The 1st Battalion sailed on the Canada about 1st December 1899 and arrived at the Cape about 20th December. Along with the 2nd Royal Lancaster, 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, and 1st York and Lancaster Regiment, they formed the 11th Brigade under Major General Woodgate, and part of the Vth Division under Lieutenant General Sir Charles Warren. The work of the brigade is sketched under the 2nd Royal Lancaster, and that of the Natal Army generally under the 2nd Queen's, Royal West Surrey.
At Venter's Spruit, 20th to 22nd January 1900, the 11th Brigade were on the right. The Royal Lancaster and South Lancashire Regiments were not so heavily engaged as the Lancashire Fusiliers and York and Lancaster, the casualties in the South Lancashire Regiment from the 19th to the 23rd being about 20.
On the night of the 23rd Spion Kop was taken, part of the battalion being in General Woodgate's force, —unofficial accounts say two companies, but the despatches take no notice of their existence beyond announcing their casualties, which were severe for the small number engaged. The losses on the Spion were 2 officers and 3 men killed, 22 wounded, and some missing.
On 5th February the brigade made the feint attack on Brakfontein.
After the failure at Vaal Krantz the Royal Lancaster and South Lancashire Regiments went with General Buller to the old position at Chieveley, the other two battalions remaining behind to watch the British left and rear.
The South Lancashire took part in the fighting between the 13th and 27th February, having at times a very prominent part. On the 22nd, when General Wynne was endeavouring to capture the hills between Onderbrook and Langerwachte Spruits, the South Lancashires led in the chief assault. Many positions were captured, including the "principal objective"; but the crest could not be held, the fire from other surrounding positions being so severe. The situation must have reminded some of the never-to-be-forgotten 24th of January. General Wynne was wounded on 22nd February.
The brigade, now under Major General F Kitchener, with the West Yorkshire in place of the Composite Rifle Battalion, which had been temporarily in the brigade, had very hard work on the 27th February (see 2nd Queen's and 2nd Royal Lancaster). In the quotation from Sir Redvers Buller's despatch, already given under the latter regiment, it will be seen that he specially mentions the South Lancashire Regiment and the loss of their colonel, "who fell while gallantly leading his regiment". In his telegraphic despatch of 28th February General Buller says, "The enemy's main position was magnificently carried by the South Lancashire Regiment about sunset". Between 13th and 27th February the South Lancashires lost 1 officer and 10 men killed, and 3 officers and 81 men wounded.
Five officers and 11 men were mentioned in despatches for the relief operations, 2 men being recommended for the distinguished conduct medal.
Like the rest of the Vth Division, the South Lancashire Regiment took part in General Hildyard's march from Ladysmith to Newcastle, his operations in the Wakkerstroom district, in the taking of Botha's Pass, and the turning of Laing's Nek.
In General Buller's final despatch of 9th November 1900, 6 officers, 1 non-commissioned officer, and 1 private were mentioned; and in Lord Roberts' final despatch 10 officers and 15 non-commissioned officers and men.
After the battle of Alleman's Nek the division was chiefly employed about the north of Natal and southeast of the Transvaal; and when Major Gough's force of 200 Mounted Infantry was ambushed at Blood River on 17th September the battalion lost 8 wounded and 17 men taken prisoners.
In the splendid defence of Fort Itala (see 2nd Royal Lancaster) the South Lancashire shared the heavy losses and the resultant glory. Out of 21 men killed 7 belonged to the battalion, and in addition they had 9 wounded.
One officer and 1 man were mentioned in despatches for good work at Fort Itala, and 1 private for Blood River. In the final despatch 6 officers and 4 non-commissioned officers were mentioned.
See the forum posts on the South Lancashire Regiment.
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