The Montreal Highland Cadets: Second South Africana’ War.

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The Montreal Highland Cadets: Second South Africana’ War.

Postby Spañiard » 23 Aug 2015 01:04

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The Montreal Highland Cadets In The Second South Africana’ War, 1899-1902.


CHAPTER IX.
HIGHLAND CADETS IN SOUTH AFRICA.


When, in October, 1899, the Boer Republics of South Africa declared war on Great Britain, and the mother country, rather as a concession to that wonderful imperial spirit which had been developing throughout the Empire, than as a matter of military expediency decided to accept some of the offers of military assistance which had been preferred by the principal self-governing colonies, the Dominion government proceeded to raise, by special enlistment, a contingent of one thousand infantry, which was mobilized, equipped and embarked for South Africa in exactly sixteen day's. The wave of patriotic enthusiasm which swept over Canada, upon the occasion of this call to arms, will never be forgotten. From the barracks of the permanent militia, from the universities, from the workshop, from the farm, from the desk, from the learned professions, the manhood of Canada flocked to the recruiting officers, moved by one impulse of devoted loyalty to the old flag. There is not a more loyal lot of lads in Canada than the Highland Cadets, and the whole corps would have volunteered, had they had a chance. As it was, most of them were but boys after all, and it was men's work that lay before the soldiers of the Queen, in South Africa. Several of the elder boys, although in most cases several years below the age limit (twenty-two), presented themselves before the recruiting officers, at the Montreal Brigade Office. Several were promptly refused on account of their youth, but a couple of the more stalwart-looking and persistent would have been accepted, but for the interference of their relations. But the existence of the corps was amply justified by the enrolment, in the service contingent, of no less than seven former members of the battalion. Five of these enlisted in E. Company (Captain Eraser), namely J. Phillips, J. Duncan, H. Murray, W. Wilkin and J. Smith. Two formed part of F. Company (Major Peltier), namely W. A. Peppiatt and C. Morrison. Peppiatt was, at the time of the raising of the contingent, a sergeant in the Royal Canadian Artillery, at Quebec, and received the appointment of sergeant in F. Company. He was severely wounded at Cronje's Laager, February 27th, 1900, and was the only one of the seven ex-cadets in the regiment who had to be invalided home. Sergeant Peppiatt has now quite recovered from his wound, and is serving, as rough-riding sergeant, in the Royal Canadian Field Artillery, Kingston.

Soon after the despatch of the first contingent, the Dominion government offered to furnish a second contingent, but the home government declined the offer with thanks. A month later, in December, the offer was accepted, the second contingent being composed of field artillery and mounted rifles. Still later, another regiment of mounted infantry, now become historical as "Strathcona's Horse," was accepted. This splendid corps was raised among the ranchers, cowboys and mounted police of the Canadian Northwest, and equipped, armed and transported to South Africa at the expense of Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, to whom the Highland Cadets owe such a deep debt of gratitude for many acts of kindness. On the orders for the mobilization of the second contingent being promulgated, there was another fine outburst of patriotic enthusiasm throughout the length and breadth of Canada, and again the recruiting offices were besieged with recruits. Four former members of the Highland Cadets, A. Smith, D. Ferguson, T. Byrne and A. Hibbs, then serving in the Third Montreal Field Battery (Major Costigan), enlisted for E. Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery (Major G. T. Ogilvie); while Captain Duncan Campbell, a tall, sturdy lad, volunteered straight from the Cadets, and was accepted as a gunner for the same battery. Sergeant F. Berge volunteered dire(5l, and was accepted for the Second Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles A. McKellar, a former member of the Highland Cadets, was in charge of the Young Men's Christian Association, at Ottawa, when the Strathcona' s Horse was mobilized there, and he volunteered and went to South Africa with that splendid body of men, as the representative of the Young Men's Christian Association. A draft of one hundred men, to replace casualties in the first contingent, accompanied the Strathcona's Horse to South Africa. With this draft, there went to the front another member of the Highland Cadets — Sergeant Butler, who enlisted as a private. This made a total of fifteen members or ex-members of the Highland Cadets, who formed part of Canada's contribution to the truly imperial force fighting the battles of the Empire in South Africa, a generous quota from such a young battalion. And this list given does not include the names of all the soldiers the Highland Cadets have given to the British armies in South Africa, for several former members of the battalion are serving in imperial regiments, or have been accepted in various corps raised in South Africa. Former members of the corps have paid their passage to South Africa to enlist, others have gone to England to do so. By couples or groups of three, they have accepted service on horse or hay transports bound from Canada for Table Bay, with the object of enlisting on arrival. And such corps as Kitchener's Horse, Brabant's Horse, The South African Constabulary and The Canadian Scouts — an irregular corps originally recruited from the time-expired men of the Canadian contingents— have been glad to get them. Several of the former cadets have been given rapid promotion in these corps, and, at latest accounts, Lieutenant McCrae, one of the original officers of the Highland Cadets, was holding the responsible appointment of paymaster of Kitchener's Horse. Altogether, the Highland Cadets have been represented by no less than forty men in the South African war.*



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