Regimental History 1878-1906

Extracts from “A short History of the Xth P.W.O. Royal Hussars”
Written by Lieut. Colonel John Vaughan & Major Roland Pillinger

August 1909

Chapter VII - The Afghan War

After being stationed at Muttra for four years, the Regiment marched to Rawal Pindi. Soon after arriving there Capt. Williams-Bulkeley’s squadron was ordered to march to Kohat, to join the field force under Major-General Roberts (Now Lord Roberts). On November 19th this squadron of the Xth formed the advance guard and had the honour of being the first British troops to enter Afghanistan. This squadron remained under General Robert’s command till January 31st, when it was ordered to rejoin Regimental Headquarters, which was now in Jelalabad, under Sir Sam Browne. On January 6th the force of the enemy, about 1500 strong, surrounded our camp near Matun Fort. The squadron of the Xth and a squadron of the 5th Punjab Cavalry turned out and drove the enemy back into the hills. On the squadron leaving this column General Roberts published an order in which he expressed “deep regret at losing so fine a body of men from his command” adding “no soldier could have behaved more steadily in quarters or done better service in the field.”

On the 28th October the remainder of the Regiment had marched from Pindi to join the cavalry brigade of the First Division, Peshawar Valley Field Force, comprising the Xth Hussars, The Guide’s Cavalry, and the 11th Bengal Lancers, under Br. General C. Gough V.C. On the 21st November an advance was made up the Khyber Pass for the purpose of storming the Fort at Ali Musjid. This was successfully done, the enemy evacuating the Fort during the night. The Cavalry Brigade moved forward to Dhaka and thence to Jelalabad.

On the evening of March 31st, one squadron of the 10th Hussars and one squadron of the 11th Lancers paraded at 9.30. The orders were to cross the Kabul River so as to take up a position in rear of the Khugianis, who our infantry were to attack on the morrow. The two squadrons were under Major E.A.Wood, 10th Hussars Captain Spotiswood commanding the 10th squadron. The track of the ford bent about somewhat in the shape of the letter ‘S’. There were two baggage mules in the rear of the 11th’s squadron, and the 10th leaders kept close to these to keep in touch.

At a turn in the ford the two mules were swept off their legs. The 10th leaders, following in the dim moonlight, left the ford, and soon the whole squadron was struggling for life in the rushing river. The men were heavily equipped with ammunition, swords, rations etc.; the snow water of the river was icy cold and the night dark. One Officer, 46 N.C.O.s and men and 14 horses were lost. Conspicuous gallantry was displayed by Lieutenants Greenwood and Grenfell, and Private Cowley who, although they had reached the bank with the greatest difficulty and exhaustion, plunged into the black, icy water to rescue their comrades. The two Officers brought Private Goddard to land, whilst Private Cowley rescued Lieutenant the Hon. J. Napier. Thus was one of the saddest pages in our history, brightened by the self sacrifice and devotion of the Officers and men of the Regiment.

One the same night, two squadrons of the 10th marched with a force under General Charles Gough to operate on the south side of the Cabul River. At about 1.0 pm next day large bodies of the enemy were holding a “sangared” plateau in our front. General Gough advanced with the cavalry and Horse Artillery and then retired, so as to draw the enemy onto the plane and towards our infantry. This plan succeeded and, as our infantry advanced to the attack, the 10th and Guides charged the enemy’s left, killing upwards of 400 of them, and carrying the pursuit for several miles.  This Cavalry action at Futtehabad was one of the most decisive ever known in frontier warfare.  It was made up by two weak squadrons against vastly superior numbers of unbroken and hitherto victorious infantry.

Sir Sam Browne then advanced to Gundamuck, where the new Ameer, Yahkoob Kahn, on May 8th, tendered his submission; a squadron of the 10th and a squadron of The Guides met him on the Kabul Road and escorted him to camp.

On June 1st the 10th left Gundamuck for Rawal Pindi. On June 4th the cholera broke out and 38 men died before Ali Musjid was reached. The behaviour of the Regiment during this mournful march exacted the admiration of all. The Regiment arrived back at Pindi on the 18th of June, the anniversary of Waterloo. The following is an extract from the report on the campaign of Lieut.-General Sir Sam Browne:-

“…But if the above Officers are specially mentioned, I by no means wish to detract from the high reputation which the conscientious performance of their duties by every man of that fine Regiment, the 10th Prince of Wales Own Royal Hussars, has earned for it. The Regiment is one that any service in the world would be proud of.  Tried in the field at Futtehabad against greatly superior numbers, tested in many and long days reconnaissance and outpost duty, in the accident at the fords in the Cabul River, and in the attack of cholera while passing though the Khyber Pass, the high discipline and soldierlike qualities of this noble Regiment have ever shone forth, proving no less the efficiency of the present Officers than the careful training it has received in the past.”

Chapter VIII - The Eastern Soudan Campaign.  1884

The 10th finished its second tour of Indian service at Lucknow, and embarked for England in the troopship Jumna on 6th February 1884. When near Aden the troops on the Jumna were ordered to take on board camp equipment and disembark at Suakim. On arrival at the port General Valentine Baker came on board. He was enthusiastically received by his old Regiment to whom he offered the horses of his three Regiments of Egyptian Gendarmerie. The Regiment again embarked with these horses and proceeded to Trinketat, four hours steam south of Suakim, to join the force under General Graham, detailed to relieve Tokar, a beleaguered Egyptian garrison. This force comprised the 10th and 19th Hussars, two brigades of infantry and a naval Brigade.

On the morning of the 29th the infantry division moved off in a large square, covered by Major Gough’s squadron, 10th Hussars, the remainder of the Cavalry Brigade marching on the left rear of the Infantry square. Our advance parties having discovered the enemy in position on some sand hills round the wells of El Teb, the Cavalry moved forward to draw the enemy’s fire and then withdrew to its former position. The Arabs, after firing their Krupp guns at the Infantry square, tried to rush it but failed to get within 150 yards. Our Cavalry then advanced, and finding large numbers of the enemy in the bush, charged again and again and dispersed them. Although the mimosa bush gave the enemy cover, and caused our ranks to open out, our casualties were not severe. Two Officers, — Major Slade and Lieutenant Probyn (9th B.L. attached)—Sergeant J Cox and three men were killed, one Officer and five men were wounded.

Before the bivouac was formed Baker Pasha, with a bullet from a Krupp gun still in his face, rode to the lines of the 10th to congratulate it.  The little Egyptian horses did well, having had no water since the previous afternoon, though their want of size and pace was felt in getting through the bush. During the action Bandsman Hayes distinguished himself by dismounting and attacking a group of Arabs with his fists. Having knocked them down he mounted again.

Tokar being relieved without further fighting, the force returned to Trinketat, where the 10th re-embarked and returned to Suakim.

It was now decided to attack the tribes in their stronghold of Tamai. The enemy was discovered in position on the evening of the 12th. The Infantry formed a zareba for the night. The Cavalry returned to Baker’s zareba to water, rejoining the Infantry at 7 a.m. on the 13th. The whole force then advanced the Infantry in two squares and the Cavalry in three lines on the left rear of the 2nd Infantry Brigade. As the force approached the broad nullah, in which about 10,000 of the enemy were assembled, parties of Arabs came out to attack, but retreated in front of the fire which was poured into them. Our leading square was then ordered to charge, but the flanks not hearing the order, a gap occurred. The Arabs at once took advantage of this gap and dashed in in hundreds, stabbing the rear rank men and penetrating to the sailors and their machine guns. The square fell back some distance in disorder. To create a diversion the Cavalry was brought up and ordered to charge. The enemy’s position however was behind a precipice of rocks. Colonel Wood halted the first line, and Lieutenant Alsopp, dismounting his squadron, enfiladed the enemy Major Holley’s battery opening fire at the same time, the enemy were unable to come up. Then General Buller brought the First Brigade to the edge of the nullah, and poured such a heavy fire onto the Arabs below that they were soon in hot retreat. Meanwhile the Second Brigade had rallied an, advancing, completed the enemy’s defeat.

There was no further heavy fighting, but the Regiment was constantly employed on reconnaissance and convoy duties, and took part in another advance inland to Tamainieb. The enemy now withdrew from the district and the British Government ordered to troops to embark. The horses were handed over to the Egyptians, and on the 29th March the 10th again embarked on board the Jumna for England, arriving at Portsmouth on April 21st 1884. The good feeling which existed between the men of the 10th and the Royal Nay in this campaign was remarkable. The sailors helped us to make nosebags, head ropes and other camp kit which was wanting when we took over the Egyptian horses, and on our return to Trinketat after the battle of El Teb, the 10th went out to meet the Naval Brigade, and the sailors allowed our men to assist them with their guns, an honour which hitherto they had refused any other corps.

General Baker remained at the head of the Egyptian Gendarmerie till his death in November 1887.

Shortly after the 10th arrived home H.M.King Edward – then Prince of Wales—inspected the Regiment. After the medal for the campaign had been presented by the Princess, the Prince addressed the Regiment congratulating it on its services in Afghanistan and the Eastern Soudan, and added  “ It is now 21 years since Her Majesty conferred upon me the honour of Colonel of the Tenth Hussars, and I feel proud to be connected with it.”

Surely every present and past 10th Hussar must echo this last sentence!

The 10th also furnished a contingent for the Light Camel Corps in September 1884, consisting of two Officers and 45 other ranks. These served in the Nile Expedition,

Four men losing their lives, the survivors returning to the Regiment in July 1885.  Lord Airlie, the Adjutant of the 10th, also served in this expedition as Brigadier Major to Brigadier General Sir Herbert Stewart. He was wounded at Abu Klea and Gubat, where his chief received his death wound. In November 1884 Lieut.- Colonel Gough went to South Africa to take part in Sir C Warren’s Bechuanaland Expedition, whilst the following February Captain R.H.W.Wilson went on special service to the Eastern Soudan. Thus, whilst the Regiment was serving at home, it was well represented in whatever part of the globe fighting was in progress.

Chapter IX - The War in South Africa,  1899-1902

From 1884 to 1891 the Regiment was stationed in various garrisons in England.

In 1885, His late Royal Highness the Duke of  Clarence was gazetted to the 10th, and served in it successfully as Subaltern, Captain and Major, accompanying it to Ireland in 1891.

His brother, H.R.H. The Duke of York (now Prince of Wales) visited the Regiment here, and the two Princes left for England on the 30th October, the Duke of Clarence on winter leave; it was decreed that he was never to rejoin, for alas on the 14th January 1892, not only his Regiment, but the nation was plunged into grief by the announcement of the death of H.R.H. at Sandringham.

Colonel Viscount Downe, commanding the Regiment, and nine Officers proceeded to Windsor, and acted as pall bearers at the funeral on the 20th January; and 20 non-commissioned Officers and men of the Regiment under the Honourable Captain J.Byng, bore the body of their late Officer from the train to the gun carriage at the station, preceded it to St George’s Chapel, into which they carried it, and remained in the nave of the chapel until the conclusion of the burial service, when they again resumed their sad office, and laid the Royal corpse in its last resting place – The Albert Memorial Chapel.

Literally it may be said that the 10th accompanied their Royal comrade to the extreme limit of his earthly journey, and with sorrowing hearths there bade him a mute adieu.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales subsequently (asked) that his and the Princess of Wales thanks should be conveyed by letter to the Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and men of the 10th “for the great kindness all ranks invariably showed their son, from the first day he joined the Regiment until they carried him to his grave”.  “as long as they live they will ever remember with gratitude the never ceasing respect and devotion their son met with in the 10th Hussars, a gratitude which the poor young Duke also felt when serving in the Regiment he was so proud of”.

From now on, until June 1897, the Regiment remained in Ireland. In this month Aldershot was again the station whence, in July, the Regiment marched to London to assist in the celebration of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. The 10th, with the exception of the Household Troops, was probably the only Regiment present at Her Majesty’s Coronation and both Jubilees.

During the service at home H.M. The King – then H.R.H. The Prince of Wales – as Colonel visited the Regiment and commanded it, making a stay of some days on the occasion of a visit to York, residing in Barracks, commanding it at a Field Day on the Knavesmere and thoroughly inspecting the interior economy.

Owing to the non-success of the British Government to obtain equitable treatment for the British subjects resident within the Republic of South Africa, war was declared on the 11th October 1899, and the 10th Hussars was among the Regiments ordered to the seat of hostilities. Accordingly, on the 3rd and 4th November 1899 the Regiment embarked at Liverpool for Cape Town – the whole of “A” Squadron and a troop of “B” on the transport Ismore, and Headquarters and the remainder of the Regiment on the Colombia.

The sailing of both ships was delayed by bad weather for some days, indeed the Ismore did not get away from home waters until 11th November, having had to put back into Milford Haven on account of the suffering of the horses, 18 having died.

On 3rd December, when within 90 miles of Cape Town, the Ismore having gone many miles out of her course, stuck on the dangerous reefs at Colombine Port, Paternoster Bay, and became a total wreck. The behaviour of all the troops on board – 10th Hussars, 63rd Battery Royal Field Artillery, and No. 12 Bearer Company Royal Army Medical Corps – was admirable, and despite the peril of the situation the most perfect order and discipline was maintained. Every effort was made to save the horses but only some score could be steered through the dangerous passage of submerged rocks which marked to course of some two or three miles to a practicable landing place. Of these, 17 were 10th horses, 24 had died on the voyage and 160 were drowned. The salvage of the battery guns, carriages, ammunition, ambulances, field forges, and immense stocks of supplies was impossible.

With the assistance of native fishermen from the village of Paternoster, every soldier and sailor on board were rescued and landed on the barren coast of the Bay. It was impossible for any ship to approach, and on 5th December, orders were received to proceed to St Helena Bay. This involved an arduous march across sand veldt, under the summer sun of South Africa, but was accomplished without casualties.

At the Bay the troops were embarked by means of launches and pinnaces of H.M.S. Doris, on board the Columbian which had delivered the Headquarters and “B” and “C” squadron safely to Cape Town on the 3rd, and was ordered to return to pick up the ill fated Ismore’s passengers.

The Columbian made Cape Town about noon on the 6th. On the following morning the detachment disembarked and were at once railed to Stellenbosch, were Argentine remounts were received and trained, tents, saddlery, arms etc drawn; on the 19th left for Arundel to rejoin Headquarters, which had already been twice engaged, and lost one man and two men wounded.

From this date until 4th February the Regiment engaged in the important operations under General French; a front of 40 miles had to be protected by a small cavalry force, and the duties were harassing, arduous and incessant. Engagements were fought and many men were lost. In one, on the 4th January 1900, Major C. Harvey was killed whilst gallantly leading his squadron into a dismounted attack.

On the 5th Sir John Milbanke was out with a patrol and was severely wounded in the pelvis. He had already reached one of our piquets, after being wounded, when he saw that the horse of one of his patrol had been shot and that the rider was dismounted and being shot at. He thereupon galloped back to help the man who proved to be Corporal Barclay, and managed to get him upon his own horse, and carried him to the piquet, where, in the act of dismounting, he fainted from loss of blood. The act had been witnessed by Generals French and Brabazon, who considered it a most heroic deed, and recommended Sir John for the Victoria Cross. It was presented to him by Queen Victoria at the last public function Her Late Majesty attended.

Another recipient of this coveted decoration was Sergeant Henry Engleheart. This non-Commissioned Officer was wounded on 2nd January 1900, but soon returned to his duty and served in every engagement up to the arrival of the Regiment at Rustemburg after the taking of Pretoria. The night before the capture of Bloomfontein he was detached from the Regiment with a party of Cavalry Pioneers, under Colonel Hunter Weston. This party advanced beyond the town to destroy the railway line, and thus prevent the escape of the enemy’s rolling-stock. The work was most successfully accomplished, Sergeant Engleheart occupying a covering position. After completing his task with the greatest of coolness and courage, in close proximity to a Boar piquet, he cut his way back through it. He also, under heavy shell and rifle fire, in imminent peril of capture, rescued Sapper Webb of the Royal Engineers, who was dismounted in a deep spruit.

The Regiment on the 4th February entrained at Rensburg, and proceeded to Modder River Station and formed part of the army under Lord Roberts, being brigaded with the Household Cavalry and 12th Lancers under General Broadwood.  It took part in the glorious Kimberley ride and the relief of that beleaguered town, being engaged at the Reit River, at Klip Drift, and desultorily all along the line of march; through burning veldt, under a hot sun and on short rations. Kimberley was relieved on the 15th February and a much need rest here was anticipated, but at 1.30 a.m. on 17th information was received that Conje was retiring with his whole army and a very large convoy and making for Koodoe’s Ranch Drift. The 2nd Cavalry Brigade was ordered to try and cut him off and was to be supported by General French, with two squadrons of the Carabineers, and two batteries Royal Horse Artillery.

The brigade marched at 3 a.m. and after covering about 25 miles, arrived on a ridge overlooking the Modder River; there was beheld a very large convoy on our side of the river, apparently just going to cross; we immediately began to shell it, and effectively stopped the crossing.

An exciting incident occurred here. “A” Squadron was sent off to take a commanding kopje, away on our right flank; a strongish party of Boars having already started from their main body to get possession of the kopje. A hot race ensued, the squadron took it in fine style, and were re-enforced by “B”. A picture of this incident is now in the Officers’ mess.

The gratifying result of this strenuous day’s work, following on the exertions made in the relief of Kimberley, fully compensated for every privation and all fatigues. Our brigade had headed off the Boer Commandant Piet Cronje, with some 5000 Transvaal and Free State burghers, stores, ammunition and transport, and compelled him to take refuge in the long stretch of the Modder River, which lies between Paardeburg and Wolveskraal Drifts. This was the situation on the night of 17th February. During the night the British Infantry were converging on Paardeburg, and effectively reduced Cronje’s position to a seemingly hopeless one – and so it proved to be, for after much heroic fighting and loss of life on both sides, the moment of surrender came on the morning of 27th February. The surrender furnishes a remarkable coincidence for it was on the nineteenth anniversary of the battle of Majuba that the Boar’s white flag fluttered over the Modder River at Paardeburg.

On 6th March the Regiment, as part of the Cavalry Division, moved to Omsfontain, the first stage of the advance to Bloemfontein, taking part in the battle for Poplar Grove on the 7th and that of Driefontein on the 10th, reaching Ferreira Spruit, some four miles from the capital of the free State, in pitch darkness, on the night of the 12th. On the 13th it was found that President Steyn and his irreconcilables had fled, and Lord Roberts was met with a deputation who tendered the submission of the town.

At about 1 o’clock Lord Roberts and the troops made formal entry into Bloemfontein, and spectators have placed it on record how, from that column of ill-clad, weary soldiers worn with half rations and long marches, there was not heard one jeer, nor taunting or exultant word as they marched into their enemy’s capital.

How much had been accomplished in the brief month since the Regiment entered the enemy’s country!

On 13th February, marching at the utmost capacity of men and horses; on the 14th after a march of 13 hours, engaged in a fight at the river, and pursuing the enemy for three miles; on the 15th after a glorious charge covering 40 miles and relieving Kimberley; on 17th marching from 3 a.m. to intercept Cronje at Koodoos Rand; from then until 27th marching, reconnoitring and fighting with Cronje inside his laager, and De Wet outside. From 28th to 6th March there was rest, but scant rations for men and horses, and very heavy rains which saddened everything. On March 7th the action at Poplar Grove; the battle of Driefontein on the 10th. On 11th and 12th marches from sunrise to dark and on 13th the entry into Bloemfontein. And all this by men on half rations, riding horses which did not get quarter rations, and could scarcely be urged beyond as walk, in a land where water is scarce and the sun semi tropical.

On 18th March the Regiment was ordered to form part of a column to go to Thaba N’Chu on the road to Lady Brand, the centre of the richest grain growing part of the Free State, about 40 miles east of Bloemfontein. The total available strength of the Regiment was under 180, and it was selected because it had more horses fit for duty than the other two Regiments of the brigade.

On the 22nd the majority of the column remained in bivouac. “B” squadron and some mounted infantry, under Pilcher, being sent on to some flour mills, half way between Thaba N’Chu and Lady Brand, to collect scattered burghers, and watch a large commando said to be returning from Colesberg. Things moved quietly until Pilcher went into Lady Brand to seize the town, leaving our Maxim gun and some Mounted Infantry on the heights above. The squadron, which was barely 30 strong entered the town and took the Landdrost prisoner. The inhabitants received then with white flags and open arms. They scarcely completed their business with the Landdrost when several hundreds of Boers appeared on three sides of the town, galloping towards the squadron with the obvious intention of cutting it off. Lord William Bentinck, the squadron leader, ordered the retire to be sounded and they galloped out of the town under very heavy fire. They retired on the Maxim gun and this action undoubtedly saved them from being cut off. Three men were wounded and four (including two of the wounded) taken prisoners.

The Landdrost was brought away a prisoner in his own Cape cart, the pace of which he was “encouraged” to increase by Captain Chaplin, who held a revolver pointed at his head. This happened on 29th arch, and Pilcher, learning that the enemy was following him in force, pushed on the same night for Thaba N’Chu – a forced march in which some of his horses must have covered between 50 and 60 miles in 24 hours.

On the 30th, in consequence of rumours that the Boers were advancing on Thaba N’Chu, about mid day the force was ordered to saddle up, and the transport was to “inspan” at once. Natives had reported an advance by the Boers in force, and that another force was working round to cut us off at the Modder River waterworks. “A” Squadron was sent to hold the nec east of the town. The transport marched about 2 p.m., with orders to cross the Modder and outspan there.

The remainder of the column awaited orders until dark, when having been rejoined by “A” Squadron, they retired: marching until 3a.m., crossed the river and found the transport formed up on the west bank bivouacked.  About 6 a.m. on the 31st whilst at breakfast, a shell fire from a gun on the east side of the river, pitched into the midst of the Regiment, was then discovered that the enemy had taken up a position on that side. They shelled the Regiment vigorously, shell after shell dropping in its midst, but miraculously did no harm. The Transport was ordered to “inspan” and move at once, “U” Battery accompanying it; the direction given was Boesman’s Kop.

As soon as the transport was clear the Cavalry retired slowly; our guns, up to this, did not fire a shot at the enemy’s Artillery. After covering about two miles the Transport came to Koorn Spruit, or Sannas Post, and began to enter the drift; “U” Battery was on the right close to the drift, waiting its turn to cross.

After the Regiment had marched about a mile a few scattered men were seen riding about 2000 yards on the right flank: they were found to be Boers. The Regiment moved slowly on until the leading troop was within about 50 yards of the spruit, when a terrific fire was opened from it, and we retired. The situation appeared very serious; Our rear was threatened by Boers in position with Artillery, our front and right strongly held, the left only remaining open: The Regiment and Household Cavalry were ordered to try and cross the spruit on the left and we galloped off to do so. All this time we were under heavy fire, rider-less horses were galloping about in all directions, a gun drawn by riderless horses was brought through the ranks at lightening pace, transport wagons and other vehicles were in a similar state, and the scene was an appalling one.

After a considerable detour the Household Cavalry found a place to cross, and we discovered one on their left.  We crossed and made for the ridge above it with a view to making a turning movement to our right, but could not do so due to our decimated strength. We retired slowly on Springfontein and there bivouacked. Our casualties were three killed, five wounded; two Officers and some of the men have been taken when patients in the Ambulance wagons.

The men in charge of the regimental ammunition wagons behaved with great gallantry and coolness, and succeeded in extricating their charges from the chaos described above.

Two of them, Privates McMillan and Tharratt received Distinguished Conduct Medals for their courageous behaviour under most trying circumstances.

On the 29th April the brigade marched to Krantz Kraal to assist General Tucker in a flank movement.

On the 30th, set out at dawn, and after about 12 miles encountered heavy rifle and pom-pom fire from a force of Boers in a strong position; very little damage however was done and at nightfall the brigade retired.

The march continued on the 1st May, the Regiment leading and a little fighting done; the advance was resumed on 3rd May on which day our scouts found the enemy holding a ridge and forced them to retire. Our casualties were few.

On the 4th the battle of Welkom was fought, the Regiment being in the saddle almost continuously from 6.30 a.m. to dark.

Off again on the 5th, and occupied Winburg without opposition, resuming the march on the 6th, halting at Groot Dam.

Moved again on the 9th, fought at Zand River on the 10th, the Regiment captured about 40 prisoners and five wagons.

And so we went on, marching and putting up fights of more or less magnitude nearly daily until the 5th June, when we entered Pretoria, and, after marching through it, bivouacked six miles outside of it.

On the following day the Regiment was again on the move, and marched until the 11th

when an active part was taken in the important battle of Diamond Hill. Her “Q” Battery came under terrific rifle fire, had to fire case shot, and was only saved by the 12th Lancers and Household Cavalry charging the enemy. A Troop of “C” Squadron under Sergeant Lyons acted with the 12th Lancers and took part in the charge.

The 12th had to deplore the loss of their leader, the gallant Earl of Airlie, who fell on retiring after the charge, and the 10th Hussars mourned the loss of an Officer who had served with them from 1876 to 1895.

After this the Regiment was engaged daily marching and counter-marching in the Transvaal, suffering slight losses, and on the 29th crossed the Vaal River and was again in the Orange Free State, the name of which had been changed by Proclamation to “Orange River Colony”.

On the 3rd July at Frankfort, 18 men who had been prisoners of war at Pretoria since Sannas Post, rejoined.

From now on the 10th took part in the pursuit of De Wet, who, with Steyn, had an army of Boers numbering some thousands; several small engagements were fought, and Hore’s larger relieved: he had been besieged, surrounded by a vastly superior force under De la Reey, at Elands River for 12 days. On arrival the enemy withdrew. The defending force consisting chiefly of Queenslanders, had made a magnificent resistance in a poor position; for two days, before they had time to entrench, they were under very heavy shell fire from hills which commanded their position from three sides, at comparatively close range. Their entrenchments were wonderful, made in ground like iron, with few tools. They had 74 casualties out of 400 men, and 500 horses only 70 remained.

Again moved off, the pursuit and round-up of Boers was resumed, and on 26th September 1900 Rustenburg was reached; from this place until 20th December many small treks in and out, were carried out, rounding up burghers, searching farms and destroying crops.

Now commenced the march to take part in a big enveloping movement with the object of driving the Boers on to the boarders of Swaziland and Zululand. The Regiment was railed to Natal Spruit and marched thence to Springs on the 4th, fought at Halfontein on the 12th, and here on the 26th the Regiment was armed with rifles and the carbines withdrawn.

The next day the movement referred to above was commenced our column being one of  several moving via Bethel, and Ermelo Alderson was our left Allenby on our right, Pulteney, with whom was French, between us and Allenby, slightly in rear; Dartnell was south of Alderson, Smith-Dorrien and Campbell worked south from Middleburg.

The movement occupied until the 12th April, when the column arrived at Glencoe, Natal, the results as far as the brigade was concerned, having been captures of 50 Boers, about 4,000 cattle, 15,000 sheep, 100 carts and wagons and 583 horses.

The Regiment lost a few men and horses shot in small fights.

From 18th February to 10th March we were in dire straits for food at Piet Retief; rain was incessant, and the river Assegei so flooded that no supplies could reach us. Men were placed on arrival here at half rations, but this was speedily reduced to a half-pound of mealie meal per man. A species of coffee was made for mealies, roasted and ground in a mill found in a deserted farm. Fruit was also collected and issued as ration. There was no forage, but grass was good and horses were sent out under strong piquets to graze.

The day after arrival at Glencoe orders were received to entrain for Pretoria, and this was done by squadrons on the 13th, 14th and 15th April. On reaching Elandsfontein, in accordance with later instructions, the Regiment went to Springs whence, on 4th May, with the brigade, a move was made to Heidelberg, and a march made through the Eastern Transvaal to Middelberg. Fighting, the capture of prisoners, horses, cattle and other livestock and the destruction of crops and grain stores was the occupation of the column, the most serious encounter being near Bethel, which town, as that of Piet Reteif, Paul Pietersdorp, and others had been by this time destroyed.

Middelburg was reached on the 16th July, and here the second cavalry brigade was broken up. Originally formed of the composite Regiment of Household Cavalry, the 10th and the 12th Lancers, it remained so constituted until the 1`2th October 1900, when the first named left Rustenberg to return to England; its place was taken by the 8th Hussars. The two Regiments that had, since the departure from the Modder River Station, marched side by side over thousands of miles of veldt, fought shoulder to shoulder in many a hard fight, and shared with the best spirit of comradeship all the trials and privations incidental to campaigning, here parted with mutual regrets that their paths might be in different direction for the remainder of the war.

A new phase of the war was now entered upon. Small columns were the order of the

day, and the 10th Hussars entrained to Naauwpoort, Cape Colony, arriving on the 21st July with a section of “” Royal Horse Artillery, field hospital, and supply column, formed one of these columns whose object was to pursue the enemy wherever they met, and frustrate his practice of annoying loyalists. A strong feeling of rebellion was spreading over the colony, and successes gained by such spirited commandos as those of Scheepers, Kritzinger, and others induced many a colonist to join them.

On the 2nd August, on arriving at Graaf Reinet, “B” Squadron was ordered to proceed, with a pom-pom section, to Aberdeen and left the column during the night. Hereafter it acted as an independent column until the end of the war, ten months later; its scene of occupation was Aberdeen, Murraysburg, Richmond, Elandspoort, Taaiboschfontein, Biejiespoort Station, Krom River Station, Carnarvon, Arbeitersfontein, and Colesberg etc. and valuable work was done in harassing the commandos of Wessels, Pypers, and others. The squadron accounted for many of the enemy killed and captured, and rendered good service in protecting the lines of blockhouses during the construction and after completion. Luckily little damage was inflicted on it by the enemy.

The commander of the tiny column, Lord William Bentinck, who was also “B” Squadron’s leader, was mentioned in despatches for the good work done under his leadership, and received the D.S.O.

The Headquarters and “A” and “C” Squadrons performed services of a similar nature, scouring the country from Graaf Reinet in a westerly direction, through Baviaans Kloof where several casualties were sustained in a fight against superior numbers in unassailable positions. Thence to Uniondale, where on the 19th August, near Avontuur, a very critical situation was relieved by precipitate, but orderly, retirement to a pass in the hills, the nek of which commanded the only possible line of the enemy’s advance.

The column, which on this day, — 19th August – consisted only of the two squadrons of the 10th with its supply column, numbered 205 of all ranks. It was advanced on Avontuur, which was menaced by the Boers in force, under Scheepers and Van de Merwe. The hills through which it had to march and the roads precluded the possibility of taking the guns which had been left behind. When within a mile of its objective, the enemy, from well concealed positions in the surrounding hills, opened a heavy fire upon the column, checking its advance.

The Boers came on in overwhelming numbers from ridge to ridge, pouring in a heavy fire, and a number were getting round the flank with the obvious intention of cutting off the line of retreat. The order to retire was given. The ammunition had run out, and five boxes only was obtainable from the town of Uniondale. The line of retreat was most difficult, some distance of it being exposed to the Boer fire – the road here was very narrow, the towering hill on one side, a deep declivity on the other; this was negotiated by one man at a time, with an interval of two horses’ length between each: despite the incessant fire of the enemy, not one man was hit in this bullet swept zone, the summit of the hill was gained, the nek held, and the burghers checked. One man was killed, a Squadron Sergeant-Major mortally wounded, two Officers severely wounded and four men wounded. The squadrons remained in their position that night and next day; during the night the enemy retired. Two squadrons of our old comrades the 12th Lancers, who were also working in this part of the colony, and had been ordered to make a forced march to reinforce us, arrived at Uniondale during the night. \on the 21st the remainder of the 12th and a section of “Q” Royal Horse Artillery arrived at Uniondale, and our squadrons came down from the hills and bivouacked to the west of the town.

Now ensued a chase after the enemy who had gone in the direction of the Mill Rivier via Zand Drift. At the former place we came upon about 300 who were still in the town and opened fire on our advanced guard, but fled hastily on the approach of the column leaving food prepared and in process of cooking, in their flight; they had burnt some houses in the town.

Still hot in pursuit, the column followed in their tracks, on the 24th, and engaged them in East Jagt Drift and killing one, taking three prisoners, also compelling them to abandon three prisoners they had belonging to the District Mounted Troops. They fled to Palmiet Drift of the Doorn Rivier and escaped through a nek of the hills.

The column marched daily, frequently in touch with the quarry, until 3rd September when it arrived at Montagu, and received supplies and remounts off the rail at Ashton Station. Resumed the chase on the 7th, which did not relax until arrival at Matjiesfontein on the 12th. Here we remained until the 23rd, receiving 183 remounts, and being reinforced by a draft of 25 men from home.

On 23rd the pursuit of Commandant Scheepers was again taken up, and continued without ceasing daily, and often nightly, until the 11th October when Captain Shearman, with “A” Squadron, acting on information, proceeded to Kopjies Kraal, found the famous leader concealed in a farmhouse, and took him prisoner. Captain Shearman received the congratulations of General French and the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope on his achievement.

The squadrons which had acted independently in different parts of the neighbourhood again met and marched to Frazerberg Road Station, whence the column marched, on the 17th October, on Prince Albert to head off a commando under Pypers: this column consisted of the remnants of Scheepers’ force, reinforced by Bouwers Commando and accompanied by Smuts. Again a persistent pursuit was made in a country in which the numerous kloofs and neks of hills afforded great facilities for elusion of the pursuers. Some skirmishes took place and a few casualties in the column resulted. In one Lieutenant Koetze of the enemy was killed by a sergeant of “A” Squadron, by a revolver shot.

On the 2nd November, at Constable, orders were received to proceed to Moorreesburg by rail and the column entrained at Toouws Rivier Station, reaching Moorreesburg on the 4th.

From now until the cessation of hostilities the column was occupied in the pursuit of Maritz and Theron, the relief of Piquetberg, the protection o the line of blockhouses from Lamberts Bay to Clan William, the relief of Garies, and finally receiving the arms of the surrendered Boers, and escorting them to the rail at Porteville Road. 660 were handed over here on the 24th June, with 947 horses, 328 mules, and many carts, wagons etc.

A performance worthy of note was that of four men of the 10th (two of whom being invalided), who, with three others of other Regiments, were left behind at Moorreesburg when the squadrons left there for Piquetberg. The enemy entered the town and took possession of it. The seven soldiers shut themselves up in a blockhouse, and although threatened with death if they did not surrender, held out for several hours, inflicting considerable damage upon the foe. Only when their ammunition ran out did they yield, and it says much for the magnanimity of the Boers that they were permitted to leave the town, without suffering any indignity save the deprivation of their arms.

Thus terminated a war in which the Regiment had been marching and fighting continuously for two years and seven months, including operations in the Cape Colony, the Orange Free State, the Transvaal, and Natal. The war was one that brought out the best spirit of the Empire, and which proved to the world the indissoluble ties which bind all Britons to the Mother Country. Who can forget how her sons from the uttermost portions of that Empire poured into South Africa to fight shoulder to shoulder? Gentlemen who are familiar figures with the Quorn, the Pytchley or the Belvoir, farmer’s sons, business men, working men and artisans from all parts of the British Isles, cowboys from the vast plains of the North-West, gullies from the Southerland deer forests, bushmen from the back blocks of Australia, men from Ontario, from India and Ceylon, the sturdy Canadians who gave up their lives so freely at Paardeburg, the horsemen of New Zealand and New South Wales, the irregulars of South Africa, and from every part of Greater Britain – all responded to the call with a spontaneity which struck a note of admiration and doubtless envious surprise, through the civilized world. The splendid services given by all was a trenchant reply to the soldiers of the continent who had cast jibes at our little army for so long; they were compelled to admit that the Imperial fighting resources of Great Britain is no contemptible quantity, and that on the South African veldt, and in its fastnesses, in common danger and common privation, the blood brotherhood of the Empire was incontestably proved for once and all.

The Regiment was again a solid unit when, at Porteville Road on 24th June, “B” Squadron rejoined. From this place 100 reservist left for home, and 157 horses were returned to the Remount Depot at Worcester.

On 21st July “A” Squadron proceeded to Porterville, and on 24th “B” Squadron to Moorreessburg to be stationed and improve the racial feeling. On 26th “C” Squadron (Headquarters) marched to Malmesbury.

“B” Squadron rejoined Headquarters on the 23rd August and this distribution continued until 21st September when the Regiment railed to Cape Town., and embarked next day on the hired transport Lake Manitoba for India. During the short stay of the Regiment at Malmesbury it became very popular, and the whole town, with a band, was present at the station to witness its departure. Here the Coronation of His Majesty was celebrated most successfully and imposingly, the Regiment taking the most prominent part in the parade and at the service in the church.

Mounted sports were held and a concert given in the town hall, which were tremendous successes.

On the 22nd September the whole of the Regiment embarked, also on the same ship our old comrades-in-arms, the 12th Lancers, and the 1st Munster Fusiliers, with detachments of the Suffolk and Borders Regiments. Very bad weather rendered it inadvisable to leave Table Bay until the 24th, and Bombay was not reached until the 10th October. Next day the Regiment disembarked and railed to Mhow, where it was stationed until 30th September 1906.

During this period the most notable event was the march to Bombay for duty during the visit of R.H.The Prince and Princess of Wales. An old 10th Hussar, the Earl of Shaftesbury was in attendance to H.R.H. and his presence with the Regiment again was highly appreciated.

The Regiment was encamped upon the Marine Lines in Bombay, from the 3rd to the 20th November 1905, and was employed at Ceremonial Parades, on Escort Duty etc. To their R.H. The Prince and Princess of Wales; to the retiring Vicroy of India, Lord Curzon of Kedlestone, and to his successor the Earl of Minto. H.R.H. the Prince of Wales was pleased to write the following letter and expressly desired that it should be published for information-

“The Prince of Wales ensures all ranks of the 10th Hussars what a gratification it has been to him to be escorted by the Regiment during his stay in Bombay. H.R.H. is delighted that this duty has been performed by the Regiment of which the King has been Colonel-in-Chief for so many years, and which he always associated with the name of his dear brother, the Duke of Clarence, during whose lifetime he himself knew the Regiment so intimately.

“The Prince fully realizes the distance of the Regiment’s journey to and from Bombay, and how hard their work has been in the intense heat, and he much regrets that time would not permit of his visiting them in their camp here

H.R.H. is proud to think that he has had, as his first escort here in India, the whole of the 10th Hussars, and he will have great pleasure in letting the King know how smart the Regiment has always appeared on parade, and that its duties have been carried out to his utmost satisfaction”

The Regiment was selected to fill up the frontier station, Rawal Pindi, on the departure of the 9th Lancers for South Arica, which Regiment we relieved on 3rd October 1906.

The hopes of all ranks are still sanguine that the presence of the Regiment in this most advanced station for British Cavalry in India may be favourable for its selection for active service – always the earnest desire of the 10th Hussars.

One thought on “Regimental History 1878-1906

  1. jp2symposium.org

    U produced a number of terrific points throughout
    your blog post, “Regimental History 1878-1906 | Major Roland Pillinger”.

    I may you should be heading back to your blog soon.
    Thx ,Dawn

    Reply

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