On All Saint's Day 1st November 1900, a troop of Compton's Horse (28th(Bedfordshire) Company 4th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry) were resting up at a farmhouse near Klipfontein when they were subjected to a surprise attack resulting in the deaths of two men. The unfortunate yeomen were 14983 Trooper Walter Johnstone Southbeer and 14985 Lance Corporal William Tennant.
Foulplay was suspected in the way that the Boer raiding party managed to be able to get in so quickly into what was considered to be a safe rest area.
A newspaper report of the events following the incident, provides us with much further insight into the lethal skulduggery that was afoot that night at the farmhouse.
From "THE MANCHESTER COURIER AND LANCASHIRE GENERAL ADVERTISER," TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1900, " page 7:
"THE ATTACK ON COMPTON'S HORSE."
"ITALIAN MERCENARY SENTENCED TO DEATH."
"Johannesburg, November 16.-It will be remembered that on the 1st of November a party of Boers stealthily approached in the dead of night a farmhouse occupied by a patrol of Compton's Horse, and firing through the window killed two men who were seated at a table writing home. The remainder of the patrol were taken prisoners, but were subsequently released.
A few days ago an Italian named Luigi Deli was arrested within the municipality on suspicion of being a spy, and he was identified as being one of the Boer party who attacked the farmhouse. He was taken before Major O'Brien and a military tribunal today and charged with murder, and also with breaking the oath of neutrality. On taking the oath prisoner had applied for an order which enabled him to proceed to the farm on the pretence of finding work. He then joined the Boer commando.
Both charges were proved against the prisoner, and he was sentenced to be hanged. After his removal from the court, Deli admitted having fired the shot which killed one of the men in the farmhouse.
Deli was engaged as a workman at Begbie's Foundry at the time of the explosion, and took a prominent part in agitating for the expulsion of the British from Johannesburg as a consequence of the explosion----
It certainly sounds as though Luigi Deli had an axe to grind with the British for some reason!
Was the sentence carried out?
Attestation papers for the two deceased yeomen do not appear to be available.
14983 Trooper W. J. Southbeer is interred at Johannesburg, Braamfontein Cemetery, monument1. Further commemorated on the statue outside the Swan Hotel in the town of Bedford, Bedfordshire, England.
His Queen's South Africa Medal had the clasps Cape Colony/ Orange Free State and Johannesburg.
14985 Lance Corporal W. Tennant is also interred at the same cemetery as his comrade.
The Chapter House plaques inside Gloucester Cathedral have Tennant's name thereon in remembrance. Also, at St. Peter & St. Paul, Medina Road, Wymering, Hampshire, there is a Sun Dial over a door which also commemorates. I will try and find an image of this ( unless someone else can please oblige?)
The following user(s) said Thank You: Ians1900, Dave F