LOYAL NORTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT.
1st Battalion was stationed in South Africa when the war broke
out, and on 20th September 1899 the headquarters and four companies
of the battalion were sent to Kimberley, followed in a few days
by 2 officers and 21 non - commissioned officers and men of
the Mounted Infantry of the Regiment. The other regular troops
in Kimberley during the siege were the 23rd company, Western
Division, Royal Garrison Artillery, six 7-pounder guns, one
section 7th company Royal Engineers, and small detachments of
the Army Service Corps and Royal Army Medical Corps. Colonel
Kekewich had also under his command the local Volunteer forces—namely,
a battery of the Diamond Fields Artillery, six 7-pounder guns,
Diamond Fields Horse, about 150, the Kimberley Regiment, 300,
and the Town Guard, over 1000. Before the investiture was complete
he had been joined by over 400 Cape Police, and before the war
was many days old he had greatly increased the numbers of Volunteers,
and in the latter half of October the Kimberley Light Horse
were raised by Major H. S. Turner (Black Watch), afterwards
Without disparaging the splendid work of the Police and local
troops, the presence of the four companies of the Loyal North
Lancashire was of immense value to Colonel Kekewich. With their
assistance the defensive works were brought into an efficient
state in a marvellously short space of time, while the moral
value of a disciplined body of regulars in the besieged town
was unquestionably very great.
In the very modest despatch1 of Colonel Kekewich he barely does
justice to the splendid work of himself and his force. Many
little actions and sorties are passed unnoticed, but the fact
that he and his little band defended successfully a widespread
town of 40,000 inhabitants from 12th October to 15th February
will not soon be forgotten.
The remaining companies of the battalion were put into the 9th
Brigade when Lord Methuen organised his column at Orange River
in November 1899, the other battalions of the brigade being
the 1st Northumberland Fusiliers, 2nd Northampton Regiment,
and 2nd King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The work of the
brigade is sketched under the 1st Northumberland Fusiliers.
At Belmont, 23rd November 1899, the Loyal North Lancashires
were not actively engaged. At Enslin, 25th November, they had
heavy work and did well. In his telegram of 26th November Lord
Methuen says, “The Naval Brigade, Royal Marines, 2nd Yorkshire
Light Infantry, and Loyal North Lancashire Regiment especially
distinguished themselves." At Modder River, 28th November,
the half-battalion again did splendid work, being the first
troops to attempt the crossing on the British left and seizing
some kopjes which were of great value afterwards. In both battles1
they escaped with comparatively slight casualties—about
After the relief of Kimberley and the occupation of Bloemfontein
the battalion operated for a time with Lord Methuen in the Kimberley-Boshof
district and then accompanied him to the Lindley district. In
July they were railed to the Transvaal, and about the 22nd the
battalion was left to hold Oliphant's Nek in the Megaliesberg.
They marched from that place with Baden - Powell about 8th August.
Six days afterwards De Wet, finding the pass unoccupied, slipped
through it and escaped from Lords Kitchener and Methuen, who
had been at his heels for a week.2 No one blamed
the battalion for leaving the post, but there had been a misunderstanding
somewhere. The battalion once more joined Lord Methuen and marched
with him to Mafeking,3 operating thereabouts and
in the South-West Transvaal for many months.
In the end of October and in November 1900 the headquarters
and two companies of the battalion accompanied Major-General
Douglas on a long trek to Klerksdorp, when much stock and some
prisoners were captured.4
Thirteen officers and 17 non-commissioned officers and men were
mentioned in Lord Roberts' final despatch.
In February 1901 the battalion marched with Lord Methuen from
Taungs to Klerksdorp. On the way the enemy made an obstinate
stand in a strong position at Haartebeestfontein, but were driven
out. In his telegram of 21st February Lord Kitchener mentions
the Loyal North Lancashire as having “greatly distinguished
themselves." They lost 6 killed and 8 wounded.
A portion of the battalion was in the escort of a convoy going
to Ventersdorp, which was very heavily attacked on 23rd May
1901. The attack was driven off. One officer and several men
of the battalion gained mention in despatches for exceptional
gallantry on this occasion. Later in that year four companies
were in a column under Lord Methuen which did endless trekking
and fighting in the Western Transvaal.5
The battalion shared the grievous misfortune which befell Lord
Methuen's force on 7th March 1902, one company being, along
with two companies of 1st Northumberland Fusiliers, in the column
on that occasion as escort to the waggons. The infantry held
out “in a most splendid manner," said Lord Methuen,
after the bulk of the mounted men had incontinently fled. On
this occasion the Loyal North Lancashire lost 5 killed and 1
officer and 10 men wounded.
This mishap to Lord Methuen did not in any way sully the battalion's
very fine record. Altogether 2 officers and 7 non-commissioned
officers and men were mentioned during the campaign in despatches
by Lord Kitchener, but this is in their case no indication of
the very hard fighting the battalion saw in the latter phases
of the war. In Lord Kitchener's supplementary or final despatch
4 officers and 7 non - commissioned officers and men were mentioned.
Dated 15th February 1900, with covering despatch of Lord Roberts
dated 20th March 1900. Gazette of 8th May.
2 Lord Roberts' despatch of 10th October 1900.
4 Ibid., 15th November 1900, para. 8.
5 Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th July 1901.