1900, Korn Spruit

LODGE, ISAAC, Gunner. "We most of us seem to have been named out of the Bible; my father's name was Elijah Lodge, my mother's was Rhoda. She was the daughter of William Ward, who lived at the farm down by the gates of Elusion Park, where Lord Warwick lives. I was born at Great Canfield, near Dunmow, in Essex, and went to Great Canfield School. When I was eleven years old I was out at work; first on a farm, doing milking, and then I did various other things, tanning the barks of trees, and later on I was a gamekeeper, and my employer gave me two woods. It was a good job, but I had to be a soldier. Nothing put it into my head; it was there. And if I had my time over again I should be a soldier again. If I weren't so deaf I should be in it now. I enlisted in with the Royal Garrison Artillery on the 29th December 1888, at Warley Barracks; that was the way you got into the Royal Horse Artillery in those days; and after a few weeks was transferred to the RHA, and came to St John's Wood into a service battery, and then went to India with B Battery. We were at Meerut in Mount Rocket lines, and then marched up to Rawalpindi, and were there two years. I was transferred from B Battery to Q Battery. General Brunker that is now, made Q Battery efficient. He worked very hard at it; not a pin could be out of place nor a round of ammunition, and every man had to know where everything was and how much there was of everything. The horses were trained over jumps, singly and in pairs. If he ordered a parade at ten o'clock he was there to the second, and he expected everyone else to be there too. General Fanshawe was just the same. A Staff officer came to inspect us one day, and he asked one man how many shells there were in a portable magazine, and the gunner just held up three fingers and that was all the answer he got. He laughed and asked Major Brunker if that was how he trained his men, and he said, 'Something like that, sir'. Everything in Q Battery had to be ready and there, as I said. Once in Sialkot the alarm went like it does when there is a mutiny. Our horses were half harnessed, so we were out a few minutes before the Major could get up, and he was up to time. It was a treat to see the way the guns went out that day, here and there, where they were wanted, and all at full gallop. I used to sometimes sit on the end of the gun because my horse couldn't keep up. Q Battery came home from India to Ireland to Newbridge Barracks, and from there to Aldershot, and then to the South African War. We were thirty-eight days on the voyage. The propeller broke, and I began to think that we were looking for Boers on the water. They got the guns off first, of course; we were a bit late and they were wanted. U Battery marched across the Karn. We were on guard at De Aar, and then at Modder River. The Cavalry Brigade moved off in the middle of the night and outflanked Cronje's position at Magersfontein, and went on to the Relief of Kimberley, and then to Paardeberg, and then headed off Cronje into the river-bed. I was laying my gun on his laager when the order came that he'd surrendered. After that we had to go and outflank De Wet at Poplar Grove. He led us a dance like that one that's in London now, General Smuts. From Poplar Grove we went to Driefontein, where we were in a place shaped like a horse-shoe. It was there they fought the fight for Bloemfontein. The order came to go and take Bloemfontein. Next morning we chased De Wet from his position and out of it altogether. The cavalry manoeuvred through Bloemfontein and the battery kept working all the time. We went to Thaa'-Banchu, and were there some time till the order was given for the convoy to move off to the Waterworks and for us to stand fast till 7.3O. No matches to be lit, no pipes, no smokes. We marched twenty-five miles from Thaa' Banchu to the Waterworks in the night, rested our horses by taking the saddles off till daybreak, when the guns opened fire. The convoy moved off at once; the order was given to harness up. The battery moved off in sections; then when Major Phipps-Hornby was told the Boers were in the spruit, he ordered 'Subsections left about wheel,' and 'Gallop'. The range was under 1,000 yards. No 6 gun was brought down in the mouth of the donga, and one of my horses out of No 5 was shot. I jumped off and unhooked it and threw it out, and then went up to where Major Phipps-Hornby had brought his guns into action. No 4 gun joined in to make the section, which was commanded by Lieutenant Ashmore and was firing at 1,500 yards. Lieutenant Ashmore was lying down observing, and was shot in the shoulder, and Senior Sergeant Armstrong took his place. He got shot, and Sergeant Shimmons took his place. He was shot, and then there was me and that Norfolk fellow left by ourselves. Before long we ran short of ammunition, so I went to the old galvanized iron shed where our waggons were under cover. I go some ammunition and brought it back and served the guns with it. Of course, when I went there were two of us, but the other man got shot, so I was the only one left in my section in action who stuck to the guns. Major Phipps-Hornby was in the middle all the time, very cool and collected, giving orders. He now gave the order to get the guns out. Glasock, a plucky little lad, who came in to help try to get the guns out, had one horse shot from him. He went by the tin hut and got another horse from somewhere. I have sometimes wondered where he got it. Anyhow, he came in and tried again to get the guns out of action. We got them out by hand and with a pair of wheeler horses and limbers. Then Glasock—who was sitting on his horse—said, 'I'm shot'. I said, 'Where?' It had gone in behind the saddle, and he said, "I guess they've got me in a soft place'. I went up to the old tin shed to see if there were any orders, and saw a mounted orderly escort some of the Mounted Infantry, though one of his people said they were Roberts's Horse, and one officer said they were commanded by Major Pack-Beresford, my old officer in India. But they were Mounted Infantry, and though Major Pack-Beresford was somewhere about, he was not there. If he had been I should have gone and spoken to him, firing or no firing. Then we came up out of the donga. After getting clear of the trap, Major Phipps-Hornby collected his layers and gunners together and came into action again. The firing was then taken from him on the extreme left by the reinforcement. After that he watered the horses, and General Broadwood had what was left of us formed up, and said he was very pleased with the way the Major had commanded us, and then he said: 'Major Phipps-Hornby, you ought to be proud of the men that you have got working under you'. After that we got our orders to go into Bloemfontein and there get refitted, men, horses, guns, and whatever old things were smashed up, and then started out again on the road towards Kroonstadt. I greased my gun and waggon before going into Kroonstadt, and then was made go sick because I had ague and fever. We were in a sort of school, or church, lying on the floor, and Lord Roberts came and got mattresses for us to lie on. When I was better I went to Cape Town, and then back up to Bloemfontein. I took charge of the 'luxuries', and smuggled them in to Pretoria, and then got a span of bullocks and took them from Pretoria to the battery. They were forbidden things, but the boys were smoking tea leaves. It was tobacco and smokes and Quaker oats, and a few little things like that, but perhaps you'd better say nothing about it. General Phipps-Hornby and the rest of us were given our VC's by Lord Roberts at Pretoria in October. After that we were holding the Nek at Pretoria, and then from Rustenburg to Ollivant's Nek, fought our way on to Wolverdene Station, and from there to Potchefstroom, where we fought De La Rey. From Potchefstroom we came up in the New Year and joined in a big trek under Lord French. Lord French commanded one force and Sir Ian Hamilton another under him, so they had the Boers on two sides, and what one General couldn't do the other could. For nineteen days we lived on maize, and the cavalry on outpost duty had to eat it raw. We found three guns all in a bog and dug them out, and kept one ourselves and gave the others to the other section. We came back round by Dundee and Glencoe Heights, and one section went to the Springs and the other to Johannesburg to get refitted. After that at Calfontein we drove off the Boer attack, and then went on with Bindon Blood on another big trek. After that we came up to Amsterdam, Carolina, above Middelburg in the Transvaal. Then from Middelburg in trucks and down to Cape Colony. Centre section went to Naauport and left section to De Aar. We refitted with Scotch carts and marched from De Aar to Beaufort West, cut across Beaufort West to Aberdeen, from Aberdeen to Willowmoor. At Willowmoor the 10th Hussars got ambushed. The 12th Lancers and our section of guns went out into Long Kloof, where they made a charge and we fired, and got them back. They were pleased to see us at Houtsburn. We were fighting all along and cleared the bank of Scheeper's Mob; we were all round them, Major Kavanagh's lot and others, and after a forty-five mile chase we ran them into another column. Then I finished up by Schwellendam and Naaupoort —the Headquarters, and when I came from Naaupoort I brought ordnance down to Cape Town and waited at Green Point till there was a boat from home. Major Humphreys saw me there, and I said I'd as soon wait and come home with the battery. He said, 'You get off now, and get a month's leave till the battery comes home, and then another month's leave with the battery' . I have the Long Service Medal and King George's Coronation Medal, and, of course, the Queen's Medal with five clasps. I had eighteen months more service and was a Corporal, and they asked me would I he a Sergeant and drill recruits at the Depot. I said, 'No, I'd finished my time with the battery'. (For Gazette of Lodge's VC see account of Major Phipps-Hornby)

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