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Ernest Bazeley - a Kitchener's Horse man 5 years 3 months ago #54289

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Ernest Harold Bazeley

Private, Cape Town Highlanders
Trooper, Kitchener’s Horse – Anglo Boer War
Lieutenant, 7th Infantry (Kimberley Regiment)
Lieutenant, C.A.H.T.C. (Cape Auxiliary Horse Transport Corps) – WWI

- Queens South Africa Medal with clasps Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg and Driefontein to 3047 Tpr. E.H. Bazeley, Kitchener’s H.
- 1914/15 Star to Lt. E.H. Bazeley, 7th Infantry
- British War Medal to Lt. E.H. Bazeley
- Victory Medal to Lt. E.H. Bazeley

Ernest Bazeley was born in Langtree, Devon on 15 December 1879 the son of Ernest Augustus Bazeley, a prosperous farmer in the district and his wife Louisa (born Rolland). According to the 1881 England census the Bazeley family lived at Week Farm where Mr Bazeley employed 3 labourers and 2 boys to work his 180 acre farm.

At home on the day the enumerator called round were the Bazeley’s with their (at that stage) only child Ernest (1) along with Mr Bazeley’s sister-in-law, D.T. MacGregor, G.M. MacGregor (8) a niece and two servants – Mary Bale and Mary Brown.

Ten years later, at the time of the 1891 England census an 11 year old Ernest was away at Boarding School – Kings College in Taunton, Somerset.

At some point after he had completed his schooling Bazeley determined that his future lay elsewhere and took ship to South Africa where he found himself on the eve of the impending war between the two Boer Republics to the north of the Cape Colony – the Orange Free State and the Transvaal – and the might of the British Empire.

This conflict erupted into open war on 11 October 1899 and initially those who lived in and around Cape Town could be forgiven if they thought that the war didn’t concern them – it was, after all, a conflict that was being fought in the northern, central and eastern extremities of the country and one which wouldn’t reach them. Those who thought this were rudely awakened to the reality of the situation when Boer Commandos began incursions into the southern and eastern Cape – virtually on Cape Town’s doorstep – and in no time at all local regiments such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Volunteer Rifles and the Cape Town Highlanders were called out for service.

Bazeley belonged to the latter and, reasonably early on in the war, enrolled for service with no. 862 and the rank of Private. From the moment they were deployed the Cape Town Highlanders continued mainly with the normal boring activities of garrison duty. Detachments which had been sent to Lady Gray Bridge and Mulder’s Vlei were relieved at intervals but the regiment remained static seeing little chance of any action until 23 January 1900 when they felt the first impact of the realisation by the Imperial Authorities that the Colonial Volunteers whose services they had originally scorned were in fact sorely needed.

Captain F.H. Solomon and 43 other ranks of the CTH were singled out for the honour of forming “A” Squadron of Kitchener’s Horse, and they were all transferred to this new mounted unit – Bazeley being one of their number. The Attestation Paper he completed at Cape Town on 26 January 1900 was specially modified for the purpose and read, “Oath to be taken by Volunteer belonging to Cape Town Highlanders on enrolment for Special Service in Kitchener’s Horse.” Bazeley, having signed the attestation paper, was assigned the rank of Trooper and no. 3047.

Kitchener's Horse was employed in the operations undertaken by Lord Roberts in February 1900 for the relief of Kimberley and in his advance to Bloemfontein. On 9th February the Mounted Infantry Division, under Colonel Hannay, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, left Orange River station. After some fighting, the Division reached Ramadam on the 12th, where Lord Roberts was concentrating his army; but the bulk of Kitchener's Horse had preceded the rest of the Mounted Infantry, and had joined General French before midnight on the 11th.

At 2 a.m. on the 12th they set out with French for Dekiel's Drift, on the Riet. The next day French, who had crossed the Riet River on the 12th, left a squadron of Kitchener's Horse at Blaauwbosch Pan, about eight miles north-east of Dekiel's Drift, on the Riet, in order to protect the wells until the infantry, who were following, should arrive. Unfortunately the infantry took a different course, and instead of them a large force of Boers turned up, who attacked the squadron and compelled their surrender after they had made a very creditable defence in a farmhouse for two days.

Another squadron was part of the slender escort of the convoy which was lost on the Riet on the 13th. The convoy is said to have been seven miles long, and the escort, left to see it over a most difficult drift with Boers all round, was 300 strong. The escort was not captured.

Notwithstanding this bad luck, the corps did excellent work before Bloemfontein was reached. About one half of the regiment was with Colonel Hannay when Cronje was discovered to be trekking across the front of the Vlth Division on 15th February, and they took part in the pursuit and the other operations which led to his capture.

At Paardeberg Kitchener proceeded to order his infantry and mounted troops into a series of uncoordinated frontal assaults against the Boer laager. This was despite the fact that the cost of frontal assaults against entrenched Boers had been demonstrated time and again the preceding months. It was no different this time. The British were shot down in droves. It is thought that not a single British soldier got within 200 yards of the Boer lines. By nightfall on 18 February, some 24 officers and 279 men were killed and 59 officers and 847 men wounded. Judged by British casualties it was the most severe reverse of the war and became known as Bloody Sunday.

Kelly-Kenny had warned Kitchener not to leave "Kitchener's Kopje" undefended. Possession of the kopje was essential to guard the south-east of the British position and prevent Cronjé's escape. But Kitchener, in his zeal for an all-out attack, had left the kopje defended by only a handful of "Kitchener's Horse" of which Bazeley was one. De Wet was therefore able to take the kopje with little resistance. The strategic picture had now changed dramatically. De Wet could now make the British position on the south east bank of the Modder untenable, and the Boers now commanded a swathe of front stretching from the north east right through to the south east. As darkness fell, Kitchener ordered his troops to dig in where they were. Few received these orders and fewer still obeyed them. Desperately thirsty and exhausted, the surviving British trickled back into camp. It was only after Cronje had been trapped and unable to move his forces that he surrendered on 27 February with 4000 men.

On 7th March Kitchener’s Horse were engaged at Poplar-Grove. Five officers and five non-commissioned officers and men gained mention in the despatch of 31st March for good work on the way to Bloemfontein. According to the official statement, the strength of the corps when it entered Bloemfontein on 13th March was 26 officers, 402 men, 270 horses, and 2 maxims.

About the beginning of March Kitchener's Horse had been, along with the 6th and 8th Regiments of Regular Mounted Infantry, the City Imperial Volunteers Mounted Infantry, Nesbitt's Horse, and the New South Wales Mounted Infantry, put into the 2nd Brigade of Mounted Infantry under Colonel P W J Le Gallais, 8th Hussars. The regiment fought with Le Gallais and General Tucker at the battle of Karee Siding on 29th March 1900, and they were attached to Ian Hamilton's force, which, towards the end of April, set out first to clear Thabanchu and thereafter take part in the northern advance, during which the regiment, along with the 2nd Mounted Infantry Regulars and Lovat's Scouts, was in the 6th corps under Colonel Legge.

Winston Churchill, in his 'Ian Hamilton's March' relates that on 26th April Kitchener's Horse and a company of regular mounted infantry were told to hold a kopje near Thabanchu for the night, but about dusk they were ordered to retire. This the Boers tried to prevent, attacking the force with great determination: however, the attack was driven off, and the little body got into camp during the night.

On the 30th, at the battle of Houtnek, the regiment, with great boldness and skill, seized Thoba Mountain, and it was during the enemy's attempt to regain this commanding position that a party of about 12 Gordon Highlanders and 13 of Kitchener's Horse under Captain Towse of the Gordons made the famous stand and bayonet charge. 5 men of Kitchener's Horse were killed, and Captains Ritchie and Cheyne and 8 men were wounded at Houtnek.

In his telegram of 2nd May Lord Roberts remarked: "Kitchener's Horse is spoken of in terms of praise". On 4th May Ian Hamilton was again engaged, "and succeeded in preventing a junction of two Boer forces by a well-executed movement of some of the Household Cavalry, 12th Lancers, and Kitchener's Horse, who charged a body of the enemy and inflicted serious loss. They fled leaving their dead on the field, and their wounded to be attended by our doctors" The 'Standard' correspondent drew attention to the good work of the regiment at the crossing of the Zand River on 10th May.

The regiment was present at Ian Hamilton's other actions on the way to Pretoria and at Diamond Hill (11th and 12th June 1900). They started as a portion of Hunter's force designed to surround Prinsloo, but like Roberts' Horse were detached to pursue De Wet. On 24th July the regiment lost 9 men wounded at Stinkhoutboom, but about the same date they captured 5 of De Wet's waggons. When De Wet left the Reitzburg Hills Kitchener's Horse again crossed to the north of the Vaal and operated under Ridley, Hart, Clements, and other commanders in the district west of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Bazeley took his leave of the regiment on 10 November 1900. According to the nominal roll he was destined for England but this cannot be verified. He certainly played no further part in the war and was awarded his Queens Medal with clasps Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg and Driefontein off the Kitchener’s Horse roll.

The war over and back in his civilian employment Bazeley next penned a letter from his home, “Devon Villa” in Claremont, Cape Town to the Surveyor General of Natal in Pietermaritzburg on 19 August 1902 which read,

“Dear Sir

I have the honour to apply for any information you can give me regarding the terms and conditions upon which crown lands are obtainable in the Colony of Natal – including the recent annexations of Zululand.

The purpose for which I would require a tract of country is for horse and cattle ranching – any particulars as to the suitability of certain districts for this purpose would greatly oblige.

Yours faithfully

E. Harold Bazeley”

Whether known to him or not the Secretary for Agriculture was approached by the Secretary to the Native Affairs Department in Cape Town on the very same day of which he was the subject. In a memorandum entitled “Proposed appointment of Mr E.H. Bazeley as Clerk in the Office of the Resident Magistrate, Matatiele” the Secretary wrote:-


I am directed to inform you that it is proposed to appoint Mr E.H. Bazeley, Second Clerk on the establishment of the Resident Magistrate, Matatiele, and I shall be glad to learn when his services can be spared. I am to add that it is desired that he should take up the appointment at as early a date as possible.”

Confusingly, on an Office of the Surveyor General, Cape Town’s letterhead (Bazeley was employed by them), a reply was penned on 28 August 1902 which read thus,

“I reply to your letter relative to the proposed transfer of Mr E.H. Bazeley to the Native Affairs Department, I have the honour to inform you that although I regret losing his services I shall be in a position to allow him to leave this office at the end of the current month.”

Following a request by his new employer for a record of service one was provided which showed that Bazeley had entered the employ of the Surveyor General on 13 July 1901 on a salary of £100 per annum. This had been increased to £120 p.a. from 13 January 1902 followed by a further increase to £135 with effect from 13 July 1902. The flurry of correspondence now a thing of a past Bazeley commenced employment in the very rural setting of Matatiele on the border between the Cape Colony and Natal.

Quite how long he remained there for is unknown but Bazeley, possessed with restless spirit, wound his way to the other side of the country where, on 7 October 1908 he wrote to the Department of Agriculture in Natal from Pokwani, British Bechuanaland, Cape, South Africa:-

Dear Sir

As I have recently heard encouraging reports with regard to the sugar growing industry that has recently sprung up in Zululand, in the lands opened up by the Natal Government – would you kindly forward me all particulars you can with regard to the same.

1. Terms and Conditions of taking up land for sugar planting
2. Does the Government give any assistance in the way of erecting Co-operative or Government factories, Mills, plants etc.?
3. Labour – what are the difficulties?
4. What capital is needed to make a fair start? Would a man with from £500 to £800 have a fair chance?

In fact any information likely to be useful to a stranger – as I am enquiring on behalf of my brother now at home from Burma. I shall be grateful for any assistance in this regard.

Believe me yours faithfully etc. etc.”

(The brother referred to was Rolland Bazeley who went rather to Canada instead and was Killed in Action in World War I)

The Surveyor General was tasked with replying to Bazeley “as you are able to reply to this letter.”

All now went quiet on the Bazeley front but this temporary silence was to be shattered by the advent of the Great War which erupted onto the world stage on 4 August 1914. Bazeley wasted no time in enlisting and was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion of the Kimberley Regiment as a Transport Lieutenant. Providing his next of kin as his father of Colyton, Devon he commenced service on 6 October 1914.

The Kimberley Regiment played an important part in the conquest of German South West Africa and Bazeley, as Transport officer, would have been pivotal to their success in a conflict where the elements were as much the enemy as the enemy themselves. Vast tracts of desert had to be traversed in hot pursuit of a fleeing foe and keeping up with the advancing troops must have presented a mammoth logistical challenge to him and his comrades.

The German surrender came on 9 July 1915 and Bazeley was released, services no longer required, on 13 August 1915. He now faced a dilemma – at the age of 35 he could be forgiven for calling it a day and going home but here was a man who had fought at Paardeberg, Poplar Grove and various other places and he was no quitter.

On 21 March 1917 at Kimberley, he completed the Attestation forms for the South African Expeditionary Forces. Providing his address as “Woodlands” Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, England (his father’s abode) he claimed to be a Farmer by profession and still unmarried. He also confirmed prior service in the Boer War, German South West and the Rebellion (an internal revolt which had to be put down before any other campaign could be commenced).

Physically he was 5 feet 9 inches in height with a fresh complexion, black hair and brown eyes. He had no distinctive marks about his person and was well developed physically with good eyesight. Having been found Fit for Duty he was assigned no. H.T. 296 with the Cape Auxiliary Horse Transport Company as a European Driver – this speaks volumes about the man – having been an Officer he was prepared to accept any rank so as to play his part. Mercifully he was promoted to Sergeant with No. 1 Company on the same day.

But who were the C.A.H.T.C.? According to Buchan’s S.A. Forces in France:-

In February 1917 the Union of South Africa Government was asked by the War Office to raise eight companies of Cape Coloured drivers for service with the Army Service Corps in France. Towards the end of February Lt. Col. J.D. Anderson was asked to take command and to arrange for the recruiting and organization of the eight companies. Kimberley was selected as the most convenient centre for mobilization.

At the beginning the amount of clerical work was very heavy but by the middle of April 1 500 men were ready to leave for overseas. On the arrival of the first detachment in France on 23 May 1917, the Director of Transport decided that the contingent should release for other service, and take the place of, the Army Service Corps personnel, forming the following companies:-

 No. 5 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed at Boulogne.
 No. 2 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed at Havre.
 No. 2 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed at Havre.
 No. 8 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed at Rouen.
 No. 10 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed at Rouen.
 No. 11 Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, A.S.C., stationed at Rouen.

Arrangements were also made to have a Base Depot at Havre.

Although the men did very excellent work at the Base Posts, there was a strong argument in favour of them being moved to Divisional Trains or Army Auxiliary Horse Transport Companies actually working in the army areas. It was, however, recommended that they remain where they were. The work of the 1st (Bazeley’s), 3rd and 5th Companies consisted of conveying ammunition and supplies to the firing lines, and transporting metal for the new roads which had to be constructed as the armies advanced.

Of the other companies which were employed on the lines of communication, numbers 2, 5, 8 and 22 Companies were employed at the docks, the bulk of the work conveying munitions and supplies to the various distribution centres. The work was hard, the hours long, and the drivers much exposed to weather conditions.

Numbers 10 and 11 Companies were designated as “Forest Companies” and were employed almost entirely in hauling logs from the place where they were felled to dumping centres. In a report on the work in the forests in France, Lord Lovat, the Director of Forests, wrote that, without prejudice to other units, he wished to remark on the work done by the Horse Transport Companies manned by South African (Cape coloured) personnel, who had shown throughout both practical knowledge of the work and patriotic devotion to duty.

On 20 April 1917 Bazeley boarded H.M.T. “Euripides” at Cape Town bound for England. Having arrived at Folkestone he was sent to France disembarking at Bolougne on 23 May 1917 where he was attached to No. 11 Company. On 1 December 1917 he was returned to the Depot “for probation for commission”. This resulted in him being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with No. 10 Company with effect from 29 January 1918. This was, as can be seen above, a “Forest” Company. With the odd spot of leave thrown in Bazeley was to remain in alternately England and France until after the war was over – only being repatriated late in 1919 when, on 13 October 1919 he disembarked at Cape Town ex S.S. “Grantully Castle” where he had been Ships Adjutant whilst on board. He relinquished his commission on the same day.

Safely back in South Africa he found that he had another battle on his hands – one of a different kind but one which, I would venture to suggest, affected many thousands of fighting men in the war. What was the problem? Simply put Bazeley had fallen in love overseas and had married a French lady – not in itself a crime but a poser when it came down to matters legal.

On Tuesday, 2 December 1919 he appeared in the Cape Supreme Court in an Ex Parte Application regarding his Nuptial Contract. In petitioning the court he and his wife, Germaine Yvonne Bazeley (born Constantin) stated that:-

1. At the time of my marriage which took place at Havre in France on 14 December 1918 I was on active service.
2. That before such marriage, and whilst in France, I wrote to a Solicitor in London to whom I had been referred by the High Commissioner as being familiar with South African Law and enquired the steps I should take in order to execute an ante nuptial contract.
3. That your petitioners (he and his wife) arrived in South Africa on 13 October 1919 and was informed that because I was domiciled in South Africa at the time of my marriage it was necessary to execute an Ante Nuptial contract in order to exclude community of property.
After a long legal argument it was agreed by the courts that an Ante Nuptial Contract could be drawn up which would be recognised by the South African legal system and the problem was no more.

After a long and eventful life Ernest Harold Bazeley passed away in the Settler’s Hospital, Grahamstown on 24 September 1967 at the age of 87 years and 9 months. His residence at the time of his death was Stone’s Hill in Grahamstown. He was survived by his only child – Dr Rolland Robert Bazeley.

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Ernest Bazeley - a Kitchener's Horse man 5 years 3 months ago #54295

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Hello Rory

Very nice, I do like medals to white men in unit such as the SANLC and CAHTC. As your write-up shows they have interesting lives.

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The Register of the Anglo-Boer Wars 1899-1902
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Ernest Bazeley - a Kitchener's Horse man 5 years 3 months ago #54296

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I have Ernest's brothers KIA group to WWI which I can't post here. To add insult to injury Ernest kept a diary of his Boer War activities which are in his grandsons garage in Bloemfontein. I can't get the chap to retrieve them otherwise I would have been able to add anecdotal information.

Apropos the CAHTC - I have the medals to Major Peter Croft who served as a Lieutenant in the CIV and married a Nurse who was awarded the RRC for the Boer War. He would have known Bazeley with the CAHTC in France.

All rather interesting.



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Ernest Bazeley - a Kitchener's Horse man 5 years 3 months ago #54297

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Great write up Rory...... You should be able to post the two brothers together as they were family even though he only served in WW1.......

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Ernest Bazeley - a Kitchener's Horse man 2 years 5 months ago #68806

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Bazeley's relative has tracked down his box of tricks and has sent me any number of photographs - all of them stunning. I will start to insert them into his story but, for now, here's one of a dashing Ernest Bazeley, sporting his Kitchener's Horse badge. I have taken the liberty to colour it but have the black and white (sepia) version as well.


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Ernest Bazeley - a Kitchener's Horse man 2 years 5 months ago #68807

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A great foretaste, Rory.
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