Battalion sailed on the Gaika on 22nd December 1899, and arrived at
Cape Town on 13th January 1900. Along with the 2nd East Kent, 2nd Gloucesters,
and 1st West Riding Regiment, they formed the 13th Brigade under Major-General
C. E. Knox, and part of the VIth Division under Lieut.-General Kelly-Kenny.
The doings of the division and of the brigade are sketched under the
East Kent Regiment.
The Oxfordshire Light Infantry had, along with the Buffs and Gloucesters,
sharp fighting with Cronje's rear-guard on 16th February 1900. The enemy
were found to be occupying a large kopje on the right bank of the Modder
for the purpose of covering the retreat of their main body and convoy
With difficulty the Oxford Light Infantry got across and then advanced
to the attack of the position. Several companies got within 200 yards
of the enemy, while the West Riding Regiment endeavoured to turn the
enemy's flank, but the Boers held on stubbornly till darkness. The Oxford
Light Infantry lost 10 killed and about 40 wounded, and in the encircling
battle of the 18th at Paardeberg they were very heavily engaged, as
were practically the whole of the VIth and IXth Divisions. The Oxfords
lost 2 officers killed, 3 wounded, and about 5 men killed and 30 wounded.
Four officers of the battalion were mentioned in Lord Roberts' despatch
of 31st March 1900.
After Paardeberg the battalion was never very desperately engaged, although
they took part in a great deal of fighting and endless marching.
the beginning of June the battalion moved up to Kroonstad and garrisoned
various posts on the lines of communication.
For a period of about four months, commencing the end of July 1900,
they, along with the 3rd Royal Scots, 17th Battery R.F.A., and some
mounted troops,1 formed a column under Major-General C. E. Knox which
tramped about on both sides of the railway between Kroonstad and the
Vaal, sometimes pursuing Boers and at other times clearing them from
the neighbourhood of the line. It will be remembered that De Wet, having
broken out of the Brandwater basin in July, was occupying the Reitzburg
hills, south of the Vaal, about the end of that month. In the beginning
of August Lord Kitchener assumed command of the different columns encircling
De Wet. On the 7th De Wet crossed the river. Knox's force remained on
the south side to watch the drifts, and they then operated from Kroonstad
to Heilbron and Frankfort, and thereafter on the west of the railway.
On 25th October Barton engaged and thoroughly defeated the Boers under
De Wet at Frederickstad, driving them towards the Vaal. Knox, who now
had the mounted troops of Le Gallais and De Lisle under his command,
engaged them near Rensburg Drift on the 27th October and inflicted severe
loss, killing 7 and capturing 9 prisoners, 2 guns, 3 waggons , another
waggon of ammunition being blown up by a shell from U Battery.2
On 3rd November Le Gallais found the Boers in force near Bothaville,
and following them up, he surprised them on the night of the 5th, and
had five hours' heavy fighting before he was reinforced by Knox with
De Lisle's Mounted Infantry “The enemy were completely defeated.
This was a most successful engagement, reflecting great credit on Major-General
C. Knox and all serving with him." The captures included 6 guns,
"1 pom-pom, 1 maxim. All the enemy's ammunition and waggons and
100 prisoners were taken, and 25 dead and 30 wounded Boers were left
on the field.
Our casualties were 3 officers and 7 men killed, 7 officers and 27 men
wounded."3 Le Gallais, "a most gallant and capable
leader," was among the killed. In his official report of the action,
Major Taylor, U Battery, said that about 5 A.M. Major Lean with the
5th Mounted Infantry captured a Boer picquet, galloped on and found
a Boer laager in a hollow His men at once opened a heavy fire. Ross's
8th Mounted Infantry came up n the left, and the 17th (Ayrshire) and
18th (Glasgow) Imperial Yeomanry took and held positions on the right.
The Boers fought hard, but the 7th Mounted Infantry and afterwards De
Lisle's Colonials came up, and at 10.15 A.M. the remaining Boers surrendered.
The 5th (Warwickshire) Imperial Yeomanry were also mentioned by Press
Association correspondent as being present. The Mounted Infantry, including
the men of this battalion, were specially praised by Major Taylor.
In Lord Roberts' final despatch 9 officers and 18 non-commissioned officers
and men of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry were mentioned.
Shortly after the fight at Bothaville General Knox was ordered to the
south-east of the Orange River Colony, and on his departure complimented
very highly the infantry battalions who had trudged with him so long.
During the remainder of the campaign the battalion was generally on
garrison, but frequently a portion was out on column work. During the
first six months of 1901 the battalion was the garrison of Heilbron,
from which they marched to Kroonstad and thereafter entrained for Bloemfontein.4
In September the Oxfordshire Light Infantry were, along with the 2nd
Scots Guards, erecting blockhouses between Kopjes Station and Potchefstroom,
and thereafter the battalion was part of the garrison of the line.5
For a great part of 1901 about 120 men of the battalion were with the
column of Colonel Western, which operated in the Western Transvaal,
the Orange River Colony, and also for a time in Cape Colony.6
The Mounted Infantry of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry were with General
Clements in the Colesberg district, took part in his march to Bloemfontein
and in Lord Roberts' advance to Pretoria. At the end of July 1900 they
were brought back to the Orange River Colony and did excellent work,
being prominent at Bothaville as already stated.
During the latter phases of the war 7 non-commissioned officers and
men of the battalion were mentioned in despatches by Lord Kitchener
for good work, and in his final despatch 5 officers and 4 non-commissioned
officers were mentioned.
Lord Roberts' despatch of 10th October 1900, paras. 28, 39.
2 Ibid. of 15th November 1900, para. 13, and telegram of 28th October.
3 Lord Roberts' despatch of 15th November 1900, para. 14, also an admirable
letter by the Press Association correspondent dated 18th November.
4 Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th October 1901, para. 3.
5 Chronicle of Oxfordshire Light Infantry.
6 Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th July 1901 and Chronicle.