In an article in the upcoming edition of the South African Military History Journal I describe the action on 21 Jan 1900 when Lt Hugh Warden fought and was wounded. It is called Venter's Spruit in the casualty lists because (a) the maps did not have names for the hills and (b) that's where the field hospital was situated. "The Queens advanced close enough for their officers to be preferentially picked off.
Queens’ officers Capt Raitt and Lt Du Boisson were mortally wounded and Captains Bottomley, Sillem, Warden and Lieutenants Smith, Mangles and Wedd were all wounded. Lt Smith of the Queens had almost reached the large donga in front of Platkop, and despite being shot through the chest (the bullet coming out through his back), he continued to lead his men until he fell. He took cover near the donga till 3 p.m., when he crawled into it; he remained there till dark, when he managed to reach his own lines. Colour Sgt Kingsley’s Company of the Queens was caught in a cross-fire; both his officers were hit and he steadied his men and led them to cover; he was awarded the DCM and a scarf knitted by Queen Victoria. Officers of the Queen's and West Yorks called for volunteers, and with fixed bayonets tried to rush Platkop: “They were greeted by a deadly hail of Mauser bullets, followed by a steady roll of fire. The rush was disastrous; it could not succeed” .
The attached photos show two views of the donga [gulley; wadi; river bed] near where Lt Warden was wounded. You can find the spot on Google maps, use satelite view, enter GPS -28.62182, 29.47069.
At the time of the battle, there were no trees on the Tabanyama plateau and the donga was the only cover for the Queen's. They remained sheltering in the donga till nightfall, when B and D companies of the East Surreys reached the lower part of the donga and were able to assist them back.
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
The following user(s) said Thank You: djb, davidh, GWKR
Rob, this is incredible, thank you so much. Interestingly, Captain Raitt was from a long line of Queen's officers dating back to the end of the 18th century. His Grandfather earned the Ghuznee medal in 1839 with the 2nd Foot (Queen's Royals).
Beautiful country for a hike, but not for an infantry assault against skilled defenders!
Here's a QSA I have to a man in the Royal West Surreys who was wounded at Tabanyama.
5398 Pte. P. Bone, Royal West Surrey Regiment.
Wounded in action Tabanyama 21 January 1900.
Percy Bone enlisted with number 9802 in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion Royal West Surrey Regiment at Guildford 16 June 1897 aged 17 years 11 months. Born Buriton, Hampshire. Occupation grocer’s assistant. Transferred to the regular army regiment 3 August 1897. Sustained a gunshot wound to his right forearm which resulted in a fracture to the ulna and a division of the ulnar nerve. Admitted to Grey’s Hospital, Pietermaritzburg in April 1900 where he underwent an operation for relief of ulnar paralysis which was unsuccessful. A medical report dated 16 August 1900 stated that the bullet passed through his forearm and he had the signs of a division of his ulnar nerve, namely numbness of his little finger and the ulnar border of his ring finger and hand, the hypothenar eminence and the lower part of the ulnar border of his forearm. He had paralysis and atrophy of the interossei muscles of the hypothenar eminence and the inner two lumbricalis with the claw like position of his two inner fingers. His condition was considered probably permanent and his degree of disability was assessed at two thirds. Underwent an operation to graft a portion of a sheep’s nerve at Queen’s Hospital, Birmingham in 1903 but this was unsuccessful. In 1905 he had another operation using a rabbit’s nerve as a graft which was also unsuccessful. On the 1911 census he is shown as single and a domestic chauffeur living alone at 3 Lillington Street, Victoria, London. Enlisted as Percy William Bone in the Royal Marine Artillery Anti-Aircraft unit 15 April 1915. Transferred to Machine Gun Corps H.B. 2 January 1917. Appointed corporal instructor 26 May 1917. Transferred with number 91757 to the Tank Corps as an unpaid acting sergeant. Landed in France 30 August 1917 and promoted sergeant the following day. Demobilised 4 May 1919. A medical report dated 16 December 1919 included his statement that the fourth and fifth fingers seem to get in the way when he is doing anything and become “dead” in cold weather if he did not wear a glove. He had two linear operation scars on the inner side of his right forearm and a small circular scar on the radial side. There was no wasting of his forearm but there was some wasting of the interossei and intrinsic muscles of his right hand. His gripping power was fairly good but he had diminished sensation over the area supplied by the ulnar nerve. His degree of disability was assessed at 20%. He wrote to the Ministry of Pensions in January 1939 requesting financial help as he was on the verge of losing his job as a chauffeur as well as his tied accommodation at Haughley Park, Stowmarket as he had been knocked down by a bicycle in November 1937 which had made his left hand practically useless and he was unable to drive. The letter includes much detail about his military service. As a sergeant with the Tank Corps in France he and his mechanics brought a badly damaged tank out of the Passchendaele battle and repaired it under heavy fire. Later, an officer noticed that he was unable to salute properly because of the condition of his right hand. Died of bronchopneumonia at Ipswich General Hospital 17 January 1952 aged 71. Former occupation domestic chauffeur. Also entitled to a British War Medal and Victory Medal.
And an IGS/QSA pair to another also wounded at Tabanyama.
3381 Cpl. E. Wheeler, Royal West Surrey Regiment.
Wounded in action Tabanyama 21 January 1900.
Edward Wheeler enlisted at Dorking 22 December 1890 aged 18. Born Henfield, Sussex. Occupation groom. On the 1881 census he is shown aged living with his father Henry (47), his mother Emma (43) and his siblings James (24), Thomas (15), John (12) and Ethel (4) at 25 Meath Green Lane, Horley. Transferred to the Army Reserve 30 December 1898. Character very good. He had been permanent musketry marker for nine months and in charge of the corporal’s room for two months. Sustained a gunshot wound to his right thigh which fractured the femur. Admitted to No. 4 General Hospital, Mooi River 7 February 1900. Discharged to Durban 10 March 1900 for repatriation home per SS Arcana. A medical report dated 20 May 1900 stated that his wound had healed but he had two inches of shortening in his leg and limited flexion of his knee. His condition was considered permanent and his degree of disability was assessed at 75%. Discharged medically unfit for further service at Guildford 20 July 1900. Character very good. He appears to have had no entries in the defaulter book. On the 1901 census he is shown as an invalided soldier aged 27 living with his brother James (44) and his family at 16 Chestnut Road, Horley. On the 1911 census he is shown a stationary engineer at a sawmill aged 38 still living with his brother James (54) and his family at Langmore Cottages, Lea Street, Horley. A medical report dated 7 June 1901 stated that he had stiffness of his knee joint as well as the shortening of his leg. His degree of disability was reconfirmed at 75%. A medical report dated 28 June 1902 stated that he additionally had wasting of the muscles in his thigh and leg and could only limp about with a stick. His condition was considered permanent and his degree of disability was again assessed at 75%. A medical report dated 1 March 1922 stated that he could only flex his knee just beyond 90 degrees and he had marked hyperextension of his knee joint. He also had deformity and enlargement of the lower third of his femur and considerable impairment of function of his right leg. He walked lame despite his surgical boot being considered satisfactory. His degree of disability was assessed at 30%. Died of coma, myocardial failure and senile myocarditis at home at South Villa, Balcombe Road, Horley 14 February 1949 aged 75. Former occupation painter and decorator. Served in 1st Battalion in India and 2nd Battalion in South Africa.
Thanks for sharing those David, both superb groups and stories. I do love the IGS/QSA combos: all 1st battalion men who volunteered to transfer to the 2nd Bn for service in South Africa. From the frying pan of the Tirah into the fire of the veldt!