The Suffolk Regiment during the Boer War

DRAFT
THE SOUTH AFRICAN CAMPAIGN

Extract from 1906 Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury newspaper.

The regiment was placed at the disposal of General French, who had the difficult task of stemming the Boer invasion of Cape Colony. On January 6th, 1900, the regiment was ordered to make a night attack on a Boer position on the heights near Colesberg, when four companies, 354 of all ranks, set out at midnight under the command of Col. Watson. The secret had leaked out, and when laboriously climbing up the rough hill side in the dark (Later named Suffolk Hill), the Suffolks were met by a storm of bullets. The Colonel was amongst the first to fall, and the party retired with 11 officers and 150 men killed, wounded or captured. General French adversely criticised two of the companies, but subsequently at Middelburg, when he was in possession of further information from the captured officers, he handsomely withdrew his criticism in a public speech in the Market Square of Middelburg. Much hard work in trekking and fighting was performed by the regiment in various parts of the Transvaal and Orange Free State, including the “advance to Pretoria,” and at Middelburg, Barberton, Piet Retief, Bethel, Rustenberg, etc. The surprise of De Wet’s camp at Bothaville on November 6th, 1900, gave the Mounted Infantry Company of the Suffolks an opportunity for distinction, which they did not fail to take advantage of. During the fight the Boers, who at first largely outnumbered the British, made a desperate effort to seize the English guns, but Lieuts. White and Peebles and the Suffolks, as mentioned in Sir Conan Doyle’s story of the war, “most galantly held them off.” Under General Smith-Dorrien‘s command, the regiment took part in an expedition from Belfast on November 6th, when the column sustained a heavy fire on all sides by a large force of Boers. Their steadiness resulted, however, in a complete repulse of the Boers, who lost General Fowrie and Commandant Henry Prinsloo, while General J. Grobler was amongst the wounded. On February 6th, 1901, the Suffolks, still with General Smith-Dorrien, were the object, with others of a desperate night attack by General Louis Botha, at Lake Chrissie, but although the onslaught was made at 3 a.m., the British were on the alert and the Boers (who had driven loose horses in front of them to disorder the outposts) suffered severe defeat.
The regiment was more than once the subject of complimentary notice from leaders in the war. Lord Roberts commended the Suffolks for gallantry in the action that resulted in driving the Boers from their positions in the Drakensberg Range on September 9th, 1900, under General Mahon, prior to the taking of Barberton, and on February 1st, 1901, the following order was published: “It has given the Major-General commanding much pleasure to bring to the notice of the Commander-in-Chief the excellent and bold work done by the mounted troops, Suffolks, West Yorks, and guns in the recent move to Carolina.”
In connection with the South African campaign mention must not be omitted of the invaluable services rendered by the Volunteers who went out to March and fight side by side with their comrades of the Regular battalion.
The casualties of the regiment during the campaign amounted to eight officers, 146 non-commissioned officers and men killed in action or died of wounds, disease etc., and seven officers, 103 non-commissioned officers and men wounded – a total of 264. The following soldiers of the regiment gained the medal for distinguished conduct on the field of battle:- For gallant conduct at Colesberg, on 6th January, 1900: Sergt. G. Claridge, Privates C. Childs, T.H. Darley (two wounds), W. Hall, and G. Risby. For gallant conduct at Bothaville 6th November, 1900 – Corpl. A. Fuller, Private A. Oliver, who were both wounded. For distinguished conduct throughout the war: Colour Sergt, Godbolt, Sergeants E. Ager, A. Wheaton, and G. Ford. Colonel Mackenzie was awarded a C.B., and four officers the D.S.O., namely, Captains Brett, Peebles, White, and Barnardiston. Captains Prest and Lloyd were awarded “Brevet majorities.”
The Battalion served in Cape Colony (twice), Orange Free State (twice), Eastern Transvaal (twice), and Western Transvaal, under the following Commanders: Generals French, Lord Kitchener, Settle, W. Knox, Maxwell, Hutton, Mahon, Dickson, C. Knox, Smith-Dorrien, Wilson, and Col. George Mackenzie.

SUFFOLK REGIMENT RESERVES.
ASSEMBLY AT BURY.
SCENES AT IPSWICH AND CAMBRIDGE.

10th November 1899. Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury newspaper.

The order for calling up the Reserves of the 1st Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, with those of the 1st Battalion Essex Regiment and the Sherwood Foresters, provided that the men should assemble at their respective depots before 12 o’clock on Monday night. The 1st Battalion of the Suffolks is now stationed at Dover, but the depot is at Bury St. Edmund’s, and Reservists were arriving at that town by all trains during Monday. It appears that the exact number of these men is 531, and that, although 95 per cent, belong to Suffolk and the adjourning part of the county of Cambridge, they are scattered all over the country. A large proportion, of course, have been working in the towns, but the summons has gone also to almost every village, and the whole district is affected. The mobilisation of the Battalion will be uncommonly quick work. The Reservists have been sent from their Bury to Dover; in bringing up the regiment to effective war strength, they will take the place of young soldiers who have not yet undergone twelvemonths’ training; and to-morrow they will sail from Southampton for South Africa in the Union Company’s S.S. Scot.

The first detachment, consisting of 34 men who came in at the close of last week, left Bury for Dover by the 8:28 train on Monday morning, travelling by way of Cambridge and London. Owing to a heavy downpour of rain, the band did not attend; but a good many persons assembled at the Railway Station to witness the departure, amongst the officers present being Colonel Dowse, commanding the 12th Regimental District, Major V.W.H. Graham, and Captain C.R. Fryer (Adjutant). The detachment was under the command of Lieut. White. A hearty cheer was raised as the train left the station, and was as heartily responded to. The parting gift to each man, as a result of a subscription raised in the town, was a pipe and packet of tobacco.

Many of the Reservists, reaching Bury at various times during the day, were in no great hurry to proceed to the Barracks. Some had a quiet walk around the town, before saying “Good-bye” to the friends who accompanied them; others took numerous parting glasses, by way of making the most of a few remaining hours of liberty, and got into the condition popularly described as consequent upon having “had a little beer,” which meant that they had a great deal. There was consequently some disorder in the streets, and a good deal of fun. At the Barracks, the work of passing the Reservists through went on with clockwork precision. Every man was escorted to the hospital, on entering, to go before the doctor; having passed that ordeal – and there were very few who did not – he proceeded to the Orderly Room, and from thence to the Keep. Here the “clothing and necessaries” of 1,000 soldiers, this being on one floor alone, are pigeon-holed in readiness, so that they can be handed to the men without a minute’s delay, as each states his kit number. It may be interesting to give the list of articles with which Tommy Atkins is supplied, when going on active service:-
Ankle boots, pairs – – – 2
Kersey frock – – – 1
Haversack – – – 1
Collar Badges, set – – – 1
Laces, pair spare – – – 1
Cloth brush – – – 1
Comb – – – 1
Dubbing tins – – – 1
Housewives – – – 1
Razor and Case – – – 1
Socks, worsted, pairs – – – 2
Spoon – – – 1
Towels – – – 1
Field Service Cap – – – 1
Great coat – – – 1
Trousers, tweed – – – 1
Cap badge – – – 1
Braces, pairs – – – 1
Shaving brush – – – 1
Fork – – – 1
Holdall – – – 1
Table knives – – – 1
Flannel shirts – – – 2
Sponge – – – 1
Mess tin (no cover) – – – 1
The soldier also carries a valise equipment, complete with water bottle; a magazine Lee Enfield rifle, with which there is sent 100 rounds of ammunition “to go on with”; an oil bottle and “pull through,” and bayonet and scabbard. The Reservist is warned, “that as none of the above articles are marked, the greatest possible care must be exercised by individuals to avoid any article going astray.” The civilian clothes of the Reservist go into the pigeon-hole, to be kept there until his return, if he ever does return. When the change of attire had been made, the effect was wonderful-men who had slouched in, shabbily dressed, came out smart and well set-up. The men were in high spirits, and those who were in barracks at the time renewed old friendships when they sat down to a substantial dinner in the drill-shed. It was pretty evident, however, that the work of reception at the Barracks would not be over until a late hour in the evening.

________________________

 

At Ipswich, although there was no pre-arranged demonstration, as at Cambridge and at other towns, the men themselves, with a large following of friends, assembled on the Cornhill about 10 o’clock, and until a move was made for the station about 11, the Hill was the scene of unusual excitement. During this time a tall and powerful fellow, who has already seen service, engaged attention by playing patriotic airs upon a piccolo. Finally, with this musician as the leader, and to the strains of “Auld Lang Syne,” the entire company, numbering close upon 200, and including many women, marched to the station in time to witness the departure of the 11:21 train for West Suffolk. Being evidently loth to bid farewell to their friends, when there yet remained a few hours for them to spend in their company, only a few left by that train. They received an enthusiastic send-off, being cheered by a large crowd which lined the up-platform. At the departure platform there were several affecting scenes, when wives, mothers, and sisters parted with a husband, son, or brother, who in the course of a few days will be aboard one of the South African liners. Several men, somewhat unwilling to entrain without some of their old comrades, who were stopping till the next rain, that they might have a parting drink, finally were induced by those already in the train to accompany them, it being explained they would have less difficulty in obtaining their equipment if they did not delay arrival at the Barracks till the last. Two hours or more elapsed until the departure of the next train, when there was a much larger contingent ready to go than at the previous train, and on this occasion there was more than one pathetic scene. One old lady, somewhat advanced in years, was greatly overcome in bidding farewell to her son, and as the train steamed out of the station, swooned upon a seat, being ultimately led away by other members of her family. Many women, both young and old, came away with tearful eyes, and while the scene was very pathetic, one could not but notice the high spirits of the men themselves, who seemed quite joyous at the prospect of renewing the acquaintances of old comrades, and at the prospect of active service.

Large crowds collected in the streets of Cambridge on Monday morning to witness the departure of the Reserve men of the Suffolk Regiment ordered to join the regiment at Bury. It was arranged that the men should leave by the 12:25 train, and the muster took place at Market Hill, at 11:30. Half an hour before that time the crowd had become so dense that the streets were almost impassable. The throng was a representative one, and University and town figured almost equally. Well-known figures in the Varsity were conspicuous, and the undergraduates were in full strength. The first sign of the official recognition of the occasion now appeared in the hoisting of the Union Jack on the flagstaff of the Town Hall, and the Mayor and several members of the Council were then seen at the windows of the building. Great enthusiasm prevailed as the Reservists, who were in mufti, began to arrive. The first contingent was from the village of Histon, and was speedily followed by others. Soon the band appeared from the direction of the Corn Exchange, and proceeded to the Guildhall. Loud and prolonged cheering ensued, and the Mayor and his companions joined in the singing of “Rule Britannia.” The Mayor amidst the uproar, then addressed a few words to the men, expressing the good wishes of the town to the Reservists. He hoped they would all return to their homes before long. Meanwhile, the people of Cambridge would take care that all the families were looked after. Might health and happiness attend them during their campaign In the name of Cambridge, he wished them God speed in their undertaking. – This address was punctuated by outbursts of enthusiastic cheers.

A move was now made towards the station, and at last, after the greatest difficulties, owing to the vast crowds, this destination was reached a little after twelve o’clock. Once on the platform, it was a matter of the utmost difficulty to keep the carriages of the train free from the people who were crowding round the men. Between this task, and at the last that of separating the soldiers from their friends, whom they could hardly be induced to leave by less forcible means, the police had their hands pretty full. Then came “Auld Lang Syne” from the band, and the people joined in singing it. At last the train was got away, and the vast throng began to disperse. It was only then that the sadder, reverse side of the scene became visible. Three women had fainted, and others were noticed in uncontrollable grief. It would be difficult to say which of the two aspects was the more impressive.

__________________

On Sunday morning, at St. Mary’s parish church, Bury St. Edmund’s, the service had special reference to the war in South Africa. The offertory was on behalf of the widows and orphans of the soldiers who have fallen during that war. Considerable public interest was manifested, and about 2,500 persons were present. The vast congregation included the Marquis of Bristol, Lord-Lieutenant of Suffolk, and Honorary Colonel of the 3rd Battalion Suffolk Regiment. His Lordship was accompanied by the Marchioness of Bristol and Lady Mary Harvey. Others present included Colonel R. Dowse, commanding the 12th Regiment District; Major V.W.H. Graham, Major W.R. Lloyd, Captain C.R.Fryer (Adjutant), and other officers of the Suffolk Regiment; Major C.D. Leech, commanding the Bury St. Edmund’s detachment (E and F Companies), 2nd Volunteer Battalion Suffolk Regiment; Captain A.J. d’Albani (Newmarket Company), Captain F.C. Christmas and other Volunteer officers from Haverhill. The Mayor (Alderman J. Floyd), accompanied by the Deputy-Mayor (Alderman J.G. Oliver), the Mayor-elect (Councillor T. Shillitoe), and other members of the Bury St. Edmund’s Corporation, attended in state. Captain H.W. Tracy and the members of the Bury St. Edmund’s Fire Brigade, and the members of the Westgate Fire Brigade, were also present, as well as a detachment of the Duke of York’s Own Loyal Hussars, and several Volunteer veterans. Seats were especially reserved for the soldiers from the Depot of the Suffolk Regiment, and the Bury St. Edmund’s Volunteers and Fire Brigades. The Mayoress (Mrs. Floyd) was amongst the congregation, which was of a representative character. A processional hymn was sung as the choristers and clergy proceeded from the vestry to the chancel. The bands of the 3rd Battalion Suffolk Regiment and Bury St. Edmund’s Volunteers then played the National Anthem. The service which was fully choral, was conducted by the Rev. S. Jones, senior curate. The Rev. F. L’Estrange Fawcett (vicar), who delivered an eloquent discourse, selected his text from St. Luke’s Gospel iv..18. He referred to the war in South Africa, to which some of the soldiers present would be going during the week. Having alluded to the bravery which had characterised the Suffolk Regiment in days gone by, he spoke in admiration of the men who were about leaving their homes to fight for their Queen and country. In conclusion, he asked the congregation to remember the widows and orphans of the soldiers who had fallen during the war in South Africa. After an interval for silent prayer, two hymns were sung during the offertory, which amounted to £81 3s. Mr. G.W. Bouttell, F.R.C.O., organist, played Mendelssohn’s “Military Overture” as a concluding voluntary. Notwithstanding a downpour of rain, the streets were thronged with spectators, as the soldiers from the Depot of the Suffolk Regiment, headed by the band of the 3rd Battalion, returned to the Barracks, Out Risbygate, and the Bury St. Edmund’s Volunteers marched to the Cornhill, the band playing “Soldiers of the Queen.”

At a smoking concert, held on Saturday evening, at the Constitutional Hall, Bury St. Edward’s, Mr. John G. Oliver, who presided, alluded to Quarter-Master-Sergeant Roberts approaching departure from Bury St. Edmund’s to South Africa. Quarter-Master-Sergeant Roberts (who was presented with a handsome timepiece which he had won as the first prize of a billiard handicap) feelingly responded, and “Auld Lang Syne” was sung by the company.

A Suffolk Regiment Reservist, who has been in the employ of Messrs. Cocksedge and Co., Ipswich, but a short time, having received orders to rejoin the colours, his fellow-workmen set a subscription afoot among themselves, with the result that £1 4s. was raised on the gallant soldier’s behalf. They also promised to “pass the cap” again whilst he is away. This spirit of liberality is munch to be admired.

At a meeting of the Stowmarket Football Club, on Friday evening, it was decided to hand over the proceeds of the match (November 18th) against the Royal Engineers to the Widows’ and Orphans’ Fund in connection with the war. The Hon. Secretary, in giving us this intimation, adds: “We are also inviting donations from our supporters, and from any footballers who may care to send any amount, however small.”

At Worship-st. Police Court, on Friday, Geo. Billet, 24, carpenter, of Gibraltar Walk, Bethnal Green, was charged as a deserter from the Army. – The prisoner was asked the usual questions, and admitted that he was a deserter. What is your regiment? asked the Magistrate: and the prisoner replied, “The Suffolks, now at Dover.” – Mr. Corser: Are they ordered out? – Yes, sir, this week: and that is why I gave myself up. I want to go with them. – Mr. Corser: When do they go? – Prisoner: In six or seven days, I think. – Mr. Corser: Well, I shall commit you to await an escort, and there is no doubt you will be fetched in time. – It appeared that the prisoner deserted in February last, and his name and description duly appeared in the Gazette. On Thursday night he gave himself up to a constable of the H Division. – He was committed to Holloway, and a telegram sent to the Colonel Commanding the regiment at Dover.

____________________

THE EMBODIMENT OF THE MILITIA.

A special Army Order issued on Saturday states that, the Queen, having been pleased, by Royal Proclamation, dated October 26th, to order the Secretary of State for War to give the necessary directions for embodying all or any part of the Militia, the undermentioned Militia infantry units will (in addition to those notified by Special Army Order, dated November 3rd) be embodied at their respective headquarters on dates to be hereafter notified, but not earlier than November 20th, and they will remain there or proceed to other stations under such orders as may be hereafter issued:-

3rd Bn. the Suffolk Regiment.
4th Bn. the South Staffordshire Regiment.
3rd Bn. the Essex Regiment.
The Army Order also contains instructions to commanding officers, etc.

_______________________

ESSEX REGIMENT RESERVES.

A goodly number of the Reservists of the Essex Regiment in and around Chelmsford, went off by train from Chelmsford Station on Monday to Warley. They had a hearty send off, and one party, which proceeded by the 12:19 train from Chelmsford, was escorted to the Station by a band, playing patriotic airs, etc. There were large crowds at the Station.

Enthusiastic scenes characterised the departure on Monday afternoon, for the regimental depot at Warley, of Reservists living in Colchester and the district, ordered to join the Essex Regiment, one of the additional battalions told off for service in South Africa. The men, who numbered in all about 50, were in the best of spirits, and, though no public demonstration had been organised, the send-off accorded them quite equalled in enthusiasm and heartiness those which have marked the several military departures from the town during the last few weeks. Many of the men being employees there, the band of the Standard Ironworks accompanied the detachment to the North Railway Station, and en route played a series martial and patriotic airs, which in some instances were taken up with enthusiasm by the large crowd. Some time before the departure of the train at 4:11, the station was thronged, and tearful good-byes of mothers, wives, and sweethearts were drowned in the strains of “The Soldiers of the Queen,” intermingled with cheering and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.” The last the train steamed into the station. “Auld Lang Syne” was sung for the last time, and, amid frantic cheers for the “Little Fighting Fours,” the Reservists bade farewell to Colchester. Naturally enough, such an occasion could not be without many affecting scenes, that, as a whole, both the Reservists and their relatives were in boisterous spirits, and it was not an uncommon sight to see men dancing on the platform, kissing each other meanwhile. It is understood that Reservists leaving the Standard Ironworks will, on their return, be taken back into employment by Messrs. Davey, Paxman, and Co., who, in this, have followed the example of many other firms in the country.

A smoking concert was held at the Drill Hall, Clacton-on-Sea, on Saturday night, for the purpose of giving a hearty send off to the Reservist at Clacton who are about to join the 1st Battalion Essex Regiment. The hall was crowded to repletion, and the proceedings were characterised by great enthusiasm and patriotic fervour. The concert was organised by Drs. Murray and Deane, in conjunction with Sergt.-Instructor Hodgson. Dr. Murray presided, and was accompanied at the place of honour by four Reserve men, who are going to the front, and two old Indian Mutiny veterans. A collection was made for the dependents of the Essex Reservists, amounting to £3 14s. The hat was again passed round for funds to provide the four Clacton Reservists with tobacco during the voyage out, and £1 8s. 6d. was collected. Four Reserve men left Clacton on Monday afternoon for Warley by the 3:30 train. There was a crowd of people at the station to see them off, mates of some of the men carried flags, and “Rule Britannia” and “Soldiers of the Queen” were sung with great gusto.

_________________________

THE SHERWOOD FORESTERS.

In Nottingham a scene of intense enthusiasm was witnessed on Monday upon the occasion of the departure of the Reservists of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment. From all parts of the City residents assembled in the great Market Place, one of the largest open squares of the kind in England, to bid the men “God speed,” the crowd being estimated at 50,000. There was a dense cheering mass en route to the Midland Station, wither the men, to the number of about 200, were accompanied by various bands. Presents of tobacco, etc., were made to the departing members of the old Nottinghamshire Regiment, who proceeded amid hearty cheering to take up their quarters at the Depot at Derby, prior to their departure on Foreign Service. So dense was the crowd in the Market Place of Nottingham, and in the neighbourhood of the Station, that grave fears were entertained as to possible danger from crushing, the police arrangements being entirely inadequate.


 

SCENES AT HALESWORTH, WOODBRIDGE, AND FRAMLINGHAM.

12th January 1900 Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury Newspaper

The three Volunteers from the F Company (Halesworth), viz., Lance-Corpl. C. Goodwin, and Prvts. O. Hill and A. Lee, left for Ipswich by the 8:39 a.m. train, and assembled at the railway station were Capt. A.E. Smith, Lieut. R.A. Parry, Rev. A. Scott and Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. and Miss Warwick, Dr. Pryce Morris, Mr. D. Hill, Mr. C.J. Goodwin, Mr. Lee, and a very large gathering of the principal inhabitants of the town. The band, under Bugle-Major F. Cowles, was on the platform, and rendered a capital selection of music, and as the train left the station , the National Anthem was played, and hearty cheers were given for the Halesworth Volunteers.

The four members of the Framlingham Detachment of the G Company, Sergt. A. Oxborrow, Lance-Sergt. Wm. Merritt, Prvt. Wm. Stannard, and Prvt. J. O’Neill – were entertained by Lieut. C.L. Read to a sumptuous supper on Tuesday evening. A quantity of tobacco was given the men by Col.-Sergt. Betts. A large number of people assembled at the Railway Station on Wednesday morning when the men departed, and ringing cheers were given as the train moved off.

At Woodbridge, Lance-Sergt. Read, Prvt. Burch, Prvt. Bunn, Prvt. Press, and Prvt. Upson received an enthusiastic send-off. The Company paraded at the Drill Hall under Capt. Hart, and headed by the band, marched via the Thoroughfare to the Railway Station, which was crowded from end to end, and the streets lined with spectators, the band playing the popular march, “The Fighting Lads of England.” and just at the train started, “They are jolly good fellows” and “Auld Land Syne,” the crowd cheering to their utmost, and everyone wishing them “God-speed.”

_____________________

ARRIVAL AT BURY

On Wednesday afternoon the detachment of Ipswich Volunteers who are going to South Africa arrived at Bury St. Edmund’s by the train due at 4:40. Major C.D. Leech (Bury St. Edmund’s Detachment) 2nd Volunteer Battalion Suffolk Regiment, Ex-Lieut. W.O. Horace Palmer, Ex-Sergt.-Major T. Copsey, and others assembled upon the platform to meet them. Under the command of Lieut. E.E. Orford, the detachment marched over Station Hill, and through Ipswich and St. John’s Street, and on to the Cornhill, from whence they proceeded to their billets in Bury St. Edmund’s. The fine physique of the men was much admired.

___________________________

ENTERTAINED BY NON-COMS.

As a farewell to the men of the 1st Volunteer Battalion Suffolk Regiment, the non-commissioned officers of the four Ipswich Companies arranged a smoker at headquarters on Tuesday evening, but this was delayed through the acceptance of a kindly invitation from the Directorate of Ipswich Lyceum and the management of the Pantomime Company to be present at a representation of “Dick Whittington.” Sergt. Garrard and the 15 men of the Ipswich Companies visited the Lyceum, accompanied by Sergt.-Major Sparkes. On behalf of the Directors, the men received a hearty welcome from the Manager (Mr. W.G. Fisk), who conducted the guests of the Directors to seats in the stalls. Their entry into the Lyceum was to the strains of a stirring march, and as they proceeded to their seats the Volunteers received an enthusiastic demonstration, the audience loudly cheering, until the orchestra struck up the strains of the National Anthem. The Volunteers saluted during the playing of the National Anthem, the audience heartily joining in the singing, and when the gallant fellows took their departure, necessarily somewhat early, owing to the smoking concert at the Drill Hall, Auld Lang Syne was heartily sung, followed by loud cheering. Arriving at the non-commissioned officers’ mess at headquarters, the men, led by Sergt. Gerard, received another ovation from those assembled, including Captain C.E. Tempest and Capt.-Surgeon Hoyland, and all the non-commissioned officers attached to the four Ipswich Companies, who joined in singing “Soldiers of the Queen.”

At the smoking concert which followed, Sergt.-Major Sparkes presided, and in opening the proceedings, read letters of regret for non-attendance from Capt. Pretty and Mr. E.A. Maund. Capt. Pretty asked the Chairman to express to the men going South his interest in their welfare, and he hoped that good luck might follow them, and that they would show the country she need not be ashamed of her Volunteers. – Mr. Maund, in expressing his regret at being unable to attend the farewell smoking concert to be given to the gallant members of the Headquarter Companies about to leave for South Africa, esteemed it a compliment to have been invited. He wished to tell the men that, though he should miss the opportunity of giving each a hearty grip of farewell, yet he wished them God-speed and a safe and glorious return. That they might gain honour before the enemy, as they were honoured in being chosen from so many to fight for their Queen and country beyond the seas, was his fervent wish. Volunteers of Great Britain might well be proud of such men, who by going beyond their country to meet its foe, thereby raised the whole force, if it was possible, to a higher level as a fighting machine, gaining for it increased respect throughout Europe. He only wished that his crippled knee would have permitted him to join his old commander, Sir Charles Warren, in the present Boer show – there to have seen the deeds of the Ipswich men now going out.

Sergt.-Major Sparkes then announced that through the kindness of Mr. Maund, each man would receive a writing-case, and these were afterwards presented to the men by Capt. C.E. Tempest, who said that the cases contained foreign paper, post-cards, indelible pencils, and 24 stamped envelopes besides views of Ipswich. Under those circumstances he thought there was no excuse for the recipients if they failed to correspond with their friends. Sergt. Garrard and his fourteen comrades received the gifts amidst the cheers of the company, the Chairman announcing that one of the Ipswich men, Prvt. Slingsby, who lived in West Suffolk, and was attached to the 2nd V.B.S.R., would arrive in the morning.

Sergt.-Major Sparkes remarked there was one thing they ought to feel proud of, although they could not bur regret the occurrence which brought it about, and that was the promotion of their old Adjutant, Major MacKenkie, who was now with the 2nd Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment in Burmah. Before he left his position as Adjutant Colonel MacKenzie expressed his gratification at the work of the 1st V.B.S.R., from whom he expected good results, and he was certain he would welcome the addition of Ipswich Volunteers to his battalion. It was the intention of the non-commissioned officers to send Colonel MacKenzie a letter of congratulations, and they proposed that Sergt. Garrard should be the carrier of this letter.

_______________

A farewell gathering to the three members of F Company (Halesworth) 1st V.B. Suffolk Regiment, who have been accepted for active service in South Africa. was held on Monday evening, when they were invited by the officers of the Company to supper at the Angel Hotel, together with their nearest relatives, several of the non-commissioned officers, and other friends. After supper, the commanding officer, Capt. A.E. Smith, took the chair, whilst Lieut. R.A. Parry occupied the vice-chair, Capt. Smith having given the toast of “The Queen,” letters regretting inability to be present through illness were read from the Chaplain (Rev. J. Garforth) and Supt. Geo. Andrews. – The rector (Rev. A.R. Upcher) proposed as the toast of the evening, “The health of the three Volunteers, who had been acepted for active service.” Lance-Corpl. C.Goodwin, Privates O.Hill and A. Lee. These three members of the F Company were going out as representatives of their town, and he was perfectly sure they were representatives of whom they would not be ashamed. Included in the British Army now engaged in South Africa fighting for their Queen and country were the very cream of the Empire, and they were fighting in a just cause for the relief of their fellow-countrymen , and it was this fact which gave him, as a minister of religion, confidence in wishing them “God-speed.” – Characteristic and manly responses to the toast, which was accorded musical honours, were given by Lance-Corpl. Goodwin, Private Hill, and Private A. Lee, after which Mr. D. Hill and Mr. E. Lee, fathers of the two last named, spoke briefly. – Capital songs were sung during the evening, which was brought to a conclusion with “Rule Britannia” (sung by Sergt. A.J. Orford), and “God Save the Queen. – At the services at Halesworth Church on Sunday, Natalia’s Prayer was sung, and at the conclusion of his sermon in the evening, the Rector made suitable reference to the fact that three members of his congregation were leaving during the ensuing week, with the intention of joining the forces in South Africa.


Friday, 12th January 1900 Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury Newspaper.

FIRST SUFFOLKS

IN A

DISASTER.

SERIOUS CASULTIES

COL. WATSON AND THREE OFFICERS KILLED.

Another disaster, in some respects resembling that of Nicholson’s Nek, is reported in connection with the operations in South Africa. In this the 1st Battalion Suffolk Regt. was unhappily involved, with the result that very nearly 180 officers and men were killed, wounded, and taken prisoners by the Boers. The story is told in a despatch from General French, commanding in the Colesberg district, as follows:-

French reports 6th January, “Situation much the same as yesterday,” but I regret to report that serious accident has happened to 1st Suffolk Regiment.

From news just come to hand from them, I gather that, with the authority and with the knowledge, of French, four Companies of 1st Suffolks advanced by night against a low hill one mile from their camp.

They attacked at dawn. Lieut.-Colonel Watson (commanding) gave orders to charge. He was at once wounded.

Orders to retire were given, it is said, by the enemy.

Three-quarters of the force retreated to the camp. The reminder held their ground till overpowered by greater numbers. They surrendered.

When the casualty list was made up, it was found the disaster was even more serious than was at first apparent. All the despatches from the scene – in the neighbourhood of Rensburg – affirm that the cry of “retire” was raised by the Boers. The importance of the hill is apparent from the fact that it commanded the Boer line of retreat towards the Free State. The abortive attempt is thus described by a correspondent:- Colonel Watson having urged the General to grant him permission, was allowed to attempt to occupy a very important hill commanding the road to Colesberg Bridge. The hill presents a bare face with a gentle ascent towards out position by rugged rocks, and has a steep front towards the east. Four Campanies of the Suffolk Regiment marched on the hill and took up a position. The Boers appeared in force from the east front and opened a hot fire.

A cry of “Retire” was raised, it is said by some of the Bores, and about two-thirds of our men retired.

The remainder held the position for twenty minutes longer, and then being outnumbered and surrounded, they surrendered.

___________

The War Office on Tuesday afternoon issued the following list of causalities in 1st Suffolk Regiment on January 6th, at Rensburg:-

KILLED

Colonel A.J. Watson.
Lieut. F.A.P. Wilkins.
Lieut. S.J. Carey.
1509 Sergeant E. Morgan.
3952 Lance-Sergeant H.R. Arrowsmith.
5230 Lance-Corporal H. Nixon.
3369 Lance-Corporal J. Attewell.
4794 Lance-Corporal W. Andsley.
3887 Private W. Fulcher.
2691 Private T. Ranson.
2230 Private A. Bridge.
5518 Private A. Cooper.
3088 Private C. Kidl.
4121 Private J. Murton.
3067 Private F. Muskett.
2064 Private G. Greenwood.
4812 Private G. Prigg.
4738 Private T. Seamons.
4745 Private W. Stock.
4232 Private W. Cuthbert.
2150 Private S. Barna.
2299 Private A. Sellitoe.
2626 Private S. Pryke.
2102 Private F. Thompson.
2868 Private W. Baltzer.
3090 Private J. Robinson.

DANGEROULSY WOUNDED.

3052 Sergeant H. Palmer.

SEVERELY WOUNDED

Major V.W.H. Graham.
2409 Corporal W. Gardner.
2290 Private C. Murling.
3332 Private W. Laflin. (?).
2135 Private J. Miller.
4837 Private W. Watson.
2392 Private H. Goodwin.
2990 Private R. Carter.

SLIGHTLY WOUNDED

44 Sergeant West.
2725 Private J.A. Arbon.
4674 Private T. Cordon.
3424 Private H. Phipps.
1993 Private C. Lowe.
2514 Private G. Clarke.
2148 Private S. Racher.
5030 Private P. Ireland.
2336 Private G. Cooke.
3024 Private F. Wawsey.
(P. 3074 F. Watson).
2838 Private S. Stearns.
2905 Private C. Ward.

MISSING

Captain C.A.R. Brett.
Captain W.G. Thomson.
Captain A.W. Brown.
Second-Lieutenant A.L. Allen.
Second-Lieutenant F.W. Wood-Martin.
Second-Lieutenant C.W. Butler.
1908 Colour-Sergeant J. Handscomb.
3399 Sergeant G. Claridge.
1297 Sergeant T. Ruddock
3361 Sergeant H.H. Briton.
3796 Sergeant J. Flocks.
3546 Sergeant H. Frost.
494 Sergeant M. Hayward.
3410 Corporal W. Lazzell.
4293 Corporal W. Down.
5917 Corporal F. Coleman.
3287 Lance-Corporal G. Cawley.
2903 Lance-Corporal R. Merrison.
4145 Lance-Corporal A. Clarke.
1018 Drummer J. Carter.
4120 Private A. Sparkes.
2209 Private T. Arnull.
2717 Private C. Baker.
2554 Private R. Crick.
2795 Private H. Larke.
3304 Private W. Hawkins.
2251 Private R. Knott.
2193 Private A. Smith.
2812 Private C. Smith.
4334 Private J. Wayman.
2721 Private H. Wallace.
3312 Private C. Willbyr.
3737 Private G. Risby.
1186 Private A. Inger.
5087 Private E. Griffiths.
4684 Private C. Hackett.
5195 Private A. Lees.
5121 Private E. Martin.
4934 Private P. McCarthy.
4767 Private J. Norfolk.
3305 Private W. Sparrow.
4896 Private H. Russell.
2737 Private J. Clive.
2463 Private W. Croft.
2907 Private H.J. Atkin.
4968 Private H. Farrow.
2927 Private C. Macue.
2152 Private G. Pears.
5192 Private A. Smith.
2512 Private W. Radley.
4257 Private C. Bedford.
4796 Private R. Hester.
4784 Private C. Humphries.
2178 Private C. Kirby.
3877 Private J. Skippings.
2381 Private A. Lucas.
2739 Private W. Watling.
3270 Private G.E. Adams.
3679 Private R. Doggett.
3705 Private P. Green.
3358 Private W. Goymer.
4773 Private W. Hall.
5177 Private J. Harrold
2276 Private T. Webb.
3025 Private T. Everett.
1121 Private W. Reynolds.
3298 Private W.J. Crawley.
3778 Private R. Laws.
2165 Private A. Newman.
4927 Private S. Edwards.
4686 Private W. Hull.
4962 Private J. Matthews.
4651 Private F. Newson.
4982 Private W. Rogers.
3116 Private T. Taylor.
4717 Private A. Goslin.
3015 Private T. Collins.
2692 Private R. Ranber.
2163 Private J.J. Garner.
4886 Private G. Goulding.
4883 Private A. Osborne.
3587 Private W. Heriot.
1543 Corporal J. Inde.
2334 Lance-Corporal W. Purdy.
1576 Lance-Corporal T. Parker.
2639 Lance-Corporal C.W. Barber.
2462 Lance-Corporal J. Lazzell.
4416 Lance-Corporal Bowell.
5070 Lance-Corporal A. Goddard.
4827 Private J. Stean.
2298 Private J. Darley.
2867 Private H. Hodson.
4755 Private E. Audley.
2939 Private A. Case.
2767 Private C. Childs.
3573 Private W. Stollery.
2023 Private A. Southgate.
3666 Private A. Beattie.
623 Private J. Vaughan.
1272 Private R. Newson.
3404 Private R. Holland.
2614 Private H. Harper.
3191 Private F. Bonner.
2948 Private J. Skiet.
2566 Private J. Brown.
2969 Private F. Goose.
2666 Private J. Rayment.
5211 Private F. Wiles.
3765 Private J.A. Alexander

In a previous engagement, Sergt. Baker was killed, and Privates F. Forge. G. Garwood, and W. Clark, and Lance-Corpl. Pettitt, were wounded.

As the sequel to this unfortunate business, the 1st Essex Battalion has been ordered to take the place of the 1st Suffolks; the remainder of the Battalion probably go back to the lines of communication.


DISASTER TO THE SUFFOLKS
MARCHING IN CANVAS SHOES AND SOCKS.
THE WOUNDED IN THE ENEMY’S HANDS

The Daily News special correspondent has written the following descriptive account of the disaster to the 1st Suffolk Regiment:-

Tafelberg, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 6:30 p.m.
On Saturday morning General French, at the urgent desire of Colonel Watson, of the Suffolk Regiment, permitted an attempt to seize a grassy hill forming part of the Boer position at Colesberg by a night attack with the bayonet. The hill lies to the south-east of the position held by the Suffolks.
Though the consent of the General was given only at 9 o’clock, information of the movement was conveyed somehow to the Boers. The advance commenced at about midnight with four Companies. The night was one of pitch darkness. The men wore canvas shoes where possible, and these were lacking marched in their socks. The ground was most difficult owing to the boulders and rocks, and the advance had to be conducted with the greatest caution, and with frequent halts to verify the position.

When the summit of the hill was reached Colonel Watson, Major Brown, and the Adjutant advanced over the crest to reconnoitre. The Boers meantime were lying behind a huge schanz in the rear of the crest. The rough ground had caused the men to close up a good deal, and the leading Company was only a few yards behind the group of officers when the Boers opened a terrific fusillade, killing the Colonel, the Adjutant, two other officers, and many men.

At the first discharge, Captain Brett’s Company drew slightly to the right, and then charged into the schanz. Then came the order to retire. It came in a shout from the Boer lines, and the men of the two rear Companies, completely deceived carried it out. Of the two advance Companies 92 man and officers were either killed or wounded.

Captain Brett had got his men under some cover, and sent Sergeant Britton with five men to cut his way out, and ask artillery to direct their fire to the right, fearing the guns might open on him. Three of these men got through with the message. Captain Brett, however, was forced to surrender, with his remaining 72 men.

The Boers refused to permit our ambulance to collect any of the wounded, insisting that they must retain all as prisoners, and only those able to escape were recovered.

The schanz behind which the Boers were lying was very high, and doubly loopholed, but absolutely undiscoverable, except by balloon, and too high to be stormed without scaling ladders, and impossible to carry, defended as it was by an overpowering rifle fire.

Operations have since been conducted on the General previous method, and have been completely successful. Colesberg is now surrounded, and our guns command the Norval’s Pont Road.

The War Office announce the following particulars, from Pretoria and Bloemfontein with reference to the causalities on January 6th:-

1st SUFFOLK REGIMENT.

Died of Wounds.
Capt. A.W. Brown.
2276 Prvt. T. Webb.
2209 Prvt. T. Arnull.
4634 Prvt. C. Hackett.
2542 Prvt. W. Radley.
2948 Prvt. J. Skeet.

Severely Wounded.
Capt. C.H. Brett.
3763 Prvt. A. Alexander.
2795 Prvt. H. Larke.

Slightly Wounded
Second Lieut. A.L. Allen.
Second Lieut. C.W. Butler.
1908 Colr.-Sergeant. J. Handacomb.
494 Sergt. M. Hayward.
3546 Sergt. H. Frost.
1543 Corpl. J. Inde.
2639 Lance-Corpl. C.W. Barber.
2903 Lance-Corpl. R. Morrison.
5121 Prvt. E. Marten.
4211 Prvt. F. Wiles.
4651 Prvt. F. Newson.
4883 Prvt. A. Osborne.
2384 Prvt. A. Lucas.
3587 Prvt. S. Baldwin.
4796 Prvt. R. Hester.
2067 Prvt. R. Griffiths.
4862 Prvt. J. Mathews.
4924 Prvt. S. Edwards.
3191 Prvt. F. Bonner.
2469 Prvt. W. Croft.
4982 Prvt. W. Read.
2298 Prvt. J.T. Darley.
4734 Prvt. C. Humphries.
4755 Prvt. E. Audley.

Reported missing should have been killed:-
8573 Prvt. W. Stollery.


 

1ST SUFFOLKS’ ADVENTURE.
WHO SHOUTED “RETIRE?”

12th January 1900 Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury Newspaper.

The Daily News Cape Town correspondent, in a despatch dated last Friday, say:- The survivors of the Suffolk disaster state that two of the four Companies of their Regiment gained the summit of the kopje when the Boers opened a murderous rifle fire. Col. Watson had given the order to advance when he and every officer of the four Companies was shot down either killed or wounded. Notwithstanding this, the men found the enemy’s first trench in face of a hail of bullets, and bayonetted a number of Boers.

In a despatch a day later the same correspondent says:- Some of the wounded men of the Suffolk Regiment, interviewed at Port Elizabeth, state, with reference to the Rensburg disaster, that when Colonel Watson saw the dangerous position in which his party was placed, he called for a bugler. None being handy, he moved his hand backwards twice or thrice, in the meantime shouting “Retire.” He was killed almost immediately after by explosive bullets. Captain Brett’s detachment, numbering a hundred and four men were left on the crest of the kopje. With them were the majority of the officers of the force. Nothing daunted, this little party, headed by Capt. Brett, advanced and continued the fight, holding on for quite two hours. When daylight broke, however, it was to disclose the fact that their position, in a dip, was commanded on nearly all sides by the enemy’s fire. Another portion of the Suffolks, two miles distant, saw the gleam of bayonets in the early morning, and also heard a faint cheer as their comrades seemed to move forward to the top of the kopje, when suddenly the Boers appeared to rise up in great strength. It is believed that a native transport driver treacherously informed the Boers of the intended attack. Privates Watson and Roberts assert that they bayonetted a Boer who shot Colonel Watson.

MEMORIAL SERVICE AT DOVER.

An impressive memorial service to Col. Watson and the officers and men of the 1st Suffolk Regiment who fell at Rensburg, was held at St. Mary’s Church, Dover, on Saturday. There was a very large attendance, which included Major General Hallam Parr, Commanding the South Eastern District, and a number of the Staff Officers. The detachment of about 200 of the 1st Battalion which was left at Dover on the departure of the Battalion for South Africa two months ago, also attended the service, and was played to and from the church by the Band of the 5th Royal-Fusiliers. Detachments of other troops in garrison were also present.
The service was conducted by the Rev. Preb. Palmes, Vicar of Dover, and the Rev. S.H. Rendall, at its termination the Dead March was played, and a muffled peal was rung on the bells.

NEW COMMANDER OF THE 1ST SUFFOLKS.

A Reuter’s despatch from Calcutta states that Major MacKenzie, of the 2nd Suffolk Regiment, now in Burmah, will proceed to South Africa to take over the command of the 1st Suffolks, vacant by the death of Col. Watson. The new Colonel, who is known in Suffolk as Adjutant for some time of the 1st Vol. Batt. Suffolk Regiment, joined the Suffolks as Lieutenant in February, 1876, attained the rank of Captain in July, 1883, and that of Major in November, 1891. He has been second in command of the 2nd Battalion since April, 1898. Colonel MacKenzie served with the 1st Battalion in the Afghan War of 1879-1880 (medal).

EAST ANGLIAN’S AT THE FRONT

Two brothers serving with the 1st Suffolks as Sergeant and Corporal respectively have written letters describing their experiences to their relatives, who reside in Ipswich. One says, in a letter dated Naauwpoort Junction, December 4th:-

We arrived in Cape Town last Friday, after a pleasant voyage, but did not stop there long, as we got into the harbour about mid-day and entrained early next Monday. We had just over 36 hours’ ride, as we are now between 600 and 700 miles up country. Our camp is pitched on sand, which the wind blows fearfully; it fills our nose and mouth, and makes us horribly thirsty. We are now living on corned beef and biscuits, with water, and often have to sleep in marching order, as we have to be ready to turn out at a moment’s notice. There are about 4,000 troops here in this camp, and the Boers were reported this morning to be seven miles away, so we expect an attack very soon. We are well prepared for them should they come. The place here is very small, and there are a few English people who were driven down country by the Boers; the remainder are natives. It is terribly hot, and we are getting plenty of sandstorms. Three companies of our regiment went away this morning to guard some of the railway bridges round here, as the enemy are constantly blowing them up, and the first day we came into camp a party of the enemy fired on some of our cattle, but as soon as we marched out with the calvary they soon cleared off. There was no fighting done. Up to the present we are sleeping in tents, 10 in a tent, with a waterproof sheet and blanket to lie on. It came a bit rough at first, but we are getting use to it now. We are expecting to move from here every hour, but don’t know where the next move will be to, but you will be able to see by the papers where we are, as we have not heard any news from the other troops. They are hundreds of miles from us, and we cannot get any papers. The country here is barren, covered with high hills and rocks called kopjes, and there is not a blade of grass or trees to be seen anywhere – much different to what it is in England, as I expect you are thinking of getting snow. Everything is very dear here, a small bottle of lime juice 2s. 6d., bread 6d. and 1s. a loaf. I get plenty to do, being in charge of the signaller, as we have to be up 24 hours and then get six hours’ sleep, so you can tell we are roughing it.

The other brother, writing from Naauwpoort, Sunday, 17th December, says:-

I am glad that I am alive after what has been going on lately, and I think that some mistakes are being made, or else we should not have three reverses in one week. I think that this war will last a great deal longer than anyone thinks, and we do hear that just as many more troops are coming out as there are here. I am glad to say that we have not been greatly annoyed by the enemy, but still we are up night and day on the look out for them, as they are only nine miles from us, and we might get the order to meet them at a moment’s notice. To have to lay on the ground with a blanket and a waterproof sheet does not make it very soft or comfortable. I have not taken off my clothes since we landed here, just a month now. Then we have to wash our own clothes, and lucky to get a piece of dry bread to eat. That will just show you how a soldier has to rough it in time of war. We are not allowed to shave either, so that we look some nice “dears,” I can assure you. However, now we are here I suppose that we must make the best of it. There is fighting going on every day about nine miles from us, and after we had been to church this morning we had to go and bury a Captain of the Hussars who was shot yesterday, and died during the night. We buried another man last Thursday, which all helps to make us feel very gloomy. But still we must look on the bright side.


NINE BULLET WOUNDS

A Lance-Corporal of the R.A.S.C., in a letter to his mother at Colchester, says:- "Half of the Suffolks have gone into garrison duty at Port Elizabeth. Their Colonel, after the fight near Rensburg, was found dead with nine bullets in him." The writer goes on to describe the destruction of several trucks of good stuffs near Rensburg. He writes:- "Some tr aitor started the trucks. They went forabout four miles, when one went off the line, which the Boers had taken up. A cavalry patrol was sent out, and they reported that no enemy were in sight. A Company of the Suffolks were then despatched to destroy the trucks. As soon as they set to work, they were fired at from all the surrounding kopjes.They were in the midst of a perfect hail of shells and bullets. Another Company was sent to their rescue, but they could not get to them on account of the severe fire from the Boers. The party who were sent to destroy the trucks waited for darkness, when they destroyed when they destroyed the trucks and made good their escape with only one wounded.

 

Posted in Ipswich Memorials

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

error: Content is protected !!