On May 29th, 1900 just before Johannesburg and the site of the Jameson Raiders’ arrest, the Gordons made a series of gallant charges against an entrenched enemy on a hill with a false crest. In addition to heavy casualties amongst the officers, seventeen NCOs and men were killed and more than 60 were wounded. Six companies took part in the charge and the loss to the regiment was about 20%. After this epic battle Churchill declared “there is no doubt that they are the finest regiment in the world”.
A narrative of the battle as recorded by Lieutenant Forbes reads:
“29th May-Set out for Florida (Doornkop) in a very thick, cold mist, but found the Boers in a very strong position. The Gordon’s were ordered to advance from a small kopje, 5000 yards from the enemy. H Company, commanded by Captain Cameron, advanced by half companies, followed by our company (M); all extended to 30 paces; I (Lieut H. Forbes) was in command of left half. Our big guns soon opened fire on the enemy’s position, but with little effect. The Boers replied badly. After we were within range of their Mausers, a tremendous fire was poured into us, and we had practically no cover. Buchanan was wounded early in the day. Within 150 yards, both companies were mixed up and we charged together, sending the Boers from one position only to take up another, whence they poured a most destructive fire amongst us. I had the luck to be in one of the hottest comers, and men were falling all around. The scene was awful. It was at this spot Captain Cameron and F. J. O. M’Kinnon and I were hit, and poor Meldrum was killed. I had just bandaged Cameron’s four wounds when I was myself bowled over. Bayonets were fixed and the Boers were cleared off the ridge. I wish I could have been there. The Gordons did the fighting, but the bill was heavy. After the fight, General Sir Ian Hamilton addressed the Gordon’s in terms of the highest praise and where I was lying, I could hear the ringing cheers of the men.”
QSA (4) CC, Paard, Drief, Jhburg (5906 Pte. J. McGregor, Gordon Highrs.)
Pte McGregor was severely wounded at Doornkop and subsequently invalided home.
QSA (4) CC, Paard, Drief, Jhburg (Pte. J. Urquhart, Gordon Highrs.)
Pte Urquhart was killed in the Doornkop action and is buried in Roodepoort.
On 30th September an explosion of twenty boxes of ammunition caused eighteen casualties among a fatigue party of the Gordon Highlanders. The exact cause of this did not transpire although it was said that a box had been opened with a pick!
Two men were killed while seven of the Volunteer Company were wounded.
IGS 1895 (2) Punjab Frontier 1897-98, Tirah 1897-98 (4248 Pte. E. Parker 1st. Bn. Gord. Hrs);
QSA (5) CC, Paard, Drief, Jhburg, Belf (4248 Pte. E. Parker, Gordon Highrs.)
Pte Parker was one of the two men killed in the explosion. He enlisted on 18 June 1892 at London and served in in the Tirah Campaign of 1897-1898. He took part in the charge of the Gordons at Dargai Heights in October 1897 and was struck by an Afridi bullet on the ammunition pouch, by which he was knocked over and the rest of his ammunition shattered. He was, however, uninjured.
The 107 Down train left Naboomspruit for Pietersburg at 3:15pm on 4 July, carrying an escort of 29 (of which 22 were Gordon Highlanders under Lt A A D Best), in an open truck. On reaching Kilo 176½ it was derailed by an explosion of a Boer dynamite mine which destroyed 10 inches of rail. The train immediately came under heavy fire from the 150 Boers manning the ambush. Lt Best and 13 of his men as well as the guard of the train were killed and 8 of the Gordons were wounded after putting up a valiant fight.
On 10 August Lord Kitchener cabled His Majesty, the King:
As Colonel-in-Chief of the Gordon Highlanders Your Majesty may be pleased to know that Commandant de Villiers who was present and who has just surrendered, informs me that at the attack on the train on 4th July at Naboomspruit the guard of Gordon Highlanders under Lt Best behaved with the utmost gallantry. After the train had been captured by 150 Boers the last four men, although completely surrounded and with no cover, continued to fire till three were killed and the fourth wounded. On Boers asking the survivor the reason they had not surrendered, he replied: “Why, man, we are the Gordon Highlanders”.
DCM GV (7125 C.S. MJR J HARDIE 2/ GORD HIGHRS);
QSA (5) Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902, (7125 PTE GORDON HIGHRS M.I.);
1914 Star with clasp (SJT 2/GORD HIGHRS):
BWM and VM (7125 WO CL2 GORDONS);
Jubilee Medal (CAPT & QM J HARDIE DCM 6TH GORDONS);
Army LS&GC GV (7125 C.S. MJR GORD HIGHRS);
MSM (7125 SJT A.C.S. MJR J HARDIE 2/GORD HIGHRS);
Italian Al Valore (7125 CMS J HARDIE GORDON HRS)
Distinguished Conduct Medal London Gazette 25th February 1920.“On the night 26th-27th October, 1918, near Cimadolmo, under hostile shell fire, he was invaluable in getting his company into position. On the 27th he showed fine devotion to duty and fearlessness, attacking strong point after strong point, and leading and encouraging his men. On being held up he volunteered and led a party forward, clearing the house and capturing the machine guns” Meritorious Service Medal London Gazette 3rd June 1918 (Italy) Italian Al Valore. London Gazette 17th May 1919.
Captain Quartermaster James Hardie DCM, MSM was a native of Bucksburn and enlisted into the Gordon Highlanders in January 1900, he embarked for South Africa in April 1901 and remained there until the Battalion was posted to the East Indies where they would serve 10 years on the 14th November 1902. In 1912 he along with his Battalion was posted to Egypt, until being rushed back to the UK in September 1914. He landed in France earning the 1914 Star on the 4th October 1914. He was severely wounded and was sent back to England on the 21st November 1914. Returning to duty he was promoted to the rank of Company Sergeant Major and returned to France on the 5th June 1917. The Battalion was shortly afterwards posted to the Italian Front. Surviving the war he transferred to the TA and was confirmed a Warrant Officer in November 1921. He was commissioned to the rank of Lieutenant and Quartermaster on the 1st April 1927 then serving with the 6th (Baniff and Donside) Bn.
He died in 1936 and was buried with military honours.