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Boer War - Imperial Light Horse Monument - Waggon Hill, South Africa

Copyright © Martin Edwards 2004

The detail here has been taken from a postcard and the information then further researched. Due to the source there may be transcription errors or ommissions due to its nature and readability - we apologise for any errors - please let us know. The Imperial Light Horse were part of the force that met the Boer attack on Wagon Hill, Ladysmith, January 6th, 1900. Ten officers were killed or wounded, and the Regiment came out of action commanded by a junior captain.

Extract from The Great Boer War by Arthur Conan Doyle - CHAPTER XIII. THE SIEGE OF LADYSMITH

At the same time as -- or rather earlier than -- the onslaught upon Caesar's Camp a similar attack had been made with secrecy and determination upon the western end of the position called Waggon Hill. The barefooted Boers burst suddenly with a roll of rifle-fire into the little garrison of Imperial Light Horse and Sappers who held the position. Mathias of the former, Digby-Jones and Dennis of the latter, showed that 'two in the morning' courage which Napoleon rated as the highest of military virtues. They and their men were surprised but not disconcerted, and stood desperately to a slogging match at the closest quarters. Seventeen Sappers were down out of thirty, and more than half the little body of irregulars. This end of the position was feebly fortified, and it is surprising that so experienced and sound a soldier as Ian Hamilton should have left it so. The defence had no marked advantage as compared with the attack, neither trench, sangar, nor wire entanglement, and in numbers they were immensely inferior. Two companies of the 60th Rifles and a small body of the ubiquitous Gordons happened to be upon the hill and threw themselves into the fray, but they were unable to turn the tide. Of thirty-three Gordons under Lieutenant MacNaughten thirty were wounded.[Footnote: The Gordons and the Sappers were there that morning to re-escort one of Lambton's 4á7 guns, which was to be mounted there. Ten seamen were with the gun, and lost three of their number in the defence.] As our men retired under the shelter of the northern slope they were reinforced by another hundred and fifty Gordons under the stalwart Miller-Wallnutt, a man cast in the mould of a Berserk Viking. To their aid also came two hundred of the Imperial Light Horse, burning to assist their comrades. Another half-battalion of Rifles came with them. At each end of the long ridge the situation at the dawn of day was almost identical. In each the stormers had seized one side, but were brought to a stand by the defenders upon the other, while the British guns fired over the heads of their own infantry to rake the further slope.

It was on the Waggon Hill side, however, that the Boer exertions were most continuous and strenuous and our own resistance most desperate. There fought the gallant de Villiers, while Ian Hamilton rallied the defenders and led them in repeated rushes against the enemy's line. Continually reinforced from below, the Boers fought with extraordinary resolution. Never will any one who witnessed that Homeric contest question the valour of our foes. It was a murderous business on both sides. Edwardes of the Light Horse was struck down. In a gun-emplacement a strange encounter took place at point-blank range between a group of Boers and of Britons. De Villiers of the Free State shot Miller-Wallnut dead, Ian Hamilton fired at de Villiers with his revolver and missed him. Young Albrecht of the Light Horse shot de Villiers. A Boer named de Jaeger shot Albrecht. Digby-Jones of the Sappers shot de Jaeger. Only a few minutes later the gallant lad, who had already won fame enough for a veteran, was himself mortally wounded, and Dennis, his comrade in arms and in glory, fell by his side.

There has been no better fighting in our time than that upon Waggon Hill on that January morning, and no better fighters than the Imperial Light Horsemen who formed the centre of the defence. Here, as at Elandslaagte, they proved themselves worthy to stand in line with the crack Regiments of the British army.


From an old postcard (22nd October 1906)

IN MEMORY OF
OFFICERS, N.C.O.'S & TROOPERS
OF THE
IMPERIAL LIGHT HORSE
WHO FELL AT WAGGON HILL ON THE 6TH JAN 1900

ADAMS

William Frederick

Lieutenant, Imperial Light Horse. Killed in action at Wagon Hill, Ladysmith. 6th January 1900.

"Lieutenant William Frederick Adams, Imperial Light Horse, was killed in the Boer attack on Wagon Hill, Ladysmith, January 6th, 1900. In this great struggle the Imperial Light Horse rendered splendid service. Ten officers were killed or wounded, and the Regiment came out of action commanded by a junior captain." [Source: The Last Post - Roll of Officers Who Fell In South Africa 1899-1902 by Mildred G Dooner available from Naval & Military Press.]

PACKEMAN

John Edward

[Spelt PAKEMAN on memorial] Lieutenant, Imperial Light Horse. Killed in action at Wagon Hill, Ladysmith. 6th January 1900.

"Lieutenant John Edward Packeman, Imperial Light Horse, was killed in the Boer attack on Wagon Hill, Ladysmith, January 6th, 1900. In this great struggle the Imperial Light Horse rendered splendid service. Ten officers were killed or wounded, and the Regiment came out of action commanded by a junior captain." [Source: The Last Post - Roll of Officers Who Fell In South Africa 1899-1902 by Mildred G Dooner available from Naval & Military Press.]

HOWARD

G

Sergeant

DUNN

A S

Corporal

DICKINSON

E? C

Corporal

FERRAND

C A

Corporal

HADDOW

J

Corporal

ROBBINS

A M

Corporal

MOORE

G M

Corporal

CAMERON

C C

Lance Corporal

CREATHEAD

M

Lance Corporal

METTLE....

C W R

Lance Corporal

ALBRECHT, VC

Herman

Trooper Imperial Light Horse (Natal). Awarded the Victoria Cross [London Gazette on 8th August 1902 - VC Medal's custodian is the Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, South Africa]. Born in 1876 at Burghersdrop, Aliwal, North Cape, South Africa. Died on 6th January 1900 at Ladysmith, Natal. Trooper Albrecht is buried on Wagon Hill, Ladysmith, Natal.

Citation reads "On 6 January 1900 on Wagon Hill, (Ladysmith) South Africa, a lieutenant of the Royal Engineers (See R.J.T Digby-Jones. Reg. No.657) and Trooper Albrecht led the force which re-occupied the top of the hill at a critical moment, just as the three foremost attacking Boers reached it. The leader was shot by the lieutenant and the two others by Trooper Albrecht."

Fir further details see the Chapter One web site and also VC Burials South Africa

BEWSHER

J H

Trooper

BRADY

P

Trooper

CHADWICK

T C

Trooper

DAWSON

R M

Trooper

HOGG

W S

Trooper

LIND

G

Trooper

MACKENZIE

R M

Trooper

MOCATTA

E W

Trooper

PRESTON

T T

Trooper

TUCKER

P Y

Trooper

ROGERS

F C

Trooper

Died of wounds

DOVETON

David Edwin

Major, Imperial Light Horse. Died at Ladysmith 14th February 1900 from wounds received at Wagon Hill 6th January 1900.

"Major David Edwin Doveton, Imperial Light Horse, died at Ladysmith, February 14th, 1900, of wounds received in the attack on Wagon Hill, January 6th, 1900. He was mentioned in despatches for his services By general Sir G White, March 3rd, 1900 (L.G., February 8th, 1900), and again in the despatch of Field-Marshall Earl Roberts, L.G., April 16th, 1901." [Source: The Last Post - Roll of Officers Who Fell In South Africa 1899-1902 by Mildred G Dooner available from Naval & Military Press.]

WINGATE

J F

Trooper

CARTER

J

Trooper

CORTON

H? C

Trooper

Name added later

SAUNDERS

W G B

Trooper 637. Wounded 8th January 1900 at Wagon Hill, Ladysmith, died of wounds 10th January 1900. Buried in Ladysmith Town Cemetery.

Last updated 18 February, 2009

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