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Private Hugh Jardine Elliott of the Cape Police, killed at Dronfield.

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 24 OCTOBER

UPDATED: 24/10/2019

24 October 1899, The first action of the siege of Kimberley at Dronfield farm

Pictured is the Centenary Memorial Service at Dronfield on 24 October 1999, the Boshof Commando honouring their Fallen.

DID YOU KNOW

By the time of the first serious encounter between the Boers and the British defenders of Kimberley on 24 October 1899, the Boers had not reached Dronfield Ridge (Felsteads), the ridge some 12 kilometres from Kimberley on the Johannesburg road. The ensuing action at Dronfield and at Macfarlane’s Farm a little further north came as a result of a 300 soldier-strong reconnaissance by (local) Lt-Colonel Henry Scott-Turner and his mounted troops. Scott-Turner’s force included the Cape Police, the Diamond Fields Horse (part of the Kimberley regiment) and the recently formed Kimberley Light Horse. 

PT-Centenary_Memorial_Service_at_Dronfield-1999

Centenary Memorial Service at Dronfield – 1999

At 10h15 Scott-Turner requested reinforcements from Kimberley, which were duly sent. This included 2 guns from the Diamond Fields Field Artillery, two maxim guns, Cape Police, and two companies Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. All were sent by train to Dronfield. Scott-Turner’s force would now total 699 men.

By the time the reconnaissance had reached Macfarlane’s farm in their withdrawal to Kimberley the number of Boers gathering had increased and Scott-Turner decided to withdraw even further to Dronfield ridge after the Cape Police heliographed for him to return.

At midday the Boers had cut around Scott-Turner’s force in an attempt to capture the armoured train. In some heavy fighting the returning force was ambushed by the Boers at a dam wall on the northern side of Dronfield ridge, resulting in three men being killed and nine wounded. After the battle the Boers called Dronfield Ridge either Boschrand and/or Vecht Koppie.

This action necessitated the British sending out even more reinforcements by train, including the Kimberley Regiment. This proved too much for the Boers on the ridge as they now withdrew, leaving Veldcornet P.J. Botha of Boshof dead on the battlefield. A letter was found on Botha’s body instructing him to capture cattle from the vicinity of Kenilworth.

The battle of Dronfield was the first time in military history that wounded soldiers had been transported from a battlefield in comfortable railway coaches, and the first time since the American Civil War that reinforcements had been sent by train into a battle in progress. (The railway line crosses Dronfield on its western extent).

The fighting had been watched by over 1000 spectators from their vantage points at Kenilworth village, the roof of the Kimberley railway station and from the Town Hall roof on Market Square. A rare happening in wars.

Total casualties for the British amounted to 3 killed and 21 wounded, while the Boers lost 2 killed and 7 wounded.

It was the baptism of fire for the Kimberley Light Horse and the Kimberley Regiment of Volunteers (under that name).
Boers killed: Veldkornet JH Botha; CJ Zybel
British killed: HJL Elliott; P Leipoldt; RS Mackenzie

24 October 1899, The first battle of the siege of Kimberley at Dronfield farm

DID YOU KNOW

The first action of the siege of Kimberley in 1899, at Dronfield farm.

The battle of Dronfield was the first time in military history that wounded soldiers had been transported from a battlefield in comfortable railway coaches, and the first time since the American Civil War that reinforcements had been sent by train into a battle in progress. (The railway line crosses Dronfield on its western extent).

The fighting had been watched by over 1000 spectators from their vantage points at Kenilworth village, the roof of the Kimberley railway station and from the Town Hall roof on Market Square.

Total casualties for the British amounted to 3 killed and 21 wounded, while the Boers lost 2 killed and 7 wounded.

Pictured is Private Hugh Jardine Elliott of the Cape Police, killed at Dronfield.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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