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Decoration The Victoria Cross & Distinguished Service Order 1857-1923
Profile was born 23 Sept. 1864, eldest son of Lieut.-Colonel Gould Hunter-Weston and Mrs. Jane Hunter-Weston, of Hunterston, Ayrshire, Scotland. He was educated at Wellington College; at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and at the Staff College. He joined the Royal Engineers in 1884, and became Captain in 1892. Lieut. Hunter-Weston took part in the Miranzai Expedition in 1891, as a Company Officer in the Bengal Sappers and Miners. In 1894 he served as a Captain Commanding a company of Bengal Sappers and Miners, in the Waziristan Delimitation Escort, and was Acting C.R.E. on Sir William Lockhart’s Staff with the Waziristan Field Force, 1894-95 (Despatches). Brevet of Major, and Medal with clasp). He served with the Dongola Expeditionary Force in 1896, as a Special Service Officer on Sir Herbert Kitchener’s Staff, and was present at the Battle of Firket (Despatches; 4th Glass Medjidie; Queen’s Medal; Khedive’s Medal with clasp). Brevet-Major Aylmer Hunter-Weston served in the South African War from 1899 to 1901. He was successively in command of Mounted Engineers ; Commanding Royal Engineers with Lieut.-General French’s Cavalry Division ; D.A.A.G., Cavalry Division ; Chief Staff Officer to Lieut.-General French, and finally in independent command of a Mounted Column. He was present, at the operations round Colesberg ; actions at Dekiel’s Drift and Klip Drift ; Relief of Kimberley ; operations at Paardeberg, and actions near Poplar Grove, Dreifontein, Thaba Nchu, Karee Siding, Zand River, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Belfast, Carolina, Barberton, Ermelo, Pietretief, etc, etc. During the advance to Pretoria he commanded the cavalry raids described below. Lieut.-General Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston, Royal Engineers, gained the D.S.O. while holding the rank of Brevet-Major, for distinguished service in the South African War (1899-1901), and especially for his success in breaking through the Boer positions and cutting the railway behind them. He commanded five such raids, the parties in each case being composed of Mounted Royal Engineers and Cavalry. His principal raids were made with the object of cutting the railway (1) north of Bloemfontein, at Rust-fontein, 13 March ; (2) north of Kronstadt, near Amerika Siding, 11 and 12 May ; (3) north of Bloemhof, at Grootvlei, 22 and 23 May ; (4) east of Pretoria (Delagoa Bay Railway), 1 and 2 June ; and (5) north of Pretoria 5 June, 1900. Referring to Major Aylmer Hunter-Weston, and the raids carried out by him in the South African War, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his historic work, ” The Great Boer War,” writes as under : ” There is a Victoria Cross gallantry which leads to nothing save personal decoration, and there is another and far higher gallantry of calculation, which springs from a cool brain as well as a hot heart, and it is from the men who possess this rare quality that great warriors arise. Such feats as those performed by Major Hunter-Weston are of more service to the country than any degree of mere valour untempered by judgment.” A War Correspondent of the ” Times,” during the South African War, wrote the following account, in June, 1900, of Major Hunter-Weston’s successful enterprise north of Bloemfontein, the first of the above-mentioned raids: ” Brevet-Major Aylmer Hunter-Weston’s successful raid on the enemy’s railway communications north of Bloemfontein furnishes a brilliant episode in the Campaign. It was an operation which led to far-reaching results, and admirably illustrates the advantage of having efficiently trained Mounted Engineers with the Cavalry. This officer had already distinguished himself by deeds of gallantry in General French’s operations near Colesberg, at Riet Drift on the Modder River, during the advance of the Cavalry to relieve Kimberley, and at Paardeberg. In the late afternoon of the 12th March, 1900, the advanced troops of the Cavalry Division, under Lieut.-General French, following up the victory of Abraham’s Kraal, were held up by a strong Boer force on the low hills south of Bloemfontein and north of Ferreira Spruit. The action was pressed vigorously till after nightfall, but without success. A feature of this action was the use made of pom-poms, or automatic guns, firing one-inch shells. These pom-poms are a new development of the artillery art. They did not have any great material effect, but the moral effect of this stream of little shells was considerable on those near the line of fire. To a Correspondent, like myself, well removed from their sphere of influence, the principal impression created was admiration for this novel form of fireworks in the growing darkness. The position held by the Boers was one of considerable strength, and the Cavalry were unable to drive them in or to reach Bloemfontein, which it was of importance to attain, not only for the moral effect of its capture, but from the fact that unless the locomotives and rolling stock at that railway centre could be captured it would be difficult for Lord Roberts to feed his force. With great boldness and true strategic conception, Lord Roberts had cut himself adrift from the Kimberley Railway, and had effected his movement north-east towards Bloemfontein, trusting to be able to establish a good line of communication, with his Base at Cape Town, by the Orange River-Bloemfontein Railway. As, however, our troops in that part of Cape Colony had been unsuccessful in preventing the Boers from blowing up the big railway bridge over the Orange River, it was impossible to get trucks or locomotives from Cape Colony into the Orange Free State until such time as the lengthy business of making a diversion and a new bridge had been completed. In the meanwhile the British Forces at Bloemfontein were dependent for their supplies on such locomotives and trucks as they could capture in the Free State, the bullock transport available being insufficient to feed so large a force at such a distance from the railhead at the other side of the Orange River. Brevet-Major Aylmer Hunter-Weston, who was on General French’s Staff as Commander of the Mounted Engineers, recognizing the importance of the capture of this rolling stock, begged General French to allow him to make an attempt to break through the Boer line and to blow up the railway line north of Bloemfontein. This the Cavalry Commander at first refused, for he considered that the enterprise was an impossible one, and could only lead to the death of the Officer Commanding the Mounted Engineers, without any corresponding advantages. After nightfall, however, Major Hunter-Weston again reiterated his request, pointing out that the enterprise was a possible one under cover of darkness, if led by a man, who, like himself, had had experience of scouting and of deer-stalking. Having found it impossible to break the Boer line with the force he had immediately available, and knowing well the great importance of the object to be attained, General French, at 8.30 p.m., gave permission for an attempt to be made. Brevet-Major Aylmer Hunter-Weston, having received the desired authority, proceeded forthwith from the Cavalry Divisional Headquarters to the Royal Engineer Field Troops’ Lines, to select from the men and horses of the Mounted Engineers and attached Cavalry Pioneers one officer and seven N.C.O.’s and men to accompany him in the operation. Two local men who could talk the ‘ Taal ‘ fluently were also selected to accompany the expedition. The eleven forming this forlorn hope were mounted on the best horses that could be obtained from the whole of the Cavalry and Royal Engineers’ horses in or near the Field Troop camp. Each man had the general plan and his particular role carefully explained to him, so that each might be able to carry on independently if his superiors became casualties. The party consisted of Brevet Major Aylmer Hunter-Weston, R.E. ; Lieut. J. R. E. Charles, R.E. ; Sergt Engleheart, Pioneer-Sergt., 10th Hussars; Corpl. Kirby, Royal Engineers, three other specially selected Royal Engineers ; two other specially selected Cavalry Pioneers, and two local guides. The expedition was carefully equipped with the necessary tools and gun-cotton, and took with them two spare horses to allow for casualties among their mounts. Starting at 1 a.m. (midnight), on the 13th of March, led by Major Aylmer Hunter-Weston, the party moved off in a north-north-easterly direction, keeping well to the east of Bloemfontein, the lights of which could from time to time be discerned away to their left. The night was dark, and the ground traversed was rough and broken. Great care had to be taken by the leader to move along valleys where there was no chance of Ids party showing against the sky-line. The task of getting through the Boer outpost line was no easy one, for the Boers are well-trained veldt men, whose sight and hearing are keen. The local knowledge of the guides was found not to stand the test of night work, and as guides they proved of but little use under conditions so different to those to which they were accustomed. Their knowledge of the language, however, was invaluable, for the leader had arranged that, in case his party came across any of the enemy, the guides should immediately challenge them, and should pretend that the Raiders were a party of ‘ Zarps,’ as the ‘ Zuid Afrikanshes Republiks Polizei’ (South African Republic Police) are generally called. The Zarps are disciplined, are clothed in drab uniforms, and are therefore something like our men. By careful guiding, the enemy’s outpost line and support line were successfully passed, though on one occasion the Raiders were very nearly discovered by a patrol. When, however, they had got safely through the outpost line, and were well east of Bloemfontein, north of the Thaba Nehu Road and the partially constructed Ladybrand-Wepener Railway, a small Boer party ran into the group, and the value of the arrangement above described was proved. The guide immediately challenged them in Dutch, and, pretending that the party was a Zarp Patrol, he ordered the burghers back to their commando, threatening them with severe penalties for their irregularity in being away from their commando at night ! The distance traversed in order to avoid the vicinity of Bloemfontein and the main body of the enemy was in truth considerable, but in the darkness, and with the many perpendicular-sided river beds to cross, the journey seemed to the devoted band of Raiders to be interminable, and they could not but feel anxious as to whether it would be possible to reach the railway line before the kindly cloak of darkness, which hid them from their enemy’s eyes, was dispersed by daylight. However, the longest journey has its end, and the railway line was reached north-east of Rustfontein at 4.20 a.m. One of the horses had broken down from fatigue, but the rest of the little party had successfully reached their goal. On arrival at the railway line, each man proceeded to the duty that had been allotted to him ; the leader and Lieut. Charles proceeding outwards along the railway to seek for a culvert, the destruction of which would put the railway out of action for some time ; some men prepared the charges ; some cut the telegraph line, and yet others went out as scouts, while the two guides held the horses of the party. The leader was successful in discovering a big culvert, spanned by iron girders. These girders were soon prepared for demolition by placing gun-cotton round them at each end. When all was ready the party was sent away, and the two officers remained to light the fuses. As soon as the duplicate fuses for each charge had been lit, the officers got away as quickly as possible. It need hardly be said, however, that to get away quickly in the dark over such rough ground was not easy, and both officers had heavy falls while getting back to their horses. To fall at such a time is far from pleasant, when it is remembered that the fuse was burning all the time, and that at any moment the charge might go off. However, they reached their horses safely, and just before daybreak the charges exploded, sending pieces of iron hurling over great distances through the air. Two of these pieces went through the hut of some Kaffirs nearly one hundred yards from the scene of the explosion. These Kaffirs, who had heard and seen nothing of the Raiders, were suddenly awakened by this, to them, terrible explosion, followed immediately by the whizz of iron fragments through the hut. Thinking that the end of the world had come, the Kaffirs en bloc took to their heels and ran away to the mountains, where it was afterwards discovered they remained for some three days in a state of great terror. The explosions, which were completely successful in demolishing the railway bridge, had more important results than frightening the Kaffirs. They were heard by General French, who, knowing his man, immediately reported by field telegraph to Lord Roberts that the raid had been successful and that the line was cut. The Boers in Bloemfontein, hearing these loud explosions far behind and to the north of them, thought they were surrounded and were severely shaken in moral. The railway officials, who were getting away the locomotives and rolling stock as rapidly as they could from Bloemfontein to the north, to prevent them falling into our hands, were prevented from getting any more stuff away, and thus the great object of the raid was accomplished. As far as regards the immediate fortunes of the Raiders, the explosions had an effect that was far from pleasant, for they gave the alarm to the Boer troops in these parts, and as day broke the fate of the little party, trying to get back to the British forces from a situation so many miles away behind the Boer lines, became more and more precarious. Both they and their horses were very tired, and the country to be traversed was badly cut up with perpendicular-sided nullahs, or water-courses, up and down which it was difficult to get a path to lead horses. As the little party rode off to the east to circumvent the main body of the enemy lying to the south, the leader espied a strong Boer piquet in one of these nullahs right in front of them. The situation was a desperate one. To avoid the piquet by moving to cither flank was impossible, for during their movement to a flank they would have afforded easy targets to the Boer rifles at that short range. The Boers on the far side of the nullah were perfectly safe from any mounted attack if only they kept their heads; but the leader, knowing the value of decided action, and the great moral effect of a mounted charge, gave to his men the stirring command, ‘ Charge.’ Cheering as they did so, the party galloped after him. On arrival at the nullah, the leader, Major Hunter-Weston, cheering, jumped straight into it. As is almost always the case in war, boldness succeeded, and the Boers, quitting the security of their positions on the other side of the nullah, ran away down the bottom of the nullah at their very best speed, without leaving anyone behind to fire on the raiders, or to take advantage of the easy target that they and their horses presented. Elated by this success, the little party pressed forward on its way home ; but soon Boers appeared on either flank behind them, and fire was opened on them both by long range rifle fire and later by field guns. In descending into the last of the nullahs one horse got shot, and one man, .Sapper Webb, got wounded. In order to save this man and to safeguard the retreat of the party, Major Hunter-Weston, retaining Sergt. Engleheart with him, sent on the remainder of the party, under Lieut. Charles, to take up a position on the line of low kopjes about a mile further on, while he himself, with Sergt. Engleheart, got the wounded man on to a horse, which was led on by Sergt. Engleheart while the other acted as a rearguard, and, firing from time to time, checked the advancing Boers. The fire brought to bear upon this little party was fortunately erratic, and neither the men of Lieut. Charles’ party, nor the detachment with the wounded man, were hit either by rifle or shell fire, though the latter detachment, encumbered as they were by the wounded man, had many narrow escapes. As soon as the Boers came under the fire of the party established on the line of kopjes, and the rear detachment had passed through the line behind the hills, the Boers gave up the pursuit, and the Raiders, covered by a small rearguard, were able to make their way back by a very wide detour to the east and then south and south-west to the British lines, where they were received by the advanced scouts of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade, which was then advancing north to sweep round the east of Bloemfontein. The Raiders reached Cavalry Division Headquarters shortly before midday, and were in time to take part in the historic ceremony of the surrender of Bloemfontein that afternoon. The result of this excellently executed and most successful raid was that 25 locomotives and 108 trucks, 50 of which were loaded with coal, fell into our hands. It transpired that the Boers had been getting their accumulation of rolling stock away from Bloemfontein as quickly as time would allow, and that if the line had not been cut all would have been cleared by the morning. The smashing of the line not only prevented this rolling stock from being evacuated, but the news of it, telegraphed north, prevented Joubert from bringing to Bloemfontein the trains of reinforcements that were on their way. It had, furthermore, a great effect on the Boer troops holding Bloemfontein, for the noise of the explosion in their rear, and the absurdly exaggerated reports as to the strength of the raiders, made them believe that a strong cavalry force with artillery was across their line of retreat. The effect of this news was to convert the previous orderly retirement of our enemy into a rout, and to cause such a panic that no further defence of the hills south of Bloemfontein was attempted. Immediately after the surrender of Bloemfontein, the Mounted Engineers, under Major Aylmer Hunter-Weston, went forward to the railway station, and, taking over control of the railways, were able, with the aid of those of the railway staff who were of British sympathies and had remained, to organize, with the captured rolling stock, that same night a train service from Bloemfontein to the south. The Mounted Engineers continued to work this line until the arrival of the regular British Railway Staff some days later. It was due to this captured rolling stock that we were able to send troops down south to clear the railway line, and to get the much needed supplies up from the Orange River to our troops near Bloemfonteim. For their services in this raid, Sergt. Engleheart was given the Victoria Cross; Lieut. Charles was given the Distinguished Service Order, and every man of the party was given the D.C.M. ; Major Hunter-Weston himself receiving the special thanks of Lord Roberts.” Of Brevet-Major Aylmer Hunter-Weston’s second exploit the ” Times ” Correspondent gave the following description under his account dated 13 May, 1900, of the ” Occupation of Kronstadt ” : ” When the Cavalry Division, under General French, arrived at the farm of Boshof, west-south-west of Kronstadt, on the night of 11 May, Major Hunter-Weston, commanding the Royal Engineers with the Cavalry Division, volunteered to attempt a raid on the railway communication north of Kronstadt, similar to the enterprise which he carried out so successfully on the night previous to the occupation of Bloemfontein. General French gave his sanction. Volunteers were called for, and again it had to be a matter of selection. Taking Mr. Burnham, the American scout, and Lieut. Charles, R.E., Major Hunter-Weston chose the following eight sappers : Corpls. C. Hyde and F. Kirby ; Sappers J. Austin, C. Collins, T. Costin, .J. Crisp, B. Fearnley and T. Pearce. As it was anticipated that it might be necessary to employ force to pass the raiding party through the enemy’s outposts, General French placed under Major Hunter-Weston’s command a Composite squadron picked from the 1st Cavalry Brigade and officered by Capt. Yardley, Inniskilling Dragoons, and Lieut. Harrison, Scots Greys. Crossing the Bospoortspruit, the little column of desperate men moved north, parallel with the Valsch River. Major Hunter-Weston led the column, steering by the stars, and Burnham brought his extraordinary faculties of sight and hearing into use to prevent the party from running into any outlying patrol or piquet. About a mile north of the Modderspruit, Burnham discovered a patrol of four men moving across the front. As it was impossible for the column to avoid detection, Major Hunter-Weston determined to capture the group. The Cavalry divided and charged in upon both flanks. It was a wonderful scene. The thud of the galloping horses in the deep silence of night, the sabres flashing bare in the strong moonlight, the intense excitement of the moment. The party was captured and proved to be a Kaffir patrol, which had been sent out by a Boer piquet lying about a mile to the east. Having located this Boer piquet to the left, and having passed a strong Boer piquet on the right, Major Hunter-Weston judged that the outpost cordon was pierced. He, therefore, left Capt. Yardley, with the Cavalry, in observation of the Boers, with orders to return to camp as soon as the raiding party was clear. The little raiding party itself, now 11 strong, with two led horses, moved off north-east, taking advantage of the ground to avoid being seen. On a ridge near Fairfield, Burnham descried an enemy piquet. It was located at a junction of two long wire fences, as was so often the custom of the Boers on outpost. The situation is an excellent one, for wherever in their length the fences be climbed or cut the wire transmits the sound and the piquet at once becomes aware of the fact. To avoid the patrol, Major Hunter-Weston made a detour, but the patrol had seen the party, and the Boers were moving parallel with them and were collecting the vedettes along the line. To discover the Boers’ movements, Burnham scouted out to them, while the remainder of the party lay quiet. He discovered that four men were going rapidly forward, evidently to lie in ambush at a small nek which lay in the line of the raiders’ advance, while the others were trying to follow. To shake off this following, the party dived into the deep and wooded Dornspruit, giving the nek and the Boers a wide berth. On reconnoitring the ridge after arrival at the Dornspruit dam, they found that they had shaken off the Boers and that they were clear of the enemy. They then crossed the Damfontein Hills, from which position they could see the Boer camp fires extending in an almost unbroken line from Kronstadt to Honingspruit. The retreating force was encamped all along the railway line, and was interposed between the raiders and their objective. As it was impossible to get, right round behind the enemy, Major Hunter-Weston decided to try to slip through the Boer camps to the railway. But to do this the horses had to be concealed. Burnham went forward and found a spruit in which it would have been possible to have hidden the horses. But just as the party arrived at the edge of the depression a Boer camp fire flared up and showed them a number of Boers camped in the spruit. Time was now getting short ; there was only half an hour of moonlight and an hour of darkness left before dawn. Retiring west from the spruit, they passed by a farm full of Boers, and moving through their hobbled horses, finally got within sight of the low railway embankment. Between them and the railway, however, ran the main road from Kronstadt to Pretoria, and along this road the Boer commandos were retiring all night. As the raiders approached the road the head of a large commando of mounted Boers turned up over a fold in the veldt. Thanks to Burnham, the Boers were seen before they made the British out. Major Hunter-Weston at once gave the preconcerted signal for everyone to lie flat upon their horses’ necl s. As the commando passed, the leading file challenged. For a moment it seemed that they must be discovered, and that it would be necessary to give the other preconcerted signal for the little party to break up, and, as individuals, make a bid for safety by galloping off in different, directions. But as no movement was seen and no sound heard, the Boers apparently mistook the group for a bunch of loose horses, and passed on. It was a moment of extreme suspense; a moment when you hear each beat of your heart, and the relief was intense when the serried ranks of burghers passed on, laughing and joking, into the darkness. When the commando had passed the raiders moved on again to a place further away from the line, where the horses and the majority of the party were left concealed under Lieut. Charles, while Major Hunter-Weston, accompanied by Burnham, went forward to blow up the railway line at a point that proved to be near Amerika Siding. The leader had just left the rest of the party, and was giving Lieut. Charles some last instructions, when three Boers, who were sleeping in the field, suddenly sprang up out of the grass. Hunter-West and Burnham each immediately ‘ covered ‘ a man with their revolvers, and Lieut. Charles with great promptitude seized the carbine of the third. They proved to be three scouts of the Afrikander Horse. They were left with Lieut. Charles and the sappers, while Major Hunter-Weston and Burnham went forward alone on foot to attempt the demolition. Almost at once they met a piquet in search of the prisoners. Avoiding these by lying flat on the ground, they waited until they heard the men move on before again going forward. The Boers disappeared, accusing the patrol of deserting its post. Boers were all round, but the two desperate men crawled to the road. Here they lay in the grass, and waited while another long commando passed. Then came some wagons, and then a break in the column. In this gap behind the last wagon, and under cover of the dust and noise, both crossed the road in safety, crawled through the wire fence between the road and the railway, and, choosing their time during the intervals between bodies of troops, they were able to crawl to the top of the embankment and lay themselves flat in the angle between the top of the earthwork of the embankment and the side of the ballast of the permanent way. Burnham, being one of the greatest scouts in the world, and Hunter-Weston a practised stalker, they were able, with the ballast as a background, to lie unnoticed within ten yards of the Boer commandos passing along the road, while Hunter-Weston attached the charges to the rail and made them ready for lighting. When the charges were fixed and the detonators in position, they waited until Burn-ham’s practised ear told him that an interval in the continuous stream of troops and wagons was approaching. Hunter-Weston then, under cover of Burn ham’s broad-brimmed hat, lit the fuses, and they both slipped off down the little embankment, through the fence and across the road, behind the last of one lot of wagons and before the head of the next commando of Burghers arrived. Then at 4.15 a.m. came the explosion. It was followed by a babel of noise from the waking men, scared cattle, and a rush ‘ to horse.’ It was a regular swarming of bees. Under cover of this tumult Major Hunter-Weston and Burnham reached the horses, and, mounting the prisoners on the led horses, the whole party moved off north-west in the grey light of approaching daybreak. As soon as the leader considered that they were clear of the surrounding Boers, he increased the pace, and they trotted steadily on for three miles up and over the low range they had crossed further north on their outward journey. At sunrise they were clear of the main body, but they had yet to get through the outposts. And as they dropped down into the valley, shortly after sunrise, they made out a piquet of some twenty Boers directly in their path. Fortunately these Boers were dismounted and engaged in catching their horses. One man only remained by the fire as a sentry over the arms. Immediate attack was the only possible salvation, and the leader, ordering a charge, headed the best attempt, that the horses could do towards a gallop. The sentry levelled his rifle at the leader, but the sight of the charging horse and man made his courage fail, his hand shook, and the shot went wide. He then threw up his hands to save his own life. The leader, flinging himself from his horse, seized the man’s rifle, and, to render it and the six other rifles lying there useless, he broke their stocks. There was no time to wait, for the Boers far outnumbered the raiders, and the raiders were encumbered by the three prisoners they had taken, two of whom were mounted on one horse. The order, therefore, was at once given to press on, and to get over the next ridge before the Boers could collect themselves and their horses, and, in turn, attack. For some little time the Burghers were dumbfounded, and were intent only on saving themselves and on catching their horses, which had as usual been allowed to graze during the night. These minutes of confusion were the saving of our party, for it enabled them to make good progress towards the ridge, and before the Boers had collected, had mounted and had begun to follow, the raiders were cresting the rise. By their fire they wounded one of the raiders, Sapper Collins, and, seeing that it would be necessary to check this Boer piquet (now left with some twelve rifles) Major Hunter-Weston ordered everyone to move on under the command of Lieut. Charles, while he himself remained behind to cover the retreat. Dismounting behind the ridge, he took up a concealed position, and opened rapid fire on the advancing Boers with one of the Mauser carbines captured from the prisoners taken near the railway. Providence aided him, for his first shot killed the leading man, and the rest of the piquet immediately threw themselves from their horses and began firing at the unseen enemy on the ridge. Seeing that the pursuit was checked, the Major, after discharging some more rounds from different positions, so as to give the impression that the ridge was field in strength, mounted his horse and rode on to rejoin his party. Rearguards were dropped on each vantage ground to secure themselves against, pursuit, but nothing was seen of that, piquet. The journey back with tired men leading tired horses, and with three prisoners to guard, was long and wearisome, and the vigilance of the leaders could never be relaxed, for they were still within the territory covered by the Boer patrols. At length they got back to country where they judged they should be clear of the Boers, but what was their discomfiture to espy in the distance in front of them a mounted force of Boers. The raiders tried to avoid being seen by this force, but it was evident that the advanced scouts had discovered them, and a pretty little bit of manoeuvring ensued, neither party knowing the strength nor disposition of the other, and each keeping hidden from his opponent. By good fortune, before fire was opened, the raiders got a view of some of their opponents and discovered that they were British ! But danger was not yet over, for the raiders had either slouch hats or bare heads, and it was difficult to make it clear that the returning raiders were in sooth British. As soon, however, as junction was effected with this Cavalry Squadron, the difficulties and dangers of the raiders were over, and, after watering and feeding and resting for a short time at a farmhouse, the gallant little cortege, with its three prisoners, returned quietly, reaching Cavalry Division Headquarters Camp, three miles north of Kronstadt, at 3 p.m , having accomplished an expedition which, in its sequence of miraculous escapes, reads more like a fairy tale than a stern episode of war, and which presents one of the most stirring, gallant and self-sacrificing side-histories of this war.” Colonel Watkins Yardley, D.S.O., in his delightful book, ” With the Inniskilling Dragoons in South Africa,” gives an account of his adventures when he went out to escort Major Hunter-Weston, as described at the beginning of this account. He ends his narrative by saying : “One of our squadrons was detailed to reconnoitre at, daylight for the enemy in the direction of our previous night’s expedition. They espied Major Hunter-Woston’s small party attempting to return, and pursued them, thinking that they were Boers.
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