Слике страница
[graphic][ocr errors]


The column moved up to Van Wyk's Vlei, where it was detained some time owing to heavy rains. Here Gunner Bradley, the first of the Second Contingent to give up his life, died from pneumonia brought on by being nearly drowned while watering his horse. Early in April, the rebels having been dispersed, the column was back at Carnarvon. On the 8th it was ordered to march across country and report at De Aar. This it did on the 14th, and the whole of the Second Contingent was brought together for the first time, except C Battery, which had gone up the coast. A few days later the Mounted Rifles were sent on to Bloemfontein, and the Artillery left to do duty at the base.

The Mounted Rifles were glad to be ordered up to the front. At Bloemfontein they passed under the command of General Hutton, recently G.O.C. in Canada, and formed part of the mounted brigade which he so skilfully led to Pretoria. On May 3rd the mounted Canadians first came under under fire at Bisiebult, west of Brandfort. Next day they saw fighting at Constantia, and the next at the Vet River. Here Lieuts. Borden and Turner, with five men, swam the river to reconnoitre, and were credited with being the first British soldiers on the territory north of that stream. On the 12th A Squadron and the 17th Lancers were the first troops into Kroonstadt, where they met the other Canadians, who had, without horses, covered an almost equal distance and passed through nearly the same territory.

This march included a series of six engagements, and in every one the Canadian Mounted Rifles proved themselves efficient and reliable soldiers. Mr. Ewan, the Globe correspondent, accounts for the small number of casualties by the fact that our men under fire were not inclined to huddle together as British troops do. Their lack of drill discipline and their greater intelligence and self-reliance made them different from the British troops, and this very difference made their los

ses much less numerous.

Major Forrester, R.C.D., who went out with the First Contingent was with the Mounted Rifles in this march. Lieut.-Col. Evans was in command of the Westerners, owing to the necessity of Colonel Herchmer retiring to Capetown from Carnarvon. The latter was in hospital for a time at the base, but afterwards went to Kroonstadt to take command. General Hutton, however, preferred to keep Col. Evans in command, and Col. Herchmer was invalided home. It would seem that the latter's treatment

has been ungenerous. The Canadian authorities, however, cannot be blamed if General Hutton chose to prefer a younger man to command troops which were intended for dashing and daring movements.


We left the Royal Canadians at Bloemfontein. It was April 21st before they permanently moved out of their camp on Bloemfontein Common. They were then 637 strong. Three days later they assisted in the occupation of the Waterworks. The next day they formed the advance guard in the attack on Yster Nek, a strategic position in the maze of hills to the east. They were thus in the centre, and made the frontal attack. They performed their work well, but had one killed and several wounded. It was here that Col. Otter nearly lost his life. He was struck in the neck by a bullet which passed close to the jugular vein.

On the 26th the division moved on to Thabanchu, the R. C. F. I. under command of Col. Buchan. On the 30th they were a little to the north, and took part in the attack on Taba Mountain, an engagement which lasted nearly all day, and was continued on the next (May Day). Their losses here were two killed, one being a son of Lieut.-Col. Cotton, and six wounded.

On May 3rd the division started north, as one of the easterly columns of Roberts' general advance on Kroonstadt. On the 4th they were at the

[graphic][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


Vet River, and next day at Winberg. In thirteen days they had marched 100 miles and taken part in nine engagements. Here they were joined by the "draft," which had been following them. Here also they left sixty-nine men in Hospital, and the battalion was reorganized. On the 9th they advanced, and on the 10th again had serious fighting, losing one killed and three wounded. This is an indication of the work they were called upon to perform all the way to Kroonstadt and then on to Johannesburg. So arduous had been the task that when that city was taken they were sent to do garrison duty at Springs, a railway terminus just east of Johannesburg, in order that they might have time to recuperate. Even here their luck for fightind did not leave them, and they were obliged to withstand a heavy attack. Needless to say they "kept the flag flying."

at Cape Town it was at once sent on up the coast to Beira, and attached to the garrison at Marandellas camp, in Mashonaland. On May 5th it left there, and went by train to Buluwayo, some three hundred miles. The next day it again proceeded by train, and on the 12th reached Ootsi. Three days later it had marched the seventy miles separating it from Col. Plumer's camp, and was ready for action. The next day, after twenty-four hours' rest, it took part in the four hours' battle before Mafeking and marched twentyfive miles with the relief column, entering Mafeking on May 17th.

This battery received praise from Lord Roberts for its speed, and acquitted itself well in its first engagement. From Mafeking it was in the advance east to Pretoria. After a month's hard work it was reported at Rustfontein just west of Pretoria, where the first battalion C.M. R. was then on duty.


To return to the artillery. When C Battery, under Major Hudon, arrived

D and E Batteries, under Col. Drury, were for a long time on the line of communications about De Aar. On May 16th, the day C Battery was engaged before Mafeking, E Battery was leaving Belmont for Douglas, forming part of Sir Charles Warren's punitive column marching into Griqualand. Major Ogilvie was in command of this battery. On Warren's staff were also Lieut.-Col. Hughes, Brigadier of one of the two columns, Surgeon-Major Worthington, Vet.Major Massie, Capt. Mackie, of Warren's Scouts, and Capt. Duffus, A.S. C.-all Canadians. This column saw considerable action. On May 21st it

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« ПретходнаНастави »