"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre site holds over 12,000 entries and is growing daily.
WARNING: This site contains: names, information and images of deceased people; and, language which may be considered inappropriate today.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Graspan, South Africa, 25 November 1899, Contents Topic: BatzB - Graspan
South Africa, 25 November 1899
Graspan, an action also referred to as the Battle of Enslin, was fought on 25 November 1899 (during the Second South African War) by a British force of 8,500 men under Lieut.-General Lord Methuen while attempting to break the Boer siege of Kimberley.
Graspan, South Africa, November 25, 1899 Topic: BatzB - Graspan
South Africa, 25 November 1899
British soldiers charging up a kopje during the Battle of Graspan
Graspan, an action also referred to as the Battle of Enslin, was fought on 25 November 1899 (during the Second South African War) by a British force of 8,500 men under Lieut.-General Lord Methuen while attempting to break the Boer siege of Kimberley. After an earlier engagement at Belmont (q.v.), eighteen kilometres to the south along the single-track railway line which formed the axis of the British advance, Methuen found the Boers occupying a line of kopjes (small hills) about 60 metres high to the east of the railway station at Graspan. Information from British reconnaissance parties indicated that only about 400 enemy were present, supported by two guns.
To prevent the enemy escaping as had happened at Belmont, Methuen decided to engage the Boer position first with artillery fire while working the 900 mounted troops available to him around both flanks. Once these were in position, a frontal assault was to be mounted by the small Naval Brigade operating with his force. Unfortunately for this plan of attack, unknown to Methuen - whose scouts were unable to observe into the enemy position from closer than about two kilometres - the original Boer defenders were reinforced late on the afternoon of 24 November by 2,000 Free State burghers under Commandant Jacobus Prinsloo.
Map showing the Battle of Graspan, 25 November 1899
[From: The Times History of the War in South Africa, II, London, 1902.]
When the British field batteries opened up soon after 6 a.m. the next morning, the answering fire from the Boers came from five guns instead of two - not including a Hotchkiss quick-fire weapon and a Maxim machine-gun. Realising that his original scheme was unworkable, Methuen promptly opted for an all-out attack on conventional lines. This effort would pit the Naval Brigade with some infantry detachments against the Boers eastern (left) flank, while the rest of the British force sought to immobilise the enemy elsewhere and prevent reinforcement of the sector under attack. This plan worked, but not before the 245 strong assault force had lost 15 killed and 79 wounded. By the time the crest of the hill was reached, the enemy had all gone except for a small group which resisted until only one man remained alive.
The British could observe the Boris retiring in good order across the plain back into Free State territory, but a shortage of mounted troops meant that a vigorous pursuit was not possible. The British weakness in this regard was graphically demonstrated at one point during the Boer retreat, when a large body of burghers suddenly turned and attempted to ride down the lesser number of British horsemen from the 9th Lancers trying to follow them. The threat was averted by the response of some Mounted infantry who, along with a detachment of 29 members of the New South Wales Lancers under Lieut. S.F. Osborne, occupied a fold in the ground and poured a heavy fire into the advancing Boers. The incident reportedly won for Osborne and his men the nickname of ‘The Fighting Twenty-Nine.'.
The engagement had demonstrated once again that the Boers were more than a match for Methuen despite his numerical superiority. While he responded by complaining about the deficiency in the number of mounted troops available to him, and confirmed his disappointment in the part played by his cavalry by removing the commander of the 9th Lancers, nothing could disguise his own tactical incompetence which saw his force suffer total casualties at Graspan of seventeen dead and 168 wounded. Among the dead of the Naval Brigade was 19-year-old Midshipman C. I. Huddart of Ballarat, Victoria.
Midshipman Cymberline Alonso Edric Huddart
[From: Sydney Mail, 13 January 1900, p. 89.]
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 58-59.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
W. Baring Pemberton (1964) Battles of the Boer War, London.
R.L. Wallace (1976) The Australians at the Boer War, Canberra: Australian War Memorial & Australian Government Publishing Service.
L.M. Field (1979) The forgotten War, Carlton, Vic. Melbourne University Press.
Graspan, South Africa, November 25, 1899, Times Account, 29 Nov 1899 Topic: BatzB - Graspan
South Africa, 25 November 1899
Times Account, 29 November 1899
The Times, 29 November 1899
THE BATTLE OF GRASPAN.
(THROUGH REUTER'S AGENCY.)
ORANGE RIVER, Nov. 27.
The British arms have achieved a brilliant victory.
An armoured train sent out to reconnoitre encountered the Boars at Graspan. A patrol under Lieutenant Lewis was fired on, and Lieutenant Lewis and a private were killed.
The division bivouacked for the night at Swinkspan.
At daybreak they stormed the kopjes at Enslin occupied by the enemy. Two batteries of artillery posted on each side shelled the enemy and made splendid practice. The Doers stuck tenaciously to their positions. The Naval Brigade, however, with the Yorkshire Light Infantry, Northamptons, Northumberlands, and Loyal North Lancashires, stormed the enemy's positions. A withering fire was sent into them, but kopje after kopje was captured.
The Boers made good their retreat. The 9th Lancers attempted to intercept the movement and succeeded in reaching the enemy, but a severe fire was opened upon them from a kopje, and they were forced to retreat.
Remington's Scouts also faced a terribly severe fire when charging the enemy.
The infantry worked magnificently, taking the enemy's positions at the point of the bayonet.
The Naval Brigade suffered severely in storming the last position.
Commander Ethelston was killed, and Captain Prothero was wounded. Nine others were killed.
The Boers were shelled during the final retreat, end must have lost heavily. Commandant Cronje was with the Boers.
Thirty of the enemy's wounded. have been brought here.
Our casualties were not so severe as at Belmont. The wounded were taken away by the hospital train.
Among the Boer prisoners are Alderman Jeppo and Commandant Rissik, who led a commando.
The enemy's strength is estimated to have been 3,000. They retired in a northerly direction.
(THROUGH LAFFAN'S AGENCY.)
CAPE TOWN, Nov. 27.
The official details of the defence of Kuruman show that the mission station, which was formerly the centre of Dr. Moffat'e long work among the natives of that part of Africa, was the point of resistance to the Boer attack. When the Boer commandant notified the magistrate of his intention to occupy the place, the latter replied that he had orders to defend it, and forthwith collected 20 natives and 30 half-castes, with whose aid he barricaded the mission chapel and there resisted the attack of 500 Boers for sin days and nights, after which the Boers abandoned the attack.
Graspan, South Africa, The Times Casualty List, 29 November 1899 Topic: BatzB - Graspan
South Africa, 25 November 1899
The Times Casualty List, 29 November 1899
THE BATTLE AT GRASPAN.
We have received from the Admiralty the following list of wounded in the Naval Brigade at the recent engagement of Graspan:
PETTY OFFICERS AND SEAMEN.
100623 Chief Petty Officer Francis Moon, Doris 153971 Petty Officer Edward Parritt, Doris 176876 Leading Seaman Freddy John Hinton, Doris 187912 Leading Seaman Thomas Hayden, Monarch 140282 A.B. Hugh Jones, Doris 161009 A.B. Charles Heart Jones, Doris 189408 A.B. Edward Chas. Stockman, Doris 191090 A.B. John Patrick Murphy, Doris 167019 A. B. George McShane, Monarch 188486 A.B. Bryan Thompson, Monarch 188352 Ordinary Seaman Thomas Isaac Tilley, Doris 186042 Ordinary Seaman Richard P. Olver, Doris 184295 Ordinary Seaman Walter Benjamin Blades, Monarch
NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE ROYAL MARINES
ROYAL MARINE ARTILERY.
1478 Col.-Sgt. G. Dyson 4335 Sgt. G. Gill 4001 Sgt. A. Gasson (? W.) 4751 Cpl. E. Burrows 3889 Bombr. B. Page (? Tape) 5866 Gunner W. F. Spencer 1339 Gunner D. Knox 4998 Gunner A. Gosling (? 4948) 3483 Gunner W. J. Brown (? 3253) 5942 Gunner A. Forster 5052 Gunner C. F. Brown 5669 Gunner E. G. Ashard (? 5666) 6111 Gunner E. Martin 5329 Gunner H. Stubbs 3736 Gunner G. Allchin 2506 Gunner C. Perking 4068 Gunner W. Clarke 5335 Gunner W. Morcambe 4367 Gunner J. Norris 5506 Gunner B. J. Weingaertner 5527 Gunner J. Kelleher 5509 Gunner E. Bath 5518 Gunner S. B. Easley (? S. P. Beesley) 5047 Gunner C. Mole 3444 Granter G. Cannington (? George R. Cunnington)
ROYAL MARINE LIGHT INFANTRY.
4216 Sgt. D. Leach 2901 Sgt. J. H. Greenfield 2774 Sgt. W. Edgson 6481 L.-Sgt. W. Holland 7959 L.-Cpl. W. J. Creasey (? 7957) 6371 L.-Cpl. F. Lewis Ply. 8458 Bugler W. J. O'Brien 9998 Pte. J. Simons (? 9995) 8884 Pte. W. Johnson 5157 Pte. F. Rigsby 8313 Pte. R. Basset 8303 Pte. A. Wass (? Vass) 9193 Pte. W. Waghorne (? 9153) 8588 Pte. H. Freeman 8613 Pte. E. Brinkhhurst (? 8623) 8461 Pte. H. Cartwright (? 7461) 6478 Pte. J. Coldrick (? 6426) 8384 Pte. S. Dowland 3396 Pte. J. Livingstone 4548 Pte. J. Percival (? 4557) 8527 Pte. G. Bartlett 6813 Pte. A. Noat (? Goat) 6935 Pte. C. Piper 6417 Pte. A. Hall (? 8417) 6389 Pte. J. Hughes 6450 Pte. C. Rawlings 8266 Pte. W. Tillman 7273 Pte. F. Mabbett 6679 Pte. A. Caplen 5719 Pte. H. Elmes 6475 Pte. J. Dentry 6359 Pte. H. Isern 4811 Pte. H. Peacock 8385 Pte. E. Pitters 7062 Pte. J. Scott 6349 Pte. A. Coles 7958 Pte. W. Lubbeck (? Tribbeck) 7695 Pte. F. Cockayne 7249 Pte. F. Amos (?7429 Corporal) 7793 Pte. C. Collinson 7997 Pte. C. B. Brace (? C. D.) 6820 Pte. F. D. Doran 7044 Pte. T. Jones (? 7004) 8056 Pte. A. Davis (? 8055) 4981 Pte. E. Hemp 10083 Pte. W. Bull 6882 Pte. H. Cotton (? 6872) 8886 Pte. J. Steele (?J.T.) 7232 Pte_ A. Adams
A telegram from the General Commanding in South Africa has been received at the War Office giving the following list of killed, wounded, and missing as far as they can at present be ascertained.
1ST BATTALION YORKSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY.
Captain C. A. L. Yate Lieut. H. C. Fernyhough Lieut. C. H. Ackroyd
NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS AND MEN.
75th BATTERY FIELD ARTTILERY.
Sergeant Farrier G. A. King.
1ST BATTALION NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS.
5190 Pte. H. Cole 14436 Pte. J. Ward 4679 Pte. A. Dunn
1ST BATTALION LOYAL NORTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT.
6182 Pte. G. Bogete 3707 Pte. T. Riley 4576 Pte. A. Dodd 4997 Pte. J. Burden 5486 Pte. J. Coleburne 4484 Pte. J. Campbell 4514 Pte. A. Thompson 4247 Pte. R. Wilson 3963 Pte. J. Foy 4337 Pte. J. Rigby 5850 L.-Cpl. G. Foulser 8549 Pte. G. Speight 5857 Pte. W. Askew 3568 L.-Cpl. A. Yould 3964 Pte. S. Wilkinson 4523 Pte. Ellis 3583 Pte. T. Counsell 6074 Pte. T. Owens 4792 Pte. A. Courtney
2ND BATTALION NORTHAMPTONSHIRE REGIMENT.
3045 Pte. W. Tandell.
4904 CpL F. Warren 2260 Pte. A. Hall 5462 Pte. G. Hornsby 5453 Pte. S. Campion
5506 Pte. J. E. Gender.
2ND BATTALION YORKSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY
4583 Pte J. Bull 5438 Pte. B.. Cain 4750 Pte. G. Theakar 5558 Pte. J. Greaves 5496 Pte. T. Busby 5416 Pte. B. Harmer 5260 Pte. W. LiIIey
3446 Col-Sgt. W. Bass 5775 Pte. W. Myers 4193 Sgt A.V. Adby 5120 Pte. J. Kelly 3432 Sgt. R. Smith 5015 Pte. E. Johnson 4285 Sgt. C. Carr 5315 Pte. H. Bell 4424 Cpl. A. Seekins 4995 Pte. W. Good 5703 L.-Cpl. H. Hindle 5349 Pte. T. McHugh 8762 L.-Cpl. W. Leewing 5280 Pte. W. Holler 3506 Pte. G. Bastow 4973 Pte. J. Williams 3223 Pte. H. Quinsey 5444 Pte. G. Sheldon 3965 Pte. G. Petford 4939 Pte. S. Moseley 4357 Pte. P. Crewes 4545 Pte. R. Dickinson 4338 Pte. W. Hadley 3812 Pte. A. Kerry 4998 Pte. F. Green 4198 Pte. A. Burton 4420 Pte. J. Carroll 2839 Pte. J. Monaghan 4559 Pte. H. Knott 4736 Pte. W. Garland 311.7 Bugler J. Matthews 4598 Pte. F. Dubblee 6023 Pte. A. Mason 4482 L.-Cpl. H. Ball 4081 Pte. J. Taylor 5274 Pte. J. Simmonds 5802 Pte. T. Hardcastle
4529 Pte. T. Slater 5961 Pte. J. Nolan 4958 Pte. T Harrison 5159 Pte. D. Whitehead 4341 Pte. H. Bircumshaw 4121 Pte. W. Hizzett
4238 Pte. Williams.
3732 Squad Sgt Maj. J. Hobbs 3546 Squad Sgt Maj. J. Marriott 2920 Sgt. G. Grapie 4059 Pte. Scott 4186 Pte. T. J. Smith 4283 Pte. Twyford 8807 Pte. A. James 4238 Pte. Pierce
A telegram received at the War Office from the General Commanding Lines of Communication Cape Town, reports the following additional casualties in Lord Methuen's force:
In a reconnaissance with the armoured train November 24: -
Killed: Lieutenant F. Owen Lewis, 14th Bombay Infantry.
Wounded (since died):
5095 Private J. Coles, 1st Loyal North Lancashire.
5817 Lance-Corporal J. Hall, 1st Loyal North Lancashire.
Montague (Macgregor) Grover - I Killed a Man at Graspan Topic: BatzB - Graspan
Montague (Macgregor) Grover
I Killed a Man at Graspan
Montague (Macgregor) Grover was born 31 May 1870 in West Melbourne, Victoria. He was the son of Harry Ehret Grover.
As a journalist, first with David Syme and then the Argus in 1896. For ten years remained one of the paper's chief police reporters and political roundsmen. Grover was an experienced writer and wrote many poems and had them published thoughout Victoria.
The following poem, I Killed a Man at Graspan was published in the "The Coo-ee Reciter" in 1904 was very much in the anti-war genre that grew over the twentieth century. The poem is quite haunting and as such is popular throughout the bush poetry circles.
I Killed a Man at Graspan
I killed a man at Graspan I killed him fair in a fight; And the Empire's poets and the Empire's priests Swear blind I acted right. The Empire's poets and the Empire's priests Make out my deed was fine, But they can't stop the eyes of the man I killed From starin' into mine.
I killed a man at Graspan Maybe I killed a score; But this one wasn't a chance-shot home, From a thousand yards or more. I fired at him when he'd got no show; We were only a pace apart, With the cordite scorchin' his old worn coat As the bullet drilled his heart
I killed a man at Graspan, I killed him fightin' fair; We came on each other face to face, An' we went at it then and there. Mine was the trigger that shifted first, He was the life that sped. An' a man I'd never a quarrel with Was spread on the boulders dead.
I killed a man at Graspan; I watched him squirmin' still He raised his eyes, an' they met with mine; An' there they're star'n still. Cut of my brother Tom, he looked, Hardly more'n a kid; An' Christ! he was stiffenin' at my feet Because of the thing I did.
I killed a man at Graspan; I told the camp that night; An' of all the lies that I ever told That was the poorest skite. I swore I was proud of my hand-to-hand, An' the Boer I'd chanced to pot, An' all the time I'd ha' given my eyes To never ha' fired that shot.
I killed a man at Graspan; An hour ago about, For there he lies with his starin' eyes An' his blood still tricklin' out. I know it was either him or me, I know that I killed him fair, But, all the same, wherever I look, The man that I killed is there.
I killed a man at Graspan; My first an, God! my last; Harder to dodge than my bullet is The look that his dead eyes cast. If the Empire asks for me later on It'll ask for me in vain, Before I reach to my bandolier To fire on a man again.
Apart from his poetry, one ongoing memorial remains for the work of Grover, the Montague Grover Award for cadet journalists aimed at promoting excellence in journalism. Grover died 7 March 1943 at "Casa del Rio", 95 Alexander Avenue, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia.
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre is a not for profit and non profit group whose sole aim is to write the early history of the Australian Light Horse from 1900
- 1920. It is privately funded and the information is provided by the individuals within the group and while permission for the use of the material has been given for this
site for these items by various donors, the residual and actual copyright for these items, should there be any, resides exclusively with the donors. The information on
this site is freely available for private research use only and if used as such, should be appropriately acknowledged. To assist in this process, each item has a citation
attached at the bottom for referencing purposes.
Please Note: No express or implied permission is given for commercial use of the information contained within this site.
A note to copyright holders
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has made every endeavour to contact copyright holders of material digitised for this blog and website and where
appropriate, permission is still being sought for these items. Where replies were not received, or where the copyright owner has not been able to be traced, or where
the permission is still being sought, the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has decided, in good faith, to proceed with digitisation and publication. Australian Light
Horse Studies Centre would be happy to hear from copyright owners at any time to discuss usage of this item.