Topic: BatzB - Driefontein
South Africa, 10 March 1900
The Town and Country Journal, 17 March 1900
The Town and Country Journal, 17 March 1900, p. 13.
The account is transcribed below.
THE BATTLE OF DRIEFONTEIN.
LONDON, March 12, 4.40 a.m.-
Colonel Breadwood, disrovering the enemy in strength on the Driefontein kopjes, posted his mounted troops on a kopje facing the enemy's centre, and awaited the arrival of Major-General Kelly- Kenny's division.
The enemy, with three guns and two Vickers-Maxims, shelled freely, and fought obstinately.
The Essex Regiment, the Yorkshires, the Gloucesters, and the Buffs were conspicuous in the attack.
The 1st Australian Horse, with the Scots Greys, advanced within eight hundred yards of the enemy, under a heavy fire.
One trooper was wounded in the shoulder, and another had his leg fractured, and his horse killed under him.
The New South Wales Lancers, with Major General Porter's brigade, were under shell fire.
The Welsh Regiment in the evening carried the central position at the point of the bayonet, and the cavalry turned the position, the enemy fleeing northwards at night.
The horses of the Australian Cavalry alone were enabled to pursue the enemy.
Lieutenant Colonel Knight's and Captain Antill's mounted troops, with Colonel Le Gallais's Brigade, did splendid service.
The British artillery was very effective.
Dr Fiaschi's ambulances were all night collecting the wounded.
LONDON, March 12 7.10 am
The Boers at Driefontein numbered six thousand, newly arrived from the south. Their mobility and the moving of the guns was more remarkable than ever.
The New South Wales mounted troops gallantly bu unsuccessfully attempted to capture one gun with outranged ours, and the bluejackets were too late.
The enemy evacuated their positins and then reoccupied them, subtly concealing their intention and withdrawing the guns only when likely to be captured.
The withdrawals fatigued the cavalry horses.
Lord Robers resumed the advance, and has arrived at Aasvogel.
LONDON, March 12, 8.50 am.
Lord Roberts telegraphed from Driefontein on Sunday:-"The enemy opposed us throughout yesterday's march, giving us, owing to their intimate knowledge of the country, considerable trouble.
"The conduct of the troops was admirable.
"The Welsh and Essex Regiments expelled the enemy from two strong positions at the point of the bayonet.
"Our wounded include Colonel Umphelby (Victorian), who was wounded dangerously in the abdomen.
"The Boers suffered heavily, 102 of their dead being abandoned.
"I have telegraphed to the Presidents as follows:-"'Another instance of the gross abuse of the white flag and raising of hands in token of surrender was witnessed at East Driefontein by staff officers and myself, resulting in the wounding of several officers and men.
"'If such abuse recurs I shall reluctantly by compelled to diregard the white flag entirely.
"'A large quantity of explosive bullets of three kinds was found in General Cronje's lassger, also after every engagement with your Honor's troops.
"'Such breaches of recognised usages of war and of the Geneva Convention are a disgrace to any civilised Power.
"'A copy of this telegram has been sent to my Government requesting it to be communicated to the Neutral Powers.'"
LONDON, March 12, 3.30 pm
During the battle of Driefontein, in order to ecape the artillery fire while crossing the open veldt and while a squadron of cavalry was moving on its flank, a large commando hoisted the white flag.
When the British advanced to accept the surrender, another section of the enemy fired repeated volleys on the advancing force, wounding a number.
The British ran short of ammunition during the battle, owing to the infantry being relieved of weight to facilitate marching.
AUSTRALIANS AT THE FRONT
LONDON, March 11, 4.25 am.
Private C Wargalt was dangerously, and Private J McCracken seriously, wounded during the fighting at Poplar Grove.
Both belong to the New South Wales Contingent.
LONDON, March 11, 3.30 pm.
In the operations at Osfontein and Poplar Grove and the Queensland Mounted Infantry were conspicuous. Their scouting is described as excellent.
Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920
Citation: Driefontein, South Africa, The Town and Country Journal, 17 March 1900