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August 19th 9 years 1 month ago #5207

  • djb
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1900 - Mahon repulsed the Boers at Roodekopjes. De Wet appears at Commando Nek.
1901 - The Prince of Wales lands at Cape Town.
Dr David Biggins

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August 19th 2 months 3 days ago #78047

  • BereniceUK
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1900 - The deaths of Lieutenant Henry Bradbourne* and Trooper Luke Perham, of the 3rd Contingent, New Zealand Mounted Rifles, known as the Rough Riders. *His surname also appears in press reports as Bradburn and Bradburne.

....The following extracts have been taken from a letter written by Lance-corporal F. J. Ryan, of the Rough Riders, from Pretoria, on August 29:—
....“On the morning of August 19 (my birthday), a flying column, under General Mahon, comprising the troops already named [New Zealanders, Lumsden's Horse, Imperial Light Horse, 18th Hussars, and Imperial Yeomanry], captured several Boer waggons, ambulances, and some prisoners, and shelled what was, apparently, the tail end of the Boer column clearing out. The Boer laager was supposed to have been in the Roode Kopjes on our right, and this position had been shelled in a desultory fashion. Suddenly, about twenty men of the Third New Zealanders, under Lieutenant Bradbourne, were ordered to scout these apparently deserted hills. We advanced in open order, with an interval of ten yards between files. I was told off to act as sergeant on the right flank, and when near the position, Lieutenant Bradbourne called me over to him and instructed me to take the right flank straight over a small, wooded kopje in our path, which we would otherwise have skirted. I had just returned to my place and told the men to open out when, without warning, a sudden volley was poured into us from the kopje at a distance of fifty yards from us on the right, the left wing, of course, being further off. Lieutenant Bradbourne gave the orders "files about. Retire,” and I repeated them. As the horses swung round it flashed through my mind that we on the now left were doomed. The chances of the left flank were remote enough, as each man of us must have been covered by two or three rifles for the last one hundred yards.
....At the first discharge, Perham, of my group, riding just near me, pitched out of his saddle, apparently stone dead, with an expanding bullet through his head and another through his stomach. Corporal Richards's horse dropped, and he darted under a rock and towards the Boer lines. The horses of Graham, Lusk, Heasley and Tomlinson were all shot down under them. Heasley made a dash for it on foot, but went down immediately, with three bullets through his legs. All this took, but a moment, and seeing Richards's wounded horse jump up to gallop away, I made a rush for him, when he bore in against Mr Bradbourne’s. As I leaned over to catch him, I noticed Mr Bradbourne pulling his horse about in a curious way, so glanced up at his face, and judged by his expression that he was hit, but neither of us spoke. Stopping the wounded horse was easy enough, but he absolutely refused to lead back to where the Boers where blazing away at a distance of about 300 yards, so all I could do was to turn both horses end on to the fire, while Graham and Lusk ran towards me. We were then the only near objects left to fire at, and how they missed us is a marvel. Graham got on to the wounded horse, and Lusk climbed on behind me, whereupon we bolted amongst a shower of crackling, expanding bullets. About 300 yards further on we found Mr Bradbourne lying wounded beside his horse. We all dismounted and lifted him up on his horse, but he was too bad to help himself, so we were going to carry him to a Boer house near, but he pointed to where he was wounded, in the stomach and bridle hand, and said 'Leave me, Ryan, for God’s sake; you only draw their fire by stopping, and get the doctor.’ So I put a handkerchief on his head to keep the sun off, and we cleared out. Dr Godfrey went out immediately to him, regardless of the Boer bullets, which were still dropping about. Tomlinson, who was on the left, crawled down a donga and escaped, and later on the ambulance went out for poor old Perham’s body, and brought Heasley (wounded) and Richards unhurt. The escapes of many of us were marvellous, for, in addition to what I’ve told you, Richards's horse dropped dead, as soon as he had been ridden in. Wheeler s horse was shot through the back. He himself got a bullet through his tunic, Sergeant Neave got a bullet in the heel of his boot and one through his horse’s chest. Nurse had the oil sheet on his saddle shot through. Very few escaped unscathed.
....It was altogether the most memorable birthday I ever experienced. Mr Bradbourne and Perham were both buried next morning in graves we had dug overnight, but most of us were ordered away after the enemy before the ceremony took place. Poor old Perham was the handsomest and happiest fellow amongst us, and absolutely dead game. He is the second gone from my group, poor Wiggins being the first. It is curious that, on the night before the fight, when making a night march, poor Perham jokingly divided up his things amongst the rest of the group, in case he got shot. Referring to a lady’s portrait that he always carried, I asked him what he’d do with that. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I’ll keep it to write a few last words on’ ; but there was no time for the poor old chap to write anything, so we buried it with him.“
Lyttelton Times, Thursday 11th October 1900

The graves of Perham (left) and Bradbourne at Bokfontein Farm.

Ryan was himself later killed in action, on 16th June 1901.
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