....The Stock Department states that all horses which have been purchased for the contingent will be delivered at the camp by Monday night. ....A church parade of the contingent will be held to-morrow. ....The Land and Survey Department is issuing a splendid map of the Transvaal for the use of the contingent. It is a compilation from all sources. ....Numerous donations of books, magazines, and periodicals have been made to the contingent for use on the voyage. ....The Waiwera leaves for the South at 2 p.m. ....Captain J. Hughes of the Napier Guards, Adjutant of the East Coast battalion, has joined the contingent. The Marlborough Express, Saturday 14th October 1899
1900 - The death of Harry Crocker, of the 26th (Dorsetshire) Company Imperial Yeomanry.
CROCKER. - Oct. 14, at Pretoria, of enteric, Trooper Harry Crocker, third son of the late Mr. W. H. Crocker, High East-street, Dorchester, aged 27.
....Death of Trooper H. Crocker.—On Monday Mr. C. Crocker, High East-street, received a telegram from the War Office stating that his brother, Trooper H. Crocker, 5346, of H Company Imperial Yeomanry, was dangerously ill of enteric at Pretoria. On the following day a telegram was received that he was dead. Trooper Crocker was one of the first to volunteer for the Imperial Yeomanry. He had been in numerous engagements, and his friends had received several letters from him describing his experiences. The Western Gazette, Friday 19th October 1900
....The Late Trooper Crocker.—The family of Trooper H. Crocker, a member of the Dorset Company of Imperial Yeomanry, who died of enteric at Pretoria, has received irom Colonel Goodden a cheque for £100, at which sum the whole of the men belonging to the Company were insured out of the County Equipment Fund. It scarcely need be said that the family are grateful for this welcome token of the kindly forethought which was shown by Colonel Goodden and the Committee who made the arrangements for the despatch of the Dorset Yeomanry coutingent. Dorset Volunteers in South Africa. The Western Gazette, Friday 14th December 1900
The Western Gazette (2.3.1900) reported that William Henry Crocker was one of the four members of the Imperial Yeomanry who were given the Freedom of the Borough of Dorchester, on Monday 26th February 1900, but in its list of the members of the company (on 16.2.1900) he was H. Crocker, of Dorchester. There's a plaque dedicated to his memory in St Peter's Church, Dorchester, in the name of Harry Crocker.
The birth of a Harry Crocker in Dorchester, in 1873, looked to be the right man. His mother's maiden name was Riggs, and the following male Crockers were born to a mother with the same maiden name:—
Henry William, 1862
William Henry, 1866, died 1867
William Henry, 1869
Walter Ashley, 1875
Their father, William Henry Crocker, died in the second quarter of 1900.
It looks to me as though the report that William Henry Crocker was one of the four Dorchester Yeomen to be made a Freeman of the Borough was incorrect, and it was Harry Crocker.
Source: Diary of the siege of Mafeking by Edward Ross
The bugle sounded the alarm and all turned out like one man but had permission to lay down immediately afterwards, and we seemingly had just closed our eyes, when at 4 a.m. .it was "Guard turn out” when every man stood to arms.
At about 5.30 a.m. the sound of heavy firing was heard, three or four miles out northwards. A small party of our scouts under Sergeant-Major Bruce of the P. R. Regiment had met the enemy and engaged them in a scrimmage, but found them too strong and retired on the town to report.
The armoured train was at this moment sent out in charge of Captain Williams with one truck manned by a squad of the B.S.A.P., and the other truck by the Railway Division of the Town Guard. About \\ miles out the enemy were sighted, and immediately opened fire with our Hotchkiss and rifles. The Boers replied with a perfect hailstorm of Mauser bullets. An order was then sent out by the Colonel, and the train retired homewards for a distance of about a quarter of a mile. The Boers, naturally thinking they were retiring, attempted to follow up their mistaken success; no sooner had they properly advanced than the others steamed ahead again getting within 800 yards, [and] opened a tremendous and destructive fire. In the meantime Captain FitzClarence with a squad of about 50 men of D. Regiment [sic] went out at a hard gallop past the recreation ground, when they opened out, and could be seen crossing the veldt as fast as their horses could carry them. Not many minutes afterwards firing could be heard a good distance to the left, where the train was; this was FitzClarence engaging the right flank of the Boers. In the meantime part of A, squadron had gone out to support D. and took up their position at some kaffir huts some little distance from the railway line, all the time being subjected to the heavy firing from the enemy’s rifles. During almost the whole of this time the armoured train kept up a continual firing on the Boer lines; this terrific firing could not last for very long, and the Boers, finding it such a hot corner, in fact a thousand times hotter than they expected, began to retreat and FitzClarence
with his hot-headed but highly admired courage began following them up and continued to do so until imperatively recalled by the Colonel. I believe he would have followed them through to Pretoria if he had been left alone. The whole affair was really an extremely plucky bit of work, taking into consideration that it was the first time they had been under fire, and that they were fighting against odds of at least io to x. The casualties on our side were three killed and eleven wounded, amongst the latter being Lieutenant Brady, who was in charge of number 2 troop, A. squadron P.R. The bullets in his bandoleer saved him from being mortally wounded. Two of our wounded, I am sorry to say, died.
The first news of our success was brought in by Major Baillie, correspondent for the Morning Post. He came galloping through the town calling out to us that the armoured train and the Protectorate boys had knocked spots out of the Boers. I afterwards heard he had done a most plucky' ride, carrying instructions to FitzClarence, and from him to the armoured train, a distance of about a mile and a half right across the front face of the Boer firing line, being at times almost within 100 yards of the enemy’s rifles. During this sprint a Mauser bullet passed through the water bottle on his side, whilst his horse was twice shot under him, and had simply to be left on the veldt. He says he knows now that the Boers cannot shoot for nuts as they fired at him all along the line and nearly all the bullets went over his head.
Almost immediately after Major Baillie’s return, and under his direction, a Red Cross ambulance party wras arranged, and sent out with an engine and two trucks as near as possible to the scene of fighting. They pulled up at some native huts, and, leaving the train, proceeded across the veldt carrying a large Red Cross flag and two stretchers, our Roman Catholic minister accompanying them. No sooner had the party got out into the open than the Boers fired upon them through some trees on the hill; and although the Red Cross flag was continually waved it could not have possibly been mistaken, and the stretchers held aloft to show what they were, the Boers continued firing and dropping their bullets very thickly all round the party', who under the circumstances were obliged to retire; they were not even able to retaliate in any possible way. Even Major Baillie had previously
thrown off his revolver and Sam Browne equipment. This is what the Boers call civilized warfare.
After our Colonel had sent out a white flag and remonstrated with Cronje, and the latter had apologized for the occurrence caused by his ignorant young men, we were then able to bring in our two dead bodies and the wounded. It was afterwards found that not only had all the clothing and boots of the men been removed, but the finger of one man had been literally cut off the hand, for the purpose of stealing a ring he was known to be wearing.
At 1.30 today it was reported that the Boers’ Polfontein laager are advancing on Mafeking from Rietfontein. Red flag up and bugle sounding the alarm. At 3.30 the alarm flag was hauled down, as our scouts report that the Boers have laagered-up three miles southward. At 4.30 our scout reported the Boers may be seen on the west side. We are now entirely surrounded, and the red flag [has] been up all the afternoon. Inside the town [all is] quiet, remaining in the trenches all the time.
At 7.30 B.P. issued a notice congratulating the men on their behaviour today, more especially D. squadron and the armoured train, also informing us that Cronje had sent in an ultimatum demanding our unconditional surrender or he would shell the town on Monday morning. We laughed at the surrender part of the message, and set to work preparing for the promised shelling. Every man stood to arms all night.
I omitted to mention yesterday that the telegraphic communication north has been cut off so that we are now entirely cut off from the outside world.
It is to be hoped that our men will not be compelled to remain long in the trenches day and night, as merchants, bank managers, solicitors, civil servants, and hotel keepers and everyday clerks are not used to these little luxuries. Personally I am having a soft time of it, still sitting on the ammunition, but if a shell happens to explode on Monday amongst my loose cartridges - then good-bye all!
Owing to our lines of communication being cut off every way, the war correspondents are in a great state of mind about not being able to get their despatches away and will be compelled to depend upon local loyal natives to run the gauntlet of the Boer lines.