The South African War 1899-1902

South Africa 1899-1902

The war started in October 1899 but the 7th Hussars did not receive orders to embark for South Africa until 1st Nov 1901. However, 395 of their horses were transferred to other cavalry regiments which were posted there, 240 reservists of the regiment were mobilised, of which 140 were transferred to the 14th Hussars. Between Dec 1899 and Oct 1900 they supplied 146 men to the 20th Hussars in India.

The Voyage Out, Dec 1901

The 7th Hussars finally sailed from Southampton partly on the ‘Templemore’ on 30th Nov 1901, and partly on the ‘Manchester Merchant’ on 3rd Dec. On the ‘Templemore’ were 20 officers, 409 NCOs and men, and 420 horses. The ‘Manchester Merchant’ sailed from Albert Docks with 6 officers, 89 NCOs and men, and 65 horses. The remainder of the regiment stayed at Aldershot; 9 officers, 529 NCOs and men, and 216 horses. The ‘Templemore’ reached Capetown at 5 am on 20th Dec 1901 having lost 16 horses from pleuro-pneumonia, and the ‘Manchester Merchant’ landed on 22nd Dec.

Loss of Horses at De Aar

The 7th Hussars took a train to De Aar and marched a short way to their camp. It was here, on 31st Dec that a veterinary surgeon shot a horse in the lines causing a stampede. Many of the tents were knocked flat and the men inside hurt. A number of horses were killed or seriously injured either by falling or cutting themselves on barbed wire. A trumpeter was ordered to sound ‘Feed’ and some horses returned but it took several days to recover the fit horses. Seven of them were found 30 miles away. On 10th Jan they were supplied with 50 remounts.

Colonel Lawley’s Column

A column was formed at Winburg, at the end of January 1902, with the 7th Hussars, the 2nd Dragoon Guards, 2 guns of 39th RFA and a pom-pom. Lt-Col Lawley commanded the column. Their first contact with the enemy came on 4th Feb when the advanced guard was shot at by a group of 50 Boers at Doornberg, but they fled when the pom-pom was used on them. The following day several men on patrol were captured by the Boers, stripped and sent back naked. The first proper casualties occurred on the 6th Feb when Private Burke of ‘C’ Squadron was killed and two others wounded. An encounter with a force of 100 Boers took place on 9th Feb near Bloemhoek, but no casualties were reported. On 13th Feb they were ordered to drive the enemy towards the blockhouses and slaughter any sheep they found to prevent them from being used to feed the Boers. The enemy attempted to break through them but failed, although a corporal was killed and two men hurt.

Tiger’s Kloof Drive, Mar 1902

On 23rd Feb a patrol under Capt Wormold captured 11 Boers and killed one when they were surprised in a cattle kraal near Grootfontein. On 27th Feb they were anxious to make contact with the forces at Harrismith but bad weather hampered the heliograph. However, on 1st March the weather cleared enough for them to receive orders from Kitchener to march south to Tiger’s Kloof. They were now part of a larger force of 5 columns driving the Boers towards the Vrede-Frankfort blockhouse line. Several unsuccessful actions occurred or fizzled out over the next few days, but the 7th was given some fresh remounts on 26th March to improve their performance. One of these horses kicked Sergeant Moine in the stomach and he died the next day.

Boschman’s Kop, 31st Mar 1902

An action took place at Holspruit when the men of the 2nd DG acted upon information gained by Captain Vaughan. They engaged the force of Boers but were outnumbered and had to withdraw to Boschman’s Kop. The 7th Hussars arrived in time to drive the Boers away but two officers were killed and two wounded, including Capt Vaughan and one other officer of the 7th. Thirteen men of the Bays were killed and 59 wounded. The next day was spent attending to the numerous wounded men from this battle, this included 110 Boer casualties of whom 30 were killed.

The End of the Boer War, May 1902

The 7th Hussars were involved in drives to contain the Boers over the next few weeks reaching Balmoral, Dorstfontein, Vlakfontein, Heidelberg and Vereeniging. The eighth and last drive was over the area bounded by the Heilbron-Vereeniging line to the east and the Kroonstad-Vereeniging line on the left. ‘A’ Squadron captured C B Prinsloo and 25 men. The regiment had been reinforced with a draft of 110 men from England on 4th May so that the strength of the regiment was 562. Their casualties for the war were 2 officers wounded, 2 men killed, 4 wounded, 3 died and 11 invalided.

The 7th Hussars finished their tour of duty at Springs, then moved on to Heidelberg until peace was declared on 31st May 1902. SSM Wetherall was awarded the DCM and Corporal Ketley and Private Tookey were promoted for brave conduct.

The 7th Hussars was awarded the battle honour: SOUTH AFRICA 1901-02.

Gallantry Awards

    • Capt H Fielden DSO
    • Lt RA Poore DSO
    • Capt RM Poore DSO
    • Capt CH Rankin DSO
    • Capt HSH Prince Teck DSO
    • Capt J Vaughan DSO
    • Capt FW Wormald DSO
    • 2946 SSM J Wetherall DCM

Campaign Medals

The Queen’s South Africa Medal was awarded to all those who served in the Boer War in South Africa between 11th October 1899 and 31 May 1902.

The King’s South Africa Medal was the second campaign medal for the South African or ‘Boer War’, awarded to all those who were in theatre on, or after the 1st January 1902, and had completed 18 months of service in the conflict prior to 1st June 1902.

Service did not have to be continuous, the recipient would have had to serve from December 1900 to have 18 months of service before the war ended in May 1902.

Medal Clasps:

Johannesburg
Diamond Hill
Belfast
Cape Colony
Orange Free State
South Africa 01
South Africa 02

 

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