Topic: BatzB - Sunnyside
South African (Second Boer) War
The Battle of Sunnyside, South Africa, 1 January 1900
The following account is extracted from Max Chamberlain's book called The Australians in the South African War 1899 - 1902, A Map History, published by Army history Unit in Canberra, 1999. This section is called Map 54.
SUNNYSIDE 1 JANUARY 1900
When it became known that Cape Rebels were operating in the area west of Belmont, Lt Col T Pilcher conducted a raid to remove them. To deceive the spies who reported every British move, the Flying Column of 200 QMI, 100 Canadian infantry in waggons, 40 Royal Munster Fusiliers MI, P Battery RHA and NSW AMC headed east on 29 December 1899 before crossing the railway to Richmond Farm on the 31st and marching west to Thornhill Farm. Pilcher detained all natives encountered under guard.
On 1 January 1900 the column left Thornhill before daybreak and moved north in the direction of Sunnyside Kopjes in several parallel groups which joined up at Verneukberg. A shower of rain prevented dust rising to disclose their presence. The column headed west of the chain of kopjes running north to Sunnyside from Thornhill. Two patrols of QMI headed to east and west of Sunnyside Hill to ascertain the position of the laager. The western patrol ran into Boer fire and had two men killed and two wounded. Troopers V S Jones and D C McLeod were the first Australians in this war to die in battle.
P Battery, RMFMI and the Canadians were sent to the eastern flank and took up a position suitable for the artillery to the north and east of the Boer camp. At 1,800 yards the battery fired. The QMI extended east to west and moved northward. The Canadians moved toward the laager between the guns and the main advance of the Queenslanders.
The Boer camp was at the north-east corner of a horseshoe shaped feature. One company of QMI was sent to the left and was hotly engaged, a detachment was on the higher slope of the ridge and another in support. The Canadians moved forward into the open under heavy fire from rebels being driven from west to east by the Queenslanders. The Queensland reserve was sent in from the southern spur of the horseshoe in time to assist in the capture of 40 prisoners. The enemy retreated towards Douglas and the action was over by 4pm.
Pilcher pursued to Dover Farm, 7 miles distant, leaving the Canadians in charge of the prisoners and the NSW AMC to tend the wounded. Pilcher entered Douglas, then on 3 January retired on Belmont with prisoners and a convoy after burning the enemy's ammunition. This first major operation by the Australians in this war showed the British ability to assist the loyal residents beleaguered by rebels.
Chamberlain, M., The Australians in the South African War 1899 - 1902, A Map History, Army history Unit, Canberra, 1999.
Citation: Sunnyside, 1 January 1900, Chamberlain Account