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Lt-Col Robert George Scott VC DSO

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 3 OCTOBER

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3 October 1882, 3 miners killed in a slip of ground at Dutoitspan Mine.
3 October 1891, SA cricketer WVS (Vic) Ling born.
3 October 1898, Foundation stone of the Dutoitspan Lodge (Good Templars Hall) laid by James Lawrence MLA.
3 October 1918, Lt-Col Robert George Scott VC DSO (pictured) dies at Wynberg.
3 October 1994, Martin van Zyl assumes position of Northern Cape Director-General.

DID YOU KNOW

Robert George Scott VC DSO was born in Whittlesey, near Peterborough Cambridgeshire, England, on 22 April 1857, the son of Royal Naval Fleet Surgeon Robert Charles Scott and Mary Elizabeth Scott. He was educated at Epsom College (Granville House), entering in 1870 and proved an enthusiastic member of the College corps.

In 1876 he joined the Cape Mounted Rifles and served with the unit in the 1877 Frontier War and the 1879-80 Basuto Gun War. It was in the Basuto War, when as a 21 year-old sergeant, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry.

“On 8 April 1879 during an attack on Morosi’s Mountain, South Africa, Sergeant Scott volunteered to throw time-fuse shells as hand grenades over a wall of stone barricades from behind which the enemy were bringing heavy fire to bear on the Colonial troops. Sergeant Scott made his men take cover in case the shells burst prematurely before making two attempts to throw shells over it. At the second attempt the shell exploded almost in his hands blowing his right hand to pieces and wounding him severely in the leg.”

He was presented the Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 17 December 1880, having by this time been promoted to Lieutenant.

Employed by De Beers Consolidated Mines, he volunteered to serve during the Siege of Kimberley 1899-1900 and was promoted to Major, being second in command of the Kimberley Light Horse. For his services during the Anglo-Boer War he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (GG 27 September 1901) as well as the Queen’s and King’s SA medals.

Major Robert Scott VC and Captain G Harris, together with Lt-Colonel Henry Scott-Turner, had visited all the redoubts around Kimberley in search of volunteers for the Kimberley Light Horse. There were so many that it was easy to select only the best sort of recruit. By 19 October 1899, the 400-strong unit was in existence as a mobile and efficient mounted unit and, on 24 October, it received its baptism of fire in the battle at Dronfield. The Kimberley Light Horse had been born and christened. The unit was to see further action at both battles of Carter’s Ridge in November and in numerous skirmishes throughout the defence of Kimberley, as well as the abortive chase for the Boer Long Tom on 16 February 1900.

Shortly after the Siege had been lifted, Scott formed a unit originally named Scott’s Guards, primarily to guard the trains travelling through the Kimberley region. There was certain unhappiness with the unit name chosen – this mostly from the more famous Scots Guards – and the unit was renamed Scott’s Railway Guards. The unit was about 500 men strong, many of them employed by the De Beers Company, and Scott served until the end of the war. For his services he was awarded the DSO.

The Great War of 1914-1918 again saw Major Scott VC DSO rally to the cause. The public of Kimberley, with the mobilization of the Kimberley Regiment, were keen to get involved and the Kimberley Defence Rifle Association was formed after a meeting on 27 August in the town hall. Made up into four squadrons, the Veldkornet for B Squadron was Major Scott. Within a month the Association had been formed into the Kimberley Central Commando with Colonel Robert G Scott VC DSO the Commandant, and EC Lardner-Burke the Adjutant.

This forerunner of the Kimberley Commando was involved in the Boer Rebellion of 1914-15 and were part of the defence of Upington on 24 January 1915, an action where they suffered loss of life. The surrender of German SWA later in 1915 saw the Commando being disbanded and most, including Lt-Colonel Robert Scott, returned to their jobs in Kimberley and region. The De Beers Company had stopped mining and Scott retired to Wynberg where he died on 3 October 1918.

Robert Scott married Constance Mary Daniell on 8 April 1884, the union producing four children, Dulcie Mary Scott, John Dayrell Sinclair Scott, Robert Falkines Sinclair Scott, and Guy Sinclair Scott. (Guy Sinclair Scott married Cecile Hope Pickering, daughter of William and Annie Pickering).

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

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