Topic: BatzB - Coetzees Drift
South African (Second Boer) War
The Battle of Coetzee Drift, South Africa, 5 May 1900
The Town and Country Journal, 12 May 1900
The account is transcribed below.
CROSSING THE VET RIVER
LONDON, May 7, 6.50 a.m. -
Major-General Hutton found the enemy with two long range and four other guns strongly holding the passage across the Vet River. The 84th and 85th batteries of Field Artillery were engaged.
The enemy north of the Vet River has retreated eight miles.
Lord Roberts accompanied Major-General Pole-Carew to the Vet River, leaving his .headquarters- with Major-General Wavell's brigade two miles in the rear. Major-General Maxwell's brigade was two miles to the right.
Lieutenant-General Ian Hamilton on Friday prevented the junction of two Boer forces. The Household Cavalry, 12th Lancers, and Kitchener's Horse charged between the Boers, and inflicted heavy loss upon them. The enemy abandoned their dead and wounded.
Major-General Hector Macdonald, with the Highland Brigade, dislodged the enemy's right flank under cover of the guns of the bluejackets. The Black Watch greatly distinguished themselves.
Twenty-six West Australians who were temporarily separated from the main force, captured - a kopje, and held it until reinforcements arrived.
LONDON, May 7, 10.30 p.m.
Further details of the engagement at Vet River state that towards sunset the 26 West Australians crept towards the bed of the Vet River at the rear of a kopje occupied by the Boers. The Colonials fired a few volleys, and then rushed the Boers with fixed bayonets. They acted throughout on their own initiative.
LONDON, May 7, 3.58 p.m.
Lord Roberts, in a cable to the War Office, states that the Canadian New South Wales, and New Zealand Rifles, and the Queensland Mounted Infantry, vied with each other in their determination to close with the enemy on Friday during the fighting on the banks of the Vet River, and captured a Maxim gun and 25 Boers.
The British casualties were one killed, fifteen wounded, and three missing.
Other accounts state that the Queenslanders were the first to cross the Vet River, and, outflanking the Boers, they seized a commanding kop expelling the enemy. At nightfall the British troops bivouacked on the captured position. The Boers fled at daylight.
The Battle of Coetzee Drift, South Africa, 5 May 1900, Roll of Honour
Citation: The Battle of Coetzee Drift, South Africa, 5 May 1900, The Town and Country Journal, 12 May 1900