sailed on the British Princess, Ranee, and another ship,
and arrived at the Cape about 7th December 1899. For a time they were
employed in patrol work and in protecting the lines of communication
between the Orange and Modder Rivers. In February 1900, when Lord
Roberts was ready to move, they were put into the 1st Cavalry Brigade
under Brigadier-General Porter along with the 6th Dragoon Guards and
one squadron of the 6th Dragoons, also two squadrons of Australians,
who were attached to the Greys. The work of the brigade is sketched
under the first-named Regiment.
the rest of the brigade the Greys took part in the relief of Kimberley,
the fighting on the way to Bloemfontem, and in the advance to Pretoria.
Outside Kimberley on 16th February the Regiment was engaged very heavily,
Lieutenant Bunbury being mortally, and Lieutenants Fordyce and Long
evening of 12th March, after a thirty-mile march, Major H. J Scobell
with a squadron, about 65 men, put a very smart thing to the credit
of the Regiment. An excellent account of the affair is given by Mr
Goldman. General French had desired a hill east of the railway to
be seized, and Scobell was sent to do it. With great difficulty the
railway was crossed, the wire bemg too strong for the cutters. Nine
horses were hit during this operation. There was no time for scouting,
so Scobell dismounted all the men he could and ascended the slope
as quickly as possible. Arrived at the top, he heard voices, and thinking
these were some of Roberts’ horse, he signalled to them but
got no response, and walking across the flat top he saw 400 Boers
fleeing across the plain. The squadron held their ground during the
night, and found in the morning that the hill commanded Bloemfontein
at 4000 yards.
officers, 1 sergeant, and 1 private were mentioned in Lord Roberts’
despatch of 31st March 1900. In July Captain Miller, adjutant of the
Regiment, was appointed to General French’s staff.
beginning of July the brigade was temporarily split up. The Greys
were ordered to occupy and hold certain passes in the Megaliesberg.
One squadron was left at Uitval, or Nitral Nek, where on the 11th
it was joined by Colonel Roberts with five companies of the Lincoins.
Colonel Roberts took over the command, and according to Lord Roberts’
despatch of 10th October 1900, para. 20, the disaster which occurred
was “mainly owing to the defective dispositions of the officer
in command.” The troops made a good stand, but the enemy captured
nearly the whole squadron, two guns of 0 Battery, and some 90 of the
Lincoln Regiment. Major Scobell fortunately escaped “amid a
storm of bullets.” Mr Goldman gives a detailed and clear account
of the unfortunate affair. Seeing that the nek is only eighteen miles
from Pretoria, it does seem strange that help could not be sent in
time. The losses of the squadron were 2 officers and 1 man killed,
and 1 officer and 17 men wounded.
the history of the Regiment is very similar to that of the 6th Dragoon
Guards, as for long the two were acting together and did splendid
work. In describing the taking of Barberton in September 1900, Mr
Goldman, p. 380, recounts another very daring deed done by Major Scobell
and 60 men of the Greys, not unlike that which he did outside Bloemfontem.
By his smartness and decision some vehicles containing hundreds of
rifles and much ammunition were captured.
despatches of 2nd April and 4th September 1901, Lord Roberts mentioned
7 officers and 8 noncommissioned officers of the Regiment for good
work up to the time of his leaving South Africa.
the Greys were to suffer two nasty mishaps in the second phase of
the campaign. On 30th December 1901 a party fell into an ambuscade
at Groenfontern and lost 5 killed and 13 wounded. The other affair
is mentioned in Lord Kitchener’s despatch of 8th March 1902,
para. 1, as follows “On the 18th February General Gilbert Hamilton
was sharply engaged at Klippan, twenty miles south-east of Springs,
with a body of Boers which was estimated to number about 500. Upon
this occasion, I regret to say, a portion of a squadron of the Scots
Greys detached to one flank was cut off, surrounded, and partially
captured. Our casualties were Major Fielden and Captain Ussher mortally
wounded, Lieutenant Rhodes and 2 men killed, and 6 wounded. The Boers
were reported to have 8 men killed and wounded.”
Scobell was appointed to command the 5th Lancers, a reward for his
unusually brilliant work.