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Denham Trollip, an Eastern Province Horse and F.I.D. man W.I.A. at Zoetwater 7 months 3 weeks ago #92854

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Denham Cameron Trollip

Wounded in Action – Zoetwater, Cape Colony, 4 February 1902

Trooper, Eastern Province Horse and Guide F.I.D. (Field Intelligence Department)

- Queens South Africa Medal with clasps Cape Colony and Orange Free State to TPR: D.C. TROLLIP. EASTN. PROV: HORSE
- Kings South Africa Medal with clasps S.A. 1901 and 1902 to GUIDE D. TROLLIP. F.I.D.

Denham Trollip was born on 9 January 1880 on “Fern Rocks Farm” in the Middelburg area of the Eastern Cape the son of Daniel Robert Trollip and his wife Jemima, born King. Denham was the sixth of ten children of the marriage.

With the outbreak of hostilities and the commencement of the Anglo Boer War in October 1899 many colonials answered the call to arms and joined forces with their British compatriots in their conflict with “brother Boer”. Denham Cameron and two of his brothers were no exception and they soon set about offering their services.

According to the attestation papers he completed Trollip enlisted with the Eastern Province Horse, a local unit, on 1 February 1900. He provided his age as 20 and his trade as Farmer. His next of kin was listed as his father, D.R. Trollip and his address as P.O. Mohalies Hoek, Basutoland (modern day Lesotho). He was allocated no. 51 and the rank of Trooper and was required to serve for three months or “such time as my services may be required” and received pay at the rate of 5 shillings per day. Although provided with arms and equipment he had to supply his own horse.

The Eastern Province Horse, in February 1900, did very good work in the Colesberg district as part of the mounted troops under Colonel Page Henderson, particularly between the 20th and the 24th when Clement’s force was involved in much fighting around Arundel. On the 24th he attempted to push back the Boers who were threatening to cut him off from Naauwpoort. Little progress was made, but on the 27th the enemy was found to have retired.

After this they formed part of General Colville’s Brigade in the Orange Free State and were taken away to escort a convoy of the XIth Division. After that they were employed on cattle gathering which, once completed, was found to have exhausted their horses to the point that they were no longer fit for scouting.

They were involved in the action at Blaauwberg on May 26th and suffered heavily whilst employed on their scouting duties. The 28th was no exception with heavy fighting at Roodepoort where the Eastern Province Horse was eventually reduced to 35 mounted men.

After General Colville left the force the E.P.H. remained with the Highland Brigade under General MacDonald at Heilbron until July, and then assisted in the operations for surrounding Prinsloo in the Brandwater Basin. When De Wet broke across the Vaal River in August 1900, the E.P.H. followed to the North side of the river and were employed in the Krugersdorp district during September and October.

On 15 November 1900 Denham Trollip was discharged from the Eastern Province Horse at Krugersdorp on Termination of Period of Service. His Character was rated as Very Good.

His war was, however, far from over. As a result of his intimate knowledge of the landscape and his previous scouting endeavours with the Eastern Province Horse, he made his way to the Field Intelligence Department (F.I.D.) where he was deployed as a Guide for the remainder of the war.

It was whilst employed in this capacity that he was Wounded in Action. The Boers, with their never-say-die attitude, had not given up their sporadic forays into the Eastern and Western Cape in search of additional manpower among the Cape Dutch, many sympathetic to their cause, along with forage for their mounts. They were also in dire need of ammunition and other stores and supplies necessary to keep their war effort on track.

Legendary Boer leaders like Malan, Kritzinger and Scheepers regularly invaded towns in the rural platteland of the Cape Colony, almost with impunity but, ere long, British patrols and columns were in hot and unrelenting pursuit once their presence had been made known. As a Guide, familiar with the landscape, Trollip came into his own and was able to track the Boers movements and lead the Imperial forces in the direction of their nemesis.

Map of rural Western/Northern Cape - the Red Dot marks the approximate spot where he was W.I.A.

After Pretoria: The Guerilla War provides background to what was happening in and around the Cape Colony in the last few months of the war. On pages 964 and 965 the correspondent wrote:

“On December 22nd a convey under the escort of Crabbe and Wyndham was assailed some 40 miles to the north of Clanwilliam. The Boers were in strong force and first attacked the rearguard, but were driven off without difficulty. They then took up a position athwart the line of route, but from this they were driven by a brilliant charge of the 16th Lancers, whereupon they dispersed and for the time disappeared. A month later they made an attack on a convoy of donkey carts which was moving behind Colonel Crabbe’s column while on the way from Beaufort West to Fraserburg. So hard did they press Crabbe that they compelled him to retire to a strong position 25 miles from Fraserburg and there await reinforcements.

Columns under Colonel Capper and Major Lund immediately marched to his aid and, fortunately, succeeded in relieving him. The convoy was, however, left to the mercy of the Boers, and they at once attacked it on the night of February 4th near Outspanfontein. It was in charge of 60 of the district troops and a company of the 4th (Militia) West Riding battalion. The British could not beat off the superior force which the Boers brought to bear, and after some hours gallant resistance, they surrendered with the loss of 22 officers and men, included among whom was Major Crofton killed.

In the same locality, a day or two later, another small reverse befell the British troops. A detachment of 100 men from Doran’s column was despatched to secure a rebel leader named Geldenhuys, 30 miles to the south east of Calvinia. It apparently succeeded in its mission but, on its return march to Calvinia, was attacked during the night, and suffered severely, losing 10 officers and men killed, and 17 wounded. Only with the very greatest difficulty was it able to regain Calvinia.”

The Times History of the War in South Africa by Amery, on page 460, provides the detail of the encounter wherein Trollip was wounded on 4 February 1902: -

“Operations in the West (Cape Colony) – All this time Haig had been left in charge of affairs in the extreme west, having under him the columns of Wyndham and Kavanagh at Clanwilliam, Callwell about Sutherland, and W. Doran in the southern border of Calvinia. There were many signs that strong bands still hovered within touch of the new blockhouses, and might an any time become the nucleus of a fresh descent upon the home counties of Cape Town.

On February 6th a convoy proceeding to Calvinia in charge of part of Wyndham’s column was hotly attacked by Theron’s commando at Zoetwater. The return march, during which Kavanagh joined Wyndham at Zoetwater, was directed through Van Rhynsdorp, where Bouwers, with a considerable force, was found and attacked. Bouwers the dogged the march back to Clanwilliam, which was re-entered on the 11th.

Map detailing Zoetwater where Trollip was W.I.A. in relation to Calvinia and Van Rhynsdorp.

Earlier than this W. Doran, at Middel Post, had gained practical knowledge that the tide had not altogether receded. Having been informed that the Boers were making use of the farm De Hoop, situated at the foot of the Roggeveld not far to the west of him, on February 4th Doran took 100 men with him to attempt to surround it, leaving his baggage and guns entrenched at Middel Post in charge of 250 men. In the afternoon, during his absence, Van Deventer suddenly fell on the encampment with nearly 400 men, and although he was beaten off with considerable loss on both sides, he succeeded in setting fire to most of the wagons before he retreated, forcing Doran to go first into Ceres and then Matjiesfontein (24th) to refit.”

Trollip, having recovered from his wound, retook the field, seeing out the war until its conclusion on 31 May 1902. For his efforts he was awarded both the Queens (Eastern Province Horse) and the Kings (Field Intelligence Department) medal with the appropriate clasps.

The war over Trollip returned to his farming pursuits. On 25 July 1912 at Zastron in the Rouxville area of the eastern Orange Free State he wed 25 year old Gladys Mary Higgs of the farm Richmond in the district. He was 32 years old and farming in the Zastron area as well. The wedding took place in the Old Dutch Church.

Having moved to the Kuruman area of the far Northern Cape, Denham Trollip passed away on his farm, Puduhush, on 1 August 1945 at the age of 65 years and 6 months. The cause of death was “Clot of blood in brain or in heart.” He was survived by his wife and three sons, Norman Robert Trollip, Harry Stanley Trollip and Richard King Trollip.

- After the Flag to Pretoria
- Times History of the War in South Africa
- Smethwick - ABWF
- El Ne Watson for Map showing Zoetwater.

The following user(s) said Thank You: David Grant, Smethwick, Sturgy

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Denham Trollip, an Eastern Province Horse and F.I.D. man W.I.A. at Zoetwater 7 months 3 weeks ago #92858

  • Smethwick
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Rory - thanks for the acknowledgment and thanks for the mention of the 16th Lancers as a Smethwickian I currently have under the microscope was amongst them.

I have discovered the eGGSA website which seems to be the online branch of the Genealogical Society of South Africa. The main feature of the website seems to be photographs of gravestones from cemeteries all over South Africa. If you follow the link below you will find a photo of the gravestone of your man in Olifantshoek Cemetery in the Northern Cape.


Regards, David.
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