This artillery unit which was called a battery, though consisting of only two guns, was raised in Pietermaritzburg early in September, 1899, for service in the Anglo-Boer War. It comprised two 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns on field carriages, which were man-handled although adapted for animal draught. Their projectiles were grape, common and armour-piercing shell. The Commander was Captain Walker, of Pietermartizburg. and the strength was 25, all ranks.

The unit went forward to Ladysmith before the out-break of the war and was attached to the Natal Naval Volunteers for several weeks. Then it was attached as a brigade unit to the Natal Volunteer Brigade, later being posted on Wagon Hill, under the command of the Imperial General Officer Commanding that sector of the defences.

During the heavy attack by the Boer forces on Wagon Hill and Caesar's Camp, on 6th January, 1900, the guns were rushed early in the morning and captured by the enemy who tried to use them against the defenders, but their efforts were ineffective. Some fierce fighting took place around the guns in attempts to recover them, and it was not till the end of the day that they were retaken by the Gordon Highlanders and Imperial Light Horse, and then re-used against the retiring enemy at a range of a few yards, doing much execution with grape shot. The unit sustained casualties of two killed and five wounded.

The officer, Captain Walker, having later become a casualty by illness, the unit was commanded by the senior sergeant until it was disbanded. After the relief of the town the battery was attached to Colonel Bethune's force, and took part in fighting about Scheeper's Nek, in the eastern Transvaal, in May, 1900. This type of gun, with its small calibre, light projectile and comparatively short effective range of 3,500 yards, was found of little practical use, and the unit was disbanded when the Natal Volunteer Force was demobilised in November, 1900. Several of the personnel then joined the Natal Volunteer Composite Regiment, in which they served till the end of the war.

Source: Short History Of The Volunteer Regiments Of Natal And East Griqualand, Past and Present. Compiled by Colonel Godfrey T Hurst, DSO OBE VD, Honorary Colonel of the Natal Mounted Rifles.

A Hotchkiss gun detachment was in October 1899 raised on very short notice at Pietermaritzburg for service in the war, mobilised 21 strong, guns two 3-pounder Hotchkiss drawn by mules, sent to Ladysmith.

When the siege of Ladysmith commenced the following were part of the garrison:




Volunteer Staff, including Medical and Veterinary



Natal Carbineers



Border Mounted Rifles



Natal Mounted Rifles



Natal Naval Volunteers



Hotchkiss Detachment



Natal Police





Source: Colonials in South Africa by J Stirling

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(54 Records)

 Surname   Forename/inits   Regimental no   Rank   Notes 
BannisterWGunnerJoined after the siege
BodtkerF R GunnerServed in the Defence of Ladysmith Killed in action 6 Jan 00
BodtkerF RGunnerDemise: Killed in action 06 Jan 1900
Place: Ladysmith Wagon Hill
Source: In Memoriam by S Watt
BodtkerF R6GunnerQSA (1) DoL
Provisional list of recipients
Source: Ladysmith Siege Account and Medal Roll
ButlerP H J LieutenantServed in the Defence of Ladysmith
ButlerP J H2LieutenantQSA (1) DoL
Provisional list of recipients
Source: Ladysmith Siege Account and Medal Roll
CampbellS D CorporalJooined after the siege as a gunner
CoyleG C GunnerServed in the Defence of Ladysmith
CoyleG C8GunnerQSA (3) DoL Tr LN
Provisional list of recipients
Source: Ladysmith Siege Account and Medal Roll
CoyleH E GunnerServed in the Defence of Ladysmith
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Category: South African units
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