So little is known by civilians of the nature and appearance of armoured trains, which played so prominent a part in the war, that a rough sketch of the "altogether" of one of these ungainly and diabolical machines may here be given. Armoured trains are hastily constructed affairs, consisting of a locomotive and a few waggons, the engine generally being located about the middle of the train. The waggons and locomotive are covered by boiler-
A machine of this kind, but of third-
The crew of this train consisted of Captain Haldane (Gordon Highlanders), in command
of some seventy non-
The enemy, triumphant, then opened fire with a Maxim and two 9-
An officer writing of the armoured train affair at Chieveley so well described the glorious deeds that were performed that his version was quoted even by war correspondents. It is therefore reproduced here.
"The train," he writes, "had gone on past Frere towards Chieveley, when a party of
about 200 Boers were seen evidently watering their horses. After watching them for
some time the train reversed, and went back at a fair speed. On rounding a curve,
a truck containing men of the Durham Light Infantry toppled over, almost burying
the inmates. Fortunately the men had room to scramble out, although three or four
had almost to be dug out before they got free. In the meantime the Boers were pouring
"Twenty volunteers were called for, and it was at this point that Lieutenant Winston Churchill so distinguished himself. With the greatest coolness he superintended the operation of getting the trucks free of the line. He encouraged the men at work by walking about in the open with bullets flying round him, and telling the working party not to mind the Boer fire, as the aim was bad. "The engine was backed and then pushed against the trucks on the line, and it was when this operation was going on that another truck, behind which the men were firing to cover the working party, fell over and injured one or two D. L.I. seriously. They had been ordered to stand back while the engine butted against the derailed trucks, but they evidently did not hear the order.
"After nearly an hour's hard work and harder fighting, the line was clear enough for the engine to go forward, but the waggons behind had to be uncoupled and left. The Dubs who were in them and the Naval men, however, had got out, and had gone away in extended order, and the engine had moved on just when the line was clear.
"Captain Wyllie was shot in the thigh and dropped. Sergeant Tod, who had also been
injured in the hand, went to the Captain's assistance and built up a cover of stones
as a protection against rifle-
"The engine in the meantime had gone forward, and was brought by Lieutenant Churchill to pick up as many wounded as could be found. Captain Wyllie and Tod were taken up on the tender, and the engine went on some distance farther, when Captain Haldane of the Gordons and Lieutenant Churchill jumped off and joined the men fighting their way back; but the Boers were now closing all round, and the engine barely got through."
The Echo, in a leading article, spoke warmly of Mr. Churchill's exploit. It said:
"In this affair Mr. Churchill, though a non-
It is somewhat interesting here to note Mr. Churchill's soliloquy on his journey
in an armoured train, published in the Morning Post at the very time the noble fellow
was suffering for his bravery on an identical trip. "This armoured train," he said,
"is a very puny specimen, having neither gun nor Maxims, with no roof to its trucks
and no shutters to its loopholes, and being in every way inferior to the powerful
machines I saw working along the southern frontier. Nevertheless it is a useful means
of reconnaissance, nor is a journey in it devoid of interest. An armoured train!
The very name sounds strange; a locomotive disguised as a knight~errant-
"Beyond Chieveley it was necessary to observe more caution. The speed was reduced-
Little did he know when these thoughts passed though his busy brain that in a few days he would find himself in the State School of Pretoria, a prisoner, far from kith and kin, and uncertain whether or not he, like others, might be tried by Judge Gregorowski, who would take a grim pleasure, as he did in the case of the Uitlanders, in sentencing him to death. On this score great anxiety was felt, and it is no exaggeration to say that his countrymen, whether friends or strangers, were all equally regretful at his loss, and deeply anxious as to the fate that might befall so gallant a descendant of a great line.
|The Growth of the Transvaal|
|The Web Thickens|
|The Zulu War|
|Isandlwana, an hour by hour account|
|Affairs at Home|
|The First Anglo Boer War|
|Between the Wars|
|The Fate of SGT Elliot|
|The Siege of Pretoria|
|The Reform Movement|
|The Critical Moment|
|The Fate of the Raiders|