In his evidence before the War Commission General Sir G A French said that the total contribution of this colony to the fighting strength in South Africa was 6945 officers and men and 6104 horses, with six 15-pounder guns. He also stated that the contingent of the NSW Lancers, 70 all ranks, who had been at Aldershot for training, were the first oversea Colonials to land in South Africa. They had sailed from Britain on 10th October 1899, actually before war was declared. They arrived on 2nd November. A draft of 5 officers, 1 warrant officer, 32 men, and 130 horses, sailed from New South Wales on 28th October to make up a complete squadron.
The Lancers, after their arrival at Cape Town, were sent to De Aar, but were shortly split up—one body, about 40, under Captain Cox, going to Colesberg, and another, about 30, under Lieutenant Osborne, to Orange River. The latter formed part of Lord Methuen's force when he advanced north from Orange River. This detachment was engaged at Belmont, 23rd November 1899; at Enslin on the 25th; at Modder River on the 28th; and at Magersfontein on 11th December.
In the last week of December Lieutenant Osborne and his detachment were taken from Lord Methuen and sent to join the remainder of the squadron, who had been doing good work under General Sir J P D French in the Colesberg district. In a telegram of 19th January Lord Roberts said: "A patrol of the NSW Lancers, halting at a drift for water, was taken by surprise. Two killed and fourteen missing". The incident happened on the 16th. Lieutenant Dowling of the 1st Australian Horse was in command; he was wounded. Corporal Kilpatrick of the Lancers was killed. The patrol made a very gallant fight, and six actually broke through, although the enemy were said to be 100 strong."
In his despatch of 2nd February 1900 General French mentions the squadron of Lancers as part of his force. They were put into a brigade consisting of the 6th Dragoon Guards, New Zealand MR, and some Regular Mounted Infantry. The detachment with General French was the advance-guard of a force which reconnoitred towards Colesberg on 21st November, and were said to have behaved with steadiness. Thereafter they took their share in the very arduous work which fell to General French's force in the Colesberg district during December 1899 and January and February 1900.
When Lord Roberts was about to undertake the relief of Kimberley and the advance on Bloemfontein, the squadron of NSW Lancers was taken to Modder River and put into the 1st Cavalry Brigade under Brigadier General Porter. Lord Roberts' army commenced its advance on 11th February, and General French entered Kimberley with his cavalry and some mounted infantry on the 15th. An excellent account of the work of the 1st Brigade is to be found in the 'War Record of the Inniskilling Dragoons', by Lieutenant Colonel Watkins-Yardley (Longmans, 1904), who at p 43, speaking of the last halt to reform and water before entering Kimberley, says: "There was but little subsequent resistance, but the march was long and thirsty, and the horses were badly done up. For instance, 'A' squadron Inniskilling Dragoons could only muster 42 horses on its arrival at Kimberley. There the NSW Lancers under Major Lee were attached to it under Major Allenby, making the squadron up to 120 horses, and thereafter they remained with the regiment, rendering yeoman service until their return to New South Wales". From Modder River to Bloemfontein Major Allenby's men were constantly in the thickest, and always did well. Few cavalry leaders came out of the campaign with a better reputation than he did. On 12th March he led the advance-guard of the 1st Cavalry Brigade, and after a long march seized some hills a few miles south of Bloemfontein, which practically commanded the town. On the 13th the capital surrendered. The strength of the NSW Lancers when they marched into Bloemfontein was 6 officers, 89 men, and 90 horses. On the 15th Major Allenby's men and some others escorted a convoy to Thabanchu via Sannah's Post, the scene of Broadwood's mishap on the 31st (see Roberts' Horse). The regiment now had much reconnoitring work to do, and on several occasions the Lancers had casualties. On the 29th March the 1st Cavalry Brigade, including the Australian Horse and the NSW Lancers under Captain Cox, were engaged in the battle of Karee Siding, and their fine conduct was specially mentioned by various British correspondents who were present. On the 31st, the day of Sannah's Post, the brigade was sent out to help Broadwood, but was too late to be of any assistance in the way of recovering the lost guns or waggons: however, they were able to bring in the British wounded, who had been left in some buildings.
While the army was at Bloemfontein the Lancers received a reinforcing draft of nearly half a squadron, which had sailed about 16th February. The work of the cavalry had been such that, on 3rd April, the 1st Brigade had only 120 fit horses, 'A' squadron of the Inniskillings only mustering 17. Throughout April many of the infantry battalions were able to get some rest, but the mounted men had to undertake long reconnoitring patrols and constant outpost work. Lord Roberts had, however, been reorganising his army, getting up stores and horses, and on 1st May he was ready to move again. Under that date Lieutenant Colonel Watkins-Yardley says "The New South Wales Lancers under Major Lee, who had hitherto been attached to 'A' squadron, were formed into a distinct squadron of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. They were proud to be considered a part of the Regiment: all officers will testify to their usefulness, the fine scouting and efficient work they rendered. Under splendid officers their coolness, self-reliance, and dash brought them out of difficulties where other troops might have suffered severely ... The Australian Horse were similarly attached to the Scots Greys".
It is impossible to embody here all the other references to the New South Wales Lancers; but up to the entry into Pretoria they did work of a very high order. On the 28th May they cleared the enemy from a farm at Olifant's Vlei. On 3rd June there was very severe fighting at Kalkheuvels Pass, when the squadron and 'A' squadron of the Inniskillings averted what might very easily have developed into a panic, by rapidly dismounting and pouring in a heavy and well-directed fire on the enemy, who, posted in a strong position, had suddenly attacked the troops in front when passing through a difficult gorge. On 6th June, when the British prisoners were released, the enemy heavily attacked the relieving force when they had commenced to return. Allenby's men covered the retirement, and again did splendidly.
At Diamond Hill on 11th and 12th June the whole of the 1st Cavalry Brigade was very heavily engaged on the left, and only maintained their ground by exhibiting great determination. It will be remembered that the cavalry and mounted infantry on the right also found it difficult to make progress, and that the infantry had to attack and pierce the enemy's centre. From this time till the middle of July the squadron was much on outpost duty and in constant touch with the enemy. On 15th July two posts were attacked at dawn, and were only saved by the timely arrival of the Lancers and 'B' squadron of the Inniskillings, who together drove back the enemy.
During the advance to Belfast, from there to Carolina, and thence to Barberton and Avoca, the Inniskillings and their Colonial comrades rendered splendid service, and Colonel Yardley makes many very flattering references to their work. As showing the complete confidence the leaders had in the squadron, it may be noted that when it became known that fifty two locomotives were standing at Avoca, the men sent down to capture and guard this extremely valuable prize was a troop of NSW Lancers under Lieutenant Nicholson. Colonel Yardley mentions his meeting, a few days later, with this officer, and relates how cleverly Nicholson had captured three prisoners: "Noticing small details is one of the arts of scouting, and in it our Colonial brothers excel. Lieutenant Nicholson himself was a fine specimen. Though getting on in life, he was capable and worthy of a much higher command; but on the war breaking out he cheerfully undertook the duties of a subaltern". It was frequently remarked by regular officers that some of their brethren of the Colonial regiments were too old; but age alone brings caution and the 'cuteness' necessary to outwit a Boer: and to the mature years of a large proportion of their officers the immunity from mishaps and the general success of many Colonial contingents were undoubtedly due. Apart from this is the fact that volunteer corps, with many men of good position in the ranks, do not relish being 'bossed' by very young officers.
The Lancers had some casualties about Carolina on 10th October 1900. They took part in General French's march from Machododorp to Heidelberg, 13th to 25th October 1900, and had a full share of the almost continuous fighting which took place throughout the fortnight. Speaking of 19th October, Colonel Yardley says: "Major Allenby, with the Inniskilling Dragoons, 2 guns and a pom-pom, fought a fine rearguard action, the Regiment bearing the brunt of the fighting. Captain Stevenson Hamilton's squadron did good work, also the NSW Lancers. The latter, which worked as a squadron of the Regiment, consistently rendered excellent service. They were a fine lot of men, and their officers — especially Major Lee, Captain Cox, and Lieutenant Heron—were hard to beat anywhere".
The following extract is gratifying as showing that many of our late enemies were people of fine feeling: "October 15. A NSW Lancer whom we left badly wounded at Carolina on our last occupation died a few days ago: the inhabitants reported that the enemy had buried him most reverently, numbers attending the funeral in tall hats and frock-coats. We found his grave beautifully decorated with flowers".
On 29th October Colonel Yardley says: "Major Lee with his squadron now left us on their return to New South Wales, greatly to our regret. Captain Cox, Second-in-Command, afterwards returned as Lieutenant Colonel of the New South Wales Mounted Rifles, and rendered admirable service for twelve months under Colonel Rimington".
The draft of Lancers which from force of circumstances was the first to go to the front from Australia represented the senior cavalry regiment of New South Wales, now the 1st Australian Light Horse (New South Wales Lancers). It was raised in 1883, first as Light Horse, but in 1885, after the return of the Contingent from the Soudan, it was converted into Lancers, as a compliment to the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, which were encamped with the New South Wales Artillery at Handoub. The uniform of that regiment was also adopted with slight variations; but a few years later it was relinquished for the distinctive drab with scarlet plastrons.
A squadron of 100, under Captain C. Cox, had proceeded to England in 1899, to take part in the annual military tournament at Islington, and for training at Aldershot; the expense of which was defrayed entirely by the regiment. Upon the war breaking out, permission to volunteer was cabled for and acceded to. The detail, with their horses, then proceeded to Cape Town, where they were enthusiastically received, equipped with the service uniform and accoutrements, and despatched to the scene of hostilities.
The subsequent drafts were supplied with horses, but in many instances spare chargers were taken.
Rates of pay (as sanctioned by G.O. 107, 21.10.99) " for members of Partially-paid or Volunteer Forces," were as follow :—Buglers and privates, 2s. 3d. per day, with 2s. 3d. deferred pay ; corporals, 4s. 9d. and 2s. 3d.; sergeants, 5s. 9d. and 2s. 3d.; company sergeant-majors or colour-sergeants, 6s. 3d. and 2s. 9d.; staff-sergeants, 6s. 6d. and 3s. 6d.; warrant officers, 7s. 6d. and 4s.; lieutenants, 16s. and 3s. deferred pay ; captains, 20s. and 3s. 6d.
N.C. officers and men of the Permanent Forces would receive, from date of landing, Imperial rates of pay in addition to existing rates.
"Separation allowance" was also granted to wives and families of N.C.O.'s and soldiers serving in South Africa, at varying rates according to rank. If in occupation of quarters or drawing lodging allowance, the wife received 4d. per diem ; for each girl under 16 years l|d. per diem ; each boy under 14 years, l|d. per diem. When not in occupation of quarters or receipt of lodging allowance, payment was made at rates varying from warrant officers' wives 2s. 3d. per diem, to privates' wives, Is. Id.
Pay was issued by the Imperial Government after the landing of Contingents at Imperial rates. These varied from lieutenant-colonel, 25s. per diem and 4s, field allowance, to subaltern, 15s. and 2s. 6d.; and from 9s., R. sergeant-major, to 5s. privates. Buglers, saddlers, and farriers, 1s. per diem extra.
The following was the establishment authorized for Lancer Contingent, in the first instance :—1 major (temporary), 1 captain, 3 subalterns, 1 Sq. S.M.,
1 Sq. Q.M.S., 2 staff-sergeants, 4 sergeants, 2 sergeant-farriers, 2 shoeing smiths,
2 buglers, 8 corporals, 97 privates, including cooks and batmen, 1 saddler. Total, 125.
Men volunteering were required to be from 20 to 40 years of age, preferably single, and good shots. Horses brought in had to be for M.I. work, and pass veterinary examination.
References to Orders.
Formation G.O., N.S.W 107/99
Pay 107/99, 112/99
Conditions of Service 107/99
Embarkation G.O., N.S.W 8/00, 22/00
Separation allowance 88/00
Clothing, Arms, Etc.
Uniform consisted of brown F.S. jacket and pants, with, puttees and hats. Arms and equipment: M.E. carbines, swords, shoulder bandoliers, waistbelt, and braces.
Fully horsed and provided with saddles. Also provided with regimental transport.
The first draft arrived at Cape Town from England on 2nd November, 1899 ; it consisted of 2 officers and 69 sergeants and rank and file, with their horses. Of these, 2 were killed or died, 2 were transferred to S.A.C., leaving 2 officers and 65 others, who returned.
The second draft left New South Wales on 28th October, 1899 ;*it consisted of 5 officers, 36 others, with 160 horses. Three were killed or died; 1 was transferred, 1 was commissioned in Imperial Army ; 4 officers and 32 others returned.
The third draft left New South Wales on 17th January, 1900 ; it consisted of 17 sergeants and rank and file, with 15 horses; 1 man was killed or died, 16 returned.
The fourth draft departed 16th February, 1900; it comprised 1 officer and 40 others. Total: 8 officers, 162 others, with 246 horses.
The squadron arrived home on 6th December, 1900, and 8th January, 1901.
From Lt Col P L Murray
The detachment of this regiment undergoing a course of training at Aldershot at the outbreak of the war volunteered for ac tive service in South Africa; the offer being accepted, they embarked on 10th October, 1899, and arrived at Cape Town 2nd November, 1899.
In order to complete and maintain the service establishment of the unit, detachments embarked at Sydney on transport Kent on 28th October, arriving at Cape Town 1st December; on transport Moravian on 17th January, arriving at Cape Town on 18th February; and on transport Australian on 16th February, arriving at Cape Town 19th March, 1900.
The Aldershot detachment after its arrival was attached to General French's command, and was employed on patrol duty in the Colesberg district. On the 6th December, the detachment, under Major Lee, with remounts for the whole squadron, arrived at Naauwpoort, Major Lee assuming the command of the squadron.
Present at capture of Arundel on 8th December, and took part in several minor actions in the vicinity.
A detachment of 28 men, under Lieutenant Osborne, temporarily attached to Lord Methuen's command, took part in the battles of Belmont, Grasspan, Modder River, and Magersfontein, and afterwards rejoined the squadron.
On 2nd January, 1900, a supply train was, by some means started from Rensburg Siding, and ran on a down grade close to the Boer position ; the squadron was ordered to recover or burn the trucks. As some of them were derailed, it was found impossible to recover them; they were, consequently, burned under a very heavy fire from the enemy.
On the 16th January a troop of Lancers and Australian Horse, under Lieutenant Dowling of the latter regiment, when returning to camp at Slingersfontein, was surrounded; and after a sharp fight, in which Sergeant-Major Griffin of the Australian Horse was killed, Corporal Kilpatrick of the Lancers mortally wounded, and Lieutenant Dowling and Trooper Roberts severely wounded, the patrol surrendered.
On the 7th February the squadron proceeded to Belmont, and on the 13th were attached to Scots Greys, forming part of the lst^Cavalry Brigade.
Present at the relief of Kimberly on 15th February, action at Dronfield on 16th February, and at the operations which led to the surrender of General Cronje at Paardeburg. Took part in the battle of Poplar Grove on 7th March, and assisted to turn the enemy's left flank.
Present at Dreifontein on 10th, and at the occupation of Bloemfontein on 12th March.
Captain Nicholson, with a detachment of 40 N.C. officers and men from New South Wales, joined on 5th May.
The squadron was now attached to the Inniskillings, under Major Allamby and took part in the advance on Pretoria. Kroonstadt was occupied on 12th May ; the Vaal River crossed on 24th May. Took part in heavy fighting at Klip River on 28th May, when Major Lee was complimented by General French on the excellent work of the squadron while with the advance guard.
Took part in operations in the vicinity of Johannesburg, including the severe action at Valkheuvel Poort on 3rd June, when the Australians were again thanked by General French for their gallant conduct.
Present at the release of prisoners at Waterval on the 6th June. On the 9th July reinforced General Hutton at Oliphantsfontein, and was engaged with the enemy on 11th and 12th.
Took part in various engagements in the eastern Transvaal, including LangKloof and Swartz Kop, also in the operations in the Carolina and Barberton districts.
The squadron embarked at Cape Town on transports Harlech Castle on 11th November, and Orient on 13th December, and arrived in Sydney on 6th December, 1900 and 8th January, 1901, calling at Albany, Adelaide, and Melbourne en route.
Belmont 23rd November, 1899
Grasspan 25th November, 1899
Modder River 28th November, 1899
Magersfontein 11th December, 1899
Arundel 13th January, 1900
Reit River 12th February, 1900
Klip Drift 13th February, 1900
Relief of Kimberly 15th February, 1900
Dronfield 16th February, 1900
Paardeburg 18th February, 1900, to 5th March, 1900
Poplar Grove 7th March, 1900
Dreifontein 10th March, 1900
Bloemfontein 12th March, 1900
Brandfort 29th March, 1900
Ventersburg road 10th May, 1900
Vanwyksrust 27th May, 1900
Doornkop 29th May, 1900
Valkheuvel Poort 3rd June, 1900
Diamond Hill 11th and 12th June, 1900
Olifantsfontein 11th and 12th July, 1900
Lang Kloof 26th August, 1900
Swartz Kop 27th August, 1900
Wartburg Hills 12th September, 1900
Barberton 13th September, 1900
Lake Chrissie 16th October, 1900
Mooiplaats 17th October, 1900
Ermelo 18th October, 1900
Reitvley 19th October, 1900
Bethel 20th October, 1900
Rooipoort 22nd October, 1900
Winklehadt 23rd October, 1900
Kaffir Kuil 24th October, 1900
Witkop 25th October, 1900
War Services and Honours.
Lee, Major, G. L.—Relief of Kimberley. Operations in Orange Free State, Transvaal, and Cape Colony, February, 1900, to November, 1900. Actions at Colesberg, Paardeburg, Poplar Grove, Driefontein, Zand River, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Diamond Hill, Lang Kloof, and Swartz Kop. Despatches, London Gazette, 10th September, 1901. D.S.O. Queen's Medal with six clasps.
Cox, Captain and Hon. Lieutenant-Colonel C. F.—Relief of Kimberley. Operations in Cape Colony, Orange Free State, and Transvaal, January, 1900, to November, 1900. Actions at Colesberg, Paardeburg, Poplar Grove, Driefontein, Karee Siding, Zand River, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Diamond Hill, Lang Kloof, and Swartz Kop. Despatches. London Gazette, 17th June, 1901. London Gazette, 26th June, 1902. C.B. Queen's Medal with six clasps. King's Medal with two clasps. (Lieut. -Colonel Cox subsequently commanded the 3rd New South Wales Mounted Rifles. Operations in Orange River Colony and Transvaal, 1901-1902.)
Nicholson, Lieutenant and Hon. Captain C. E.—Operations in Orange Free State and Transvaal, February, 1900, to November, 1900. Actions at Zand River, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Diamond Hills, Lang Kloof, and Swartz Kop. Queen's Medal with five clasps.
Allan, Lieutenant G. H.—As above. Queen's Medal with four clasps.
Osborne, 2nd Lieutenant S. F.—Relief of Kimberley. Operations as above, November, 1899, to August, 1900. Actions at Belmont, Modder River, Magersfontein, Paardeburg, Poplar Grove, Dreifontein, Karee Siding, Zand River, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Diamond Hill, Lang Kloof, and Swartz Kop. Queen's Medal with five clasps.
Roberts, 2nd Lieutenant C. W. P.—Relief of Kimberley. Operations as above, February, 1900, to April, 1900. Paardeburg, Poplar Grove, and Dreifontein. Queen's Medal with three clasps. Commission in Imperial Cavalry.
Heron, 2nd Lieutenant R. M.—Relief of Kimberley. Operations as above, February, 1900, to November, 1900. Actions at Paardeburg, Poplar Grove. Dreifontein, Karee Siding, Zand River, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Diamond Hill, Lang Kloof, and Swartz Kop. Queen's Medal with four clasps. (Lieutenant Heron served subsequently with 3rd Mounted Rifles as Captain.)
Melhuish, Vet. Lieutenant F. W.—Relief of Kimberley. Operations as above, February to November, 1900. Actions at Paardeburg, Karee Siding, Zand River, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Diamond Hill, Lang Kloof, and Swartz Kop. (Served subsequently with 2nd Mounted Rifles as Vet.-Captain.) Queen's Medal with five clasps. King's Medal with two clasps.
There were no promotions in South Africa.
Monday, 15th January.—About 5.15 p.m. I saw Colonel Porter with Warrant-Ofhcer Duncan and Private Buckholtz, 1st Australian Horse. The latter reported that Lieutenant Dowling's patrol had been surrounded and cut up, and that he was the only one who had escaped. Warrant-Officer Duncan and two others nad been detached by Lieutenant Dowling to examine Foster's farm, and so escaped.
The patrol had reconnoitred, according to instructions, and was about returning to camp when Warrant-Officer Duncan with two men was detached to examine Mr. Foster's farm at Kleinfontein. After doing so, he went in search of Lieutenant Dowling's party, failing to find them, he concluded they had returned to camp. At 4.30 p.m. I was informed that a New South Wales Lancer patrol had been cut up.
Upon examination it was found that Sqdn. Sergeant-Major Griffin, 1st Australian Horse, had been killed, and Corporal Kilpatrick, New South Wales Lancers, was found severely wounded through the lungs, and the lower jaw smashed.
Corporal Kilpatrick expired at 11 a.m.
One officer (Lieutenant Dowling) and 13 men are still missing.
Bloemfontein, 4th May, 1900.—Writing a full report is out of the question, as our position has been continually on the front of the Cavalry Brigade (1st), consequently we have not been off " perpetual motion." On arrival here we were on our last legs so far as clothing, cleanliness, and horses were concerned.
We have now been re-fitted afresh, and we start off on the second phase, viz., " Bloemfontein to Pretoria." So we now move off again with the 1st Cavalry Brigade, in the best of trim and spirits. The men are all old soldiers now, and will be very useful.
Jordan's Siding, near Kroonstadt, 15th May, 1900.—The night before leaving Springfield camp for marching northwards, Captain Nicholson marched into camp with 37 N.C.O.'s and men (38) of the New South Wales Lancers, and 39 horses. They had been sent on from Cape Town. We will march from here with about 8 officers and 92 N.C.O.'s and men.
I have pleasure in reporting the arrival of four cases of warm clothing, tobacco, chocolate, <fec, from Lady Hampden.
Three boxes of tobacco came from Lady Duff; six cases (puddings, pipes, chocolate, &c), from F. H. Dangar, Esq.
24th May (Queen's Birthday).—We crossed into Transvaal Territory in the afternoon. A few days' rest and we moved off again north-west for a similar move to the north of Pretoria.
We marched through the Megaliesberg range at Crocodile Pont, about 14 miles west of Pretoria. Then, turning to our right, we camped north of Pretoria some 5 or 6 miles.
The following day, 6th June, we went to " Waterval" and released the British prisoners, or rather, the prisoners released themselves by breaking out on the arrival of our advanced scouts. From the 6th June, we have been operating north-west of where we now camp.
Prisoners.—When the prisoners were released, our lot (who were captured on patrol), with the exception of Ford and Whittington who had escaped, were among the released. They all looked thin, and were destitute of clothing. After being released, a Court of Inquiry was held, and found they were free from all blame. It was the 1st Cavalry Brigade that rescued them, and our squadron was in the advance guard.
(It appeared that there were some 3,000 prisoners altogether; and that they hastened to join the British troops. The sight' was characterized by Col. Lee as "novel.")
Eureka City, 12 miles from Barberton, 21st September, 1900.—On the 9th July, our Brigade was suddenly ordered south, to the east of the railway line.
After the engagement with Botha, we kept moving eastward on the south side of the Delagoa railway fine, thence towards Carolina, where we joined with General Buller. After a few days there, we moved north (leaving General Buller), keeping Belfast on our right. Our arrival at Waterval-Onder station caused the Boers to release the prisoners (except officers) they had at Noitegacht. Returning through ilachadodorp, we re-entered Carolina. Just before reaching here, Trooper Avard (New South Wales Lancers) was shot through the kidneys, and died some time afterwards.
Wittekop Farm, 15 miles east of Heidelberg, 25th October, 1900.—We have just reached this place from Barberton. Returning, we stayed a few days at Machadodorp, and then moved off towards this place, via Carolina, Ermelo, and Bethel. We were fighting from Carolina, a rear-guard action, right up to here. I had two men wounded. The casualties on the march to here are over 100.