At Kimberley on November 4 things were still cheerful, though short commons had begun to be enforced. The Transvaalers advanced on Kenilworth, and Major Peakman with a squadron of the Kimberley Light Horse, emerging suddenly from the bush gave them a warm reception: Colonel Scott-
According to rough calculation, the opposing forces at Kimberley early in November stood thus:
Four companies of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment; battery of Royal Garrison
Artillery, consisting of six 7-
In addition to these were the following irregular troops.
One battery Diamond Fields Artillery with six 7-
Free Staters, arid probably some Transvaal Boers, with four field-
The disparity was not enlivening, but, though provisions were beginning to run low, pluck was inexhaustible. And with pluck, as with faith, one may move mountains.
On the 11th of November the bombardment of the town was commenced with great vigour,
the Boers firing from three positions. Little serious damage was done, owing to
the fact that many of the shells did not burst. In spite of the incessant brawling
of artillery, the perpetual appearance of fog, and a stinging pall of smoke in which
they lived, the inhabitants of the place kept up an air of cheery unconcern, which
naturally they were far from feeling. They also determined to disquiet the enemy
by continual threats of attack from unexpected quarters. With the spirit of philosophers
they at times made small divertisements for themselves. Once when a cooking-
Nothing further happened, save that a cabdriver was captured, interrogated, threatened,
and finally set free. Commandant Wessels, who sounded him regarding the dynamite
mines round Kimberley, concluded with the message-
On the 12th Lord Methuen, on whom all had pinned their faith,. arrived with his staff
at the Orange River. This was a red-
On the 17th of November a force composed of detachments of the Diamond Fields Horse,
Kimberley Light Horse, and Cape Police, under Colonel Scott Turner, went out with
All eyes were now fixed on the doings of the Kimberley relief force that was concentrating at Orange River. A few more weeks, nay, a few more days, and those patient, cheery prisoners would march out free to have their reckoning with the Boers. Lord Methuen, once joined by the Coldstream Guards, Grenadiers, and Naval Brigade, would be able to push on, and then the first big move in the war would be made. So they hoped, and with reason, for an electric searchlight, worked by the Naval Brigade under Colonel Ernest Rhodes, was signalling to Kimberley, whose searchlights were plainly visible to the advancing army.
To the dreary imprisoned inhabitants this mode of communication was vastly exciting.
Every day the relief column was approaching nearer and nearer, and the patient though
longing besieged began to feel as if they were already almost liberated. They commenced
preparing an enthusiastic welcome for the incoming troops, and ironical farewell
salutations were now levied at the Boers in acknowledgment of shells and of their
'general artillery prowess. At that time, coming events-
was keenly desirous of exhibiting him in a cage at Bloemfontein prior to despatching him to Pretoria! The brutal manners and customs of the Boers, however, were no subject for joke, as shown by their treatment of four "boys" who were found and captured while searching for stray cattle. After killing a couple of them, the enemy ordered the remaining two, having first flogged them, to bury the bodies of their comrades, and then go back to Kimberley and tell their friends how they had been treated.
Boer tricks continued to be practised with little success. They served instead to
sharpen the wits of the beleaguered Kimburlians-
Kimberley, as said, was now in communication by searchlight with Colonel Rhodes, and was racking its brains how an attempt might be made from the east side to march out and assist the troops coming from Belmont. "So near and yet so far" was the general feeling in regard to these troops, and a burning desire for the hand clasp of the gallant rescuers filled all the brave yet anxious hearts that for so long had been cut off from the outer world.
On the 25th of November there was unusual activity. The mounted troops at dawn made
a strong reconnaissance in force under Lieut. -
The day's work on the whole was satisfactory, as it ably demonstrated that there was life in the garrison yet. And this glorious activity was subsequently recognised in the following order.
"The officer commanding desires to thank all ranks who took part in to-
A second sortie of the same kind was attempted on the 28th of November, but with
more disastrous results. The troops took the same direction as before-
There was terrible grief in the garrison at the loss of this splendid officer, the principal organiser of the Town Guards and the successful leader of so many skirmishes and sorties throughout the siege. The following special order was issued
"The officer commanding has again to congratulate the troops of the garrison who
engaged the enemy yesterday on their excellent behaviour and on the capture of the
enemy's laager, with his supplies, ammunition, &C It was in every respect a most
creditable performance. He has also again to deplore the loss of many brave men who
have fallen at the call of duty. It was with profound sorrow he learnt that Lieut.
Major M. C. Peakman, an excellent and most dauntless officer, succeeded to the command of the Kimberley Light Horse in consequence of Colonel Scott Turner's death.
Lieutenant Wright of the Kimberley Light Horse was killed, and among the wounded were Lieutenant W. K. Clifford (1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment), Captain Walleck (Diamond Fields Horse), and Lieutenant Watson (Kimberley Light Horse).
On the afternoon of the 29th of November, amid feelings of universal regret, the remains of Colonel Scott Turner and others who fell in Tuesday's sortie were interred. The ceremony, so common in those days, was yet full of deep pathos. Round the graves stood Mr. Cecil Rhodes, Dr. Smart, the Mayor of Kimberley. Mr. and the Hon. Mrs. Rochfort Maguire, and indeed the whole mournful community of the place. Six volleys were fired over the graves, six blasts blown on the bugle, and then a last prayer being said, they left them "alone in their glory."
' Henry Scott Turner entered the Black Watch at the age of twenty in 1887. After
taking part in the operations in Matabeleland in 1893-
There was little bombardment after the 25th of November, and though not living on the fat of the land, the garrison was not short of provisions. Mr. Rhodes, with characteristic forethought, now caused the formation of a committee to inquire into the resources of those dependent on the men killed, with a view to compensating them for their loss, and in other ways exerted himself for the welfare of sufferers in the town.
Considerable friction occurred between the civil and military authorities. The clashing
of wills was inevitable in so small an area, for Colonel Kekewich represented military
power, while Mr. Rhodes could be no other than he is, and ever has been-
Early on the morning of the 9th of December a force with a battery under Colonel
Chamier to whom the efficient and mobile condition of the artillery was due-
The enemy were screened by the debris of a wall at Kamfeens, but when the boom of
the British gun burst out and a shell roared in their midst, they hurriedly sought
cover in their foremost rifle-
On the wise principle that it is safer to act early on the aggressive if you do not want to have to act late on the defensive, the smart little force indulged in more military movements.
Colonel Kekewich's general plan for the defence of Kimberley was based on the principle of always keeping the enemy on the move and constantly in fear of attack from an unexpected quarter, but the immediate object of the numerous sorties and demonstrations in force now made by the garrison was to assist the operations of Lord Methuen. The Colonel explained that, "when the advance of the Relief Column from the Orange River commenced, and I was put in possession of information concerning the probable date of its arrival at Kimberley, I adopted such measures as I hoped would cause the retention of a large force of the enemy in my immediate neighbourhood, and thus enable the Relief Column to deal with the Boer force in detail."
As the portions of mounted corps were continually employed, the work which fell on
the detachment, 1st Batt. Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Cape Police, Diamond Fields
Horse, Kimberley Light Horse, and the Diamond Fields Artillery, was very arduous;
but the bravery and dash of these troops was unending. Colonel Murray, of the Loyal
North Lancashire, was invaluable in many capacities, and Captain O'Brien of the
same regiment, in command of a section of the defences, was unfailing in energy and
zeal. Cool as the proverbial cucumber were Major Rodger of the Diamond Fields Horse
and Major May of the Diamond Fields Artillery. The motto of these officers was the
reverse of that of the notable gens d'armes, for they were "always there when wanted,"
and generally in the fore-
On the 20th of December, the mounted detachments under Colonel Peakman, with maxims
On the 22nd of December a good deal of martial activity took place. At cockcrow
a detachment of mounted forces, with artillery and infantry, went west for the purpose
of reconnoitring Voornitzright and part of Weldermstkuil. On the right were the Diamond
Fields Horse under Major Rodger, supported by a company of the North Lantashire
Regiment under Lieutenant de Putron. Presently an animated cannonade began between
the enemy's artillery from Kamferdam and the Diamond Fields Artillery guns on Otto's
Kopje. In the centre Colonel Peakman, with the Kimberley Light Horse and Cape Police,
proceeded along Lazaretto Ridge. There, before retreating, he made the necessary
On Christmas Eve congratulations were received by flashlight signals from the Military Secretary at Cape Town:
"Convey to Colonel Kekewich and all the garrison and inhabitants of Kimberley his Excellency's best wishes for their good luck on Christmas Day arid in the coming New Year,"
Colonel Kekewich replied :-
"Kindly inform the Military Secretary that I and the garrison and inhabitants of Kimberley thank his Excellency for his Kind message. We also wish respectfully to offer our very best wishes for Christmas and New Year."
This little interchange of compliments caused infinite pleasure to those whose days
were one unvarying round of trial and suspense. The weather was exceedingly hot;
at times the thermometer registered 105 in the shade, and life without absolute necessities
in torrid weather is trying even to the patience of the active. To those whose intercourse
with the world was confined to flashlight signals, it was barren in the extreme.
But with much pluck they thus announced their sentiments in a journal called the
Diamond Fields Advertiser, which still maintained a languishing existence: "Excepting
two or three of our inhabitants who shared the terrible privations of the siege of
Paris, few of us have ever spent such a Christmas before, and few will ever care
to spend such a Christmas again. The scarcity of turkeys and plum-
"Best wishes and longer range to your guns." From the gunners, in return, while
they kept one ear open for movement in the direction of the Boers' "Susannah:" "May
our range be always long enough for us to be guardian-
On the following day the artillery was at work responding to the salutes of the Boers,
who commenced to fire with great activity after their Christmas rest. They dropped
The task of arranging for the victualling and supply of the garrison and 4Q000 people
in the town was undertaken by Major Gorle, Army Service Corps, and the zeal and
resource which he brought to bear on his onerous duties were applauded on all sides.
Of course there were found persons who, on the take-
Mr. Henderson, Captain Tyson of the Kimberley Club, and Dr. Smart collaborated with
the ruling spirit of the place, organising relief committees, distributing thousands
of pints of soup per diem, and apportioning such fruit and vegetables as were to
be had for the good of those who were most sorely in need. That green stuffs were
scarce may be gathered from the fact that the allowance for nine parsnips, and several
beets (duodecimo editions). The garrison, later on, were glad of mangel-
Much of the Kimberley news was obtained through the energy and auteness, almost amounting
to genius, of the despatch-
On the morning of the 27th of January the mounted troops under the indefatigable
Colonel Peak man at an early hour reconnoitred the Boer position near the Premier
mine. The Boers were indulging in a last little doze, when some shells were neatly
dropped into their laager. The alarum was effective. They were up and 'doing in
no time, and set to work firing with the utmost vigour, but their shots were not
accurate and much waste of ammunition took place. It may be remembered that Colonel
Peakman, Kimberley Light Horse, after the death of Colonel Turner was selected for
the command of the mounted troops in Kimberley. A tower of strength of himself, he
was surrounded by a gallant crew, among whom were Major Scott, V.C., Captains AP-
Later on, a chunk of donkey occasionally replaced the equine morsel, and cats, it
was noticed, began to be less in evidence. There were whispers-
On the 29th a tussle took place between the foe and a man named Sheppy, who, with
twelve mounted natives, was herding a thousand De Beers horses and mules. The cattle-
The transformation of diamond-
Owing to the excellent management and regulation of stores, the community had hitherto
been enabled to live at normal prices, and food had been within the reach of all.
But now the pinch of the siege began to be felt. Luxuries such as eggs, vegetables,
&c., were naturally scarce, but horse-
People had to take their meat allowance half in beef and half in horse-
The new gun, " Long Cecil," manufactured in De Peers, was greatly prized. It distinguished
itself on its debut by plumping a shell in the centre of the Kamfersdam headlaager
exactly over the position of the Dutchmen's gun. Bombardment continued spasmodically,
sometimes at night, the shells entering several houses and attack by day" of the
furniture; but wantonly barbarous was the attack on the laager containing the women
and children, which took place on the 23rd of January. One of the little innocents
was killed and another probably maimed for life. On the 24th more bombardment began
as early as four in the morning, and firing continued all day. The worst feature
in the affair was the attack-
Very lamentable was this habit of the Boers to violate the sacred rules of the Geneva
Convention, for it alienated even those who were ivy sympathy with their cause. They
could not plead ignorance of the rules of warfare, for at one time they ignored these
rules to play the barbarian, while at another they utilised them to act the poltroon.
The history of the Convention may not be generally known. It was promoted in 1864
and subsequently signed by all the Continental Powers. It was decided that-
I. Ambulances and military hospitals were to be recognised as neutral, and as such to be protected and respected by all belligerents.
2. The personnel of these hospitals and ambulances, including the intendance, the sanitary officers, officers of the administration, as well as military and civil chaplains, were to be benefited by the neutrality.
3. The inhabitants of the country rendering help to the sick and wounded were to be respected and free from capture.
4. The sick and wounded were to be attended to without distinction of nation.
5. A flag and a uniform were to be adopted for the hospitals, ambulances, and convoys of invalids; an armlet or badge for the personnel? of the ambulances and hospitals.
6. The badge was to consist of a red cross on a white ground.
Committees were formed throughout Europe and America to carry out this convention,
and the Society worked under the title of the "International Society of Aid for
the Sick and Wounded." It played its first important part in 1870 in the Franco-
Now, in consequence of the brutal disregard of a world-
The ministers of all denominations-
Spasmodic bombardment took place during the evening of the 24th, and continued through
the night striking some buildings-
Enough could not be said of the splendid valour and pertinacity of the townspeople,
The zeal and the "go " of the Cape Police was notable. Among the most prominent of the corps were Colonel Robinson, gallant Major Elliot and Major Ayliff (wounded on December 3), who was brave as he was tactful. Perpetually useful and conspicuously gallant were Captains Colvin, Crozier, White, and Cummings Their duties, most difficult, were almost interminable.
Life was monotonous in the extreme. From the town it was possible on clear days to
view the Modder River balloon; and the occasional sight of it afforded a stimulus
to the drooping spirits of the inhabitants, Its rotund form floating so peacefully
high in air seemed like a harbinger of hope promising and consoling, and teaching
the lesson of patience and perseverance that overcome all things! Of course, it was
only the sentimentalists of the community who thus interpreted the language of the
aerial monster, but these, like the people who find sermons in stones, promptly took
heart, and bore their trials with renewed dignity and pluck. Both these qualities
were in great demand, for the Boers and their tactics were exhausting to the patience
of the most forbearing. Their pertinacity was great. At one moment they would pour
shells into the town, making hearts palpitate or stand still in horror at the gruesome
fracas; at others they would persistently "snipe" from bidden corners and bushes,
and render movements in the open, to say the least of it-
Sniping always continued, though, for a day or two, no serious bombardment took
place. Indeed, there was reason to believe that a Boer gun was hors decombat The
report came in that "Susaiinah" had burst. There was general jubilation. Later on
it filtered out that "Susannah" was 6'all serene1" but this was doubted. The sanguine
hoped against hope. We are ready enough to believe what we wish to be true, and finally,
for want of something to discuss, the question of "~Has she burst, or has she not
burst?" was bandied about in the tone of a popular riddle. Unfortunately "Susannah"
was intact, as subsequent experience proved. Not only was "Susannah" herself again,
but it was reported that a considerable Boer reinforcement had arrived in the neighbourhood,
and that three guns from Spyfontein were being ranged in attitude to defy "Long Cecil,"
whose prowess was more decided than pleasant. Still the inhabitants bore up very
creditably, and enlivened themselves continually with concerts or entertainments
of some kind. The programmes, it must be noted, were always marked "weather and
Boers permitting "-
The Boer spies took a lively interest in all that concerned Mr. Rhodes, and hopes
were entertained that before long some one would receive the price of his capture.
But this gentleman pursued his avocations in the town and its suburbs with unabated
interest, arranging for the comfort of the refugees, and evincing paternal solicitude
in the laying out of new suburbs, and the construction of a regular row of bomb-
The Colossus, regardless. of the fate that hung over the town, continued to make
plans and projects for the development of the place. On a high plateau he purposed
to create a new suburb, and the name will doubtless bear a relationship to the great
events of 1900. A column was in course of erection to commemorate the siege, but
the tale of bombardment, writ large on many of the buildings, is one that will scarcely
be forgotten, and forms memorial enough. Some curious damage was done, a shrapnel
shell electing to penetrate the wall of a draper's shop and wound a feminine dummy
and smash a wax effigy of a boy used as a clothes model. Fortunately few human beings
suffered. Great precautions were taken for the safety of the inhabitants, and a look-
Affairs within the town were now growing almost as bellicose as Affairs without it.
Continued friction generates heat, and of this throughout the siege there had been
more and more as time went on. It was quite evident that Kimberley was not sufficiently
large to afford an arena for the combat of brains versus military discipline, and
that the patience of the besieged was nearing the snapping-
A curious incident occurred on the 29th. Some thirty-
At this time food was becoming more and more scarce; even horse-
Marvellous was the rapidity with which this vast crowd, at hint of a shell, would
drop to earth. As by some mechanical process there would come a bang, and then, like
a card castle, the whole procession would drop flat. The Boers, knowing, most probably,
that this was an eventful period of the morning, would invariably start off about
six with a boisterous "good-
Gradually the rations grew shorter and shorter and shorten They now consisted mainly
tin of milk was allowed. With this strong children could get along well, but there were many weakly ones, and these waned and waned till the baby funerals became pathetically frequent.
The Dutchmen were exceedingly ingenious in the invention of tricks and traps. One
of these was to move a waggon with sixteen fat oxen in charge of but two men into
the open Vlei below Tarantaal Ridge, and there to leave it, apparently unguarded,
for two hours. They thought that this bait would lure forth the cattle-
After this began the bombardment by a new Boer gun, a diabolical instrument, whose perfections were hymned by an artillery expert, who declared it to be one of the most perfect pieces of ordnance ever made! A correspondent in the Daily Telegraph described the terrifying effect produced on the nerves of the sick and the weakly. He went on: "The shock caused by the firing of this gun was distinctly perceptible five feet under ground at a distance of five miles, and the miniature earthquake thus created was clearly registered by the new seismograph at Kenilworth1 the pendulum of which remained perfectly stationary during the firing of the smaller guns, or the passage of the most heavily laden trains or vehicles at very close quarters."
The 9th of February was a terrible day. There was crashing and booming from morning
till night, and no one dared venture abroad. One inhabitant had his child killed
under his very eyes and his wife mortally stricken down. Towards sundown a shell
struck the Grand Hotel, killing Mr. Labram, the De Beers chief engineer, whose valuable
brains had been the salvation of the place. He had constructed armoured engines,
armoured trains, and had completed his ingenious labours by constructing the huge
The bombardment was growing daily more severe. Each time the Boers fired their 100-
The experiences of a lady who enjoyed the hospitality of the mine were scarcely exhilarating.
She said: "We went down the mine, but only stayed one day. Of course, one felt safe,
but it was so miserable; still, it was another siege experience, the crowds of people
down there. On the 1000-
Now that the nerve-
"KIMBERLEY, February 10.
"On behalf of the inhabitants of this town, we respectfully desire to be informed
whether there is an intention on your part to make an immediate effort for our relief.
Your troops have been for more than two months within a distance of little over twenty
miles from Kimberley, and if the Spytfontein hills are too strong for them, there
is an easy approach over a level at. This town, with a population of over 45,000
people, has been besieged for 120 days, and a large portion of the inhabitants has
been enduring great hardships. Scurvy is rampant among the natives; children, owing
to lack of proper food, are dying in great numbers, and dysentery and typhoid are
very prevalent. The chief food of the whites have been bread and horse-
To this Lord Roberts replied
"I beg you represent to the Mayor and Mr. Rhodes as strongly as you possibly can
the disastrous and humiliating effect of surrender after so prolonged and glorious
a defence. Many days cannot possibly pass before Kimberley will be relieved, as
we commence active operations to-
A great deal o gossip hung round the suppression of the Diamond Fields Advertiser;
but the whole affair was merely a storm in the ink-
KIMBERLEY, February 10, 1900.
submitting the same to the military censor, 1 am directed to inform you that from this date the proof of the Diamond Fields Advertiser must be submitted to me before the copies of any daily number, leaflet, or other form of publication is issued to the public.
"I am further requested to inform you, in your own interests, that on the two occasions
referred to you have committed the most serious offences dealt with by the Army Act,
under which Act you are liable to be tried.-
W. A. O'MEARA, Major, Military Censor"
The military censor was within his rights. The editor, after the manner of editors, did not care to be muzzled, so the Diamond Fields Advertiser was temporarily suspended.
The editorial chair at the time was not an enviable berth, owing to the invasion
of shells from the 100-
The new gun, mounted on the kopje at Kamferdam, was determined to make life hideous,
and so incessantly swept the neighbourhood that a state of panic began to prevail
even among those who had hitherto borne themselves with unconcerned front. In addition
to this perpetual tornado of horror the pinch of famine was becoming sharper, and
the question of relief seemed to be growing into one of "now or never" Despair seized
on many. They began to count the days, and wonder when it would all end, and whether
indeed it would ever end at all! Two days-
|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|