This corps was formed towards the close of 1899. Its greatest strength was about three squadrons, but it afterwards fell much in numbers. The corps was commanded by Captain Bettelheim, and was composed of men selected for knowledge of the country and its ways.
French's Scouts did fine work throughout two years' campaigning, generally in the districts in which the great cavalry leader after whom they were called was operating, but the whole of the corps were not always with General French; as, for example, while he was relieving Kimberley part of the Scouts went with him, but another portion was left in the Colesberg district with General Clements, under whom they fought and suffered some losses in February 1900.
When the advance from Bloemfontein to Pretoria was undertaken French's Scouts accompanied the cavalry, operating on the left flank. They were present at Diamond Hill, 11th to 13th June, where they had several casualties. After that they undertook many very daring reconnaissances north and east of Pretoria. In July 1900 the corps was in the forefront of the advance along the Delagoa line, and afterwards in the movements to Barberton in September (see Imperial Light Horse) and to Heidelberg in October. Having operated for a time in the central district, they took part in the great sweeping movement in the first quarter of 1901 to the eastern border of the Transvaal. During all these months of constant fighting their losses had been wonderfully few when the extremely dangerous nature of their tasks is borne in mine the evil day was to come. The corps had been back to Cape Colony, and near Bethesda, on August 1901, they lost Sergeant Stacey killed, the commander, Captain Bettelheim, Lieutenant C de V Duff, Sergeant Major Chiazzari, and several men wounded.
The Mentions gained by the corps were:—
LORD ROBERTS' DESPATCHES: 31st March 1900, for relief of Kimberley and advance to Bloemfontein.—Sergeant A K Green and Private W S Penny.
2nd April 1901.—Captain Bettelheim; Sergeant (now Lieutenant) A K Green, Private W S Penny.
LORD KITCHENER'S DESPATCH: 8th May 1901.—Lieutenant F Maxwell, for coolness and courage with which he extricated a patrol on 16th June. Sergeant Major Chiazzari, at Kalabashfontein, 10th June, rendered most valuable service by holding a ridge with a small party.
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