Under The Union Jack, No. 3, Vol. 1, November 25th 1899

BATTLING FOR EMPIRE. THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH. Nov. 25,1899.] THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA. 5 1 INCS Ewe last wrote a good deal has occurred in South Africa. It has not been so much the clash of arms that we have witnessed— though a good deal of lighting there has been—as the gradual massing for the decisive advance, which has already in part begun. About io,ooo men have now arrived, or are on the point of arriving, in Natal, and probably fully 15,000 troops will be available for the relief of Ladysm ith, including a large part of the 1st Division, and the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and some troops drawn from other brigades or belonging to the Natal Field Force. A Naval Brigade and fine Colonial forces are also in the field, with guns and ample ammunition and stores, so that we shall soon have dramatic happenings. What will the Boers do? They have never shown any stomach for pitched battles, but they are given the alternative now of fighting or running. If it be possible to get on their communi­cations in the neighbourhood of Glencoe, their rout will be demoralising, but in any case they cannot stay long before Ladysmith. The gallant defenders of that place, under many disadvantages, have done yeoman service to the Empire. They have kept General Joubert well occupied and always on the alert, completely upsetting the plans he had formed, according to Colonel Schiel, of advancing on Pieter Maritzburg, and there “dictating terms of peace.” And so the Boers have a dismal reflection— that gloomy thought— “too late.” But they are showing avery aggressive inspirit the direction of Estcourt all the same. General Joubert has depended too much on his bombard­ment. The situation tempted him. With guns on all the heights round Ladysm ith, completely commanding the place, it was natural, perhaps, that he should think he could compel Sir George White to surrender, but he knew neither the spirit nor the resource of a British garrison. What interpretation he set upon the unfortunate affiir of Nicholson’s Nek, when our gallant men were captured, it is impossible to say, though it must have encouraged his followers. Father Matthews, chaplain to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, has given a striking account of that business, in which he was among the captured. The men were without ammunition, hemmed in 011 three sides, with a precipice on the fourth. Surrender was the only alternative to annihilation, as the Boers were 011 the point of opening shellfire. It was pathetic to hear the Fusiliers bemoaning their misfortune. Several of them came to him with tears in their eyes, and said, “Father, I'd rather have been shot than this.” It was the honourable grief of brave men at disaster that brought no shame. The bombardment has been intermittent, but at times very heavy, though all evidence goes to show that it has been comparatively ineffective. There was a tremendous shelling 011 November 9th, continued on successive days, and some of our guns were said to be silent, which raises a suspicion that ammunition may have run short for some of them. But Commandant Botha, who is in command 011 the south side of Ladysm ith, admits that the Pretoria commando was in a tight place, and was driven out by a hot fire. The Arm o ured Train .The armoured trains have been, doing good service in patrolling the line and discovering what damage the enemy was doing. The prospect of our offensive movement being made from the direction of Estcourt has drawn the Boers in larger numbers to the south side of Ladysm ith, and they have been able to wreck the inline the neighbourhood of Colenso, and to menance it further south. On November 15th one of those incidents happened which are inevitable in war where bold men are engaged in service against an active enemy. The Boers attempted, and with partial success, to repeat their tactics which answered so well at Kraaipan, on the western frontier. The armoured train, with a company each of the Dublins and the Durban Light Infantry, proceeded from Estcourt, cautiously reconnoitring as far as Chieveley, which is one station short of Colenso. The Boers had meanwhile got upon the track in the rear, had torn up some rails, and brought guns to bear on the spot. The result was that when the train steamed back two trucks in front of the engine left the line and toppled over. Immediately shot and shell were poured upon the disabled train, and the Naval 7-pounder in one of the trucks, after firing three rounds, was putout of Inaction. a perfect storm of missiles, our men laboured steadily to get the engine and tender clear, while the infantry went out in skirmishing order to cover the operations. Mr. Winston Spencer Churchill, the intrepid soldier-correspondent, who is among the missing, is said to have greatly distinguished himself in helping the rally. At length the engine and tender got away, riddled with shot, and carried the wounded to Estcourt. Some of the gallant skirmishers have income also, but some are killed and many captured. I11 such ways as this do we probe and test the enemy, keeping him well occupied while we develop our energy in other directions for his undoing. When the events in Natal are further unrolled many things will be discovered by the Boers which it would be unwise now to speak of. One thing, however, maybe said with confidence, and it is that Sir Redvers Buller has laid down such a scheme for the relief of Ladysmith and the discomfiture of the enemy as will certainly astonish the rash besiegers of Ladysm ith. Everything comes to him who can wait, and it is certainly with us, growing daily stronger, that there rests the staying power. Kimberley and M a f e k inc .Whatever Sir Redvers Buller does in Natal we may feel quite sure that his operations there will be but apart of his grand advance. The skirmish in which Colonel Keith-Falconer fell arose out of a movement in the direction of Kimberley, over which considerable secresy has been cast. De Aar Junction and the Hopetown Bridge, 011 the Orange River are places of great importance, which have been made impregnable, and we have avery strong force in that region— horse, foot, and artillery, Jack, also, “son of the sea-girt England, ward of the world-wide breed,” and with him the good Marine, “soldier and sailor too.” 'Sir Redvers Buller does not reveal his secret. Mark how he suppresses himself! W e feel that he is there, organising and directing, but there are no speeches, no demonstrations, no public utterances, no attempt to advertise. But that a movement is going forward we know, and the Boers maybe more astonished than ourselves. A column, including the 9th Lancers, the Northumberland Fusiliers, the Munster Fusiliers, and part of the Loyal North Lancashires, is stated, at the moment of writing, to be somewhere between the Orange River and the Diamond City. If the advance be made not directly to Kimberley, but in the way of a march, or at least a feint, in the direction of Bloemfontein, the Boers will soon rollback, and the Cape Frontier and the besiege !garrisons will be relieved. Meanwhile, how gaily Kimberley occupies its seclusion. It must be aggravation to the enemy to know that his long- range bombardment is a je.t to the men assailed. An iron CONTAINS PICTURES FROM THE TRAN SVA AL.
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