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Boer War Notes

Imperial Yeomanry
Black Week fell into December 1899 when the British Army in South Africa suffered successive defeats. Many other disastrous events occurred during that week but from it a new 'national' feeling arose. A new Yeomanry was raised to generate volunteers to serve in South Africa, the newspapers called it the 'Imperial Yeomanry' and so it remained. The Imperial Yeomanry were to be mounted infantry and this appealed in sporting circles. Soon there was a rush to abandon the like of fox hunting to 'go hunting the Boer'. Large crowds formed outside the recruiting office in London, the City of London itself offered and paid for one thousand volunteers. Thirty-four MPs and peers rallied to join the new Yeomanry. The spirit caught the publics imagination and the war was now talked of as a 'national' war. The ranks of the private soldier contained several thousand 'gentlemen rankers' in the form of stockbrokers, journalists, dons and even one MP.
South African Constabulary
Baden-Powell was charged with organising the South African Constabulary (SAC) to form both a permanent British Garrison and to also spearhead the injection of British settlers to South Africa. Ten thousand new policemen were to be raised in Britain for deployment in South Africa.
Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry

Lieutenant-Colonel Alec Thorneycroft raised a Mounted Infantry Regiment of five hundred irregulars, mainly Uitlander refugees, in Natal, where they had been employed as scouts, paid for out of Thorneycroft's own pocket.At Spion Kop two hundred of Thorneycroft's men headed the column in a night attack. The column the 2nd Lancaster's and the old 'King's Own' were weary and tired from seven days fighting previously. The hill was taken with the cost of ten men wounded to one Boer killed. Under cover of the early morning mist preparations were made to secure and hold the hill. General Warren was supposed to supply the manpower, supplies and resources to install the naval guns allotted to the hill and to dig the necessary trenches. This he failed to do in time and for 12 hours the hill was pounded by Boer guns killing 243 men until eventually Thorneycroft and his men had to abandon it. Thorneycroft was a broken man.

Last updated 15 August, 2008

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