The Battle of Biddulphsberg was fought near Senekal, a small town of about 25 houses and a church.
As the Grenadier Guards and Scots Guards advanced on the morning of the battle, they could see no sign of the Boers, but they soon came under a hail of bullets. They lay down on the ground but, being still visible on the open veldt, were an easy target for the enemy. With many men already wounded, the long dry grass suddenly caught fire behind them, the result of a match dropped by a careless Imperial Yeomanry officer. The wind quickly fanned the flames and produced a high wall of fire and smoke. Faced with a hail of gunfire from the unseen Boers in front of them, the Guards were forced to retreat through the flames carrying their wounded, with the result that many of the men were badly burned. Any wounded men who could not be carried were horribly burnt to death where they lay.
Lieutenant Martin Gurdon-Rebow was killed in a patrol engagement near Hanover Road Sep. 16th 1901.
He was the only son of H.J. Gurdon-Rebow, Esq., of Wyvenhoe Park, Essex, he was born in February 1875, and educated at Eton (Miss Evans’). He entered the Grenadier Guards from the 3rd Batt. Hampshire Regt., being promoted Lieut. in December 1898. Lieut. Gurdon-Rebow served in the Soudan campaign under Lord (then Sir Herbert) Kitchener in 1898, and was present at the battle of Khartoum, receiving the British Medal and Khedive’s medal with clasp. He went to South Africa with his regiment from Gibraltar, in October 1899, joining the Kimberley Relief Force, and was present at the action at Belmont, where he was wounded. Recovering however in time, he was present at the Battle of Modder River, and afterwards saw much service during the war. The day he was killed Lieutenant Gurdon-Rebow was in charge of a patrol of Grenadier Guards, and Lieut.-Gen. Lord Kitchener in referring to his death says,”I must also make allusion to the very gallant stand made on Sept. 16th by nine men of the 3rd Batt. Grenadier Guards, under Lieut. M. Gurdon-Rebow, who found themselves attacked by some thirty to forty of the enemy near Cyferkuil, ten miles north of Riet Siding.” A summons to surrender was refused by Lieut. GurdonRebow, and he and one man were killed and two others dangerously wounded. The Sergt. of the patrol was drowned in a gallant attempt to swim the Carolus River in order to get assistance. Lieut. GurdonRebow was mentioned in despatches for special bravery in the action in which he fell. He is buried in De Aar cemetery. A white marble cross has been erected by his brother officers over his grave, which has also been enclosed with a white marble curbing.
On the evening of the 16th a small party under Lieutenant GurdonRebow, Grenadier Guards, consisting of detachments drawn from several posts along the railway east of Hanover Road, moved out during a downpour of rain, with the object of surrounding a farmhouse in the neighbouhood where Boers were stated to be in hiding. The expedition was carried out, but nobody was found at the farmhouse. The party then returned to their different posts, spilling into three portions. One of these, consisting of nine men, accompanied Lieutenant Gurdon-Rebow, who, perceiving another farmhouse near be road marched towards it to see if any of the enemy remained. The small party was attacked by a superior force of the enemy, and a fight ensued. One men was killed and three were wounded, while a sergeant who attempted to swim the river was carried away and drowned. Lieutenant Rebow refused to surrender, and was shot dead at close range.
QSA (5) Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill , Belfast (7910 Pte E. Bridges, Gren: Gds);
South Africa 1901-02, (2) South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (7910 Pte E. Bridges. Grenadier Guards.);
1914-15 Star (705, Sjt. E. Bridges. M. F. P.);
British War and Victory (706 T. W. O. Cl. 2 E. Bridges. M. F. P.);
Army LS&GC GV (706 Sjt. E. Bridges. M. F. P.), contact marks and pitting, nealy very fine (6)
E. Bridges is confirmed on the roll of the Grenadier Guards during the Boer War.
Served as Sergeant and later Temporary Warrant Officer Class II with the Military Foot Police during the Great War, serving in France from 23 May 1915.
Sold for a hammer price of £350. Totals (inc VAT on the commission for the UK only): £434. R8,400. Au$760. Can$730. US$580
QSA (3) South Africa 1902, Transvaal, Cape Colony (7475 Pte A. Pike Grenadier Guards.);
1914-15 Star; British War and Victory Medals (22412 Pte A. J. Pike. R.A.M.C.);
City of Bristol Asylum Medal for Proficiency in Mental Nursing (John Alfred Pike May 1907);
St. Johns Ambulance Association Medal (102420 Alfred J Pike)
Alfred John Pike served as a Private in the Grenadier Guards during the Second Boer War. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Grenadier Guards both served during this conflict and saw action on numerous occasions. During his time in South Africa Pike also spent time with a Guards detachment.
After the war Pike worked at the Bristol Asylum and was member of the St. John's Ambulance Association. This medical training and experience was to serve him well in the coming years.
Enlisted with the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1914, he served in the Balkans Theatre from 15 November 1915. This theatre of battle was opened after the collapse of Serbia in October 1915. However delays and a lack of enthusiasm for the position by the Allies meant that when troops began to arrive in Salonika on 5 October they were underprepared. Winter was spent in the mountains some 60 miles north of Salonika and the harsh weather combined with the lack of preparation caused a huge surge in cases of frostbite. After being forced back to Salonica the allied army dug in and remained in that position for the bulk of the war, they were particularly stricken by diseases such as Malaria. Pike and his fellow medics would have been kept very busy even during periods of non-combat. In September 1918 allied breakthroughs caused the collapse of Bulgaria and victory in the Balkans.
Sold for a hammer price of £190. Totals (inc VAT on the commission for the UK only): £236. R4,600. Au$410. Can$390. US$310