Category: Boer War

Sir William Babtie VC, KCB, KCMG.

William Babtie (07/05/1859 –  11/09/1920) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions while serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps, during the Anglo Boer War on 15 December 1899 at the Battle of Colenso.

(59) William Babtie VC.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 27184, Page: 2547, reads:

“Royal Army Medical Corps, Major William Babtie, C.M.G.

At Colenso, on the l0th December, 1899, the wounded of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, were lying in an advanced donga close in the rear of the guns without any Medical Officer to attend to them, and when a message was sent back asking for assistance, Major W. Babtie, R A.M.C., rode up under a heavy rifle fire, his pony being hit three times. “When he arrived at the donga, where the wounded were lying in sheltered corners, he attended to them all, going from place to place exposed to the heavy rifle fire which greeted anyone who showed himself.

Later on in the day, Major Babtie went out with Captain Congreve to bring in Lieutenant Roberts, who was lying wounded on the veldt. This also was under a heavy fire.”

He died at Knocke, Belgium, on 11 September 1920, aged 61 and was buried in Stoke Cemetery, Guildford, Surrey. He is commemorated by a plaque at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Maj William Babtie. VC.

©  DRW 2017-2018. Created 08/06/2017. Taddy cigarette card by Card Promotions © 1997, first issued 1902

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:18

Arthur Martin-Leake VC*

Arthur Martin-Leake (04/04/1874 – 22/06/1953) is one of three men who were awarded the Victoria Cross twice. 

While attached to the 5th Field Ambulance during the Second Boer War on 8 February 1902,  he was awarded his first VC for his actions at Vlakfontein,

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 27433, Page: 3176, reads:

“South African Constabulary, Surgeon-Captain A. Martin-Leake.

During the action at Vlakfonteiu, on the 8th February, 1902, Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake went up to a wounded man, and attended to him under a heavy fire from about 40 Boers at 100 yards range. He then went to the assistance of a wounded Officer, and, whilst trying to place him in a comfortable position, was shot three times, but would not give in till he rolled over thoroughly exhausted. All the eight men at this point were wounded, and while they were lying on the Veldt, Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake refused water till every one else had been served. “

He returned to service as a lieutenant with the 5th Field Ambulance when the First World War broke out.

He was awarded his second Victoria Cross during the period 29 October to 8 November 1914 near Zonnebeke, Belgium, whilst serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29074, Page: 1700 reads: 

“Lieutenant Arthur Martin Leake, Royal Army Medical Corps, who was awarded the Victoria Cross on 13th May, 1902, is granted, a Clasp for conspicuous bravery in the present, campaign: — For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty throughout the campaign, especially during the period 29th October to 8th November 1914, near Zonnebeke, in rescuing, whilst exposed to constant fire, a large number of the wounded who were lying close to the enemy’s trenches.”

He retired from the army after the war and resumed his employment in India until he retired to England in 1937.  He died, aged 79, at High Cross, Hertfordshire and was buried in St John’s Church, High Cross. 

Commemoration plaque at the National Memorial Arboretum

There is a Memorial to Arthur Martin-Leake VC  and Cmdnt Gert Martinus Claassen at the farm Syferfontein. 

The Image of the Syferfontein monuments by user “Valhotel”, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Martin-Leake.  created 11/09/2013, (CC BY-SA 4.0)  

Cropped Image of the Syferfontein image by user “Valhotel”, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Martin-Leake.  created 11/09/2013, (CC BY-SA 4.0) 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 07/06/2017. Taddy cigarette by Card Promotions, © 1997, first issued 1902. Gallaher cigarette card by Card Promotions © 2001, first issued 1915. 

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:19

Frederick Sleigh Roberts VC.

Frederick Sleigh Roberts(30/09/1832 – 14/11/1914) Was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions for actions on 2 January 1858 at Khudagan during the Indian Rebellion.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 22212, Page: 5516, reads: 

“Bengal Artillery, Lieutenant Frederick Sleigh Roberts, Date of Act of Bravery, 2nd January, 1858.

Lieutenant Roberts’ gallantry has on every occasion been most marked.

On following up the retreating enemy on the 2nd January, 1858, at Khodagunge, he saw in the distance two Sepoys going away with a standard. Lieutenant Roberts put spurs to his horse, and overtook them just as they were about to enter a village. They immediately turned round, and presented their muskets at him, and one of the men pulled the trigger, but fortunately the caps snapped, and the standard-bearer was cut down by this gallant young officer, and the standard taken possession of by him. He also, on the same day, cut down another Sepoy who was standing at bay, with musket and bayonet, keeping off a Sowar. Lieutenant Roberts rode to the assistance of the horseman, and, rushing at the Sepoy, with one blow of his sword cut him across the face, killing him on the spot.”

Lord Roberts VC at Horse Guards, London.

Lord Roberts died of pneumonia at St Omer, France, on 14/11/1914 while visiting Indian troops fighting in the First World War. After lying in state in Westminster Hall,  he was given a state funeral and was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.  His son Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts VC was killed in action on 17 December 1899 at the Battle of Colenso during the Boer War. Roberts and his son were one of only three pairs of fathers and sons to be awarded the VC.

His full titles are: Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, KStJ, VD, PC.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 25/05/2017

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:19

Charles Fitzclarence VC

Charles Fitzclarence (08/05/1865 – 02/11/1914) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Anglo Boer War while serving in The Royal Fusiliers.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of 6 July 1900, Issue: 27208, Page: 4196, reads:

“The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), Captain Charles FitzCIarence.

On the 14th October, 1899, Captain FitzCIarence went with his squadron of the Protectorate Regiment, consisting of only partially trained men, who had never been in action, to the assistance of an armoured train which had gone out from Mafeking. The enemy were in greatly superior numbers, and the squadron was for a time surrounded, and it looked as if nothing could save them from being shot down. Captain FitzCIarence, however, by his personal coolness and courage inspired the greatest confidence in his men, and, by his bold and efficient handling of them, not only succeeded in relieving the armoured train, but inflicted a heavy defeat on the Boers, who lost 50 killed and a large number wounded, his own losses being 2 killed and 15 wounded. The moral effect of this blow had a very important bearing on subsequent encounters with the Boers.

On the 27th October, 1899, Captain FitzCIarence led his squadron from Mafeking across the open, and made a night attack with the bayonet on one of the enemy’s trenches. A hand-to-hand fight took place in the trench, while a heavy fire was concentrated on it from the rear. The enemy was driven out with heavy loss. Captain’ FitzCIarence was the first man into the position and accounted for four of the enemy with his sword. The British lost & killed and 9 wounded. Captain. FitzCIarence was himself: slightly wounded. With reference to these two actions, Major. General Baden-Powell states that had this Officer not shown an extraordinary spirit and fearlessness the attacks would have been failures, and we should have suffered heavy loss both in men and prestige. On the 26th December, 1899, during the action at Game Tree, near Mafeking, Captain FitzCIarence again distinguished himself by his coolness and courage and was again wounded (severely through both legs).” 

He was killed in action, aged 49, at Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, Belgium, on 12 November 1914 whilst commanding the 1st Guards Brigade. He has no known grave and is Commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Panel 3.

Menin Gate. Image courtesy of Ralph McLean and the South African War Graves Project

 © DRW 2017-2018. Created 30/04/2017. Inscription image courtesy of Mark Green. Taddy & Co cigarette card by Card Promotions, ©1997, first issued 1902. 

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:12

John Norwood VC

John Norwood (08/09/1876 – 08/09/1914) was serving as a second lieutenant in the 5th Dragoon Guards during the Second Boer War when his actions resulted in him being awarded the Victoria Cross.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of 20 July 1900, Issue: 27212, Page: 4509, reads:

“On the 30th October, 1899, this Officer went out from Ladysmith in charge of a small patrol of the 5th Dragoon Guards. They came under a heavy fire from the enemy, who were posted on a ridge in great force. The patrol, which had arrived within about 600 yards of the ridge, then retired at full speed. One man dropped, and Second Lieutenant Norwood galloped back about 300 yards through’heavy fire, dismounted, and picking up the fallen trooper, carried him out of fire on his back, at the same time leading his horse with one hand. The enemy kept up an incessant fire during the whole time that Second Lieutenant Norwood was carrying the man until he was quite out of range.”

He served in the First World War and was killed in action during the First Battle of the Marne at Sablonnieres, France, on 8 September 1914. He is buried in Plot 4, Sablonnieres Communal Cemetery, France.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 26/04/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green.

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:06

Francis Aylmer Maxwell VC, CSI, DSO

Francis Aylmer Maxwell (07/09/1871 – 21/09/1917) Was awarded the Victoria Cross while attached to Roberts’s Light Horse during the Second Boer War On 31 March 1900 at Sanna’s Post (aka Korn Spruit), South Africa.

(67) FA Maxwell VC.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 27292, Page: 1649, reads:

“Lieutenant Maxwell was one of three Officers not belonging to “Q” Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, specially mentioned by Lord Roberts as having shown the greatest gallantry, and disregard of danger, in carrying out the self-imposed duty of saving the guns of that Battery during the affair at Korn Spruit on 31st March, 1900.

This Officer went out on five different occasions and assisted, to bring in two guns and three limbers, one of which he, Captain Humphreys, and some Gunners, dragged in by hand.

He also went out with Captain Humphreys and  Lieutenant Stirling to try to get the last gun in, and remained there till the attempt was abandoned.

During a previous Campaign (the Chitral Expedition of’ 1895) Lieutenant Maxwell displayed gallantry in the removal of the body of Lieutenant-Colonel F. D. Battye, Corps of Guides, under fire, for which, though recommended, he received no reward.”

Major Edmund Phipps-Hornby, Sergeant Charles Parker, Gunner Isaac Lodge and Driver Horace Glasock also earned the Victoria Cross in this action.

He was killed by a German sniper, at Ypres on 21 September 1917 while commanding the 27th Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division, and is buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.

DRW ©2017-2018. Created 26/04/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green. Taddy cigarette card by Card Promotions © 1997 first issued 1902.

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:06

Worcestershire Anglo Boer War Memorial

The Memorial to the Men of Worcestershire who lost their lives in the Boer War stands outside Worcester Cathedral.

The Memorial  is a bronze depiction of a  soldier of the Worcester Regiment kneeling as he prepares to fire his last cartridge. A winged figure said to represent “Immortality” stands above him with a palm branch in one hand, and in the other hand a sheathed sword with laurel wreath on it. It was unveiled on 23 September 1908 by Lt. Gen. the Hon. Sir N. G. Lyttleton. The monument was restored in 2005. The sculptor was William Robert Colton and it is a grade II listed object.

There is an additional inscription on the base of the memorial that is not as legible.

Their bodies were buried in peace

but their name liveth forevermore 

Inside the Cathedral there is an additional Roll of Honour.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 07/03/2017. 

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:39

Charles Edward Parker VC

Charles Edward Haydon Parker (10/03/1870 – 05/12/1918) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Anglo Boer War.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 27205,  Page: 3964, reads:

“On the occasion of the action at Korn Spruit on the 31st March, 1900, a British force, including two batteries of the Royal Horse Artillery, was retiring from Thabanchu towards Bloemfontein. The enemy had formed an ambush at Korn Spruit, and before their presence was discovered by the main body had captured the greater portion of the baggage column and five out of the six guns of the leading battery.

When the alarm was given Q Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, was within 300 yards of the Spruit. Major Phipps-Hornby, who commanded it, at once wheeled about and moved off at a gallop under a very heavy fire. One gun upset when a wheel horse was shot, and had to be abandoned, together with a waggon, the horses of which were killed. The remainder of the battery reached a position close to some unfinished railway buildings and came into action 1,150 yards from the Spruit, remaining in action until ordered to retire. When the order to retire was received Major Phipps-Hornby ordered the guns and their limbers to be run back by hand to where the teams of uninjured horses stood behind the unfinished buildings. The few remaining gunners, assisted by a number of Officers and men of a party of Mounted Infantry, and directed by Major Phipps-Hornby and Captain Humphreys, the only remaining Officers of the battery, succeeded in running back four of the guns under shelter. One or two of the limbers were similarly withdrawn by hand, but the work was most severe and the distance considerable. In consequence all concerned were so exhausted that they were unable to drag in the remaining limbers or the fifth gun. It now became necessary to risk the horses, and volunteers were called for from among the drivers, who readily responded. Several horses were killed and men wounded, but at length only one gun and one limber were left exposed. Four separate attempts were made to rescue these, but when no more hordes were available the attempt had to be given up and the gun and limber were abandoned.

Meanwhile the other guns had been sent on, one at a time, and after passing within 700 or 800 yards of the enemy, in rounding the head of a donga and crossing two spruits they eventually reached a place of safety, where the battery was re-formed.

After full consideration of the circumstances of the case the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-chief in South Africa formed the opinion that the conduct of all ranks of Q Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, was conspicuously gallant and daring, but that all were equally brave and devoted in their behaviour. He therefore decided to treat the case of the battery as one of collective gallantry under Rule 13 of the Victoria Cross Warrant, and directed that one Officer should be selected for the decoration of the Victoria Cross by the Officers, one non-commissioned officer by the non-commissioned officers, and two gunners or drivers by the gunners and drivers. A difficulty arose with regard to the Officer because there were only two unwounded Officers — Major Phipps-Hornby and Captain Humphreys — available for the work of saving the guns, and both of these had been conspicuous by their gallantry and by the fearless manner in which they exposed themselves, and each of them nominated the other for the decoration. It was ultimately decided in favour of Major Phipps-Hornby as having been the senior concerned”

Major Edmund Phipps-Hornby, Lieutenant Francis Aylmer Maxwell, Gunner Isaac Lodge and Driver Horace Glasock also earned the Victoria Cross in this action.

He is buried in London Road Cemetery, Coventry

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 18/01/2016. Image courtesy of Mark Green

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 13:23

The Irish Brigades Monument in Orania

This page is the result of the dereliction of the site of the Irish Brigades Monument that used to be in Brixton. The original entry for this monument is still available under Extinct Memorials

Initially I was not able to find any information on the monument when I first photographed what was left at the site in 2007, All I could find was an article that said it was the site of a monument to Irish volunteers who fought for the Boers during the South African War and that it had been sold in the mid 90’s.  At the end of 2007 I found a picture which showed the monument in the distance next to the Brixton Tower.

 

The architect was Johan (Jan) Carel Van Wijk, who was also responsible for the design of the Taal Monument in Paarl) and it was unveiled in 1975 by Mrs Betsie Verwoerd.  The design consisted of 4 pillars in an ascending line that symbolized the four Irish Commandos that served with the Boer Forces in the Anglo Boer War.   ” (http://www.oraniainfo.co.za/accommodation.html)

There was some controversy regarding the ground that the monument was erected on and eventually it was dismantled and the components were moved to Orania in June 2002. It now stands on Monument Hill on the edge of the town, (Google Earth: -29.811852°.  24.419704°). Images available on the Mail and Guardian website from 14 November 2014 

All that is left in Brixton is a derelict trash ridden area that vaguely looks like a gun emplacement. There used to be a plaque there, but its gone, and any artefacts that could be identified are also gone. The only thing left behind is litter, uncut grass and rubble.

In October 2011, I was contacted by an architect; William Martinson Barch, who sent me a link to the Artefacts site with images of what this monument looked like at ground level

There is an interesting history of the Irish Volunteers as well as the memorial available at “The South African History Source. Written by Experts“.

I revisited the site in Brixton in December 2011 to see if there had been any progress, but if anything it was looking worse that it had before. The “Freedom Memorial” that was supposedly at the site of the AW Muller Stadium has also been removed.

So while the memorial doesn’t exist in Brixton any longer it now exists in Oriana and although I do not have a photograph that I can use there are a number of links on this page that will show the monument in it’s present location. Realistically moving the monument back to Brixton would achieve no purpose at all. 

*Update 27/12/2016*

I was contacted by Diederik-Johannes Cloete who threw even more light on the subject, specifically an article at the http://www.irishpub.co.za/index.php/culture that shows what I assume is the Afrikaans portion of the plaque from the monument. I am hoping to reproduce the image with permission. 

I was also informed about an article that appeared in the Mail and Guardian on 14 November 2014 about the monument and Orania and can now safely say I have seen images of the monument and technically it is no longer extinct although the context of it is long forgotten. 

There is also a short video on youtube about the monument

© DRW 2007-2018. Created as a spinoff from the original page 28/12/2016. Special thanks to William Martinson and Diederik-Johannes Cloete for information and links. 

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 13:24

Bethulie Concentration Camp Memorials

The images in this post are courtesy of Clive Jackson and are used with permission. 

The concentration camp in Bethulie does not have a good reputation as can be read in British Concentration Camps of the South African War, and this can be seen from the long list of names at the new concentration camp monument (Kamp Kerkhof).

The graves of 1737 people were relocated to the present graveyard which is 3km from the town.  It was unveiled by then State President CR Swart  in October 1996.  The graves were moved to the new site because it was feared that the water from the Gariep (former Hendrik Verwoed) Dam would inundate them.  More information about the memorial may be found at the Bethulie Concentration Camp site on Pathfinda.com, the monument may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates: -30.484774°, 25.999216°. 

Gariep Dam (Image by Ronnie Lovemore)

Gariep Dam (Image by Ronnie Lovemore)

On the Gariep Dam is a plaque commemorating those whose graves were covered by the waters of the dam.

(Image by Ronnie Lovemore)

The old camp memorial was located at  -30.484778, 25.999231 and the original cairn and two monuments can still be seen.  The old memorial is at the sight of the original camp cemetery and a glimpse at the Google Earth image shows the rough outline of the cemetery.

There is also a memorial to Louw Wepener  who was killed in the second Basotho (aka The Seqiti War) war along with his companion Adam Raubenheimer. The story goes that when the Boers tried to attack the Basotho Mountain Stronghold, Thaba Bosiou, they were bombarded with huge rocks rolled from the top. When the remains were recovered some time later, it was impossible to tell whose bones belonged to whom, so they were interred together at the memorial.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 20/10/2016.  Images by Clive Jackson and Ronnie Lovemore. 

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 07:56
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