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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.


Items about the Battle of Graspan.

Graspan, South Africa, November 25, 1899 

Graspan, South Africa, November 25, 1899, Times Account, 29 Nov 1899 

Graspan, South Africa, The Times Casualty List, 29 November 1899 

Montague (Macgregor) Grover - I Killed a Man at Graspan 

Midshipman Cymberline Alonso Edric Huddart 


Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Graspan, South Africa, 25 November 1899, Contents

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Wednesday, 13 January 2010 7:05 PM EAST
Friday, 3 April 2009
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.


Further Reading:

Midshipman Cymberline Alonso Edric Huddart 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Graspan, South Africa, November 25, 1899

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 5 April 2009 11:17 AM EADT
Thursday, 2 April 2009
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 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.



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.


Further Reading:

Graspan, South Africa, November 25, 1899

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Graspan, South Africa, November 25, 1899, Times Account, 29 Nov 1899

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 6 April 2009 10:09 PM EADT
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
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




We have received from the Admiralty the following list of wounded in the Naval Brigade at the recent engagement of Graspan:


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



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)


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.



Captain C. A. L. Yate
Lieut. H. C. Fernyhough
Lieut. C. H. Ackroyd




Sergeant Farrier G. A. King.



5190 Pte. H. Cole
14436 Pte. J. Ward
4679 Pte. A. Dunn



A_ Keeley.


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



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.



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.

In a reconnaissance on November 26:

Severely wounded:

Lieutenant J. G. Stirling, 9th Lancers.

Dangerously Wounded:

4300 Private F. Young, 9th Lancers.



Further Reading:

Graspan, South Africa, November 25, 1899

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Graspan, South Africa, The Times Casualty List, 29 November 1899

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 7 April 2009 7:17 PM EADT
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
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.


Further Reading:

Australian Dictionary of Biography - Grover, Montague MacGregor (Monty) (1870 - 1943) 

Grover, Montague, The time is now ripe: revolution without tears, Robertson & Mullens, Melbourne, 1937.

Graspan, South Africa, November 25, 1899

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Montague (Macgregor) Grover - I Killed a Man at Graspan

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 2 December 2009 8:57 PM EAST

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