Following the failure of the action at Spion Kop, Buller prepared another offensive operation to relieve Ladysmith. His plan was to seize Vaal Krantz, almost in the centre of the Boer defensive positions, to serve as a base for artillery to provide supporting fire while his cavalry advances to Ladysmith.
The attack began at 6:00 on 5 February with a feint from the Maconochie Hills, north of the Tugela River toward the Brakfontein Ridge. British guns on surrounding hills supported the feint while artillery on Swartz Kop bombarded Vaal Krantz.
In mid-morning, a pontoon bridge was completed across the river, but not until the afternoon did Maj-Gen the Hon N G Lyttleton’s 4th Infantry Brigade cross. By this time the Boers had assessed that this was the main point of attack and became the focus of intense fire. Later, Vaal Krantz was taken by the Durham Light Infantry and the Rifle Brigade, forcing the Johannesburg commando, led by Kommandant Ben Viljoen, from the crest and the British troops entrenched there for the night.
During the night, Boer guns were relocated, and considerable reinforcements brought in.
Throughout the next day the Boers kept Vaal Krantz under constant rifle and shell fire and assaulted the hill twice. That evening Hildyard’s 2nd Infantry Brigade relieved the 4th Infantry Brigade.
Throughout 7 February, the 2nd infantry brigade was subjected to rifle and shell fire and in the evening, Buller ordered Vaal Krantz to be abandoned; it was evacuated that night.
“Boer War Gazetteer” by Jones & Jones.
QSA (1) RoL (3793 Pte. W. Haines, Durham Lt. Infy.)
Pte Haines was wounded in the follow-up Boer attacks on Vaal Krantz on 6 February. It seems that he was invalided to the UK: the single RoL clasp is his sole entitlement. He is noted as “Reservist” on the QSA Roll.
Egypt, undated reverse (0) (2366. Corp: J. Grubb, 2/Durh: L.I.);
QSA (2) Cape Colony, Orange Free State (3974 C. Sgt. J. D. Grubb, Durham Lt. Infy.);
Khedive’s Star 1884, unnamed as issued
[ 14-15 Star Trio ? ]
John Dickman Grubb ‘entered on his military career at the age of 16, when he enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry. He was stationed at Sunderland, Dublin, the Curragh and Galway, and was then drafted to Malta and subsequently to Gibraltar. He served in the 1885 Egyptian Campaign, for which he obtained the medal and bronze star, and afterwards served in India. In 1900 he served in South Africa, and two years later returned to England, obtaining his discharge in 1905.
He was appointed instructor of drill and swimming under the Darlington Education Authority, and in 1906 accepted a similar appointment in Blackpool. He held this appointment until the outbreak of the Great War, when he immediately rejoined the colours. At this time he held the rank of Regimental Sergeant-Major, but in 1915 he was gazetted Lieutenant, and four months later Captain, and Major before the year was out.
Major Grubb was stationed at Catterick Camp and Hornsea, later being transferred to the staff of the Northern Command Headquarters, York. He was appointed to raise Labour Battalions and, with the temporary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, took a unit to France.
On returning to England he took over the West Hartlepool recruiting office. Later he took up the duties of military representative in the district and at the time of the Armistice had five tribunals to attend. Demobilised in December 1918, he took up the position of recruiting officer at Middlesbrough for the post-War army. He terminated his duties, under the age clause, in October 1919. In 1921 Major Grubb obtained a post in the Ministry of Labour, which he held until March 1928, after which he returned to Blackpool.’