South African War
During the next week the troops, inching forward, slowly closed the net on Cronje. It so happened that 27 February was Majuba Day. This was a Boer national holiday celebrating an earlier defeat of the British at Majuba Hill by this same Cronje. Naturally the thought occurred to the British commander that a successful attack on this day would wipe the slate clean. So at 2:00 am, in the pitch black darkness 27 February, the 19th Brigade put on a surprise attack. This was the first major engagement ever fought by Canadian troops overseas; so it is doubly interesting to record that the “Charge” at Paardeburg was sounded by Bugler D[ouglas] F. Williams, QOR of C. the Boers resisted stubbornly but by daylight the white flag was run up and Cronje surrendered to Lieutenant Colonel Otter. Lord Roberts rode down to congratulate the regiment personally.
Now the brigade headed for Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State. After much severe marching and several engagements, the city was reached and taken over. Enteric [Typhoid] fever broke out at this time. Two Queen’s Own men Sergeant A Beattie and Rifleman W. S. Blight died from it. From Bloemfontein the brigade headed towards Pretoria the capital of Transvaal. As usual several engagements were fought on the way. In one of them at Israel’s Poort, Lieutenant Colonel Otter was wounded. Pretoria surrendered and during June the regiment took part in a grand march past Lord Roberts. An extract form Major General Smith Dorrien’s orders to his 19th Brigade dated 5 June 1900 says:
- Some Queen’s Own Rifles who served in the South African War
Dedication of the South African War Memorial, Queen St (at University Ave), Toronto, 1908