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With the Bechuanaland Field Force, 1885 1 month 3 weeks ago #79983

  • BereniceUK
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...."Here in England the public have taken but little notice of the expedition of volunteers under Sir Chas. Warren, which left this country some time ago, and has been engaged in clearing Boer freebooters from protected territory in Bechuanaland, South Africa. The subjoined item, which with its own heading we reproduce, has been forwarded to us by the friends of one of the Volunteers:—
....The following beautiful and truly touching poem was composed by one of the survivors of the now world renowned Bechuanaland Field Force, who, in the year of our Lord, 1885, bravely followed the fortunes of his chief (with the great expedition) into the land of Goshen, overcoming with undaunted courage all the obstacles in the passage of the force through the Cape Colony (by train), through Griqualand (on a wagon), and through the insurgent republic of Stellaland (on moke-back), finally hoisting the British Flag at Mafeking.
....Overawed by the imposing appearance, and the still more imposing ways of the force and its commander, the Dutchmen fled "like ice before the sun," while the members of the expedition, after a prolonged stay of magnificent inactivity, eventually returned to the Cape, their battles unfought, their object ungained, but each of them rewarded with the rare and much coveted decoration of the "Order of the Tin pot of Bechuanaland"; whilst historians have justly eulogized the leader of the expedition by not inaptly comparing him unto the Great Duke of York, for he
Had twice two thousand men,
He marched them up through Stellaland,
And marched them down again.
Oh Father! tell us father, whose eye is bleared and dim,
Like some ancient tallow candle, an unsnuffed and seedy glim;
Oh tell us of the medal that you wore upon your breast
When you marched up thro' Stellaland, a chucking of a chest.
And tell us of the battles and the victories you won,
And the hardships you encountered there beneath an Afric's sun;
Relate to us the legends of the Dutchmen whom you slew,
Though often told, they're beautiful, and wonderfully true.
I will my son, the old man said, in beery voice, and low,
It happened, 'twas in '85, that's forty year ago:
That bold Sir Charles Warren, he, with twice two thousand men,
Marched bravely up thro' Stellaland, and then marched down again.
And Oh! it was a goodly sight to see each gallant boy
In his putties and cord breeches,and his coat of corduroy:
But 'midst this pomp and splendour, why the thing that looked the best,
Was the medal of the B. F. F. each wore upon his breast.
Aye! that was a medal surely lad, no bright and shining star,
No bronze gew-gaw for marching that, and glittering from afar;
But a simple tin pot medal, with this touching legend stamped,
The number of the tramper, and the Corps with which he tramped.
Nor was it worn outwardly as if for side and show,
But jealously lay hidden, down all in the depths below;
Amidst those lively animals we picked up on the veldt,
The fleas and ticks and others that with Norfolk Howard's spelt.
It was a stout and goodly Force, composed of the Dragoons,
Of volunteers, three regiments, and some Pioneering ......;
Three Batteries of Artillery were also with the Chief.
Besides the men, who fed the troops on wretched bouilli beef.
Then there were the Telegraphists, their poles all in a row,
Which, when they had'nt tumbled down, brought news from down below:
Brought us news of other soldiers, and the victories they won,
While we sat still and grumbled, for our sport had not begun.
And we also had a Corps of Guides, some gents of sable hue,
Though why they called them guides I don't think anybody knew;
Unless it was that they were unacquainted with the way,
So "Domine direge nos," we howled when led astray.
One day the Engineers, who were possessed of a balloon,
Sent the old chief Montsioa up (a captive), towards the moon:
And it was a spirit-stirring sound to hear his women swear,
As they saw their lord and master floating gaily through the air.
For 'tis the usual belief in Montsioa's town
That when a chieftain dies he takes a lengthy journey down:
While a missionary murmured, as he gazed up in the sky,
How strange that soldiers are the first to send my flock on high.
But at last there came an order, just as if some fairy wand
Had set us all in motion, and we marched on Rooi Grond:
And there we saw the Dutchman's flag float bravely o'er the plain,
So we played at body-snatching, and we then sneaked home agin.
Of course there was a grand review, a true red-letter day,
When all the Dutchmen came and grinned, and grinning, rode away:
So each put back his sabre in obedience to the call,
And bethought him of his medal, and that made amends for all.
So then we marched from Mafeking and Sitlagoli too,
Through Vryburg, Taungs, in fact we marched the whole of Boerland through:
And trekking down West Griqualand, at last we reached the Cape,
Each man convinced that he at least had played the garden ape.
So you see we fought no battles on that glorious campaign,
For not a man was wounded, not a warrior was slain:
And the doctors had an easy time, as doctors always will
Campaigning with a General who's fighting with a quill.
Thus, you see my lad, the medal that I once wore next my skin
Is no blood-stained medallion, 'tis a simple bit of tin:
But the sight of it reminds me how I wore it on my breast
When I marched up thro' Stellaland a chucking of a chest.
But youngster there's a moral, just to end my simple rhyme,
Don't you ever go a soldiering in all your future time:
But if you should be mad enough, of Africa keep clear,
And whate'er you do you idiot, "Don't you never volunteer!"
* Bechuanaland Field Force."

The Bury and Norwich Post, Tuesday 11th August 1885
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With the Bechuanaland Field Force, 1885 1 month 3 weeks ago #79984

  • RobCT
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I will give a prize to anyone who can provide a remotely complete (or incomplete!) roll call of all those who accompanied Sir Charles Warren to Bechuanaland!


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With the Bechuanaland Field Force, 1885 1 month 3 weeks ago #79991

  • Adrian123456
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Such a list would contain about 4000 names.
However, here is a list of some of the officers who left for the expedition.
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With the Bechuanaland Field Force, 1885 1 month 3 weeks ago #79992

  • Arthur R
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You might find something in the O.G. Reitz Collection in the National Library in CT. Not to mention info about the Pioneer Column, the Jameson Raid and other adventures of the period. There's a summary of the contents on the NLSA website : nlsa.on.worldcat.org/v2/search/detail/10...=format&format=Archv
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With the Bechuanaland Field Force, 1885 1 month 3 weeks ago #79994

  • mike rowan
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What a delightful poem. It probably tells you all you ever wanted to know about Warren's expedition but, that said, it would be very interesting to know if any of one's medal recipients actually took part. Maybe a list of the units involved would be a good place to start.

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With the Bechuanaland Field Force, 1885 1 month 3 weeks ago #79995

  • BereniceUK
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The Royal Scots and the Inniskilling Dragoons are mentioned in this report, also Colonel Methuen's Volunteer Horse.

Orange River Terminus,............
Cape Colony, Dec. 21.......
....Orange River Terminus, which haa been chosen as the base of operations for the Bechuanaland Field Force, is one of the most dismal spots on earth. But dismal though it be, it is for the time a whirl of bustle and business. The first detachment of Colonel Methuen's Volunteer Horse arrived to-day under the command of Colonel the Hon. Stapleton Cotton, and a fine workmanlike body of men they are. The rest of those who arrived in the Pembroke Castle will reach this place to-morrow. The Royal Scots will arrive on Tuesday, to be followed very shortly by the Inniskilling Dragoons. The almost unprecedented drought will render transport a matter of extreme difficulty; but all obstacles are likely to be soon surmounted by the energy of the Commissariat Staff, under Assistant Commissary General Richardson. The General will arrive on Wednesday, and transport contracts from hence to Barkly West will come into operation at once. The main difficulties hitherto have been the want of stores. Ship after ship arrives, and still no stores appear to have been sent out. The transport from here to Barkly will be done by mule waggon, as the bare condition of the veldt and the scarcity of water render travelling by ox-waggon almost impossible. Barkly will be used as the advanced base, and thence northwards ox-waggons will be employed. The condition of the veldt after crossing the Vaal River is very much better, the main difficulty to be overcome being want of water, which will have to be provided for by well sinking in many places. A large number of horses have been already brought to the remount Depot, which is established on the banks of the Orange River at Langford, some eight miles distant. Rain is what we all pray for, and every cloud in the heavens is scanned by eager eyes.
....The conduct of operations here is for the present in the hands of Colonel Molyneux, of the Cheshire Regiment, and it would be hard to find a more energetic officer for a post so full of detail and worry. Colonel Durnford, Royal Engineers, arrived to-day, and leaves to-morrow for Barkly, accompanied by Commander Bettell, Captain Conder, Captain Williams, and other officers of the Intelligence and Survey De- partments. It is difficult yet to arrive at the exact truth as to the chances of war or peace. Reports here state that the Goshenites will fight, and will be assisted by a large number of Volunteers from the Transvaal. At Barkly it will be easier to estimate the value of reports, and to find out what the intentions of Nicolas Gey and his band really are. I hear of meetings held and to be held in the Transvaal to consider the course to be taken, but we have no trustworthy reports as to the decision arrived at. The recent appointment of Mr. Cronje as Commandant General in the Transvaal argues a somewhat aggressive policy, as this Cronje was the General in command at Potchefstroom who so notoriously broke faith with the British Government in the Transvaal war, by concealing the fact of the fourteen days' armistice from the beleaguered British garrison. Cronje is well known to be hostile to the English, and it will be interesting to note the line he takes on the present question. Reports reach us constantly of Montaioa being again attacked, and there is no doubt that if the Freebooters mean to stand their ground they will prefer to utilise the defences of Montaioa's town rather than stand an attack on the bare open plains of Rooi Grond. The feeling generally throughout the Colony is that Sir Charles Warren's little force is peculiarly well adapted for the work before it. The constitution of the force, consisting to so large an extent of cavalry, the calibre of the men, the practical knowledge of the officers of the several commands, and the serviceable colour and quality of the uniforms chosen, all unite to render it in the highest degree a useful force. Each day demonstrates afresh how necessary some operations had become for the re-establishment of British authority throughout Africa, and the unflagging interest taken by the Colonists attests the popularity of the Expedition.
The Standard [London], Tuesday 27th January 1885


"It is now finally settled that the troops destined for the Expedition are the Inniskillings, the Royal Scots, one battery Royal Artillery, one battery local artillery, one company Engineers, one company Commissariat, three regiments of Volunteers, called respectively 1st, 2d, and 3d Mounted Infantry Contingent, under Colonel the Hon. Paul Methuen, C.B., Colonel Carington, C.M.G., and Colonel Gough, of the 10th Hussars. Captain Babington, of the 16th Lancers, is appointed a Major in the 3d Mounted Infantry. Most of the officers have still to arrive. In addition to these regiments, there will be a corps of Pioneers. All these Volunteer Regiments are to be raised immediately, orders having gone forth this morning on the subject. Recruiting begins to-day. Sir Charles Warren will leave Cape Town in a very few days to take up his command near the railway terminus at Hope Town. A general order has been issued giving the entire command of the Bechuanaland Field Force to General Warren. The Engineers leave for Hope Town to-morrow night. The other troops now being massed at Wynberg will follow on shortly."
The Standard [London], Tuesday 6th January 1885
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