad for seeing, and it began to get late.
About fifty Boers came down a spur of the hill below their position towards me, and suddenly started firing their Mauser Rifles at self and staff, at about 700 yards or so. We had to " leg it," till out of fire ! A desperate infantry battle now raging. I was getting awfully anxious about result, as I could not see our men at all—the brow of the hill they were attacking hiding them from me.
The line of our infantry attack was advancing straight towards me. At last I saw Boers apparently coming down out of position by twos and threes : great uncertainty in the bad light as to what they were doing. Then " They're off!" " No, they're not! " " Yes, they ARE !" Sent back word to my two squadrons to " advance in line at extended files." After half a mile, our heads rose over a fold in the ground, and showed us a long stream of Boers going leisurely away from the position at right angles to my line of advance, and about 300 yards off.
I gave the word " gallop." When they saw us, the Boers broke in every direction, and galloped away. The ground was very stony in most parts, but there were some good grassy bits along which I was able to pick my way (being one single man), while most of the men had to go over the bad places as they happened to come to them in their line. I therefore gradually got a long way in front of my line, which was thundering on behind me. Quickly my chestnut horse overhauled the hindermost of the now flying Boers, and soon I had to think what I must do as I came up to them.
***** [I must here apologize for leaving out the most interesting part.] ******
I was now about 400 yards in front of my line, so turned back to where they were being rallied. Went " files about," and galloped back over the same ground: it was now very dark, and one could see the flashes of rifles and revolvers going off. Many of our men had taken prisoners. Where a man threw down his arms and gave in, standing on the ground, his life was spared. It was impossible to see how many were killed. I took my sword going back instead of revolver, which I had used before, and found it most difficult to use.
Now it was pitch dark. I rallied the two squadrons, said a few words to them, and we all gave three cheers for our infantry, where we stood on the battle-field. Then I did not know where to go; in the dusk we could not tell whether the enemy's route was complete in all parts of the field: we had no doubt about the fellows we had been after having been on the run (they are probably going still! those that escaped!). But I could not tell whether any other part of the Field might not still be held by them. At last made our way, blundering over rocks, barbed wire, and railway lines, to Elandslaagte Station : found it occupied by our own people : good business! We bivouacked there for night: heavy rain : made fires with coals from the mines near the station : found a train of ours there which the Boers had captured and looted : plenty of provisions and forage, which we used: tins of meat, and candles, biscuits, officers' uniform cases, band music, and broken wooden boxes.
Later on I settled down in a sort of refreshment room. An extraordinary experience : I sat at a long table—a Boer with a lance-wound in his leg lying upon it, groaning terribly: against the wall sat a Kaffir, with his neck apparently cut half through by a sword-stroke, in uncomplaining silence. One of our poor infantry men being attended by a doctor, on the floor in a corner. All our prisoners were locked up in a smallish room leading off the big one, with a guard of ours over them. I had them brought out and examined, one by one : a fat old Dutch Frau,who had been taken with the rest, displaying too much concern in the answers some of the prisoners were giving, was politely told to go outside. A most dramatic and deeply interesting scene, and an impression to be remembered all one's life. I gradually dozed off in my chair among these incongruous surroundings. Natal carbineers, staff officers, mine employees, crowding in and out of the room, reeking with smoke, talk, groans, discussions about the fight, inquiries about missing friends, and a Babel of noises. I wrote my official report of the action here during the night. Deeply grateful to think we were enabled to do what we have done, and without the loss of a single man. And so to sleep, for a few brief snatches at Elandslaagte.
LIEUTENANT P. G. REYNOLDS' STORY
I arrived at Ladysmith from England on night of 20th • October. At 8.30 a.m. on 21st we got orders to proceed at once towards Elandslaagte to join General French. We got to Modder Spruit, and I went out with a patrol to the hills to the left: on returning I went out again with a troop to our left front and came in contact with the enemy, on a kopje, who opened a heavy fire at about 300 yards—but only wounded one horse. The Boers then retired and we followed them, arriving near the Collieries at same time as the rest of the squadron, and being shelled on the way. We sat there for a long time, and got thoroughly drenched by a very heavy shower of rain. It wasn't till it was getting dusk that we got orders to move. We had seen Boers trekking away from their laager towards Sunday's River Bridge in twos and threes for some time, but the infantry attack was evidently not pushed home then, and we didn't know whether the attack had failed or not. When we did move, after proceeding about three-quarters of a mile, my troop was " pounded " by a very deep donga, and when we got out we had to gallop fast to catch up the line; the ground was bad—big boulders, ant-heaps and holes. As we topped a rise we saw a 'straggling line of Boers moving slowly west. They were evidently unaware of our oncoming. "When they saw us they began to " ride a finish." I overtook one man and gave him a point with my sword. It probably hit his bandolier, as he only fell off. A man behind me said, " All right, sir !"
Men were dismounted by twos and threes to make single Boers prisoners, and our ranks were soon thinned out. At last we came to a spruit, and the whole line halted. A few Boers here were dismounted, and fired a few shots without doing any damage. I took a few men, and we surrounded them and made prisoners of them. We started back on our return journey, but it was too dark to see much. When we passed close to the Boer Hospital some one shouted, " Don't fire; this is a hospital." We pulled up, and several Boers rushed out. One thrust his Mauser almost into my face—the smell of the powder almost choked me—and how he missed I can't think. I shot him through the back. Shortly after this we were rallied, and after a time we arrived at the station, where we bivouacked for the night. I went up on to the battle-field to give what little assistance I could to the wounded, and got back about 1 a.m.
The following day we went over the battle-field and to the laager. On leaving the latter, General French sent me back to bring two breech-blocks of the Maxim Nordenfeldt guns we had captured. When I went back Boers were riding into the laager from the north, as our troops were leaving for Ladysmith.
(Signed) P. G. Reynolds.
ACCOUNT BY LIEUTENANT WATSON
Modder Spruit is my earliest recollection of the day of Elandslaagte. What happened in the early hours after we turned out I really don't remember. Perhaps I only woke up at Modder Spruit; I am a very sleepy person.
It was here we heard the Boer rifles, the " ping pong " of which was to become so familiar later on.
The Natal Volunteer Artillery retiring, passed us on the road, having been outranged by the heavier guns of the Boer artillery. With them, half dressed and considerably frightened, were several men who had been prisoners with the Boers, but who had managed to escape in the confusion caused by one of our shells crashing through the roof of the station-house at Elandslaagte.
We 'dismounted, and sat about in groups, chaffing and smoking. I could see Colonel Chisholme from where I sat, and saw Ava, who came up, for the first time. General French and Colonel Ian Hamilton, with different members of the staff, were on the railway embankment near the telephone (attached to the telegraph wire), and talking to Sir George White, who was in Ladysmith.
Time went on; the armoured train unloaded infantry, and other trains steamed up, bringing more and more men. Newspaper correspondents in their buggies trotted up, which looked as if something was going to happen. Every one in the best of spirits, but so far no one knew quite what the General intended to do.
A slight bustle among the staff, and "Stand to your horses !" " Mount!" Patrols told off, and then we moved on.
Reynolds with a patrol went away to the left, the 5th Lancers away on the right. We were in extended files.
Travers with his troop advanced to reconnoitre, with my troop in support.
Reynolds closed in and joined Travers as they came to wire; two men dismounted to cut it. Suddenly the silence was broken by a heavy fusillade from the rocks scarcely 200 yards to their front, causing them to retire in haste, one horse shot through the leg being our only casualty, luckily.
A battery galloped up, and a few shells at short range cleared the rocks.
My troop now got the order to advance, which we did in reconnoitring formation, I myself going with my centre group.
Over the same ground through the wire, and our hearts thumped hard as we neared the rocks that might still conceal a Boer (at least mine did). We passed on over the ridge, and could now see the plain of Elandslaagte below and away to the right of us. The enemy's position on a long hill across the plain, and their guns blazing away from a place near their laager on the near end of it. Their shells at first fell away to the right. Their target a squadron of the 5th Lancers, who now crossed my front in column of troops at a trot as I headed for the Colliery (Elandslaagte). The shells fell all round them, missing them, very close. Presently they began to pay more particular attention to us. And we found that watching one's friends shelled was more interesting than undergoing the operation one's self. We tried to look as if we liked it. A pointer bitch that had attached herself to the squadron en route I noticed examined each shell-hole after the burst with great interest, but appeared to highly disapprove of the Melinite vapours which oozed slowly from the black earth. One of my corporals (Lovett) trotted up to me about this time and asked me if I had noticed that they were shelling us ? Shelling us ! (had I noticed it ?) I said, " Yes," and tried to say something funny, but couldn't. Still I was delighted to think he imagined I hadn't noticed it.
Nothing happened : we edged away towards the colliery on the left; an order to that effect must have come, I feel sure, though I don't remember it. However, it was not because the shells were coming from the right front; I feel certain of that.
We dismounted behind the pit brow, still in extended order, facing north-east; the 5th Lancers close on the left, facing north. It was very cold, and presently began to rain, big cold drops. It was the foretaste of the heavy thunderstorm which raged through most of the battle. Away to our right front a roar of musketry could be heard. Though we couldn't see our infantry, we saw the Boer position, to our front, the white smoke of the shrapnel showing plainly against the background of black thunder-clouds. It was very cold; I had on a " British warm coat," my cloak, and a mackintosh over all, and looked for all the world like a pilot in a north-easter.
As we waited, a sergeant dragged up an object with a rifle. It said it wasn't a Boer, but it looked like one, and spoke broken English and was very dirty. It said it had come up from the pit; this at least was true—we could see that—and protested he hadn't fired a shot; this we also believed, as he didn't look as if he would. He was handed over to the safe custody of two men, and the rifle no doubt by this time adorns the walls of some baronial hall.
It was getting late, and through our glasses we could see odd Boers leaving the top of the hill. The firing was heavier than ever.
There was a restless feeling pervading all ranks, as if we all began to feel our time was near. We saw small parties of the enemy beginning to slip away from behind the left rear of their position.
We were now " standing to our horses " as if expecting to move; Darby then gave the order to " mount." I believe the 5th Lancers were ready to move. We trotted up on their right, and moved off at a smart pace. No sound except that of the horses, and the roar of the guns and rifles to our right. I remember feeling as one does on hearing the yells and seeing a fire-engine dash down the crowded Strand. My Mauser pistol was in my hand; as yet I had never fired it. I looked to it to see it was all right. Then, as an afterthought, some one said " Draw swords," and the excitement which one was beginning to feel rose another two degrees. Then a nasty donga threw us out of line for a moment. Some had good places to cross, others bad. We scrambled through somehow.. My troop (the 3rd) lost some ground at the donga; it had been the right of the line. Norwood had moved to the right, and left a space which I filled with my troop as I caught up. We had broken into a canter after the donga where we had left Darby floundering about, seemingly unable to get out.
A faint shout above the din! We took it to be " Charge!" and howled it with all the strength of our lungs. Till then the men had been quiet except for deep curses at the donga. A few Boers galloping now for all they were worth crossed my front about thirty yards away. I fired and gave a " Tally-ho !" and the men gave tongue like a pack of hounds. The Boers, as we passed, flung themselves off their ponies and fired over the saddles at us.
I got one with my pistol who did this; four shots altogether I fired as we passed through them. I could not fire more, as my men pressed round me and got in my way.
We were now through them, and more or less scattered. There was a Boer in front of me on a grey. I followed, hoping to get quite near. He made for the river; I knew he must walk through the water. He did, and I let him have my remaining six cartridges, taking steady aim at twenty yards. It was almost dark, and my horse danced about and would not stand. That man, I'm afraid, is still alive. Unless perchance he died of wounds : I must have hit him once, say.
I saw Norwood away on my left, and called to him not to go too far, as he was alone, and we were rallying some quarter of a mile back.
I joined a body of men on the rise with a few I had gathered on the way. Most had prisoners or ponies.
I tried hard to find my troops, calling the sergeants by name, and after some time got in front of a dozen or more, every one talking ! I thought at the time the slaughter must have been dreadful, as each man I spoke to had killed three men, some even more.
I sent a corporal and four men back to look after Norwood, and help him and some men with prisoners.
We all thought the show over; when all at once we heard orders shouted, and were galloping through more Boers.
They fired at us from very close, as the flashes were level with our heads—Reynolds, close to me, getting the powder in his face. I went over some wire, " squibbing off" my revolver indiscriminately, and came out more or less alone again.
A man with a lance—evidently after some one whom he had lost—saw me, thought I was his man, or would do as well. I saw his lance come down, and it suddenly dawned on me that he was riding at me! It all happened so quickly I had no time to think. I just managed to blurt out that " I was all right." I couldn't think of anything else to say. He called out cheerfully, " Oh, beg pardon, sir ! "
And well he might!
A Boer prisoner insisted on presenting me with his carbine and bandolier. Handing him over to a sergeant, I joined the squadron which was drawn up in mass with the 5th Lancers on the right. The commanding officer said a few words; we all cheered, and then waited, and waited, and waited for something or other, no one knew why. Finally we went very slowly and very carefully through wire and over ditches into what turned out to be the railway station. Already full of horses and men.
I had no sleep that night, but sat over a good coal fire eating things we helped ourselves to out of trucks that had fallen into our hands from the Boers.
G. Hartley Watson.
LIEUTENANT NORWOOD'S STORY
Lang's Nek, September 4, 1900.
I intended writing to you yesterday, but had to go out for a forty-mile patrol, and in consequence had no time to do so. Major Hensay told me on Sunday that you wanted an account of my personal experiences at Elands laagte.
On the way out from Ladysmith I and my troop were acting as advance party to the advance guard, and it was not until just before we got to Modder Spruit that I knew there were any Boers about. However, when we all halted and the General was seen with a telegraph operator tapping the wire, we soon heard that there was every possibility of a fight.
On moving off again we felt our way along the west side of the railway. Reynolds with Sergeant Harris scouting to the extreme left, whilst Travers and his troop were on our left front. We had not gone far before they found the enemy, and as I watched some hundred or more Boers clean missing at short ranges a whole troop of mounted cavalry, a pet theory of mine fell to the ground, and I realized with keen satisfaction that the Boer was by no means the shot that I had always considered him to be. Under the persuasive influence of a battery of artillery, these Boers soon quitted the kopjes they were on, and we advanced once more.
Just as the ground was becoming nearly impossible, Captain Mappin came over with an order from you for us to go the other (east) side of the railway. Directly we crossed over, I could see more or less how things had developed. The real Boer position could be seen—their artillery were unmasked and an artillery duel proceeding. Our infantry were just beginning to deploy, and I soon saw that we ourselves were being slowly but surely worked round on our left flank to the right rear of the Boer position.
Apparently about this time the Boer gunners also came to the same sage conclusion, and thinking to prevent it, gave us the full benefit of one or two of their guns. As soon as the ground west of the railway allowed, you will remember you sent us across the railway again, and we cantered to the colliery under a heavy shell-fire, and another pet idea of mine—that a shell on bursting killed everything for twenty yards round—again tumbled to the earth. On reaching the colliery, we waited and watched the fight, full of wonder how men could ever live in such a fire. Four or five times, when the musketry rose to an absolute continuous roar, some one said the assault was taking place, until at last we saw a thin but ever increasing line of Boers begin to escape from the rear of the assault and position, and then we realized our chance was coming. At last we set off. It had been raining hard, and we were wet through. Personally, I had on a mackintosh, and a black cardigan vest tied round my neck —a splendid charging kit for a dragoon ! We soon got into line, and went away—left shoulders—and we had them right across our line.
Of the rest I have the very vaguest recollection—a vision of Watson cocking his Mauser; a crowd of Boers with their hands up, and arms cast away.
Meantime I steadily let off my Mauser, until my eye caught a Boer on a white horse getting away, so I pursued, but Wynne of the 5th Lancers caught him first with a nasty sword-cut over the head; then I saw another Boer, and stupidly went after him, but couldn't catch him. On turning round, I could just see the squadron on the sky-line a mile or more away. By the time that I got back it was quite dark, and they had gone, so I wandered round to see if I could find or help any of our wounded. There were a lot of Boers lying about, but no English. To one Boer I offered brandy, but he refused it, murmuring something about "poison." Then I met Panchaud with Sergeant M'Kormick, six men, and about a dozen prisoners, and we tried to make our way back. However, it was such a pitch-dark night that it was impossible to move, so we took off the horses' bits to stop them champing, tied up the prisoners in a lump, and " stood to " in a donga all night. Our reason for doing this was because some one said that the troops had all gone back to Ladysmith, and that Elandslaagte was again in Boer hands. It was a beastly night, cold, damp, and no rations, and I was rather surprised to see the men give up coats and blankets to the prisoners—some of whom were wounded. About 2 a.m. we heard horsemen, and by lying down could see horsemen circling round and round us, evidently trying to find out who we were. We challenged, and two men promptly bolted, but three others came in and gave themselves up, and as one of these had a bottle of whisky on him, he was greeted with effusion. It dawned at length, and we found ourselves in a donga about three miles north-west of the station. Great was our relief, on getting to Elandslaagte, that the place was still in English hands.
Such is my own experience of Elandslaagte. I fear it is very feeble, and won't be of much use to you. I see in my diary I have written only—
Cavalry charge and pursuit.
Lost myself and spent night on the veldt.
Probably the prettiest day's fighting I shall ever see.
As a whole, I think that this is a much better description !
Ever yours sincerely,
SERGEANT TAYLOR'S STORY
Elandslaagte, October 21, 1899. All know how we left camp the morning of the battle of Elandslaagte, and how we scrambled for our biscuits, and quickly reached Modder Spruit, and met the Natal Field Artillery retiring; how we formed line beyond the Spruit and dismounted, whilst patrols were sent out to the front. Shortly afterwards we heard a few shots fired, and saw our scouts coming back; they had evidently found what they were looking for, as our artillery was immediately brought up, and opened fire, with the result the Boers were seen riding off pretty quickly—and they rode harder before the day was finished !
The 4th Troop of" D " squadron under Lieutenant Travers formed the advance party, and we rode towards a kopje which the Boers occupied. We were within 500 yards of them when they opened fire; in retiring, we had to pass through an opening in a wire fence, at which the Boers concentrated their fire, wounding one horse, " D " 1.
We rejoined the squadron, and shortly after were ordered to escort the guns, which took up a position (after crossing the railway) on a rise about a mile to the right front.
We had had our first taste of Mauser; we now for the first time heard the screech and thud of the shell !
This position was a little too far from the Boer position, as their guns overreached ours, so we were pushed forward at a gallop to a more favourable one, about 500 yards nearer the Dutchmen.
Our chums the infantry were skirmishing towards the laager, and we could see the remainder of our squadron moving quickly across the plain to our left front.
This relieved us from the artillery fire, as the guns were turned off us, and blazed away at them. Independent firing commenced from the infantry and increased into a roar, which continued through a terrific shower, and only slackened in the evening. As the Boers commenced to retire, I saw no more and knew no more until I heard the cheers of victory. They could not be mistaken for Boer cheers ; they were made in England!
I was struck with the cool behaviour of my men, who paid as little attention to the Boer shells as they would to snowballs. They kept perfect intervals, and had they been old and seasoned veterans, could not have shown more indifference to danger from shot or shell. We did not charge, but played our part, and felt our way to the railway crossing, where we bivouacked.
On the following morning we went to the Boer laager, crossing exactly the same ground over which our comrades had twice been through the enemy the previous evening. At the laager we saw the frightful havoc wrought by our shrapnel.
Over this we draw a veil; and with our two captured guns, more like Red Indians on the war-path, we returned triumphantly to Ladysmith. I must not forget the two captured Boer flags. The much-lauded Vier-kleur stuck on a whip-stick suffered the indignity of being rolled up, stuck under a Kaffir's arm, and brought in like an old umbrella !
(Signed) G. Taylor, Sergeant.
SERGEANT SAVAGE'S STORY
On the morning of the 21st October, 1899, we had a sudden " turn out"—we had had 'em before—and little expected that this was to be the best day of the whole "War.
As we left camp we were supplied with biscuits " on the move," each man catching as many as he could as he galloped past the supply box! On arriving at Modder Spruit we dismounted, looked round our horses, and awaited orders.
A short time afterwards the Natal Field Artillery passed us in their retirement. These men had actually seen the Boers—in fact, come within shooting range of their own guns—and we all hoped to come to much closer quarters before the day was done.
We received the order to mount, and saw our gallant infantry scrambling into the railway trucks again.
The 4th Troop then moved off to reconnoitre the front, which they did so effectually as to give us our first sight of our enemy. The remainder of the squadron, after crossing the spruit, formed line in extended order and dismounted, waiting.
Shortly afterwards our advanced patrols came in and reported having been fired on by the enemy, and Captain Reynolds, who had taken out an officer's patrol, also returned, having found the Boers, and evidently been fired on, as I heard him say, " Too close to be pleasant." Our artillery (not the Natal Volunteers)—21st and 42nd Batteries—was now brought up, and one gun opened fire on the kopjes to our left front. The position had evidently been well defined by our scouts, as no sooner did the first shell burst, than Johnny Boer was seen scooting away as hard as he could to other cover—not, however, without being followed up by our shells, which looked to be jolly well placed.
Now the 2nd Troop under Captain Reynolds was pushed forward to search the kopjes from which the Boers had just been driven.
Meanwhile the infantry were manoeuvring on our right, and for a time we saw no more of them.
I was riding in the centre of Captain Reynolds' troop. We reconnoitred these hills without any further excitement, and feared we had seen the last of our foes. Working round to the right, we came down a nek in the kopje, and at the foot of this stretched an open plain right away to the Boers' main position. A body of cavalry was moving across this towards the railway, and shells were falling round them, between troops and, I believe, even between ranks. Our troops halted in widely extended files, watching. Something whirred past and struck the earth some distance to the right of us—we were under fire for the first time ! Another shell came, a little closer; and instead of our fellows being shaky, there was nothing but laughter and jokes on their bad shooting; Butler actually sang a parody on " The Light Brigade," commencing " Boers to the right of us," etc. Yet another splash—this time a bit too close— and no move made. Captain Reynolds, quite oblivious or utterly ignoring the shell-fire, was watching the cavalry advance across the plain.
I rode up to him, drawing his attention to the closeness of the last shell. I might just as well have saved myself the trouble, as he had not missed a single detail, and coolly gave the order, " File left—walk march !" We afterwards broke into a "quietly on" trot, and crossing the railway, joined our comrades who had drawn the fire of the Boer artillery. We dismounted in line at open files, and watched the progress of the battle which was now raging. Such a rattle of musketry, such a booming of guns, and after a while such a downpour of rain as would satisfy the keenest war correspondent (provided he was first at the post) : the rain part of the business more than satisfied us—in fact, it saturated us. The rain ceased—" Stand to your horses !" —" Mount!" and we took up a position commanding the Boers' line of retreat, and waited, mounted still in extended line. After a while the firing slackened, and a few straggling horsemen were seen making off northwards. Each man said, " Why don't we go for 'em ?" but the time was not for a few moments. Then more came, and now was our chance ; we got the order to advance. This was easier said than done; at least, from where I was, as a bad donga stopped our progress. Did I say stopped! I should say only helped to get us up to concert pitch; a momentary check and all were over. Captain Darbyshire was down and up again like an acrobat, and we swept on; I myself heard no further order. I saw Captain Reynolds draw his sword, and endeavoured to follow him, keeping the troop together, taking pace from the centre.
The pace increased, on and on, until we could see and pick out our man. After this I no longer tried to follow my troop leader, but rode as hard as I could for that one man. As I approached him, he dropped off his pony (a grey) and fired at some one to the right. I overtook him, and rode on for another who was some little distance in front. This fellow, by the time I got up to him, was laid on his back, and looked so helpless and so much like a civilian, that I took his arms and ammunition, and as by this time the troops were rallying, I marched him up a prisoner and handed him over to Corporal Howard, who was taking over the prisoners. This man, whilst I had my lance to his breast, asked for no mercy, but handed over his arms as a soldier who could do no more. I took the precaution to make him hand me the butt first. There was nothing of the coward about him. Colonel Gore rallied the brigade, or the two squadrons of different regiments, and we moved towards the Boer position, or what had been the Boer position. By this time it was quite dusk, and as we neared the hospital with the red cross flying, we were fired on, and all that could be seen distinctly was the flash of carbine and revolver. I saw Captain Reynolds get a very close shave, the flash actually blinding him for the moment; but on my inquiring if he was hit, he said, " No, I am all right; ride on," and the whole line seemed to sweep round to the left, and I saw no more Boers for a time. It had now become dark, and we again quickly rallied 5th Dragoon Guards on the right, 5th Lancers on the left. Colonel St. J. Gore gave a short address, and called upon the " two fifths " for three cheers. I heard the cheer of millions all along the route of the Jubilee procession, but never heard such a cheer as came from the 200 or so, and I am sure the Boers never heard anything like it before.
We now with some difficulty made our way to the station ; guides had to be sent ahead with lanterns to show the road; the darkness could be felt, and those who a few [moments before were trying to let the Boers at Dundee know we'd won, dare not speak above a whisper, and smoking was out of the question. We had to halt some little time on the road, and I happened to be quite close to the Colonel and Captain Darbyshire, when the Colonel asked for a N.C.O. and man to go to the rear of the column and listen. I called a man, and Private New followed me; riding some twenty or thirty yards to the rear, we halted and listened. I distinctly heard voices, and rode a little further forward and challenged. With some hesitation, six of the enemy slowly came forward, giving themselves up as prisoners; they were in a sorry plight, and two of them were held up by the others, who said they were wounded; one of them told me his two brothers had both been killed that day; another was an Irishman. I took their arms and ammunition (one only had a " Mauser; " the others had thrown them away, to getaway). I had belts of ammunition slung on my sword-hilt, and over the butt of my carbine; and round my neck were three Mausers, a pair of field-glasses, and a satchel of ammunition, whilst the pockets of my warm coat were full as they could hold of loose ammunition. Private New searched them, and we (one riding at either side) followed the column. The prisoners seemed so wretched and down-hearted that it never struck me they required securing, or anything better than the lance at either side to keep them on the move; it was so dark that I had to stoop to keep sight of them, and but for one who had a light-coloured coat, should have found it necessary to tie them. I had frequently to speak to New so that we should not straggle. We arrived at the station shortly after the squadron, and Colonel Gore was parading the prisoners. I reported to him, and handed over the prisoners. My troop was being " linked," and after seeing them square, I took some men to a train which we had retaken from the Boers and got a few sacks of corn (I suppose our horses afterwards thought of that feed in Ladysmith !), and then looked after ourselves. I got tea galore, a box of tinned milk, and several other little luxuries too numerous to mention. But for this train this glorious day would have ended in a wretched night. It was cold, frightfully cold, for the.poor fellows on the hillside, and, to pile on their agony, the rain had settled into a steady drizzle. This thought must have prompted Captain Reynolds to come to his troop for volunteers to do what we could for the wounded; several were at once ready, though the tea was being made, and they were hungry—just a little. They were a great deal hungrier afterwards! The only man I can remember was 3817 Corbett. Captain Reynolds and I went to the station and asked for a lamp, stating our purpose; but as there was no one who thought men's lives of more consequence than railway lamps, we " commandeered " one which has been doing good service (not on the N.G.R.) ever since.
I'll pass over the struggle over kopje stones to the scene of the battle, and the ground over which the infantry had made their attack. The lamps of search-parties—Briton and Boers—flickered out in many places, and the calls to attract the attention of the wounded could be heard in every direction. We had a whistle, and blew it occasionally, then listened; we were some time before we found any one, and then near a wire fence we came across a few who had fallen quite close together. All the wounded had been attended to, so that we could do no more than give them a drink, and if possible cover them over. There were no complaints; one fellow asked me for a cigarette, and an officer of the Manchester, though shot in the groin and in terrible pain, only said what a grand fight it had been ! The wounded seemed to suffer from the cold more than their wounds, and one poor fellow of the Gordons asked me to take the cloak off a dead man—he was so cold. We did all we could, which was, I'm afraid, very little, and made our way back to the bivouac, where a concoction, consisting, as near as I can say, of five parts water, three condensed milk, one of tea, and the other one something strongly suspected of being brandy, was served out. As we came in, Captain Reynolds asked me to get him some tea, and I managed a mess-tin full of this mixture—I think he liked it. We sat over the fires most of the night; but though our faces were scorched, our backs were cold, and I thought of those on the field;
The next morning early we were taken by the commanding officer over the exact ground we had charged over, and searched for wounded and dead; but so effectually had the ambulance people done their work, that very few, if any, were found. As we came up to the laager, we saw what a natural fortress the enemy had been driven from, and within a sort of basin, a very grim proof of our gunners' good shooting. Broken waggons, disembowelled ponies, one ox with its head blown off, scattered clothing, saddlery, portmanteaux, cartridges, tinned meat, and even ladies' shoes with French heels; and all this in a mud puddle, and viewed through a drizzle of rain. We were allowed to dismount for a few minutes, while the officers were at work putting the wounded animals out of misery.
Loaded with many-coloured rugs, Mausers, bandoliers, etc., and with two captured field-pieces, we commenced our triumphant march to Ladysmith. I fell asleep in the saddle many times.
We had some wretched specimens of the Hollanders as prisoners, who seemed highly elated at being so lucky as to be taken prisoners so soon, and so well out of the whole thing. We got back to the Show Ground Camp without anything worth relating, and spent the evening practising the pronunciation of Elandslaagte, with a very marked and acute accent on the final " e."
(Signed) Wm. C. Savage, Sergeant,
5th Dragoon Guards.
Oct. 22, Sunday.—The squadron turned out at dawn, having been ordered to reconnoitre the battlefield in case any wounded men had been left out. In the dim light saw figures hurrying away : men who had been removing the dead and wounded. The field was almost clear of men ; we only saw one dead and one wounded man on the ground where we had charged.
The ground was strewn, however, with Mauser rifles, saddles, men's kits, and half-empty bandoliers. Many a riderless pony stood, or wandered aimlessly about this part of the field, telling his tale of the missing hand to which he used to look for guidance, in eloquent silence. We took many of these and brought them into camp, later in the day. In three or four instances unwounded Boers, making signs of submission, made their way towards us and surrendered : they seemed quite glad to be taken, and to be, at any rate, in a place of safety with us. These we mounted on some of the captured ponies, and brought in with us. The Boer camp—where their last stand was made—was still a scene of wreck and carnage, though parties had been working all night removing the wounded, etc.
A doctor there (one of the " Geneva " people) who was attached to the Boers, was doing good work to Boers and British alike : he told me that the slaughter among the Boers had been very great; so, alas ! were our own infantry losses. A few tents remained standing, and from some of them protruded the arm or leg of some Thing that had been a man yesterday. A Kaffir still knelt behind a waggon, rigid and motionless, his head pierced by a bullet. Near the two guns which our infantry had captured lay a stalwart Staats Artillery man—his sightless eyes upturned to Heaven —near the gun he had helped to fire at us during the afternoon before. Two standards, one of the Transvaal and one of the Orange Free State, were among the trophies found in the tents.
To the 5th Dragoon Guards was allotted the honour of escorting home the two captured guns, and they were the last troops to leave the battle-field, reaching Ladysmith about 1 p.m.
Now we return to " B " and " C" squadrons at Deolali:—
Sept. 27.—Veterinary inspection held. Veterinary officer reported the two squadrons fit to proceed to South Africa.
Sept. 28.—" B" and " C" squadrons arrived at Bombay, and took over 1 Maxim gun from the Ordnance Department.
After the horses were detrained, another case of anthrax was found amongst the horses of " C ' squadron. In the afternoon orders were received from Simla to return to Deolali and remain there in quarantine for ten days ; if no further case appeared, the squadrons to proceed to South Africa.
The whole of the horses and baggage had to be again entrained in the dark.
Sept. 29.—Arrived back again at Deolali.
Oct. 4.—Major Edwards left Deolali for Bombay, and embarked in B.I.S.N.Co.'s Upada for Durban to rejoin his squadron.
Oct. 6.—No further case of anthrax has appeared up to date.
Orders received : " If no orders are received to the contrary, entrain for Bombay 7th instant."
Oct. 7— "B" and "C" squadrons left Deolali for Bombay.
Oct. 8.-—" B " and " C " squadrons arrived Bombay, and embarked in the B.I.S.N.Co.'s transport Verawa and Patiala respectively.
In embarking, " C" squadron beat the previous time record held by the 19th Hussars by 40 minutes, embarking the whole of the horses (by slinging), baggage, kits, etc., in 1 hour 40 minutes.
The transports sailed at 11.30 a.m., the Veraiva under Major Heneage and the Patiala under Captain Hoare, strengths as under—
Verawa: 6 officers, 153 N.C.O.'s and men, 20 chargers, 170 squadron horses, and 12 mules.
Patiala: 7 officers, 154 W. and N.C.O.'s and men, 21 chargers, 123 squadron horses, and 12 mules with 1 Maxim gun.
Oct. 22.—"C" squadron on s.s. Patiala, arrived and disembarked at Durban at 8 a.m. It left in two trains for Ladysmith at 6 p.m. Two horses were injured in the trucks en route, and were left at Maritz-burg. These trucks were iron open ones, and very slippery. It rained all night. All mounted corps suffered very much on this part of the journey, and reported it to be the worst part of the whole movement.
Oct. 23.—" D " squadron had a well-merited rest in camp, after their return from Elandslaagte.
"C" squadron arrived Ladysmith 10.30 a.m., and joined " D " squadron in camp.
Oct. 25.—"B" squadron arrived at Durban on s.s. Veraiva, having lost one horse on the voyage ; they were entrained, and left for Ladysmith the same day.
Oct. 26.—" B " squadron arrived at Ladysmith, and joined the other two squadrons in camp. The whole regiment was now together again.
" C " squadron went on outpost duty to Limit Hill, about three miles out on the Newcastle Road, at 4.30 p.m., and remained there for 24 hours.
Oct. 27.—" D " squadron, 5th Dragoon Guards, and three squadrons 5th Lancers, all under Major Gore, went at 8 a.m. to " drift" on Klip River, three miles north of Pieters Station—a very bad country for cavalry—reporting there to General French, commanding cavalry in Natal. At 4 p.m. this force went along the Helpmakaar Road, about three miles beyond Lombard's Kop, and joined a large force of all arms which had come out from Ladysmith. Bivouacked there, expecting to attack enemy at 3 a.m.
Elsewhere about 100 Boer ponies, many of them with saddles and kits on them, stampeded past through " C" squadron on Limit Hill during the afternoon. A good haul was made of useful things : an excellent mackintosh which had belonged to one " M. Viljoen " was presented by Captain Eustace to his commanding officer the following day. "B" squadron relieved " C" squadron at Limit Hill at night.
Oct. 28.—Orders for attack countermanded. " D " squadron and all our troops returned to Ladysmith at 4 p.m.
Major Hilliard, C.M.G., R.A.M.C., took medical charge of the regiment.
At Limit Hill during the afternoon two mounted Boers came too close to our squadron, and being fired on by us they dismounted, tied their ponies to a fence, and ran away out of shot. They then held up their rifles and made signals of truce, as if they had a man wounded to whom they wanted to get. Major-General Hunter happened to be on the spot and saw the occurrence. We did not fire. The two Boers advanced till they got to their ponies, still making vehement truce-signals ; they then mounted and—rode away ! No doubt they thought themselves very smart. This incident shows the confidence the Boers had in the respect shown by the English for the white flag ; we do not reciprocate this feeling! Our picquet reported the enemy to be working on Pepworth Hill about 3000 yards in our front from Limit Hill, getting guns up apparently.
Oct. 29.—Sent out the seven patrols—same as before—at 4 a.m. Two men came in at 6 a.m. They had been fired on near Smith's Crossing (on the line to Van Reenen's Pass), and Corporal Kellock had fallen. This corporal came in later, uninjured.
Oct, 30.—We were behind Limit Hill before dawn, and saw the Boers' gun " Long Tom " on Pepworth Hill fire his first shot, which fell into the town and burst. The bombardment had begun! The official report of the part taken by the 5th Dragoon Guards in the day's operations is here given :—
From the Officer Commanding 5th Dragoon Guards to the Brigade-Major of Cavalry, Ladysmith.
I have the honour to report as follows upon the action near Lombard's Kop on 30th October, 1899 :—
The 5th Dragoon Guards paraded at 3.30 a.m., and rendezvoused at Limit Hill at 4.30 a.m. with other troops-During the artillery engagement the 5th Dragoon Guards remained at this spot, sending out an officer's patrol with special orders to endeavour to communicate with a force which had been despatched from Ladysmith in the direction of Walker's Hoek Farm (This was the "Nicholson's Nek" force.—St. J. G. ) at 11 p.m. the previous evening. Second Lieutenant Norwood and 14 N.C.O.'s and men went on this duty. The action of this patrol has already been fully described by me, in a special report, inviting the very favourable notice of the Commander-in-chief to the gallant conduct of Second Lieutenant Norwood and Private W. Sibthorpe, 5th Dragoon Guards, in bringing in a wounded comrade (Private Mouncer) under a very heavy fire. They were unable to carry out their object, in spite of repeated attempts from different quarters.
At 7.15 a.m. I received orders to proceed with two squadrons, and join Major-General French's force near Lombard's Kop. I took "B" and "D" squadrons with me, and went under the personal leading of General Brocklehurst. The country we had to pass over was covered with strong thorny scrub, intersected with nullahs, and very rocky—most unfavourable for cavalry. We joined General French in a most difficult nullah at the foot of the eastern slope of Lombard's Kop. I here received an order to dismount by sections with carbines, and simultaneously the enemy, from a hill commanding the entrance to this nullah, opened a sharp rifle fire upon us while dismounting. The led horses were taken away by Major Edwards, and hidden in a winding watercourse, at some little distance. I took the dismounted men of my two squadrons, and advanced about 500 yards to my front along the hillside, gradually extending them all upwards. During this movement my casualties were as follows: One horse killed, and two wounded; a guide of the Imperial Light Horse who was attending upon me also had his horse shot. On gaining the ridge sloping down from right to left, which was my objective, I found that the enemy were threatening our right flank. I lined this ridge with dismounted men, and fired volleys into the scrub on the hill in my front, on the top of which there was also a small "sangar." One of our batteries now came into action from a position in my rear, firing over our heads at the same objective. ,
The situation remained almost the same from 9 a.m. until 12.30. During this period I saw a British battery arrive on our right flank, and come into action from the low ground on our right rear; this battery was subsequently forced to retire.
Meantime I had seen our infantry attack issue from my left rear, and apparently retire again towards Ladysmith: a battery which galloped forward to support this infantry was also soon forced to limber up and retire, leaving one gun behind it. In view of this I sent Lieutenant Home down to General Brocklehurst with this information, asking if he had any fresh orders. I then received an order from him to withdraw my men and mount. I waited till the 18th Hussars (who had been lining the same ridge above me) had withdrawn past me, and then led my men back to their horses. All the cavalry at this part of the field mounted and retired: in doing so my regiment became mixed up in the nullah with men of the 18th Hussars and Imperial Light Horse, the whole making their way towards the Helpmakaar Road over an extremely difficult country. During this unavoidable confusion, the enemy kept up a steady shell-fire, causing the following casualties :—
No. 4556 Private F. Miller—wounded, shoulder.
No. 4506 Lance-Corporal Dalziel—wounded, scalp.
Two horses wounded.
Meantime "C" squadron, under Captain Eustace, remained behind Limit Hill until n a.m.
He was then ordered to take his squadron to the Commander-in-chief, whom he found in the direction of Lombard's Kop. He next received orders to assist a cavalry picquet which was being pressed on the Helpmakaar Road. He reported himself to Lieut.-Colonel Fawcett, 5th Lancers, at this picquet, and received from him orders to cover the retirement of No. 69 Field Battery R.A. (Major Wing's). He did so, retiring with it as its escort under artillery fire. He afterwards rejoined the regiment on the Helpmakaar Road.
I re-formed my regiment upon the Helpmakaar Road, and then received orders to return to camp, nothing further of note occurring.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, (Signed) St. John Gore, Major,
Commanding 5th Dragoon Guards.
The following is a report from the officer commanding "D " squadron of the action of Second Lieutenant Norwood's patrol:—
From the Officer Commanding " D " Squadron to the Officer Commanding 5th Dragoon Guards.
I have the honour to report the conspicuous gallantry of Second Lieutenant John Norwood and No. 3720 Private William Sibthorpe, 5th Dragoon Guards, both of "D" squadron, this morning during the action. While the regiment was under cover of Limit Hill this morning, the officer mentioned was ordered to take his troop and examine and find out position of the column (2nd Battalion Irish Fusiliers and ist Mountain Battery) that were sent out last night to take up a position on our left flank in the vicinity of Walker's Farm. Owing to the proximity of the enemy at Bell's Spruit, who fired on him, he tried another line; this was unsuccessful, so he attempted another. This was also unsuccessful, so he attempted another more to the northwest towards Smith's Crossing. Here he was met with a heavy musketry fire, and ordered his troop to retire; during the retirement Second Lieutenant Norwood was in rear of his troop, and on No. 4539 Private Mouncer, who was hit by a bullet in the throat, falling from his horse, he dismounted and picked up the wounded man on his back, and began to walk in with him. Private Sibthorpe hereupon returned to Second Lieutenant Norwood's assistance and assisted in carrying the man.
No. 3352 Sergeant Harris of the same troop, having got the men under cover, returned to assist Second Lieutenant Norwood and Private Sibthorpe; the wounded man was put on Sergeant Harris's horse. They were under a heavy fire from the enemy, who were on the side of the hill about 400 yards off.
The wounded man was left with a picquet of the 19th Hussars who were on the north-west of Limit Hill. I believe the officer in charge of this picquet witnessed most of this, but Second Lieutenant Norwood could not give me his name.
On his return to the regiment Second Lieutenant Norwood reported his failure to General Sir George White, but it was not until Private Sibthorpe's gallant act had been reported to me by his officer, Second Lieutenant Norwood, that I knew anything about this officer's part in it, for on my talking to Private Sibthorpe he remarked, "He only followed his officer's example." I then questioned Sergeant Harris mentioned above; he corroborated Private Sibthorpe's description of Second Lieutenant Norwood's act.
This officer informed Sir George White that if he would allow him to take his troop dismounted, he thought he could get well into the valley, and perhaps accomplish the object he was sent out to attain. He was ordered to rejoin his regiment.
It is against the expressed wish of Second Lieutenant Norwood that I reported his share in this act of gallantry. I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, (Signed) H. Hoare, Captain,
Commanding " D " squadron, 5th Dragoon Guards.
II—To D.A.A.G. Cavalry, Ladysmith. Forwarded for information of General Officer Commanding Cavalry Division.
I would wish to recommend most warmly Second Lieutenant John Norwood and No. 3720 Private William Sibthorpe, both of the 5th Dragoon Guards, for the highest honours of a soldier, for their gallant action in bringing away a wounded comrade out of the trap in which they found themselves.
(Signed) St. John Gore, Major,
Commanding 5th Dragoon Guards. Ladysmith, 1st November, 1899.
Second Lieutenant Norwood has since been recommended by his commanding officer for the "Victoria Cross," and Private Sibthorpe for the " Distinguished Conduct Medal."
It was most difficult to see any enemy to-day: one heard shots, and heard the bullets pass, but could see no signs of any men who were firing : the smokeless powder makes it a very difficult job to estimate either the position or numbers of an enemy. It was even impossible to locate field-guns if they were in places where the dust raised by the discharge could not be seen. The repeating one-pounder gun was first heard by us this morning : " Pong—pong—pong—pong— pong!" It quickly became known as " the meatchopper." This is a most useful gun to have, and I should like one to be attached to each cavalry regiment of ours. Its moral effect is good : it caused one of our field batteries to retire, as the commander could not see this gun, and was powerless against it consequently. I should like to have shares in this gun! Ladysmith was practically besieged from to-day.
Captain Holden, from 4th Dragoon Guards on promotion into the 5th Dragoon Guards, and Second Lieutenants Kearsley and Kinnear joined the 5th Dragoon Guards this morning.
These two Second lieutenants actually joined the regiment under fire, as the bombardment was going on when they came into camp to report themselves. A good beginning for them !
Oct. 31.—The regiment went to Helpmakaar Post for the day—the south-eastern end of our defences. Saw enemy working on a spur of Lombard's Kop.
Our patrols were fired on.
Nov. 1.—A quiet day.
Nov. 2.—The regiment turned out at 2.45 a.m. Went out in the dark on the Colenso Road with other cavalry and artillery. Our guns surprised a Boer laager at breakfast. When the Boers at length got a gun into action, we had finished, and limbered up to go; they sent one or two shells near us without effect. On arrival near our river-bank camp, we prudently did not march straight into it. One troop was sent to water first; it was instantly fired at from Lombard's Kop, and had to clear out sharp! The regiment was then put among the trees along the roadsides out of view, and remained there while we changed the site of our camp to the plain beneath Cove Hill, where we slept for this night—next the 5th Lancers. This is a bad site for a cavalry camp, fully exposed to both view and fire from three sides ; however, it was chosen for us.
Nov. 3.—The regiment went at about 4 a.m.—all dismounted—to a spot near the railway station, as a sort of reserve to the Helpmakaar section (thus acting as infantry in the early part of the day), remaining there till 7.30 a.m., when it returned to camp. At 8.20 a.m. the regiment received orders to turn out again—this time mounted—and they acted as cavalry, as shown in the official report now following:—
From the Officer Commanding 5th Dragoon Guards to the Brigade-Major of Cavalry, Ladysmith.
I have the honour to report on the action near the Long Valley on November 3rd, 1899, as follows :—
The 5th Dragoon Guards received orders in camp at 8.20 a.m. to rendezvous at Range Post. " D " squadron was ordered to escort our battery, and the remaining two squadrons to follow it. I kept them echeloned on the right rear of the guns, in line, at half-extended files—the escort squadron being in a similar position on the left of the guns, and nearer to them. When our guns came into action, the second shell fired by the enemy struck the ground a few yards in front of my escorting squadron, and bursting, I regret to say it dangerously wounded the squadron leader, Captain H. Hoare, 5th Dragoon Guards, striking him upon the skull; the same shell also wounded the horse ridden by Lieutenant Watson, 5th Dragoon Guards, who was leading a troop. This gun of the enemy's being quickly silenced no further casualties occurred at this time.
About 2.30 p.m. I was ordered by General Brocklehurst to endeavour to extricate some of the Imperial Light Horse —who had pushed on too far—from a difficult position in which they had become involved.
I rode out to where the main body of the Imperial Light Horse were lying dismounted in a nullah, and from there I could see that the dismounted men of one of their squadrons were lying down under a small ridge, about seven or eight
4hundred yards from the crest-line held by the enemy. I then sent back for " B " squadron of my regiment commanded by Major Heneage, and put the horses into the nullah, and lined the banks with dismounted men. I detached from here two troops of dismounted men, under Lieutenants Dunbar and Home, and ordered them to work round in front of my right, and take up a position to cover the retreat of the Imperial Light Horse with fire. I also ordered them to send a man to the advance party of the Imperial Light Horse already mentioned, with orders from General Brocklehurst that they were to retire. This duty was well performed by No. 4498 Private L. Burgess, 5th Dragoon Guards, who made his way to the advanced men under a very hot fire, delivered his message, and subsequently had to retire with the rest from this hot corner. Meantime our guns were playing on the crests of the Kopjes in our front, and on our left front, and I also fired volleys in quick succession with all my men at the same objective, directing my men to fire over the top of their backsights (1500 yards). [The range proved to be about 1800 yards, and as I could not sight my carbines for this distance, as a makeshift I directed my men to fire at the edge of a white cloud which happened to be about the required distance above the crest-line. These volleys produced a noticeable effect, and several times the fire of the enemy was temporarily silenced. I mention this incident merely because it shows that our men were armed with a weapon of inferior range, and could only return unaimed fire for the accurately aimed fire, to which we were soon after exposed.(We have received new carbines since the siege : we were then the only regiment that had not got the new carbine.— St. j. G.)] Under cover of this fire the advanced squadron of the Imperial Light Horse commenced doubling back, and received a tremendous fire in doing so, which nothing could keep down. They ultimately regained their horses in the nullah where I was. My two advanced troops were now ably withdrawn by Lieutenant Dunbar without any casualties. I then arranged with the officer commanding Imperial Light Horse that his men should make the first retirement, covered by me. He galloped back about 500 yards under fire, and then dismounted to cover my retirement. The enemy now knew what to expect, and had got our range : when we came out of the nullah we were met with a hot and accurate fire, as we galloped away, and No. 4374 Private Thomas Page, 5th Dragoon Guards, was killed. I wish to commend to your notice (and I believe General Brocklehurst saw the incident) the conduct of Lieutenant the Hon. R. L. Pomeroy, 5th Dragoon Guards, at this time. While trying to mount, a horse belonging to one of my men broke away from him when outside the nullah. Lieutenant Pomeroy halted under the fire, took the man up behind him on his own horse, and brought him safely in. I then marched my regiment back to camp with the remainder of our force, and nothing further of interest occurred.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant, (Signed) St. John Gore, Major,
Commanding 5th Dragoon Guards.
Note.—The cavalry were followed all the way back to camp by shells from the various long-range guns of the enemy, many of which could fire right across our lines of defence from the far side of them. " Long Tom," for instance, could put shells very accurately on to the road leading over Range Post, from Pepworth Hill—about 9000 yards' range!
[Note.—Our books say that 4000 yards is an extreme range for artillery ! This might be amended with advantage ! ]
4Nov. 4.—" B " and " C " squadrons went to hold Observation Hill (about 1500 yards north-east of our defence line) on outpost duty. " D " squadron went to Limit Hill. Some Boers gradually occupied the wooded ridge running south from Limit Hill, and forced "D" squadron under Captain Darbyshire to retire about midday, receiving a smart rifle and shell-fire while doing so, without casualty. Limit Hill was not again held by us after this. It was never intended to hold it permanently: much too far out.
Nov. 5, Sunday,—The Boers do not bombard on Sundays—an excellent plan! The commanding officer and adjutant spent the morning looking for a place more sheltered than Cove Hill Camp to put the 5th Dragoon Guards in during the now inevitable bombardment. Ladysmith is now commanded by long-range Boer guns from three sides, so cover from view is all that can be hoped for. A place was selected near the house of the Commander-in-chief, Sir George White, on the left bank of the River Klip, about a quarter of a mile above the Poort Road, which runs through a small defile from the camp to the town. The Imperial Light Horse were camped on the opposite bank. Here trees gave fair shelter from view from the guns on Isimbulwana Mountain, and those subsequently placed on the spur of Lombard's Kop. This place was christened " Green Horse Valley " by Major Gore. In the afternoon the whole regiment paraded dismounted with entrenching tools, and made underground splinter-proofs (which were ultimately increased in number to twenty-three) as protection from shells. A road was also made so as to be able to enter and leave the valley more easily.
Nov. 6.—" B " and " C " squadrons on outpost duty at Observation Hill. " C " went to Green Horse Valley for the day, and continued improvements there. A quiet day. Very little bombardment.
Nov. 7.—All the regiment went at 4.30 a.m. to Green Horse Valley, linked horses, and spent the day there till dark.
A heavy bombardment, but no shells came near us. Our camp at Cove Hill, where we had left our tents standing, was heavily shelled ! A good thing we were out of it! We are now taking it by turns with the 5th Lancers to do outpost duty on Observation Hill every second day.
Nov. 8.—Two squadrons at Observation Hill, one at Green Horse Valley.
The Boers had now come within 1700 yards' range of the north-west end of Observation Hill, and from this time onward kept up constant "sniping " at my sentries, which we occasionally returned : our Maxim gun was also posted at this spot, under Second Lieutenant Melvill and Sergeant Heath, in a "sangar" made for it. A forty-pounder howitzer had now been placed on Surprise Hill by the Boers, and it had an intermittent duel with our Naval Brigade's 47 gun mounted on Cove Hill. Their shots passed directly over our heads, and it was an interesting sight to watch.
The Boers this morning sent in a convoy of civilian prisoners whom they had taken at Dundee. Major Gore, Lieutenant and Adjutant Winwood and staff went to meet the flag of truce on the Newcastle Road, and halted the convoy there. After an interesting talk with the Boer escort, we said good-bye to them, turned back for our lines, and rode off at a walk with the white flag still flying. Before we had gone 200 yards, a shell was fired at us. It struck the ground 30 yards short of the party, and sent stones and dirt over us without further harm. This disgraceful breach by the Boers was officially reported to headquarters.
The officer commanding also suggested to headquarters that the Boers would probably try to take Observation Hill West, and that an infantry picquet to hold it at night would be a wise thing.
Nov. 9.—The regiment went to Green Horse Valley. A heavy bombardment began as the sun rose from guns on all sides. An attack was made on Observation Hill, and we sent two battalions to repel it. An attack was also made on Caesar's camp. It is believed the Boers meant to take Ladysmith this day.
The birthday of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales was celebrated at 12 noon by a salute of 21 guns (fired by the Naval Brigade, with shotted guns at the enemy's positions), and three ringing cheers from all corps in garrison.
At 3.30 p.m. the regiment received orders to " go to the railway station at once, and report there to Colonel Knox." It reached the station unfired at, for some unexplained reason, and was dismounted in the road, at right angles to the line of fire from the Bulwana gun. Presently this gun fired six shells, which went about ioo yards over our heads, fortunately : they must have thought we were hiding in the next of the three parallel roads. At 5 p.m. orders were received that we were not required, and the regiment returned to camp at dusk without casualty. A mistake had occurred in the order.
Nov. 10.—Observation Hill. Well-sustained sniping going on at west end. There are now four companies of the 60th Rifles well entrenched there. Very glad of it. Heavy rain at 3 p.m.; our outpost squadrons were relieved about 6.30 p.m.
Nov. 11.—Parade and exercise at 4 a.m. Then to Green Horse Valley. Drizzling rain and misty; Boers could not see to shoot. Regiment came up to Cove Hill camp under cover of the mist at 10.30 a.m., and started " Stables " and a good clean up. It cleared about 12.30. Then "Bulwana" fired a shell at us short; a second, nearer up; a third, just over the heads of " B " squadron on the far flank. Order given to turn out at once ! Went to Green Horse Valley for rest of day. All very angry; but " what can we do?" "No matter—a time will come." A cavalry regiment in a bombarded town is not in its element!
Nov. 12.—"D" and "C" squadrons marched off at 2. 45 a.m. for Observation Hill; they went dismounted, by request of the officer commanding. This bit of country is as bad for cavalry as it possibly can be ; one must make the best of it. The horses are led to Green Horse Valley for the day, and eat and drink there in comfort. The men have not got to hold them all day, and are much better off without horses. The Commander-in-Chief also sanctioned a request made by Major Gore that any spare Lee-Metford rifles should be issued to the 5th Dragoon Guards. About 45 were thus issued, and our men were then able to compete with the Mauser rifles of the opposing snipers under less disadvantageous terms. Being Sunday, there was no bombardment.
Nov. 13.—To Green Horse Valley at 4.30 a.m. for the day.
Nov. 14.—Two squadrons to Observation Hill at 3 a.m. Heavy bombardment in morning. This hill is generally pretty free from shells.
Saw several bursting in our camp ; enemy are not quite sure whether we are there or not. Had a good view of an attack by the remainder of the cavalry and two batteries, on Rifleman's Ridge, with its one Boer gun. They ultimately withdrew, after firing a lot of rounds. The Boer gun, which had been temporarily silenced, came into action again, and shelled our people home : they were not supported by infantry, so could not push the attack home. Saw the shells from "Long Tom," at Pepworth Hill, falling on the road at Range Post—one just missing a returning battery, by a miracle ! "B" squadron, at Observation Hill West, having invited the commanding officer and adjutant to tea there, had an extremely-warm 20 minutes. Though the picquet was on the reverse slope of a fairly steep hill, the bullets of the Boers, aimed at the crest-line, conformed in their trajectories to the shape of the reverse slope, and were searching it out ; all had to lie behind rocks. When firing ceased, the hint was taken, and a sangar made in this place. At 12.5 (midnight) all the Boer guns, which had evidently been laid before the light failed, were fired at irregular intervals. One big shell fell within 30 yards of our cook-house ; this woke every one, and occasioned a good deal of annoyance. There is a growing desire in the 5th Dragoon Guards to catch a " Staats Artilleryman " at a less distance than seven thousand yards ; one yard is a more convenient distance for us. Apparently no attempt was made to re-load and fire any one gun twice. We have about 14 guns round us now. Nov. 15.—All regiment at Green Horse Valley. A wet day ; came back to Cove camp at 4 p.m. Everything drenched. A lot of 5th Lancer horses in our lines at night.
Nov. 16.—" C " and " D " squadrons at Observation Hill. Several shells came almost into our camp to-day. Nov. 17.—All at Green Horse Valley. Rainy day. Nov. 18.—" B" and "D " squadrons at Observation Hill. Steady sniping always continues at west end. This morning some of our Field Artillery guns were in action about 300 yards the other side of Cove Hill. Surprise Hill fired a shot at them. When the shell pitched, it went off" just like a soda-water bottle, and we could see a stream of white smoke, and a thing like a cork flying out of it! The shell did hot burst at all, but ricochetted right over the hill into our camp. At this moment the commanding officer was going towards this hill, but hearing the " whizzing " coming closer and closer, he " took a seat." The shell pitched for its second bound about 25 yards over his head, then got up again hurriedly, and flew at Major Hilliard, R.A.M.C., fortunately missing him, but not by more than a yard. The shell then subsided into Second Lieutenant Piatt's tent, when it broke his bed and his servant's carbine. This shell was claimed by Major Gore, for the officers' mess. About 6.30 p.m. there was a heavy bombardment for a short time. One shell went into the Royal Hotel, and took both legs off a civilian there. At 12.30 at night, being bright moonlight, the Boers started firing all their guns into camp. Some must have reloaded and fired two or three times. This lasted for about 20 minutes, and I don't think any one absolutely enjoyed it! A disturbed night for all.
Nov. 19, Sunday.—All at Green Horse Valley. No bombardment.
Nov. 20.—"C" and "D" squadrons at Observation Hill. In the afternoon, the Boers had found out the 18th Hussars' daily " hiding-place." Five beautifully aimed shells fell right into their camp from the 40-pounder howitzer on Surprise Hill. Only two men wounded,
wonderful to relate! The 18th Hussars had to " break up " at once, however, and could not go to this place any more. We ought to be thankful we have had such a peaceful time in Green Horse Valley. Several big shells also came into the 19th Hussars' camp, near Cove Hill, to-day. About 11 p.m. the enemy fired their big guns again. No shells came very near us, fortunately. They probably lay their guns in the evening before the light goes, and then leave one man to " pull the string " at an appointed hour. It is a nasty trick.
Nov. 21.—All at Green Horse Valley. A rumour that the cavalry were to attack a problematic Boer convoy gave rise to some talk. Nothing came of it. Boers fired about 30 shots from " Pong-pong-pong" towards Helpmakaar Post at 12.5 a.m. No big guns fired.
Nov. 22.—Observation Hill. Heavy bombardment all day. Thunderstorm in night. (There's an enjoyable 24 hours for you !)
Nov. 23.—All at Green Horse Valley. At 9 a.m. the commanding officer was called away to King's Post, and the regiment ordered to saddle up. A convoy was expected, but only one wagon was eventually seen. Off saddled, and Peace. No bombardment in night: a good job too.
Nov. 24.—" B " and " D " squadrons at Observation Hill. About noon we saw our mounted infantry suddenly go out towards Star Hill: they tried to get some of our " trek " oxen (that had strayed too far towards the enemy) back to our camp. They were fired at by about six guns, a Maxim, and infantry fire. They had to abandon about 170 oxen, which we lost. This interests us, because we should have to go over this same bit of ground twice if we are sent after this convoy. A Frenchman—from the Boers—gave himself up to " B-" squadron to-day.
Thunder and rain in night, but no bombardment.
Nov. 25.—All at Green Horse Valley. Very little firing to-day. Getting this camp as clean as possible all day, burning litter, etc. Cannot go back to Cove camp before 7 p.m. now, because it's too light, and we should be fired at, at once. We turn out at 4 a.m. on these "off" days, and at 3.15 a.m. on the Observation Hill days! All somewhat short of sleep. Dinner is generally at 7.15 p.m. and bed about 8.30 p.m. No firing to-night.
Nov. 26, Sunday.—"C" and "D" squadrons at Observation Hill. The Boers broke their "caste" by firing on Sunday, first at a party burying dead horses, and then at a bathing party of the Gloucesters in the Klip River. They couldn't bear seeing people washing themselves, no doubt.
Nov. 27.—Green Horse Valley. The regiment was ordered to " saddle up and stand to " ready to attack a convoy proceeding to the west: nothing, however, came of it. General Sir George White believed the Boers were going to make a night attack, as about 3000 Boers had been seen massing on Middle Hill, and rumours were rife that the relieving column
5under General Clery, supposed to be in the neighbourhood of Colenso, had had a successful engagement.
Nov. 28.—" B " and " C " squadrons at Observation Hill. Our outposts reported a big laager near Walker's Hoek Farm of at least 150 wagons. Accordingly the commanding officer and adjutant galloped out to Observation West to have a look at it. At 9.30 a.m. the wagons all moved away at a trot in a westerly direction.
A new long gun was placed on Middle Hill, and a lot of Dutch fraus were seen on the crest-line, near the gun ; this gun " paid calls " all round the camp during the afternoon, leaving cards on our various defensive posts, especially favouring Caesar's camp and King's Post.
A " Flying Column " was formed, each man carrying three days' rations and forage. This column was to be independent of wheeled transport.
Nov. 29.—The regiment was ready to move off at daybreak for a three days' jaunt, but nothing came of it, and we had to slink into Green Horse Valley instead.
At 9.45 p.m. orders were received to be ready to attack the Boers ; at 10.15 p.m. orders were cancelled. A rumour was afterwards current that some one had conveyed the news to the Boers even before the regiment had received orders !
Nov. 30.—Green Horse Valley. A very heavy bombardment on both sides commenced as the sun rose. The enemy paid particular attention to the town ; putting one shell into the town-hall where our sick men were, killing one man and wounding nine others. About 6.15 p.m. the gun on Rifleman's Ridge put a shell through one of the " D " squadron tents ; (This was odd ; because a young staff officer on several different occasions told me that this gun could not hit our camp!) luckily the main body of the regiment had not then returned to Cove camp for the night. The relieving column from somewhere signalled to us by means of a search-light, playing on the clouds above the Bulwana end of Caesar's camp.
Dec. 1.—Green Horse Valley. A fairly quiet day. Lombard's Kop long gun putting a shell in the middle of a party of ours under Lieutenant Dunbar, cutting wood; this was a shrapnel, which luckily buried itself in the soft ground, doing no harm.
Dec. 2.—Green Horse Valley. A very " hot " day for the 5th Dragoon Guards ! Lombard's Kop began firing his ninety-six pounder into the Imperial Light Horse camp about luncheon-time, and stirred them up considerably. The splinters from these shells bounded right over, and amongst " B" and " D" squadrons, 5th Dragoon Guards ; one horse being slightly wounded.
The infernal gunner then pitched his shells still further up, and finally one came just beyond us ; these shells all burst. Luncheon, and the men's dinners, with this going on, were rather disturbed meals. Later in the day, Bulwana pitched a shell on to the top of the rocky ridge which hid "C" squadron from the gun ; it burst about 70 yards from the horses, sending showers of stones both about us and into the river. Then a great fragment of it dropped in the 18th Hussars' camp, 500 yards further up the river, severely wounding one of their men. A second shot from this gun came a little further, cleared the crest, and dropped into the River Klip not fifteen yards from the line of the " C " squadron horses' tails ! Some inquisitiveness was now experienced as to where the third shot would fall; but, fortunately, the gun did not fire again !
The regiment returned to Cove camp as usual, at about 7.15 p.m., for the night. An order was received at 8.25 p.m. to turn out immediately, with one day's rations and forage. Dinner was immediately left, and, though the night was pitch dark, the regiment had marched well out of its camp by 9 p.m. A most creditable performance, and testifying to the keenness displayed by all ranks after the long day they had undergone. At 10.30 p.m. it was notified that this was only a trial "turn out"—so the regiment returned to camp.
Dec. 3, Sunday.—To Green Horse Valley as usual. Turn out 3.55 a.m. A quiet day. No bombardment. Very hot sun.
Dec. 4.—Great digging going on at Green Horse Valley. The place has been completely transformed since we came there. Now it has splinter-proofs and shelter trenches ; covered ways to go from one part of the camp to another without being seen ; shelters from rain and sun for the men, splinter-proof officers' messes with all modern appliances (including flies !).
A sentry is always posted in a place whence he can see both Lombard's Kop and Bulwana. Directly he sees a white jet squirt into the sky from one of these hills, he blows his whistle lustily. At this signal, those men who are near trenches or bombproof cover get into it, sharp. Then comes a pause of twenty-two seconds' expectancy. Then " pong!
A cloud of red dust squirts fifty feet into the air on our side of the Imperial Light Horse camp, or perhaps on our side of the river ! Don't put your head up then ! The shell hasn't finished with you yet! Screaming overhead, for about 500 yards from the burst, may be the base of a shrapnel, or a twelve-pound fragment of a common shell from " Long Tom." After practical experience of this, the commanding officer laid it down that men should keep their heads under cover for twenty seconds after any burst occurring within 500 yards in front of them.
Dec. 5.—Green Horse Valley.
Dec. 6.—Green Horse Valley. Bombardment very slight compared with previous days. Rations and forage now getting rather short. Our horses are now getting daily 9 lbs. chaff, 5 lbs. bran, and 5 lbs. mealies. No more hay in the place.
Dec. 7.—Green Horse Valley. " Surprise Hill " put a shell almost into our " Cove camp " while our horses were out.
Dec. 8.—The regiment began exercising at 3.50 a.m. in the dark as usual. At 4.5 a.m. orders were received to rendezvous on the Newcastle Road, the regiment arriving at its destination some time before any of the remaining troops detailed. The official report here follows :—
From the Officer Commanding 5th Dragoon Guards to the Brigade-Major of Cavalry, Ladysmith.
Ladysmith, 8th December, 1899.
I have the honour to report as follows on the part taken by the 5th Dragoon Guards in the action near Ladysmith this morning.
At 4.5 a.m. the 5th Dragoon Guards received orders to rendezvous at the examining post on the Newcastle Road, in rear of the 18th Hussars.
At 4.20 a.m. the 5th Dragoon Guards reached this place, and not finding the 18th Hussars there, dismounted under cover of a small plantation and awaited orders. The 5th Lancers and 18th Hussars subsequently passed me here, and I received orders to remain with the 53rd Field Battery Royal Artillery, and act as the reserve.
At about 5 a.m. I received orders to advance, and did so in column of fours along the Newcastle Road. On my leading fours reaching the top of the hill, at the examining post, I received an order to halt there; apparently because shells were bursting a short distance in advance of this spot.
At about 5.15 a.m. a shell came (apparently from the gun on the north-east end of Bulwana) and burst in the middle of " C " squadron, wounding Captain C. Gaunt, 4th Dragoon Guards (attached to 5th D.G.), and No. 4254 Private F. Germany, 11th Hussars (attached to 5th D.G.), both slightly. Three shells came in quick succession from this gun at the same objective, and during this time one horse was killed and four horses wounded.
I wish to bring to your notice the coolness displayed at this time by Major Hilliard, R.A.M.C. (attached to 5th D.G.), who was attending to Captain Gaunt, when a shell actually passed between him and that officer, bursting within a few feet of them, without, however, causing any damage.
I now asked permission to move my regiment to Observation Hill, where I should be more sheltered from view, and whence I could more readily issue for an attack. Permission being granted, I moved there, followed by the battery, which also found cover there.
The 5th Dragoon Guards remained here, under direct command of Brigadier-General Brocklehurst, until about 6.20 a.m., when (the battery and all the other cavalry having gone in to camp) my regiment returned to its " Day " camp in Green Horse Valley without further incident.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant, (Signed) St. John Gore, Major,
Commanding 5th Dragoon Guards.
At the commencement of this day the 5th Dragoon Guards were entirely exposed, in their rendezvous, to fire from the two guns on Lombard's Kop, and also the two guns on Bulwana, being in a column of troops, closed up as much as possible behind the little plantation, but still actually in view from all of these guns. Apparently the original intention was to advance the supporting regiment (5th Dragoon Guards) when the two advanced regiments (5th Lancers and 18th Hussars) advanced.
The 5th Dragoon Guards thus got into a column of fours on the Newcastle Road. When the head of this column reached the examining post on the top of the hill, as shells were bursting on the comparatively level ground just in front of this spot, the brigadier decided to keep his supporting regiment under cover from the frontal fire for some time longer, to allow the advanced regiments to get well away to the front. This gives a good example of what we were always exposed to during this siege ; we sought cover from guns on our right and left front, and were instantly shelled with great precision from our right rear.
It gradually transpired that the Imperial Light Horse, now temporarily commanded by Major Edwards, 5th Dragoon Guards, had made a most gallant night attack on the guns on Lombard's Kop (Gun Hill, to be exact). This attack was completely successful, and one " Long Tom," a six-inch gun which had annoyed Green Horse Valley more than any other gun, together with a howitzer, were blown up with gun cotton, and lost to the enemy. The Boers in this section of their line of investment were evidently very much upset this morning ! Lombard's Kop could not lire on us for obvious reasons, and the big gun on Bulwana did not open fire until we had moved under cover of Observation Hill. Many eye-witnesses of this short but very sharp bombardment to which the 5th Dragoon Guards were exposed at this time, expressed their wonder at the marvellous escapes that must have occurred, as the shells came absolutely into the middle of the regiment as it stood still on the road. Captain Gaunt and Private Germany were only slightly injured; the former struck in the leg, the latter in the breast, by fragments of shell.
The regiment then went down to Green Horse Valley, and were not fired at on the way, for a wonder ! About 4.30 p.m. Bulwana fired about five of its 96-lb. shells into Green Horse Valley: one of them fell three yards beyond the " D " squadron horses, and tore one of our saddles and numnahs to pieces ! It fell on rocks; and although men were then sleeping in the open all round the spot, fortunately no casualties occurred, beyond slight inconvenience from falling stones, etc.
The 5th Dragoon Guards thus began and ended this day under extremely lively circumstances !
Dec. 9.—Green Horse Valley. Reuter's correspondent managed to get " a runner " through the Boer lines, who also brought a private telegram to Major Gore, saying that he had been gazetted Colonel of the 5th Dragoon Guards. Not being "official," no official notice was taken for the present.
Bulwana sent about three shells into Green Horse Valley without doing any damage.
As hitherto the Boers have never fired their big guns on Sundays, and as Cove camp was really the official camp selected by the staff for the 5th Dragoon Guards, the commanding officer decided to risk staying there to-morrow morning in order to give the men a well-earned rest from the early hours now obligatory. Reveille was fixed for 5.30 a.m., consequently. At 10 p.m., however, the commanding officer received an order to be prepared for an attack by the Boers during to-night and to-morrow morning, and the existing orders had to be countermanded for new ones.
Dec. 10.—4.30 a.m. on this Sunday morning found the regiment " standing to " in its lines in Cove camp ready to turn out if required. As nothing occurred, at 5 a.m. the officers and men were allowed to turn into their tents, and continue their disturbed sleep, still leaving the horses saddled in readiness. "Stables" from 6.30 to 7 a.m., at which hour "breakfasts" were sent up. It now appeared as though the Boers would keep to their Sunday arrangements, and let us have a day of rest. One of the officers now decided it might be safe to get out of his clothes, and was enjoying a luxurious tub : the remainder, however, began breakfasting. Five minutes afterwards, a puff of smoke rose from Bulwana Hill, and with the now familiar rush and roar, the big gun landed a shell about a hundred yards beyond our camp! (This again was very odd. I had been told that this gun would not fire at us even on a week-day !) The order to "turn out" was instantly given, and, according to previously arranged plans, the three squadrons were filing out of their lines within five minutes, but not before two more shells (which burst not ten yards beyond our flank squadron without damage) had been fired at us! The men led their horses with the greatest coolness over about 400 yards of open ground, still in full view of the gun, which followed them with shells, until they were sheltered from view by Convent Hill. The gun still continued firing, and the house of the Commander-in-Chief, Sir George White, near which we had to pass, had a narrow escape ! The regiment reached Green Horse Valley without casualty, having had some very close shaves on the way down.
The above morning incident is thus given in detail, as an example of the annoyances a cavalry regiment may be subjected to during a state of siege: annoyances borne by officers and men uncomplainingly, and with the greatest cheeriness and steadiness, and an entire lack of grumbling.
The new commanding officer writes these words with the greatest pride, testifying as they do to the good feeling and good fellowship that now exist, and, within his twenty-one years of service in it, always have existed, between all ranks, in the 5th Dragoon Guards.
We computed that these shells must have cost the-Boers somewhere about £301. It is the commanding officer's birthday, and he persists in regarding these shells, fired at his new regiment, as a birthday present and a salute combined! It must not be forgotten that we paid a similar compliment to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales on the occasion of his birthday on November 9, and possibly the Boers are taking a leaf out of our books.
The commanding officer, however, will be glad to learn that any of his officers or men who have birthdays shortly coming on will kindly arrange to postpone them until further notice !
As our men lay in their tents that night, those of them not yet fallen asleep might have listened with grim satisfaction to the steady tramp of a battalion of their infantry comrades, and the dull rumble of a battery following them as they wended their way through our camp.
Rank by rank they appeared, and disappeared into the murky light of the still young moon. Marching into the darkness, we know not whither, but dimly speculate; and fall asleep with a half-thought prayer for success to the gallant lads who are going to look into the eyes of our enemies, who have been fighting us at 8000 yards' distance for six weary weeks past.
Dec. 11.—A very heavy musketry fire was heard at 3.15 a.m. towards Surprise Hill. It afterwards transpired that five companies of the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade had stormed and taken Surprise Hill, and got into the Boers there with the bayonet. Our men blew up the howitzer that has annoyed us for so long, and also destroyed another gun.
Their casualties were 11 men killed, 43 wounded, and 6 missing ; it is believed they killed 100 of the enemy.
The regiment went to Green Horse Valley before dawn as usual, the commanding officer and adjutant staying in Cove camp to-day. A heavy bombardment of Cove camp was kept up for several hours in the morning. While the Staff were at breakfast in " C " squadron mess-tent, a shell from the big gun Bulwana pitched in the doorway of the tent of Lieutenant and Adjutant Winwood, tore it to shreds, and smothered everything inside with earth, besides doing minor destruction ! The mess-tent was 30 yards further on in the direct line, but fortunately the fragments of the shell must have risen at a very sharp angle, as no one in camp was touched !
A new gun—apparently a 6-inch one—opened fire this morning from northward of the camp, and sent shells across the open part of it, as well as over Green Horse Valley, with great persistency.(This afterwards proved to be the 6-inch " Telegraph Hill " gun.) At one period Cove camp had an extremely hot time, as no less than four guns were sending shells all round it. This performance was again repeated about 5 p.m. The Boers were evidently thoroughly stirred up by recent events, and wanted to let off their ill-temper somehow !
Dec. 12.—Green Horse Valley. A quiet day. The weather is now extremely hot, and the flies are very bad indeed. On the return of the regiment to camp at 7.15 p.m., an order was suddenly received to turn out and be at examining guard on Newcastle Road at 9.30 p.m. The only order given by the commanding officer was, "The regiment will parade in 'Flying Column Order' at 9.15 this evening." There was no confusion, or people running about asking questions. All had been arranged beforehand. On arrival at the rendezvous, the parade was dismissed.
Dec. 13.—Not much bombardment. Rehearsal of turn out of "Flying Column" repeated at 9 p.m. Very satisfactory, as before.
Dec. 14.—Green Horse Valley. Bulwana fired into Cove camp heavily about 6 a.m. One man of 5th Lancers (next door to us) was wounded by a splinter. Our dismounted men were ordered to go to King's Post at 3 p.m., under Second Lieutenant Kinnear, to garrison that post. Among them were many first servants : their duties were to take the night duty, and sleep in the trenches, do the patrolling (of course dismounted), and other duties of that nature.
Dec. 15.—Green Horse Valley. Heavy artillery firing heard in the distance all the morning. We hope it is Buller, and his big howitzers near Colenso ! Boers in unusually bad temper, anyhow. Bulwana's smaller gun had a shot at the commanding officer and his orderly Lee, while riding by themselves over Cove Plain to King's Post. Bulwana's big gun also put a shell close to " C " squadron mess-tent, which burst within a few yards of Corporal Marks (who runs that mess). The Boers evidently have got information about these being the officers' tents, and fire at them even when the horses are out of camp.
Food is now getting decidedly scarce, and both officers and men are often on decidedly short commons.
It is difficult to buy anything, but when for sale, prices are very high. At a semi-official sale of market produce, etc., some of the prices realized at auction were as follows :—
1 bottle of whisky, £3 Is.
1 dozen eggs, gs. 2d.
1 pot jam, $s. 6d.
Sack of potatoes (25 lbs.), 18S 6d.
8 lbs. mutton, 10s. 6d.
(The mutton was the bargain! Lieutenant Clay got it for " C " squadron mess. This is considered quite worthy of record here!)
Some of the cunning men of war among us still manage a precarious supply of milk for their squadron messes. The grazing area over which our cattle can roam is now so much restricted that the milk supply has almost ceased.
Sickness among the garrison has been sadly on the increase lately, and dysentery and enteric have made great inroads on its available fighting strength.
The 5th Dragoon Guards have been comparatively fortunate in this respect, and for many consecutive weeks the health of the regiment was returned as " good." At this time we had in hospital, from various causes, one officer and 42 N.C.O.'s and men. The most serious cases are sent out by train to the neutral camp, established about three miles from Ladysmith, on the " Intombi Spruit." Captain H. Hoare is still in this camp, and writes that he is making an excellent recovery from the wound he received on November 3.
At about 4 p.m. this day a very severe thunderstorm burst over Ladysmith. Men and officers took shelter in the underground casemates ; unfortunately, the long spell of dry weather had led them to neglect that most essential thing—provision for drainage— and the small channels then in existence were soon overflowing with the streams of water pouring down the sides of Poundbury Hill! People were seen making hurried exits from the bowels of the earth like drowned rats, and in a short time nearly all the casemates were full of water! When the rain ceased, at about 6 p.m., great draining operations went on till the return to Cove camp at 7.15 p.m.
Dec. 16.—" Dingan's Day." A great day, which the Boers keep in memory of their great victory over the Zulu chieftain of that name. Suspecting that they might try to celebrate the occasion in a practical way, the commanding officer took the regiment down to Green Horse Valley considerably earlier even than usual. However, at 4.35 a.m.—before the first squadron had arrived there—the first shell (a shrapnel) burst near the Imperial Light Horse camp. It was still too dark for them to see us. A heavy cannonade was now commenced by all the Boer guns round us, and things were made very lively. Green Horse Valley escaped very well, but Cove camp had a very-hot time from both Bulwana's guns and Blaaubank. Captain Darbyshire had a narrow escape from a shell from the latter gun, which landed within four yards of him, near the orderly-room tent. Lieutenant and Quartermaster Farbrother throughout these latter weeks of the siege, as well as Sergeant Luckett, the orderly-room clerk, had a trying time almost daily, as their duties kept them near the headquarter tents, which seemed to be specially selected for targets. The regimental sergeant-major, Mr. Boag, was standing a moment before on the spot where this shell pitched, but had been given an order to carry out in the horse lines, which took him away in time!
Unfortunately, our garrison lost five men killed on this day.
The firing gradually died out, and was fairly quiet during the remainder of the day; a 6-inch shell from Telegraph Hill, however, went just over " C " squadron at tea-time with a very " wobbly " flight, as indicated by the noise it made, that gave rise to the agreeable surmise that possibly the gun might be wearing out at last!
The Boers appeared to have been firing a salute of twenty-one guns, from each of their guns which our artillery allowed them to serve.
Dec. 17, Sunday.—The regiment went to Green Horse Valley. After last Sunday's experience few would have suggested staying in Cove camp !
On Sundays half of the men have to take the horses down, and exercise is dispensed with; this gives some of the men a well-earned sleep, and makes a slight distinction in the day.
A rumour arrived to-day that Sir Redvers Buller had met with a serious reverse at Colenso, and that he would not be able to relieve Ladysmith as soon as we had expected, to which was tacked on a considerable number of rather startling details! This was one of countless rumours which are flung broadcast among the garrison by some people who have not enough work to do to keep them more usefully employed. Every sort of ridiculous story soon became current in Ladysmith—of course vastly " improved upon" in the passing from mouth to mouth. A general order has been issued prohibiting this form of amusement; but no general order can really reach the fountain-heads from whence these rumours come. The practice is, at any rate, strongly discountenanced in Green Horse Valley, and all are recommended not to bother their heads about rubbishy stories they may hear until they are officially confirmed. Amongst other stories current—and firmly believed in by many, no doubt—was the fiction that the Boers had already mounted an 8.3-inch gun on Pepworth Hill, in the epaulcment formerly occupied by the original " Long Tom ;" to complete this report, it was added that all civilians had been ordered to leave the town, and go out to the Neutral camp at Intombi, as it would be impossible for them to stay in the town under the fire of this gun, which was to begin bombarding to-morrow morning! Even had this rumour had the slightest foundation, it would have been alike useless and impolitic to go blazoning it about, as though something awful had happened. If such a gun is being mounted, let it open fire without a lot of rubbish being previously talked about it, and then it will probably be found that the damage done by it is very little more than we are quite accustomed to from our old enemies the 6-inch guns.
It must be recorded here that such-like rumours are apparently treated with the utmost contempt and unconcern by all our men, who take only a slight passing interest in events that might loom large in the minds of people who had not become inured to surprises by a fifty days' siege in Ladysmith ! We all go on with our daily work exactly as if we were in camp in England, except for the precautions to keep men and horses out of sight in the daytime.
The only difference this rather unwelcome intelligence made to us was that the "commanding officer " spent most of Sunday afternoon walking about Green Horse Valley devising various improvements which could usefully be made for the comfort of officers and men, and also making plans to meet some eventualities that might arise : the most formidable of the latter being the sudden flooding of the River Klip, which rises to a great height in a few hours. " D " and " C " squadrons at present are standing well below high-water mark, so higher positions had to be selected for them as alternative ones. Several new shelters for the men were also planned : these were much required, against the sun no less than against the rain.
No. 4560 Private Harry Ashlin died at Intombi camp this day, from enteric fever.
Dec. 18.—"B" and "D" squadrons working at making shelters. A trench wide enough to hold two rows of men lying down, feet inwards, is dug ; an upright, made of a split sleeper, is put in the centre of each end of this trench, and a wire is stretched across from the top of one upright to the other ; over this wire a tarpaulin is laid, so that the wire forms the " ridge pole" of the tent, and the sides of the tarpaulin are pegged down to the ground on either side. Ample provision for drainage has to be made.
A tent of this sort holds about 25 men lying down ; and from 40 to 50 sitting, when taking shelter on a wet day. The earth excavated is thrown up on the side towards the enemy, and though the ground on which these "tents " stand is in full view of the Boers on Lombard's Kop and Gun Hill, as the ridge pole of the tent only rises three feet above the ground level, the excavated sand hides the whole tent from the enemy's view, and at the same time gives a certain amount of protection from splinters.
No. 4114 Lance-Corporal Wilkins had a narrow escape to-day in Cove camp. He was severely wounded in the hand by a shell from the 6-inch gun on Telegraph Hill.
Dec. 19.—Continuing yesterday's work in morning and evening.
Dec. 20.—During the afternoon a shrapnel from Bulwana's smaller gun burst over the opposite ridge to Green Horse Valley, near " C" squadron. No apparent damage was done at the time, but it was afterwards found that a roan pony belonging to the " C. O." had been struck in the shoulder by a shrapnel bullet! The pony made no apparent motion at the time: she was able to be taken off* to the sick lines to see if the injury to the bone was not too serious to allow of her life being saved. Men and horses were close round her, but none noticed anything except the actual burst of the shell itself.
Dec. 21.—A great deal of bombardment to-day. When walking down to Green Horse Valley in the early morning, a shell from Bulwana fell just over the head of an officer, and immediately after a splinter from "Thornhill's" gun (which had burst its shell quite one thousand yards away!) landed within five yards of him. It would have been pleasanter after breakfast than before it, no doubt!
A great scarcity of fuel now exists, so " C " squadron were set to build an improved fireplace for cooking, as an experiment to economize fuel. A substitute for fire-bars was at first found by corrugated iron with holes pierced through it with a pickaxe. This was afterwards improved upon by using old horseshoes straightened out by the farrier. The latter made excellent fire-bars when built into the stone sides, which both contained the fire and supported the Indian " deckchies," or cooking-pots. A sheet of corrugated iron, rolled round on itself, and bound thus with wire, made an excellent chimney about nine feet high, and gave plenty of draught. By means of this fire it was possible to burn dried aloes, of which plenty were growing on Poundbury Hill.
A 6-inch shell (from "Puffing Billy" on Bulwana) struck Sir George White's house to-day: the Boers have been trying for it on and off during the whole siege ! They made a fine smash of one of the back rooms in which the shell landed, but fortunately no one was in it at the time, and no one was even injured. Unfortunately, it landed among the " English stores " and the liquor, and it pains one even to think of the sad destruction of good drink and stores at such a time! They are more sought after than anything else at present.
Dec. 22.—The 5th Lancers go for the day to a point on the river half a mile upstream of Green Horse Valley. A 6-inch shell from Telegraph Hill ricochetted from a great distance, and fell into the midst of a group of their officers. Lieut.-Colonel Fawcett, who was going round " Stables," and four other officers were all wounded by splinters, and the squadron sergeant-major was also struck : this shell also killed four horses, so it may be considered that the officers really had a fortunate escape, and that we may congratulate the 5th Lancers on not actually losing any lives.
Five men of the Gloucesters were killed by shells this day.
Fortunately, Green Horse Valley was spared.
Dec. 23.—Heavy bombardment both in early morning and at midday.
No. 4475 Private Joseph Hinde died at Intombi camp this day. Enteric fever.
Until now our officers have been using bales of hay (which had been " cast") as revetments in their bomb-proof day-shelters ; these bales, however, had now been called in by the commissariat authorities— for issue as forage! Great ingenuity was now displayed by the officers of the three squadrons in designing and building for themselves new " houses," without the assistance of the bales for revetment; in all cases it resulted in improved dwellings, and in " B" squadron such blandishments as roller blinds (that would pull up and down!) were to be seen.
Dec. 24, Sunday.—Green Horse Valley. The Boers fired several big guns during the day ; there was also a good deal of desultory Maxim and musketry fire. Several officers were able to send out telegrams, by having them heliographed to " Weenens," and thence to their destination by wire. The commanding officer received a Christmas present from General Hunter of a magnificent HAM ! — a priceless treasure for " C " squadron mess.
Dec. 25, Christmas Day!—At 4.30 a.m. two shells screaming over Cove camp, and heavy firing from musketry and Maxims, ushered in the day of Peace and Goodwill! All went to Green Horse Valley as usual. It was not possible to do anything for the men in the way of extras for dinner, except a pudding, for which materials were served out. The officers, by paying longish prices, managed to secure what under present circumstances were looked upon as extremely fine dinners ! In one squadron, the cook-house in the town, where their bit of beef was being' cooked, was actually struck by a shell, the house-people ran away, and part of the meat was burnt! In spite of minor drawbacks of this sort, all were as jolly as possible, and the animated scenes would no doubt have vastly astonished the Boers, had they been able to look on !
Dec. 26.—Heavy bombardment. Blaaubank sent four shells just over and into our Cove camp, some falling in the 5th Lancers' camp. Tremendous thunderstorm in evening from 7.30 to 11 p.m. Torrents flowing everywhere ; the rain came through several officers' tents, and drowned them out.
Dec. 27.—Heavy bombarding again commenced at 4.45 a.m. Bulwana's big gun put a shell into the officers' mess of the "Devons," and unfortunately killed one, and wounded seven of their officers.
Dec. 28.—Just before dawn the big naval guns above our camp fired about six shots in quick succession on to the top of the table-land of Bulwana. They had seen the night escort of the gun going away from that spot for several successive mornings, and we hope some of this escort did not go away (of their own accord) this morning.
Bulwana did not fire all day long, so we had no "whistling" in Green Horse Valley.
Much amusement was caused in the 5th Dragoon Guards' camp about 9 p.m. by seeing the British search-light from Chievely signalling to us by throwing a gigantic beam of light on to a cloud. The Boers on Bulwana at once produced their search-light, and endeavoured to interfere with the signalling by throwing their rays on to the same spot. The power of the British light being far greater than the Boer one, in spite of the distance, the attempt to interfere was quite ineffectual, and was received with jeers in camp.
Dec. 28.—The sight was a pretty one, and at any rate it is comforting to see that there really is a British force somewhere in the neighbourhood, as we are kept absolutely without news of any kind.
Dec. 29.—Another quiet day. Tremendous rain in the night.
Dec. 30.—On arrival at Green Horse Valley it was found that the River Klip had risen about ten feet, and was now a wide and raging torrent! The ground where both " D " and " C " squadrons generally stood being well under water, these squadrons had to be huddled together higher up the hill for the day. Most of the bomb-proofs which we had made at the beginning of the siege were now flooded out, but luckily the new shelters for the men had been constructed above the present water-level. The Mounted Infantry (who are camped on the river above us) lost several horses washed away during the night; the 18th Hussars also had to shift their horse lines and tents in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain: by morning their original " lines " were quite submerged. We fortunately escaped these hardships, by having gone up to Cove camp for the night.
Dec. 31, Sunday.—Brigadier-General Brocklehurst (Royal Horse Guards) commanding this cavalry brigade inspected our horses in Green Horse Valley this morning. He expressed himself as very pleased with their condition. They certainly have stood the shortness of their forage marvellously well. They want grass now, and some long gentle exercises ; with this they would soon be able to take their place in the field, in spite of this long spell of inaction.
A few shots were fired at intervals during the day.
And so concluded an eventful year for the 5th Dragoon Guards ; a year begun amidst the mock strife of the Delhi manoeuvres, and ended amidst the grim surroundings of a siege already lasting sixty days ! A year to look back upon with pleasure, and pride withal ; a year whose parting spirit looked down upon a slumbering regiment with but one sentiment in all their dreams, "Wait till we can get at them!"