Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me
  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2

TOPIC:

The actions at Hartebeestfontein/Vaal Bank 22-24 March 1901 7 years 6 months ago #23690

  • Henk Loots
  • Henk Loots's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 803
  • Thank you received: 412
Hi everybody

The actions at Hartebeestfontein/Vaal Bank between 22 and 24 March 1901, in which the Imperial Light Horse played a major part, have intrigued me for a long time as I have a number of QSA’s and groups to ILH participants in the skirmishes. I therefor had a close look at Genl Babington’s despatches, in which he proposed a number of promotions and awards, as published in the London Gazette.

As the Hartbeesfontein rear-guard action led to General Babington’s success at Vaal Bank it seems that he commented on the 3 days’ combined operations( 22 to 24 March) in his despatch to Kitchener. This is borne out by the particulars and dates in the LG mentions by Babington:
• Sixteen Officers are mentioned under the reference “General Babington’s despatch on capture of Boer guns and convoy at Vaal Bank, 22nd and 23rd March 1901”.
• In addition fifteen men are mentioned under the reference “General Babington’s despatch, dated 29th March, on capture of Boer guns and convoy at Vaal Bank, 24th March 1901”.
• Only three men are mentioned under the reference “General Babington’s despatch on action of Imperial Light Horse on 22nd March”.

Two discrepancies that I picked up are
• RSM A E Hurst (5th Dragoon Guards) is mentioned and awarded a DCM for Vaalbank (23/24 March). However he was killed at Hartebeestfontein on 22 March. His DCM must therefore have been for Hartebeestfontein.
• Lt Holbrig (since dead) of the ILH is actually Lt A R Halling. He is mentioned for services on 24 March, but he died on 23 March from wounds received at Hartebeestfontein on 22 March.
This brings me to the reason for this posting! Has any member of the Forum ever come across Babington’s original handwritten/typed despatches? Alternatively, can anyone suggest how one should go about to trace them?

Henk

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

The actions at Hartebeestfontein/Vaal Bank 22-24 March 1901 7 years 6 months ago #23708

  • Henk Loots
  • Henk Loots's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 803
  • Thank you received: 412
Hi everybody

Further to yesterday's posting, I append more details of the action. I will also over the next day or so show medals to men who were in the thick of the fighting.

22 March 1901: Hartbeesfontein
Acting on observations of a sentry the previous evening, Gen Babington on 22 March 1901 ordered Col Briggs and 3 squadrons of the ILH with a pom-pom to Kafferskraal, 25 km west of Hartbeesfontein, to find out whether De la Rey's laager was in the vicinity. Reaching the farm Geduld at the halfway mark at 9.30 am, an advance troop under Lt Dryden was attacked by some 200 Boers. They took refuge in a kraal and vigorously returned the enemy fire. Shortly afterwards Col Briggs brought the pom-pom into action, causing the Boers to temporarily fall back.
Having confirmed the presence of De la Rey’s commando, Briggs ordered the ILH to retire to Hartbeesfontein. De la Rey's men attacked on horseback, firing from the saddle and a running battle developed with Smuts’ men joining in. The three ILH squadrons were subjected to heavy fire, but fought their way back with the pom-pom working at maximum capacity. Individual troops and squadrons alternated as rearguard and they reached base camp at about 2 pm.
The British casualties were heavy: 2 officers and 4 men killed and 3 officers and 15 men wounded.
Some years after the war General Smuts, who was shot through the leg at close quarters in an effort to capture the pom-pom, spoke at a banquet in honor of Col Briggs when he relinquished command of the Transvaal Volunteers. He said, inter alia:
“The rear guard action fought by the ILH, supported by a Maxim-Nordenveldt, at Hartebeestfontein was the most brilliant one I had seen fought by either side during the entire campaign. Both General de la Rey and myself were determined to capture the pom-pom, as well as the ILH”





• QSA, 3 bars CC,OFS,Tvl: 15791 Pte D Paterson. Impl: Yeomanry EF-
David Paterson was one of the men from the 20th Battalion IY who were attached to the Imperial Light Horse. He was killed in the Hartebeestfontein action.
Attachments:

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

The actions at Hartebeestfontein/Vaal Bank 22-24 March 1901 7 years 6 months ago #23734

  • Brett Hendey
  • Brett Hendey's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 2923
  • Thank you received: 689
Henk

Thank you for two most interesting posts.

Since I have largely limited my collecting and research to the Natal Campaign, I know little about what happened west of the Drakensberg. I tended to be dismissive of QSA's with only state and date clasps, but, as I came to realise, this was misguided. Earlier this morning, I was paging through Spinks' ABW Anniversary catalogue, which I do from time to time, and, as usual, it amazes me how much happened over a huge area of southern Africa (and elsewhere) in a relatively short space of time.

Also as usual, I look forward to more posts from you.

Regards
Brett

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

The actions at Hartebeestfontein/Vaal Bank 22-24 March 1901 7 years 6 months ago #23740

  • Henk Loots
  • Henk Loots's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 803
  • Thank you received: 412
Hi Brett and others

Another two Hartebeestfontein casualties:






• QSA, 5 bars Tug H, RoL, Tvl, L Nek, SA’01: 640 Pte W G Erskine Impl: Lt Infy VF+
William Erskine earned the battle bars on the QSA while serving with the ILI in Natal between 15 Nov 1899 and 16 Nov 1900. A week later he enlisted in the Imperial Light Horse and was dangerously wounded in the Hartebeestfontein action. He was discharged as “Medically unfit” on 18 July 1901, probably as a result of his wound.




• Three QSA, 4 bars CC, OFS, Tvl, SA’01: 14506 S-S. Major W.F. Loveland Impl: Yeomanry; BWM & AVM: Lieut. W.F. Loveland
Walter Frederick Loveland came to England from British Columbia early in 1900 to join the Imperial Yeomanry. He was severely wounded during the Hartbeesfontein attack while attached to the Imperial Light Horse and was subsequently mentioned and promoted to Sergeant by the Commander-in -Chief: 'Although wounded in five places, continued to fire until the Boers galloped over him' (London Gazette 9.7.1901 p4557). He was also Mentioned in Despatches by Lord Roberts (London Gazette 10.9.1901 p5966).
During WWI Loveland served in France as an Officer in the Canadian Forestry Corps.

Henk
Attachments:

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

The actions at Hartebeestfontein/Vaal Bank 22-24 March 1901 7 years 6 months ago #23755

  • Brett Hendey
  • Brett Hendey's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 2923
  • Thank you received: 689
Henk

Thank you for posting more great medals from your collection. I particularly like the Erskine QSA with its ILI/ILH link. My memory has become somewhat unreliable, but this might be the first time I have seen this connection. Also, Erskine sounds like a researchable name!

Regards
Brett

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

The actions at Hartebeestfontein/Vaal Bank 22-24 March 1901 7 years 6 months ago #23760

  • Henk Loots
  • Henk Loots's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 803
  • Thank you received: 412
Hi Brett & others

The following pair is to the most interesting "Hartebeestfontein participant" in my Boer War Battle Collection.




• DCM (Vic): 2828 Sqdn. Sgt. Major A.E. Hurst 5/Drgn. Gds.; QSA 5 bars RoM, Elandsl, DoL, Tvl, SA’01: 2828 Sq: S. Major A. Hurst, 5th Dragoon Guards
Arthur Hurst was already in South Africa with his parent unit when the war broke out and saw action with them at Elandslaagte and during the Defence of Ladysmith. He was one of 3 Sergeants “imported” from the 5th Dragoon Guards by Major B R M Glossop when Adjutant of the 1st Imperial Light Horse and he earned his Relief of Mafeking, Transvaal and SA1901 bars with his adopted unit.
In “The Story of the Imperial Light Horse” by Lt G F Gibson it is related that during the action at Cyferfontein on 5 Jan 1901, when Colonel Woolls-Sampson was frantically trying to get his men to retire from a heavy fire, RSM Hurst was seen to ride down the whole Imperial Light Horse line, hat in hand, waving the men away and yelling "Retire! Retire!"
Miraculously neither Colonel Wools-Sampson, Major Briggs, Captain Normand nor RSM Hurst, although remaining mounted were touched, but their chargers were wounded in many places and their saddlery and clothing were pierced by many bullets.
Hurst displayed much coolness under fire that day, but, as the history of the ILH informs us, he reacted a lot more hotly to a visiting member of the Army Service Corps that evening:
[/i. . . Hurst was yarning to the members of his mess, including a visiting Sergeant-Major of the A.S.C., about the day's experiences; he was particularly sore about the damage to his hat, which had received more than its arithmetical quota of attention from the enemy that morning, no less than three bullets having torn through it and shot it to rags. His miraculous escape from death concerned him less, knowing the workings of the supply side, than the prospect of having to replace the hat at his own expense. Sourly regarding his wrecked headgear he commented fluently upon the parentage, upbringing and morals of the "New Hat Department." The Sergeant-Major from the A.S.C., his branch of the Service involved, imprudently intervened: "What would happen if every soldier wanting a new hat merely fired three bullets through his old one and then claimed a new one?"
At this interjection (and possible innuendo) Hurst warmed to his work in real earnestness. Expurgated of his Rabelaisian ornamentation and the choicer cuts and thrusts of army lingo and shafts of pious wit (this out of consideration for our more gently nurtured readers) his homily on the scale of values, rank and precedence in the army, but nothing about ‘hats’ ran:-
“Look here, my lad (glaring maliciously). You are talking to the R.S.M. of the I.L.H., and a S.M. of the 5th Dragoon Guards, two fighting regiments, FIGHTING regiments. My Colonel, who is a just bloke, would choke me off like Hades if he saw me talking with one of your sort. It would break his precious heart if he heard that I had talked with a Creator Condemned Grocer, and as for arguing - if he knew that I, a cavalry soldier, had condescended to argue with one, do you know what he'd do? Of course you don't - pity the ignorant! He'd have me on the peg and reduced to the ranks in a brace of shakes. Now, no more ruddy talk from YOU about my hat. . ."
Of true fighting spirit to the end, Arthur Hurst was killed in action at Hartebeestefontein.
In the London Gazette of 9 July, 1901 (p4561) RSM Hurst with 2 other men (Pte Langham, 4th NZ Rgt and Cpl Moy, 6th Imp Bushmen) are “Brought to notice by General Babington for their conduct in capture of guns and convoy at Vaal Bank on March 23rd and 24th, 1901”. In the “Remarks Column” is stated “Awarded DC medal”. Langham and Moy were definitely mentioned and rewarded for this particular action, also known as Wildfontein. However, SSM Hurst’s name is out of place when coupled to Vaal Bank as he had been killed on 22 March!
As the Hartbeesfontein rear-guard action led to General Babington’s success at Vaal Bank it seems that he commented on the 3 days’ combined operations( 22 to 24 March) in his despatch to Kitchener. This is borne out by the particulars and dates in the LG mentions by Babington:
• Sixteen Officers are mentioned under the reference “General Babington’s despatch on capture of Boer guns and convoy at Vaal Bank, 22nd and 23rd March 1901”.
• In addition fifteen men (including Hurst) are mentioned under the reference “General Babington’s despatch, dated 29th March, on capture of Boer guns and convoy at Vaal Bank, 24th March 1901”.
• Only three men are mentioned under the reference “General Babington’s despatch on action of Imperial Light Horse on 22nd March”.
Based on the above, it is concluded that Hurst’s DCM must have been awarded for the Hartbeesfontein action. It is hoped that Babington’s Despatch(es) will be traced to confirm this!
Attachments:
The following user(s) said Thank You: Brett Hendey

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2
Moderators: djb
Time to create page: 1.065 seconds
Powered by Kunena Forum