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Title: With the Naval Brigade in Natal (1899-1900) - Journal of Active Service
Author: Burne, C. R. N. (Charles Richard Newdigate)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "With the Naval Brigade in Natal (1899-1900) - Journal of Active Service" ***

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[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all
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[Illustration: Twenty thousand men encamped under General Buller.]



                 Journal of Active Service

V.C., G.C.B.


                    LIEUTENANT BURNE, R.N.

                        EDWARD ARNOLD



This Journal, completed before leaving the front in October, 1900,
does not assume to be more than a somewhat rough and unadorned record
of my personal experiences during ten months of the South African
(Boer) Campaign of 1899-1900 while in detached command of two
12-pounder guns of H.M.S. _Terrible_ and H.M.S. _Tartar_. Having been
asked by some of my friends to publish it, I am emboldened to do so,
in the hope that the Journal may be of interest to those who read it,
as giving some idea of work done by a Naval Brigade when landed for
service at a most critical time. A few notes on Field Gunnery are
appended with a view to give to others a few ideas which I picked up
while serving with the guns on shore, after a previous experience as
Gunnery Lieutenant in H.M.S _Thetis_ and _Cambrian_.

For the photographs given I must record my thanks to Lieutenant
Clutterbuck, R.N., Mr. Hollins, R.N., and other kind friends.


_April_, 1902.


    Outbreak of the war -- The Transport Service and
    despatch of Army Corps from Southampton -- Departure of
    a Naval Brigade from England and landing at Capetown and
    Durban -- I join H.M.S. _Philomel_                            1-10


    I depart for the front with a Q.-F. Battery from H.M.S.
    _Terrible_ -- Concentration of General Buller's army at
    Frere and Chieveley -- Preliminary bombardment of the
    Boer lines at Colenso -- The attack and defeat at
    Colenso -- Christmas Day in camp                             11-21


    Life in Camp and Bombardment of the Boer lines at
    Colenso -- General Buller moves his army, and by a flank
    march seizes "Bridle Drift" over the Tugela -- The heavy
    Naval and Royal Artillery guns are placed in position --
    Sir Charles Warren crosses the Tugela with the 5th
    Division, and commences his flank attack                     22-32


    Spion Kop and Vaal Krantz -- General Buller withdraws
    the troops and moves once more on Colenso -- We hold
    Springfield Bridge -- Buller's successful attack on
    Hussar Hill, Hlangwane, and Monte Christo -- Relief of
    Kimberley                                                    33-44


    Passage of Tugela forced and Colenso occupied -- Another
    move back across the river to Hlangwane and Monte
    Christo -- The Boers at length routed and Ladysmith is
    relieved -- Entry of Relief Force into Ladysmith --
    Withdrawal of H.M.S. _Terrible's_ men to China -- I
    spend a bad time in Field Hospital--General Buller's
    army moves forward to Elandslaagte -- Boers face us on
    the Biggarsberg                                              45-58


    End of three weary months at Elandslaagte -- A small
    Boer attack -- The advance of General Buller by
    Helpmakaar on Dundee -- We under General Hildyard
    advance up the Glencoe Valley -- Retreat of the Boers to
    Laing's Nek -- Occupation of Newcastle and Utrecht -- We
    enter the Transvaal -- Concentration of the army near
    Ingogo -- Naval guns ascend Van Wyk, and Botha's Pass is
    forced -- Forced march through Orange Colony -- Victory
    at Almond's Nek -- Boers evacuate Majuba and Laing's Nek
    -- Lord Roberts enters Pretoria -- We occupy Volksrust
    and Charlestown                                              59-72


    Majuba Hill in 1900 -- We march on Wakkerstroom and
    occupy Sandspruit -- Withdrawal of H.M.S. _Forte's_ men
    and Naval Volunteers from the front -- Action under
    General Brocklehurst at Sandspruit -- I go to hospital
    and Durban for a short time -- Recover and proceed to
    the front again -- Take command of my guns at Grass Kop
    -- Kruger flies from Africa in a Dutch man-of-war --
    Many rumours of peace                                        73-86


    Still holding Grass Kop with the Queen's -- General
    Buller leaves for England -- Final withdrawal of the
    Naval Brigade, and our arrival at Durban -- Our
    reception there -- I sail for England -- Conclusion         87-100


    Gunnery Results: The 12-pounder Q.-F. Naval gun -- Its
    mounting, sighting, and methods of firing--The Creusot
    3"-gun and its improvements -- Shrapnel fire and the
    poor results obtained by the Boers -- Use of the
    Clinometer and Mekometer -- How to emplace a Q.-F. gun,
    etc., etc.                                                 101-120


    Hints on Equipment and Clothing for Active Service         121-128


    Extracts from some of the Despatches, Reports, and
    Telegrams regarding operations mentioned in this Journal   129-145


    Diary of the Boer War up to October 25th, 1900             146-152


    The Navy and the War: A Résumé of Officers and Men mentioned
    in Despatches for the Operations in Natal                  153-156


                                                     _To face page_

  A BATTERY CROSSING THE LITTLE TUGELA                        8



  NAVAL GUNS IN ACTION AT COLENSO                            22

  LIEUT. BURNE'S GUNS FIRING AT SPION KOP                    34

  4.7 EMPLACED ON HLANGWANE                                  34

  COLT GUN AT HLANGWANE FIRING AT BOERS                      48


  4.7 ON A BAD BIT OF ROAD                                   70

  BRINGING IN A BOER PRISONER                                82

  IN CAMP AT GRASS KOP                                       82

  ONE OF LIEUT. HALSEY'S NAVAL 12-POUNDERS                   82

  LIEUT.-GENERAL SIR H. J. T. HILDYARD, K.C.B.               95

  CAPTAIN PERCY SCOTT, C.B., R.N.                           102

  NAVAL 12-POUNDER EMPLACED                                 120

  BOER GUN POSITIONS AT COLENSO                             120

  CAPTAIN E. P. JONES, R.N.                                 154

  MAP                                                    _at end_



     Outbreak of the war -- The Transport Service and despatch of Army
     Corps from Southampton -- Departure of a Naval Brigade from
     England and landing at Capetown and Durban -- I join H.M.S.

During a short leave of absence in Scotland, after my return from
Flag-Lieutenant's service in India with Rear-Admiral Archibald L.
Douglas, that very kind friend, now Lord of the Admiralty, appointed
me (5th October, 1899) to the Transport Service at Southampton, in
connection with the embarkation of the various Army Corps for the war
in South Africa. As the summons came by wire, I had to leave Stirling
in a hurry, collect my various goods and chattels in London, and make
the best of my way to Southampton. I reported myself at the Admiralty
Transport Office on Monday the 9th, and at once commenced work,
visiting certain ships with Captain Barnard, the Port Transport
Officer, and picking up the "hang" of the thing, and what was wanted.
Captain Graham-White, R.N., came down in the afternoon to take charge
of our proceedings. From that date up to the 22nd, or thereabouts, we
Transport Lieutenants simply had charge of certain vessels fitting
out, and had to inspect for the Admiralty the many freight and
transport ships which came in from other centres, such as London,
Liverpool, etc., to be officially passed at Southampton; among others
the _Goorkha_ and _Gascon_, two Union Liners, came particularly under
me, and I shall always remember the courtesy of their officials,
particularly Captain Wait and the indefatigable Mr. Langley, who saw
that we transport officers were well looked after on board each day.
Everything in connection with this Line seemed to me during my time at
Southampton to be very well done, and so our work went swimmingly.

Besides myself were Lieutenants McDonald, Nelson, and Crawford, R.N.,
as Transport Officers, and we co-operated with a staff of military
officers under Colonel Stacpole, D.A.A.G., with whom we got on very
well, so that we ran the work through quickly and without a hitch. Sir
Redvers Buller left Southampton in the _Dunottar Castle_ on the 15th
October, and we all saw him off; in fact, McDonald and I represented
the Admiralty at the final inspection of the ship before sailing.
There was, of course, a scene of great enthusiasm, and many people
were there, among whom were Sir Michael Culme Seymour, Alexander
Sinclair his Flag-Lieutenant, and Lady and Miss Fullerton. All this
time we were more than busy inspecting and getting ships ready up to
the 22nd, when the departure of the First Army Corps commenced; we got
away five transports that day within half an hour of each other, all
taking some 1,500 men; they were, if my memory serves me, the _Malta_,
_Pavonia_, _Hawarden Castle_, _Roslin Castle_, and _Yorkshire_; the
next few days we did similar work from 8 a.m. till dark, getting away
about three ships a day on an average.

During the week Commander Heriz, R.N., and myself, representing the
Admiralty, inspected the hospital ships _Spartan_ and _Trojan_ before
their start; they had been fitted out under the Commander's
superintendence, and were perfect; in fact, one almost wished to be a
sick man to try them! All these continued departures aroused great
public interest; on one day we had the Commander-in-Chief (Lord
Wolseley), Lord Methuen, Sir William Gatacre, and many other Generals;
and on another the Duke of Connaught came to see the 1st Bn. Scots
Guards off in the _Nubia_ and gave them a message from the Queen; he
came again a few days later to see his old regiment, the Rifle
Brigade, off in the _German_, and he and the Transport Officers were
photographed many times. I was told afterwards that my own portrait
appeared very often in the cinematographs of these scenes, which were
then very popular and were exhibited to crowded audiences in all the
London and Provincial Music Halls and elsewhere. I was very pleased on
this occasion to meet my old First Lieutenant of the _Cambrian_, now
Commander Mark Kerr, R.N., who was also seeing the Rifle Brigade off
with a party of relatives whom I took over the _Kildonan Castle_.

Here I may mention, to show the different rates of speed, that the
_German_ carrying the Rifle Brigade, actually arrived at Capetown some
hours after the _Briton_ (in which I myself left later on for South
Africa), although it started ten days before us. I have very pleasant
recollections of being associated with Major Edwards of the Berkshire
Regiment in embarking the Reserves of the 3rd Bn. Grenadier Guards in
the _Goorkha_, which ship I had been superintending for so long; I was
able to get their Commanding Officer, Major Kincaid, two good cabins,
for which I think he was much obliged to me. These Reserves were going
to Gibraltar to pick up the main Battalions of their regiment which
took part later on (3rd and 4th November) in Lord Methuen's actions at
Belmont and Graspan.

After the 27th October the transport ships left Southampton in ones
and twos, and we were not so hard pushed; in fact, the work was
becoming rather monotonous, till, on the evening of the 2nd November,
our Secretary, Mr. Alton, R.N., rushed up to me with a wire telling me
to be prepared immediately to leave for the Cape. I was very pleased,
and thought myself extremely lucky to get out to the scene of war with
a chance of going to the front; and after saying a hurried good-bye to
all my friends I left Southampton on the 4th November in the _Briton_;
my father[1] saw me off and gave me some letters of introduction; Lord
Wolseley also kindly wrote about me to Sir Redvers Buller; all my old
colleagues of the Transport Service gave me a most cordial send-off,
and we steamed out of the docks about 7 p.m. in heavy rain, which did
not, however, damp the enthusiasm of hundreds of people who waited to
see the last of us. In saying farewell to the Transport Service I
could not help thinking how much courtesy and assistance we transport
officers received from the captains and officers of all the ships
under our inspection, and how much we admired their keen feeling and
hard work in the interests of the public service. I hope this may be
recognised when war rewards are given.

         [Footnote 1: General Sir Owen Tudor Burne.]

Our voyage was a good one, being calm enough after the first day, and
all going well up to Madeira (where I landed for the sixth time) as
well as on the onward voyage in which we went through the usual
routine of ship life until we arrived at the Cape on Monday, 20th
November. The Bay was full of transports, and they seemed still to be
pouring in every hour; we did not hear much news except that
Ladysmith was still safe, and we at once entrained for Simon's Bay, a
pretty train journey of about an hour and a half, where the fleet were
lying. Now commenced the bad luck of the Brigade "wot never landed,"
we all got drafted to various ships instead of going to the front in a
body as we had hoped and expected, and my lot was to join the flagship
_Doris_. Much to our disappointment a Naval Brigade had been landed
the day before our arrival for Lord Methuen's force; we ourselves were
therefore regarded for the moment as hardly wanted, and the Admiral
was, we were told, dead against landing any more sailors. So we were
both afflicted and depressed. I had, however, a pleasant time on the
_Doris_, and found myself senior watch keeper on board. At night many
precautions were taken in the fleet; guards were landed in the
dockyard with orders to fire on any suspicious boat, and a patrol boat
steamed round the fleet all night up to daylight with similar orders;
we ourselves often went on shore for route marching and company drill
and had a grand time.

I may mention, in passing, that all the bluejackets who were landed at
Simon's Bay for shore duty were fitted with khaki suits, viz., tunics
and trousers and hat covers, drawn from the military stores. With the
trousers the men wore brown gaiters, and each man was provided with
two pairs of service boots; they all wore their white straw hats
fitted with khaki covers and looked very workmanlike in heavy marching
order. The Marines also wore khaki and helmets, and had stripes of
marine colours (red, blue and yellow) on the helmets to distinguish
the Corps. Each batch of bluejackets that were sent to the front,
about twelve men in a batch, was allowed two canvas bags to hold spare
clothes and other gear, and took three days' provisions and water. The
haversacks were all stained khaki with Condy's fluid, and the guns
were all painted khaki colour.

We saw a great many people at Capetown, and while there, Colonel
Gatcliffe, Royal Marines, the head Press censor, told Morgan and
myself a lot of instructive facts about the work at the Telegraph
Offices, and how all foreign telegrams in cipher to South Africa
giving news to the Boers, as well as those from them, had been
stopped. Some 300 telegrams sent after Elandslaagte by Boer agents at
Capetown had been thus suppressed. When we saw Colonel Gatcliffe he
was busily engaged passing telegrams, which had to be read and signed
by him at the Telegraph Office before they were allowed to be

All went well at Simon's Bay until November 24th, when we heard of
Lord Methuen's fight and heavy casualties at Belmont, followed soon by
news of the heavy loss (105 killed and wounded) incurred by the Naval
Brigade at Graspan chiefly among the marines. I think that the general
idea in the fleet was admiration for our comrades and gratitude to
Lord Methuen for giving the Navy a chance of distinction; but I am
told these views were not shared by our Chief. A force of forty seamen
and fifty marines were now ordered off to the front at once to fill up
these casualties. Naturally we all wanted to go, but the Admiral could
not send us and drafted us off to various ships, my own destination
being H.M.S. _Philomel_, then at Durban, which I reached in the
transport _Idaho_, a Wilson Liner. We had on board a Field Battery and
other details with six guns and 250 horses. I was much interested in
the horses, who had a fine deck to themselves and were very fit; they
were in fact _'Bus_ horses, and very good ones.

There were some Highland officers and others on board who had been
wounded and were now going back to Natal after recovery; they told us
how cunning the Boers were in selecting positions; one saw nothing of
them, they said, on a hill but the muzzle of their rifles; they are
only killed in retreat; they pick out any dark object as a man, such
as a great-coat, training their rifles on it so as to fire directly he
rises and advances. One of the officers told us how he saw at
Elandslaagte a Scotchman who had been put by the Boers in their firing
line with his hands tied behind his back because he had refused to
fight for them; apparently the man escaped uninjured and was taken
prisoner with the rest after the fight by our Lancers, swearing when
liberated many oaths of vengeance on the Boers. Colonel Sheil told one
of our officers, Commander Dundas, who was in charge of him and other
prisoners on board the _Penelope_ at Simon's Bay, that the only fault
of our men was their rashness, and our Cavalry did not, he said, throw
out sufficient scouting parties, missing himself and others on one
occasion by not doing so; the Boers had not reckoned, he said, on
Naval guns being landed, and placed great reliance on European
interference. In his opinion, the war would be over the moment we
entered Boer territory, and everything seemed at the moment to point
to this conclusion. These Boer prisoners, who were all got at
Elandslaagte, talked English well, and appeared, by all accounts, to
have a good feeling and respect for the English, but they were very
down upon the capitalists and others whom they blamed for the war.

To-day, at sea, as I write this (28th November), a S.E. breeze makes
it delightfully cool. Indeed, I found the climate of Capetown,
although the hot weather was beginning, delightful; a regular
champagne air and a very hot sun, yet altogether a nice dry heat which
quickly brought all the skin off my face at Simon's Bay after one
day's march with the Battalion up the hills. I expect to find Natal
much damper, and no doubt it will be very wet and cold at night in the
hill country.

_Thursday, 30th November._--The wind which has been blowing in our
teeth has now moderated, so we may reach Durban earlier than we hoped,
as we are only about 300 miles off. I watched the battery horses being
exercised and fed this morning; they are mostly well accustomed to the
ship's motion, but it is amusing sometimes to see about a dozen
stalwart gunners shoving the horses behind to get them back to their
stalls and eventually conquering after much energy and language, and
after desperate resistance on the part of the horses; these old 'Bus
horses are strong and fit, and have very good decks forward and aft
for their half-hour exercise each day; while they are exercising,
their stalls are cleaned out and scrubbed with chloride of lime. It is
most interesting to watch their eagerness to go to their food, for
they are always hungry!

[Illustration: A Battery crossing the Little Tugela.]

[Illustration: Naval Battery of 4.7's and 12-pounders at Durban.]

_Friday, 1st December._--We arrived at Durban at 5 a.m. and anchored
in the roadstead. In the Bay are H.M.S. _Terrible_ and _Forte_; also a
Dutch man-of-war, the _Friesland_, a fine looking cruiser; there are
also eleven transports at anchor. Inside the Bay are the _Philomel_
(my ship) and _Tartar_, besides a lot of other transports, including
my old friend the _Briton_. Durban is a striking place from the sea;
very green and cultivated, and with rows of houses extending along a
high ridge overlooking the town. It all looks very pretty and one
might fancy one's self in England. A strong breeze is blowing, so it
is quite cool. An officer from the _Forte_ tells us that Estcourt is
relieved and that the Boers are massing south of Colenso ready for a
big fight. Our army have apparently to bridge some ravines before
advancing. The guns of the _Forte_ and _Philomel_ are at Estcourt
with landing parties. Commander Dundas and Lieutenants Buckle and
Dooner join the _Forte_ and I join the _Philomel_. Tugs came out at 1
p.m. and took us in over the bar; we passed close to the _Philomel_
and were heartily cheered; then we went alongside the jetty, where
staff officers came on board with orders. Commander Holland (Indian
Marine) is here in charge of Naval transport and is an old
acquaintance, as we met last year at Bombay. I got on board the
_Philomel_ without delay and found myself Captain of her, as her
Captain (Bearcroft) had gone to take the Flag-Captain's place with
Lord Methuen's force, and Halsey, the First Lieutenant, was at
Estcourt with some 12-pounder guns. About thirty men of the _Philomel_
are on shore under two officers, and one of her 4.7 guns is up at
Ladysmith. I hear that all guns north of Pietermaritzburg are under
command of Captain Jones, R.N., of the _Forte_; and, in fact, all the
ships here at present, viz., the _Terrible_, _Forte_, _Philomel_, and
_Tartar_, have landing parties at the front.

I reported myself to Commander F. Morgan, senior officer of the
_Tartar_, who was pleased to see me as he is an old friend, I having
served with him in 1894 in the Royal yacht (_Victoria and Albert_),
from which we were both promoted on the same day (28th August, 1894).
I also called on the Commandant of Durban, Captain Percy Scott of the
_Terrible_, at his headquarter office in the town. I found him busily
engaged in making-up plans and photos of Durban, as well as his
designs for field and siege mountings for the 4.7 and 12-pounder guns,
to forward to Admiral Douglas, my late Commander-in-Chief; he showed
them to me, and ordered me to take over command of the _Philomel_ for
the present. I have met a lot of old friends, and find the ship itself
clean, smart, and comfortable. The weather is changeable and very
hot. Captain Scott has ordered martial law in the town, and everyone
found in the streets after 11 p.m. is locked up. The story goes that
Captain Scott himself was locked up one night by mistake!

_Tuesday, 5th December._--Captain Scott sent on board a kind letter
from the Governor of Natal (Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson) who has spoken
to Sir Redvers Buller about me. An early advance is expected on
Colenso, and it seems on the cards that some strategic move will soon
be made to outflank the Boers and commence relief operations on behalf
of poor Ladysmith.


     I depart for the front with a Q.-F. Battery from H.M.S.
     _Terrible_ -- Concentration of General Buller's army at Frere and
     Chieveley -- Preliminary bombardment of the Boer lines at Colenso
     -- The attack and defeat at Colenso -- Christmas Day in camp.

On the 6th December there was much rejoicing in the fleet on account
of an order from Headquarters that a battery of eight Naval guns was
to go to the front to reinforce Sir Redvers Buller. Lieutenant Ogilvy,
of the _Terrible_, was appointed to command, while Melville of the
_Forte_, Deas of the _Philomel_, and myself, were the next fortunate
three who were to accompany it. The battery, drilled and previously
prepared by Captain Scott and Lieutenant Drummond, entrained the next
day (7th) for its destination; but as I had to remain behind awaiting
a wire from Headquarters, I was unable to start till the next morning,
when I left for Frere, accompanied by my servant, Gilbert of the
Marines. What a day of excitement we passed through, and how much we,
who were off to the front, felt for those left behind! I gave over
command of the _Philomel_ to Lieutenant Hughes, the men gave me three
cheers, and I left Durban amid many farewells and congratulations at
my good luck.

Reaching Pietermaritzburg early on the 8th, we went onwards after
breakfast to Estcourt. The railway is a succession of sharp curves and
steep gradients and is a single line only. All the bridges on the line
are carefully guarded, as far as Mooi River, by Natal Volunteers. I
was much struck with the outlook all the way to Estcourt; a very fine
country, beautifully green, with a succession of hills, valleys, and
small isolated woods; in fact, if the country was more cultivated one
might have thought it England, but it seems to be mostly grass land
and mealy (Indian corn) fields. At Mooi River a farmer got into the
train who had been driven from his farm near Estcourt when the Boers
invaded Natal; he had lost all his cattle and clothes, while
everything on his farm had been wantonly destroyed, and the poor
fellow was now returning to the wreck with his small daughter.

On reaching Estcourt in the afternoon we found to our dismay that we
could not get on any further for the moment; so I walked up to see
Halsey of the _Philomel_, at his camp about half a mile from the
station, and took him some newspapers. We had a bathe in the Tugela
River, and I afterwards met Wyndham of the 60th Rifles who was A.D.C.
to the Governor of Ceylon while I was Flag-Lieutenant to Admiral
Douglas, and we were mutually pleased to meet again so unexpectedly.
The Somersets marched in during the course of the morning from
Nottingham Road; they all looked very fit, but seem to have the
somewhat unpopular duty of holding the lines of communication.

Here I met also Lady Sykes and Miss Kennedy, doing nursing; they were
staying at a Red Cross sort of convent close to the station. Lady
Sykes gave me some books and wished me the best of luck, at which I
was pleased. I believe she is writing a book of her experiences in the
war and I shall be much interested to read it when I get home. It came
on to pour with rain, with vivid lightning, about 8 p.m., so I was
thankful to be under cover at the station; the poor soldiers outside
were being washed out of their tents, and some unfortunate Natal
Mounted Volunteers, who only arrived an hour beforehand, had no tents
at all and had a very poor time of it.

Eventually I got off by train next morning (9th) for Frere, Captain
Reeves, R.S.O., of the Buffs, who did me many kindnesses later on,
having secured a compartment for me in a carriage which was shunted
for the night, and in which I was very comfortable, although disturbed
by continuous shuntings of various trains and carriages which made one
realize how much work was falling on the railway officials and
employés. In our train were fifty Natal Naval Volunteers under
Lieutenants Anderton and Chiazzari. I was much struck with their good
appearance and their silent work in stowing their gear in the train,
and I realized their worth all the more when they joined up later on
with our Brigade; all staid, oldish men, full of go and well dressed,
while their officers were very capable, with a complete knowledge of
the country.

We reached Frere Station on the morning of the 10th, passing the sad
sight of the Frere railway bridge completely wrecked by the Boers. I
walked out to the camp and had never seen such a fine sight before;
rows and rows of tents stretching for miles, and an army of about
20,000 men. I found our electric search-light party at the station
waiting to go on, and I was thankful to get a breakfast with them.
Eventually our train moved on to the camp of the Naval batteries,
about 2-1/2 miles due north of Frere, and I at once marched up with
the Natal Naval Volunteers, reported myself to Captain Jones, and
joined my guns, finding all the rest of the Naval officers here, viz.:
Captain Jones, Commander Limpus, and Lieutenants Ogilvy, Melville,
Richards, Deas, Hunt, and Wilde, with half a dozen "Mids" of the
_Terrible_. In camp were two 4.7 guns on the new field mounting, one
battery of eight 12-pounders, and another of four 12-pounder

On Sunday afternoon (10th December) an impressive Church service was
held in the open, with ourselves forming the right face of the square
along with Hart's Irish Brigade. In the course of next day (11th) I
rode up to see James' battery on the kopje to our front defending the
camp, and got my first glimpse of Colenso and the country around, some
ten miles off. I found that James's guns had very mobile limbers which
he had built at Maritzburg, very different to our cumbersome wagons
with guns tied up astern. In the afternoon Melville and I had tea with
General Hart who was very agreeable and kind, and said he knew my
father, and my aunt, Lady Brind, very well.

In the evening orders suddenly came for Limpus' battery of 4.7's, my
two 12-pounders, and Richards' four 12-pounders to advance the next
morning (12th) at 4 a.m. to Chieveley, some seven miles from the Boer
lines; and here again I was in luck's way as being one of the
fortunates ordered to the front. All was now bustle and hurry to get
away, and eventually the line of Naval guns, some two miles long with
ammunition and baggage wagons, moved out in the gray of morning over
the hills, with an escort of Irish Fusiliers, who looked very smart,
"wearin' of the green" in their helmets.

[Illustration: _Photo by Middlebrook, Durban._

Naval Brigade pitching camp at Frere, Dec. 1899.]

We reached Chieveley at 8 p.m. (12th), after a long, dusty march, and
got into position next morning on a small kopje about two miles to its
front, called afterwards "Gun Hill." Guns were unlimbered and shell
pits dug, while the wagons were all placed under cover; we received
orders on arrival for immediate action, and at 9.30 a.m. we commenced
shelling the enemy at a range of 9,500 yards. The 4.7 guns on the
right fired the first shot, my two 12-pounders followed quickly, and a
desultory shell fire went on for some hours. At my position we dug
pits for the gun trails in order to get a greater elevation, and we
plumped one or two shots on the trenches near the Colenso Bridge. The
shooting of the 4.7's, with their telescopic sights and easy ranging,
was beautiful; shell after shell, many of them lyddite, burst in the
Boer trenches, and we soon saw streams of Boer wagons trekking up the
valley beyond, while at the same time one of the Boer camps, 10,000
yards off, was completely demolished.

All this time our Biograph friends from home were gaily taking views
of us, and they took two of myself and my guns while firing. Of
course, the anxious officers of batteries had to lay the guns
personally at this early stage, and every shot was a difficult matter,
as at the extreme range we were firing, with the lengthening pieces
on, the sighting was rather guesswork, and we had to judge mainly by
the explosion at a distance of five and a half miles. We were all done
up after our exertions under a broiling sun, and hence were not used
any more that day (12th). Behind us we saw miles of troops and
transport on the march onwards, which gave us the idea, and also
probably the Boers, that Buller was planning a forward attack; and
indeed, late at night on the 13th, the 4.7 Battery was told to move on
to a kopje two miles in advance; my own guns, with the Irish Fusiliers
being left to protect the ground on which we were then camped.

Orders came shortly afterwards for a general advance to the Tugela,
and Captain Jones told me that I had been given the rear and left to
defend from all flank attacks, and that I was to move on at daybreak
of the 15th to an advanced kopje and place myself under Colonel Reeves
of the Irish Fusiliers. All was now excitement; the first great fight
was at length to come off and our fellows were full of confidence.

At 2 a.m., pitch dark, after a lot of hard work to get our guns
ready, we struck camp; up rode Colonel Reeves with his regiment and
threw out an advanced guard, and out we tramped and crossed the
railway. Here we found all the field guns and Infantry on the move,
and had great difficulty in getting on; but at last, at 5 a.m., we
reached the desired kopje where I had been sent on to select gun
positions. Before us stretched the battlefield for four miles to
Colenso and the river; the Boers across the Tugela occupied an
enormously strong position flanked by hills, all their trenches were
absolutely hidden, and gun positions seemed to be everywhere. The iron
bridge of Colenso was plainly visible through my telescope and was
intact, and to all intents and purposes there was not a soul anywhere
in sight to oppose our advance.

The Naval Battery of 4.7 and the 12-pounders under Captain Jones
quickly got into position in front of us, and on all sides we saw our
troops being thrown forward in extended order, forming a front of
about four miles, with Cavalry thrown out on the flanks and field
batteries galloping up the valley to get into range at 4,000 yards.
All was dead silence till about 5.30 a.m., when the Naval guns
commenced a heavy shell fire on the Boer positions. It was a fine
sight; shell after shell poured in for an hour on the Boer trenches at
a range of 5,000 yards, and all was soon one mass of smoke and flame.
Not a sound came in reply till our troops reached the river bank, when
the most terrific rifle fire I have ever heard of, or thought of, in
my life, was opened from the Boer rifle pits and trenches on the river
bank which had completely entrapped our men. Colonel Long, in command
of the Artillery on the right of the line, unwittingly or by order,
led his batteries in close intervals to within easy rifle range of
those pits, when suddenly came this hail of bullets, which in a few
minutes completely wrecked two field batteries (the 14th and 66th
Batteries), killed their horses and a large number of the men, and
threw four of the Naval 12-pounders under Ogilvy into confusion,
although he was fortunately able to bring the guns safely out of
action in a most gallant manner, with the loss of a few men wounded
and thirty-seven oxen.

Many brave deeds were done here. Schofield, Congreve, Roberts, Reed,
and others of the R.A. specially distinguished themselves by
galloping-in fresh teams or using the only horses left in the two
batteries, and bringing two guns out of action. With others at this
spot poor Roberts met a heroic death and Colonel Long was badly

The firing all along the river bank was now frightful; shells from
well-concealed Boer batteries played continuously upon our troops; the
sun was also fearfully hot without a breath of air; and about 9 a.m.
we noticed a sort of retiring movement on the left and centre of our
position, and saw men straggling away to the rear by ones and twos
completely done up, and many of them wounded. A field battery on the
left had a hot time of it just at this moment and drew out of action
for a breather quite close to our guns. I myself saw a dozen shells
from the Boers go clean through their ranks, although, happily, they
did not burst and did but little injury. Our troops were admirably
steady throughout this hot shell fire.

Our Naval guns on Gun Hill, at about 5,000 yards range, were hard at
it all this time trying to silence the Boer guns, and the lyddite
shells appeared to do great damage; but the enemy never really got
their range in return, and many of their shells pitched just in front
of my own guns with a whiz and a dust which did us no harm. A little
1-pounder Maxim annoyed us greatly with its cross fire, like a
buzzing wasp; it was fired from some trees in Colenso village, and
enfiladed our Infantry in the supporting line, which was in extended
order; but it did not do much damage so far as I could see, although
it was cleverly shifted about and seemed to be impossible to silence.

By 11 a.m. (15th) we saw that our left attack was a failure; exhausted
men of the Connaughts and Borderers poured in saying that their
regiments had been cut up; and, indeed, many of their officers and men
were shot and many drowned, in gallant attempts to cross the Tugela.
Soon the ground was a mass of ambulance wagons, and stretcher parties
bringing in the wounded; and a mournful sight, indeed, it was! The
centre attack also failed, our men retiring quite slowly and in good

On the right, where the object of the advance was to carry a hill
called Hlangwane, which was afterwards recognised to be the key of the
whole position, our men, owing to want of numbers, could make but a
feeble attack and were unable, unsupported, to pass the rifle pits
which had been dug all along the valley in front of the hill. The
Cavalry were, of course, of no use behind a failing Infantry attack
with a river in front of them, and although extended to either flank
it never got a chance to strike.

At 1 p.m. all firing ceased, except an intermittent fusillade by the
Boers on our ambulance tents till they saw the red cross, when this
ceased; the troops were all retired in mass to their original
positions, and I myself had to clear out my guns as best I could to
our old camping ground in the rear. To crown all, it came on to rain
heavily about 5 p.m. by which we all got a good wetting. On our march
back I had a few minutes of interesting talk with General Barton.

For many days all sorts of rumours flew about as to our losses at
Colenso, which we afterwards found to be ten guns captured, fifty
officers and 852 rank and file killed and wounded, and twenty-one
officers and 207 N.C.O.'s and men missing and prisoners, a sad and
unexpected end to our day's operations. An armistice to bury the dead
was asked for by our people, and agreed to, but I do not believe that
the Boer losses were at all heavy; and I am persuaded that if instead
of the insufficient heavy batteries at Colenso, we could have had at
the front, say two more batteries of 4.7 guns and two batteries of six
6" Q.-F., the Colenso disaster might never have happened. Against the
fire of such guns, for say a week, moved up properly to within
effective range, with reconnaissances carefully made and with an
Infantry attack well pushed home in the end, I do not think that the
Boers could or would have stayed in their positions; and I am
confirmed in this opinion by a good many after experiences.

_Saturday, 16th December._--Had a peaceful night and slept well, all
being very much exhausted by the previous day's fighting and hot sun;
we were kept very busy marking out ground for the Naval batteries
which were all massed once more on our old camping ground.

_Sunday, 17th December._--Commenced shelling Colenso Bridge at noon
with a view to destroy it; but after a few rounds the order was
cancelled and we again returned to camp.

_Monday, 18th December._--Stood to arms at 4 a.m., then went to
general quarters for action, when the 4.7 guns opened fire at daylight
on Colenso Bridge for about two hours with lyddite, at a range of
7,300 yards. Lieutenant Hunt, on the left, struck one of the piers
with a shell and took the roof off a small house close by; otherwise
not much harm was done. It was a frightfully hot and depressing day
with a wind like air from a furnace; and, bad luck to it, directly the
sun was down at 5 p.m. a heavy dust storm came on which covered
everything in a moment with black filthy dust, followed by vivid
lightning and drenching rain which was quite a treat to us dried-up
beings. I myself succeeded in catching a tubful of water which ensured
me a good wash and a refreshing sleep for the night.

_Tuesday, 19th December._--A cool nice morning and all the men in good
spirits. At 8 a.m. the 4.7 guns opened fire again on Colenso Bridge.
Lieutenant England's gun--the right 4.7 gun--knocked the bridge away;
a very lucky and good shot, at which, needless to say, Sir F. Clery
was very pleased.

_Wednesday, 20th December._--Again a nice and cool day. In the evening
I fired my 12-pounders at trees and villages to the left of Fort
Wylie; the 4.7 gun, manned by the Natal Naval Volunteers, also did
good work. We are now living like fighting-cocks, as the field canteen
is open, with many delicacies, about half-a-mile to our rear. We also
received unexpectedly to-day, with acclamation, lots of letters and
English papers.

_Thursday, 21st December._--Stood to arms at 4 a.m. and commenced
firing about 6 a.m., in a very good light; my own guns were directed
on the rifle pits 8,500 to 9,000 yards away, on the other side of the
Tugela River. At this range the ammunition carries badly and the guns
shoot indifferently. I put some common shells, however, into the
enemy's rifle pits, but we are all getting tired of this sort of
desultory firing and existence.

_Saturday, 23d December._--About 8.30 a.m. the Commander-in-Chief and
Sir F. Clery and Staff, accompanied by the foreign attachés, rode up
to our guns and stayed for an hour sketching the hills on the right
of Colenso, which I presume is now our objective. Mr. Escombe, late
Premier of Natal, was also up with us all day watching our firing.
Captain Jones also came to ask me to represent the Naval Brigade on
the Sports Committee for Christmas Day; so I went down to General
Barton's tent, met Colonel Bethune, Captain Nicholson, and others, and
we arranged a good programme between us.

_Sunday, 24th December._--No firing to-day. Church Parade at 8 a.m.,
when we brigaded with the Irish Brigade. A very large stock of beer,
cakes, pine-apples, and other good things arrived in camp for the
Natal Naval Volunteers; they gave a good share to our fellows who were
very pleased, having none, and all are now busy preparing their
plum-puddings for Christmas Day.

_Christmas Day, 25th December._--We stood to arms at 4 a.m., but
orders came for the guns not to fire. I was up at 5.30 a.m. to take my
Sports party down to camp for the Brigade events. Our men won the
Brigade Tug-of-war right out, and got great fun out of the wrestling
on horseback on huge Artillery steeds, so that we came back to camp
very elated. At 3 p.m. we marched down again for the finals in Sports;
our fellows rigged up an Oom Paul and a Naval gent on a gun limber;
this we dragged all round the camps and created quite a _furore_. The
heat and dust were awful in the sports, but we pulled them off on the
whole successfully, and all came back to camp tired out. I had my
Christmas dinner with the Irish Fusiliers, who had drawn out an
amusing menu of _Whisky Powerful_, _Champagne Terrible_, _Cutlets à
l'Oom Paul_, and so on. I thought much of my people and friends at
home, and was glad enough to get to bed without the prospect of any
night alarm or attack, after such a big dinner.


     Life in Camp and Bombardment of the Boer lines at Colenso --
     General Buller moves his army, and by a flank march seizes
     "Bridle Drift" over the Tugela -- The heavy Naval and Royal
     Artillery guns are placed in position -- Sir Charles Warren
     crosses the Tugela with the 5th Division, and commences his flank

_Tuesday, 26th December._--We stood to arms at 4 a.m., and shelled the
Boer camp and trenches for two hours during the day. The Biograph
people, who are still with us, took a scene of the Tug-of-war, our Oom
Paul, and then a tableau of the hanging of Kruger! Captain Jones came
to give the Sports prizes away, which greatly pleased our men; he told
me afterwards that he had selected my two 12-pounders and the 4.7 guns
to advance with him when ordered, at which needless to say I was very
much gratified. Another heavy dust storm, followed by thunder and
heavy rain. On the few following days we went through our usual
cannonading, following a new practice of firing at night by laying our
guns just at dusk, placing marks to run the wheels on, and using
clinometers for elevation at the proper moment. All our shells burst,
and, we were told afterwards, with effect, greatly disturbing sleeping
Boers in Kaffir kraals at Colenso.

[Illustration: _Photo by Middlebrook, Durban._

Naval Guns in Action at Colenso.]

_Friday, 29th December._--Again more firing at a new work that the
Boers were making, apparently for guns. Seeing an officer on a white
horse directing them, we banged at them all and cleared them off.
Again a heavy storm, but sunshine reached us during it in the shape
of boots and great-coats from Frere, for which we were all grateful.
The following day was wet and cold. I went to camp to try and buy poor
young Roberts' pony, but the price was too high for me. Lord Dundonald
came to arrange with Captain Jones a sham night attack on the Boer
lines which happily did not come off as it was a horrible wet night.

_New Year's Day, 1900._--At midnight of the old year my middy, Whyte,
and myself turned out, struck sixteen bells quietly on a 4.7 brass
case, and had a fine bowl of punch, with slices of pine-apple in it,
which we shared with our men on watch, wishing them all a happy New
Year. Good old 1899! Well, it is past and gone, but it brought me many
blessings, and perhaps more to come. We gave the Boers some 4.7 liver
pills, which we hope did them good. All our men are well and cheery,
but our Commander has a touch of fever, so that I am left in executive
charge of the men and camp. Winston Churchill came up to look at our
firing. During the next few days, in addition to our firing, our
12-pounder crews started to make mantlets for the armoured train; a
very big job indeed, as they had to cover the whole of the engine and
tender, afterwards called "Hairy Mary," as well as the several trucks.
The officer in command congratulated our men on their work under the
indefatigable Baldwin, chief gunner's mate of the _Terrible_, who was
in charge. The military also started entrenchments and gun pits on the
hill, which we call "Liars Kopje"; at dusk they came to a standstill
over some big boulders that the General asked us to remove, which was
a compliment to the powers of the Navy. We soon made short work of the
boulders, much to the General's satisfaction, and got on fast with the
mantlets. Still heavy rain at night.

_Thursday, 4th January._--Again more firing. My own 12-pounder crews
and those of Richards' guns hard at the mantlets for the armoured
train, and doing the job very well. On the 2nd, Lord Dundonald rode up
and arranged an attack on a red house 6,000 yards from us and supposed
to contain some of the enemy, but we found nobody at home. We were all
glad to receive letters from home to-day. I was busy all day shifting
one of my 12-pounder gun wheels for a new and stronger pair of
skeleton iron ones, just sent from Durban, in view of a feint to the
front with the object of drawing the Boers away from Ladysmith.

_Saturday, 6th January._--This feint was made and we had no
casualties. Poor Ladysmith! Our men there are hard pressed and must
have a bad time; very heavy firing all day, and we heard by heliograph
that the Boers had made a heavy attack in three places, although,
happily, repulsed with heavy loss (including Lord Ava) to ourselves.
We have Bennet Burleigh, Winston Churchill, Hubert of _The Times_, and
many others, constantly on Gun Hill looking at our firing.

_Sunday, 7th January._--From Sir George White's signals we realize
what a close shave they had yesterday in Ladysmith. A nice cool day
and no firing; in fact, a day of rest. We attended Church Parade at 6
p.m. with the 2nd and 6th Brigades. The Boers are as usual in the
trenches working hard, while our time just now is spent in rain and
constant calls to arms.

_Wednesday, 10th January._--A move at last, and I received orders to
join General Hildyard's Brigade with my two guns, while the others
were attached to other Columns. We were all hard at work to-day
loading up wagons, and I was busy copying a large map of the country
which our Commander lent me. In the evening General Hildyard sent for
me on business, and I sat down with him and his Staff to dinner,
including Prince Christian, Captain Gogarty (Brigade Major), and
Lieutenant Blair, A.D.C. General Hildyard was very kind, and said he
was glad I was to go with him; and the next morning I moved off my
guns at daylight, and arrived at the rendezvous by the hour named. It
was a fine morning, although the wet and soft ground gave me doubts
about getting our guns across country. But off we started; the Cavalry
scouting ahead, then the East Surreys, Queen's, and Devons, and the
7th Battery Field Artillery, followed by my guns escorted by the West
Yorks. About a mile from Chieveley we had to cross a drift in which my
wagons went in mud up to the tops of the wheels, and one gun got
upset, which I got right again with the assistance of three teams of
oxen and a party of the West Yorks. It was indeed a job, because the
ground was like a marsh, and our ammunition wagons, with three tons'
weight on them, were half the time sunk up to the axles; but we all
smiled and looked pleased while everybody helped, and in six hours we
were clear and on the road. We were all done up with the shouting and
hot sun, and the General ordered us a two hours' rest while he took
the Brigade on to Pretorius' farm, which we ourselves reached at 6
p.m., crossing another bad drift on the way. The men were absolutely
done up, and we were glad to arrive and find ourselves in a fine
grassy camp with plenty of water. General Hildyard called me up and
said he was pleased with the splendid work we had put through that
day. On our left were miles of baggage wagons of various Brigades
going into camp along a road further west of us.

_Thursday, 11th January._--Shifted my ammunition to fifty rounds per
gun to lighten the wagons, and moved off at 5 a.m., passing General
Hildyard who was looking on at the foot of the camp. We marched with
the whole force to Dorn Kop Nek and then halted; the General and
others, including myself, riding up to a high kopje to examine the
Boer position on the Tugela at about 8,800 yards off. Prince Christian
Victor came and sat on a rock by me and had a good look at the
position through my telescope which he borrowed. The General ordered
one of my guns up this kopje, and we brought it up with a team of oxen
and fifty men on drag ropes to steady her. It was an awful climb, and
the ground was strewn with boulders; the poor gun upset once, but we
got it up at last into position on a beautiful grass plateau on top
with a clear view of the Boer positions. The Queen's Regiment, who
were our escort this morning, carried fifty rounds of ammunition up
the kopje for me, and I shall always remember how on all occasions we
received the greatest assistance from the Queen's and West Yorks. The
General pushed on with the R.A. and the rest of the troops and
reconnoitred the enemy from the next kopje. Eventually we were all
ordered back to camp, and I had a great job in getting my guns down
the hill again. I think it was worse than going up.

_Friday, 12th January._--Prince Christian (Acting Brigade Major) and I
had a short talk together; we touched on a scheme of mine for making
light limbers for our guns. In the afternoon I rode out to General
Clery's camp, three miles to the west, to see our Naval guns, but
found they had been pushed on with Lord Dundonald's Cavalry to hold
ground leading to Potgieter's Drift. I dined with Captain Reed of the
7th Battery, R.A., who knew my R.A. brother well in the 87th Battery.
I found I had met him last year at the Grand National, and it is quite
curious that I meet out here everyone that I ever knew.

_Saturday, 13th January._--Sent Whyte, my middy, a nice fellow and
useful to me, over to Frere on a horse to see about many things I
wanted for the battery, and at 9.30 a.m. read out to my men on parade
General Buller's address to the troops, dated 12th January, 1900. This
is the text of it. "The Field Force is now advancing to the relief of
Ladysmith where, surrounded by superior forces, our comrades have
gallantly defended themselves for the last ten weeks. The General
commanding knows that everyone in the force will feel as he does; we
must be successful. We shall be stoutly opposed by a clever
unscrupulous enemy; let no man allow himself to be deceived by them.
If a white flag is displayed it means nothing, unless the force who
display it halt, throw down their arms, and throw up their hands. If
they get a chance the enemy will try and mislead us by false words of
command and false bugle calls; everyone must guard against being
deceived by such conduct. Above all, if any are even surprised by a
sudden volley at close quarters, let there be no hesitation; do not
turn from it but rush at it. That is the road to victory and safety. A
retreat is fatal. The one thing the enemy cannot stand is our being at
close quarters with them. We are fighting for the health and safety of
comrades; we are fighting in defence of the flag against an enemy who
has forced war on us from the worst and lowest motives, by treachery,
conspiracy, and deceit. Let us bear ourselves as the cause deserves."

_Sunday, 14th January._--Church Parade at 6 a.m. with the West Yorks,
Devons, East Surreys, and Queen's. About 8 a.m. a wagon and team
crawled up to our camp; this turned out to be the light trolley I had
sent for and which Lieutenant Melville had kindly hurried forward from
Frere. I was awfully pleased to see it as our load before was
absurdly heavy. The General was also quite glad to see and hear of the
new trolley. At 2 p.m. in came my new horse from Frere, and a bag of
excellent saddlery; the horse was in an awful state; he had apparently
bolted on getting out of the train at Frere and injured two Kaffirs
who tried to stop him; then the Cavalry chased him and caught him ten
miles from Frere towards the Drakensberg mountains. The poor animal
was very much done up and I found him afterwards a fine willing beast.

_Monday, 15th January._--Struck tents and limbered up ready to march
at 6 a.m., and moved off in rear of the 7th Battery R.A.; they have
been very good to us all along, shoeing ponies and giving us water. A
nice cool morning, and all in good spirits. We soon passed the first
drift across a spruit about four feet deep; my guns just grazed the
top of the water but luckily we had taken care to stuff up the muzzles
with straw. The bullocks had a very hard pull, more especially as my
men were obliged to ride across the gun wagons. The General looked on
and we got on very well; all working, laughing, joking, and helping,
especially our good friends the Tommies. We marched across a green
veldt, with the usual kopjes at intervals; and after about eight miles
passed through the camp of the Somersets who came out to see us go by
and were very cordial; about a mile further on we crossed the Little
Tugela Bridge, and had a very heavy pull shortly afterwards across our
last drift, which was a bad one. Countless bullock wagons, mule carts,
and transport of all descriptions of the Clery, Hart, and Coke
Brigades extended for miles along the two roads leading to our
advanced position. We were delighted to see a river at last, and men
and horses had a fine drink. After a meal in pelting rain I rode on to
report to General Hildyard, and had tea with him and his staff,
including Prince Christian; they are all always very nice to me.

_Tuesday, 16th January._--A stream of transport wagons is still
crossing the drift this morning, and the Drakensberg mountains look
very grand and beautiful in this clear air. We drew fresh meat to-day
in our provisions. What a surprise and a treat! The Boer position on
the Big Tugela lies six miles off; and here Dundonald and his Cavalry,
with one 4.7 gun, are watching the enemy who are working day and night
at their trenches. About noon, Colonel Hamilton, of General Clery's
Staff, rode into our camp and told me that orders had come for my guns
to proceed at once into position with Lieutenant Ogilvy's battery. He
asked me how long I should be. I said two hours to collect oxen and
pack up, and so we were ordered to march at 1.45 p.m. I was very sorry
to be suddenly shifted again out of General Hildyard's Brigade, and I
asked him to intervene if we were again detached, which he promised to
do. We marched up to time, and got to camp about 5 p.m., escorted by a
troop of the Royal Dragoons. As usual, it came on to pour; everything
was quickly a sea of mud, and the men in their black great-coats,
marching along with the horses and guns mixed up with them, reminded
one strongly of scenes in pictures of Napoleon's wars. We found that
we had to move on in an hour's time with Ogilvy's guns to a plateau
further on. I rode out to see Captain Jones and the 4.7's in position,
a grand one on top of a very steep cliff kopje some 1,000 feet above
the Tugela; the plateau selected for our 12-pounder guns was some 600
feet lower down and 2,000 yards nearer the enemy. We had a tough march
out, and did not get to our plateau till 11.30 p.m. I had a snack and
gave the others all I could, and the great Maconochie ration and beer
will never be forgotten, that night at any rate. I myself turned in
to sleep under a trolley, just as I was, and very tired we all were
after our hard day.

_Wednesday, 17th January._--Out at daybreak to bring our 12-pounders
into action. The drift over the Tugela, about half-a-mile to our right
front, had been seized by Dundonald, and a howitzer battery had been
pushed across some 2,000 yards nearer than ourselves, supported by the
King's Royal Rifles, the Scottish Rifles, the Durhams, and the
Borderers; to our right front was also to be seen the Engineer
balloon, under Captain Phillips, R.E., being filled with gas. About 10
a.m. a message came up from General Lyttelton to bring four guns into
action on our left flank, which I did at once under Ogilvy's orders,
and a little later Captain Jones rode down to us and told us to
support Sir Charles Warren's advance to our left across the river. I
opened fire with my right gun, and got the range in two shots, after
which the whole four guns opened fire and burst several shells over
the correct spot. I heard that Sir Charles Warren signalled in the
evening to say we had by our fire put two Boer guns out of action and
made them retire, and we were all delighted. His force was plainly to
be seen occupying the ridge about 6,000 yards to our left front. The
firing of the howitzer battery was very fine to-day; also our 4.7 guns
did well. The howitzers landed salvos of their shells, six at a time,
all bursting within fifty yards of one another and right on the Boer
works on the sky-line, where our Naval 4.7's were also working away at
a greater distance off. As no tents were allowed us I again slept in
my clothes under a wagon.

_Thursday, 18th January._--A beautiful morning, and we were all up at
daybreak commencing a slow firing at the Boer trenches, and many fine
shots were made; the howitzers, during the afternoon, pushed on about
500 yards nearer the enemy under cover of three small kopjes. Looking
at the position from our plateau one wondered how the Boers could have
allowed us to get here and cross the river unopposed. If we had been
resisted we must have had an awful job, both here and at the Little
Tugela. All our army experts are surprised, and we think we must have
caught them on the hop, as they don't reply to our artillery fire.
Still, they are opposing Sir Charles Warren's advance as well as they
can, and very hard fighting is going on to our left, although we only
hear the shots and see the flashes of our guns, with volleys of
musketry, while the enemy are hidden behind a high hill called Spion
Kop. The panorama before us is magnificent; and the Tugela, our
bugbear at Colenso, lies before us, beautiful, meandering, and
apparently conquered. At 5 p.m. a demonstration in force against the
trenches at Brakfontein was ordered, and we commenced rapid firing
with eight guns, making very fine practice and sending off some 600
shells to cover our Infantry advance which was pushed on right up to
the foot of the Boer kopjes and about 1,500 yards from their trenches.
The Engineer balloon floated proudly in the air watching the
operations. We retired at dusk, the object being to draw the Boers to
their trenches and to relieve Sir Charles Warren's left attack which
was advancing very slowly. We laid our guns at dusk and fired them
every half-hour during the night.

_Friday, 19th January._--We began firing again at daybreak, General
Lyttelton and Staff looking on. They told us that our guns had shot
very well the evening before. A very hot day. The fighting on the left
seems to be heavier and more distant, and all sorts of rumours are
current as to demonstrations and successes.

_Saturday, 20th January._--Firing as usual. We hear again heavy firing
on the left. About 3 p.m. our balloon went right out over the Boer
trenches, while our Infantry attacked in force on the right and
demonstrated in front in extended order; we kept up our firing, while
James's guns which had been pushed across the river took the right
hills, and with the howitzers put a Boer Pom-pom out of action. The
balloon did well; it was fired at by the Boers with Maxims and rifles,
and was hit in several places; in fact, Captain Phillips, in charge of
it, had his forehead grazed by a bullet. During the afternoon my right
gun trail smashed up and I had to employ all the talent near at hand
to repair it. With a baulk of timber from the Royal Engineers we
finished it, and at the same time shifted the wheels to a beautiful
pair of gaudily-painted iron ones from Durban. I now call it the
"Circus Gun."

_Sunday, 21st January._--A very hot day. The armourers and carpenters
still hard at work on my gun trail. Orders came for two guns to
advance across the river, and Ogilvy told me off for that honour. By
dint of hard work my right gun was finished by 11 a.m., and I
inspanned and went off two hours afterwards. A very steep hill was the
only thing to conquer going down, and we successfully crossed the
Tugela in a Boer punt--guns, oxen, and my horse. We got the guns up to
our new position by 6 p.m., and found ourselves about 4,200 yards from
the enemy's trenches, with James's guns on our right. We had a cordial
meeting with the Scottish Rifles; they had been a week in their
clothes, with no tents or baggage, so I put up one of our tarpaulins
for their mess tent and we enjoyed a real good dinner. At 9 p.m. up
came Ogilvy to our position, to my surprise, as he had received sudden
orders to bring the rest of the guns on across the river; the road and
river must have been very nasty in the dark, but Ogilvy is a clever
and capable fellow, who is always determined, sees no difficulties,
and invents none.


     Spion Kop and Vaal Krantz -- General Buller withdraws the troops
     and moves once more on Colenso -- We hold Springfield Bridge --
     Buller's successful attack on Hussar Hill, Hlangwane, and Monte
     Christo -- Relief of Kimberley.

_Monday, 22nd January._--We placed the battery of six guns at daybreak
in a kloof between two kopjes, in a half-moon formation, commanding
the old position near Spion Kop, at about 4,500 yards, mine being in
the centre. I was in charge all day and fired shots at intervals. The
wind was too high for balloon reconnoitring. My first shot, a
shrapnel, at the left part of Spion Kop, disabled twenty of the enemy
digging in the trenches, so we were afterwards told by native scouts;
and we were praised by those looking on for our accurate firing. We
had now our telescopic sights on the guns, and very good ones on the
whole they were, although we found the cross wires too thick and
therefore hid an object such as a trench which at long range looks no
more than a line. I found my deflection by a spirit-level on the
trail, to test the inclination of the wheels one way or the other.
There was very heavy fighting to-day on our left. Sir Charles Warren
is in fact forcing his way on, and we hear reports of 400 of our
fellows being killed and wounded, and the Boer trenches being taken by
bayonet charges. So far as we know, General Buller's object is to
outflank the Boers on the left, and then when Sir Charles Warren has
done this, to attack in front and cut them off.

_Tuesday, 23rd January._--Another day, alas, red with the blood of our
poor fellows. Sir Charles Warren continued his operations at 1 p.m.,
and from then till midnight the fight raged. Musketry and guns booming
all round, the Maxims and Vickers 1-pounder guns, being specially
noticeable. At daylight we ourselves stood to guns and concentrated
our fire on the Boer trenches and positions to the front and right, in
order to draw the enemy away from Warren's force; while the Infantry
with us (Rifle Brigade, King's Royal Rifles, Durhams and Scottish
Rifles) made a demonstration in force to within 2,000 yards of the
main trenches under cover of our fire. The attack under Warren got
closer and closer each hour, and we could watch our fellows,
apparently the Lancashire Brigade, storming the top of Spion Kop, in
which, I afterwards heard, my father's old regiment (the Lancashire
Fusiliers) bore a splendid part. Meanwhile our own attack on the
Brakfontein trenches was withdrawn, and we brought our guns into
action on the left to assist the operations on Spion Kop but soon had
to desist for fear of hitting our own men. The fight raged all day and
was apparently going well for us. At 4 p.m. came a message from
General Buller ordering the King's Royal Rifles and Scottish Rifles to
storm Spion Kop from our side, which they did, starting from our guns
and making a prodigious climb right gallantly in a blazing heat and
suffering a considerable loss. Poor Major Strong, with whom I had just
breakfasted, was one of the wounded and, to my great sorrow, died of
his wound. Our guns meanwhile were searching all the valleys and
positions along the eastern slopes of Spion Kop; but it was all
unavailing, as we were apparently forced to retire after heavy losses
during the night. We ourselves were all dead beat, but had to be up
all night with search-lights working on the Boer main position; but
what of poor Warren's force after five days' constant marching and

[Illustration: Lieut. Burne's Guns firing at Spion Kop.]

[Illustration: 4.7 Emplaced on Hlangwane.]

_Wednesday, 24th January._--No more firing and many rumours; but at
last it was a great surprise and blow to us to hear a confirmation of
the report that Warren's right had been forced to abandon Spion Kop
during the night, and to be also told that we ourselves were to go
back to our old plateau in the rear. I had my guns dragged up to
Criticism Kop with great labour by eighty of the Durhams, who are now
our escort; and with the Rifle Brigade we hold the three advanced
hills here, while Ogilvy has been moved back across the river. We hear
of a loss of some 1,600 men, the poor 2nd Bn. of the Lancashire
Fusiliers specially suffering heavily;[2] there is therefore great
depression among all here, a cessation of fire being ordered, and
nothing in front of us except ambulances. Our mail came in during the
evening and I was very pleased to get letters from Admiral and Mrs.
Douglas. We feared a night attack, so had everything ready for the
fray. I was on the watch all night with Whyte, but our search-light
kept off the danger and all remained quiet.

         [Footnote 2: Having lost over 100 officers and men killed and
         wounded at Venter's Spruit, the 2nd battalion of the regiment
         went subsequently into action at Spion Kop 800 strong, and
         only 553 answered the roll call next day.]

_Thursday, 25th January._--A quiet day, the Boers and our own
ambulance parties burying the dead on Spion Kop. And so went the next
few days, we shelling the Boers at intervals although sparingly.
Rumour says that General Buller is confident of beating the Boers in
one more try, and is shortly going to try it. May the key fit the
lock this time! He seems determined, and we all hope he will be at
last successful.

_Monday, 29th January._--We are firing as usual. Colonel Northcote of
the Rifle Brigade came over from his kopje to see me, and I proposed
the construction of two rifle-proof gun pits on the river bank, to
which he agreed. A very hot day and raining heavily at night.

_Wednesday, 31st January._--We have orders to watch carefully the
right of the Boer position. I let Mr. Whyte fire a dozen shells, which
he did very well, and I finished my gun pits, and very good ones they
are. Just at dark up came an officer from General Buller with an order
that we were to retire our Naval guns at daybreak to the plateau,
which we had to do much to our disappointment, moving off at daybreak
next morning and taking the guns in a punt across the river. I learnt
to my great sorrow that poor Vertue of the Buffs, my friend of Ceylon
days when he was an A.D.C. to the General there, was killed at Spion
Kop, and I am much depressed as I liked and admired him immensely.

_Friday, 2nd February._--The Boers are busy burying their dead on
Spion Kop under a flag of truce, so we have a quiet day and no firing.

_Saturday, 3rd February._--The troops are all again on the move; no
less than nine field batteries are pushed over the river with some
Battalions of Infantry, while Boers are on the sky-line at all points
watching us.

_Sunday, 4th February._--Sir Charles Warren arrived on our gun plateau
with his Staff, and pitched his camp close to my guns. I found that
Sir Charles knew my father, and he told me that the Boers had had a
severe knock at Spion Kop and were ready to run on seeing British
bayonets; he spoke of his plans for the morrow and of our prospective
share in them. My share is to be a good one, as I am to have an
independent command and am so actually named in the general orders for
battle. I went over the plan of battle carefully with Captain Jones,
R.N., and our Commander, who thought Pontoon No. 3 was the weak spot.

_Monday, 5th February._--A fateful day of battle. At daybreak we stood
to our guns, but it was not till 6.30 a.m. that our Artillery, no less
than seven batteries, advanced under cover of our fire. On the left
were the 4.7 guns on Signal Hill; my two 12-pounders were on the gun
plateau in the centre, and on the right, on Zwartz Kop, were six more
of our 12-pounders under Ogilvy. The broad plan of attack was a feint
on the left and then a determined right attack. This developed slowly;
the Artillery and Infantry advanced, and we all shelled as hard as we
could for some hours, when the Infantry laid down just outside
effective rifle range from the Brakfontein trenches, and the
Artillery, changing front to right, withdrew from the left, except one
battery, to assist in the centre attack on Vaal Krantz. Our Naval guns
went on shelling the left where the Boer guns were well under cover
and were very cleverly worked. About 12 noon the Infantry withdrew
from the left and it was evident that our feint had fully succeeded in
its object, _i.e._, to get the enemy drawn down to their trenches and
stuck there. The Artillery, after crossing No. 2 Pontoon, were drawn
up in the centre shelling Vaal Krantz, while Lyttelton's Brigade was
pushed forward to attack it and succeeded in reaching the south end of
it. Our own firing on the left was incessant. I found afterwards that
I had fired 250 rounds during the day, and I had many messages as to
its direction and effect from Sir Charles Warren, and General
Talbot-Coke, who was just behind us with his Staff. Little firing
during the night. Very tired.

_Tuesday, 6th February._--At it again at daylight, the Boers
commencing from their 100 lb. 6" Creusot at 6,000 yards to the east of
Zwartz Kop. I had suddenly got orders during the night from Sir
Charles Warren to move my guns off the plateau and join Buller's force
at daybreak at the east foot of Zwartz Kop, so I moved off at the time
named, feeling very thankful that I had my extra oxen to do it. We had
some miles to go, over a vile road, and on the way we passed the 7th
Battery R.A. and some Cavalry and ambulances. All this, meeting us on
a narrow and badly ordered road, delayed us so much that it was 8 a.m.
before I was able to report my guns to the Commander-in-Chief, which I
did personally; he turned round and said, rather pleased, "Oh, the
Naval guns are come up," and, pointing me out the Boer 6" Creusot and
a 3" gun enfilading our Artillery, he asked me if I could silence
them; the 6" was at 6,500 yards and the 3" at 10,000 yards, so I
replied, "Yes, the 6"," and by the General's order I brought my guns
into action about 200 yards away from him and his Staff. As I was
preparing to fire my right gun, bang came a 100 lb. shell right at it,
striking the ground some twenty yards in front and digging a hole in
the ground of about six feet long, covering us with dust, although
happily the shell did not burst but jumped right over our heads. This
was followed by a shrapnel which burst, but the pieces also went right
over our heads. After hard pit digging, I tried for the 3" at 9,000
yards, with full lengthening pieces, with my left gun, but I could not
range it; so we kept up a hot fire with both guns on the Boer Creusot,
which was also being done by the two 5" guns in front of us and by our
Naval battery on the top of Zwartz Kop. We silenced this gun from 8.30
a.m. to 5 p.m. when it again opened on us (with its huge puff of black
powder showing up finely), but without doing us much harm. At 11 a.m.
the Boers brought some field guns up at a gallop to Vaal Krantz,
running them into dongas or pits about 6,000 yards away from us, and
then sending shrapnel into our troops on the Kop and trying to have a
duel with us; we quickly silenced them, however, as well as a Pom-pom
in a donga about 4,000 yards off, and they beat a retreat over the
sky-line. I here found my telescopic sight very useful for observing
every movement while personally laying guns. The General sent me many
messages by his Staff, and was pleased at our driving off the guns. As
the day passed, the cannonade became fast and furious and our attack
advanced but slowly; we silenced most of the Boer guns by 5 p.m. and
slept that night as we stood. I had the Boer 100 lb. 6" shell (which
had fallen close to us without bursting) carried up the hill to show
the Commander-in-Chief and Staff; they were all interested but rather
shy of it, but one of them took a photo. We picked up many fragments
of shells which had fallen close to us during the day and from which
all of us had narrow escapes, for we were in a warm corner. General
Hildyard and Staff who were sitting close by us at one part of the day
had a 100 lb. shell fired over them which just missed Prince

_Wednesday, 7th February._--Dawn found us still fighting on this the
last day of our attempt to relieve Ladysmith from this side; heavy
firing commenced at daybreak, and we did our best to keep down the
Boer fire, the 4.7 Naval gun on Signal Hill making fine practice.
Meantime our troops now on Vaal Krantz, viz., Hildyard's East Surreys,
Devons, and West Yorks, pushed the attack or held their trenches under
heavy fire, while we were trying to silence the enemy's guns. By this
time the long range of hills to the east of Brakfontein was all ablaze
from our shells, and also one flank of Vaal Kop. All looked lurid and
desolate, and at times the cannonading was terrific, the Boer 6" with
its black powder vomiting smoke and affording an excellent mark. At 4
p.m. the Engineer balloon went up in our rear to reconnoitre, and
brought down a disheartening report of unmasked Boer guns and
positions which would enfilade our advance from here all the way to
Ladysmith; so that after a Council of War the Commander-in-Chief
decided to retire the troops; my orders from Colonel Parsons, R.A.,
being to make preparations to withdraw my two guns to Spearman's Kop
as soon as the moon rose, and to cover the retirement. In fact,
according to his words the Council of War decided that while we could
get through to Ladysmith from here, we should be hemmed in afterwards
owing to the new positions disclosed by Phillips' balloon report. It
was just dusk; Infantry and Artillery were being hastily moved up to
cover the retirement, and after loading up our ammunition off we
ourselves went. My poor men were very done up after the constant
marching, firing, and working ammunition of the last three days; we
had, in fact, shot off no less than 679 rounds, and the sun was awful
the whole time. The withdrawal was very well carried out in the dark;
we ourselves followed the ammunition column, and the Field Artillery
followed us. As the foot of Gun Hill was completely blocked I brought
my guns out down by the Tugela, ready to cover the troops; and we
slept as we stood, while a constant stream of Artillery, Infantry, and
ambulances were struggling to get up the steep hill; indeed, it was a
most memorable day and night. Poor Colonel Fitzgerald of the Durhams
was carried past me in a stretcher about 5 p.m. shot in the chest with
a Mauser. I had known him before when holding the kopjes over the
river with his regiment; he insisted on talking to me and sat up to
have a cup of tea, and I was glad to hear afterwards that he had
eventually recovered. Our total casualties for the three days were
about 350; our Infantry had done brilliantly; and, while we were all
savage at having to withdraw, we were confident that the
Commander-in-Chief knew best, and indeed it seems from information
received later on that he did the right thing.

_Thursday, 8th February._--At daylight the Boer 6" went on shelling us
at 10,000 yards but did little damage, so I got up the hill about 9
a.m. after a hasty breakfast, and passing Sir Charles Warren's tent
got into my old position on the plateau, finding the 7th Battery R.A.
holding the hill close alongside. My men were quite done up, so that
the temporary rest was acceptable, although we had to keep a sharp
look-out, and twice silenced Boer guns firing on our Infantry at 6,500
yards from Spion Kop. At noon the kopjes in front were evacuated, our
pontoon taken up, and the Boer punt sunk by gunpowder. So good-bye to
the Tugela once more; all our positions gone and the Boers down again
at the river. At dusk I got permission to withdraw my guns over the
ridge on account of sniping, and it was well I did so as the Boers
came very close to us during the night.

_Friday, 9th February._--Got orders from the Commander-in-Chief to
withdraw with others on to Springfield Bridge; we were almost the last
guns off, and had a hot march of eight miles escorted by a party of
the Imperial Light Infantry under Captain Champneys. How we did enjoy
a bathe from the river bank, as well as our sleep that night! It was
all quite heavenly.

_Saturday, 10th February._--About 9 a.m. I was ordered by Colonel
Burn-Murdoch of the Royal Dragoons to bring my guns up to his
entrenched camp behind the bridge to assist in its defence. I had
breakfast with him and he seemed very nice. He is now Brigadier-General
and Camp Commandant, and we are left in defence here, to protect
Buller's left flank, with "A" Battery Horse Artillery, the 2nd
Dragoons and 13th Hussars, the Imperial Light Infantry, and the York
and Lancasters. The rest of the troops had all gone to Chieveley. The
day was very hot again, and I was very glad to give the men another
rest, with fresh butter, milk, chickens, and fruit to be had, brought
in by Kaffirs from neighbouring farms. Just think of it!

_Sunday, 11th February._--Again very hot. About 7 a.m. there was a
heavy rifle fire to the N.E.; our Cavalry pickets were in fact
attacked, and as I saw Boers on the sky-line, I got leave to open
fire, but did no damage, as the hill, we afterwards found out, was
some eight miles off. So much for African lights and shades, which,
after eight months' experience of them, are most deceptive. It turned
out that our Cavalry pickets had been surprised by the Boers unmounted
in a donga, and unluckily Lieutenant Pilkington and seven men were
taken prisoners, and several men wounded--a bad affair.

_Monday, 12th February._--Another awfully hot day which made me feel
feverish. We were busy in fortifying our gun positions, but otherwise
I had a quiet day in the mess of the York and Lancasters, a very nice
regiment. At 4 p.m., much to our joy, rain and thunder came on and
cleared the heavy air. Glad to hear that a Naval 6" gun has been sent
up to the front at last, and that Lord Roberts had entered the Orange
Free State with a large force.

_Tuesday, 13th February._--Still very hot, although again a welcome
thunderstorm in the afternoon. Busy with fortifying and with taking
more gun ranges with a mekometer borrowed from the York and

_Wednesday, 14th February._--The Boers appeared in considerable force
on the sky-line to the left of Portjes Kopje about 8 a.m. I was
summoned with others by Colonel Burn-Murdoch to a Council of War, and
afterwards rode out with him and Staff to reconnoitre the enemy and to
look at country for gun work. We pushed up to a farm about 1,600 yards
from the enemy; we were fired on at that distance and all returned
about 4 p.m., when it was decided to attack the Boers next day. They
are some 9,000 yards off the camp, and seem to have no guns. During
our reconnoitring we saw a hare on the Kop, the first game I have come
across as yet in South Africa.

_Thursday, 15th February._--At 6 a.m. the Horse Artillery and Cavalry
were pushed out to attack, and my guns advanced to a kopje at 8,000
yards. But to our annoyance the Boers had made off during the night
and we had nothing to do. We received an English mail to-day, much to
our delight, and it brought a sketch in the _Daily Graphic_ of my
father inspecting a detachment of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade. My
servant Gilbert in hospital with fever, poor fellow.

_Friday, 16th February._--A red-letter day, and all quiet in camp.
Fitted rollers under my gun trails. News came that General French had
relieved Kimberley, and there was much cheering in camp.

_Sunday, 18th February._--We heard heavy firing all day, which turned
out to be General Buller attacking Hlangwane and Monte Christo Hills,
to the right of the Boer position at Colenso, but on our side of the
river. The positions were brilliantly taken at the point of the
bayonet; and all in camp are very cheerful at hearing of Cronje being
in full retreat, Magersfontein evacuated, and Methuen free to move.
This must be the beginning of the end. Raining hard, for the rains of
February are on us at last.

_Tuesday, 20th February._--Still heavy rain and tropical heat. Our
trenches full of water. Heavy firing on Colenso side and good news of
Buller's advance.


     Passage of Tugela forced and Colenso occupied -- Another move
     back across the river to Hlangwane and Monte Christo -- The Boers
     at length routed and Ladysmith is relieved -- Entry of Relief
     Force into Ladysmith -- Withdrawal of H.M.S. _Terrible's_ men to
     China -- I spend a bad time in Field Hospital -- General Buller's
     army moves forward to Elandslaagte -- Boers face us on the

_Thursday, 22nd February._--General Buller occupied Colenso, and wired
to our Commandant to join him with his whole force. The Cavalry left
at 5 a.m. and at 2 p.m. the rest of us moved off, my guns being
escorted by the York and Lancasters, with the Imperial Light Infantry
in rear, the whole under Colonel Fitzpatrick. We made a quick march to
beyond Pretorius' farm where we camped for the night.

_Friday, 23rd February._--Off at daylight in a beautiful cool morning.
On the west of the hill, where we rested to water and feed the oxen,
Colenso was plainly visible, and we found heavy shelling going on. We
reached Chieveley at 10 a.m. and going up to our old friend, Gun Hill,
we joined Drummond with the 6" Q.-F. gun, and pitched our camp. The 6"
gun looked a regular monster on its field carriage, and fired several
times at Grobler's Hill, at 15,000 yards; I was struck by its smart
crew of bluejackets and stokers, but the gun is much too far off the
enemy. An English mail came in to-day.

_Saturday, 24th February._--General Buller is shelling hard the kopjes
at Pieters beyond Colenso, but our Infantry do not seem to be gaining
an inch. As my guns were in reserve, I went up by train to Colenso,
with Captain Patch, R.A. We were much interested, as we saw all the
now famous spots where we had shelled the place out in December and
January--the village and hotel being in ruins, and everything wantonly
sacked and destroyed. I never saw such a scene in my life; pianos
pulled to pieces and furniture smashed up. I went on to the pont where
Lieutenant Chiazzari was in charge, and met many wounded being carried
across to the ambulance train; among others were General Wynne, and a
poor officer of the Lancashire Brigade just dying with a bullet in his
chest, also young Hodson of the _Terrible_ ill with fever. We crossed
the Tugela on planks over the ruins of the fallen railway bridge with
a swirling torrent about a foot below us, as the river was now in
flood. It was sad to see this magnificent bridge with all its spans
blown up and fallen across the river, and one buttress demolished.
Patch and I climbed up the kopjes beyond, saw the Boer system of
trenches, and inspected the places where they had blasted the reverse
slopes of the kopje, perpendicularly cut behind, and had got under
safe cover from shell. The panorama of battle which spread out in
front of us was most impressive with shells bursting close to us; our
firing line was some two miles on, resting on small kopjes near
Pieters that were taken during the night; our guns, great and small,
were massed in or beyond Colenso behind small kopjes which gave a
certain amount of cover; on the left were the 4.7 guns and four
12-pounders, then the 4.5 guns; and two miles to the right were other
field batteries and Ogilvy's four 12-pounders across the river on
Hlangwane, making some eighty guns in all. Behind the kopjes were
massed our men in reserve, besides all the Horse Artillery and Cavalry
and wagons. There was now very heavy Boer shelling over Colenso,
giving our men a bad time of it; for instance the whole of our 5" crew
of garrison gunners were killed and wounded by a shrapnel, and many of
the 4.7 men were hit about the same time. Our own shelling was
magnificent and deadly, all our fire being concentrated at one kopje
about 6,000 yards off; the musketry fire was also very heavy all along
the line. I never saw such a fine sight before. I returned from
Colenso to my guns about 3 p.m., in an ambulance train, with Major
Brazier Creagh. We are losing about 450 men a day and are advancing
very slowly, while the Boers appear to be bringing up more guns on our
left. No news from Ladysmith, but we were all glad to hear the
brilliant news of the capture of Cronje and all his force by Lord
Roberts, and the cheering in the fighting line on the news being
communicated was wild. A very heavy musketry fire raged all night, and
the Inniskillings in a night attack on Railway Hill lost a lot of men,
in fact were cut up.

_Sunday, 25th February._--Once more the Commander-in-Chief found his
position untenable, and half of the guns were withdrawn in the night
across to our side of the Tugela on to Hlangwane; all the wagons and
stores were also shifted out of Colenso and the majority of the troops
moved to the right to the Hlangwane and Monte Christo slopes. Colenso
was still held in force however by the 10th Brigade under General
Talbot Coke. Two of our 4.7 guns on platform mountings were now
ordered up to Hlangwane from our hill, and were got into position with
much labour at 2,500 yards by Lieutenant Anderton, Natal Naval
Volunteers; they did very good work at that decisive range. There was
to-day what we called a Boer Sunday, that is, a cessation of firing
on both sides after a hard ten days of it; the day was wet and we were
all washed out of our tents, some of which were blown clean down.

_Monday, 26th February._--The attack still hangs fire while our troops
are being massed on Hlangwane and Monte Christo. The shelling of
Colenso by the Boers is still going on pretty heavily, and one only
wonders how Naval 12-pounders like ours can be left here as they are,
no less than six of our guns doing nothing at all. Drummond left the
6" gun under me for a time; and, on spotting a Boer gun on Grobler's
Hill, I let drive at 15,000 yards, 28° elevation. As the shot only
fell some 200 yards short, I recommended a move to closer range, but
the gun eventually never was moved closer. While on Gun Hill we had
several civilians from Pietermaritzburg and Durban looking on at the
fighting. A very wet night, which made our positions a swamp, but I
was warmed by a warning to be ready to move my own guns to the front.

[Illustration: Colt Gun at Hlangwane firing at Boers.]

_Tuesday, 27th February._--A wire was handed to me in the night to
join the 10th Brigade with the Yorks and Lancasters, and off we went
at 6 a.m. in good spirits but in a thick drizzle of rain, passing
along the eastern slope of Hlangwane and winding up a fearful road to
the front. The Yorks and Lancasters at this point suddenly turned off,
and feeling that something was going wrong I halted my guns and rode
on to the Headquarters Staff, about half a mile on, finding the
Infantry attack just about to commence, the men all looking very
weary, and no wonder. I spoke to Ogilvy, who was there with his guns,
and afterwards to General Buller, who was standing quite close
surveying the general attack of our Infantry on the centre and right
3,000 yards ahead of us. The guns were giving the Boers lyddite and
shrapnel, and the fighting line were cheering as kopje after kopje
was taken. It was evident to my unpractised eye that we had the Boers
on the run at last. I told the Commander-in-Chief that my guns had
arrived, when he replied, "Why, you should be in Colenso," and turned
to his Staff, saying that some mistake had been made. I therefore
showed my written orders, and after reading them, the General said,
"It is not your fault, but march to Colenso as quickly as possible";
and he detached Lord Tullibardine to show us the way; I had seen a
good deal of him at Springfield. "The Pontoon bridge is up," he added;
"you must use the Boer pont and so ferry across the Tugela." So off we
went, and got to Colenso at 2 p.m. after a very hot march.

The ground at the railway crossing which we had to cross was being
heavily and accurately shelled, so leaving my gun train for a time in
a spot safe from the bursting shrapnel I rode on to prepare the pont
for our crossing the river. We got the first gun over to the Colenso
side of the river after hard work, the rotten bank giving way and the
gun being half submerged in the water; then the somewhat unhandy
soldiers in charge of the pont capsized a team of gun oxen when
half-way across the river by rocking the pont, and, nearly drowning
the poor oxen, swam ashore themselves and left them to their fate. It
was now 5 p.m. and as there were no men to do anything it was an
impossible position, with the pont sunk in the middle of the flooded
river; so that at dusk, after telling some soldiers who had come up
from General Coke's Brigade in response to my request what to do to
right the pont, I drew up my remaining gun and wagons on the south
bank, and put the gun which was already across the river out of action
under a guard below the river bank in case of any Boer swoop on it.

_Wednesday, 28th February._--A red-letter day. Before daylight I set
my men to work to bale out the pont and to get my second gun across
the river with 100 rounds of ammunition, and also off-loaded and got
over a spare wagon and 250 rounds more. All this was a terrible hard
job; two empty military wagons trying to get across the drift at this
spot were carried away before my eyes and only picked up a quarter of
a mile down stream. At 11 a.m. I was able at last to march on to join
General Coke's Brigade in Colenso, and to get my guns into position. I
was very exhausted and was feeling rather ill, but I was able to dine
with the General under a tarpaulin and had much talk over old times in
the Mauritius in 1898. It was a very wet evening, and my men who were
bivouacking with no tents had a bad time of it. The sudden cessation
of firing most of the day seemed to foreshadow some change at the
front, and we found afterwards to our joy that a detachment of the
Imperial Light Horse under Lord Dundonald had ridden into Ladysmith at
6 p.m. unmolested by the Boers who were reported to be in full

         [Footnote 3: The number of killed, wounded, and missing in
         the Natal Field Force, in the operations thus briefly alluded
         to, from Colenso (15th December, 1899) to the Relief of
         Ladysmith (28th February, 1900), amounted to 301 officers and
         5,028 men.]

_Thursday, 1st March._--Everything seems to feel dull and
unprofitable; all the country round is deserted and Colenso is almost
unbearable from the odour of dead horses. At about 11 a.m. the pickets
reported Boers in force coming down Grobler's Kloof, but the party
turned out to be our own men; some of the garrison Cavalry, in fact,
riding in from Ladysmith, who told us that the Boers were in full
retreat. In the afternoon I rode round Colenso. What a scene of
desolation and dirt; huts and houses unroofed and everything smashed
to pieces! Long lines of abandoned trenches, and the perpendicular
shelters which the Boers had blasted out behind all the kopjes against
shell fire plainly showed how well they knew how to protect
themselves. The trenches, about a mile long, in the plain to the right
of Colenso are very deep and are sandbagged; parts of them are full of
straw; many shelters are erected in them; and holes are burrowed out
and strewn with chips of cartridges and pieces of shell, bottles, and
every imaginable article. Being somewhat curious as to the effect of
our shelling which had gone on from the 10th December to the 12th
January at this line of trenches, I rode along them and came to the
conclusion that not one of our shells had actually hit these splendid
defences, although no doubt our fire annoyed and delayed the workers
in them. I picked up many curios here.

_Friday, 2nd March._--Not a Boer to be seen within miles. Very hot and
odoriferous here, and I feel queer and tired out although fortunately
able to lie down all day. In the middle of the night had a sudden and
alarming attack of colic and was in great agony. I really thought I
was done for, but my men gave me hot tea and mustard and water which
did me good.

_Saturday, 3rd March._--Woke up feeling weak and ill, but as luckily
there was no work on hand I was able to lay still under an ammunition
wagon and was much revived with some champagne which my best
bluejacket named House got for me from my friend Major Brazier Creagh
of the Hospital train. The doctor from the Middlesex lines who came to
see me in the evening told me he had been into Ladysmith and had found
the garrison looking very feeble; the Cavalry were hardly able to
crawl and could not therefore pursue the Boers; the rations had been
reduced to one and a half biscuits per day per man in addition to
sausages and soup called Chevril, made from horseflesh. It seems that
Ladysmith could have held out for another month, but the garrison had,
after our failure at Spion Kop, given up all hope of our relieving
them. Poor chaps! they have had an awful time of it. We learn that the
Boers had left a huge unfinished dam of sandbags across the Klip River
so as to flood out our shelter near the banks of the town; another
week would have seen this really marvellous work completed; but
luckily, as it was, our friends had to decamp in a hurry, leaving
tents, wagons and ammunition strewn all over the neighbourhood; I wish
I could add guns, but none were found, and I fear that the retreat
took place for one reason only, viz., Kruger's fear of being cut off
by Lord Roberts at Laing's Nek. Except for this I doubt whether we
should ever have moved the Boers out of the Colenso position with our
30,000 men; indeed, I hear that the German Attaché said it was a
wonder, and that his people would not have attempted it under ten
times the number. As it is, we are all glad that General Buller has

_Tuesday, 6th March._--Nothing special to note except that wagons and
ambulances have been pouring out of Ladysmith down Grobler's Hill
during the last few days.

_Wednesday, 7th March._--In the afternoon General Coke kindly came to
wish me good-bye as his Brigade had received orders to sail for East
London, and at the same time gave me orders to proceed to Ladysmith.
Meanwhile the Naval Brigade under Lionel Halsey passed our camp on the
way to Durban, and we drew up to cheer them and received their cheers
in return. Poor fellows, they looked as weak as rats.

_Thursday, 8th March._--We left Colenso at 5.30 a.m. with the 73rd
Field Battery for Ladysmith. We were much interested on the Grobler's
Hill road to see the Boer trenches and shelters, which were simply
marvellous and made the place impregnable. The trenches were blasted
out of solid rocks, some 6 feet, and some 6 to 8 feet thick, of solid
rock and boulder; these were all sandbagged, fitted with shelters with
burrowed-out holes, and were extended for a front of half a mile
facing Colenso. On the other side of the road, slightly higher up, was
another line of similar trenches, while the road itself was defended
by a series of stone conning towers--to use a Naval term--all
loopholed and commanding the entire passage. It was a wonderful
revelation to us after the "prepare to dig trench" exercise prescribed
by our own drill book. The Governor of Natal, Sir Walter
Hely-Hutchinson, happened to ride by when our Naval guns were drawn
up, and when he found that I was in command he sent for me, was very
kind, and said he would write to my father to tell him he had seen me.
Although still feeling ill from dysentery I tried not to make much of
it, but I could no longer ride my horse so got on a wagon. We moved on
to Ladysmith at 4 p.m. and were much interested in the various hills
and positions _en route_; we passed over Cæsar's camp, which we found
a very straggling uninteresting sort of place. The town itself lay on
the left and was now used as a hospital; we passed along over the iron
bridge where the troops from India were encamped, and much admired
their khaki tents and green ambulances; and climbing the hill leading
to the convent to join our Naval camp we found Ogilvy in command, who
said, much to my regret, that the men of the _Terrible_ who manned my
own and their guns, were ordered to be withdrawn for service in China.

_Friday, 9th March._--Having struggled long against my dysentery I am
now compelled to go on the sick list; and feel it to be a great blow,
after all my trouble and training, that my _Terrible_ bluejackets are
to go. Good fellows. It seems bad for the force, putting aside all
personal reasons, that all our trained men now well up to the country
we fight in, should thus suddenly have to go, and that Mountain
Battery gunners and others should be sent to fill their place. The
men, however, seem glad to go back to their ships after all their
severe work; and indeed the bluejacket is in some respects an odd
composition; he turns up trumps when there is work to be done, but he
is not always content with existing conditions and likes changes! Sir
Redvers Buller is very pleased with us, so says the Naval A.D.C., and
the telegrams just read out to the Naval Brigade from home are
extremely complimentary.

They are (1) from the Queen--"Pray express my deep appreciation to the
Naval Brigade for the valuable service they have rendered with their
guns"; (2) from Admiral Harris--"The Lords Commissioners of the
Admiralty desire me to express to the Naval and Marine officers and
Bluejackets and Marines who have been engaged in the successful
operations in Natal and Cape Colony, the sense of their great
admiration for the splendid manner in which they have upheld the
traditions of the service, and have added to its reputation for
resourcefulness, courage and devotion"; (3) from the Vice-Admiral
Commanding Channel Squadron--"Very hearty congratulations from
officers and men to Naval Brigade." We were all pleased at these
wires, and especially that, among others, Sir Harry Rawson had not
forgotten us.

_Saturday, 10th March._--Alas, at last I have to go to our Field
Hospital much against my will, while to add to my sorrow all my good
men of the _Terrible_ are starting off to rejoin their ship. We were
all glad to-day to hear of Ogilvy's promotion to Commander for
distinguished service in the field. He thoroughly deserves it.

_Tuesday, 13th March, to Thursday, 22nd._--A bad time, and I can
hardly walk a few yards without being tired. While in hospital, about
the 15th, a frightful hailstorm came on, the hailstones being as big
as walnuts and even as golf balls; the horses in camp broke loose and
stampeded, tents were blown down and flooded; several poor enteric
patients died from the wetting, and we had a very bad time. Meanwhile
important changes have gone on; Ladysmith has been emptied of Sir
George White's troops; Sir Charles Warren and General Coke are gone to
Maritzburg; the Naval Brigade is broken up, and our Naval guns are
turned over, alas, to Artillery Mountain Batteries. Captains Scott and
Lambton are made C.B.'s; the _Powerful_ has left for England, and the
_Terrible_ leaves for China; our flag is hoisted at Bloemfontein, and
the tone of the Foreign Press has altered; still more troops are
pouring out from England, and we hear that 40,000 more men are to be
landed before April, which is a very good precaution.

_Friday, 23d March._--There are rumours that the Boers have evacuated
the Biggarsberg hills, and at any rate all our troops are moving on to
Elandslaagte. The Dublins celebrated St. Patrick's Day on the 17th
with great _éclat_, and all the Irish soldiers throughout Natal wore
the shamrock. They have behaved splendidly all through the operations
and it is a pity that the Irish nation is not more like the Irish

_Sunday, 25th March._--Out of hospital to-day, but so weak that I can
hardly walk a yard, so I have to give in and go down country much
against my will. General Kitchener of the West Yorks told me of a
private house of the Suttons' at Howick, near Maritzburg, and strongly
advised me to go there; so I left Ladysmith on the 27th and got a warm
welcome from the Honourable Mr. and Mrs. Sutton and their family who
were most kind; and on the best of foods I soon began to pick up. The
house is a very pretty combined country and farm house facing the
Howick Falls, 280 feet high, of the Umgeni River. While here news came
of the disaster at Sanna's Post and the capture of 500 of the Irish
Rifles at Reddesberg, so we are all disappointed and think the end of
the war further off than we thought. My twenty-seventh birthday on the
1st April passed quietly in this peaceful spot, and after a pleasant
stay I left on the 13th, my lucky day, fairly well, although still a
stone under weight. I was very sorry to leave my more than kind
friends and hope to meet them again some day.

_Saturday, 14th April._--Reached Elandslaagte and rejoined the Naval
Brigade at the foot of the historical kopje which the Gordons and
Devons stormed in October last. The 4.7's are on top in sandbagged
emplacements, and the 12-pounders are in other positions on the right.
We are with General Clery, in General Hildyard's Brigade, and we hold
the right while Sir Charles Warren holds the left, of our long line of
defence. The Boers face us a long way off on kopjes north of us beyond
a large plain.

_Sunday, 15th April (Easter Day)._--All quiet here. About lunch time
Commander Dundas and Lieutenants Buckle and Johnson of the _Forte_
arrived to pay us a visit, and they were all very interested in what I
and others were able to show them.

_Tuesday, 17th April._--I feel much stronger and better now. Orders
having come for General Clery's Division to withdraw to Modder Spruit,
it did so at 6 p.m., leaving the Rifle Brigade and Scottish Rifles
with us, all under General Coke.

_Friday, 20th April._--Nothing moving in front. I have been given
James's guns to command as he has slight fever, and I have had all the
work and worry of dragging them up this kopje, making roads and gun
emplacements which are now too elaborate for my liking. Generals
Hildyard and Coke came to look at my gun positions and said they were
both glad to see me again; they have always been considerate and
perfect to work under. General Hildyard has now Sir Charles Warren's
(the Fifth) Division. I am very glad to be under him, although sorry
that Sir Charles Warren leaves us, which he does to administer the
Free State. Some sensation in camp to-day at Lord Roberts' comments on
Spion Kop; undoubtedly he is very sharp and mostly right; he is now
our one great hope out here and seems to be afraid of no one.

_Saturday, 21st April._--At daybreak we were hurried out by reports of
Boers in force to the front, and we saw several hundreds on the kopjes
at 8,000 to 10,000 yards. We are now in a position on the hill where
Elandslaagte was fought. The graves of some of our own men are here.
In the centre of the hill are those of the Boers, and the remains of
hundreds of dead horses and cattle are still lying about. The
collieries of Elandslaagte lie two miles to our left; and further
again to the left are the 5" military guns and two 12-pounders in
emplacements, while our own Naval 12-pounders and the 4.7's are on
this hill. Our right flank for some reason seems to be left
practically undefended. At 7 a.m. the Boers brought a 15-pounder
Creusot down on this flank and threw several shells just over us at
4,800 yards; our 4.7's and one of my own 12-pounders replied with
shrapnel and silenced it. The Boers appear to be in force in front,
moving backwards and forwards through Wessels Nek, so we have kept up
a desultory fire all day. At night they fired the grass in front of us
for about four miles; we were up all night expecting a night attack,
but none came; we were well prepared for it, as the hill was defended
by some 300 men in all round the guns.

_Sunday, 22nd April._--At daylight stood to our guns in a heavy mist
but no Boers reported. Received a box of fresh food from one of my
kind friends, Mrs. Moreton, daughter of Mrs. Sutton of Howick.

_Monday, April 23rd to Friday 27th._--Boers reported to be returning
on Newcastle. The long-expected presents from England for the Naval
Brigade from our good friends Rev. A. Drew, Miss Weston, Lady
Richards, and Mr. Tabor, have at last reached us from Durban, where
they have been lying for upwards of four months. As we have only sixty
bluejackets left up here we are overloaded. I took some tobacco, a
beautiful pipe in case, some books, and a neck scarf. After all this
kindness from friends at home what can we do for them in return? Poor
James, and also my servant Gilbert, have gone to hospital with
enteric. I am myself not much up to the mark but am thankful to have
command of guns again, and so try to keep well.

_Monday, 30th April._--No events of importance during the last few
days. Weather a trifle cooler. I rode over to the hospital on Saturday
to see Gilbert who is very bad, poor fellow, and will have to go home.
I gave him clothes and books and tried to cheer him up a bit. On my
return I found a fine large parcel of clothes from my own people at
home. Took the Naval Brigade to Church yesterday and marched past
General Hildyard afterwards.

_Sunday, 6th May._--Nothing has been stirring during this past week,
and we are getting rather weary of the quiet. We have news from home
of the Queen's inspection at Windsor of the _Powerful_ men and of a
fierce debate in Parliament on the Spion Kop despatches. We had our
own Church service to-day.


     End of three weary months at Elandslaagte -- A small Boer attack
     -- The Advance of General Buller by Helpmakaar on Dundee -- We
     under General Hildyard advance up the Glencoe Valley -- Retreat
     of the Boers to Laing's Nek -- Occupation of Newcastle and
     Utrecht -- We enter the Transvaal -- Concentration of the army
     near Ingogo -- Naval guns ascend Van Wyk, and Botha's Pass is
     forced -- Forced march through Orange Colony -- Victory at
     Almond's Nek -- Boers evacuate Majuba and Laing's Nek -- Lord
     Roberts enters Pretoria -- We occupy Volksrust and Charlestown.

_Monday, 7th May._--Still at Elandslaagte. Rumours of a possible
attack made us stand to guns before daylight, and it was well we did
so, as at 5.45 a.m. a party of Boers tried to rush the station and
were repulsed with slight loss on both sides; they managed to clear
off in the dim light. The attacking commando became afterwards known
as the "Ice Cream Brigade," being largely composed of Italians and

_Thursday, 10th May._--Rumours of a move. Poor Captain Jones is laid
up with jaundice, and indeed all in camp are a little off colour. Nice
letters to-day from my father and Admiral Douglas. The Middlesex and
Halsey's guns are shifted over to Krogman's farm. Self busy putting to
rights some of our wagon wheels which had shrunk from the tyres owing
to the great heat and drought.

_Friday, 11th May._--A great move this morning. The Dorsets trekked at
daylight to hold Indudo Mountain and Indumeni on our right. General
Clery's Division marched with Dundonald's Cavalry up Waschbank Valley,
and the 5" have been shifted to cover this advance. We were much
amused to-day in reading the first edition of the _Ladysmith Lyre_
(Liar), which perhaps I may be forgiven for quoting, with songs sung
by the garrison:--A duet by Sir George White and General Clery, "O
that we two were maying"; by Buller's Relief Force, "Over the hills
and far away"; by the Intelligence Officer, "I ain't a-going to tell";
by Captain Lambton, "Up I came with my little lot"; then a letter from
Ladysmith to Paradise Alley, Whitechapel:


     "This 'ere seige is something orful. We sits and sits and sits
     and does nothing. Rations is short, taters is off, and butter is
     gone. We only gets Dubbin. These blooming shells are a fair
     snorter; they 'um something 'orrid. 'Opin' this finds you as it
     leaves me,

     "Your affectionate,


Among other amusing items was, "Mrs. K. says her dear Oom is getting
too English: he no longer turns into bed in his clothes and boots."

_Sunday, 13th May._--We got our marching orders at last about 11 a.m.,
and I was just in the act of mounting my horse in good spirits to ride
off and see my guns brought down over Elandslaagte Kop, when something
startled him and he bolted over the rocks near the camp; having only
one foot in the stirrup I overbalanced and came heavily on my head and
left shoulder and was knocked silly for twenty minutes with a gash
over my eye to the bone. I was carried to my tent and kindly stitched
up by Dr. Campbell of the Imperial Light Infantry, and being much
shaken I was obliged to hand over command of my guns to poor Steel
who was only just recovering from jaundice and had to trek off at 3
p.m. to Sunday's River Drift. By keeping very quiet in the 4.7 camp in
Hunt's tent I got over my fall better than I expected, and was able to
move on, with a bandaged head and a sore body, with the 4.7 Battery
when they marched at daybreak on the 17th to Waschbank Bridge which we
reached at about 11 p.m. after a very hot and dusty march--all done up
and cross, and self in addition bandaged up and feeling altogether
unlovely after a slow and horribly dusty ride of eighteen miles. The
position of affairs now seems to be this: General Buller with Clery's
Division (the 2nd) and the Cavalry have occupied Beith and moved on
Dundee from which the Boers fled on the 14th with 4,000 men and
eighteen guns. Thus, Buller is in Dundee; Lyttelton's Division (the
4th) is still near Ladysmith under orders to advance; and we (the 5th)
are to move to Glencoe with all speed up Glencoe Pass and along the
railway line route.

_Friday, 18th May._--At 7 a.m. we trekked under General Hildyard and
had a very trying march with dust, dust, dust, sometimes a foot thick,
till arriving half-way to Glencoe we outspanned oxen. We found all the
railway bridges and the culverts of the line, some twenty-eight all
told, blown up along our line of march. The Boer positions we passed
on the road were extraordinarily strong, as usual; and one can well
understand why they held on to this place and the Biggarsberg ranges
on each side, a position ten times stronger than any Colenso. We
reached Glencoe about 5 p.m., and marching through it bivouacked for
the night a mile beyond the town on the level uplands. Here we
received orders to advance with all speed to Newcastle, where the
Commander-in-Chief is with the 2nd Division; so on we moved by
moonlight in a cloud of dust and passed the night on an awful rocky
place at Hatton's Spruit, trekking on in the morning towards
Newcastle; but when five miles on our march we received orders to move
back to Glencoe as the line had broken down and there were no supplies
for us at Newcastle. All disappointed, but back we had to go! The
weather is bitterly cold, and although we have our tents, we are, no
doubt for good reasons, not allowed to pitch them.

_Sunday, 20th May._--Took over my guns from Steel feeling rather low
with a plastered cut on my face. General Hildyard has congratulated us
all on the hard work and marching of the last few days. Both he and
his Staff have always a kind word for everyone, and I was greatly
pleased when they and Prince Christian, on seeing me with my faithful
guns once more, told me how glad they were that I had got so well over
my fall.

_Tuesday, 22nd May._--Busy getting my wagon wheels and guns right
after their trek over the bad road, and obliged to send them into
Dundee to be cut and re-tyred. I rode with Steel and Hunt to Dundee
which is five miles off; it is a small and miserable place with
tin-roofed houses, bare dusty surroundings, and awful streets. We saw
poor General Penn Symons' grave with the Union Jack flying over it,
and other graves marked by faded wreaths and wooden crosses. We had a
talk with the Chaplain who said that the Boers had passed through on
Sunday in full flight with all their guns. We rode back from this
desolate scene, amid the dust of ages and smell of dead animals,
wondering how poor General Symons ever allowed the Boers to occupy
Talana Hill which is only half a mile from the town and completely
commands it; in fact, there should never have been a Talana, and our
troops did splendidly to retake it.

_Wednesday, 23rd May._--Sudden orders to move off at 2 p.m., so all is
rush and hurry. I rode once more at the head of my guns, and all went
well with us except that one of the poor oxen broke a hind leg in the
trek chains down a steep bit of road and had to be left behind and
shot. For four hours after this our long line of march was stuck in a
drift, but at last, at 11 p.m., we got over it and at 1 a.m.
bivouacked at Dannhauser.

_Thursday, 24th May._--The Queen's birthday. God bless her. Up at
daylight, very cold, and no tents. Poor Captain Jones still very sick
with jaundice. Steel also, following my example, got a bad fall on the
rocks from his horse and is in Field Hospital. At noon we all paraded
in line with the Naval Brigade on the right; General Talbot Coke made
a speech and we gave Her Majesty three cheers from our hearts and
drank her health in the evening.

_Friday, 25th May._--Orders came to get our guns in position to defend
the camp, so off I had to go to do this on one flank and Halsey on the
other; and we lay out all day ready for an attack, with the cattle
grazing just in front of us. To our right about fifty miles off is
Majuba Hill.

_Saturday, 26th May._--We left Dannhauser at daybreak--oh, how
cold--marched with the 10th Brigade, and trekked on to Ingagane,
meeting on the road Lyttelton's Division (the 4th), which was hurrying
to the front. We reached Ingagane at 5 p.m., and met General Buller
and Staff just as we were going into camp for the night. The General
looked well; and the sight of him, somehow, always cheers one up, as
one feels something is going to be done at once.

_Sunday, 27th May._--Up at daybreak and awfully cold. We marched off
to Newcastle, the fine Lancashire Fusiliers, my father's old
regiment, doing rearguard just behind our guns. Met Archie Shee of the
19th Hussars who recognised me from old _Britannia_ days, where he and
I were together. He told me that my cousin Ernest St. Quintin of the
19th had gone home with enteric after the Ladysmith siege. On getting
to the top of the hills overlooking Newcastle we were much struck with
the view and the prettiness of the town which the Boers had hardly
wrecked at all--quite the best I have seen in Natal from a distance.
We went gaily down the hill and over a footbridge into camp where we
found all three Divisions together, barring a Brigade pushed on with
some 5" and 12-pounders to Ingogo. We hear that Lord Roberts is across
the Vaal, and that Hunter is pushing up through the Orange Free State
parallel with us, while the enemy are holding Majuba, Laing's Nek and
tunnel, and Pougwana Hill to the east of the Nek, with 10,000 men.

_Monday, 28th May._--Moved off with the 5th Division under General
Hildyard towards Utrecht. After an eight-mile march we crossed the
bridge over Buffalo River and Drift unopposed by Boers, and entered
the Transvaal at last. We were the first of the Natal force to do so,
so I record it proudly. At 9 p.m.--a very cold night--orders came for
an advance on Utrecht, my guns and some Infantry under Major Lousada
being left to hold the bridge and drift here. I visited all the
salient points of defence and outposts from Buffalo River to
Wakkerstroom Road and carefully selected my gun positions, then
brought the guns, each with an ammunition wagon, up the ridge, a steep
pull up, and placed them one commanding the Utrecht Road and one
Wakkerstroom Road--unluckily one mile apart, which could not be
helped. I put my chief petty officer, Munro, in command of the left
gun and took the right one myself, riding between the two to give
general directions when necessary. At night as no Boers appeared we
withdrew the guns and wagons behind the ridge.

_Wednesday, 30th May._--Drew the guns out of laager at sunrise and
again got into position and arranged details of defence with Major
Lousada so far as my own work was concerned. All was quiet however
to-day, and we saw no Boers nearer than Pougwana. And so it went on
for the next few days, during which the Landrost of Utrecht, after
twenty-four hours' armistice, delivered up the town to General
Hildyard, saying that he had done the same in 1881 to a British force
which had never occupied it after all. So history repeats itself.

_Saturday, 2nd June._--Marched along the right bank of Buffalo River
towards Ingogo, while Lyttelton's Brigade moved on our right on the
other side of the river towards Laing's Nek. After a pleasant trek
across the open veldt, and therefore no dust, we reached De Wet's farm
near Ingogo in the evening and bivouacked; a grand day marching right
under Majuba and Prospect and yet no sign of the enemy. Had a short
talk with General Hildyard and Prince Christian on the march, as they
rode by my battery, reminding the latter that I had first seen him
when I was in the Royal yacht in 1894 and took his father and himself
about in her steam launch at Cowes--a very different scene to this.
The Prince said he knew all along he had seen me before somewhere.

_Tuesday, 5th June._--Rode to Ingogo and saw the spot where the fight
took place in 1881, the huge rocks from which our fellows were
eventually cut up by Boer rifle fire, the monument set up to the 3rd
Bn. Royal Rifles, and some graves higher up of which one was to a
Captain of the R.E. Poor, unlucky, but gallant Sir George Colley; he
went from Ingogo to Majuba and there met his untimely death. The view
from here of Laing's Nek was glorious at sunset, Majuba frowning on
one side with Mount Prospect and Pougwana on the other, and the bed of
the Ingogo River below in a green and fertile valley. The Boer
position is very strong although our heavy Artillery ought to be able
to force it.

_Wednesday, 6th June._--All on the move, as the armistice which
General Buller was trying to arrange with Chris Botha is up, the
latter replying: "Our heavy guns and Mausers are our own and will be
moved at our convenience; the armistice is over." We hear that Lord
Roberts is in Pretoria and that Kruger has fled; but how
unsatisfactory that this does not end the war. In fact, marching to
Pretoria was the feature and romance of the war, and now must commence
anxious and weary guerilla tactics which may last a long time. About
dark in came orders to the Naval guns to move on and occupy Van Wyk
to-night: and off we went through large grass fires and along awful
roads, getting to the foot of the hill at about 1 a.m. with no worse
mishap than the upset of one of my guns twice on huge rocks hidden in
the long grass.

Captain Jones ordered me to go on up the hill during the night,
leaving the 4.7 guns at the bottom; so we commenced a weary climb up
Van Wyk (6,000 feet) on a pitch-dark night lighted only by the lurid
gleams of grass fires which the enemy had set going on the slopes of
the mountain. With thirty-two oxen on each gun it was only just
possible to ascend the lower slopes, and thus we made very slow
progress. But as Colonel Sim R.E. kindly showed me a sort of track up,
on we toiled for six hours, my men not having had a scrap of food or a
rest since starting while the night was deadly cold and dark. In the
gray dawn, just as we were attempting the last slope which was almost
precipitous, the wheels of one of the guns gave out and there we had
to leave it till daylight, pressing on with the sound one and getting
it up to the top exactly at daylight (7th June) in accordance with our
orders, taking the gun and limber up separately, with all my oxen and
100 men pulling. We found the position was held by the 10th Brigade,
and very heavy sniping going on down the N.W. slopes--a regular
crackle of musketry.

I soon got my gun along the crest into an emplacement prepared by the
Royal Engineers, and opened fire at once at 7,000 yards at a Boer camp
on the slopes of an opposite kop; but finding the camp practically
deserted we did not waste much fire on it. My men were now half dead
with fatigue and cold, so we all got a short rest in a freezing wind.

Sir Redvers Buller, quite blue with cold, rode up about 9 a.m. with
his Colonial guide, and carefully surveyed the position through my
long telescope. Prince Christian also came up later to talk over the
Boer position and seemed in great spirits. After a good look round we
could not see many signs of the enemy in front, and he was just going
off to report this, but at that moment the spurs of the berg opposite
to us became alive with them at 6,000 or 7,000 yards off; they came in
a long line out of a dip and donga and advanced in skirmishing order
with ambulances in rear and a wagon with what looked like a gun on it.
I opened fire at once and put my first two shells at 6,000 yards right
into some groups of horsemen; we saw them tumbling about, so after
about a dozen shots from my gun off they went like greased lightning,
seeming to sink into the earth and evidently quite taken aback to find
we had a gun in such a position. In a few minutes not a sign of them
was left, and the Commander-in-Chief riding up appeared much pleased
and congratulated us on our straight shooting; he seemed very
satisfied that we had got the guns up Van Wyk at all, and rode off
leaving us quite rewarded with his appreciation, besides that of
General Hildyard and his Staff who were with him.

Up to about noon we had nothing but long range sniping going on, but
to make all sure the 4.7 guns were sent up the hill by an easier and
more circuitous road than we had come, and took up position in
emplacements close to us. We on our part were busy all day completing
our ammunition up to 100 rounds a gun from the wagons which we had
been obliged to leave in the night half-way down the hill. Horribly
cold! I slept in the open under a limber.

_Friday, 8th June._--An attack on Botha's Pass arranged for 10 a.m.
The 10th Brigade and Naval guns are to hold Van Wyk and cover the
advance, with a range of 8,000 yards from the pass itself, and about
three miles of valley and road between to search with our fire; the
11th Brigade is to attack in the centre, advancing along the valley to
the foot of the pass; the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division to attack on
the right, in echelon, and clear the slopes and spurs of the berg on
our right flank; we ourselves to form the left of the line.

Our first objective was a conical high kop, called Spitz Kop, about
3,000 yards on our right and this was occupied without resistance by
the South African Light Horse; our guns searched all the valleys and
dongas up to the pass with a furious fire for some two hours assisted
by May's batteries below us. We could hear General Clery pounding
Laing's Nek with the two 4.7 guns on Prospect Hill and four 5" guns on
our right, although Majuba and Pougwana were shut out by Mount Inkwelo
from our actual view; and we knew that General Lyttelton had been
detached to operate to the N.E. of Wakkerstroom. The attack developed
about noon and we saw below us our Infantry and field batteries spread
out in the plain like ants while we still pointed our guns ahead of
them on to the top of the berg and pass. Up to the foot of the berg
our men met with no resistance, but at last a furious fire of rifles
and Pom-poms broke out on our right centre from Boers concealed in
dongas and trenches on the spurs. Our gallant 11th Brigade, with the
pressure eased by our fire and by the advance of the 2nd Brigade, took
the hills and pass in grand style, and with small loss comparatively
to ourselves. About 4 p.m. the enemy, driven up to the sky-line, lit
large grass fires and cleverly slipped off towards the N.E. under
cover of the smoke. We saw and fusilladed the Pom-poms through this
smoke at 10,000 yards with the 4.7's, and at 5 p.m. we had the whole
ground in our possession. Our troops in the valley were pushed on all
night, and we ourselves also received orders to descend Van Wyk and
press on. A shocking night; very wet and bitterly cold, with a heavy
Scotch mist settled over us. Down Van Wyk we came, although delayed by
our escort of Dublin Fusiliers losing their way all night in the fog,
but the Dorsets helped us instead. We had a tough job coming down the
steep hill in the mist but I had some fifty men on each of my guns to
drag back and steady them, and we eventually got down to the lower
ground without accident, but very much worn out and only just before

_Saturday, 9th June._--At 6 a.m. moved on for Botha's Pass Road at
full speed, and skirting a crest of hills overlooking a deliciously
cool river, we soon came to the valley where our attack was advanced,
and eventually got up the pass at dusk, at the tail end of a huge
column all racing to get up first. If the Boers had properly
entrenched the place it would have been impregnable. We bivouacked in
Orange River Colony at the top of the pass, all in good spirits at our
success and at being in a new country.

_Sunday, 10th June._--Off at daybreak through delightful hard roads
and veldt as compared with mountainous Natal; we can now realize Lord
Roberts' fine forced marches on seeing the difference between these
and the Natal roads. Our bullocks slipped along at the rate of three
miles an hour, and passing farms flying white flags and flat veldt
country we bivouacked for the night on Gansvlei Spruit, finding the
boundary here of the Transvaal (a bend of the Klip River) quite close
to us.

[Illustration: Naval 12-pounders advancing after Almond's Nek.]

[Illustration: 4.7 on a bad bit of road.]

_Monday, 11th June._--Off at 5 a.m., and got our Naval guns in
position to attack, but found that the Boers had evacuated the ground
in front of us. Up and on at a great rate over the grassy veldt, the
guns now marching in four columns and keeping a broad front. At about
1 p.m. sudden firing in front and the familiar whirr of Boer shells
made us come into action at 4,500 yards on Almond's Nek Pass, through
which our road lay. The Boers were evidently in possession, judging by
the warm greeting of Pom-poms and the Creusot 5", which played on us
without much damage. The troops were now all halted, and formed up for
attack which was to commence in an hour's time. The Commander-in-Chief
(Buller) directed the operations, carried out at 2 p.m. by the
Infantry advancing in long extended lines, the 10th Brigade in the
centre, the 11th on the right, and the 2nd on the left, the field
batteries and Naval guns covering the advance with lyddite. The 10th
Brigade, which had 3,000 yards of plain to cross and a small kop to
take, dislodged the Boers and their Pom-poms quietly and steadily
under a heavy rifle and gun fire, the noise being terrific, as the
hills and ravines were smothered by shrapnel and lyddite; in
half-an-hour the Boers were on the run again and their fire was
silenced, after treating us with Pom-pom and 45-lb. shrapnel, one
piece of which narrowly escaped my left foot--a detail interesting to
myself to recall. The attack of the Queen's, East Surreys, and Devons,
on the left of the pass, and especially of the Dorsets on the conical
hill, was most gallant and irresistible. Thus, about 5 p.m., at dusk
we were in possession of the ridges 5,000 feet high on the left and
right of the pass, which we thought a great achievement, while the
Cavalry and Horse Artillery were pushed on to complete the Boer rout,
but darkness coming on prevented this. General Buller and his Staff
rode along our guns evidently very pleased, and indeed the force had
won a brilliant little victory which cleared our way effectually and
turned Laing's Nek besides. The Boers lost, as we thought, about 140
killed, of whom we buried a good many, while our casualties in killed
and wounded were 137; but we afterwards learnt from an official Boer
list found in Volksrust that their losses on this occasion reached
500, chiefly from our shrapnel fire. General Talbot Coke who directed
the centre attack congratulated Captain Jones on the fine shooting of
the Naval guns, as did also General Buller who said it had enabled
them to take the position in front of us with such small loss. Again
bitterly cold, and we bivouacked for the night on the battlefield.

_Tuesday, 12th June._--On again an hour before dawn through Almond's
Nek; a thick mist came down, but all being eventually reported clear
ahead we marched on towards Volksrust and bivouacked.

_Wednesday, 13th June._--All our men in high spirits; the 11th
Brigade, with the Naval guns, moved on Volksrust, while the 10th
Brigade and Royal Artillery guns marched to Charlestown, and we thus
occupied the two towns simultaneously. Volksrust is a cold-looking,
tin-roofed town; all houses and farms are showing the white flag, the
men are gone, and the women are left behind weeping for their dead. We
captured here a store of rifles and ammunition besides wagons and
forage, not to mention Boer coffins left in their hurried flight.

_Thursday and Friday, 14th and 15th June._--At Volksrust resting on
our laurels, and all in good heart, although feeling this bitter
mid-winter cold. General Hildyard sent for names to mention in his
despatches, and I believe I am one. As commanding the _Tartar_ guns I
was also very pleased to be able to mention six of my men, and am full
of admiration of the way in which my bluejackets have worked, shot,
and stood the cold and marching. To sum up our recent operations, they
are:--March from Elandslaagte to Glencoe, reoccupation of Newcastle;
crossing of Buffalo Drift and occupation of Utrecht; ascent of Van Wyk
at night with guns; turning and capture of Botha's Pass; march through
Orange River Colony and Transvaal in pursuit of the Boers; taking of
Almond's Nek and occupation of Volksrust and Charlestown, with the
strong position of Laing's Nek turned and evacuated by the enemy who
are in full flight. This is all very satisfactory, and we hear of
congratulations from the Queen and others to General Buller. The Boers
have, however, with their usual cleverness and ability, got away their
guns by rail, but we hope to get them later. We are now busy refitting
wagons and gear for a further advance. I hope the services of the
bluejackets in these operations, which have been invaluable, will
receive the recognition they deserve at the end of the campaign.


     Majuba Hill in 1900 -- We march on Wakkerstroom and occupy
     Sandspruit -- Withdrawal of H.M.S. _Forte's_ men and Naval
     Volunteers from the front -- Action under General Brocklehurst at
     Sandspruit -- I go to hospital and Durban for a short time --
     Recover and proceed to the front again -- Take command of my guns
     at Grass Kop -- Kruger flies from Africa in a Dutch man-of-war --
     Many rumours of peace.

_Saturday, 16th June._--Starting about 10 a.m. I rode over to Laing's
Nek with Captain Jones and Lieutenants Hunt and Steel, taking
Charlestown on our way and getting up to the railway tunnel where
Clery's Division is encamped. The Boer scoundrels have blown down both
ends of the tunnel, blocking up the egress, and putting a dead horse
at each end! We found also a deep boring they had made over the top of
the nek through the slate with the object of reaching the roof of the
tunnel and exploding it; but this having failed, from our friends not
getting deep enough, the damage is insignificant and the rail will be
cleared by the Engineers within a few days. We rode along the top of
Laing's Nek and looked at the trench, some three to four miles long,
which the Boers had made there; it completely defends the nek from
every point of attack and gives the defender, by its zigzag direction,
many points for enfilading any assaulting party. In fact, the work is
marvellous; the Boers must have had 10,000 men employed on it, the
trench being some five feet deep on stone and slate, with clever gun
positions, stretching from Pougwana, to the east of the nek, to
Amajuba on the west, as we saw plainly later on from Majuba and
elsewhere. We rode up Majuba Hill as far as we could, finding it a
great upstanding hill with a flat top overlooking the nek. On the way
we passed many small trenches and sniping pits evidently made for
enfilading fire. From the top of the grassy slope (when it became too
steep for the horses to climb) we commenced the ascent of the actual
hill on foot, climbing, one might say, in the footsteps of the Boers
of 1881 when they made the wonderful attack on Colley and turned his
men off the top. Right well can we now understand how they did it; it
is almost too clear to be credible to us, and one cannot but regret
the omission of the English force to hold the spurs of the mountain
when occupying the top, seeing that any attacking party, safe from
fire from the top of the hill on account of the projecting spurs,
could get up untouched to within a few feet of the top of this
northern face; this is what the Boers did while holding poor Sir
George Colley's attention by long-range fire from the valley below. We
saw what must have been the very paths up which the Boers crept, and
when it came to the point where they had to emerge the slope was
precipitous but short; here, so records tell us, by a heavy rifle-fire
while lying flat on their stomachs, they drove our men off the
sky-line, and once at the top the whole affair became a slaughter.
Climbing this last steep bit as best we could, we reached the flat top
quite blown and found it about 300 yards wide with the well-known,
cup-shaped hollow, in the centre of which lie our poor fellows buried
in a wire enclosure--sad to say twenty-two bluejackets among them,
beside Gordons, King's Royal Rifles, and others. An insignificant
stone heap marks the place where poor Colley was shot, and on one
stone is put in black-lead "Here Colley fell." The sky-line which our
men held had only a few small rocks behind which they tried to shelter
themselves but no other defence at all in the shape of a wall or
trench. All the east and south faces overlooking the nek have now
(nineteen years later) been very heavily trenched by the Boers at
great expense of labour; they were evidently expecting we should
attack and perhaps turn them out of Majuba, although the slope of the
hill on the south side is quite too precipitous for such an operation.
I picked up some fern and plants near where Colley fell, as a memento.
We took an hour and a half to get down again, meeting General Buller
and his Staff walking up to inspect the hill, and I rode back ten
miles to Volksrust blessed with a headache from the steep climb and
strong air. The view from the top of Majuba, showing the Boer trenches
on Laing's Nek, was wonderful; well might they think their position
impregnable and well might we be satisfied to have marched through
Botha's Pass and forced the enemy to evacuate such an impregnable
place with so little loss to ourselves.

_Sunday, 17th June._--Left Volksrust early to march on Wakkerstroom,
news having come in that General Lyttelton was somewhat pressed and
was unable to get on. Our march was uneventful, as we only passed the
usual farms with white flags and batches of Dutch women--as
mischievous as they pretend to be friendly. Bivouacking for one night
we got to Wakkerstroom--a march of twenty-eight miles--on the 18th,
bivouacking outside the usual style of town, very cold and gray
looking, one or two tall buildings, and situated in a treeless valley
at the foot of some high hills. Very cold and wet.

_Wednesday, 20th June._--Moved away from this spot the same way we
came, and had no incident except hard marching; we passed Sandspruit
on the Pretoria line, which we found undefended. Lees, the Naval
A.D.C., here came up and told Captain Jones that the General wanted
him. He rode off in a great hurry, first asking self and Halsey
whether our small commandos wanted to stop or go off. We both replied
"Stop, and see it out." Captain Jones came back to say that the
_Forte_ men and the Natal Naval Volunteers were to be withdrawn, and
the 4.7 guns to be turned over to the military; we are to remain. He
did not seem to know whether to be glad or sorry but told us that
Admiral Harris had wired to the Commander-in-Chief that he wanted the
_Forte_ men for an expedition up the Gambia on the west coast. Such is
the Naval Service, here one day and off the next.

_Friday, 22nd June._--The 11th Brigade and Naval guns marched off at 9
a.m., leaving myself with the 18th Hussars, Dorsets, 13th Battery R.A.
and so on, to defend Sandspruit Bridge. I was very sorry to say
good-bye to Captain Jones and all, especially Hunt, Steel and
Anderton, after our seven months' campaigning and hardships together,
and I feel quite lonely. General Hildyard introduced me to General
Brocklehurst who commands here. We selected gun positions and got the
37th Company R.E. to make two emplacements for my guns. I had a look
at the bridge at which the Boers had fired gun shots to carry an
important trestle away, but they did but slight damage.

_Saturday, 23rd June._--Rode about all day looking at the defences
with our Brigade Major (Wyndham), selecting positions and giving my
opinion on some of them. Was asked to lunch with General Brocklehurst
and Staff (Wyndham of the Lancers, Corbett of the 2nd Life Guards, and
Crichton of the Blues) and had tea with them as well--all a very nice
lot. Trains are running through to Standerton where the
Commander-in-Chief and General Clery are at present.

_Sunday, 24th June._--A quiet and cold day. Called on the Dorsets and
found that Colonel Cecil Law is a cousin, and very nice and kind.

_Monday, 25th June._--A hard frost and heavy mist. General
Brocklehurst moved out with the 11th Hussars, two guns of the 13th
Battery, my own guns, and a Company of the Dorsets, against some Boers
who had been often sniping us and our guides from the Amersfoort Road.
We got into position about 2 p.m., and had a small action lasting till
dark; my guns clearing the ridges on the right at 4,500 yards with
shrapnel, while the Hussars and guns advanced over a high ridge in
front. Here the Boers resisted and retired, but on our drawing off
into camp later on, to save the daylight, they came after us in full
force and we had a small sort of action with lots of firing; we gave
them fifty shrapnel. The General seemed pleased with our shooting.
Trekked back to camp and dined with Colonel Law and the Dorsets who
fed us up right well. Sent General Brocklehurst and his A.D.C. some
damaged and fired brass cartridge cases which they wanted as a

_Thursday, 28th June._--About 2 p.m. a Flying Column from Volksrust
passed through here to follow up the Boers at Amersfoort. This war
certainly seems likely to last a long time.

_Friday, 29th June._--To-day General Talbot Coke with a Flying Column
moved out at 8 a.m. supported by the 18th Hussars and some of our
guns, but he had to fall back in face of a superior force of 2,000
Boers and 6 guns against him. We had some twenty casualties.

_Saturday, 30th June._--I have been for some days sick and ill with
jaundice, arising from exposure and hard work, but am anxious not to
give in. To-day I am advised however to do so, and to-morrow may see
the last of me here as I go into hospital, and here I may say I
remained till the 5th July when I was able to get up although as weak
as a rat. I was advised by the doctor to run down to Durban to the
warmer climate, so as I felt too weak to do anything else I had to ask
the General for sixteen days' leave which he gave me. Thus on the 6th
July after giving over my guns to Lieutenant Clutterbuck, I left
Sandspruit in an empty open truck at 4 p.m., got down to Volksrust at
dark, and met Reeves, R.S.O., who had had jaundice and who offered me
a bed in his office, which I was delighted to have; also met again
Captain Patch, R.A. We all dined together at the station and wasn't I
ravenous! We all came to the conclusion that we were rather sick of
campaigning if accompanied by jaundice and other ills of the flesh.

_Saturday, 7th July._--At 8.30 a.m. went on by train to Ladysmith
which I reached at 8 p.m., and got into Durban the next morning at 9
a.m. A lovely morning and a nice country covered with pretty gardens
and flowers--such a change from that awfully dried up Northern Natal.
I secured a room at the Marine Hotel, feeling ill and glad to get
sleep and oblivion for a time.

_Wednesday, 11th July._--The weather at Durban is lovely and I am
already feeling better. Have met Nugent of the _Thetis_ and Major
Brazier Creagh, also down with jaundice. My letters have lately all
gone wrong, but to-day I received a batch to my great delight.

And now I must perforce close this record of personal experiences,
written perhaps more to amuse and satisfy myself than for the perusal
of others; more especially as this being a personal Diary I have been
obliged by force of circumstances to use the pronoun "I" more than I
would otherwise wish. The war seems played out so far as one can
judge. It appears to be becoming now a guerilla warfare of small
actions and runaway fights at long ranges; these furnish of course no
new experiences or discoveries to Naval gunners; in fact, the sameness
of them is depressing, and what with marching, fighting, poor living,
dysentery, and jaundice, I humbly confess that my martial zeal is at a
much lower ebb than it was a year ago. Yet time may produce many
changes and surprises, and I may yet find myself again at the front;
who knows!

       *       *       *       *       *

_Thursday, 26th July._--The quick return to health which the change to
the warmth of Durban effected made me only too glad to get back to the
front again with the object of "being in at the death." I travelled up
as far as Ingogo with Captain Reed, R.A. (now a V.C.); thence on to
Sandspruit, and on again in a Scotch cart, which Major Carney, R.A.,
M.C., lent me, to Grass Kop, a hill six miles off the station and some
6,000 feet high. Ugh! I shall never forget the drive and the jolting,
and the sudden cold after Durban weather. Still I was able to rejoin
my guns before dark, and to receive them over from Lieutenant
Clutterbuck who had been sent to relieve me when I was obliged to
leave the front. He fortunately had a share in taking this hill with
the Dorsets when in command of my guns. With a whole battalion at
first of Dorsets under Colonel Law (who had dug marvellous good
trenches), and later on with three Companies of the South Lancashires,
and after that two Companies of the Queen's (note the descending scale
of numbers), we defend this position, monarchs of all we survey, and
therefore bagging all we can get, not only of the numerous guinea
fowl, partridge, and spring buck dwelling on its sides and in its
ravines, but also, it must be confessed, of the tamer and tougher
bipeds from surrounding farms that were nearly all deserted by their
owners. For many weeks we had a great deal of fun in our little
shooting expeditions. Major Adams of the Lancashires, a keen
sportsman, was always sighting game through his binoculars as he was
going on his constant patrols round the defences, and he allowed the
rest of us to shoot when able. Thus in the midst of our work we had
many a jolly hour in those occasional expeditions close to our lines;
one day we made a large bag of geese and started a farmyard just in
front of our guns on a small nek, giving our friends the geese a
chance of emulating the deeds of their ancestors at the Roman Capitol;
for who can tell whether they may not yet save Grass Kop if our
friends the Boers are game enough to attack.

_Sunday, 12th August._--The gales of wind up here are something awful.
This evening as we were toasting the "Grouse" at home, a furious blast
blew down and split up my own tent and that of others, although
fortunately we had a refuge in the mess-house which the Dorsets had
made by digging a deep hole roofed over with tin; here we are fairly
comfortable and have stocked this splendid apartment with Boer
furniture, including a small organ. Our evenings with the South
Lancashires in this mess-house have been as merry as we could make
them, and our president, Major Adams, whom we all like, occasionally
fires off a tune on the organ which he plays beautifully such as it
is. The Volunteers with us are to be seen at all times sitting on the
side of the hill surveying the country through their binoculars and
watching the movements of the enemy. Marking the interest which this
being "able to see" gives men, I sincerely hope that in future wars
each company of a regiment or of a battleship may be always supplied
with a certain proportion of binoculars, or with small hand
telescopes, for possible outpost duty.

_Monday, 13th August._--General Hildyard rode up here and expressed
himself much pleased with our trenches and defences. I had a talk with
him about matters and he does not seem to anticipate a further advance
of the 5th Division just yet. However, here we are, and the kop "has a
fine healthy air," as the General who was quite blue with cold
remarked. Neither my men nor self have had any letters for weeks,
which is rather dreary for us; our mails are, no doubt, chasing the
Commander-in-Chief at Ermelo. One feels a certain amount of pity for
these Boers; they are, owing to their reckless and cunning leaders, in
the position of a conquered race, and this position to such a people
who are naturally proud, cunning and overbearing must be awful. One
notices this much even among the few old men, boys and women who are
left on the farms; they display a certain air of dejection and are
even cringing till they see that they are not going to be robbed or
hurt when their self-confidence soon reasserts itself. There is a
typical old Boer farmer and his family living at the foot of Grass
Kop; a few presents of coffee and sugar have made this family grateful
and quite glad to see us; still one detects the cunning in their
nature, and they don't hide for a moment that they wish the English
anywhere but in their country. Poor people, they have one good point
in their characters which is that they won't hear of anyone running
down their President even although he has terribly sold them.

_Wednesday, 15th August._--We have now watched two fights round the
town of Amersfoort, about eighteen miles north of us. On the 7th
General Buller occupied the place and we were all in readiness to
defend our right flank if need be, but our friends the Boers bolted
to Ermelo instead of coming our way. We were all rather annoyed at
Grass Kop, however, to see a Boer laager with a dozen wagons, guns and
ambulances inspan at almost the last moment and slip off under the
very noses of our Cavalry who were drawn up in force under a long
ridge, doing nothing for an hour at least. This is all the more vexing
because for a fortnight or more we had sent in accurate reports as to
this very laager which a single flank movement of the Cavalry would
have easily taken _en bloc_, instead of which they paid no attention
to our heliograph from Major Adams to "hurry up and at them." These
frontal attacks on towns without flanking movements seem to be absurd,
as the enemy and his guns invariably get away under our noses. To-day
General Buller occupied Ermelo, but as ill-luck will have it the
commandos which split up before him have come south-east and are
giving trouble on the Natal border.

_Friday, 24th August._--The winter is slipping away, and to-day I am
writing in one of those horrible north-west gales of wind which knock
our tents into shreds and whirl round us dust as thick as pea-soup.
Our kop life is becoming a little monotonous but we manage to get on.

[Illustration: Bringing in a Boer prisoner.]

[Illustration: In Camp at Grass Kop.]

[Illustration: One of Lieut. Halsey's Naval 12-pounders.]

_Monday, 27th August._--The Boers have again cut the line and are
shelling Ingogo, so we must evidently march on their laager. Down
comes the rain in a perfect deluge for three days which is most
depressing, more especially as our poor mess-house is full of water
from a leaky roof and we have to take our meals with feet cocked up on
tin sheets. The South Lancashires have suddenly got the order to move
for which we are all very sorry. I presented Major Adams with two old
brass cases and two blind 12-pounder shells for the regiment from the
Navy detachment, as a memento of our pleasant time with them. We
have been very busy making our positions secure from attack in case of
accidents with barbed wire, besides sangars and trenches.

_Wednesday, 5th September._--Very thick mists up here, and as we hear
rumours of attack we have very alert and wakeful nights. A great many
movements in our front which only succeed in dispersing the Boer
commandos without capturing them. We hear of Lord Roberts'
proclamation of the 1st September annexing the Transvaal, and we give
three cheers![4]

         [Footnote 4: The following is a copy of a telegram which the
         Governor received from Lord Roberts, dated 13th September,

         "I have ordered the following proclamation to be printed and
         widely circulated in English and Dutch.

         "The late President, with Mr. Reitz, and the archives of the
         South African Republic, have crossed the Portuguese frontier
         and arrived at Lourenso Marques, with a view of sailing for
         Europe at an early date. Mr. Kruger has formally resigned the
         position he held as President of the South African Republic,
         thus severing his official connection with the Transvaal.

         "Mr. Kruger's action shows how hopeless, in his opinion, is
         the war which has now been carried on for nearly a year, and
         his desertion of the Boer cause should make it clear to his
         fellow-burghers that it is useless for them to continue the
         struggle any longer.

         "It is probably unknown to the inhabitants of the Transvaal
         and Orange River Colony that nearly 15,000 of their
         fellow-subjects are now prisoners of war, not one of whom
         will be released until those now in arms against us surrender

         "The burghers must now by this time be cognisant of the fact
         that no intervention on their behalf will come from any of
         the Great Powers, and, further, that the British Empire is
         determined to complete the work which has already cost so
         many valuable lives, and to carry to its conclusion the war
         declared against her by the late Governments of the Transvaal
         and Orange Free State--a war to which there can be but one

         "If any further doubts remain in the minds of the burghers as
         to Her Britannic Majesty's intentions, they should be
         dispelled by the permanent manner in which the country is
         gradually being occupied by Her Majesty's forces, and by the
         issue of the proclamations signed by me on the 24th May and
         the 1st September, 1900, annexing the Orange Free State and
         the South African Republic respectively, in the name of Her

         "I take this opportunity of pointing out that, except in the
         small area occupied by the Boer army under the personal
         command of Commandant General Botha, the war is degenerating
         into operations carried on in an irregular and irresponsible
         manner by small, and, in very many cases, insignificant
         bodies of men.

         "I should be failing in my duty to Her Majesty's Government
         and to Her Majesty's Army in South Africa, if I neglected to
         use every means in my power to bring such irregular warfare
         to an early conclusion.

         "The means which I am compelled to adopt are those which the
         customs of war prescribe as being applicable to such cases.

         "They are ruinous to the country, entail endless suffering on
         the burghers and their families, and the longer this guerilla
         warfare continues the more vigorously must they be

_Wednesday, 12th September._--Not much to record. Lieutenant Halsey,
R.N., looking very fit, came to see me yesterday from Standerton, and
from what he says we are likely to remain on here for some time longer
defending the position which is no doubt an important one. My oxen are
well, but some of the men are getting enteric. We have to be on the
alert against Kaffirs who prowl up the hill with a view, as we think,
of taking a look round on the defences.

_Friday, 14th September._--Engaged in writing details of the graves of
two of the _Tartar_ men who, as the Admiral said in a memo, on the
subject, had given their lives for their Queen and country. Apparently
the Guild of Loyal Women of South Africa have engaged to look after
all the graves of H.M. sailors and soldiers in this country and have
written to ask for their position. What a kindness this is, and what a
comfort to the poor families in England who cannot come out to do so!
The two services must be ever in debt for it. We are all glad to hear
that Kruger has bolted from the country viâ Delagoa Bay. But why let
him escape?

_Sunday, 23rd September._--Still here, with all sorts of news and
rumours constantly coming up; Kruger sailing to Europe in a Dutch
man-of-war; Botha said to be on the point of surrendering; some 15,000
Boer prisoners in our hands and so on; while at Volksrust the burghers
are surrendering at the rate of fifty a day, and here at Sandspruit
they are dribbling in by half-dozens for what it is worth. But from
now up to 1st October at Grass Kop we have to record "Nothing,
nothing, always nothing," although in the outer world we hear of great
doings, and of C.I.V.'s, Canadians, Guards, Natal Volunteers, and
others all preparing to go home for a well-deserved rest. Our turn
must soon come, and I am busy preparing my Ordnance and Transport
accounts in view of sudden orders to leave the front. The following
circular may be of interest as showing the gifts given for the troops
in Natal during these operations by native chiefs and others in that


     No. A 23.

     The following gifts of money have been sent from native chiefs,
     committees, and others in Natal for the benefit of the troops in
     Natal. The amounts received for the sick and wounded have been
     handed over to the principal medical officer, lines of
     communication, and the other gifts to the officers commanding

  _From whom received._ _received._  _Amount._  _On what account._
                                     £  s. d.
  Ngeeda (of Chief
  Ndguna's tribe)         7/3/00     7  0  0  1st Manchester Regiment.

  Chief Xemuhenm          22/3/00   10  0  0  For troops who defended

  Berlin Mission (New
  Germany)                22/3/00    8  0  0  For sick and wounded.

  Native Christian
  Communities             28/3/00   15  0  0  For war funds.
  Chief Umzingelwa        28/3/00    5  0  0  For relief purposes.
  Chief Laduma            30/3/00    8  0  0  For sick and wounded.
  Members of Free
    Church of Scotland
    Mission (natives)     30/3/00    9  5  6-1/2    "    "
  Natives of Alexandra
    Division               3/4/00    7 15  3  For Royal Artillery who
                                              fought at Colenso.
  Free Church of
    Scotland (Impolweni
    natives)               6/4/00    3 17  4  For sick and wounded.
  Loyal Dutch round
    Tugela district       12/4/00   41  7  6        "    "
  J. H. Kumolo (Lion's
    River District)       13/4/00    3 18  0        "    "
  P. M. Majozi            16/5/00    3  0  0        "    "
  Chief Gayede
    (Amakabela Tribe)     19/5/00    6  0  0        "    "
  Chief Ndgungazwe        26/5/00    8  9 10-1/2    "    "
  Headman Umnxinwa        26/5/00    3  0  0  { For Sergeant who led
  Headman Umnxinwa        15/7/00    0 17  0  { East Surreys at
                                              { Pieter's Hill.
  Chief Bambata, of
    Umvoti Division       3/6/00     3  0  0  For sick and wounded.
  Chief Christian Lutayi,
    and Mr. Bryant Cole   5/6/00     9  1  0  For sick and wounded.
  Chief Ncwadi            9/6/00   219  6  0        "    "
  Chief Ncwadi           15/7/00   147  1  6        "    "
  Chief Mqolombeni       10/6/00     5  0  0        "    "
  Native Chiefs
    (Timothy Ogle and
    Ntemba Ogle)         15/6/00    20  0  0        "    "
  Chief Mahlube          21/6/00    15  0  0        "    "
  Chief Nyakana
    (Mampula Division)   28/6/00     2  0  0        "    "
  Chief Xegwana           7/7/00     1 10  0        "    "

  NEWCASTLE,               H. HEATH (_Lieut.-Colonel_),
  _30th July, 1900._         _C.S.O., Lines of Communication._


     Still holding Grass Kop with the Queen's -- General Buller leaves
     for England -- Final withdrawal of the Naval Brigade, and our
     arrival at Durban -- Our reception there -- I sail for England --

_Tuesday, 2nd October._--Grass Kop. Still here with the Queen's and my
friends Major Dawson and Lieutenant Poynder. What an odd sort of
climate we seem to have in South Africa. Two days ago unbearable heat
with rain and thunder, and to-day so cold, with a heavy Scotch mist,
as to make one think of the North Pole; so we are shivering in wraps
and balaclavas, while occasional N.W. gales lower some of our tents.
The partridges seem to have forsaken this hill, so poor "John" the
pointer doesn't get enough work to please him; but his master, Major
Dawson, when able to prowl about safe from Boer snipers, still downs
many a pigeon and guinea fowl which keeps our table going.

_Friday, 5th October._--We are all delighted to hear that Lord Roberts
is appointed Commander-in-Chief at home; report says that he comes
down from Pretoria in a few days to inspect the Natal battlefields and
to look at his gallant son's grave at Colenso. I must try and see him
if I can. One of our convoys from Vryheid reported to be captured on
the 1st by Boers, the Volunteer escort being made prisoners and some
killed; this has delayed the return of the Natal Volunteers who were
to have been called in for good on that day.

_Wednesday, 10th October._--Still we drag on to the inevitable end.
The reported capture of a convoy turns out to be only a few wagons
escorted by a small party of Volunteers who were unwounded and
released after a few days.

This is a great week of anniversaries. Yesterday, the 9th, was that of
the insolent Boer Ultimatum of 1899 which brought Kruger and his lot
to ruin; to-day and to-morrow a year ago (10th and 11th October), the
Boer forces were mobilizing at this very place, Sandspruit; and on the
12th they entered Natal full of bumptious boasting. They were going,
as they said, to "eat fish in Durban" within a month, and many of them
carried tin cases containing dress suits and new clothes in
preparation for that convivial event. And they would have done so
except for the fish (sailors) and the women (Highlanders), as they
styled us, who, they said, were too much for them, combined I think
with the Ladysmith sweet shop, which proved their Scylla with Colenso
as their Charybdis.

Major Burrell of the Queen's was up here a few days ago and made a
special reconnaissance to Roi Kop under cover of my guns; he told us
many amusing stories of his experiences with Boer and foreign
prisoners at Paardekop while sweeping up the country round there; one
Prussian Major of Artillery had come in from Amersfoort and
surrendered, saying he had blown up seven Boer guns just previously by
Botha's orders. This German Major, it seems, was a curious type of
man; waving his hands airily he would say that foreigners were obliged
to come and join the Boers so as to study the art of war which only
the English got any chance of doing in their little campaigns; this
being so, he said, "Ah, I shall go back to my native land, then six
months in a fortress perhaps, after that, _sapristi_, a good military
appointment. _Eh bien_! what do you think?" He also said about our
taking of Almond's Nek that Erasmus, who was commanding at Laing's
Nek, had been told that we were turning his flank and was advised to
send ten guns to stop us; he thought a minute and said "No, I will not
send guns, it is Sunday and God will stop them." Perhaps the Prussian
Major's veracity was not of the highest class, but this yarn if told
to General Buller would no doubt interest him, because undoubtedly if
the Boers had had ten more guns defending Almond's Nek we should have
had considerable more difficulty in taking it. The following Natal
Army Orders of 17th July, 1900, will show how considerately we dealt
with the Boers and others in the foregoing operations in the matter of
paying for supplies.


     The following are the prices fixed to be paid for supplies
     requisitioned, etc.:

     No bills will, however, be paid by supply officers or others
     until approved by the Director of Supplies.

     Receipts will be given in all cases on the authorized form, and
     duplicates forwarded same day to Director of Supplies. The
     receipts will show whether the owner is on his farm or on

  Oat hay, per 100 bundles       15s. to 18s. according to quality.
  Manna hay,       "             10s.
  Blue grass,      "              3s.
  Straw,           "              7s.
  Mealies, per 100 lbs            5s.
  Potatoes, per sack of 150 lbs. 10s.
  Milk, per bottle                6d.
  Eggs, per dozen                 1s. to 1s. 3d.
  Fowls, each                     1s. to 1s. 6d.
  Ducks,   "                      2s. to 2s. 6d.
  Geese,   "                      3s. to 3s. 6d.
  Turkeys, "                      6s. to 8s.
  Butter, per lb.                 1s. to 1s. 6d.

_Saturday, 13th October._--Many exciting things have crowded
themselves into the last few days. The Boers who had slipped away from
the Vryheid district are again moving north, and are reported in some
force at Waterfal on the Elandsberg, 20° N.E. of us. They are said to
have a Pom-pom and two Creusots; it seems to be the Wakkerstroom
commando and Swaziland police, some 300 strong; the Ermelo commando
has also moved on to the Barberton district. These commandos have been
raiding cattle and horses every day, keeping well out of reach of our
guns; many rumours of their intent to attack us at Grass Kop have been
brought in but we are quite ready for them. This raiding has had the
effect of bringing all the Dutch farmers and their sons flying back to
their farms to look after their stock; they are highly indignant with
the looters, have all surrendered and taken the oath at Volksrust, and
ride up here to the foot of the hill every day with many reports and
much advice about their former comrades' movements, and how to attack
and kill them! Many old Dutch women have come also to the hill in
tears over their losses from Boer marauders and say they are starving.
All this gives Major Dawson and Lieutenant Poynder, Adjutant of the
Queen's, a great deal of work and many walks down the hill to
interview these people.

Our Naval camp has been strengthened by building stone sangars round
our tents to prevent any risk of the enemy creeping up and sniping us
in our sleep; still, with barbed wires round the hill, hung with old
tins, and trenches and sangars to protect the position, we feel pretty
safe, although the gallant Cowper of the Queen's has gone down with
one company to reinforce Sandspruit and we miss him greatly.

To go back a few days, I must now mention that on the 11th October
came a wire from Admiral Harris to Halsey telling him to arrange the
return of our remnant of Naval Brigade to Natal as soon as possible,
our brother officers and men who were with Lord Roberts on the other
side having left Pretoria on the 8th and arrived at Simon's Town. This
wire, as may be imagined, caused us much joy up here after a year's
fighting, and I personally celebrated it with the Queen's by a great
dinner on some partridges and pigeons that I had bagged down hill on
the 10th.

To cap this telegram I received one forwarded on from Standerton next
day: "Admiral, Simon's Town, wires, Burne appointed _Victoria and
Albert_ Royal Yacht; he should proceed to Durban whence his passage
will be arranged." This came as a surprise to me, but at my seniority
to serve Her Majesty once more on her yacht, where I was a
Sub-Lieutenant in 1894, is a very great honour. I cannot well get away
however just yet, as arrangements are being made for the relief of all
guns by garrison gunners, and I am intent to "see it out," and indeed
I must do so in order to turn over all the ordnance and transport
stores and accounts for which I am personally responsible, and which
after six months mount up a bit. I expect therefore to leave this hill
and the front with our Naval Brigade next week, and then for "England,
home, and beauty" once more. I shall hope, when able to do it, to
revert to my gunnery line by-and-bye, as it has stood me in good stead
in the past.

_Monday, 15th October._--Another wire from Halsey, who is at
Standerton, telling me he hoped to arrange for our leaving together on
the 18th for Durban, so we are busy preparing, and I send off to-day
my returns of ox transport, which show that out of 84 oxen we have
lost 17 in action and otherwise. Old Scheeper, the Boer farmer at the
bottom of our hill, whose son is Assistant Field Cornet with the
Wakkerstroom commando, has sold me his crane and is making a cage for
it. I shall take it down to Maritzburg and present it to the Governor
(Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson), who has done me kindnesses in two parts
of the world. I am also busy packing up my collection of Boer shells
and relics of Colenso, Vaal Krantz, Almond's Nek, and Grass Kop. We
may yet be attacked before leaving, as Boers were reported about ten
miles off last night moving south along the Elandsberg. Sir Redvers
Buller passed through Sandspruit on the 14th _en route_ for Maritzburg
and England, so it is quite on the cards that I may go home in the
same ship which will be interesting.

_Friday, 19th October._--Still not relieved. The railway line has been
cut two nights running between Paardekop and Standerton, and about a
mile and a half of it torn up, and this perhaps accounts for the
delay. We hear that General Buller has had a great reception at
Maritzburg as he deserves and that he goes on to Durban this week; he
is undoubtedly the "Saviour of Natal," as they call him. The Governor
accepts my Transvaal crane for his garden, so I shall take it down in
the cage I am having made for it and leave it _en route_ down at

_Saturday, 20th October._--Anniversary of Talana Hill. Sir Redvers
Buller arrived to-day in Durban and had a great reception. All the
newspapers praise him, and the earlier and difficult days of our
rebuffs on the Tugela are wiped out in public opinion by subsequent
brilliant successes. The General is, indeed, immensely popular with
the army he has led through such difficult country and through so much
fighting and marching. Very pleased to meet at Volksrust to-day
Captain Fitz Herbert of the South African Light Horse who came out
with me in the _Briton_ a year ago. He was originally in the Berkshire
Regiment, but joined the South African Light Horse at Capetown and
was taken prisoner by the Boers at Colenso. His experiences with the
Boers for four months as a prisoner were, he tells me, somewhat awful.
The first week he was handcuffed and put in the common jail for
knocking down an insolent jailer, and he had to live all his time on
mealies, with meat only once a week. He shows the marks of all this
and is quite grey.

_Sunday, 21st October._--A wire at last ordering us to leave on
Wednesday for Durban. Off I went, therefore, to Volksrust to close my
ordnance accounts with my middy, Mr. Ledgard, from Paardekop, who had
met me with his papers. Hard at it since the 15th, turning over
stores, making out vouchers, answering wires, and writing reports.

_Tuesday, 23rd October._--I gave over my guns here and at Paardekop on
Sunday to Lieutenant Campbell and Captain Shepheard, of the Royal
Artillery, and to-day we are all busy packing, and doing the thousand
and one things one always finds at the last moment to do. As we are
off at 7 a.m. to-morrow, to catch the mail train at Sandspruit, the
Queen's are giving me a farewell dinner to-night, while Bethune's
Horse are dining my men. Rundle, French, and Hildyard are reported to
be closing in all round in a circle (this place being the centre), and
5,000 Boers within the circle are being gradually forced slowly in
towards us. The many men who come in to surrender report that the main
body will be obliged either to surrender or to attack us somewhere to
get a position. I wired yesterday to General Hildyard, who is at Blood
River, sending my respects to him and his Staff on leaving his
command, and I received a very kind reply to-day: "I and my Staff
thank you for your message. I am very sorry not to have seen you
before you leave, but I hope you will tell your gallant officers and
men how much I have appreciated their cheerful and ready assistance
while with me during the campaign."

My men have to-day hoisted a paying-off pennant with a large bunch of
flowers at the end of it. This looks very fine and is greatly admired
in camp. Much to our surprise we had a little excitement in the
afternoon as the Boers round us bagged a patrol of Bethune's Horse,
and on coming within shell fire to drive oxen and horses off from
Parson's farm, my beloved gun in this position was brought into action
by the Garrison Artillery under Lieutenant Campbell (who had taken
over from me on the 21st), four shells bursting all round the
marauders and scattering them at once.

Later on the Boers sent Bethune's captured men back to Grass Kop,
having shot their horses and smashed their rifles before their eyes.
Poynder and the Major gave me a big farewell dinner, and we all turned
in early this evening expecting an attack during the night, but
nothing happened. So next morning, the 24th, we got under way, with
our paying-off pennant streaming in the wind from a wagon, after
saying good-bye (amid cheers and hand-shakings) to all our kind
military comrades and friends at Grass Kop. I was more than sorry to
leave the Queen's.[5]

         [Footnote 5: Poor Poynder! I was dreadfully sorry to hear he
         died of enteric at Kronstadt just a year after this event;
         there was never a nicer chap or a better soldier, and it's
         hard lines losing him.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Knight, Aldershot._

Lt.-Gen. Sir H. J. T. Hildyard, K.C.B.]

I won't describe the journey down at length; the entraining at
Sandspruit and meeting all the rest of the Brigade; the farewells and
cheers and "beers" from the Queen's; and the false bottle of whisky
handed to Halsey by Colonel Pink, D.S.O., which I could not get him to
open on the way down. We saw Reeves, R.S.O., at Charlestown, and
many other old friends, and ran through to Durban by 8 a.m. on the
25th. Unluckily, I and the middy were in a carriage from Maritzburg in
which we couldn't get a wash, so one's feelings at Durban may be
imagined when we got out dirty and tired, and saw a large crowd of
officers and the Mayor of Durban and others ready to receive us on the
platform. What a welcome they did give us! The speeches, the cheers of
the crowd, the marching through the streets, and the breakfast, I
leave an abler pen than mine, the _Natal Advertiser_, to describe:
sufficient to say, I felt very proud of our men who looked splendid,
hard as nails and sunburnt, in fact, _men_; and Halsey surpassed
himself when he was suddenly turned on to return thanks to the Mayor
in the street, and later on at the breakfast. The witty and
appropriate speech also of Colonel Morris, Commandant, will make him
to be remembered by the men of the Naval Brigade as the "Wit of
Durban," and not the "Villain of Durban," by which title he described

Here is what the _Natal Advertiser_ says of the day's proceedings:--

     Among the first of the "handy men" who, with their 4.7 guns, went
     to the front, were those of H.M. ships _Philomel_ and _Tartar_.
     Though in many of the reports H.M.S. _Terrible's_ men got the
     credit of the work done, the duties were equally shared by the
     two other contingents from the cruisers. On October 29th,
     twenty-nine men of the _Tartar_ left Durban, and on November
     11th, thirty-three men and two officers of the _Philomel_ were
     entrained to Chieveley. These men went forward to the relief of
     Ladysmith, and had to face many hardships and many a stiff fight.
     To-day the last of them returned from the front. Out of the
     twenty-nine men of H.M.S. _Tartar_ that went forward, only
     eighteen returned; and out of the thirty-three men and two
     officers of H.M.S. _Philomel_ twenty-three men and two officers
     came down. These losses speak eloquently of the tasks performed,
     and the hardships endured. Of those who could not answer the
     roll-call this morning, some have been killed in action, others
     died of disease, while a few have been invalided. After the men
     of the _Powerful_, the _Terrible_, and the Naval Volunteers
     returned, the _Philomel_ and _Tartar_ contingents were kept at
     their posts, and, even on their return they had trouble at Grass
     Kop and Sandspruit. The officers in charge of the men were
     Lieutenant Halsey, Lieutenant Burne, and Midshipman Ledgard.

     Shortly after 8 o'clock this morning a crowd began to assemble at
     the Railway Station, awaiting the arrival of the down mail train.
     On the platform were: the Commandant, Colonel Morris, the Mayor
     (Mr. J. Nichol), Commander Dundas, of H.M.S. _Philomel_, the
     Deputy Mayor (Mr. J. Ellis Brown), Lieutenant Belcombe, Mr. W.
     Cooley, Surgeon Elliott, and Paymaster Pim. About 100 men of
     H.M.S. _Philomel_, under Sub-Lieutenant Hobson, were drawn up in
     a double line outside the station. The train was a trifle late in
     arriving, but as soon as it drew up, the warriors were marched
     outside. A ringing cheer from a crowd of nearly 1,500 welcomed
     them as soon as they took up a position and were called to

     The Mayor addressed them, and, on behalf of Durban, offered them
     a hearty welcome back. These men, he said, had been entrusted to
     go to the front to defend the Colony, and they had done it well.
     They were among the first in the field and were the last to
     leave, and he felt sure they had done their duty faithfully,
     honestly, and well. (Applause.) They might be relied upon to do
     that in any part of the world, wherever or whenever called upon.
     They were looked upon as the "handy men," the men who had done
     the greatest portion of the work during the campaign. They and
     their guns saved the situation. Even when they were marching
     down, he understood they had had some fighting. On behalf of
     Natal, he thanked them for what they had done through these
     trying times. (Applause.)

     Lieutenant Halsey, replying, said that after forty-eight hours in
     the train it was difficult for them to take a reception like
     this. The men and officers of the Brigade had done their duty,
     and would do it again if called upon. (Applause.) They were glad
     that they had been able to do anything in the fighting line, and
     they thanked the Mayor for the kind welcome extended to them. He
     called for three hearty cheers for the Mayor.

     The crowd joined in the response, and raised another for "Our
     Boys." Lieutenant Halsey called for cheers for the Naval
     Volunteers, who had helped the Brigade so ably during the war.

     The concourse of people had now greatly increased, and the Post
     Office front was thronged. The Brigade were given the word to
     march, and cheers were raised again and again until the men
     turned out into West Street. Headed by the Durban Local
     Volunteers' Band, the _Philomel_ and _Tartar_ men marched along
     to the Drill Hall. They were followed by Captain Dundas' piper,
     two standard bearers, and their comrades of the _Philomel_. At
     the Drill Hall arms were piled and the men again fell in, the
     band playing them along to the Princess Café, where they were
     entertained. The Mayor, the Commandant, Major Taylor, Mr. J.
     Ellis Brown, and Mr. E. W. Evans received them. At the order of
     the Commandant one khaki man sat between two white men, the
     comrades of the warriors being dressed in their white ducks. At
     the order of the Town Council Mr. Dunn had provided a most
     substantial breakfast, to which the men did full justice.

     The loyal toast having been duly honoured.

     Colonel Morris proposed "Our Guests," and said he did not know
     why the "villain of Durban" should be called upon to take up this
     toast, or why the honour of proposing it had been conferred on
     him. He begged to tell them, for the information of those fellows
     who had just come down from the front, that he was the "villain
     of Durban." (Laughter.) He meant that if any of these chaps were
     out after 11 o'clock at night he would find for them nice
     accommodation in the Superintendent's cells. There was a long
     time between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., and he trusted they would not
     get into trouble. The villain of the piece had to propose the
     health of these fellows who had come down from the front.
     (Cheers.) Now, these Navy fellows, if they could do so well on
     land, how much better could they not do at sea? (Cheers.) They
     knew how Jack had fought in the old days of Trafalgar, St.
     Vincent, and at other great battles, and if they had to fight
     again they might depend upon it that Jack the "handy man" was
     just as good to-day as he was then. (Cheers.) Jack had proved
     himself a splendid fellow ashore, and he wondered what any of
     the landlubbers would do at sea. (Laughter.) The sea was a
     ripping good place to look at, but from his point of view he
     would rather be on land. (Laughter.) Anyway, Jack did not like
     the land; he preferred to be on sea. Therefore, when at home on
     the sea Jack would do a hundred times better than he had on
     shore. (Cheers.) He recommended any people who thought of
     fighting them on sea to take care what they were going against.
     He did not believe that the British Navy was to be beaten here or
     hereafter--(cheers)--and he was positively certain, from what he
     saw of the Navy when they were at the front, that those who went
     to look at them would say, "No, we will not play the game with
     you on the water." He was positively certain that they would all
     be admirals in time. (Laughter.) That was if they only waited
     long enough (cheers), and if they did not come across the
     "villain of Durban" they would be all right. He wished them all
     thundering good luck, and he was sure that every one of them
     would grow younger, because he did not believe any naval man grew
     older. When they got their feet on board again they would feel
     like chickens. He hoped they would all see the dear old country
     soon. (Applause.) If they did not see it soon they would see it
     later on. (Laughter.) Now, if they came across an enemy at sea he
     knew exactly what would happen, and what they would read in the
     papers--that the enemy had gone to the bottom of the sea.
     (Laughter.) He dared say the Navy would be able to respond to the
     toast. He did not know their capacities for talking, but Jack was
     never hard up for saying something when he was called upon to do
     so. Again he wished them jolly good luck. (Cheers.)

     All save the guests rose, and led by the Commandant's stentorian
     voice, sang "They are Jolly Good Fellows."

     Chief Petty Officer Munro returned thanks on behalf of his
     comrades, and said that the reception had been quite unexpected.
     They had had very hard times, and they had had very good times.
     They had done what they did willingly--(applause)--and they were
     ready to do the same thing again for Her Majesty and the Empire,
     and also to uphold the good old name of the Navy. (Cheers.) He
     advised the fellows to keep out of the clutches of the
     Commandant, for from what he saw of him he thought it would be
     better. (Laughter.) When nearly twelve months ago they landed at
     Durban, the people were a bit more excited than they were to-day.

     Lieutenant Halsey asked the men to drink to the Mayor and Council
     of Durban. Everybody outside knew, he said, how kindly Durban was
     looked upon. Durban was one of the best places in the
     station--(applause)--and it was on account of the wonderful way
     everything was managed by the Mayor and Council. (Cheers.)

     The toast was pledged with enthusiasm, and the Mayor said they
     were proud to have them here, and to entertain them.

     The men then fell in again in Field Street, and marched off to
     the Point, the Durban Light Infantry Band playing "Just a little
     bit off the Top" as a march.

     The _Philomel_ and the hospital ship _Orcana_ had been dressed
     for the occasion, and a number of their comrades assembled at the
     Passenger Jetty and cheered them on arrival. They were afterwards
     conveyed to the cruisers.

     Among the Navals who returned from the front this morning is a
     little canine hero, "Jack" the terrier, which has shared their
     fortunes throughout the war. When they left Durban ten months ago
     a little fox terrier followed them. While at the front he never
     left them, although he was not particular with whom he fed or
     what kind of weather prevailed. The firing of a 4.7 gun did not
     discourage him, and through the booming of big guns and the
     rattle of musketry he stuck by his adopters. Through every
     engagement he went, and has come back bearing an honourable scar
     on the head--shot by a Mauser bullet. The men, needless to say,
     idolise the little hero, whose neck is decorated with a large
     blue ribbon from which is suspended a Transvaal Commemoration

After inserting this account, there is, perhaps, nothing more to be
recorded except to say how grateful we all felt to the Mayor and
people of Durban for the kind and indeed magnificent reception they
gave us; and we could not but add our thanks to Commander Dundas of
the _Philomel_, to whose energy and good will, as senior Naval
Officer, the success of the reception was greatly due.

_Tuesday, 30th October._--After saying good-bye to many old friends of
the _Philomel_, and others, and undergoing lunches and dinners (of
which the most amusing and lively one was with Captain Bearcroft of
the _Philomel_ who led the Naval Brigade under Lord Roberts and whom I
was glad to have met before sailing) I got on board the _Tantallon
Castle_, finding Commander Dundas on board and coming home in the same
mail. We left Durban on a beautiful day, and I was glad to find myself
in possession of a large cabin. And so I must end this long and
rambling Journal on seeing the last of Natal, merely adding that we
had rather a rough passage, after touching at Port Elizabeth, up to
Mossel Bay, a most picturesque place on account of the towering peaks
and ranges of hills running close to the coast-line. We reached
Capetown on the 5th November, and I found Table Mountain and the
general view much more striking than I had previously thought. We had
to wait here till the 8th November, when we finally bid farewell to
South Africa which with every beat of the screw gradually faded from
view into the dim shadows of an interesting past.

While the revolving wheel of life bears one on to other scenes and
toils, with dear old England looming once more on the horizon, we
leave South Africa behind with the problem of the war still unsettled,
and with desultory but fierce fighting still going on. But let us hope
that the shadows will lift, and that the glory of a rising sun will
eventually dim and absorb the sea of blood which has submerged that
wonderful and hitherto unfortunate land. The lines from the "Light of

          "Om Mani padme Hun, The sunrise comes,
           The dew-drop slips into the shining sea"--

express, I think, the hope of every British heart for South Africa, as
they do that of my own.


     Gunnery Results: The 12-pounder Q.-F. Naval gun -- Its mounting,
     sighting, and methods of firing -- The Creusot 3" gun and its
     improvements -- Shrapnel fire and the poor results obtained by
     the Boers -- Use of the Clinometer and Mekometer -- How to
     emplace a Q.-F. gun, etc., etc.

A word or two now as to what we with the guns have learnt during the
campaign, although I feel that this may be rather a dull, professional
sort of chapter except to those interested in guns and gunnery, and
that the subject as treated by myself may be open to criticism from
others similarly engaged. I may certainly say that it was not for at
least three months after our opening fire at the first battle of
Colenso (December 15th, 1899) that I personally felt myself as "fairly
well up" to the constantly varying conditions of gun positions, gun
platforms, enemy's positions, and the ever-changing "light and shade"
of the South African climate, against all of which one had to fight to
get correct shooting; the last-named of these, viz., "light and
shade," being perhaps our greatest bugbear, often throwing one many
thousand yards out in judging a range by eye, which gift is, I think,
the best a gunner can possess!

Then, too, the Naval guns as they were sent up (owing to the work
being pushed at the last moment), some on high wheels and some on low
ones, some with drag-shoes opened out and others which wouldn't take
the wheels, some with the wires from them to trail plate handles the
right length and others much too long, caused (I am talking of the
12-pounders) these guns, instead of forming a level shooting battery,
to be each one a study in itself as regarded its shooting powers; and
we constantly found one gun shooting, say, three or four hundred yards
harder or further than the one next to it although laid to the same
range on the sights. This at first sight was rather mystifying, but
all these small but important matters above mentioned were not long in
being put to rights. On any future occasion such defects will, of
course, be avoided from the start by the guns being altogether more
strongly mounted on broad-tyred wheels and broad axles of similar
height, size and pattern, and, above all, with a strong and uniform
system for checking the recoil of the carriage, of which the
drag-shoe, as it was fitted and sent up to us, was certainly not

[Illustration: _Photo by Symonds, Portsmouth._

Captain Percy Scott, C.B., R.N.]

I am rather keen on this question of the best means of checking the
recoil of a field carriage. A very strongly made drag-shoe fitted with
chains to the centre of gun trail will do very well; and these were,
later on in the campaign, fitted by the Ordnance authorities at
Maritzburg to new "Percy Scott" carriages, which they sent up to us to
replace the original "Percy Scott" carriages, which, as I remarked
before, were not strongly enough built, particularly as regards the
wheels, to stand any very bad country or a lengthened campaign, in
both of which we found ourselves involved. In these remarks, please
let no one think that I am running down the 12-pounder carriage for a
purpose; not so. I simply wish to point out details that, if more time
had been available, would certainly have been avoided in them by their
very clever designer, Captain Percy Scott, R.N., to whom the
service in general (and I personally) owe a debt of gratitude; for
assuredly not a Q.-F. gun, or a single one of us with the batteries,
would ever have been landed unless it had been for him and his brains
and his determination to have the Royal Navy represented in the
campaign, as was their due--being on the spot with what was most
wanted, namely, heavy guns.

Here I wish to distinctly state my own opinion, and that also of the
many officials and gunners, Naval and Military, with whom I have
talked over the matter, _i.e._, that not only did the Naval guns save
Ladysmith, but they also in a great measure helped to save the
campaign outside for its relief, and with it Natal. And my opinion
now, when the war is nearly over, is only strengthened and confirmed
by what I have heard the Boers say of the guns, viz., that they are
the only things when using shrapnel that have shaken them much during
the fighting, and, considering the country, naturally so. That it was
to the Navy and not to the garrison gunners that the original credit
has gone, was simply because we were here and they were at home at the
start. One is, as regards their gunnery powers, as good as the other,
and the garrison gunners earned their laurels later on. Still, I have
a great hankering after a gun's crew of "handy men" to beat any crew
in this world for all-round service and quick shooting, and I am ready
to back my opinion heavily.

Returning from this digression to the subject of recoil, we found that
sandbags placed at a certain distance in rear of each wheel not only
effectually checked the carriage, but also (a great consideration) ran
it out again. This system was used both by the 4.7's and ourselves at
the end of the war; and seeing that the guns had only half crews, it
was a _most_ important saving to men who had perhaps marched ten
miles, loaded and off-loaded ammunition, and then had perhaps to
fight the guns under a hot sun for hours. To fill and carry the bags,
however, is a nuisance, and some better system on the same principle
is needed, such as the inclined wedges that I saw by photos the Boers
were using in rear of wheels; and I should very much like to see some
such system substituted for our present one. I have not seen the
hydraulic spade used, perhaps that is the _best_.

To put it briefly, the hastily improvised gun-carriage of the
12-pounders had, on account of this very haste, the following

     (1.) Too weak generally in all parts, particularly wheels and
     axles, for any long campaign.

     (2.) Wheels and axles being a scratch lot, none in any of the
     batteries were interchangeable, which caused many times later in
     the campaign when wheels began to give out, much anxiety. Several
     times we only had guns ready for action or trekking by the "skin
     of one's teeth," and it must be borne in mind that any new wheels
     wired-for sometimes took two months to arrive on the very
     overcrowded railway--a single line.

     (3.) The system of checking the recoil of the field carriage was
     a bad one.

     (4.) All the 12-pounders except two were in the first instance
     sent up without limbers, and therefore had to be limbered up to
     wagons. This for practical purposes in the country we had to trek
     over was absolutely useless and caused endless delays. Eventually
     we all got limbers built at Maritzburg, and equivalent gun-oxen
     to drag the guns separately from the wagons.

     (5.) The trail of the gun consisted of a solid block of wood some
     12 feet long; so that if one laid the gun to any long range (in
     most over 7,000 yards, I think) the oil cylinder under the gun,
     on trying to elevate it, would bring-up against this trail and
     prevent laying. This therefore necessitated digging pits for
     trails to shoot much over 7,000 yards, which in bad ground often
     took some considerable time. To obviate this defect would of
     course be very easy with a steel trail of two side plates, and
     space for gun and the cylinder between the sides.

     (6.) The general idea of all the mountings I saw was narrow axles
     and high wheels, whereas, for all trekking purposes, it should be
     broad space between the wheels and low wheels. This was amply
     proved to us by the number of times the high-wheeled narrow
     mountings upset on rocky ground, whilst the broad low type went
     along steadily. The 12-pounder gun itself did its work
     beautifully, shooting hard and lasting well, and owing to the dry
     climate of Africa we had no trouble at all to keep the guns clean
     and all gear in good order.

     (7.) Perhaps the most troublesome defect of all was that the
     gun-carriage had no brake fitted. The gunnery drill-book system
     of "lash gun wheels" may be at once erased from the book for all
     practical purposes over any rocky or bad country; it simply, as
     we soon found, tears the wheels to pieces, and chokes the whole
     mounting up. An ordinary military Scotch cart brake, or a brake
     fitted as the trek wagons here have, under the muzzle of the gun
     on the forepart of the wheels, acts very well, and my
     bluejackets, although not carpenters, fitted these for me. They
     are screw-up brakes.

The sighting of the gun (drum and bar system) cannot be beaten, I
think. Perhaps a V-shaped notch to give one the centre of the H, or
hind sight, might be an improvement, as here personal error often
occurs. Lieutenant, now Commander, Ogilvy, R.N., always made his men
correct their final sighting of the gun for elevation from about six
paces in rear of the trail, and my experience is that this is a small
but important matter, especially for fine shooting say at a trench at
5,000 yards, which merely appears to one as a line on the ground. One
invariably finds that the gun, with the eye of a man laying close up
to the hind sight, is laid slightly short of the object; so this
should be noticed in the gunnery drill-book as regards field guns.
_Telescopic_ sights, the patent, I believe, of Lieutenant-Colonel L.
K. Scott, R.E., were sent out and used by us with the 12-pounders to
fire on the trenches at Spion Kop and Brakfontein, when fine shooting
was required. These sights had the cross wires much too thick, so we
substituted cobwebs picked off the bushes and stuck on with torpedo
composition, and these did admirably. Still this sight was not
altogether a success. The power of the telescope, especially in the
rays of the sun, was poor, and it took a man a long time to lay his
gun with it, thus further reducing the quick-firing power of the
12-pounder reduced already by the recoiling field carriage. As to the
4.7's, it was found that the ordinary Naval small telescope, fitted on
a bar and with light cross wires, could not be beaten as a sight for
ranges they had to fire at. It is a very good useful glass, and it
was, I believe, used both in Natal and elsewhere right through the
campaign, and I unhesitatingly give it the palm.

As to the system of firing and gear used, electric firing was very
successful as long as one had the gear for refitting and repairing and
an armourer attached to one's guns; this, of course, as the guns
became split up into pairs was impossible, and I may say that carting
electric batteries (which of necessity for quickness have to be kept
charged) in wagons or limbers over rocks and bad roads, and with
continual loading and off-loading, becomes a trouble and anxiety to
one. So for active service I should certainly recommend that
percussion firing should be regarded as the first and principal method
to be used with guns on the move, carrying also the electric gear for
use if guns are left for any time at fixed spots as guns of position.
I may here remark that when firing with electricity from a field
carriage the battery has to be placed on the ground, clear of recoil,
and therefore the wire leads must be adjusted in length accordingly. I
am uncertain whether our other 12-pounders used mostly electric or
percussion, but I think on the whole, percussion; and, speaking for
myself, I certainly did so after experiencing the disappointments
which miss-fires often gave one, when trying to get in a quick shot,
say from the line of march, with the electric gear. These "miss-fires"
are, moreover, often unavoidable under active service conditions, such
as we had with our semi-mobile guns. The guns and connections get
sometimes an inch thick in mud or dust and require time to clean, when
one has no time to spare: the use of percussion tubes avoids all this.

Before we leave the subject of guns the following description of the
French 3" Creusot gun by the _Revue d'Artillerie_ will be of interest,

     _South Africa._--The Field Artillery of the Boers consists for
     the most part of Creusot 3" rapid-firing guns made after the 1895
     model. These guns were purchased by the South African Republic
     during the year 1896.... The gun, which is constructed of forged
     and tempered steel, has a 3" bore. Its total length is 8 feet and
     its weight is 726 pounds. The body of the gun consists of three
     elements:--1. A tube in which the breech piece is fixed. 2. A
     sleeve covering the tube for a length of 3 feet 6 inches. 3. A
     chase hoop. The chamber is provided with twenty-four grooves of
     variable pitch which have a final inclination of 8°.

     The system of breech closing is that of the interrupted screw,
     which presents four sectors, two of them threaded and two plain,
     so that the breech is opened or closed by a quarter revolution of
     the screw. The mechanism is of the Schneider system, patented in
     1895, and has the advantage of allowing the opening or closing of
     the breech to be effected by the simple motion of a lever from
     right to left, or _vice versâ_.

     The gun is fired by means of an automatically-cocked percussion
     apparatus. A safety device prevents any shots from being fired
     until after the breech is closed.

     The carriage is provided with a hydraulic recoil-cylinder fitted
     with a spring return. It is also furnished with a "spade," which
     is placed under the stock at an equal distance from the trail and
     the axle, and which is of the model that General Engelhardt has
     adopted for the Russian Artillery.

     During a march this spade is turned back and fastened to the
     stock. The carriage is likewise provided with a road brake, which
     is to be employed in firing only when the nature of the ground is
     such that the spade cannot be used.

     The gun is placed in a bronze sleeve that carries the brake
     cylinders and the various other connecting pieces for the return
     spring and the aiming apparatus.

     The hydraulic recoil consists of two cylinders placed laterally
     and at the height of the axis of the piece.

     The axle has the peculiarity that in its centre there is a wide
     opening in which are placed the cradle and the gun. It is
     provided with two screw trunnions, around which the pivoting
     necessary for lateral aiming is effected. This arrangement of the
     gun with respect to the axle has the effect of greatly
     diminishing the shocks that firing tends to produce.

     Elevation and depression are accomplished by rotating the axle in
     the wheels of the carriage. This is done by means of a crank
     which, through an endless screw and pinion, controls a toothed
     sector attached to the sleeve.

     Pointing in direction is done by means of a lever known as a tail
     piece. Mounted upon the axle there are two small sights, forming
     a line of aim, that permit of bringing the carriage back in the
     direction of the target as soon as a shot has been fired. All
     that the gunner has to do is to give the piece a slight
     displacement laterally with respect to the carriage by means of a
     hand-wheel, which turns the gun 2° to one side or the other.

     The line of aim is found by a back and front sight arranged upon
     the right side of the sleeve in which the gun is mounted. The
     back side permits of aiming while the gun is being loaded. It
     carries a small oscillating level that indicates the elevation of
     the gun during rapid firing.

     The weight of the carriage, without wheels, is 1,146 lbs. and
     with wheels, 1,477 lbs.

     The ammunition consists of cartridges containing charge and
     projectile and having a total weight of 19 lbs. The powder
     employed is of the smokeless kind, designated by the letters B.N.
     The weight of the charge is 1-3/4 lbs. The projectiles are of
     three kinds--ordinary shells, shrapnel shells, and case shot. The
     weight of each is the same, say 14-1/4 lbs. The shrapnel shells
     contain 234 balls, weighing 155.8 grains each, and an explosive
     charge of 3.13 ozs.

     As the gun can be pointed at a maximum angle of 20°, and the
     initial velocity is 1,837 feet, the projectiles can be fired to a
     distance of 26,248 feet.

     The crew necessary to serve the gun consists of six men--a
     gunner, a man to manoeuvre the breech-piece, a man to manoeuvre
     the pointing lever, two men to pass the ammunition, and a man to
     regulate the fuse. The rapidity of firing can easily be raised to
     ten shots a minute.

     The accuracy of the gun is most remarkable. Upon the occasion of
     the trials made when the guns were received, the following firing
     was done: a regulating shot, a first volley of six shots in
     forty-two seconds, and a second volley of six shots in forty-six

     The fore carriage of the gun and that of the caisson are
     identical. They carry a chest containing thirty-six cartridges,
     and are capable of accommodating four men.

     The back carriage of the caisson carries two chests like that of
     the fore carriage.

     The total weight of the gun and fore carriage loaded is 3,790
     lbs., and that of the caisson 4,330 lbs.

On reading over this description of the French 3" Creusot gun, it
seems to me that the kind of axle used with it is first class and
should be used in our field carriages for quick-firing guns; it must
certainly take the strain of recoil off the centre of the axle, which
recoil we found cracked our axles as we used them (once in my own
guns) so badly that the whole thing had to be shifted and replaced.
Another advantage it has is to lower the whole gun and mounting, and
the centre of gravity of the weight of it and carriage, and therefore
the gun is much harder to upset on rocky ground or going up steep
precipices, as we had to do in Natal. This detail of wheels and axle
is, I think, the most important one almost in a field carriage. The
axle I mention is one bent down in its centre for about two-thirds of
its length.

In regard to the ammunition. The cordite charges in their brass
cylinders and zinc-lined boxes did admirably, and the amount of
knocking about which the cases and boxes out here stand is marvellous.
At one time early in the campaign before Colenso and Ladysmith, a
decided variation in shooting of our guns was noticed, and was put
down in many cases to the variation of the cordite itself, the brass
cases sometimes lying out, in fact, in a powerful sun for hours, while
the guns were waiting or in action, and often becoming then too hot to
touch. Now, however, I personally don't think that this theory was
right but am of opinion that the variation then noticed, and even
after in the shooting, was simply due to the varying recoil of guns on
different slopes of ground and with indifferent drag-shoes. Royal
Artillery officers confirm one in this opinion.

As for the shells, both common and shrapnel, they stood the knocking
about well, and I never saw or heard of a single common shell used
with 12-pounders not exploding on striking, which speaks well for the
base fuse. The shrapnel I am not quite so sure about; one noticed
often a great deal of damp collected in the threads of the fuse plug
and nose of the shell; owing, I presume, to condensation in their
shell boxes under the change of heat and cold. Still they did very
well and I think seldom failed to burst when set the right distance. I
say the right distance because this at first was a slight puzzle to
us, the subject of height in feet above the sea-level of course never
having before presented itself to us as altering very considerably the
setting of the time fuse; and I don't think that a table of correction
for this exists in the Naval Service; at any rate, I have never seen

To illustrate this, we found at Spion Kop (about 3,500 feet above the
sea-level) that it was necessary to set the time fuse for any given
range some 500 yards short to get the shell to burst at all before
striking; and on the top of Van Wyk, fronting Botha's Pass (some 6,500
feet above sea-level) I had to allow the fuse 800 to 900 yards short
of the range, and similarly at Almond's Nek. This is, I take it, due
to the projectile travelling further against a reduced air pressure at
any height than it does for the same sighting of the gun at sea-level,
for which of course all guns are sighted. I should like to talk to
experts regarding this as we are not quite sure about it up here.[6]

         [Footnote 6: I am since glad to hear from Lieutenant
         Henderson of H.M.S. _Excellent_, that he is engaged in
         working out a table of corrections, such as I mention, and is
         also interesting himself in the question of "range-finders,"
         and "filters," and other necessities for naval service.]

Of course this firing from a height gives one therefore some 1,000
yards longer range with shrapnel, say at 6,000 feet up, which is a
most important fact to remember in shore fighting, and was well
illustrated by the Boer 6" gun at Pougwana Mount (7,000 feet) over
Laing's Nek, killing several of our Infantry on Inkwelo (Mount
Prospect) at 10,000 yards range; of course this was helped by the
height they were up, as well as by their superior double-ringed time
fuse which we have picked up on their shrapnel, and which gives them
in shrapnel fire a great advantage over any of our guns, which have
not got these fuses at present. It is interesting to note that many
4.7 lyddite shells were picked up, or rather dug up, by our own men
and others, quite intact--this, of course, was always in soft ground,
noticeably near the river (Tugela), and shows that the "direct action
fuse" should have been screwed into the nose of the shell, instead of
the "delay action fuse" that it had in it for use against thin plates
of ships.

Before leaving this subject of the gun and its fittings (12-pounder),
I again wish to emphasise the fact of how important is the question of
recoil. At one time, in front of Brakfontein with the 8-gun 12-pounder
battery, we all dug trail pits and blocked the trails completely up in
rear to prevent the guns recoiling at all on the carriage. This most
certainly gave a gun thus blocked up over one allowed to recoil on the
level an advantage of several hundred yards at an ordinary range of
say 6,000 yards; but of course it threw on our weak makeshift wooden
trails an undue strain, and after a couple had been smashed had to be
given up. Still, although I would never advocate doing this to any
field gun (_i.e._, bringing a gun up short as it shakes the mounting
too much) the fact remains that the range or shooting power of the gun
may be varied with the recoil in a great degree, and that therefore
what I mention about a system to check recoil uniformly and with
certainty seems to me to be an important one with our Naval field
guns. This fact of increased range, got by blocking up a gun, is
useful to remember in many cases, especially in this war when the
Boers had the pull of our guns at first, and when it might have been
worth while just temporarily disabling one gun, and to get one shot
into them and so frighten them off.

The newspaper controversy, very hot at one time, as to whether the
Boer guns were better or not than ours, and the ridiculous statements
one both read and heard from persons who knew little about the matter,
were rather amusing and perhaps a little annoying. I unhesitatingly
state that on all occasions the British Naval guns inch for inch
outranged and outshot the Boer guns; and that the 4.7 Q.-F. even
outranged, by some 2,000 yards, the Boer 6" Creusot. This I saw amply
proved, at least to my own satisfaction, at Vaal Krantz, when the Boer
6" gun on about the same level as our 4.7 was, on Signal Hill, vainly
tried to reach it and couldn't, whilst our gun was all the time giving
them an awful hammering and blew up their magazine.

In one way, and one only, the Boer guns had the advantage over us in
shooting, that is, with their shrapnel shell, many of which were
fitted with a special long range time fuse (double-ringed); here they
certainly overshot us, but failed to make much use of the advantage,
as they invariably burst their shrapnel, through incorrect setting of
fuse, either too high up in the air to hurt much or else on striking
the ground. Another great advantage the Boer guns as a rule possessed
was the heights at which they were placed, generally firing down upon
our guns and troops. Notwithstanding all this, I say again, that their
guns inch for inch were not in the hunt with ours as regards shooting
power, nor was this likely or possible seeing the great length of the
Naval Q.-F. gun and its much heavier charge.

It must be remembered that Naval guns are solely designed and built
for use at sea, or in forts, or against armour; and so to get the
necessary muzzle energy, velocity, and penetration, a long gun is
required; whereas the Boer gun was essentially a field or heavy land
service gun. Their guns up to the 6" being on proper field mountings,
and much lighter, shorter in the barrel, and consequently more mobile
than ours, while firing a lighter charge; and perhaps in this way only
it could be said that they were certainly better and handier than our
guns. On the march and trekking up mountains this must have helped
them a good deal, and from photos which I saw after the Boers had been
driven out of Natal I should certainly say that their heavy guns on
the march must have been much easier to move than ours.

To give an idea of the difference in weight between the heavier guns I
may quote the following figures; that of the Boer guns I take as I
read of them in Military Intelligence books:

            _Weight._                          _Weight._
  British Naval 6" Q.-F. gun               }
    (wire)                   7 tons 8 cwt. } Boer 6" Creusot gun,
  British Naval 4.7 Q.-F.                  }     2 tons 10 cwt.
    wire gun                 2 tons 2 cwt. }

From these weights it may be at once noticed that inch for inch there
is no comparison between the Boer and British heavy gun as regards
range and power of gun itself, consequent on our heavier charges.
Taking their 3-1/2" Creusot Q.-F. guns (15 lbs.) and comparing them
with our Elswick Naval 12-pounders I should say that there is little
to choose between them, they having the advantage only in their long
range fuses for shrapnel shell, which fuses should be issued to ours
as soon as possible. One always heard these small French Q.-F. guns
alluded to with great awe as the "high velocity" gun of the enemy, but
I doubt much if they have one foot per second more mean velocity at
ordinary ranges than our Naval 12-pounder, although perhaps they may
have more at the muzzle, which is of little account.

To illustrate what small use the Boer gunner made of his advantage
over us in long range shrapnel, I should say that it was generally
noticed by all in the Natal Field Force how very high up they burst
their shell as a rule, and so doing much less damage than they might
have done; as Tommy described it, the bullets often came down like a
gentle shower of rain and could be caught in the hand and pocketed.
This of course, I should say, was the result of faulty setting of
their time fuse; probably they did not apply the necessary correction
for height above sea-level and so the shell either burst at too high a
period of its flight, or else on striking did little damage to us. The
front face of this kopje from where I am now writing (Grass Kop at
Sandspruit, and 6,000 feet high) is full of holes made by Boer
shrapnel shell, burst after striking in the hole dug by the shell
itself and leaving all their bullets and pieces buried in these holes.
There was no damage done by their heavy shrapnel fire at all when the
Dorsets took the hill, and solely because of this faulty setting of
the time fuse. We have dug up many of these shells here, and bullets
simply strew the ground.

The 12-pounder gun limber, especially made by our Ordnance people from
a design supplied by Lieutenant James, R.N., when at Maritzburg in
November, was afterwards supplied to all the guns, and none too soon;
but we did not get them till Ladysmith was relieved and they were
badly wanted all the time. These limbers were very well made and very
excellent, fitted to carry forty rounds complete of 12-pounder Q.-F.
ammunition which was invariably found by us as sufficient, as a first
or ready supply, giving eighty rounds to a pair of guns. More could,
however, have been carried if necessary, up to sixty rounds complete
on each limber; these limbers were strong, with very good wheels and
broad tyres (a great contrast to the wretched little gun wheels we had
to get along with at one time) and on them there was room also for
gun's crew's great-coats, leather gear, gun telescopes, and other
impedimenta, which was most convenient.

One fault in them, I think, might be corrected if again required;
_i.e._, the platform or floor of the limber instead of being built
only on the forepart of the axle should extend also behind or on rear
side of the axle; by this means the Q.-F. boxes of ammunition may be
distributed to balance the weight equally on each side of the axle,
and so bring the least weight possible on the necks of the oxen or
other draught animals drawing the limber and gun along. This, in a
hilly country, is important.

I would here note that when on the march with guns under any
conditions, one's men should always be allowed to march light,
slinging their rifles on the gun muzzles and putting leather gear with
S.A. ammunition, water bottles and days' provisions handy on top of
the limbers. The carrying of any of these things only exhausts the
men for no object, and when one remembers what heavy work they may
have to do on the march at any moment--bringing guns into action,
rapid firing and running out the guns, digging pits and trenches,
off-loading and loading the Q.-F. ammunition, and keeping up a supply
which in South Africa at any rate may be at the bottom of a steep
kopje with the gun at the top--one recognises the great advantage
gained in giving the men as much latitude as possible, and bringing
them into action after a march comparatively fresh. For these reasons
I would advocate that a gun limber should be made for any service gun,
with the object of allowing a certain amount of extra room for the
gun's crew's gear and stores.

In respect to range finding, the mekometer (range finder) as supplied
to the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Artillery and also to every
company in a regiment (and which therefore was easy to borrow during
the campaign), proved most useful to us in getting ranges roughly. To
get a range over 5,000 yards one has to use the double base with this
instrument, and ranges may then be found up to 10,000 yards, and, with
practised observers, fairly correctly. At any rate it is most useful
to have something to start on when you get up into position. This
instrument is extremely small and portable and should be supplied to
Naval field batteries, and also a certain proportion to the rifle
companies for land service; it may be carried slung like a small Kodak
camera on one's back. Of course ranges can be very quickly found by
shooting one or two shots to find them out, and this was done by our
guns a good deal, and necessarily so when in action when one has no
time to waste and the objects are moving ones; but I strongly advise
anyone who gets his guns into a position where he is likely to stop,
such as in defence of a camp, or on top of a kopje defending a
railway line, or in position to bombard an enemy's fixed trenches and
lines, at once to find his ranges roughly all round to prominent
objects by the mekometer, as it gives one added confidence and is
invaluable when shooting over the heads of one's own men to cover
their attack, which is often a ticklish job and to be successful must
be continued up to the very last moment it can be, with safety.

This instrument, the mekometer, together with the clinometer, for
setting the gun for elevation independent of the sight arc, and an
ordinary spirit-level to place on gun trail to tell which way the
wheels or carriage of the gun are inclined on uneven ground (so
altering the deflection scale), might in my opinion be supplied to
every Naval field battery, heavy or light.[7]

         [Footnote 7: Since writing this opinion I think, perhaps, it
         will be well to pause till the results of Professor George
         Forbes', F.R.S., experiments with a new stereoscopic
         instrument in South Africa are to hand; he is there at
         present by request of Lord Kitchener with his new invention.
         For full report of this instrument I would refer to Professor
         Forbes' paper read at the Society of Arts, December 18th,
         1901. It is sufficient now to say that the instrument folds
         up to 3 foot 6 inches in length, can be used by one observer
         only standing, kneeling, or lying down, has great accuracy
         and portability, and has received the support of Sir George
         Clarke and other authorities.]

I may mention that the 4.7's and 6" Q.-F. were often fired at
elevations which did not even come on the graduated elevation arc, and
so the clinometer had to be borrowed from the military and used to lay
the guns; it is most useful.

For night firing on shore, as practised by us at Colenso and Spion
Kop, guns are laid for required distant object just before dusk. The
position of the wheels is accurately marked by pegs and lines, and
when the gun is laid the sight is lowered to some white object placed
fifty yards in front of gun, on which when dark a lantern may be
placed; the elevation is read off either on arc of sight or by
clinometer placed on the gun. To keep on firing at this distant object
when dark, the gun is run out to same wheel marks every time and laid
for same direction by the lantern on the near object, and elevation by
clinometer. The C.O.'s of regiments always most kindly put their
mekometer and trained observers at our disposal on escorting us up to
a position.

A plane table survey, using a mekometer to measure one's base, is
pretty easily made to get position of kopjes, trenches, well-defined
gun emplacements and their ranges, roughly, but it wants a certain
amount of time to do it.

As to the emplacing of a 12-pounder or other Q.-F. gun for attack or
defence, all hard and fast rules may, in my opinion, be at once
dismissed, the matter entirely depending on the nature of the ground
occupied and the direction and extent of fire required. Still I submit
the following points as being useful to remember:--

     (1.) Carefully select the ground. If on a ridge, hill, or kopje,
     the emplacement must be over the sky-line either on one slope or
     the other; take a place where Nature helps you, if possible
     screened by trees, free of rocks, and with soft ground, dongas,
     or water round it, so that the enemy's shells will bury
     themselves and not burst on striking. Of course in South Africa,
     except on the flat, this could hardly ever be done.

     (2.) The best form of emplacement is a gun pit about 1 foot 6
     inches deep, according to our experience in Natal, the earth or
     rock taken out forming a circular parapet 3 feet 6 inches high,
     and as bulky or thick as ever you like on the front face, the
     floor of the pit being levelled and a gradual slope made out of
     it for guns to be moved easily in and out of the pit. The size of
     the pit should be just enough to allow the gun trail to move
     round on any arc of training when the gun muzzle is run out over
     the front face or parapet, and to allow three feet more over and
     above this for the recoil of the gun in the drag-shoes, so as not
     to fetch the trail up sharp on recoiling.

A narrow ditch may be dug all round the inside of the parapet to allow
the crew to get into it for additional cover, and the ammunition boxes
may either be placed in this ditch or a magazine dug and sandbagged
over when plenty of time is available. A couple of drainage holes may
be required in heavy rains to empty the pits on each side. The
circular parapet can be built up any thickness, as just said; it
should then be sandbagged over till the required height. If in grassy
ground, instead of sandbags put large sods of grass to hide the
emplacement and to keep the dust from flying, as sandbags are
conspicuous. If neither grass nor sandbags are available, make your
Kaffirs or camp followers cow-dung the surface of your parapet
instead; this dries, and all dust under muzzle on firing is avoided. I
constantly tried this plan and found it very effective.

Of all points this avoidance of dust is the most important, as, unless
prevented, it rises in a cloud under the muzzle of the gun at every
shot. At long ranges, used by the Boers and ourselves, it was almost
impossible to locate a gun firing cordite or other smokeless powder
except by this cloud dust. So avoid it at all costs. Make the colour
of your emplacement as much like that of the surrounding ground as
possible, including your sandbags, if used.

[Illustration: Naval 12-pounder emplaced.]

[Illustration: Boer Gun positions at Colenso.]



As a few hints in regard to an officer's kit for active service may
not be unacceptable to some, I offer a few observations on the subject
so far as I am able to speak from my own experiences.

Good telescopes are most important articles to have in any land
company of soldiers or sailors; they were especially useful in South
Africa. The Naval Service long-telescope with its big field is very
good and powerful in any light where there is no haze (at or before
sunrise or when the sun is low for instance), but when the sun is well
up it becomes of little use; and then comes the turn of the smaller
telescope as used by all Naval officers on board ship. This is a
particularly useful glass, and I myself felt quite lost, late in the
campaign, when I unfortunately dropped the top of mine when riding. As
to binoculars, we found the Zeiss or Ross's very excellent, and all
military officers seemed to use them; but, in my humble opinion, they
are not to be compared with a good small telescope.

At the start of the campaign the want of good telescopes among the
military was most marked, and ours were generally in great request.
Many military officers with whom I have talked on the subject agree
with me in thinking that a certain proportion of small telescopes
should be supplied, say two for every company in a regiment, for the
use of those on outpost and look-out duties. It is astonishing to see
the added interest which any man placed on these duties shows when he
can really make out for himself advancing objects and enemy's
positions without being entirely dependent on their officers to tell
them. A good glass will render reports from these men reliable and
valuable, instead of, as they often are, mere guesswork. At Grass Kop,
where we had one Volunteer Company all armed with binoculars which
were presented to them on leaving England (with the South
Lancashires), the hill was always lined with look-out men on their own
account; so interested were they in the matter.

Our water supply, as at first run, with one water-cart to the whole
Naval Brigade, was inadequate; but later on each unit with guns got,
as they should have, their own water-cart, or else made them with a
cask fixed upon axle wheels, which we were obliged to do for a long
time. Transport for these was either mule or ox; the former, quickest
and best. A field filter for each unit should be supplied if

         [Footnote 8: The proper filtering of water for use in
         water-bottles and indeed for all drinking purposes, is most
         important, and especially so in hot weather, when men are
         always wanting a drink at off times, and will have it of
         course. Late in the war, the "Berkefeld Field Service Filter"
         was supplied to us by the Ordnance Department, and is very
         good; it packs up in what looks like a large-sized luncheon
         basket, and is very portable; it is simple to look after, if
         directions are followed, and will make about thirty-four
         pints in ten minutes, or, enough to fill fifteen men's
         water-bottles; consequently it can easily be used on the
         march during short halts, and whenever water is passed to
         fill up water-bottles, and it is quickly packed up again. For
         any individual who wishes to carry a filter on his own
         person, I would recommend a small "Berkefeld Cylinder or
         porous candle" and small "Pasteur pump" with the necessary
         rubber tubes; this makes a very small parcel; it would only
         take up about one quarter of the Service haversack, and is
         well worth taking I am sure. The "Berkefeld Filter" should be
         supplied to ships in case of landing Brigades--one to every
         unit of 100 is the proper proportion as recommended by the

A few remarks may not here be out of place as to the best fighting kit
to have ready for an officer who wishes to be comfortable, and also
perhaps at certain times smart, when stationary in a standing camp for
some time or on lines of communication. Needless to say that when
actually marching or fighting one wears anything and everything that
first comes to hand. Khaki has certainly done us very well; twill at
first during the heat, and serge or cord later on when the cold came
on; but it is well to avoid khaki twill in cold weather as it becomes
clammy and uncomfortable. Personally I should say that a serge or
cord, thin for heat and thick for cold weather, is much the best for
general wear.

I started the campaign with two pairs of khaki twill riding breeches
and two serge tunics (thin); these supplemented by a thick pair of
khaki riding cord breeches that I got made at Durban when the cold
came on, lasted me well through the campaign. For camp wear one can
always use the ordinary twill or serge trousers, as served out from
time to time by the Ordnance to all hands if required. On one's legs
one should wear ordinary brown leather or canvas riding gaiters, only
_not_ the Naval Service gaiters, as they are of no use for hard work
or much riding. Many of us wore putties, and the men all did, but I
don't like them myself as they are too hot in hot weather and make
one's legs sore in cold.

Riding breeches should be strapped inside the knee and doubled, and
perhaps to lace up at the knee would be more comfortable than
buttoning. Here I should mention that all the Naval officers
commanding guns were mounted, and eventually all got mounts in some
way; so riding plays a great part and is absolutely necessary if one
wishes to be useful.

I also had two pairs of strong brown boots (an emphasis on the brown),
they are far the best; and the soles should be protected with small
nails carefully put in so as not to hurt one's feet. A pair of
rubber-soled shoes for scouting, sporting, or camp work, and a pair of
warm slippers to sleep in are indispensable. Long rubber or sea-boots,
on account of their weight and bulk, are a nuisance. When it rained in
South Africa it so quickly dried up that we found rubber shoes quite
good enough for everything.

It is useful to take three flannel shirts, and under-clothing in
proportion; cholera belts also become necessary to most of us I am
afraid, and are very important; it is also advisable to have plenty of
socks and to change them frequently. Light silk neck-scarves are most
useful and prevent sunburnt necks; and in the cold and bitter winds we
experienced, and when sleeping in the open at night with heavy frosts,
Balaclavas, woollen comforters, Tam-o'-shanters, and Jaeger gloves are
highly desirable. Thanks to our kind friends at home we were loaded
with these articles during the campaign and found them invaluable.

In the hat line our bluejackets' straw hats, smartly covered with
khaki twill and with cap ribbon, did very well for the sun and are
nice and shady; they also last a long time when covered well, or even
when painted khaki colour which stiffens and preserves them. I found
my helmet also useful till I lost it. It is as well to take one
Service cap with khaki covers, and a squash hat of gray or khaki;
these latter are most comfortable and everybody wore them in camp; but
I found that they don't keep out the sun enough during the day, they
stow very close however, and can always be worn if one loses or
smashes one's other hats.

As to bedclothes, this is a most important matter in the freezing
cold. I advise a Wolseley valise to be got at the Army and Navy
Stores, with mattress and pillow and Jaeger bag inside; one should
have over one at night the two Service blankets allowed, and one's
great-coat. Unless one sleeps on a stretcher, which can't be always
got, it is well to cut long grass and put it under the valise in the
cold weather, as it makes a wonderful difference on the frozen ground
and gives one a good night as a rule.

If there are means of transport, it is as well to carry a Wolseley kit
bag to hold one's clothes and boots, etc. I think that every officer
in this war had these two things, the kit bag and valise, although of
course a great deal may be rolled up and carried in the valise only
and the bag left behind if it comes to a pinch.

The following articles are most useful to carry always, viz.:--Service
telescope, and also binoculars as well if one can afford it (Zeiss or
Ross's); a knife with all implements (especially corkscrew); a light
tin cylinder to hold charts, plans, intelligence maps, and private
maps or sketches; also writing materials, diary and order books, can
be carried in a flat waterproof sponge bag case. As luxuries which can
be done without:--A collapsible india-rubber bath basin and waterproof
sheet, very compact as got at the Army and Navy Stores; a small
mincing machine (the only means of digesting a trek ox), and sparklet
bottle and sparklets are very handy. Such other luxuries as cigars,
cigarettes, pipes, etc., can always be stowed in some corner of the
valise or bag. Carry brown leather polish, dubbing, and laces.

Leather gear as carried on one's back should be a "Sam Brown Belt" of
the single cross strap kind, in preference to the Naval Service gear.
On this one can carry one's revolver, water-bottle, and haversack,
which with glasses slung over all and separately, complete all one
requires as a gunner. Swords were not carried during this war by
officers, as in cases where the rifle was substituted, they only
proved an incumbrance. A stick for the marching officer, like "Chinese
Gordon" had, cannot be beaten.

A hint as to food before we part. Don't go on the principle "because I
am campaigning I must resign myself to feed badly on what I can pick
up and on what my stomach is entirely unaccustomed to." There was
never a greater mistake. On the contrary, feed yourself and those
under you on the best, sparing no expense, and when you can get wine
instead of muddy water, drink it to keep you going and your blood in
good order. Do yourself as well as you can, is my advice and
experience, after perhaps rather thinking and going the other way at
first. It simply means that when others run down and go sick with
dysentery, fever and other ills, you are still going strong and fit
for work. Naturally advice on this point is entirely dependent on
means of transport; but when this exists, as it did with the Naval
Brigade who had ammunition wagons, a hundred pounds weight or so makes
little difference to them if not already overloaded. Take the best
advantage, therefore, of it that you can within reason, and up to a
certain extent, there being of course always a limit to all good

Tents are a great and important feature in any long campaign. I don't
hesitate to say that the single canvas bell tent as supplied to the
British Forces, should be at once converted into double canvas tents.
In the many long sweltering days when the Natal Field Force before
Colenso, and later at Elandslaagte, were forced to lie doing nothing,
the heat of the sun coming through the tent was very bad; one was
always obliged to wear a helmet inside one's tent; and I think in the
men's tents (ours with, say, ten in them, and the military who had, I
am told, up to fifteen in one tent) the state of things was abominably
unhealthy under the blazing South African sun, and I am persuaded that
half the sickness among the forces was due to this insufficient
protection from the sun. The double canvas bell tent with air space in
between the two parts does very well, in both keeping heat and cold
off. The Indian tents, of khaki canvas, double and generally
square-shaped, are much the best ones we saw on the Natal side and
should be used generally in the Army; the extra expense would be saved
in the end by prevention of fever and sunstroke.

My own experience (when I and three other officers lay in a field
hospital outside Ladysmith just after the relief, in a single bell
tent, and saw Tommies all around us crowded into these tents with
fever and dysentery, whereby all our cases, I am sure, were made much
worse by the torturing sun which poured in all day on our heads),
makes me very glad that the "Hospital Commission" is now sitting, and
I sincerely hope that such absurd mistakes will be noticed and
corrected by them for the good of the whole British Forces.

Regarding the Mauser rifle, as compared with the Lee-Metford, I
personally have little experience, but I can only say that the Mauser
to hold and carry is much the better balanced of the two, and that the
fine sighting is superior. Also some military officers seem to say it
is a better shooter at long ranges, and its magazine action is far
quicker and superior.[9] Revolvers, as far as I know, have had no test
at all in this war. The cavalry carbine, I believe, is universally
condemned by all cavalry officers out here, and is doomed to go I
hope, being, if used against foes with modern weapons, only waste

         [Footnote 9: Since writing this about the Mauser, Captain
         Cowper of the Queen's tells me that on the whole he considers
         the Lee-Metford superior, and that the Boers he has met have
         told him they hold it to be a harder shooter at long ranges.
         However, it seems to me that the better balance and magazine
         of the Mauser counteract this and give it the preference.]

I believe that I am right in saying that pouches for carrying the
rifle ammunition are universally condemned in favour of a bandolier,
with flaps over every ten cartridges or so. In our Naval bandoliers
the want of these flaps was especially noticeable, and the wastage of
ammunition dropped out was, I am sure, excessive, besides leaving
loose ammunition lying about for Boer or Kaffir to pick up, as they
are reported to be doing. The web bandolier is lighter than the
leather, and better, so I recommend it, if fitted with flaps, to the
notice of the Naval authorities.



[_London Gazette_, January 26th, 1900.]

_From General Sir Redvers Buller, V.C., G.C.B._

                                        Chieveley Camp,
                                       _December 17th, 1899._


I enclose a reconnaissance sketch of the Colenso position. All visible
defences had been shelled by eight naval guns on the 13th and 14th.
During all this time and throughout the day, the two 4.7 and four
12-pounder Naval guns of the Naval Brigade and Durban Naval
Volunteers, under Captain E. P. Jones, R.N., were being admirably
served, and succeeded in silencing every one of the enemy's guns they
could locate.

       *       *       *       *       *

[_London Gazette_, March 30th, 1900.]

_From Captain E. P. Jones, R.N., Commanding Naval Brigade._

                                        Chieveley Camp,
                                       _December 16th, 1899._


The whole force under Sir Redvers Buller advanced at 4 a.m. yesterday,
intending to take the positions of the enemy on the other side of the
Tugela. The Brigade under my command was disposed as follows:--Two 4.7
guns and four 12-pounders which were on the outpost line in a position
10,000 yards from the main works of the enemy, from which place we had
been shelling them on the previous day, advanced to a small rise about
5,000 yards from the entrenched hills across the Tugela. Six
12-pounders under Lieutenant Ogilvy with Lieutenant James of H.M.S.
_Tartar_ and Lieutenant Deas of _Philomel_ were attached to the Field
Artillery under Colonel Long. Two 12-pounders under Lieutenant Burne
held the kopje from which we advanced.

       *       *       *       *       *

[_London Gazette_, March 12th, 1901.]

_From Captain Jones, R.N., Commanding Naval Brigade, Natal._

                                        Naval Camp, Spearmans Hill,
                                       _February 8th, 1900._


As to Vaal Krantz, the Naval guns were disposed as follows: ... Two
12-pounders with Lieutenant Burne on the plateau between this hill and
the river. At daylight on the 6th, Lieutenant Burne's two guns were
moved to a position at the east of Zwartz Kop.

February 18th, 1900. Lieutenant Burne with two 12-pounder guns was
left with General Warren at Spearmans and marched on the 10th to
Springfield Bridge where he remains under Colonel Burn-Murdoch.

From General Sir R. Buller to Admiral Sir R. Harris, March 5th, 1900.
"I much appreciate your congratulations. I can hardly tell you how
much of our successes are due to the Navy: their gunnery was

       *       *       *       *       *

Report from Lieutenant Burne, R.N., February 16th, 1900, enclosed in
letter of March 28th, 1900, from the Commander-in-Chief, Cape of Good
Hope Station.

_Report from Lieutenant Burne, R.N._

                                        Springfield Camp,
                                       _February 16th, 1900._

I have the honour to report as follows:--

Since being detached from Lieutenant Ogilvy's command I moved back
across the Tugela river from the advanced kopjes on February 1st. On
Sunday, February 4th, I learnt that I was attached to Sir Charles
Warren's Division, and received my orders from him personally on that
day on Gun Plateau, regarding the next day's operations; I also
interviewed yourself on that day in reply to signal received. On
Monday, 5th, my guns were shelling the enemy incessantly all day in
conjunction with the feint on the left, and in reply to a Boer 3"
Creusot and two Maxim Vickers 1-1/4 lbs. I received many directions
from both General Warren and General Talbot-Coke, as to points they
wished shelled, and at the end of the day had expended 250 common and
shrapnel shell. At 8 p.m. I received orders from General Warren to
march at daybreak on Tuesday, and join the Commander-in-Chief at the
fort of Zwartz Kop; this I did, and though delayed on the hill by
wagons and by the 7th Battery R.F.A. coming up, and later, by streams
of ambulance in the narrow road close to Zwartz Kop, I arrived and
reported my guns to General Buller about 8 a.m., at the foot of the
kopje. He told me to bring my guns into action, and help to silence
the Boer 6" Creusot, and, if possible, the 3" Creusot, which were
firing from Spion Kop (position 2) at our field batteries.

As I came into action, and was aiming my right gun at the Boer 6", a
shell from it struck twenty yards in front, and covering us with dirt,
jumped over our heads without exploding; the shell was plainly visible
in the air to me on coming down, and I saw it strike on its side and
the fuse break off. The shell was picked up intact at my wagons which
were just coming up, by Edward House, A.B., and we have it now. I
concentrated my fire on the 6" gun at 6,400 yards, and in an hour it
was silenced for the rest of the day; this, of course, was effected in
conjunction with the fire from the 5" guns just in front of me, and
from one 4.7 on Signal Hill.

During the day my guns also drove back at least two Boer field guns at
6,500 yards, which had been brought down into Vaal Krantz, and which
tried to find our range but just fell short; they shifted position,
but were finally driven over the sky-line. There was also a 1-1/4 lb.
Pom-pom in a donga in the valley, which we silenced many times, and at
the end of the day had fired some 230 rounds.

On Wednesday, February 7th, we commenced again at daylight; the 6"
opened a heavy fire on one pontoon (No. 3), and on the field batteries
in front of us, which had been pushed forward there before daybreak.
My fire was directed solely at the big gun; my No. 2 standing by and
firing directly he saw it appear. During the day my ammunition supply
was kept up by direct communication by orderly with the column under
Major Findlay. In the forenoon the Boer field guns were brought down
again in the valley, and shelled the pontoon, Krantz Kop, and us; they
were driven off in an hour or so, but recommenced again later.

In the afternoon, more field guns and Pom-poms on the burnt kopjes to
the left of us opened a heavy fire on Krantz Kop, but were driven off
by our guns, the howitzer battery (100 yards in our rear), and by the
Naval guns on Zwartz Kop.

About 5 p.m. the fire from the Boer 100-pounder was very heavy, and
came all round us, the Staff, and Infantry in reserve, and twice my
crews only escaped by lying down. Just at that moment I got the order
from Colonel Parsons, R.A., to withdraw my guns by moonlight, and
cover our retirement on Gun Plateau. This was done, but the steep hill
being jammed with traffic, I did not get up to my old position on Gun
Plateau till next morning, when I reported to General Warren.

Between February 8th and 9th, I assisted to cover the retirement of
our troops over the Tugela, and on the 9th was withdrawn at 11 a.m.,
and arrived at Springfield Bridge at 3 p.m.

On February 10th, by order of Colonel Burn-Murdoch (1st Dragoons) and
the Camp Commandant, I placed my guns in the entrenched camp half a
mile beyond the bridge, and up to 14th was employed in making gun
epaulements and pits, and finding the ranges.

On February 13th, the Boers appearing in force on the kopjes to our
left at 9,000 yards, I rode out with Colonel Burn-Murdoch and other
Commanding Officers, to reconnoitre, and find gun positions. They
sniped at us at 1,600 to 2,000 yards, and at the advanced Cavalry
pickets all night, but next morning, the 14th, after "A" Battery Royal
Horse Artillery and my guns had been pushed forward, they were found
to have retreated altogether, and we surmised them to be a commando of
Free State Boers returning to the Free State.

To-day, the 16th, we received news of General French's relief of
Kimberley. All quiet in this neighbourhood.

At present I have 500 rounds of ammunition with me, and 300, in
reserve, in charge of the officer of the ammunition column here.

I will conclude by saying that I have nothing but praise for the
conduct and hard work performed by my men during the last ten days,
especially when under fire; their spirit is now excellent. I should
specially mention my captains of guns, T. Mitchell, 1st class P.O.,
and J. Mullis, 1st class P.O., for their hard work, the latter the
best and quickest shot of the two. I must recommend E. A. Harvey,
P.O., 2nd class, and leading shipwright, as rendering me most useful
and clever work on the gun mountings, etc., and for further designs.
Of the rest P. Treherne, A.B.; D. Shepherd, A.B., S.G.T.; Henry House,
A.B.; W. Jones, A.B., S.G.T.; Fred Tuck, O.S.; C. Patton, signalman;
and W. Dunetal, stoker, deserve special mention. Mr. White,
midshipman, has rendered me useful assistance. Mr. Freeman, conductor,
has done very well; and the white drivers, McPheeson and Blewitt,
excellently. I find the gun teams of eight oxen under the two latter
are very useful.

       *       *       *       *       *

[_The Times_, Thursday, March 1st, 1900.]

The following despatch from General Buller has been received at the
War Office:--

                                   Headquarters, Hlangwane Plain,
                                  _February 28th_, 8.5 a.m.

Finding that the passage of Langewachte Spruit was commanded by strong
entrenchments, I reconnoitred for another passage of the Tugela. One
was found for me below the cataract by Colonel Sandbach, Royal

On the 25th we commenced making an approach to it, and on the 26th,
finding that I could make a practicable approach, I crossed guns and
baggage back to the south side of the Tugela, took up the pontoon
bridge on the night of the 26th, and relaid it at the new site, which
is just below the point marked "cataract."

During all the time the troops had been scattered, crouching under
hastily-constructed small stone shelters, and exposed to a galling
shell and rifle fire, and throughout maintained the most excellent

On the 27th General Barton, with two Battalions 6th Brigade and the
Royal Dublin Fusiliers, crept about one and a half miles down the
banks of river, and, ascending an almost precipitous cliff of about
500 feet, assaulted and carried the top of Pieters Hill.

This hill to a certain extent turned the enemy's left, and the 4th
Brigade, under Colonel Norcott, and the 11th Brigade, under Colonel
Kitchener, the whole under General Warren, assailed the enemy's main
position, which was magnificently carried by the South Lancashire
Regiment about sunset.

We took about sixty prisoners and scattered the enemy in all

There seems to be still a considerable body of them left on and under
Bulwana Mountain.

Our losses, I hope, are not large. They certainly are much less than
they would have been were it not for the admirable manner in which the
artillery was served, especially the guns manned by the Royal Navy and
the Natal Naval Volunteers.

       *       *       *       *       *

[_The Times_, Thursday, March 8th, 1900.]

_From our Special Correspondent._

                                       _March 5th._

The following special Army Order has been issued:--

"The relief of Ladysmith unites two forces which have striven with
conspicuous gallantry and splendid determination to maintain the
honour of their Queen and country. The garrison of Ladysmith for four
months held the position against every attack with complete success
and endured its privations with admirable fortitude. The relieving
force had to make its way through unknown country, across unfordable
rivers, and over almost inaccessible heights in the face of a
fully-prepared, well-armed tenacious enemy. By the exhibition of the
truest courage, which burns steadily besides flashing brilliantly, it
accomplished its object, and added a glorious page to our history.
Sailors, soldiers, Colonials, and the home-bred have done this, united
by one desire, and inspired by one patriotism.

"The General Commanding congratulates both forces on their martial
qualities, and thanks them for their determined efforts. He desires to
offer his sincere sympathy to the relatives and friends of the good
soldiers and gallant comrades who have fallen in the fight.


       *       *       *       *       *

_From Captain Jones, R.N., Naval Brigade._

                                       _March 10th, 1900._


I enclose reports sent in to me by Lieutenants Ogilvy and Burne, who
were mostly detached from me.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Enclosure from Lieutenant Burne, R.N._

                                       _March 7th, 1900._

Since my last letter dated from Springfield Bridge, I have the honour
to report that I left Springfield on February 23rd, marching with the
York and Lancaster Regiment to rejoin the main column. We reached
Chieveley Camp on the 24th, and I pitched camp on Gun Hill, where I
found Lieutenant Drummond and the 6" gun. We remained here till a
telegram and written orders were handed me on the night of the 26th,
from Lieutenant Drummond, to march at daybreak with the York and
Lancaster Regiment to join the 10th Brigade. We marched at 6 a.m. on
the 27th, with the Regiment, by Hussar Hill round Hlangwane. Here we
found the Commander-in-Chief, who told me, on my reporting the guns,
that the 10th Brigade were in Colenso; he added that it was no fault
of mine that we had come out of the way, as the orders had not been
clear, but told me to cross the Tugela by the Pont as quickly as
possible, the pontoon bridge having been removed. At the Pont I had to
off-load all my wagons, as the drift below was impassable; and after
having got one gun and ox team safely across, the Pont was upset in
the middle of the river, and all the work was jammed. During this time
there was a heavy shell fire on Colenso Station from a Boer 3" gun,
but we were not touched. I had the Pont righted, and my men baled it
out before daylight on the 28th, and I took my other gun and two
wagons and loads of ammunition across, and hurried on to join General
Coke. On the morning of March 1st a body of men rode in from
Ladysmith. They proved to be Ladysmith scouts, and brought General
Coke his first intimation of the relief of Ladysmith on the previous
evening. My guns were in position, and we bivouacked with the troops
for some days, but I have now pitched camp and withdrawn the guns.
Hearing many rumours here that the Naval men are to return to their
ships, I should like to bring to your notice the very excellent
service which has been rendered me by my captains of guns, R.
Mitchell, P.O., 1st class, and especially G. Mullis, P.O., 1st class,
and the clever and hard work of F. Harvey, P.O., 2nd class (leading
shipwright), and to mention the following names not before
mentioned:--H. House, A.B., F. Long, O.S. (bugler), S. Ratcliffe,
O.S., and to state my appreciation of the work done by all.

       *       *       *       *       *

[_The Times_ of April 16th, 1900.]

_Extract from "Times" Natal Military Correspondent, dated March 22nd,

The Naval contingent of the _Powerful_ left Ladysmith for England on
the 7th, and that of the _Terrible_ left to rejoin their ship on the
11th. The 4.7 guns remain in the hands of the Naval gunners of the
_Forte_, _Philomel_, and _Tartar_, under Captain Jones of the _Forte_,
but most of the 12-pounders have now been handed over to the 4th
Mountain Battery. It seems a great pity that the Naval gunners of the
_Terrible_ could not have been spared to finish the campaign. Three
months' practice ashore has made them nearly perfect in the management
of their guns, and they themselves would be the first to admit that,
at any rate in that part of the gunnery that was not learnt on board
ship, such as rapidity of fire under their present altered conditions
and mobility, they have improved twofold since they first landed.
Their rapidity of fire was wonderful when it is remembered that their
carriages are fitted with none of the automatic appliances for
returning the gun to the firing position, but have to be dragged back
every time by hand, and then carefully adjusted with the wheels at
exactly the same level. As regards mobility, they have on at least one
occasion--namely Zwartz Kop--taken their guns up a place condemned by
the Royal Artillery as impossible. All this experience is now to be
made no further use of, and the guns pass into the hands of men who
will have to learn it afresh. A great advantage the Naval gunners had
over the Royal Artillery was their use of the glass. Besides the
telescopic sights used with the big guns, they were provided with a
large telescope on a tripod, at which an officer was always seated
watching the effect of the shells, and, in the case of an advance the
movements of our Infantry as well, and they were never guilty, as the
Royal Artillery have been more than once, of firing on our own men. On
January 24th, whilst the fighting on the top of Spion Kop was taking
place, the Naval guns on Mount Alice were able at a distance of rather
over four miles clearly to distinguish our men from the Boers, and
shell the latter. Compare this with one instance that came under my
personal observation on February 27th. An officer in command of a
battery was totally unable to distinguish, with a pair of the
field-glasses supplied by Government, at a distance of a little over
one mile, between our Infantry charging and the Boers running away. I
see that your Cape correspondent has already said that in this
campaign, where we are perpetually fighting against an invisible foe,
good glasses are of paramount importance to the rifle. They are even
more essential to the gunners than to the other branches of the
service, and they are in this respect most inadequately supplied.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Goschen) at Royal
Academy Banquet, May 5th, 1900._

"I do not propose to dilate on the courage or resourcefulness, or
other great qualities of the Naval Brigades. The nation has acclaimed
them. The Sovereign with her own lips has testified to their deeds....

"The ships' companies of the _Powerful_ and _Terrible_ would be sorry
if they were to monopolise the public eye, clouding the performances
of men from other ships. Many other ships have sent contingents to the
front--the _Monarch_, the _Doris_, the _Philomel_, the _Tartar_, the
_Forte_--all these ships have sent men who have taken their part in
those gallant combats of which we read."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Again at Reception of Naval Brigade (H.M.S. "Powerful") in London,
May 7th, 1900._

"With your comrades in other forces of the Queen, by the defence and
the relief of Ladysmith you have saved the country from such a
disaster as has never fallen the British arms. The defence and relief
of Ladysmith will never be forgotten in British history."

       *       *       *       *       *

[_London Gazette_, March 12th, 1901.]

_From Captain Jones, R.N., Naval Brigade._

                                        De Wet's Farm,
                                       _June 5th, 1900._


"On May 14th, two more 12-pounders under Lieutenant Steele (Lieutenant
Burne having had a severe fall from his horse, and being
incapacitated) occupied another hill across the river....

"Lieutenant Burne has quite recovered from his injuries and has
returned to duty at Glencoe."

       *       *       *       *       *

_From Captain Jones, R.N., Naval Brigade._

                                       _June 14th, 1900._


"It became apparent that the hill (Van Wyk) must be held. General
Hildyard was out there and decided to hold it, sending back for the
rest of the Brigade.

"I arrived back in camp at 4 p.m. and was ordered to start after
dark--as the route was exposed to the enemy's fire--and, if possible,
to get two 12-pounders (Lieutenant Burne's) up the hill by daylight,
and the 4.7's to the bottom. This we did after a most difficult march,
arriving at the bottom at 4 a.m. I halted the 4.7's and pushed the
12-pounders up to the top. One arrived at daylight, the other broke a
wheel and did not get up to the top till we were able later to get
another pair of wheels from a limber and adapt them."

       *       *       *       *       *

_From General Sir Redvers Buller, V.C., G.C.B._

                                        Laing's Nek, Natal,
                                       _June 19th, 1900._


"On June 5th I directed General Hildyard, who with the 5th Division
was encamped at De Wet's farm, to occupy on the 6th the height south
of the Botha's Pass Road, marked on the map as Van Wyk.... The ascent
of the hill was very difficult, and it was due to the energy of
Captain Jones, R.N., and the officers and men of the Naval Brigade
that one 12-pounder (Lieutenant Burne) was in position at Van Wyk at
daylight. The other 12-pounder lost a wheel in the bad ground.... The
Naval guns and the 10th Brigade were brought down from Van Wyk during
the night. I may here remark that hard and well as Captain Jones and
the men of the Naval Brigade worked during this war, I do not believe
they ever had harder work to do or did it more willingly than in
getting their guns up and down Van Wyk. They had to work continuously
for thirty-six hours...."

       *       *       *       *       *

_From Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, V.C., G.C.B._

                                       _July 10th, 1900._

"I have much pleasure in supporting the recommendations put forward by
Sir Redvers Buller on behalf of the Officers and Petty Officers of the
Royal Navy."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Report from Lieutenant Burne, R.N._

H.M.S. _Monarch's_ (late H.M.S. _Tartar's_) 12-pounder Q.-F. Battery,

                                        Grass Kop, Sandspruit.
                                       _October 24th, 1900._

On withdrawal from the front, I wish to forward for the favourable
consideration of the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir Robert Harris,
K.C.M.G., a short report on detachment of H.M.S. _Monarch's_ (late
_Tartar's_) men now under my command, and who have served on shore
with the Natal Army for over a year. Since my last report to Captain
Jones, R.N., the Officer commanding Naval Brigade, on June 16th, after
the victory of Almond's Nek, this battery has taken part in the march
on Wakkerstroom and its occupation, the defence of Sandspruit and
action four miles north of it, with Cavalry and other Artillery, under
General Brocklehurst, M.V.O., which was a spirited little affair, and
where the battery earned the commendation of the General on the
shooting; later, the attack on Grass Kop and its occupation by the
Dorsets was covered by these guns and other artillery on July 24th,
and drew a heavy shell fire from four Boer Creusot guns in its
defence, this battery at that time being led by Lieutenant
Clutterbuck, R.N., when I was ill with jaundice, but whom I again
relieved on July 27th, and have continued since that date in the
defence of Grass Kop. My guns from here covered the right flank of two
separate attacks in force on Comersfoort, the first under General
Hildyard on July 30th, and the second under Sir Redvers Buller on
August 7th, when the town was taken. We have also covered many
reconnaissances, and have come into action at long ranges several
times against marauding Boers on the plain at the foot of this hill,
but hitherto they have not attacked us, as the hill is magnificently
entrenched and has been held in turn by the Dorsets, the South
Lancashires, and now the Queen's Regiment. The whole of the
intelligence from Grass Kop as to movements of the enemy since July
24th up to this date, has been furnished by my look-outs with our long
telescope; and this I need scarcely say has been a considerable and
arduous duty for the men under the conditions of violent winds, rain,
mist, and storms which prevailed up here (a height of 6,500 feet),
since we occupied the hill. These wind-storms have destroyed our tents
once, sometimes continuing for days, and have caused much discomfort
both to ourselves and the troops, and I have lost a good many oxen by
exposure and lung sickness. Orders having come for the withdrawal of
the Naval Brigade, I can only say I have been well and faithfully
served by the Officers and men of the detachment under my command; and
during these months have formed a high opinion of their excellence as
a battery, under the varying conditions of climate, heights, and
positions, they have gone through in Natal, the Orange Colony, and
the Transvaal. All these men, in spite of much sickness at times, have
stuck to their work with the Natal Army for a year now, and
consequently I think, fully deserve any advancement or reward it is
possible to give them, and I am sure H.M.S. _Tartar_ may be proud of
the men representing her during the war. I wish to bring this general
opinion of the men of the detachment, which I hold, to the favourable
notice of the Commander-in-Chief, and to specially recommend the
following for good service rendered with the guns:

     A. L. Munro, C.P.O. and torpedo instructor (late of H.M.S.

     G. H. Epsley, P.O., 2nd class and captain 1st gun (late of H.M.S.

     E. Cheeseman, A.B., S.G., and acting captain 2nd gun (late of
     H.M.S. _Tartar_).

     D. Smith, A.B., S.G.T., gun crew (late of H.M.S. _Tartar_).

     J. Macdonald, A.B., S.G., gun crew (late of H.M.S. _Tartar_).

     G. Baldwin, A.B., S.G., gun crew (late of H.M.S. _Tartar_).

     J. Sawyer, A.B., S.G., gun crew (late of H.M.S. _Tartar_).

     H. Wright, A.B., T.M., gun crew (late of H.M.S. _Tartar_).

For his good services as armourer and work drawing ordnance and
transport, stores, money, and in charge of commissariat, I
particularly recommend O. A. Hart, armourer's mate, H.M.S. _Tartar_
(late), a man thoroughly reliable.

As regards the Officer and six men of H.M.S. _Philomel_ attached to my
command, three of whom have since been invalided, I must strongly
recommend Mr. W. R. Ledgard, midshipman, who since July 28th I have
detached, as ordered by G.O.C. 5th Division, in independent command of
one gun, first at Opperman's Kraal, and then at Paardekop; he has
carried out this duty with ability and success, and for a young
officer I know it has been a trying one.

I also recommend T. Payne, A.B., S.G., H.M.S. _Philomel_, for good
service with the guns.

Expressing my gratification at having had the opportunity to command
H.M.S. _Tartar's_ (now _Monarch's_) Detachment, I have, etc.




Oct. 11.--Time fixed by the Boers for compliance with "ultimatum"
expired at 5 p.m.

Oct. 14.--Boers march on Kimberley and Mafeking.


Oct. 20.--Boer position on TALANA HILL captured by the British under

Oct. 21.--White moves out force under French to eject Boers from
ELANDSLAAGTE. Boers routed.

Oct. 22.--Yule retires from Dundee on Ladysmith _viâ_ Beith.

Oct. 23.--Death of General Symons at Dundee.

Oct. 30.--General sortie from Ladysmith. Naval guns silence Boer siege

  Surrender of part of two battalions and a Mountain Battery at
  Nicholson's Nek.

Oct. 31.--General Sir Redvers Buller lands at Capetown.

Nov. 1.--Boers invade Cape Colony.


Nov. 9.--General attack on Ladysmith repulsed with heavy loss to

Nov. 15.--Armoured train wrecked by Boers near Chieveley. Over 100
British troops captured.

Nov. 19.--Lord Methuen's column for the relief of Kimberley
concentrated at Orange River.

Nov. 23.--Methuen attacks Boers at BELMONT with Guards' Brigade and
9th Brigade. Boers driven from their position.

Nov. 25.--Methuen attacks Boers in position at Enslin and dislodges

  General Sir Redvers Buller arrives in Natal.

Nov. 28.--Methuen engages 11,000 Boers at MODDER RIVER. Battle lasting
all day. Boers evacuate position.

Nov. 30.--Sixth Division for South Africa notified.

Dec. 1.--Australian and Canadian Contingents leave Capetown for the

Dec. 10.--Gatacre attempts night attack on STORMBERG, but is surprised
and driven back with heavy loss.

Dec. 11.--Methuen attacks Boer position at MAGERSFONTEIN and is
repulsed with heavy loss. General Wauchope killed.

Dec. 15.--Buller advances from Chieveley against Boer positions near
COLENSO. British Force repulsed on Tugela with 1,100 casualties and
loss of 12 guns.

  Mobilization of 7th Division ordered.

Dec. 18.--Lord Roberts appointed Commander-in-Chief in South Africa,
with Lord Kitchener as Chief of Staff.

Dec. 19.--Regulations issued for employment of Yeomanry and Volunteers
in South Africa.

Dec. 20.--Formation of City of London Volunteer Corps for South Africa


Jan. 6.--Suffolk Regiment loses heavily near Rensburg, over 100
prisoners taken.



Jan. 10.--Forward movement for relief of Ladysmith resumed.

Jan. 11.--Dundonald seizes pont on Tugela at Potgieter's Drift.

Jan. 18.--Buller makes SECOND ATTEMPT to relieve Ladysmith. Dundonald
having crossed Tugela engages Boers near Acton Homes.

  Crossing of Tugela by Warren and Lyttelton concluded.

Jan. 21.--Warren attacks Boers' right flank.

Jan. 23-4.--SPION KOP captured and held during 24th, but evacuated on
the night of Jan. 24-25. General Woodgate fatally wounded.

Jan. 26-7.--Buller's force recrosses the Tugela.

Feb. 3.--Macdonald with Highland Brigade marches out from Modder

Feb. 5.--Buller's THIRD ATTEMPT to relieve Ladysmith commenced.
Lyttelton crosses Tugela, and delivers attack on VAAL KRANTZ, which he
captures and occupies.

Feb. 7.--Vaal Krantz evacuated and British Force withdrawn across the

Feb. 9.--Lord Roberts arrives at Modder River.

Feb. 11.--French, having been summoned from Southern Frontier, leaves
Modder River with Cavalry Division and Horse Artillery.

Feb. 13.--Lord Roberts at Dekiel's Drift.

Feb. 15.--Lord Roberts at Jacobsdal.


Feb. 17.--Rearguard action between Kelly-Kenny and Cronje _en route_
to Bloemfontein.

  FOURTH ATTEMPT to relieve Ladysmith.

  Buller presses advance on Monte Christo Hill.

Feb. 19.--Buller takes Hlangwane Hill.

Feb. 20.--Boers under Cronje, having laagered near Paardeberg, are
bombarded by Lord Roberts.

Feb. 21.--Fifth Division crosses Tugela.

Feb. 23.--Buller unsuccessfully attacks Railway Hill.

Feb. 26.--Buller makes fresh passage of Tugela.


  PIETERS HILL, the main Boer position between Ladysmith and the
  Tugela, carried by Hildyard.


  Clements occupies Colesberg.

Mar. 5.--Gatacre occupies Stormberg.

  Brabant again defeats and pursues Boers.

  Overtures of peace made by Boer Presidents.

Mar. 6.--Field Force arrives at Carnarvon to quell rising in

Mar. 7.--Lord Roberts routs a large force of Boers at Poplar Grove.

Mar. 10.--Lord Roberts defeats Boers at Driefontein.

Mar. 11.--Overtures of peace rejected by Lord Salisbury.

Mar. 13.--Lord Roberts, without further fighting, takes possession of
BLOEMFONTEIN. Boers retire on Kroonstad.


Mar. 31.--Broadwood attacked at Waterworks. During retirement R.H.A.
and convoy entrapped at Koorn Spruit. Six guns lost, 350 casualties.

April 3.--Detachment of Royal Irish Rifles and Mounted Infantry
surrounded near Reddersburg.

April 7.--Colonel Dalgety isolated near Wepener.

April 15.--Chermside leaves Reddersburg to relieve Wepener.

April 25.--Dalgety relieved. Boers retreat northwards, under Botha.

May 10.--Zand River crossed, Boers rapidly retreating before Lord
Roberts's advance.

May 12.--Lord Roberts enters KROONSTAD without opposition, President
Steyn having retired to Heilbron, which he proclaims his new capital.

  Attack on Mafeking repulsed, 108 Boer prisoners, including
  Commandant Eloff, taken.

May 13.--Mahon with Mafeking Relief Column repulses attack at

May 15.--Buller occupies Dundee and Glencoe, having driven the Boers
from the Biggarsberg.

  Plumer, reinforced by Canadians and Queenslanders from Carrington's
  Division, joins hands with Mahon.


May 24.--Advance portion of Lord Roberts's force crosses the Vaal near

May 28.--ANNEXATION OF ORANGE FREE STATE under name of Orange River
Colony formally proclaimed at Bloemfontein.



  Surrender of 500 Yeomanry at Lindley.

June 2-4.--Futile negotiations between Buller and Christian Botha for


June 8.--Hildyard takes Botha's Pass.

Surrender of 4th Derbyshires at Roodeval.

June 11.--Stubborn fight at Almond's Nek. Heavy Boer losses.

June 12.--Boers evacuate Laing's Nek.

  Roberts defeats Botha at DIAMOND HILL, east of Pretoria.

June 14.--Boer attack on Zand River repulsed.

July 4.--Roberts and Buller join hands at Vlakfontein.

  Railway to Natal clear.

July 11.--Surrender of Scots Greys and Lincolns at Uitval Nek.

July 21.--Advance eastwards towards Komati Poort begins.

July 30.--SURRENDER OF PRINSLOO and 3,000 Boers to Hunter in
Brandwater basin.

Aug. 16.--Elands River garrison relieved.

Aug. 25.--Execution of Cordua for conspiracy to kidnap Lord Roberts.

Aug. 26-7.--Fighting at DALMANUTHA.

Aug. 30.--British occupy Nooitgedacht and release 2,000 prisoners.

Sept. 6.--Buller occupies Lydenburg.

Sept. 11.--KRUGER, FLYING FROM THE TRANSVAAL, takes refuge at Lorenzo

Sept. 13.--Proclamation issued by Roberts calling on burghers to

  French occupies Barberton.

Sept. 25.--British Force occupies Komati Poort. Many Boers cross
Portuguese frontier and surrender to Portuguese.

Oct. 9.--De Wet driven across the Vaal out of Orange River Colony.

Oct. 19.--Kruger sails from Lorenzo Marques for Marseilles on Dutch

Oct. 24.--Buller sails from Capetown for England.

Transvaal Colony.




_Extract from "Natal Advertiser."_

GENERAL SIR REDVERS BULLER, in his despatches which have just been
published with reference to the operations in Natal, calls attention
to a number of officers, non-commissioned officers, and men whose
services deserve "special mention." He gives thanks to Sir W.
Hely-Hutchinson, the Governor of Natal; to Colonel the Hon. A. H.
Hime, Prime Minister, and all the members of the Government of the
colony. Rear-Admiral Sir R. H. Harris, K.C.M.G., had also been most
helpful. Then follows the list of men "especially worthy of

Captain Percy Scott, C.B., H.M.S. _Terrible_, has discharged the
difficult duties of Commandant of Durban with the greatest tact and
ability, and has been most helpful in every way.

Captain E. P. Jones, H.M.S. _Forte_, as senior officer of the Naval
Brigade, has earned my most heartfelt thanks. The assistance they have
rendered to me has been invaluable; the spirit of their leader was
reflected in the men, and at any time, day or night, they were always
ready, and their work was excellent.

Commander A. H. Limpus and Lieutenant F. C. A. Ogilvy, H.M.S.
_Terrible_, and Lieutenant H. W. James, H.M.S. _Tartar_. These three
Officers were indefatigable. There never was a moment in the day that
they were not working hard and well to advance the work in hand.

The names of the following officers, warrant officers,
non-commissioned officers, and men of the Naval Brigade, Sir Redvers
Buller adds, have been brought to his notice for gallant or
meritorious services by general officers and officers commanding


  Lieutenant C. P. Hunt, H.M.S. _Forte_.
  Lieutenant C. R. N. Burne, H.M.S. _Philomel_.
  Staff-Surgeon F. J. Lilly, H.M.S. _Forte_.
  Surgeon C. C. Macmillan, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  Surgeon E. C. Lomas, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  Acting-Gunner J. Wright, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  Midshipman R. B. Hutchinson, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  Midshipman H. S. Boldero, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  Midshipman G. L. Hodson, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  Clerk W. T. Hollin, H.M.S. _Philomel_.

[Illustration: _Photo by Debenham, Southsea._

Captain E. P. JONES, R.N.]


  Chief Petty Officer T. Baldwin, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  Chief Petty Officer W. Bate, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  Chief Petty Officer B. Stephens, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  First-Class Petty Officer P. Cashman, H.M.S. _Philomel_.
  Second-Class Petty Officer C. Challoner, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  Second-Class Petty Officer J. J. Frennett, H.M.S. _Philomel_.
  Master-at-Arms G. Crowe, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  Armourer Ellis, H.M.S. _Terrible_.
  F. Moore, A.B., H.M.S. _Forte_.


General Sir Redvers Buller, in a despatch dated Laing's Nek, June
19th, 1900, says: "I desire to bring to notice the following

"Captain E. P. Jones, R.N., Naval Brigade.

"It was due to the energy and perseverance of the officers and men
alike, following the excellent example set them by their Commander,
Captain Jones, that it was possible to place the Naval guns in
position on the 8th, and get them forward subsequently in time to
accompany the advance on the 10th. The excellent marksmanship of the
Naval Brigade, and the skilful distribution of their fire, contributed
materially to the successful result of the attack on Allemann's Nek on
June 11th."

The following names are mentioned by Commanders as having performed
good services, in addition to those previously mentioned:--

  Lieutenant G. P. Hunt, H.M.S. _Forte_.
  Lieutenant F. W. Melvill, H.M.S. _Forte_.
  Lieutenant C. R. N. Burne, H.M.S. _Philomel_.
  Lieutenant A. Halsey, H.M.S. _Philomel_.
  Midshipman W. R. Ledgard, H.M.S. _Philomel_.
  John Restal, chief armourer, H.M.S. _Tartar_.
  Alexander Monro, C.P.O., H.M.S. _Tartar_.
  J. Weatherhead, P.O., H.M.S. _Philomel_.
  E. Waring, yeoman of signals.

Referring to the work at the base and on the lines of communication,
General Buller, in the despatch dated ss. _Dunvegan Castle_, November
9th, says:--

"The Naval transport work at Durban has been throughout under the
charge of Captain Van Koughnet, R.N. I desire to take this opportunity
of bringing to notice the excellent service which he has rendered.
Owing to his tact and ability, the difficult and ofttimes very heavy
work of embarkations and disembarkations has passed smoothly and well.

"Commander G. E. Holland, D.S.O., Indian Marine, has also been
employed at Durban throughout. His genius for organisation, and his
knowledge of transport requirements, is, I should say, unrivalled. He
undertook the alteration of the transports which were fitted at Durban
as hospital ships, and the result of his work has been universally
admitted to have been a conspicuous success. I strongly recommend him
to your consideration.

"Warrant Officer Carpenter S. J. Lacey, R.N., has rendered valuable
service in supervising the fitting of hospital ships and in transport
work generally. I recommend him to your favourable notice.

"The following officers acted as my aides-de-camp, and I submit their
names for your favourable consideration. Each and all of them are
thoroughly capable and deserving officers, and rendered me great

"Commander Edgar Lees, Royal Navy (and others).

"Lieutenant A. Halsey, R.N., H.M.S. _Philomel_, commanded the last
detachment of the Naval Brigade which was left with the Natal Field
Force, and, like all the rest of the Brigade, their services were most

[Illustration: Map.]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "With the Naval Brigade in Natal (1899-1900) - Journal of Active Service" ***

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