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South Africa and the Transvaal War Volume Ii Part 21

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"Drivers H. Taylor, Young, Petts, Rockall, Lucas, and Williams, all of the 66th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, rode the teams, each team brought in a gun. I recommend all six for the Medal for Distinguished Conduct in the Field.

"Shortly afterwards Captain H. L. Reed, 7th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, who had heard of the difficulty, brought down three teams from his battery to see if he could be of any use.

He was wounded, as were five of the thirteen men who rode with him; one was killed, his body was found on the field, and thirteen out of twenty-one horses were killed before he got half-way to the guns, and he was obliged to retire.

"I recommend Captain Reed for the Victoria Cross, and the following non-commissioned officers and men, 7th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, for the Medal for Distinguished Service in the Field:--

"86,208 Corporal A. Clark, wounded; 87,652 Corporal R. J.

Money; 82,210 Acting-Bombardier J. H. Reeve; 28,286 Driver C.

J. Woodward; 22,054 Driver Wm. Robertson, wounded; 22,061 Driver Wm. Wright, wounded; 22,051 Driver A. C. Hawkins; 26,688 Driver John Patrick Lennox; 22,094 Driver Albert Nugent, killed; 23,294 Driver James Warden; 32,087 Driver Arthur Felton, wounded; 83,276 Driver Thomas Musgrove; 26,523 Trumpeter William W. Ayles, wounded.

"I have differentiated in my recommendations, because I thought that a recommendation for the Victoria Cross required proof of initiative, something more, in fact, than mere obedience to orders, and for this reason I have not recommended Captain Schofield, Royal Artillery, who was acting under orders, though I desire to record his conduct as most gallant.

"Several other gallant drivers tried, but were all killed, and I cannot get their names.--I have, &c.,

REDVERS BULLER, General."

Appended is an account of the battle given by Captain Walter Norris Congreve, one of the heroes of the day. It is deeply interesting, though it makes little reference to his own gallant action for which he gained the Victoria Cross:--

"Our big Naval guns sh.e.l.led the enemy's position off and on all day, but could get no response. We could see very few Boers about, and it was a horrid position to attack.... I don't believe any troops could have taken it. However, we tried yesterday and failed. We bombarded every place that looked like holding Boers for two hours, without response and without a sign of a Boer. To see the sh.e.l.ls bursting, you would have thought nothing could have been left alive in the vicinity.

After this, infantry, which had already got into position, advanced line after line and extended widely. Instantly thousands of bullets began pattering about, and their guns pitched sh.e.l.ls all over the place. Where they came from no one could see till the end. Sir Redvers Buller rode all along the line, and came in for a good deal of attention from bullets and sh.e.l.ls.

"My first experience was my stick being knocked out of my hand by a bullet; then a horse beside me was killed by a sh.e.l.l.

About 10 o'clock two batteries which had advanced far too close ran short of ammunition. Their waggons were about 800 yards behind, the horses and men sheltering in a deep narrow nullah.

General Buller told them to take the waggons up to the battery, but instantly they emerged a stream of bullets and sh.e.l.ls fell all round, and most of the men got into the nullah again.

Generals Buller and Cleary stood out in it and said, 'Some of you go and help Schofield.' A.D.C. Roberts, myself, and two or three others went to the waggons, and we got two waggons horsed with the help of a corporal and six gunners. I have never seen even at field-firing the bullets fly thicker. All one could see were little tufts of dust all over the ground accompanied by a whistling noise, 'phut,' where they hit, and an increasing rattle of musketry somewhere in front.

"My first bullet went through my left sleeve and just made the point of my elbow bleed. Next a clod of earth caught me a smack on the other arm; then my horse got one; then my right leg one, and my horse another. That settled us, for he plunged, and I fell about 100 yards short of the guns we were going to. A little nullah was by, and into that I hobbled and sat down. I had not been in a minute before another bullet hit the toe of my boot, went into the welt, travelled up, and came out at the toe-cap, two inches from the end of the toe. It did not even scratch me, but I shifted my quarters pretty quickly to a better place, where I found Colonels Hunt and Long, R.A., and a dozen or so wounded gunners; a doctor, Colonel Bullock, and about fifteen men of his regiment--all that were left of the escort and two batteries.

"At about 11 o'clock the fire slackened, and I went out, finding poor Roberts badly wounded, and with help got him into the nullah. There we lay from 11 till 4.30: no water, not a breath of air, no particle of shade, and a sun which I have never felt hotter even in India. My jacket was taken to shade Robert's head, and what with blood and dirt I was a pretty object by the time I got out. At 4.30 the Boers rode up and asked us to surrender, or they would shoot us all. Colonel Bullock was the senior unwounded officer, and had, perhaps, twenty rifles all told. He refused, and they at once began a fusillade from fifty yards distant, and our people returned it.

It was unpleasant, and only a question of minutes before they enfiladed our trenches and bagged the lot. Bullock's men knocked over two, and they then put up a white flag, parleyed, said we might remove our wounded, and the remainder either be taken prisoners or fight it out. However, while we were talking 100 or so crept round us. We found loaded rifles at every armed man's head, and we were forced to give in. One of our ambulances came up, and we were gradually collected at one spot, and a colour-sergeant of the Devon Regiment carried me upon his back."

END OF VOLUME II.

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South Africa and the Transvaal War Volume Ii Part 21 summary

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