Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me
  • Page:
  • 1

TOPIC:

May 12th 10 years 4 months ago #3205

  • djb
  • djb's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Posts: 28517
  • Thank you received: 3326
1900 - Mafeking siege day 212 (97%). Kroonstad occupied. Attack on Mafeking repulsed, and Commandant Eloff captured.
Dr David Biggins

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

May 12th 4 months 3 weeks ago #83175

  • djb
  • djb's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Posts: 28517
  • Thank you received: 3326
1900 - Diary of the siege of Mafeking by Edward Ross

12 May, written on 13 May

Indeed a day of days, a red letter day in the annals of the siege, a never to be forgotten day, not only in the annals of the siege, but in the whole history of Mafeking. A grand finale tableau, drop-scene to the victory of strategy and indomitable courage of the town against, at times, an overwhelming force, infinitely superior in everything but manhood and pluck. (If the prisoners speak the truth about the relief column.) A neck and neck finish under the road of musketry and the thunder and lightning of artillery. In the eyes of Britons the little town in the far away veldt will now wear a halo of glory, and will be spoken of as a warning to all our enemies, and as an example for future generations. Here I say my pencil is getting ahead of me. Now to facts.

Yesterday morning at a little before 4 a.m. and whilst it was still quite dark the enemy opened a very severe and heavy rifle fire on our eastern front, and continued volleying and independent firing for fully threequarters of an hour. Bullets fell like hailstones all over the town, the Market Square at times having the appearance of being lit up with electric sparks, caused by explosive bullets, or the Mauser bullet striking bits of stone or flint. At about 4.30 the alarm bugle was sounded and all the town bells set ringing. All the Town Guard that were not on fort duty immediately repaired at the double to their forts. I shall never forget the run I had from our place in the Market Square to the fort I was attached to at Early’s corner. How I dodged those bullets, God alone knows. They were under me, over me, and all round me, so I suppose I was meant for something else. Predestination. Having previously, owing to having been struck off all duty, handed in my rifle, the thought struck me I should not be of much use. However, I kept on my way and duly reported myself at the fort. After about three-quarters of an hour the enemy’s musketry fire slowed down to intermittent shots now and again, everybody of course thought it was one of the Boers’ faint-hearted attacks and when the firing stopped, thought it was all over. But that illusion was very soon dispelled. At about 4.45 a small red glow, apparently of a fire, was seen at the extreme south-west end (from us) of the native village; this quickly grew larger and larger, and in a very short time flamed itself into one gigantic blaze; at the same time heavy rifle-firing was heard quite close in on our southwestern front, and we then knew a general attack was being made, and that we were in for a hot time. Suddenly Captain Wilson appeared at our fort (Early’s corner) ordering all the men into the trenches immediately. Enemy’s firing again became general, this time from both back and front. If one is stuck in a trench at a certain spot it is impossible to know what is going on, and seeing I was useless there without a rifle, I sprinted up to Weil’s store, thinking I might borrow one, but no such luck, there was no spare one to be had. Just as daylight appeared the firing from the east (our back) stopped, but Mausers continued pouring in from the west, and it is indeed marvellous very few were hit. We did not realise the gravity of the situation for some considerable time, but the whole matter was hurled at us like a bombshell. News came that the Boers had passed through the native village, driving the natives on as they came, and setting fire to all the huts, which burnt like tinder, and had made their way right up to the old B.S.A. Police fort, within 500 yards of the town, capturing that with Colonel Hore, Captain Singleton, Lieutenant Dunlop-Smith and about 20 men, which [sic'] they held as prisoners. Officers were galloping round everywhere, guns were being brought into position, the 7-pounder just below Early’s corner, Maxim at Paddon’s corner, Hotchkiss at W. Walker’s front door. The left flank of the Railway Division Town Guard was wheeled round, and lined the railway lines which lay across directly between the town and the enemy. More men hurried up from the western front to reinforce. We then realised what had happened and what we were to expect. All this time the bullets came pouring in, pinging all over and round us.

A staff orderly, a man named Hazelrigg of the C.P. who had been sent down to reconnoitre, had been shot and captured by the enemy.

Twelve men from Early’s corner were detailed for duty at Hep worth’s house, distance from the enemy about 300 yards, and which commanded some of the entrances to the fort which the Boers had taken. All the prisoners at the gaol except three Dutchmen were immediately released and armed to defend themselves, and some men put on the gaol roof to fire at the enemy, the gaol only being about 400 yards from them. I personally went on the top of the gaol roof for a few minutes seeing what I could, and I there found poor old Murchison, firing away for all he was worth with an old Martini rifle he had taken from one of the police prisoner guards. He at any rate was pleased at his temporary liberty, and said he did not care ad... whether he was shot or not.

Just about 7.30 a cheering rumour went round all ranks that the main attacking body of the enemy had been repulsed in their endeavour to reinforce their advance troops, and that these latter, numbering anything between two and three hundred, who had got into the native village and B.S.A.P. fort, were being gradually surrounded, and could not possibly get away, in fact, they were caught like rats in a trap, and that we were holding all our outposts without any casualties. This was certainly very cheering, but we knew then, and then only, what a narrow escape we had had, and the extremely dangerous position we had been in. After the bulk of the main body of the enemy had been forced to retire, which they were compelled to do by the Protectorate Regiment materially assisted by the outposts’ forts and the natives, the Colonel sent down a white flag to the B.S.A.P. fort demanding the unconditional surrender of the Boers. Eloff, who we only now knew was there, and who did not know that his reinforcements had been beaten back, and was all the time expecting his supporting division was coming on, replied saying that as they were in possession of all our outside forts he would be very soon in possession of the town. Major Panzera, who went down with the white flag, also found out that we had trapped as well as the great Eloff two or three French and German officers, and a host of foreign mercenaries. We expected as much - just what the Boers always do, put the foreigners in front - and promptly retired themselves. A little later on, Eloff put out a Red Cross flag and sent up three of his wounded together with our man Hazelrigg to be attended to in our hospital. In the meantime it became known that the Boers in the native village had got split up, one lot taking refuge in a stone cattle-kraal, and the other taking cover in [a] sort of high mound of rugged rocks covered with bushes and trees. The Protectorate Regiment and Police and natives gradually but surely rounded them up like a herd of beasts.

All day long the whole of our front kept up a stinging fire, concentrated on the fort and outbuildings, the enemy not daring to show as much as the tips of their fingers. I suppose thinking this had gone on long enough, the Colonel, in the early part of the afternoon, ordered a seven-pounder down to the stadt for the purpose of blowing a breach in the wall of the stone kraal. The men were ordered to fix bayonets and the gun was run through a hole made into the side of a native hut, and as a matter of fact the gunner was ordered to fire, but the lanyard broke, and before another could be fixed one of the Boers was seen to be frantically waving a white pocket handkerchief. The order was immediately given to cease firing and our men immediately made a rush, jumped over the walls and disarmed the enemy, numbering about 25, and marched them up to the town between crowds of the jubilant garrison and half the native village. The men who captured this little lot had a lucky find for in the enemy’s haversacks were about four days’ rations of Boer bread and biltong which our hungry troopers soon made short work of. So much for the first little capture.

The second lot in the native village caved in just before dark, but only did so just as they were also about to be rushed at the point of the bayonet. They were marched up the same as the others and all placed under a strong guard in the Masonic Hall. It only remained to scoop in the main lot at the B.S.A.P. fort with Eloff, and the victory would be complete. This was a more delicate task as owing to our men being prisoners to the Boers within the fort, it was of course impossible to shell the place.

We now hear that amongst ours who were prisoners there was Captain Williams of the B.S.A.P., Mr. Hamilton The Times war correspondent, and a townsman named Forbes. And they had a very rough time, being cooped up all day in one small room, and every now and again Eloff coming in to them with all sorts of lies, telling them the town and all the outposts were in the hands of the Dutch, and all the people prisoners, and all such like yarns. At any rate the whole fiasco for the Boers finished up by Eloff going in to Colonel Hore (who was really his prisoner) and saying he would surrender to him on condition he would get the town to cease firing. Hore was for the moment quite flabbergasted, not knowing what to think after all the lies Eloff had told him. However, he took the bull by the horns and told Eloff he was to order all his men to bring their arms to him and so get them in a harmless position. This Eloff did but a lot of his men refused, and endeavoured to escape in the darkness. How many escaped is not known, but a lot of them in trying to get through past our men were killed and wounded. In the meantime the balance numbering about 75 duly gave up their arms and surrendered to Colonel Hore. Then came Hore’s difficulty as to how he was to let us know what had happened; eventually Captain Singleton volunteered to go out and try and make himself heard. This he did and his strong voice was soon heard in the lull of musketry firing, and the words, "Cease firing all” were soon passed round. Singleton immediately reported what had happened and a squad of our men soon took possession, and Eloff and the other officers were marched up to B.P.’s quarters, whilst the men were trotted off to their companions in misfortune at the Masonic Hall. Singleton took Eloff in to B.P., introducing him saying, "Commandant Eloff, Sir.” B.P. in his own incomparable style, held out his hand saying, "Good evening Commandant, will you come in and have some supper?” Gradually but in a very' short time it leaked out that Eloff had told B.P. that this, the final attempt to take Mafeking by storm, was on account of our relief column being close at hand, within four days’ march, and that he would have succeeded in capturing the town if Snyman had done his part of the work, which was to come on in force on our eastern front, but both he and his men funked it at the last moment, and so gave us the day. Oh what news! The town is going absolutely mad.

We finished the balance of that bottle of 3-star brandy last night, all going to bed muttering the last hoorah.

No time to write about today’s happenings, the town has gone dotty, absolutely and apparently everlastingly dotty. You know what I mean, silly, upper storey wrong, off its nut, cranky, etc., etc. So am I . . .
Dr David Biggins
The following user(s) said Thank You: QSAMIKE, Moranthorse1

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Page:
  • 1
Moderators: djb
Time to create page: 0.324 seconds
Powered by Kunena Forum