York and Lancaster Regiment
arrived in South Africa at the very end of 1899 and returned home in 1902. They played a prominent part in the relief of Ladysmith.
From the next City Coins auction, November 2020
QSA (2) CC, RoL (3407 Pte. H. Randall, 1.Yk. & Lanc. Regt.)
From the “War Record of the York & Lancaster Regiment”
“Next day [5 Feb] the third attempt to relieve Ladysmith began. The men were up and off very early on Monday morning. The York and Lancaster Regiment and South Lancashires formed first line. Closer and closer to the Boer position we advanced, but not a sign of life was visible. When within 1500 yards of the enemy’s position, the order was given to lie down… still no sign of the enemy until close on midday. Then the Boer guns spoke… the enemy’s gunners quickly got range of our exposed batteries and directed a perfect storm of fire against them. This awful display of artillery fire lasted two and a half hours. General Wynne gave the order to retire.
The Boers, for the first time that day, showed themselves, thinking, no doubt, that our retreat meant we had lost the day. But in reality, we had shown where the Boer guns were, besides keeping the Boers occupied whilst the battle on our right was won. Calmly and steadily the men withdrew from that circle of fire… total losses were surprisingly small, mainly owing to the men being well extended. One killed and 22 wounded, 2 died of wounds, comprised the York and Lancs casualties.”
Pte Randall was one of the two men who died of their wounds on 5 February.
“At 7am the batteries on Three Tree Hill opened fire at 2500-3000 yards’ range on the Boer sangars, which presented a perfect target. The Boers, crouching securely behind the thick stone walls or breast-deep trenches, made no reply till half an hour later, when the advance of two companies of the Royal Lancasters to occupy a small kopje north-east of Three Tree Hill drew a crashing volley from all the eastern sangars. From this time the rifle-fire was continuous, though as yet no troops were within effective range.
At 10am the 7th and 73rd Batteries came up to join the rest, and the intensity of the bombardment was redoubled. At 11am Hart began his advance, the Lancashire Fusiliers leading on the right and the York and Lancasters on the left, each with a front of two companies. The Borders and Dublin Fusiliers supported; the Inniskilling Fusiliers were in reserve.”
“At 1.15 two Boer guns and a pom-pom which had lain low all the morning, suddenly opened fire on Three Tree Hill scattering the crowd of generals, staff officers, and spectators assembled there. For twenty minutes they engaged in an artillery duel with the six batteries on the hill, and then turned aside and devoted their attention to Hart’s advance.”
Times History, Vol III, p231& 232.
Picture courtesy of City Coins
DCM VR (4671 Pte. W.L. Savage. York & Lanc Regt.)
[ QSA (2) CC RoL ]
In the London Gazette of 8 February 1901, p950, LtCol W J Kirkpatrick, commanding 1st. Bn. York and Lancaster Regiment reported, with regard to the action of the 20th, that “Lieutenant L Brandreth, 2nd. Bn. Welsh Regiment, attached and 4671 Pte. W Savage, carried a wounded man to a place of safety under a heavy fire”.
Savage’s Military History Sheet notes that he was wounded 4 days later at Acton Homes (the SAFF Casualty Roll incorrectly notes him being wounded on 22 Feb, Natal). He was posted home on 23 May 1900 and the award of his DCM was published in the LG of 27 September 1901, p6318.
According to the relevant Roll, a QSA with 2 clasps CC & RoL was issued on 22 March 1902 for “Presentation”. This probably refers to a ceremony during which he received his DCM and QSA.
Sgt Miller was recommended by General Redvers Buller for the award of the DCM in the LG of 8 February 1901, p939: 1453 Serjeant J. Millar, 27th February:
Colonel Kitchener, Commanding Brigade, reports that “he did excellent work under my personal observation. His gun was under heavy fire and he never slacked off or made a mistake, its coming into action on our right rendered advance possible.”
The award of the DCM was announced in the LG of 19 April 1901, p2707. An eyewitness account of the day’s action was given by Pte A. Long in his handwritten “Rough Diary of York & Lanc Regt in South Africa”:
“The order came ‘Maxim gun up quick’. Quick as a flash one of the gunners had his rifle slung on his back (Pte Koerner by name) and getting on top of the cutting had the gun handed up to him by 3 or 4 men standing about 2 feet above each other. Shouldering the gun, he carried it to the top of the hill although burning his neck both sides as the barrel was full of boiling water…
One of the W Yorks carrying the tripod whilst the Sergt carried two boxes containing two loaded belts.
Through a very heavy shower of bullets they carried them to a suitable place behind one of the enemy’s trenches which proved to be too high for it but he soon removed the top stones which a bullet struck whilst he was in the act of removing, but there was no time for hesitation, the Maxim being set it soon started its deadly work pouring a rapid fire into a donga, 830 yards off which soon cleared the enemy.”
James John Miller enlisted in the York & Lancaster Regiment on 23 August 1886 and slowly but surely moved up the ranks with his final promotion to Colour Sergeant on 19 February 1901. He was discharged on 13 April 1906 after serving 19 years and 234 days.