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Monday, 4 May 2009
Grobelaar Recht, South Africa, May 15, 1901, Contents
Topic: BatzB - Grobelaar

Grobelaar Recht

South Africa,  15 May 1901

 Contents

 

Grobelaar Recht, near Carolina in the eastern Transvaal, was the scene of a severe engagement on 15 May 1901 involving Boers and a British column commanded by Lieut.-General Sir Bindon Blood which included the Fifth and Sixth West Australian Mounted Infantry contingents.

 

Items

The battle outline

Grobelaar Recht, South Africa, May 15, 1901 

 

Sabretashe Article

The action at Brakpan - Max Chamberlain 

 

Times contemporaneous reports

Grobelaar Recht, First Report of Battle, Times 18 May 1901, p. 7. 

Grobelaar Recht, Full description of Battle, Times 20 May 1901, p. 7.  

Grobelaar Recht, Summary of the situation, Times 21 May 1901, p. 5. 


Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Grobelaar Recht, South Africa, May 15, 1901, Contents

Posted by Project Leader at 12:10 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 4 May 2009 12:12 PM EADT
Sunday, 3 May 2009
Grobelaar Recht, South Africa, May 15, 1901
Topic: BatzB - Grobelaar

Grobelaar Recht

South Africa,  15 May 1901

 

Grobelaar Recht, near Carolina in the eastern Transvaal, was the scene of a severe engagement on 15 May 1901 involving Boers and a British column commanded by Lieut.-General Sir Bindon Blood which included the Fifth and Sixth West Australian Mounted Infantry contingents. During this action the WAMI lost five men killed (one account says seven) and eight wounded, one of whom later died.

The fighting continued next day near Brakpan, at one stage during which the British right flank was forced to retire. Withdrawing under heavy fire, Lieut. Frederick Bell of the Sixth WAMI contingent noticed a wounded man without a horse and returned to take him up behind him. The horse collapsed under their combined weight, whereupon Bell sent the man back on the horse alone and covered his escape by rifle-fire until he was out of danger. For this action Bell was awarded the Victoria Cross.

 
Roll of Honour


385 Private Francis Thomas Adam, 6th West Australian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 15 May 1901

111 Sergeant Frederick Francis Edwards, 5th West Australian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 15 May 1901

335 Private Benjamin Fisher, 6th West Australian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 15 May 1901

Lieutenant Anthony Alexander Forrest, 5th West Australian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 15 May 1901               

201 Corporal Richard Joseph Furlong, 5th West Australian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 15 May 1901

341 Private Frank Page, 6th West Australian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 15 May 1901

403 Private John Semple, 6th West Australian Mounted Infantry, Killed in Action, 15 May 1901

Lest we forget


Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 90-92.

 

Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:

R.L. Wallace (1976) The Australians at the Boer War, Canberra: Australian War Memorial & Australian Government Publishing Service.

 

Further Reading:

The action at Brakpan - Max Chamberlain 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Grobelaar Recht, South Africa, May 15, 1901

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 4 May 2009 12:50 PM EADT
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
The action at Brakpan - Max Chamberlain
Topic: BatzB - Grobelaar

The action at Brakpan.

by Max Chamberlain

 

The following article called The action at Brakpan was written by Max Chamberlain was published in Sabretache, Wednesday, 1 September 2004. It is reproduced in full.

 

The Australian units in the Boer War were on operations in all nine provinces of the present-day South Africa, as well as in Zimbabwe. I have been unravelling their tracks across this enormous battlefield and analysing their actions, in most of which they were successful, although they suffered severely in some. My approach has been to collect chronological observations of unit movements from whatever authoritative sources could be located and apply these to battlefield maps of the period. Without eye-witnesses to ask it is necessary to rely on clues in books, letters, diaries and newspapers. As this is an exercise in 'cartographic archaeology' I have retained such features as Imperial measurements, ie one mile equals approximately 1.6 kilometres.

I have chosen as a case study the action at Brakpan as perhaps being representative of the Australian service during the guerrilla phase of the war. It illustrates several of the problems encountered in attempting to recreate history from fragments up to 100 years old. The research indicated that there was confusion about where and when the action happened, controversy about whether it displayed courage or cowardice, and uncertainty about the responsibility of the Commonwealth government in regard to Australian units in the field.

The action occurred in May 1901 in the eastern Transvaal and involved men of the 5th and 6th Western Australian Mounted Infantry (5 and 6WAMI). These units were formed in January and February 1901, ie after Federation, and were part of what were called the Imperial Drafts--Drafts because they were raised to replace the earlier units, and Imperial because they were paid for by the British government.

 Section 114 of the Commonwealth Constitution says that 'A State shall not, without consent of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, raise or maintain any naval or military force ...'. (1) Because, in its first year of existence, the Commonwealth was not geared to the rapid formation of an Australia-wide force, the task was undertaken on its behalf by the States--the former Colonies-acting as agents for the Imperial government.

As the Prime Minister said, it was considered 'more satisfactory to have the completion of this work in the hands of those who had begun it, and who were familiar with the conditions of service and all other matters connected with the contingents'. (2) So for the only time in Australia's history, military units were raised by the States.

In Western Australia, the 5th contingent was authorised in December 1900, consisted of 14 Officers, 207 ORs and 234 horses, and sailed on 6 March 1901 aboard the troopship Devon, arriving at Durban on 28 March. The 6th contingent was authorised in January 1901, consisted of 14 Officers, 214 ORs and 237 horses, and sailed on 10 April aboard the troopship Ulstermore, arriving at Durban on 29 April. (3)

On arrival of the 6th contingent, the units, totalling some 449 men and 471 horses, served side by side in South Africa, under Major (later Lt Colonel) J R Royston DSO, a South African who had been with the Border Mounted Rifles, a Natal Volunteer Corps, and had gained distinction at the defence of Ladysmith. (4) They were part of a column under General Walter Kitchener, which also contained 2nd Imperial Light Horse, 1st Devons, two guns of 53rd Battery, one gun of 10th Mountain Battery and one pom-pom of S Section. (5)

The service began with operations north of the Delagoa Bay Railway when the column worked from Lydenburg towards Middelburg, seeking the Boers under General Ben Viljoen, who were escorting the Transvaal government. The British forced them westward towards the rugged bushveldt where General H C O Plumer's Australian Bushmen were advancing eastward from the Pietersburg Railway. Other columns advanced north from the Delagoa Bay line, including 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles (5VMR) under General S B Beatson, a Bengal Lancer.

 

I

 

The Australian units in the Boer War were on operations in all nine provinces of the present-day South Africa, as well as in Zimbabwe. I have been unravelling their tracks across this enormous battlefield and analysing their actions, in most of which they were successful, although they suffered severely in some. My approach has been to collect chronological observations of unit movements from whatever authoritative sources could be located and apply these to battlefield maps of the period. Without eye-witnesses to ask it is necessary to rely on clues in books, letters, diaries and newspapers. As this is an exercise in 'cartographic archaeology' I have retained such features as Imperial measurements, ie one mile equals approximately 1.6 kilometres.

I have chosen as a case study the action at Brakpan as perhaps being representative of the Australian service during the guerrilla phase of the war. It illustrates several of the problems encountered in attempting to recreate history from fragments up to 100 years old. The research indicated that there was confusion about where and when the action happened, controversy about whether it displayed courage or cowardice, and uncertainty about the responsibility of the Commonwealth government in regard to Australian units in the field.

The action occurred in May 1901 in the eastern Transvaal and involved men of the 5th and 6th Western Australian Mounted Infantry (5 and 6WAMI). These units were formed in January and February 1901, ie after Federation, and were part of what were called the Imperial Drafts--Drafts because they were raised to replace the earlier units, and Imperial because they were paid for by the British government.

Section 114 of the Commonwealth Constitution says that 'A State shall not, without consent of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, raise or maintain any naval or military force ...'. (1) Because, in its first year of existence, the Commonwealth was not geared to the rapid formation of an Australia-wide force, the task was undertaken on its behalf by the States--the former Colonies-acting as agents for the Imperial government.

As the Prime Minister said, it was considered 'more satisfactory to have the completion of this work in the hands of those who had begun it, and who were familiar with the conditions of service and all other matters connected with the contingents'. (2) So for the only time in Australia's history, military units were raised by the States.

In Western Australia, the 5th contingent was authorised in December 1900, consisted of 14 Officers, 207 ORs and 234 horses, and sailed on 6 March 1901 aboard the troopship Devon, arriving at Durban on 28 March. The 6th contingent was authorised in January 1901, consisted of 14 Officers, 214 ORs and 237 horses, and sailed on 10 April aboard the troopship Ulstermore, arriving at Durban on 29 April. (3)

On arrival of the 6th contingent, the units, totalling some 449 men and 471 horses, served side by side in South Africa, under Major (later Lt Colonel) J R Royston DSO, a South African who had been with the Border Mounted Rifles, a Natal Volunteer Corps, and had gained distinction at the defence of Ladysmith. (4) They were part of a column under General Walter Kitchener, which also contained 2nd Imperial Light Horse, 1st Devons, two guns of 53rd Battery, one gun of 10th Mountain Battery and one pom-pom of S Section. (5)

The service began with operations north of the Delagoa Bay Railway when the column worked from Lydenburg towards Middelburg, seeking the Boers under General Ben Viljoen, who were escorting the Transvaal government. The British forced them westward towards the rugged bushveldt where General H C O Plumer's Australian Bushmen were advancing eastward from the Pietersburg Railway. Other columns advanced north from the Delagoa Bay line, including 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles (5VMR) under General S B Beatson, a Bengal Lancer.

In these operations the Australians had several engagements and made captures of prisoners, stock and supplies, although some commanders concentrated on devastation and deportation rather than destruction of the enemy. The measure of success in this war of attrition became, not battles won, but a statistical exercise, numbers of enemy killed or captured, and livestock and bags of mealies confiscated. The Boers, however, fought desperately and skilfully.

Viljoen escaped across the Olifants River and ultimately to the high veldt, south of the Delagoa Bay Railway, where the more open terrain allowed greater manoeuvrability. His commando attacked blockhouses and conducted aggressive operations against the newly-arrived Imperial Yeomanry and Imperial Draft units. The experienced British troops, including the Bushmen, had now departed for home, but the Boers, on the other hand, were now all determined veterans, having rid themselves of the faint-hearted.

The British columns also crossed to the south of the line and Kitchener's and Beatson's columns were engaged in clearing operations in the eastern Transvaal under General Sir Bindon Blood. It was in these operations that the Australians suffered severe casualties, first, according to the South African Field Force Casualty List, at Grobelaar Recht in May and then at Wilmansrust in June. It is with these actions, which became curiously linked, that this paper is concerned.

 

II

 

Among casualties on the South African War Memorial in Perth is the name of Lieutenant A A Forrest. In Murray's Official Records Lt Anthony Alexander Forrest is listed as having been killed in action near Carolina on 15 May 1901 as a member of 5th Western Australian Mounted Infantry. He was the son of Alexander Forrest and the nephew of Sir John Forrest, the early Australian explorers. Alexander had become Mayor of Perth, and Sir John became Premier of Western Australia in 1890 and, after Federation, Defence Minister in the Commonwealth Parliament at the time of the Boer War. Anthony was thought to have benefited from influence when he was able to join 5WAMI as a Lieutenant at the age of 16. (6)

Early references outline the action in which he was killed. Stirling, Colonials in South Africa (1907), states, 'On 15th May there was severe fighting at Grobelaar Recht, in which the 5th had Lieutenant Forrest and Sergeant Ejards [sic] and 1 man killed and 5 men wounded, and the 6th 4 men killed and Lieutenant S S Reid and 3 men wounded.' [ie seven killed and nine wounded]. He mentions further heavy fighting on the 16th, in which Lieutenant F W Bell won the Victoria Cross. (7) Murray's account (1911), which was derived from Stirling, is almost identical, except that he refers to Grobelaar Recht as being near Carolina, corrects Sergeant Edwards's name, indicates that the 5th also had Corporal Bollinger killed and four men wounded, alters the 6th's wounded to five, one of whom died later [ie seven killed, one died of wounds and eight wounded], and cites Bell's act at Brakpan on 16 May. (8) On Field Intelligence Department maps of the area the farm Grobelaar Recht-or variously Groblersrecht or Groblers Refit 229-is shown about 20 miles west of Carolina. (9) Recent accounts continue to refer to two separate actions--Grobelaar Recht on 15 May and Brakpan on 16 May.

Campbell, History of Western Australian Contingents serving in South Africa during the Boer War 1899-1902 (1910), does not mention Grobelaar Recht, but describes how the units had trekked from Middelburg to Rondebosch on 12 May, and charged the enemy at Bosman's Spruit on the 14th, one man being wounded at Rietkuil, according to the South African Field Force Casualty List. On the 16th, 5 and 6 WAMI were ordered to bring in some wagons from a farm about three miles east of the column, and moved off at about 7.00am. The wagons were found in a spruit up to their axles in mud. They were being removed when the enemy opened fire from the rising ground on the opposite side of the spruit. The Australians crossed the spruit in several divisions, fixed bayonets and drove the enemy off.

On advancing further it was discovered that the Boers had planned an ambush, hiding in the long grass, mealie fields and the nearby farmhouse. The troops were ordered to fall back under heavy fire and it was here that Lieutenant F W Bell, 6WAMI, won the VC, although the force suffered heavy casualties until General Walter Kitchener arrived with reinforcements. Casualties were stated as seven killed, among whom was Lieutenant Forrest, two died of wounds and eight wounded. The location of the action was given as Brakpan, a farm several miles north-west of Grobelaar Recht. (10) Therefore there is confusion about the place and date of the engagement and variation in casualties.  

 

III

 

Less than a month later, 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles (5VMR), engaged in the same clearing operations, were surprised by General C H Muller and forced to surrender at Wilmansrust, after suffering 18 killed and 42 wounded. Accused of cowardice by their own general, some men of 5VMR felt aggrieved and expressed dissatisfaction with leadership that had cost their comrades' lives and threatened their own. Three men were overheard, court-martialled for 'incitement to mutiny' and sentenced to death. Lord Kitchener commuted these sentences to terms of imprisonment in England.

In the subsequent controversy in the press it was suggested that because, up until then, no Australians had thrown down their arms, 5VMR had damaged the reputation of the Australian soldier, although it was later agreed that it was unlikely that any large body of Australian troops could be totally unlike those that had preceded it. The unit's reputation, however, still suffers unjustly. There were two sequels to this action and it is revealing to examine these before considering further the action at Brakpan.

First, the Report of the Court of Inquiry into Wilmansrust, held in the field in the days following the action, as the battered column fought its way to safety, indicates that the Boers had infiltrated the inappropriate, widely-spaced cavalry picket line insisted on by General Beatson, on a pitch dark night. In the hand-to-hand fighting a bugler had received an order to blow 'Cease Fire', relayed in the confusion by a sergeant, but actually given by a Boer. The sergeant had not realised that some Boers spoke excellent English. So the surrender was due to a Boer ruse and not became the men had thrown down their arms. General Muller had reported six Boers killed and four wounded. (11) The men of 5VMR had obeyed the order of the bugle and were not, therefore, guilty of cowardice.

Second, while the three men convicted of 'incitement to mutiny' languished in prison, questions raised by members of the new Commonwealth Parliament on behalf of relatives, or out of concern for the unit, resulted in cables between the Governor-General and the British authorities seeking clarification of the situation regarding the treatment of 5VMR. How new the Australian authorities were to the complexities of conducting a war is revealed by the following evidence.

 When requested to inquire into the whole history of 5VMR, Sir John Forrest, as Defence Minister, at first expressed bewilderment that the military authorities in South Africa or the Commanding Officer had not provided periodical reports of its movements as had the Commanding Officers of earlier Western Australian units of which he had knowledge. On later consideration he was of the opinion that this was an Imperial and not an Australian Corps and that the State government merely acted as agent for the Imperial authorities in raising and despatching these men. The position was therefore different from that of the Western Australian contingents with which, as Premier, he was closely associated, and consequently the fact that no progress reports were received from the Commanding Officer was not surprising. (12)

After negotiations, however, a telegram was received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr Joseph Chamberlain, explaining that the Judge-Advocate General had declared that the three men had been tried under the wrong section of the Army Act and instructions had been issued for their release. (13) Whether this was an admission of ineptness or a bowing to pressure, it was not a mere reprieve nor a pardon but a quashing of the charges, and the men were released and returned to Australia. So 5VMR was also not guilty of mutinous conduct.

 

IV

 

The action at Brakpan is not detailed in the Times History of the War in South Africa and other major histories of the war, and there is no contemporary discussion of the reason that led to the following incident. When, after Wilmansrust, General Beatson had berated 5VMR as 'a lazy lot of wasters and white-livered curs', a Western Australian officer, Major Sam Harris, was present, and Beatson said that the Victorians had another Colony [sic] to keep them company in running away from the Boers, referring to the time when the Western Australians had Lieutenant Forrest and seven men killed. (14) Although Beatson later apologised to Major Harris, Sir John Forrest must have felt this keenly, because his brother, Alexander, who was ill, was said to have not overcome his grief at Anthony's death, when he died five weeks later on 20 June 1901. Many questions were left unanswered, why did General Beatson regard the retirement of 5 and 6WAMI as running away? Had the action taken place where the casualties were reported at Grobelaar Recht on 15 May, or where Bell won the VC on 16 May at a different farm, Brakpan?

While I was researching these problems an article appeared in the press about a doctor in Bristol, England, who had come across the grave of Lieutenant Colonel F W Bell VC, and was intrigued about why he was buried there, until he had discovered Bell's later career in the Colonial service in Africa and his subsequent retirement to England. (15) Following this publicity he received more information which he summarised for a journal article, mentioning that he had a copy of a detailed map of the action at Brakpan, showing where Bell had won the VC. (16) It was described as being from the Forrest Papers, but my request to the appropriate repository revealed that the map had been missing since 1984. I would have to track down the doctor and seek a copy from him. I managed to deduce an address to write to, and ultimately a copy of the map arrived--perhaps the most detailed sketch-map of any Australian action in this war.

The map indicates that the casualties and the award of the VC occurred at the same place and time. who prepared the map is not known, but a note refers to the account from Campbell J, 1910, obviously the history of the Western Australian contingents produced by the Western Australian Government Printer, (17) which suggests it may have been drawn by Captain Campbell, CO of 6WAMI, possibly at the request of the Forrest family. It lacks a north point and a scale, but assuming it to be oriented with north at the top of the map, would appear to indicate that the site of the action was, correctly, Brakpan and not Grobelaar Recht.

It shows how Captain Campbell attacked the Boer position with Lieutenant Bell on his right and Lieutenants H B McCormack and S S Reid on his left, and highlights the tracks of their retirement, and the places where Bell won the VC and where the casualties occurred. It also shows that Lieutenant Forrest and an escort were in charge of a wagon when the horses stampeded, taking them out of the line of retirement, and how, while returning on foot, they were shot from 700 yards range. This confirmed that the correct location of the action was Brakpan, and the date was therefore 16 May. The column moved on towards Carolina and the dead were buried on 17 May, the South African War Graves authority giving the location as Grobelaar's Recht, although they were subsequently removed to Middelburg old municipal cemetery.

 In corroboration of the date and place of the action, Lord Kitchener's despatch of 28 July, 1901, which lists Bell's VC act at Brakpan, goes on to say 'Captain J Campbell assisted above. Lieutenant S S Reid, at same place and date remained with his men though severely wounded early in the fight. Lieutenant A A Forrest (killed) and A J Brown; for conspicuous gallantry on same occasion ... Surgeon-Captain F B Reid showed absolute disregard of danger in performing his duties on same occasion'. (18)

What appears to have happened is this: when Stirling attempted to record the experience of the Colonials in this war, he depended largely on Official despatches, including casualty and award lists. By ordering such observations chronologically he discovered casualties listed as at Grobelaar Recht and concluded that they had resulted from an action at that place, apparently not realising that the place of burial is often not the place of the action. For some reason, not yet explained but possibly simply clerical error, he assigned them to an action on 15 May. Then, from the award list showing Bell's VC as having been won at Brakpan on the 16th, he concluded that another action had taken place on the following day.

When Murray came to prepare his Official Records, he admitted in the Preface that for parts of the service of the South Australians, Western Australians and Tasmanians he had been indebted to Stirling, and reproduced the descriptions of Grobelaar Recht on 15 and Brakpan on 16 May. It seems that he had not noted Campbell's description, nor seen a map of the action, and so it became enshrined that there were two actions.

This analysis shows the importance of seeking evidence from more than one source when recreating old battles, and the value of checking Field Intelligence Department and other maps for farms and features as they appeared 100 years ago. Also, it is not wise to accept at face value accounts of actions simply because they are based on Official despatches, or included in Official Records, or have been repeated in every derivative reference since first appearing in print. Similarly, it is not wise to accept the validity of critical comments, made in the stress of battle, without challenge.

 As with 5VMR, whose ranks included two future VCs at the time of Wilmansrust, and who did not deserve the accusations of cowardly and mutinous conduct, a Victoria Cross and five Mentions in Despatches for 5 and 6WAMI do not seem consistent with an allegation of having run away at Brakpan, and indicate once again the injustice of the imputation of cowardice.

 

Footnotes:

 

(1) The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia.

(2) Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, 1901, p. 1488.

(3) P L Murray (ed), Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, 1899-1902, Department of Defence, Melbourne, 1911, p. 418.

(4) ibid

(5) The Times History of the War in South Africa, 1907, Vol V, p. 290.

(6) Gavin Souter, Lion and Kangaroo, Collins, 1976, p. 68 fn. WA Birth Registration indexed as Alexander Anthony Forrest, 1884, 25706.

(7) John Stirling, The Colonials in South Africa, Wm Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh, 1907, pp. 476, 478. It appears that Stirling used casualty and award lists, but not maps.

(8) P L Murray, op cit, p. 419.

(9) Field Intelligence Department (Pretoria), Ermelo/Carolina map, April 1901. Field Intelligence Department (Cape Town), Ermelo map, April 1900. Jeppe's map, Transvaal, 1899, No. 5.

(10) J Campbell, History of Western Australian Contingents serving in South Africa during the Boer War 1899-1902, Government Printer, Perth WA, 1910, pp. 60-63.

(11) Report of the Boer attack on a detachment of Major General Beatson's force at Wilmansrust, WO32/8007, Public Record Office, London. See also General C H Muller's Report to General B Viljoen, The Argus, Melbourne, 1 February 1902.

(12) The Argus, Melbourne, 11-13 November 1901.

(13) The Argus, Melbourne, 9 November 1901.

(14) Major W McKnight's Report to Major General M F Downes, Commandant, Victorian Military Forces, 21 October 1901, NAA: B168, 1901/3859 Report by Major McKnight on the Wilmansrust Affair.

(15) Georgina Harvey, 'Man of war rests in peace', Sunday Herald-Sun, Melbourne, 12 December 1996.

(16) Dr James C Briggs, 'The search for Lt Colonel F W Bell VC', Sabretache, Vol XXXVIII, Apr-Jun 1997, pp. 3-12, and later correspondence.

(17) Map entitled Sketch of Brakpan, The British Empire & Commonwealth Museum, Bristol, UK.

(18) John Stirling, op cit, p. 478. Honours and awards, Lord Kitchener's Despatch, 8 July 1901 [sic 28 July]. See also South African War--Honours and Awards 1899-1902, Greenhill Books, 1987, p. 66. 

 

Further Reading:

Grobelaar Recht, South Africa, May 15, 1901

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The action at Brakpan - Max Chamberlain

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 29 March 2009 4:36 PM EADT
Monday, 23 March 2009
Grobelaar Recht - Article - London Times 21 May 1901, p. 5.
Topic: BatzB - Grobelaar

Grobelaar Recht

Article - London Times 21 May 1901, p. 5.

 

The text

 

SUMMARY OF THE SITUATION.

CAPE TOWN, MAY 20.*

Having returned from the north, I am enabled to give a summary of the present state of affairs in the Transvaal and Orange colonies. In the northern Transvaal, General Bindon Blood's advance has driven the majority of the Boors west, though a few are still left in the north of the Zoutpansberg. Delarey is drawing round him most of these fugitives. A number of men who have lately been operating in the neighbourhood of Ermelo have also crossed into Delarey's command, leaving Botha. The British columns are moving in every direction, the great object being not to allow the enemy any rest. Delarey has organized a system of remounting from the Orange Colony, but the horses are in the poorest condition.

Lord Methuen and General Babington still move accompanied by small bodies of infantry. The new and excellent system of blockhouses which has been inaugurated for the protection of the line is very economical, releasing for active operations over 6,000 men. The railway from Elandsfontein to Volksrust is studded with blockhouses, effectively preventing attacks on the line.

The troops in Orange Colony are busily employed in denuding the country east of the railway. Many columns are operating, moving slowly and taking all horses and stock. A few wandering small commandos are west of the line, but in the south Hertzog and Brand temporarily hold the country round Petrusburg. Hertzog sets as treasurer, and each Orange commandant receives regularly £45 monthly. The Orange commandos refuse to accompany De Wet, stating that it is too dangerous.

De Wet's latest journey, in company with an escort of 40 men, was a wonderful performance. heaving Credo, he passed north to Ermelo, and thence across the line near Nylstroom. Winding south-west between Zeerust and Lichtenburg, he halted for a few days near Maribogo, and thence proceeded southwards to Boshof and Philippolis, where he is said to have had an interview with Hertzog. In confirmation of this, I believe it is a tact that all rebels attached to the Orange commandos have received orders to concentrate near Orange River.

The following official statement is published regarding the military operations Scheepers's commando is being kept moving in the hilly contiguous to the Graaf Reinet and Somerset Fast boundaries. Its strength is stated to have dwindled to 100 men, and the horses are much exhausted. In the eastern province the enemy have been reinforced by Lotter, Myburgh, Lategan, and, it is reported, by Kruitzinger, who have crossed from the Orange River Colony to the north and north Rest of Venterstad. The reinforcements, to the number of 800, appear to be making the country south of Venterstad their base. It is assumed that they were unable to obtain subsistence in the southern part of the Orange River Colony, and that they have crossed partly with the object of living on Cape Colony and partly to come to the aid of Fouche, who is sorely pressed.

Lategan ambushed a patrol of 14 of Nesbitt's Horse at Damplaats. Lategan's brother was wounded and taken prisoner. Another patrol of seven men was ambushed south of Venterstad.

The total of the Boer casualties in April was killed, 105 wounded, 118 prisoners and surrenders, 2,183.


 

Further Reading:

The action at Brakpan - Max Chamberlain 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Grobelaar Recht - Article - London Times 21 May 1901, p. 5.

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 29 March 2009 8:49 PM EADT
Sunday, 22 March 2009
Grobelaar Recht - Account - London Times 20 May 1901, p. 7.
Topic: BatzB - Grobelaar

 

 

Grobelaar Recht

Account - London Times 20 May 1901, p. 7.

 


The text

 

GENERAL BOTHA AND THE BURGHERS.

(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Carolina, May 17.

Carolina has been occupied for the fifth time by British troops to-day. A mobile column under Brigadier-General Campbell left Wonder fontein yesterday. To-day an advance force of the 18th Hussars, commanded by Acting Brigadier-General dier-General King, of the 5th Lancers, rode into the town. A few Boers retired as the troops appeared. These belonged to no organized commando and intended to surrender, but a message arrived from Louis Botha at Ermelo telling them to retire and hide till we passed. The English, he said, were embroiled in war with Russia; plague was destroying the soldiers, and the rest were being harried home. The Boers bad completely destroyed the railway in Orange River Colony, and the British were obliged to trek to the sea coast. lie owned he had thought of making peace with Lord Kitchener, but thanked God that he bad rejected his terms. In 1881 a blood-red comet appeared, meaning war; the comet now seen was white and signified peace, which would shortly be given them, and with it independence.

Botha made a similar announcement lost week at Ermelo. I have this confirmed from various quarters and, believing it true, quote it, because such announcements serve to prolong hostilities.

A good piece of work was done to-day by the telegraph section of the Royal Engineers, which kept pace with the cavalry advance and opened telegraph communication an hour after the occupation of the town.

 

Further Reading:

The action at Brakpan - Max Chamberlain 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Grobelaar Recht - Account - London Times 20 May 1901, p. 7.

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 29 March 2009 8:50 PM EADT

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