QSA (2) Elandslaagte, Defence of Ladysmith (4292 Cpl. G. Leech, Manchester Regt.)
G. Leech, 1st Manchester Regiment was a member of “D” Company and was killed in action at Wagon Hill, 6 January 1900, when the regiment was heavily engaged. Under Colonel Curran, Caesar’s Camp was manned by the Manchesters and the 42nd Battery R.F.A., Naval and Natal Brigade Volunteers. The Boers occupied part of the area and there was bitter fighting for most of the day. Only after some 15 hours of combat were the Boers driven from the hill. The fighting took its toll of the Manchesters with casualties amounting to 33 killed and 41 wounded. For this action, Privates R. Scott and J. Pitts, both of “D” Company, were awarded the V.C. for “holding out in their sangar for fifteen hours without food or water, all the time keeping a sharp look-out, although the enemy occupied some sangars on their immediate left rear.”’
The battle is known in English as Wagon Hill but the larger area of the battle was on the neighbouring plateau of Caesar's Camp where the Manchesters had their camp and fought on 6 January 1900. “A” and “D” companies were principally involved. The men in “D” Company qualified for the clasp Elandslaagte, having fought in that battle a few months earlier, whilst “A” Company was not at Elandslaagte.
“D” Company was holding the crest from a series of sangars and at about 3 am “A” Company was pushing up to relieve them when the Boers stormed over the crest. The men in the sangars fought a desperate battle to keep the Boers out, while those of “A” Company also came under heavy fire from the attacking Boers on the crest. Privates Pitts and Scott of”D” Company were awarded the Victoria Cross. They were the only survivors of the defenders of one of the sangars.
Victoria Crosses were also awarded for this action to Lieutenant R. Digby Jones, Royal Engineers (posthumous), Lieutenant J. Masterson, Devon Regiment, and Trooper H. Albrecht, Imperial Light Horse (posthumous).
Dr David Biggins
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