Anything on the four Keenan brothers who were in South Africa?
SEVEN SONS IN THE ARMY.
CHEQUE FROM THE QUEEN.
Mrs Keenan, of Workington, widow of a soldier, has seven sons in the Army, and the Mayor (Alderman Fletcher) laid her case before the Queen. On Tuesday morning the old lady received a cheque for £7, with the following letter from the Equerry-in-Waiting: -
"I am commanded to inform you that the Queen has heard with great pleasure that you have seven sons all serving in her Majesty's Army at the present time. I am commanded to forward to you the enclosed cheque as a present from the Queen, who is gratified to learn of so many members of one family being in her service. Her Majesty trusts that your four sons now in South Africa will all return to you in safety, and it is hoped that your son who was wounded at Spion Kop is now convalescent."
I agree with you about Venter's Spruit. The casualties in the days leading up to Spioenkop should have warned the British high command of what was in store for them on that bloody day. The opportunity for a bold flanking movement from Acton Homes using the cavalry and mounted infantry was lost, and frontal assaults by the infantry on Boers in strong defensive positions was preferred, The Boers on the high ground would have withdrawn had they been faced by a strong British presence both north and south of them. The lesson taught by the Boers at Colenso had been quickly forgotten.
I was recently sent an excerpt from a diary held by the Border Rgt museum covering this period. On the 20th the Border Rgt and others attacked Rangeworthy Heights. They succeeded in driving the Boers back - no doubt the Boers gave up their positions easily as they had defences in depth to retreat to. At one point General Hart led the advance with drawn sword. The attack petered out, the Border Rgt stuck in a donga, ahead a long slope - described as a "glacis". The British artillery on Three Tree Hill could not "find" the Boer guns, pom-poms and riflemen well enough to suppress their fire.
The British infantry began their advance in lines and close together as ordered by Hart to maintain control, but they soon learnt to advance in "rushes". Artillery fire set the veldt alight, battalion machine guns were massed on Three Tree Hill with the artillery "the noise was terrific", the Boers were in trenches of a sort - one can see the evolution of the a First World War battlefield.
The night of the 20th was "beastly, casualties lying about all over the place while doctors and stretcher bearers moved about searching for them".