Journal of 10th Company, Sherwood Rangers, Imperial Yeomanry

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Journal of 10th Company, Sherwood Rangers, Imperial Yeomanry

Postby QSAMIKE » 06 Nov 2016 15:26

Good Morning Everyone.......

I have just finished transcribing this document with regards to the 10th Company, Sherwood Rangers, Imperial Yeomanry belonging to the estate of Francis Christian Overman......

I will be posting it here or at least what I could...... The spelling is uncorrected where need be and is as he spelt names and locations......

It seems that he returned to South Africa again in 1904 as there are two more manuscripts which I am going to transcribe there is one on Magersfontein and one on all of the other places and battlefields he visited.......

This is from Overman's diary but has been very badly damaged by water over the years but I have done the best I can......





By Frank C. Overman

War had begun raging in the Transvaal and South Africa in general and reverses at and around the Tugela River entailing heavy losses amongst the British Troops was the immediate cause of the formation of a corps of men called the Imperial Yeomanry who according to several of the great authorities upon military matters would prove to be of great use as scouts and dispatch riders. This proved to be the case and the work of the Imperial Yeomanry as the corps is styles has been highly praised in all quarters. That they were a smart lot was shown at Boschof of which more anon.

To become a member of this corps it was necessary to be an expert rider and a good shot. The riding tests were very difficult and it is not surprising that so many aspirants for the V.C. Were doomed to disappointment.

I was one of the fortunate ones and with7 other Manchester fellows all members of the 2nd V.B.M.R. Mounted Infantry proceeded to Retford (on 25th January 1900) to join Sherwood Rangers yeoman Cavalry. Although we only received 36 hours notice to join so eager were we to get out to the front that we caught the 10 a.m. train from London Road Station arriving at Retford at 1 o'clock. When we arrived we were billeted at the Galway Arms kept by a Mr. Edwards who was most attentive to us and spared no trouble to make us comfortable, and for a mere nominal sum furnished us with really excellent meals. The next day was devoted to receiving our kit and equipment, in the evening the troops going to a huge banquet given by the Mayor and Citizens of Nottingham in the Victoria Hall in that town. The banquet was a grand affair the visitors tickets i.e. Civilians being 30/- each. The Duke of Portland, the Viscount Lord Galway and several others of the aristocracy being present. Afterwards a most enjoyable evening was spent with music etc. The festivities over a return was made to Retford. The remainder of our kit was issued the following morning and in the evening we were marched to the Town Hall Retford to receive presents of field glasses, comforters, tobacco &c. Given by the ladies and gentlemen of the district.

The preceding days had been days of bustle and excitement but compared to the next one they were nothing as on 29th January we were ordered to proceed to Liverpool and embark for table bay. We were timed to leave Retford at 5 a.m.,but as horses had to be boxed we worked all night.

Although our time for departing was so early and considering that it was Sunday almost every inhabitant of the town turned out to see us off and patriotic songs were sung with great fervour. The scene was one which once seen was never to be forgotten. People pushed and struggled to obtain a last glimpse of some relation who had nobly volunteered for the front. I was on guard at the gate with instructions to let no one through without a Pass, and whilst on duty here saw a most touching scene. A stalwart trooper apparently an only son was leading his horse, his Mother and Sister had come to see him off. Earnestly they implored with me to let them pass through onto the platform but it was no avail I had my orders which I was bound to obey and which I explained to them , so they turned away their places being taken by others. At last the whistle blew and amidst loud and prolonged cheering the train containing the Sherwood Rangers steamed majestically out of the station. Our route lay through Penistone and at this station the boiler of our engine burst necessitating a delay of about 2 hours. After obtaining another locomotive we continued our journey arriving at Liverpool about 3 p.m. and after a march of about 1 1/2 miles reached the Langdon Dock where the transport Winifridian lay. She belonged to the Layland Line and was one of their latest acquisitions and with out a doubt a magnificent vessel. After getting the horses, stores, &c., aboard we had ample time to look around, and to wish – unfortunately in some instances – our friends a last good-bye.

On the following day we cast off and the blowing of sirens &c. The vessel started on her voyage to the Cape. Life on board the transport is not quite a bed of roses, as the following will show. A day's work consisted of: Reveille at 6.00; Stables at 6:30; Breakfast at 8:00; Physical Drill and Musketry followed after Stables and Dinner. Swobbing was the order of the afternoon, evening stables and tea finishing up the days work, after which we generally lounged about on deck or held Smoking Concerts. The food was simple but good and one this there was plenty. Being a qualified signaller was required to take on a class of instruction and for this was promoted to Lance Corporal. I might mention that prior to leaving Liverpool my two brothers came to see me off one of them very kindly giving me a box of cigars. Amongst other visitors to see us off were Major Compton-Hall, Colonel R. Bridgford, Lieutenant Cawley and several others from the 2nd V.B.M.R. Mounted Infantry. Viscount Lord Galway and Lady Violet Monkton came to wish the Sherwood's God-speed and a safe return. To each of us the last presented us with a spray of gorse in bloom, representing the Regimental Colours. In accordance with a request from Colonel Bridgeford I presented him with my sprig as he said he would like a small memento of this important day.

But to continue.

The first few days of the voyage were beautiful, and the sea smooth,but alas, when the Bay of Biscay was reached the sea became rough and consequently most of the boys suffered from mal-de-mer. St. Vincent was reached on February 9th and at this place we stopped for coal. The town does not leave any great impression upon the travellers mind. It is simply a dismal spot, surrounded by rocks and mountains, but I believe that more inland there is a fertile plain. This is not at all improbable as we bought fruit in abundance from the crown of natives and Portuguese who rowed out to the ship. Fruit was cheap and no mistake, oranges being bought at 60 for 1/6. One of the most amusing sights was to see the coloured boys who earned no small amount of money by diving into the sea, which is simply infested with sharks, for pennies. The dexterity shown by them is simply marvellous and it is very seldom they miss capturing the coin.

After coaling we proceed on our way and with the exception of seeing one or two transports conveying sick and wounded home nothing of interest occured until the 21st February when Cape Town was reached, and disembarking at once commenced.

I must confess the ladies of the town are most kind and supplied us free of cost with as much fruit as we could eat.

Our Camp lay at Maitland, about 5 miles from town whence those who possessed no steeds walked. A fatigue party was left on board to get off the baggage. This party left later on by train to a place called Observatory Road and then marched up to Camp a distance of 1 1/2 miles where upon our arrival we were supplied by the ladies with hot tea and cakes and jam.

The Camp at this place was very prettily situated amongst lovely trees which surrounded the Camp on three sides and the fourth being bound by the veldt. The one objection to the camp was the dust which in a high wind was insufferable. I might mention that within ten minuets walk from Camp was a swimming bath and our section leader obtained permission for us to go and bathe there which was a great convenience. The next morning was devoted to physical and musketry drill. Not having any horses the Manchester boys were put on all sorts of fatigue such as fetching forage, ammunition &c., and I must confess that no one was more pleased than I when we received our mounts as then we had not such a lot of fatigues to do. Work in the shape of manoeuvring commenced in earnest as every morning we had to parade in the vicinity of the Camp, when dismounted work was gone through. This in the broiling sun was awful as after riding about 400 yards we were ordered to dismount fire a volley and remount finishing up with another gallop. All these movements were most trying, and when we returned to the Camp we were very tired. Very often we had to start early and then only a cup of coffee was served us for breakfast. This dismounted drill generally lasted for 5 or 6 hours and sometimes we did not get our coffee until we returned. After breakfast we had stables this duty being followed by rifle drill, then dinner. The rest of the day was spent in muscle drill, stables, tea and finally bed.

I was in Cape Town when Ladysmith was relieved and must say never spent such a night in all my life before. After staying about seven days at this camp we received orders to proceed to Paarle and on 28th February we saddled up and proceeded to this place which was about 35 from Maitland. This place was full of disloyal Dutch which was the reason for our going there. As it was a good two days march to Paarle be bivouacked at Durban Road which was situated half way between Maitland and Paarle. The next day we proceeded on out way reaching out destination about 3 p.m., when we immediately set to work to tie the horses up and also feed them. I might mention that whilst the Capr Town Highlanders were here their picket was fired upon and one or the semtries wounded in consequence of this we put on an extra picket. On the following day and at the request of the most influential people of the town our Commanding Officer ordered a march through the place. This order was carried out and judging by the looks upon the faces of the people it was evident that they had no great love for the English. Paarle is an exceedingly pretty place and our camp was surrounded by big trees through which the railway line passed. On the one side was the open veldt and on the other the high Kopjes seemed to be placed there as though they were put there to shut us out from all civilization.

Whilst here we often was trains containing troops pass up on the way to the front.

Our next move was to Stellenbosch which used to be the biggest remount station in South Africa. Here thousands of horses were first sent prior to being sent up to the troops at the front. Stellenbosch is a most dismal spot and is one of the sandiest I have ever seen. We stayed here for two days and on one of them we had a surprise alarm. I speaks well for the 10th Company (Sherwood Rangers) Imperial Yeomanry when I say that they saddled up and galloped 1 1/2 miles in 18 minutes.

Wellington was our next stopping place and here a brigade camp consisting of the 3rd, 5th and 10th Battalions I.Y., and the Cape Town Highlanders was formed. The last had a Smoking Concert and Camp fire in out honour. Tp show ho strict our Officers were with us I might mention that at 9 p.m., an armed picket was sent round with instructions to clear the ground of any I.Y. Who were round the fire. This act gave great annoyance to our men who grumbled greatly at being deprived of what little amusement was provided for them. At this place, a Mission Room and Soldiers Home had been erected and after our day's work we used to go down to read or write letters and also partake of the tea and bread and butter which was kindly provided by the ladies of the place. I went on one or two occasions and strange to relate met a man who knew most of my friends in Vancouver.

Hearing that the Boers were mobilizing at Barkly West our next move was towards that place which was a good 4 days march from Wellington. Our first bivouac on this march was at Russell's Farm and it was here that we found that a soldier's life – like a policeman's is not a happy one, as a storm broke over the Camp and rain falling throughout the whole of the night wet the men to the skin. The men had not only to sleep in their wet clothes but had also to let them dry on their body as their change clothes had by official orders been left behind. Murray's Farm was out next bivouac and then the Bend situated on the banks of the Vaal River. Whilst here two shots were fired from the opposite side of the river causing no slight commotion in camp. The Sentries looked about them and found two boats lashed to the shore; they took the oars out of them to prevent anyone from recrossing the river. Our next stopping place was Gong-Gong, Barkly West being reached on the following day. This place is one where the Boers did a lot of damage and captured no small amount of loot. When they heard we were coming they scooted towards Smith's Drift, a place surrounded by Kopjes. We followed them up as far as Catellon and the suddenly we received orders to return to Kimberly. We returned by the same route.

Previously to going to Barkly West we went by train from Wellington to Kimberly, the following being a brief description of the train journey.

This should be read before the Barkly West march.

As may well be imagined the news that we were to proceed to Kimberly caused no small amount of excitement throughout the camp, as we thought we should never leave our happy home at Wellington. However, such was not to be the case, and we were greatly delighted at the thought of visiting the Diamond City. On our way to this town we should pass close to where all the great battles of this war took place. We did pass them but as it was moon-light we could only form a very poor idea of what the country in that part of South Africa was like. From the time we left Wellington until the time we arrived at Kimberly there was hardly a spot but what had some item of interest attached to it, but it was not until De Aar was reached that we began to realize that we were nearing the front. Then every head was out of the window to catch a glimpse of De Aar. There it stood right ahead but if anything a little to the right of us. What a sight it was to be sure to see the vast numbers of bell tents each one forming a home, for some months, of 12 Gentlemen in Khaki. It was a glorious day, the sun was shining brightly causing the white tents to be most dazzling to the eyes. Never shall I forget my first glimpse of the town of tents and soldiers. Trenches were also visible in the vicinity and further up the line the bleached bones of horses shewed that some of the shells had at least done their gruesome work. Small mounds some with wooden crosses above marked the last resting place of someone who had fallen whilst serving his Queen and Country. On and on we steamed the snorting of the engine plainly indicating that we were ascending an incline, the only signs of civilization being the white tents left behind at De Aar, and also a small homestead, no doubt once occupied by some Dutchman who may be fighting a hopeless cause.

At De Aar which is one of the largest of the base centres horses were watered, some of the men of the Imperial Yeomanry in the meantime carrying on an animated conversation with the troops who were stationed at this place. It was here a small engagement with the Boer took place and marks where shells hat let were visible on the sides of the Kopjes which in this neighbourhood were plentiful. Trenches etc. Were also visible. We had by this time begun the descent of the incline and the train was beginning to travel at great speed. As we steamed towards the Modder and Orange Rivers everyone looked forward to seeing the places as most deadly battles were fought here. Unfortunately it was not to late in the evening when we reached Belmont, but still we could see where the waiting room of this station was riddled with bullets and in one corner a hole somewhat bigger than the rest shewed where a shell had landed upon the roof.

Gras Pan, Modder River and Magersfontein were all passed in the night, but so eager were we to see these historical places that most of us kept awake half the night to obtain a glimpse of them. We crossed the Modder by the temporary bridge, but I was fortunate to see the old bridge, one of the spans of which was blown up by the Boers at an early stage of the war. We are nearly at Kimberley was the next cry and sure enough the rays of the search light which played so prominent a part during the siege of this town were plainly visible in the distance. About another hours steaming brought us to our destination and as it was 4 a.m. We slept in the train. Reveille was at 6 a.m. And after unboxing our horses the Imperial Yeomanry proceeded to Carters Ridge where we encamped for a short time.

Our next move was to Barkly West and then we returned to Kimberly after being 2 days at the Ridge the whole of the Yeomanry were ordered to Boschof. I being ill at the time was not allowed to go. This was a great disappointment as the rebels were in the neighbourhood, and I wished if possible to smell smoke. The Yeomanry came in touch with the Boers and the action at Boschof proved most disastrous to the Sherwood's, as beside losing Lieutenant Williams who was killed, Sergeant Turner, Private Christian and Fiascher were severely wounded. It was satisfactory to know that our boys acquitted themselves well. Not being at Boschof I remained at Charters Ridge on the remount station. As may well be imagined when I say that on this station we had over 200 horses to look after and keep in fit condition so that anytime they could be sent off to the front, the work at this place was most laborious, and it was generally 7 in the evening when our days work was over. After being at the Ridge for a few days, the Officers in Charge being of the opinion that the place was not safe, our Camp was moved nearer the town and we were attached to the regulars remount camp. Here our work was not so hard as we had a lot of Kaffirs to do most of the dirty work. We remained in our Camp for three weeks and then horses that were fit enough were sent to Boschof. Lieutenant Douthwaite was in command of the party and I was Corporal under him. This party also acted as advance guard to a convoy consisting of about 200 waggons which was going to the above named place when Lord Chesham's brigade was stationed.

To give an idea of the strength of this Brigade was made up of the following regiments: 38th (High Wycombe) 39th (Berkshire), 40th (Oxfordshire) Imperial Yeomanry, the 9th (Yorkshire), 10th (Sherwood Rangers) 11th (Yorkshire) and 12th (South Nottingham), Imperial Yeomanry, part of the 5th (Warwickshire) Imperial Yeomanry Companies, 38th Royal Field Artillery, Munster Fusiliers, South Wales Borderers, Fighting 5th (Northumberland Fusiliers), Yorkshire Light Infantry, and the North Lancashires., in all about 12,000 men.

After marching all day we encamped for the night at a place called Frankfort proceeding on our way the next morning. Our escort was furnished by some of the South Wales Borderers. We watered at Loofontein and reached Boschof at 12.

I was delighted to see the Camp as I then knew I should once more be with my old chums. The next day was devoted to the work usually connected with a standing Camp, and in the afternoon I saw Lord Chesham, in the evening gave us all a cigar and 2 cigarettes each. As there had been a fight two days previously the grazing guard were armed. I mention this fact as on May 12th I formed one of the guard. On May 13th we were sent out on patrol and in the afternoon we were under orders to proceed to Hoopstad, a distance of 70 miles. Although Camp was struck on Saturday we did not move until the following day at 4 a.m., and then as breakfast we only received a cup of coffee, if you had saved a biscuit from the previous day all well and good, if not it was the reverse.

I was told off to lead sick horses, I was lucky as I got in with one of the Army Service Corps who was awfully good to me and gave me a lot of biscuits which when we came to a halt I shared with the Manchester boys.

We bivouaced at a place called Dreifontein, about 18 miles from our starting place. Our flankers saw some rebels. They also looted a farm and returned to camp laden with fowls &c.

The next day we had reveille at 2.45 a.m. And we were treated to a moonlight ride across the veldt. I can't say I liked the ride as there were a lot of Merecat holes about, and several of the boys had nasty spills. No. 1 Sherwood's acted as left flankers and made a detour, calling at Roberts Farm. The rebel s had only been gone an hour before we arrived. From here we went to a farm owned by a man called De Wett. As he had two sons, one the famous De Wett who gave us such a lot of trouble afterwards and was himself an arrogant rogue we commandeered his stock. Lieutenant Mitchell got a bandolier and fine Mauser rifle and the men got pigs, fowls &c. That night our bivouac was Roberts Farm. Dreifontein was our next halting place. The march here was most cruel as we all had our cloaks on over which we wore bandolier belt which weighed heavily on our shoulders. The next day we started at 2.45 a.m. And marched until 10 when the horses were watered and fed.

Orders were then issued for us to march at night so accordingly we rested until 7 p.m. When another start was made. We proceeded until 11.30 in the morning when a halt was called and a rest until 3 allowed. At this hour we again marched on towards Hoopstad crossing the river Wett about 5.30 a.m. We had to proceed very carefully as rebels were in the neighbourhood and an attack at any minute was expected. Shortly afterwards Hoopstad was entered and the British Flag hoisted at 12 noon.

In the afternoon 35 Boers came in with their arms. We stopped here for 1 1/2 days and went on to Hoffman's Drift where we camped for the night. We then heard that Kroonstadt was our destination. Our next bivouaces were Commando Drift and Sandfontein. The Queen's Birthday was spent at Bothasville where I started extra fatigue duty for firing off a rifle in error. We stayed here for 3 days and the once more moved onwards reaching Kroonstadt on the 29th. Our stay in this town was only one of short duration as De Wett had gone to Lindkey and had captured the Irish Yeomanry. We marched all through the night and a forced march the next day, (June 1st). This day will ever be remembered by us as we had a most stubborn fight. I did not take part in it as I was sick and knocked up. The Sherwood's suffered severely as Sergeant Tomlinson was Killed – Wounded Captain Dawson, Troopers Clark, Revill and three missing. Lindley was reached in the afternoon and as we had had heavy fighting we had a few days rest. As some Boers were sniping our pickets out artillery was ordered out and after firing 4 shells towards the Kopje upon which the enemy was located was completely rid of the rebels who were only to pleased to mount their ponies and gallop away. Our next move was to Heilbron, a start being made on the 5th June. We bivouacked 17 miles from Lindley where I paid 6d for one biscuit. The next day we heard De Wett was captured, but not sure. The 7th was a red letter day. We were all ready to move off when the enemy opened fire from some Kopjes to the S.E. of our Camp and dropped 4 shells into our lines. We were all alert and were soon galloping to the attack, the Sherwood's usual being well to the front. We went about 6 miles, the enemy meantime keeping up a heavy shell fire. Their shells did little damage as most of them burst too soon. We soon got into the firing line our range being 200 yards. Only one mule driver was hurt. We returned to Camp at 8 p.m. The next day our convoy was shelled one mule and one horse being killed. Shells flew and fell all around us. Our artillery opened fire and at 5900 yards soon put the enemy to sleep.

The Worcesters who were that advance guard did good work.

Heilbrom was reached in the afternoon. After 2 days rest a move was made to Rhenoster River. I was much to my disgust left behind again, as my horse was given to a Regular Lance Corporal. Sills and I were left with about 30 other men to look after sick horses. I did not really mind as I wanted a good rest myself, and personally I had a good time at Heilbron as I became acquainted with some Scotch people who used to ask me to tea. The boys had only been gone a few hours when fighting commenced and from all accounts they will have fighting every day as a commando of Boers is in the vicinity. This proved to be the case as scarcely a morning passes but what heavt firing is heard. Rumour has it that Kitchener's men are near too and may be responsible for the firing. (Not official.)

Ever since the 16th we have been on short rations and had it not been for the fact that we were able to buy beans from a Mrs. Roos, things would have gone hard for us. After being one or two days at Heilbron, Lord Methune attempted to bring a convoy into town. The rebels under De Wett got wind of his movements, attempted to capture it, and engaged him outside of Heilbron. Our naval gun - there were two of them in town - began to talk and after a hard days work the Boers retreated. Our boys had during the last few days had a hard fight at Rhenoster.

June 21st. This was another red letter day. As I was expecting to stay in this town for weeks great was my joy when I received notice to rejoin my regiment at Gottenberg Halt. We started early and reached the Halt late in the afternoon. Here I saw the biggest veldt fire I had ever seen. We stopped at this place three days and hearing that Boers had stopped the night at a farm near here – on June 24th – we started from Camp at 2.45 and went off in pursuit of them. Colonel Younghusband fearing we might have an engagement and wishing to save our horses caused us to walk the whole distance (12 miles). We got to the farm it was the usual tale. The Boers had left in the night. The next day was one of great importance to me as I was attached along with 12 others to the Warwickshire Scouts, a body of men who have been most useful throughout the whole campaign. These men were originally intended to go to the relief of Mafeking but the Imperial Yeomanry requiring Scouts they were attached to us. I personally found the work interesting but risky as scarcely a day passed but what the scouts are under fire. From Guttenberg Halt we returned to Heilbron to fetch a convoy which was said to be going to Kroonstad on the following day. When nearing Heilbron the scouts were fired at. No one was injured although some of the shots were rather near my horse. The Boers used Mausers and Martinis. Our convoy was fired at but the artillery soon quietened the rebels. Heilbron was reached safely. Next morning reveille was at 5.30 a.m. And we marched off at 6.45. I was with the scouts. All went well until withing a few miles from town, when all of a sudden a crack of a rifle was heard and almost before we could recover ourselves a bullet whizzed past striking the earth about 4 yards in front of me. Files about was the order and round we went all of a sudden, Lieutenant Doxet told Fischer-Brown and myself to follow him. Of course we had to obey. Great was our surprise to find out it was his intention to try and take a kopje upon which the Boers were located we went and soon were amidst the bullets, by Jupiter they came round us like a hailstorm but thanks to good cover and luck none of us were hit. We were also fired upon by our own men. The Boers retired. We pushed on towards Rupert Port but had no more brushes with the enemy that day. They had evidently gone southwards.

We stopped at the at the above place all day, the Scouts going out again in the afternoon. The enemy was sighted and a small skirmish in which the rebles were once more driven off took place. Some of the men of the 5th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry were wounded. The next day (June 29th) was spent in Camp as both men and horses required the rest. Our next move was to Paarde Kraal where a Camp was formed the 9th Brigade remaining here until July 3rd when we marched to Paarde Spruit. While at Paarde Kraal three of the enemies scouts were captured. After leaving Paarde Spriut we moved to Eland Spruit arriving there on July 5th our stay lasted until the 9th. During our halt here the work consisted mostly of Patrolling and Foraging keeping close watch upon General Pretorious's house.

He was a well know rebel leader. Whilst at Elands Spruit word was brought in that some rebels had slept in a farm near by, Lieutenant Doxet's Scouts were told off to go and reconnoitre. Off we went and galloped to the place a distance of 5 miles. We started at 9.30 p.m. When we arrived out birds had flown and our surprise visit had been in vain. We returned to camp at 2.45 a.m. Thoroughly tired out as we had done a hard nights work. Our next move was to Kroonstadt (July 11th) and our bivouac was about 8 miles from that town. We reached this town the next day and there heard that we were probably going to be sent home but such was not the case as we were ordered to entrain for Krugersdorp doing so on the 14th instant, we reached this place on the 16th. We stayed here 3 days and then marched to Oliphants Nek. Krugersdorp is a most lovely town and possesses a fine avenue of trees which grow along the Main Street.

Our march to Oliphants Nek occupied 4 days and during that time we had several fights with the enemy. The Scouts had a rough time at Prospect Clann being engaged with the enemy for 2 hours at Oliphants Nek and we had a stiff battle – an artillery duel. We took the pass and captured one pom-pom. The Scouts were the first over the Nek there they met Baden-Powell who was coming to see Lord Methune. I saw him. Our stay at this Camp lasted until the 22nd July. This Camp was one of the most delightful we had been in and was situated amongst lovely trees and afforded fine shelter for the men. There was an orange grove nearby and we used to get to this delicious fruit at 24 for a 1/-. Orders were then received to proceed to Potchestrom. We went via Bank Station. Here the Scouts again had a skirmish and easily drove off the Boers. I shall not forget our night at this place I had no coat. The rain came down in torrents wetting me to the skin.

We then moved towards Potchestrom at Friedrichburg we encountered the enemy under General Liburg. This was a very hard fight and both sides lost several men. We returned to camp at 4.00 p.m. We then went next morning to Potchestrom. Potchestrom is such a pretty place that the following will give you some idea what the place is like. The entrance to this real capital of the Transvaal is without doubt as pretty a piece of rustic beauty as one could possibly wish to see and the scene would compare favourably with some of our country scenes at home. As the traveller approaches the town the first thing that strikes his eye is an old water mill almost hidden from view by a clump of fine willows whose boughs overhang the mill race as though trying to drink of the crystal water which flows beneath them. When we passed, this mill was working and the dash of water against the wheel formed a beautiful accompaniment to the music, if I can call it such of the horses hoofs upon the hard gravel road leading into the town. On and on we rode over a rustic bridge which spans the river. I was fortunate enough to obtain another glance hurriedly towards my left. What a sight met my eyes. There twisting in and out amongst the stately willows which were ranged upon either side flowed the stream recalling vividly to my mind the poem, “The Brook.” We rode on through the town which like Krugersdorp also possess a fine avenue of trees.

Altogether I think that as far as scenery is concerned this town possesses the most beautiful of any city either in the Free State or the Transvaal that is so far as I have up to the present seen. We stopped here for a couple of days and then went to Machaves Spruit. Here 2 of the Kimberly Light Horse were fired upon. One was killed and another badly wounded. Our Patrol succeeded in capturing 2 men and 7 came in to give up their arms, 2 of the latter, I recognized as having given up their arms before at Bothaville. These prisoners were the next day sent under escort to Potchestrom. I formed along with several others of the Sherwood's this escort. We remained in Potchestrom for 2 days and then once more rejoined our regiment. We went on to Tigersfontein where we had another hit at De Wett who was making once more for Oliphants Nek. At this place the Northhamptons and Welsh Fusiliers had several casualties.

Ishumans Drift was our next halt and we had orders to hold this Drift at any price. Little did they think what that price meant. The fight was hard but the shelling of our artillery was true and in one place I visited I found a scene where I counted no less than 7 dead Boer horses, Lieutenant Knowles was killed and Colonel Younghusband was wounded. We rested that night a few miles from the scene of action and followed up De Wett next day, 5 miles further on we were joined by the Cape Mounted Rifles, Border Horse and Brabant's Horse most of them being Colonials. Our next camp was at Friedrichburg, the next three or four days were probably the hardest of the march.

Lord Methune had received orders to follow up De Wett and to spare neither man nor horse in his attempt to capture him. He obeyed these orders to the letter. This was on August 12th and on the following day we started at 1.45 a.m., after De Wett who was still marching in the direction of Oliphants Nek. In the afternoon we shelled his convoy and captured some waggons and ammunition.......


Mike C.
Past - President Calgary Military Historical Society
Member OMRS 1591
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