At dawn of the 26th all were awakened by the rattle of rifles and the boom of guns. Olivier and his men were audaciously attempting to rush the town. After two hours’ heavy firing the Boers were repulsed, and the mounted men among the British were ordered to follow them up. The Queenstown Volunteers pressed close on the enemy's extreme left. Sladdin, whose modest and interesting narrative of these events we have followed, with seven others found himself, in the heat of the chase, a long way in advance of the British and right in the midst of the enemy.
Reaching a small eminence, this little band halted there, when one after another burghers rode up to them, taking them for Boers, and were compelled by their levelled rifles to surrender. “Among the first we took," says Sladdin, “were General Olivier and his three sons. We had captured 24 prisoners by now and they were being taken over the eminence to a kraal on the other side, where they were dismounted and sent on on foot. I was riding up in the rear, when I turned round and saw another man coming towards me. I rode towards him, and ordered him to give up his gun. He said he was damned if he would. He had his rifle loaded, but was uncertain whether to fire or not. The instant I saw him hesitate he was lost, for I was only a couple of yards from him, and I dug the spurs into my horse, bounded on to him, and caught the muzzle of his rifle in my hand.
At the same time I called to one of our fellows to shoot him. On hearing this he gave me his gun." He proved to be Field-Cornet Swanepoel, a well-known Boer leader. As soon as he had been secured, the captors returned to the summit of the kopje, and were startled to see 200 Boers galloping towards them. There were now only five of the British left, as two messengers had been despatched to beg assistance. But these five put on a bold face, and opened a hot magazine fire. The Boers were so surprised at this unexpected shower of bullets that they bolted incontinently. Three were killed, the rest made good their escape. As for the Queenstown Volunteers, they brought their prisoners back in safety to the British lines, and were received as heroes.
“After Pretoria: The Guerilla War” p152-3
Tpr Sladdin was mentioned in despatches (LG 16 April 1901, p2611) and was awarded the DCM in the LG of 19 April 1901, p2709. He served with the Queenstown Rifle Volunteers till 21 March 1901. According to the QSA roll he received his medal on 13 January 1902 and the CC & Witt clasps on 21 February 1902. There is no record of entitlement to a SA’01 clasp.
ABO (Veldkornet J.J. Swanepoel)
Jacobus Johannes Swanepoel served in the Rouxville Commando under Gen J H Olivier. When completing his Vorm “B” medal application, he listed 15 engagements in which he had participated. These included Stormberg, Wepener, Waterwerk (Sannas Post), Mostertshoek, Rooiwal, Retiefsnek and Lindley. He was taken prisoner by Pte Sladdin and sent to Ceylon as PoW No 11613.
“On August 24th reports were received that Olivier, with 1000 men and two guns had suddenly appeared north of Winburg and had surrounded a British force about nine miles from that town. This party, which consisted of 190 mounted men and thirty infantry, was under the command of Lieut.-Col Ridley (16th battalion I.Y.), who had been sent out by Major-General Allen on reconnaissance towards Ventersburg. Bruce Hamilton was immediately ordered to proceed to his aid… and succeeded in extricating him at 9am on the 26th. The relief came only just in time. For two days and three nights Ridley’s men had withstood, almost without cover, shrapnel and common shell from three guns and the unceasing fire of a thousand rifles. Twice they had been summoned to surrender; but surrounded though they were by vastly superior numbers they held out with determination, losing thirty-two officers and men.”
“Official History” Vol III, p333.
“…what a sight met our gaze. I shall never forget it. 100 ponies had been shot dead; some were piled up to form a breastwork for the Queenstown fellows. Five men were killed and 21 wounded, their Maxim gun was smashed to pieces and only 30 rounds of rifle ammunition remained to them”
“The Boer War Diaries of No 18405 Bombardier Walter Mitton” p53.
QSA (2) CC, Witt (400 Serjt. H. Burkinshaw. Queenstown R.V.)
The action, in which Ridley’s party was besieged and Burkinshaw was wounded on 25 August, took place around Helpmekaar Farm near Winburg. Burkinshaw died of wounds the next day.