West Australia Hill
[Full detailed description coming soon]
An engagement that took place on 4th May 1900 as part of the advance on Pretoria in which the 1st & 2nd WAMI suffered 6 wounded.
The 1st & 2nd WAMI took part in the Battle of Johannesburg from 26th-29th May 1900 by pushing an enemy company of Boers from the Central Deep Mine. 2 Soldiers were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for their actions in driving back the enemy, capturing a town and a train all with no casualties. It was part of the 4 day long battle for Johannesburg in which General Roberts army fought against General Botha’s 3,500 strong army defending it which was forced to withdraw. It is also important to note that the NSW lancers and the 2nd VIC Mounted Rifles took part in the battle though In different sectors.
The 1st & 2nd WAMI took part in the capture of Pretoria on the 5th June 1900 in which they along with the New South Welshmen were the first in. 1 Solider was wounded while 2 west Australians who had earlier been captured were released. The short battle was precipitated by a gigantic artillery barrage.
The 1st & 2nd WAMI took part in the Battle of Diamond Hill between 11th-12th June 1900 suffering 1 wounded. It was one of the last conventional battles before the Boers started reverting to guerrilla warfare. In total the all British forces suffered 28 Killed and 145 Wounded while Boer forces suffered 30 Killed, several captured and unknown wounded. The British were successful in their objective of capturing the Hill. British forces were lead by Lord Roberts while Boer forces were lead by Louis Botha.
The 4th WAMI’s first engagement as part of the force to relieve Lindley. During the battle, the West Australians distinguished themselves by saving the British artillery when it had been almost overrun.
An engagement involving the 1st & 4th WAMI in which they suffered 3 Wounded and 1 Captured between the 7th-9th July 1900. General R A P Clements had led the assault on Bethlehem with 300 mostly West Australian and South Australians from the 4th SA Imperial Bushmen. After some initial fighting on the 5th and 6th The Australians began pressing into the town on the 7th and finally captured it on the 8th and secured the surrounding area by the 9th. The total allied casualties had been 60 while the enemy casualties had been well over 120.
A battle in which the 1st & 4th WAMI attempted and succeeded in taking a ridge held by Boers on the 19th July 1900. In the cavalry charge up the hill 3 West Australians were killed and 10 were wounded with 10 horses dying as well. One of the deaths was Major Moor the leader of the 1st WAMI who was mortally wounded and died minutes after the battle ended. The battle had also included the New South Welshmen who suffered 3 killed and many wounded.
The battle began when the Westralian contingent came across a small party of Boers and began to chase them to a hill however when they were within 10 metre range of the Boers a large group of them that had been hiding appeared and opened fire. The WAMI was successful in the charge forcing the Boers to retreat where heavy fire rained down on them killing 6 but it came at the cost of 13 West Australian casualties.
An engagement involving the 3rd WAMI in which they suffered 6 wounded of which 2 were officers between the 19th– 22nd July 1900. The Battle involved 300 Australians under the command of Colonel Airey from the NSW, VIC, QLD and WA Bushmen of which 75 were from the 3rd WAMI. The Australians were facing a force of 1,000 Boers in well entrenched positions that were driven off with considerable loss.
The Battle of Koster’s River is unique in that it was commanded and fought by only Australians. The force included 75 men from NSW, VIC, QLD and WA each. The force was ordered to march alongside the Koster River which was overlooked on the left by a tall cliff. The New South Welshmen lead the column while the West Australians covered the rear and once the Australians were in the valley at 8 AM the Boers opened fire from the cliffs. The Australians immediately had to scrounge for the inches worth of cover available while the horse handlers bravely tried to save the Horses in the open, but in vain as half were killed.
The Australians were stuck in this position until 2PM when the West Australians and Victorians launched an all-out charge up the nearest hill and succeeded in capturing it suffering 12 casualties, this then put pressure on the Boer flank. Once the Queenslanders saw this, they launched their own charge in which they suffered nearly 20 casualties. However, once the Australians reached the top of the hill, Colonel Airey leading the New South Welshmen who did not think that victory was possible ordered the other contingents to surrender, this demoralized the exhausted soldiers who had been fighting all day. Despite this most soldiers did not go along with the order and simply hid in the caves to continue Guerrilla warfare, 1 Victorian with a shattered army shouted “no surrender”. Lt Hanley of the Queensland contingent ordered a private who was waving a white flag to tear it down out right defying the orders of the Colonel.
When a British officer was about to surrender a West Australian trooper pointed a gun at him and threatened to blow his brains out if he did. While the Australians were waiting for what would happen next, news arrived that 300 Allied soldiers were marching their way led by Colonel Lushington who ordered all Australian forces not to surrender and to continue the battle taking over command from Colonel Airey. Many NSW soldiers fled over to the WA sector so that they could continue the fight under Major Vialls. The Boers seeing that they would now have to fight 600 soldiers decided to retreat leaving only a few snipers in their place.
An engagement involving the 1st & 4th WAMI in which they suffered 3 severely wounded on the 24th July 1900. It was during this battle that Captain Neville Howse of the NSW medical team was awarded the Victoria Cross, this was the first time the VC had been awarded to an Australian.
Rhenoster Kop (Skirmish)
The 4th WAMI fought in the vicinity of this area and captured a section of Enemy Boers but was forced to retire due to heavy enemy fire.
A siege involving 300 Australian and 200 British soldiers including 30 men under Lieutenant Thunder of the 1st & 3rd WAMI which the West Australians suffered no casualties faced a besieging force of 2,000 Boers. The battle involved Australians from all states except SA. It was unique for the fact that rather than mounted warfare the Australians had to defensively fight in Siege and trench warfare. On the 2nd day the NSW contingent suffered 12 casualties by artillery fire alone. After a short skirmish on the 6th the Boers launched a new offensive on the 8th which lasted until the 10th.
The Boers were then forced to retreat by the arrival of British reinforcements on the 15th-16th. Total NSW casualties were 85 with 1,329 Animals killed or missing. Total VIC casualties were 70. NSW Imperial Bushmen attempting to break in and help the trapped suffered 7 Casualties and 20 Horses Killed. Every night the Australians had to fight their way to the river to collect water.
An engagement involving the 4th WAMI on the 24th August 1900 in which they suffered 1 killed.
A battle involving the 2nd WAMI on the 27th August 1900 in which they suffered 2 wounded. The battle of Belfast was a major battle in which 19,000 soldiers and 82 artillery guns of the British Empire led by Lord Roberts and General Buller attempted to breach the Boer’s last line of defence before the ad hoc capital of Nelspruit which was defended by 7,000 men and 20 Artillery guns. The battle lasted a total of 7 days from the 21st-27th. During the first day British forces were attacked by the Bethal commando resulting in 36 casualties while the Boers suffered only 3. On the 2nd day the British attempted to take out the Bethal commando but they were reinforced, as such the British suffered 7 casualties while the Boers suffered none. On the 3rd day General Buller ordered the 8th Infantry Brigade supported by mounted troops to ascend the Geluk Plateau. In the advance the British suffered 106 casualties while the Boers suffered 12 but despite this the British managed to hold onto the edge of the plateau.
On the 4th day the British reinforced their position with artillery and both sides began firing with the British suffering 6 Casualties. Meanwhile General PoleCarew’s force captured Belfast suffering 18 Casualties and reinforced his position with artillery.
The 5th day was limited to artillery barrages as Lord Roberts had arrived to personally take command of the situation. On the 6th day General French managed to surprise the Boers and forced their artillery to retreat while capturing Zuikerboschkop and Langkloof. General Pole-Carew and Buller led a central advance with their infantry in which the Boers simply fled before them. On the final day the British launched an all out charge and by 2PM had broken the Boer lines and the battle was over with the British having suffered 122 Casualties and the Boers having suffered 35. 5 days later the Boer capital was captured. For the entire battle the West Australians had been the scouts of General Pole-Carew’s force.
An engagement involving the 1st WAMI on the 3rd September 1900 resulting in 1 Killed and 4 Wounded of which 1 was an officer. The soldier killed was Private Force DCM who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions in the battle. The West Australians fought the retreating Carolina Commando in this engagement. During the battle 10 West Australians were briefly captured before being released the next day while the Boers suffered 1 Killed and 2 Wounded.
A series of engagements from the 25th-29th November involving the 3rd and 4th WAMI. It started with a short reconnaissance engagement at De Wagen Drift on the 25th and again at Sihand’s Kraal on the 26th. From the 27th-29th the 3rd WAMI pursued the enemy and kept in constant contact until the Boers took cover on Rhenoster Kop. The 3rd and 4th WAMI with support from other bushmen units, a New Zealand unit and an English unit attempted to knock them off the Kop twice but were unsuccessful. The Boers then launched a counterattack with artillery support but failed. Although the 3rd and 4th WAMI suffered no casualties the New Zealanders and English suffered quite heavily.
A Massive battle involving 4,000 Boers and as many imperial troops trying to capture the town of Hekpoort. The entire day was spent fighting, the Boers suffered heavily and were forced to retreat. The 4th WAMI took part in this battle.
Major battle lasting all day on the 13th February but the Boers managed to evade capture. The 4th WAMI suffered 1 wounded in the battle.
Major battle lasting from the 23-24 February in which the Boers suffered heavily and an entire enemy company was captured along with 2 artillery pieces. The 4th WAMI took part in this battle.
A battle on the 14th February 1901 which involved the 3rd WAMI and many other units including Victorian Bushmen. The imperial forces cam under heavy fire while advancing towards the enemy and the bushmen were forced to retire. Major Vialls then organized the Bushmen into 2 lines (the Westralians at the front and the Victorians to cover) and proceeded to launch a charge up the hill without having yet received orders to do so. The assault worked and the Boers, numbering in the hundreds were forced to retreat from the position. The 3rd WAMI suffered 2 wounded during the battle. The battle resulted in a decisive imperial victory with many prisoners and supplies captured, other allied casualties amounted to only 8 wounded.
An engagement involving the 4th WAMI on the 4th April 1901 resulting in 1 Killed. They were part of a force of 1,200 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who successfully took the last Boer capital of Pietersburg on the 8th April 1901. They had been in almost constant contact for 2 weeks around the town.
De Burg’s Pass
A battle involving the 3rd WAMI on the 7th April 1901 resulting in 1 Killed and 2 wounded. 2 Soldiers were awarded the Distinguished conduct Medal, Private Angel DCM (KIA) and Sergeant George DCM for their actions in the battle. The 3rd WAMI was part of General Plumer’s force to dislodge the Boers from De Burg pass. The enemy lost 3 artillery pieces during the battle.
On the 14th May 1901, 20 men from the 5th & 6th WAMI under the command of Captain Camobell began shooting at a group of Boers who were having breakfast. A battle ensued in which Lieutenant Hawkins launched a charge with 15 of the men on horseback. The WAMI suffered no losses while the Boers lost 6 killed, some wounded and 500 cattle captured along with rifles and ammunition.
A Battle involving the 5th & 6th WAMI on the 15th May 1901 resulting in 7 killed and 7 wounded making it the deadliest battle in all of the WAMI’s deployments to the War. The Battle of Brakpan the next day was a continuation of the battle. It’s important to note that Lieutenant Tony Forrest was just 16 years old, he was the son of the former Mayor of Perth Alexander Forrest and nephew of the 1st Premier of Western Australia, the Count of Bunbury Sir John Forrest.
Lieutenant Forrest’s platoon was told to escort a wagon that was bringing in some Boer Women. The Westralians had told the women to expect them the day earlier and as such they had treacherously informed the Boers of the arriving Australians. A section under the command of Sergeant Major Shannon saw the incoming Boers and attempted to beat them to a hill but failed and 2 Westralians were wounded. The Boers then ambushed the main part of the Platoon immediately killing Lt Forrest and Sgt Edwards with shots to the head while Cpl Bollinger was shot in the heart. Another 4 Westralians were killed during the fighting.
The Battle of Brakpan was a continuation of the Battle of Carolina. During the battle Lieutenant Frederick Bell rescued a wounded comrade under heavy fire and received the Victoria Cross, the first West Australian to receive it.
“On 16 May 1901 at Brakpan, Transvaal, South Africa, when retiring through a heavy fire after holding the right flank, Lieutenant Bell noticed a man dismounted and returned and took him up behind him. The horse not being equal to the weight fell with them, Lieutenant Bell then remained behind and covered the man’s retirement till he was out of danger.”
A battle that took place on the 23rd June 1901 involving the 5th & 6th WAMI which suffered 3 killed and 2 wounded. The battle began when a platoon of advanced scouts under the command of Lt Reid attempted to capture a hill, they were then engaged by an enemy Platoon of Boers who surprised them killing 2, wounding 3 (1 of whom later died of wounds) and captured the rest of the Platoon. Around half the Platoon of Boers gave chase to the few men who had managed to escape however the rest of the 5th & 6th WAMI arrived and rescued all the West Australians with the Boers having to retreat 5 miles to get out of artillery range.
An engagement involving the 5th & 6th WAMI on the 16th August 1901 in which they suffered 1 killed and 2 wounded. A Platoon of West Australians charged an enemy Boer group that were still in their tents however the Boers had enough time to escape to a nearby hill. 4 Boers who started returning fire from a nearby river were all killed and the Boers on top of the hill surrendered. However, once the Boers saw the West Australians coming to collect them there was a misunderstanding and the Boers opened fire at a distance of 15 yards killing Private Delahunty. The Boer who killed Delahunty was in turn killed by a revolver shot from Lieutenant Bell V.C. and the rest of the Boers again surrendered. Total Boer losses were 5 killed, 27 captured and 17 wagons captured.
An engagement that took place on the 1st February 1902 involving the 5th & 6th WAMI that resulted in the deaths of 3 West Australians. A small scout party of 3 Westralians escorted by a Veterinary officer came across 2 Boers in the Veldt and killed 1 before the other rode off. The West Australians went in pursuit, first Private Hammond aimed his rifle but it jammed and the Boer fatally wounded him with his Mauser pistol. Another Westralian came up and was shot as well, the unarmed veterinary officer attempted to ram the Boer with his horse but was shot as well (wounded) and finally 2 more West Australian were shot with 1 surviving and 1 being wounded before the Boer fled off.
An engagement that took place on the 3rd February 1902 involving the 5th & 6th WAMI that resulted in the death of 1 Western Australian.