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72665 GNR E.W. Pearcey P Bty. RHA PoW 11/7/1900 Uitval Nek 5 years 9 months ago #60471

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A South Africa Boer War Uitval Nek, 11 July 1900 Prisoner of War Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902, 5 Clasps: Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, awarded to Gunner E.W. Pearcey, Royal Horse Artillery, ‘O’ Battery late ‘M’ Battery, who having served with ‘M’ Battery during the relief of Kimberley and operations through to June 1900, then later was serving with ‘O’ Battery as part of the force captured by De la Rey’s Commando after the successful Boer guerrilla action at Uitval Nek on 11 July 1900 when two guns of ‘O’ Battery were taken.
Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902, 5 Clasps: Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill; (72665 GNR: E.W. PEARCEY. O BTY., R.H.A.)

Awarded to Gunner (No.72665) E.W. Pearcey, Royal Horse Artillery, who as a member of ‘M’ Battery, was present in action during the Boer War in South Africa and at the relief of Kimberley on 15 February 1900, in action at Paardeberg between 17 to 26 February 1900, and at Driefontein on 10 March 1900, Johannesburg on 31 May 1900, and Diamond Hill on 11 and 12 June 1900.
After transferring to ‘O’ Battery, Pearcey was present with the two guns of ‘O’ Battery under Major H.J. Scobell, which with a squadron of the 2nd Dragoons - the Royal Scots Greys, reinforced Colonel R.S.S. Baden-Powell’s force of two squadrons of the Rhodesian Regiment and two Royal Canadian Artillery guns, which had originally occupied the pass at Silkaats Nek on 2nd July 1900. Then on 10 July five companies of the 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, under Colonel H.R. Roberts, arrived and stayed the night.
It was early the next morning at dawn on 11 July 1900, that these troops were then fired upon from two unoccupied peaks above the pass. The Boer Burghers, under Assistant Commandant-General J.H. de la Rey then charged the guns and captured them in their position at Uitval Nek, another name for Silkaats Nek, it being named after a farm located just to the south of the pass. The by late afternoon the entire pass had been taken by the Boers. The squadron of Scots Greys together with the commanding officer, adjutant and 84 men of the Lincolnshire Regiment, along with all the surviving men of the artillery, were taken prisoner, and British losses numbered 24 killed and 44 wounded, and 198 taken prisoner, with Pearcey among that latter number. This action was one of the first successful actions which marked the beginning of the guerrilla warfare aspect of the Boer War. De le Rey’s force, had launched a three pronged attack which eventually surrounded the British force, and despite a gallant defence, the British and Colonial troops were forced to surrender.
Due to the mobile nature of De la Rey’s force however, Pearcey was released from captivity almost immediately.

O battery, RHA was with General French in the Colesberg district, and there had constant fighting. Was praised by him in despatches. Took part in the expedition to Koodosberg Drift in beginning of February 1900; thereafter in the rush to Kimberley, and in the subsequent advances to Bloemfontein and Pretoria. Praised by Mr Goldman for work on 28th May 1900 south-west of Johannesburg (see 'With General French and the Cavalry', p 251). On the left at Diamond Hill, where they had a prominent part in heavy fighting. A section was with a squadron of the Scots Greys and the Lincolns in the disaster at Nitral's or Uitval Nek, 11 July 1900. The guns were lost. Accompanied French in eastern advance, and was attached to the 4th Cavalry Brigade in the march to Barberton and afterwards to Heidelberg. Four guns were with Allenby in 1901 in the great sweep to the Swazi border and other operations, and two guns were with a column under Major Pine-Coffin which did much useful service in the Orange River Colony (dispatch of 8th July 1901). Two officers were mentioned by Lord Kitchener in dispatches. Early in July 1900 the post at Zilikat's Nek, Uitval's Nek, or Nitral's Nek, in the Megaliesberg Mountains, was taken over from Baden-Powell's force by a squadron of the Royal Scots Greys, five companies of the Lincolnshire Regiment, and two guns O Battery, RHA, the whole under Colonel H R Roberts. Another account states that on 11 July the enemy in great numbers attacked the position, and "owing mainly to the defective dispositions of the commanding officer, the enemy gained possession of the pass and captured the two guns, almost an entire squadron of the Scots Greys, and 90 officers and men of the Lincolnshire Regiment, including Colonel Roberts, who had been wounded early in the day".

For an excellent account of the battle of Silkaatsnek, see: samilitaryhistory.org/vol093ic.html

Conan Doyle’s account in Chapter 29, The Halt at Pretoria in his History of the Boer War.

De la Rey's attack was delivered at break of day on July 11th at Uitval's Nek, a post some eighteen miles west of the capital. This position could not be said to be part of Lord Roberts's line, but rather to be a link to connect his army with Rustenburg. It was weakly held by three companies of the Lincolns with two others in support, one squadron of the Scots Greys, and two guns of O battery R. H. A. The attack came with the first grey light of dawn, and for many hours the small garrison bore up against a deadly fire, waiting for the help which never came. All day they held their assailants at bay, and it was not until evening that their ammunition ran short and they were forced to surrender. Nothing could have been better than the behavior of the men, both infantry, cavalry, and gunners, but their position was a hopeless one. The casualties amounted to eighty killed and wounded. Nearly two hundred were made prisoners and the two guns were taken.
On the same day that De la Rey made his coup at Uitval's Nek, Grobler had shown his presence on the north side of the town by treating very roughly a couple of squadrons of the 7th Dragoon Guards which had attacked him. By the help of a section of the ubiquitous O battery and of the 14th Hussars, Colonel Lowe was able to disengage his cavalry from the trap into which they had fallen, but it was at the cost of between thirty and forty officers and men killed, wounded, or taken. The old 'Black Horse' sustained their historical reputation, and fought their way bravely out of an almost desperate situation, where they were exposed to the fire of a thousand riflemen and four guns.
On this same day of skirmishes, July 11th, the Gordons had seen some hot work twenty miles or so to the south of Uitval's Nek. Orders had been given to the 19th Brigade (Smith-Dorrien's) to proceed to Krugersdorp, and thence to make their way north. The Scottish Yeomanry and a section of the 78th R. F. A. accompanied them. The idea seems to have been that they would be able to drive north any Boers in that district, who would then find the garrison of Uitval's Nek at their rear. The advance was checked, however, at a place called Dolverkrantz, which was strongly held by Boer riflemen. The two guns were insufficiently protected, and the enemy got within short range of them, killing or wounding many of the gunners. The lieutenant in charge, Mr. A. J. Turner, the famous Essex cricketer, worked the gun with his own hands until he also fell wounded in three places. The situation was now very serious, and became more so when news was flashed of the disaster at Uitval's Nek, and they were ordered to retire. They could not retire and abandon the guns, yet the fire was so hot that it was impossible to remove them. Gallant attempts were made by volunteers from the Gordons--Captain Younger and other brave men throwing away their lives in the vain effort to reach and to limber up the guns. At last, under the cover of night, the teams were harnessed and the two field-pieces successfully removed, while the Boers who rushed in to seize them were scattered by a volley. The losses in the action were thirty-six and the gain nothing. Decidedly July 11th was not a lucky day for the British arms.

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