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Lancashire Fusilier on Spioen Kop 1 year 11 months ago #72463

  • iaindh
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It seems 176 men of the Lancashire Fusiliers surrendered and were taken prisoner on Spioen Kop and yet I have great difficulty confirming.it. Packenham, Cloete and Bretenbach do mention it however Wikipedia doesn't nor the unit information on this site. A brief "some missing" is mentioned.
Breytebach states “Also, at the front of the firing line, the troops were becoming more and more demoralized and at 1 p.m., a number of the Lancashire Fusiliers on the British right flank, who had suffered the most under the Boer fire, began waving their handkerchiefs in the air. The Boers assumed that they intended to surrender and Jan Cilliers from Pretoria, therefore, called on the burghers to cease fire as the enemy had raised the white flag.
However, when the burghers got up to take the troops prisoner, they were fired on from the trench and some of the Boers were wounded. The latter immediately resumed fighting. Once again the English raised their handkerchiefs in the air as a sign of surrender. Jan Cilliers then jumped over the breastwork into the trench with a group of burghers and asked the English, who held their hands in the air and indicated that they were tired of the fight, who their officer was. One of the sergeants' of Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry who came running to find out what was going on, rifle was even snatched from his hands by one of the British troops who shouted at him: "You are a prisoner!" At this, the sergeant in question scurried back to inform Thorneycroft of the surrender of the British troops while the Boers captured the troops who had surrendered and began to move them down the slope.
When Thorneycroft heard of the debacle [surrender], he quickly rushed forward with a group of men in his immediate vicinity and shouted furiously at the leader of the Boers: “I am commandant here; take your men back to hell sir! There's no surrender. ” The troops who were surrendering, however, did not want to obey his order to resume the fighting and he had to rush back to the rocks on the central part of the plateau, followed by the group of troops who refused to surrender. From there, he resumed fire on the burghers and troops mixed up in the eastern part of the trench and compelled the burghers to resume the fighting after the latter had already harvested 176 prisoners of war."

So a mutiny and then firing on the surrendered soldiers.

regards, Iain, A Lancashire Lad.
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Lancashire Fusilier on Spioen Kop 1 year 11 months ago #72468

  • Rob D
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I think 176 is probably a fairly accurate tally of LF prisoners taken by the Boers on Spioenkop. Meurig Jones very kindly sent me a copy of his casualty roll for the Natal Field Force. There are 220 POW or Missing among units which fought on Spioenkop [restricting the dates of the MIA or POW being 24-26 Jan 1900]. The 220 MIA/POWs includes 143 Lancashire Fusiliers who are either "missing" or "prisoners of war" at Spioenkop. If we accept that one or two Lancashire Fusiliers who surrendered never left the summit - being either wounded or killed; plus a bunch of soldiers from other units who were part of the surrender [the Fusiliers' trench was already occupied by mixed units by that time]; then I think 176 is a good estimate, and 220 is the official British tally, so it could even be an under-estimate. Even Colonel Blomfield himself, who was OC the Lancashire fusiliers, was wounded and was taken prisoner. Some thought his capture was a bit "strange": "Strange, too, was the fate of gallant Colonel Blomfield... This officer was wounded early in the day, as already recorded, and lay in a trench helpless and fainting for hours and beyond the reach of help. Finally, he was able to crawl out and make his way down the side of the hill - down the wrong side, unluckily for himself - and when next he was heard of he was a prisoner in Pretoria" Of the 2LF officers in the picture, Blomfield and Elmslie were POWs at Spioenkop.
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Lancashire Fusilier on Spioen Kop 1 year 11 months ago #72469

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But is 176, a few missing?
The Lancashire Fusilier, Bury, Roll of Honour site, has the same:
"The losses of the Battalion were very severe, 3 Officers Kiliied, 5 wounded, about 40 men killed, 100 wounded and some missing"

Iain

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Lancashire Fusilier on Spioen Kop 1 year 10 months ago #72470

  • Rob D
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Iain, The NFF casualty roll [and I'm limiting myself here to the dates of Tabanyama and Spioenkop - not Vaalkrans or relief of Ladysmith] shows: 82 2LF killed, a further 13 died of wounds, and 195 wounded.
In total, there are 437 2LF on the NFF casualty roll during the Spioenkop campaign - from a battalion of 800 or so men, this was over 50% losses.
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Lancashire Fusilier on Spioen Kop 6 months 2 weeks ago #82079

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I realise that this conversation is rather old and may not elicit a reply from Rob D. However, I am interested in the source of the quote "Strange, too, was the fate of gallant Colonel Blomfield... This officer was wounded early in the day, as already recorded, and lay in a trench helpless and fainting for hours and beyond the reach of help. Finally, he was able to crawl out and make his way down the side of the hill - down the wrong side, unluckily for himself - and when next he was heard of he was a prisoner in Pretoria" Of the 2LF officers in the picture, Blomfield and Elmslie were POWs at Spioenkop. I have seen odd references to his being made a prisoner of the Boers, but cannot find any reference to this in several of the well-known sources. For instance, Pakenham (The Boer War) writes: "Soon after (Woodgate's mortal injury) Blomfield himself fell, severely injured, and was pulled back under cover..."

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Lancashire Fusilier on Spioen Kop 6 months 2 weeks ago #82080

  • Rob D
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Simon, Colonel Blomfield is quoted extensively in
Lewis Childs, Ladysmith: Colenso/Spion Kop/Hlangwane/Tugela (Battleground South Africa), Barnsely, Pen & Sword, 1998.

Colonel Blomfield was hit about 10.30 am
' I was walking up to “C” Company’s trench, when I was hit by a Mauser bullet through the right shoulder and knocked over. Major Tidswell and Sergeant Lightfoot, of “C” Company, in their trench some 30 yards off, saw me fall, and at once ran out in the most gallant manner and dragged me under cover into their trench. There I remained for the rest of the day

Blomfield lay there for 9 hours, trying to make himself as small as possible. His water-bottle was shot off his chest, and his rescuer, Sergeant Lightfoot was shot through the head. (Crowe p155).
Blomfield listened all day to the battle:
Rifle fire now and then slackened a little, but the guns from N.W. and E. pounding steadily away with horrible effect. The Boers were so close that their voices could be heard from among some rocks near at hand, but they showed no inclination to come to close quarters with our men.’

Nearby lay Private Bradley, shot through the chest and thigh. When darkness came, Blomfield crawled out of the trench to find a stretcher bearer for Bradley. Blomfield’s shoulder wound had been bleeding copiously all day; he fainted, and when he regained consciousness, he crawled down the slope, into Boer captivity. (Childs p. 104).

Now, I am very familiar indeed with the trench and the summit, and in my humble opinion even a fainting man would have understood that going down the slope from the trench meant going into captivity. This happened at 7 pm when it got dark, fighting was still going on about 400m in front of Blomfield, but Thorneycroft had not yet ordered the men to withdraw - that was at 8:15 pm. But unless he'd been known to be a senior officer, and had special treatment,if he had he stayed in the trench overnight I suspect he may have died of exposure and dehydration.
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