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July 28th 9 years 1 month ago #4760

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1900 - Capture of Slaapkranz Nek.
1901 - Commencement of drive from the Vaal to the SAC line west of Bloemfontein.
Dr David Biggins

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July 28th 1 month 2 weeks ago #77605

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1901 - A letter written on this date by Sergeant Minifie, of the 7th Contingent New Zealand Mounted Rifles.

....Captain Richardson, of the Temuka Rifles, has kindly allowed us to make a few extracts from an interesting letter received from Sergeant Minifie, of the 7th Contingent. Writing under date July 28th, from Lydenberg Drift, he says :—
....After leaving Standerton we have been kept on the move. We marched to the Springs, and had little shooting on the way. After getting stores at that place, we marched to Vlakfontein, and then on to Wolvehoek. Between those places we captured 20 waggons and Cape carts, 800 cattle, and 2000 sheep from a commando under Beys. The country was very rough and mountainous, and the capture would have been larger, but the main body with the guns could not get up soon enough. The Queenslanders tried to cut off more cattle, but the fire of the enemy was too hot. The capture was taken to Wolvehoek, aud we started out next day again. After being out some days, information was brought in that a Boer commando was not many miles from us. On the following morning at about 10 a.m , we came across the last part of the enemy's convoy crossiug the Vaal river. They were in such a hurry that they left four waggon loads of women, children, and stores in the middle of the drift. We chased the rest of their convoy, and brought 38 waggons, 19 Cape carts, 27 prisoners, 1045 cattle, 600 trek oxen, 800 sheep, and some mules, horses, and donkeys into camp. The enemy lost 9 men killed, our only casualties being 6 men seriously hurt through their horses coming down. It is a wonder that more were not hurt. The enemy were commanded by a chap whose name the prisoners pronounce as "Smutz." I don't know how to spell it. On the following morning wo found the enemy posted in a strong rocky position. The bullets kept dropping amoug the main body, the enemy having let the screen get close up before firing. We could see nothing of them, as they had rigged up such excellent cover among the rocks. The two 12-pounders and the pom pom with us got to work at about 1800 or 2000 yards, but they could not shift the enemy. The 12-pounders fired 127 shells, and the pom pom over 400. The bullets were rather thick round the gunners, but that appeared to make no difference to them. A couple of squadrons advanced to about 900 yards of the kopje, many men got much closer, and put some lead into it, but as the enemy could not be seen they could only fire at likely places. Later on they were ordered to retire, and we found that they had 10 men wounded. Our Sergeant Major, Calloway, who was out here with the 1st New Zealanders, was seriously wounded while attempting to rescue a wounded man. The bullet passed through one side, and just stopped when it reached the other side below the ribs. He was a good man. When with the 1st, he was mentioned in Lord Roberts' despatches ; he carried a wounded man out of fire at Sanna's Post, carried a dismounted man out of fire when out with a troop of my squadron with the 7th, and was hit when making his third rescue. We retired to camp late in the afternoon, and, after two days' marching, reached Vereeniging, where, after handing over our capture, and taking some more stores, we returned to have another go at the enemy's position. They, however, had vacated it, and from the Kaffirs we learnt that they had left it the previous night. Some of our men had a look over the position, and state that the enemy had splendid places built with rocks to take cover in. Fully 50 dead horses were lying in the rear of the kopje. A Boer, who was wounded in two places in the leg, which was bound in sacking, says that his side lost 20 men killed and 10 wounded. The horses are getting knocked up now. They have had hard work, and the country is fearfully mountainous and rocky. There are only 18 men in my troop now, 10 having been left behind at Vereeniging through want of horses. The men are now settled down to the life, and most of thern are looking A1. All the Temuka boys are well, and wish to be remembered to you and the rest of the company. They appear to be enjoying the life. We were all glad to see by the newspapers that the Rifles struck a prize for volley-firing. I hope will be higher up next year. At first our column was commanded by Colonel Gray, with Colonel White second in command. They were both in the Jameson raid. Colonel Gray has gone home, and now our column is under Colonel Garratt. Colonel Porter has been in Pretoria for the last month with some complaint. I hear it is a sprained ankle. The Boer prisoners tell us that if their companions knew the true state of affairs many of their companions would give in, but their commanders delude them. Many of the prisoners ask us if they will be shot. Tho following amusing incident happened the other day : On the day after our capture of the last convoy, the husband of one of the women we brought in came in under the white flaw to surrender. He was received, but when he went to his wife, she gave him a rough time of it, and told him to clear off for his country. He was starting to carry out her instructions, but thought it just as healthy to change his mind when a few rifles were levelled at him.
Temuka Leader, 26th September 1901

Charles Frederick Normanby Minifie died in New Zealand on the 13th of November 1918, as a result of delirium following influenza. He's remembered on Timaru's ABW memorial



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