2nd Battalion sailed on the Assaye on 4th January 1900, and arrived
at the Cape on the 23rd. Along with the 2nd Lincolnshire, 1st King’s
Own Scottish Borderers, and 2nd Hampshire, they formed the 14th Brigade
under Brigadier – General Chermside, and part of the VIIth Division
under Lieut.-General Tucker.
VIIth Division took part in the advance from Modder River to Bloemfontein.
On 11th February 1900 the division moved from Enslin and Gras Pan
to Ramdan; on 12th to Dekiel Drift on the Riet River. The 13th was
occupied in getting waggons across. On the 14th the division moved
from Dekiel Drift to Waterval Drift, where Lord Roberts had on that
day his headquarters. On the evening of the 14th the division moved
to Wegdraai Drift, still on the Riet. On the 15th part of the division
occupied Jacobsdal, to which place Lord Roberts moved his headquarters
on the 16th. On the 18th, the day of the battle of Paardeberg, the
14th Brigade, under Cherinside, was ordered to march from Jacobsdal
to Paardeberg, where it arrived on the evening of the 19th. Thereafter
the 14th Brigade sat down at Paardeberg till Cronje came out, but
it also did very important work in assisting to repel and defeat the
Boer reinforcements coming to his assistance. The 15th Brigade, under
Wavell, was ordered to bring up the last convoy from the Modder River
camp, and to be at Osfontein, east of Paardeberg, on 7th March; no
easy matter, as the drifts were swollen with heavy rains. On the 7th
was fought the battle of Poplars Grove. In his despatch of 15th March
Lord Roberts says: “The 14th Brigade of the VIIth Division,
with its Brigade Division of Field Artillery, Nesbitt’s Horse,
and the New South Wales and Queensland Mounted Infantry, was ordered
to march eastward along the south bank of the river for the purpose
of threatening the enemy, distracting attention from the main attack
on Table Mountain (intrusted to the VIth Division), and assisting
the cavalry in preventing the Boers from crossing the river at the
Poplar Grove Drift.” On the 8th and 9th March the army halted
at Poplars Grove, but on the latter date Lord Roberts issued his instructions
for his next advance in three columns on Bloemfontein. Lieut.-General
Tucker commanded the right or southmost column, consisting of the
VIIth Division, the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, and Ridley’s brigade
of Mounted Infantry, and he was instructed to march viâ Petrusburg,
Driekop, Panfontein, to Venter’s Vlei, eighteen miles from Bloemfontein,
in four marches; but on the 10th, after the battle of Driefontein
or Abraham’s Kraal had been fought by the left and centre columns,
Lord Roberts asked Lieut.-General Tucker to halt his force at Driekop.
The division did not reach Bloemfontein till the 14th, Lord Roberts
having entered the town on the 13th.
division had no very serious fighting in the course of the eastern
advance. One captain and one corporal of the Norfolk Regiment were
mentioned in Lord Roberts’ despatch of 31st March 1900 for good
work on the way to Bloemfontein. After passing through Bloemfontein
the division was posted north of the town, General Maxwell succeeding
to the command of the 14th Brigade when General Chermside was given
the IIIrd Division.
29th March Lieut. - General Tucker, with the VIIth Division, 1st and
3rd Cavalry Brigades, and Le Gallais’ Mounted Infantry, fought
the action of Karee Siding to drive the Boers off a line of kopjes
from which they had been doing some mischief. The operations were
successfully carried out.1 The enemy held several strong positions
in the line of hills. Le Gallais on the right and French on the left
found their projected turning movements very difficult, the enemy
retaining their positions and even taking the offensive at parts until
the infantry closed in in the afternoon. The Norfolks were the first
in the infantry advance and seized the position allotted to them.
Our total casualties were about 170. The battalion lost 1 man killed
and 2 officers and 20 men wounded. After the action the VIIth Division
retained the hills they had won, thus keeping open the door for the
subsequent advance on Brandfort.
Lord Roberts moved north from Bloemfontein to Pretoria the VIIth and
XIth Divisions formed the centre of the army, the XIth, on the left
centre, being under Pole-Carew, and consisting of the 1st or Guards
Brigade, and the 18th Brigade under Stephenson, composed of the 1st
Yorks, 1st Essex, 1st Welsh, and 2nd Warwicks. The VIIth Division
was on the right of the XIth in the advance. Brandfort was occupied
on 3rd May, Smaildeel on the 6th, Kroonstad on the 12th, Pretoria
on 5th June. On the way some fighting had to be done, but the centre
was never so seriously engaged as the right and left wings of the
army. On 10th May at the crossing of the Zand River the enemy had
a strong position and was inclined to make a stand, and the 15th Brigade
had some fairly stiff work.
Johannesburg had surrendered on 31st May 1900 the WIth and XIth Divisions
marched past the Commander - in - Chief in the town, and when Lord
Roberts moved on to Pretoria the 15th Brigade, Wavell’s, was
left as garrison at Johannesburg.2 The Vllth Division did not act
together again. After Pretoria was occupied on 5th June the 14th Brigade,3
Maxwell’s, was detailed to garrison that city, Major-General
Maxwell being appointed governor.
Norfolk’s were present at the ceremony of proclaiming the annexation
of the Transvaal on 25th October 1900.4 During the later stages of
the war the battalion was employed mainly in the Central Transvaal,
being for a considerable time the garrison of Rustenburg.
officers and 14 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in
Lord Roberts’ final despatches, and 4 officers and 5 non-commissioned
officers in Lord Kitchener’s final despatch.
Lord Roberts’ telegram of 30th March 1900.
2 Lord Roberts’ despatch of 14th August 1900, para. 19.
3 Ibid., para. 23.
4 Lord Roberts’ telegram of 25th October 1900.