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1191 Pte. J Riley, Rifle Brigade PoW 26/12/1900 1 month 2 weeks ago #71563

  • azyeoman
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India General Service Medal (1895) clasp Punjab Frontier 1897-98: 1191 Pte J Riley 3rd Bn Rif Bde
Queen’s South Africa Medal with CC, TH, RL, Tr, LN and OFS : 1191 Pte J Riley Rifle Brigade
King’s South Africa Medal with SA 1901 & SA 1902: 1191 Pte J Riley Rifle Brigade

Medal roll entries confirm all medals and clasps and that he was taken Prisoner of war at the Oceana Mine near Grootvlei, 26th December 1900. Riley was released from captivity 30th December 1900, and went on to serve in South Africa until the end of hostilities, the King’s South Africa Medal roll entry records he was discharged to the Army Reserve.

After a quiet Christmas based at the Oceana Mine near Grootvlei, Lieutenant-Colonel A Colville, 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade, proceeded on a farm-clearing expedition, with a small column consisting of six companies of the 1st Battalion, a squadron of the 13th Hussars, four guns of 63 Battery, Royal Field Artillery, as well as one ‘pom-pom’. Colville left ‘F’ Company under the command of Captain Radclyffe, as well as some artillerymen, to guard the baggage wagons based at the mine. The Column moved out in the direction of Roddewal, where after five miles they became involved in a small skirmish at the first of the target farms. During the skirmish a large party of approximately 450 Boers were spotted heading towards the Oceana Mine. A signal was sent to Captain Radclyffe informing him of this development, and he at once set about disposing his small force in an attempt to protect the baggage, with the pom-pom located near a small hollow. After a couple of hours had passed a number of mounted Boers appeared on a ridge a thousand yards away. As Radclyffe’s men opened fire the Boers dismounted, pushed forward, and sent out small parties to the left and right in an encircling movement against the Rifle Brigade position. Under heavy and accurate fire the pompom was moved down towards the hollow and back towards the compound- of the nine men who assisted in moving the pom-pom one was killed and the other eight all wounded.

Seeing that the enemy were now advancing in considerable force, Radclyffe decided to send the baggage back to the Column, whilst attempting to hold the Boers in check for as long as possible. Under cover of heavy Rifle Brigade fire from behind the wagons, the native teams began inspanning the oxen. When they were ready to move the native teams started off the wagons in the direction of Colville’s column and, as they did so, the small Rifle Brigade covering party came under very severe fire and had to retire, as the Boers saw that they were losing their target. During this time, Radclyffe and his sections continued their holding action but suffered a number of casualties, with their ammunition running out fast. With the baggage now well on its way, Radclyffe, who was lying wounded, ordered those in advanced positions who could do so to retire to the compound so as to avoid capture. No.1 section provided covering fire until their ammunition ran out, at which point the Boers advanced rapidly, forcing their surrender, along with the wounded soldiers. Fortunately, at this point, the main column appeared on the horizon, forcing the Boers to withdraw, leaving their wounded prisoners behind. For some time the wounded on the ridge were exposed to fire from both the returning column and the Boers, and a corporal was seen to make a valiant attempt to carry the wounded Radclyffe to safety. Total losses that day were heavy, with 13 Officers and men killed, 44 wounded, and 19 taken prisoner. For his gallantry in defending the position, Captain Radclyffe was awarded the DSO.

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1191 Pte. J Riley, Rifle Brigade PoW 26/12/1900 1 month 2 weeks ago #71569

  • Rob D
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His comrades' medals are discussed here
www.angloboerwar.com/forum/8-events/6300...rootvlie-26-jan-1900
angloboerwar.com/forum/5-medals-and-awards/25288-1-r-b

I'd love to know how the men of 3rd Bn Rifle Brigade [who'd fought so bravely at Twin Peaks 24/01/1900] felt about "farm-clearing".
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
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1191 Pte. J Riley, Rifle Brigade PoW 26/12/1900 1 month 2 weeks ago #71579

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Actually Rob it was the 3rd King's Royal Rifle Corps who fought at Twin Peaks.

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1191 Pte. J Riley, Rifle Brigade PoW 26/12/1900 1 month 2 weeks ago #71588

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Forgive my error. Not the first time I've mixed them up...
Even more embarrassing since I've visited Col. Buchanan-Riddell's little memorial on Twin Peaks many times...

I see that men who fought at Oceana were of the 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade.
On the upper Tugela, they were part of the 4th Brigade under Maj. Gen. Lyttelton - along with the 2nd Scottish Rifles, 3rd King's Royal Rifles, and 1st Durham Light Infantry.
So they were very near Twin Peaks but not participants on 24 Jan 1900... Their Relief of Ladysmith bar was thus for Vaalkrans - have I got that correct?

Rob
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1191 Pte. J Riley, Rifle Brigade PoW 26/12/1900 1 month 2 weeks ago #71589

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Nothing to forgive Rob!

1st Battalion were indeed heavily involved at Vaal Krantz and they had also been at Colenso but not so heavily involved. In the Tugela Heights campaign they were heavily involved at Monte Cristo and especially so at Pieters Hill.

2nd Battalion were principally involved in the siege of Ladysmith especially at the Surprise Hill and Wagon Hill actions then later at Belfast/Geluk.

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