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TOPIC: February 13th

February 13th 6 years 1 week ago #2281

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1900 - Kimberley siege day 122 (98%). Ladysmith siege day 104 (87%). Mafeking siege day 124 (57%). French occupies Klip Drift. Clements retires to Arundel.
1901 - Kitchener proposes an interview with Botha to discuss peace.
1902 - Second drive in N.E. Free State commences.

In Kimberley:

The Sanitorium reports that heavy firing by guns and musketry from old position of column from 1.30 till 3 am.

None of the others sections of defence heard this.

5 loaded waggons were seen early this morning moving from Spitz Kop in the direction of Alexandersfontein. 19 – 6 inch shells were fired by the enemy’s gun at Kampersdam to-day. This makes 274 to date. 5 people were slightly injured to-day and much damage was caused to houses.

Everybody in town very busy making and improving their bomb proofs. The Soup Kitchen did grand work to-day. Over 14000 pints of soup were issued.

Everything in town is much dislocated. All business people have left their warehouses and the telephone system is working badly as the clerks will not stay at their posts.

During the afternoon a shell fell in one of the principal bakeries, and I have had to discontinue baking there.

The transport is being much overworked and I much fear will be of little use for any advance until the arrivals have some good food put into them.

I sent the following by helio or search light to-day.

“From Int KB to Int MD. Feb 13th No 212. Reply your I 97 of Feb 12th. References to place shewing country between Modder River and Kimberley compiled by Licas of which I understand copies have reached you. Best line of approach on Kimberley from South East lies southwards of Kimberley. Parade Berg drift road and East of OFS frontier only position enemy can resist advance extended from frontier at Scholtz’s Nek in direction slightly North East, in fact from Scholtz Nek towards Kopjes South of Will’s Farm. This position not strong from Boer point of view owing to absence of Kopjes. Natives report this position is strongly entrenched South of it country was covered with bush middle of Sept last and wire fences were few. Undulations Eastwards of Kimberley Jacobsdal Road afford certain amount of cover to advance should enemy occupy commanding spur Southwards of Scholtz Nek which partly bush covered also small Kopjes on same. This position forced am of opinion Boers cannot prevent much of relief column into Kimberley. This of course assumes that Boers have not provisioned laagers in Spytfontein ridges so as to hold out after their L of C threatened by mobile force.

North East of Olipnatsfontein Dam country favours Boers. From Susanna Eastwards extensive range Kopjes stretch on N of Kimberley Koodoos Round drift Rd for nearly 15 miles. Advance north of Kimberley Paarde Berg drift Rd should be avoided if saving time object.”

“From Int KB to Int MD Feb 14 No 214. Yesterday’s news. Enemy recommenced bombardment with field guns 6 am. Siege gun opened on town 7 am. Shelling continued intermittently during daylight. During morning Siege gun was turned on Kenilworth which is undefended 4 cottages were fired. Direction of Kimberley hospital not even respected by enemy. One shell passed through surgical ward others fell in immediate vicinity building. Enemy fired seventy-two shell in all forty six of which from siege gun. Portion of inhabitants have been removed to places safety. No casualties yesterday.”

“From Kekewich to C of S Feb 13 No 212. Enemy’s shelling causing great strain on inhabitants in fact panic started last Sunday evening, partially allayed by yesterday afternoon. Many arrangements for internal order dislocated.”

“From Int KB to Int MD Feb 13 No 215.Native released from Bogshof goal tenth inst arrived here yesterday reports his journey here passed large number cattle being driven North by women and children. Native sent into Boer lines Spytfontein tenth returned here yesterday, states Laager at Spytfontein strongly built of rail sleepers, sandbags, Beor in great force there and continually riding between Scholtz Nek and this laager. Natives sent out towards Barkly 11th to observe Boer movement returned this morning states spent yesterday in Kopje on farm VAAL PAN and about 5 am heard heavy firing direction Pneil Mission Station Vaal River which lasted till midday. Another native who was sent North 11th returned here yesterday and confirms intelligence re firing on Vaal river. Artillery firing also heard by Native at Vaalpan during afternoon towards Pneil Mission Station. From Vaal Pam Kopje native also saw about 5 pm large body of Boers proceeding via RUSTENVREDE towards Barkly. This native escaped after sundown, he proceeded via Peddiefontein to Spytfontein and on journey saw nine hundred Boers with one gun proceeding from Spytfontein towards Peddiefontein. Much unusual movement of Cape Carts with escorts observed to-day. Maybe Boers leaders disquieted and hence meeting held at Alexandersfontein.

“From Int KB to Int MD. Feb 13 No 116. To-day’s news enemy recommenced bombardment town 6.50 am firing intermittent throughout day. Chimney of house struck following occupants injured by fall of debris, George Brewster his wife and son also Charles Gainsford and Duncan Sinclair. Enemy fired 30 shell in all nineteen of which from siege gun.”

In Mafeking:

To sleep in the open and live on the heights in fine weather is undoubtedly an improvement on the town, at any rate for a short time; though one is away from headquarters and the latest garrison gossip, one's view of proceedings is universal and uninterrupted, unless one happens to be the recipient of Boer favours. The bomb proof gives ample cover and a dining-room, for the rest one lives in the open which, in this perfect weather, unless the sun be unduly hot, is charming, and though washing arrangements be scanty, the air is better and the view far less circumscribed than in the town some two thousand yards away. Last night wild musketry fire went on all night, and incendiary Boer shells provided the kopje contingent with fireworks gratis, and only succeeded in setting one house on fire, which was quickly extinguished. Poor Girdwood died this afternoon and was buried this evening.

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David Biggins

February 13th 2 years 1 week ago #45203

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From the diary of William Watson, Ladysmith, February 1900:

10 a.m. No shells yet. — Maxims pretty lively. — A few shots from our lines.

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David Biggins

February 13th 1 year 1 week ago #51962

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1900 - From the letters writer by Lt Col Park in Ladysmith

Some news has at last come through, with a full account of Buller’s fighting on 5th and 6th, and a little rather old information about the other columns at Colesberg, Modder River, and Sterkstroom. Apparently the censorship of the press is very strict now, as no movements of troops are allowed to get into the papers. Buller’s account is very satisfactory, and though he is not quite prepared to say he can come in here whenever he likes, as the Boers are making a most determined resistance, he has evidently now got a good position this side of the river, and is strengthening it and getting heavy artillery up, and will make his next advance with many more advantages on his side, instead of their being all on the side of the Boers. I have also seen a Daily Mail of 9th January, with Sir G. White’s first despatch on the Waggon Hill fight on the 6th. Of course, you will have seen it long ago. I am glad he described our charges as a “grand bayonet charge”, and mentioned me by name as having led it. I see they had a little biographical sketch of me in the paper, and, as old Colonel Knox said, I was evidently one of the heroes of the day just then in England.

The weather gets hotter and drier every day, and there is rather a fear of water running short if rain doesn’t come soon, as the river is so low. There is a full moon in two days, which may bring a change. From opinions at head-quarters I gather that the other columns are probably advancing on the Free State by this time, and that Buller will also advance slowly and steadily so as not to lose lives unnecessarily, so I do not think our relief should be postponed later than the end of this month if all goes well, or the first week in March at latest; and if the Boers made another serious attack on us it would precipitate matters, as signals have been arranged with Buller, and he would at once advance and attack from his side so as to co-operate, and would then probably come right in. In many ways it would be a good thing if this happened, as we might then inflict heavy losses on the Boers, whereas, if they don’t attack, they will probably drift gradually away as they hear of our troops advancing in the Free State, and we shall never catch them at all.

There seems to be a growing opinion that the Indian contingent regiments will be sent back as soon as the siege is over, as we have done our part and are so weak and knocked about we should be very little use for some weeks, and there will be by then such an enormous force in South Africa we shall not be wanted. There is also a rumour of uneasiness in Afghanistan, which might hasten our return. I hope so, as we shall have no further chance of distinction here, and have done very well so far.

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David Biggins

February 13th 1 year 1 week ago #51963

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1900 - From the diary of Miss Bella Craw in Ladysmith

Went up to the Hospital this morning. After helping with the breakfasts, came home to help as Aunt Fanny is ill in bed. Ada has everything to do and Mama is not strong enough to help, which she tries to do. I think Aunt Fanny will be alright in a day or two. She has had a slight attack of dysentry. Major Duffton seems to be a little better. They say if he gets through today he will stand a very good chance.

After dinner we came to our rooms to rest a little (it is simply an awfully hot day). We had no sooner disrobed and laid, than we heard the familiar bugle call to tell us Long Tom had fired. The first two sent down in the direction of the Gordon Camp at the bridge, the next one landed in Bert's garden near the stable, the next into ours, quite near Mrs. Duffton's tent in front of the house, opposite her husband's door. I wonder what she thought of it, her first experience of such a thing I should think. The next went over us down to the river. There were six altogether.

10.30

Poor Major Duffton very very bad tonight. They are afraid he will not live through the night. Poor Mrs. Duffton came in just now to change and put her dressing gown on. She walks and looks in a dream. We are all feeling so miserable and sorry for her, and so helpless and unable to comfort her.

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David Biggins

February 13th 1 year 1 week ago #51964

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1900 - From the diary of Trooper A J Crosby, Natal Carbineers

Up at 6 o’clock. Had a shave getting rations at 7 o’clock. Managed to get half lb. horse meat which I am taking to Dr. Anderson to cook. Made a good breakfast, thanks to my good friends of yesterday, and then went down to the Doctor’s, spending the whole day in quiet. The Doctor looks very thin and weary, but everyone is in like condition, sick or otherwise. Don’t think he likes Ladysmith and speaks of trying Johannesburg when matters are settled again. He has one of the best houses and thanks to his hospitality I’m doing fairly well. Often chat of the good old times. Will we ever enjoy the like again? Hope we may but the prospect at present is very ominous. Returned to the Sanatorium at 9.30 with no inclination to sleep.

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February 13th 1 year 1 week ago #51971

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There can certainly be absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Cecil Park and the remaining companies of his regiment deserve their place in the annals of the history of Ladysmith and it's garrison, it was they who decided the ultimate outcome on Wagon Hill, they were simply magnificent, even today, it is quite rightly remembered, as the epic, desperate bayonet charge, that in reality, it had been.
Prior to 2007, the Devon and Dorset Regiment marked the occasion and Archer's famous and much loved painting could been seen in their RHQ.


djb wrote: 1900 - From the letters writer by Lt Col Park in Ladysmith

Some news has at last come through, with a full account of Buller’s fighting on 5th and 6th, and a little rather old information about the other columns at Colesberg, Modder River, and Sterkstroom. Apparently the censorship of the press is very strict now, as no movements of troops are allowed to get into the papers. Buller’s account is very satisfactory, and though he is not quite prepared to say he can come in here whenever he likes, as the Boers are making a most determined resistance, he has evidently now got a good position this side of the river, and is strengthening it and getting heavy artillery up, and will make his next advance with many more advantages on his side, instead of their being all on the side of the Boers. I have also seen a Daily Mail of 9th January, with Sir G. White’s first despatch on the Waggon Hill fight on the 6th. Of course, you will have seen it long ago. I am glad he described our charges as a “grand bayonet charge”, and mentioned me by name as having led it. I see they had a little biographical sketch of me in the paper, and, as old Colonel Knox said, I was evidently one of the heroes of the day just then in England.

The weather gets hotter and drier every day, and there is rather a fear of water running short if rain doesn’t come soon, as the river is so low. There is a full moon in two days, which may bring a change. From opinions at head-quarters I gather that the other columns are probably advancing on the Free State by this time, and that Buller will also advance slowly and steadily so as not to lose lives unnecessarily, so I do not think our relief should be postponed later than the end of this month if all goes well, or the first week in March at latest; and if the Boers made another serious attack on us it would precipitate matters, as signals have been arranged with Buller, and he would at once advance and attack from his side so as to co-operate, and would then probably come right in. In many ways it would be a good thing if this happened, as we might then inflict heavy losses on the Boers, whereas, if they don’t attack, they will probably drift gradually away as they hear of our troops advancing in the Free State, and we shall never catch them at all.

There seems to be a growing opinion that the Indian contingent regiments will be sent back as soon as the siege is over, as we have done our part and are so weak and knocked about we should be very little use for some weeks, and there will be by then such an enormous force in South Africa we shall not be wanted. There is also a rumour of uneasiness in Afghanistan, which might hasten our return. I hope so, as we shall have no further chance of distinction here, and have done very well so far.

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