Author Topic: waggon hill ceasars camp  (Read 4994 times)

fleabag

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waggon hill ceasars camp
« on: September 14, 2009, 08:11:30 PM »
Hi All Im Sue,never posted anything before!
My great uncle was Arthur Mitton of 1st manchesters who died at Waggon Hill 6 Jan 1900
I have an old newspaper cutting naming him as one of "the gallant 16"   does any one know anything of him? or the circumstances of his death?

timberman

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Re: waggon hill ceasars camp
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2009, 08:31:10 PM »
Hi Sue
Welcome to the forum.

I'm sure someone will be along to help with your question.

This was taken from the following link.

Rickard, J (5 February 2007), Battle of the Platrand, 6 January 1900,

http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_platrand.html

The battle of the Platrand was the only serious Boer attack on the British lines during the siege of Ladysmith. The Platrand is a two and a half mile long ridge that dominated the south side of Ladysmith. It had been occupied by the British from the start of the siege in November 1899 and was seen by many the key to the defences of Ladysmith. Its lose would certainly have made Lieutenant-General Sir George White’s task much harder.

The British recognised the importance of the Platrand and had fortified the hills at each end. At Caesar’s Camp, on the eastern end of the ridge, they had built walls seven feet high. There they had 400 men from the Manchester Regiment, HMS Powerful and the Natal Naval Volunteers, and one 12 pounder gun. Wagon Hill, at the west end of the ridge, was not so strongly fortified, but work was in hand on two gun emplacements. The garrison of Wagon Hill was 600 strong (three companies of the 1st King’s Royal Rifle Corp and the Imperial Light Horse, as well as a detachment from the Royal Engineers). The Natal Naval Volunteers moved a 3 pounder gun onto Wagon Hill the day before the Boer attack, and two naval guns were being moved onto the hill when the attack began. The British commander on the Platrand, Colonel Ian Hamilton, had around 1,000 men to defend the two and a half mile long position.

The Boers intended to attack him with twice that number. 1,000 Transvaal men under Schalk Burger were to attack Caesar’s Camp. De Villiers with 400 Free Staters were to attack Wagon Point. Finally 600 men from Vryheid and Winburg and a unit of Germans were to attack the middle of the ridge, between the two hills. However, not everyone in the Boer camp was convinced that the attack was worthwhile. Many men who were meant to have taken part in the third attack decided not to take part.

The attack went in at 2.30am on 6 January. Under cover of darkness the fighting was chaotic. Hamilton was woken by the noise. Finding a strong Boer attack underway, he used a newly installed telephone to call for reinforcements. Amongst other troops, White sent field artillery that played a crucial part in the daylight fighting.

At daybreak the Boer attack had failed to reach the summit of the ridge, but the Boers held a line along the entire southern side of the hill, and threatened to outflank the British position. Boer guns on neighbouring hills now joined in, and the British position looked vulnerable. However, the field guns sent by White now arrived, and helped stabilize the position.

The fighting went on from early morning till noon without a break. After a short break the Boer attack was resumed. By now British reinforcements had arrived on the hill. The Boers failed to make supporting attacks elsewhere around Ladysmith, allowing White to move troops to the Platrand. The Devonshire Regiment made a particularly significant contribution, clearing a pocket of Boers from the southern side of the ridge with a bayonet charge, in the process loosing a third of their strength. Finally, as darkness fell at the end of the day the remaining Boers retreated down the hill.

British losses were high. 168 men were killed, out of a total of 417 casualties. Five Victoria Crosses were won (two posthumous). Boer losses were probably just has high. Officially they were reported at 64 dead and 119 wounded, but the Rifle Brigade counted 99 Boer dead on their part of the hill. Amongst the Boer dead was De Villiers, shot dead in a close encounter with Hamilton. The failure of the attack on the Platrand demoralised the Boers. It was their last attempt to capture Ladysmith.

Timberman



ladysmith

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Re: waggon hill ceasars camp
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2009, 09:11:25 AM »
Sue - 5060 Pte. A. Mitton was entitled to the Queen's South Africa Medal with clasp Defence of Ladysmith. This means that he served in 'A' Company of the 1st Battalion.

The battle is known in English as Wagon Hill but the larger area of the battle was on the neighbouring plateau of Caesar's Camp where the Manchesters had their camp and fought on 6th January 1900. 'A' and 'D' companies were principally involved. The men in 'D' Company qualified for the clasp Elandslaagte, having fought in that battle a few months earlier. 'A' Company wasn't at Elandslaagte.

'D' Company was holding the crest from a series of sangars (semi circular emplacements constructed of rock and sandbags) and at about 3 am 'A' Company was pushing up to relieve them when the Boers stormed over the crest. The men in the sangars fought a desperate battle to keep the Boers out while those of 'A' Company also came under fire from the Boers on the crest.

Colour Sergeant Johnson was in charge of 'A' Company and out of the men in his particular party 16 (including your great uncle) plus Johnson himself were killed and only 2 survived.

Pte. Pitts and Scott of 'D' Company were awarded the Victoria Cross. They were the only survivors of the defenders of one of the sangars.

In my collection I have the QSA Medals of Colour Sergeant Johnson, 3 of your great uncles comrades in 'A' Company who died with him and a sergeant in 'D' Company who was killed in the sangars.

David


fleabag

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Re: waggon hill ceasars camp
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2009, 05:09:44 PM »
Hi Sue
Welcome to the forum.

I'm sure someone will be along to help with your question.

This was taken from the following link.

Rickard, J (5 February 2007), Battle of the Platrand, 6 January 1900,

http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_platrand.html

The battle of the Platrand was the only serious Boer attack on the British lines during the siege of Ladysmith. The Platrand is a two and a half mile long ridge that dominated the south side of Ladysmith. It had been occupied by the British from the start of the siege in November 1899 and was seen by many the key to the defences of Ladysmith. Its lose would certainly have made Lieutenant-General Sir George White’s task much harder.

The British recognised the importance of the Platrand and had fortified the hills at each end. At Caesar’s Camp, on the eastern end of the ridge, they had built walls seven feet high. There they had 400 men from the Manchester Regiment, HMS Powerful and the Natal Naval Volunteers, and one 12 pounder gun. Wagon Hill, at the west end of the ridge, was not so strongly fortified, but work was in hand on two gun emplacements. The garrison of Wagon Hill was 600 strong (three companies of the 1st King’s Royal Rifle Corp and the Imperial Light Horse, as well as a detachment from the Royal Engineers). The Natal Naval Volunteers moved a 3 pounder gun onto Wagon Hill the day before the Boer attack, and two naval guns were being moved onto the hill when the attack began. The British commander on the Platrand, Colonel Ian Hamilton, had around 1,000 men to defend the two and a half mile long position.

The Boers intended to attack him with twice that number. 1,000 Transvaal men under Schalk Burger were to attack Caesar’s Camp. De Villiers with 400 Free Staters were to attack Wagon Point. Finally 600 men from Vryheid and Winburg and a unit of Germans were to attack the middle of the ridge, between the two hills. However, not everyone in the Boer camp was convinced that the attack was worthwhile. Many men who were meant to have taken part in the third attack decided not to take part.

The attack went in at 2.30am on 6 January. Under cover of darkness the fighting was chaotic. Hamilton was woken by the noise. Finding a strong Boer attack underway, he used a newly installed telephone to call for reinforcements. Amongst other troops, White sent field artillery that played a crucial part in the daylight fighting.

At daybreak the Boer attack had failed to reach the summit of the ridge, but the Boers held a line along the entire southern side of the hill, and threatened to outflank the British position. Boer guns on neighbouring hills now joined in, and the British position looked vulnerable. However, the field guns sent by White now arrived, and helped stabilize the position.

The fighting went on from early morning till noon without a break. After a short break the Boer attack was resumed. By now British reinforcements had arrived on the hill. The Boers failed to make supporting attacks elsewhere around Ladysmith, allowing White to move troops to the Platrand. The Devonshire Regiment made a particularly significant contribution, clearing a pocket of Boers from the southern side of the ridge with a bayonet charge, in the process loosing a third of their strength. Finally, as darkness fell at the end of the day the remaining Boers retreated down the hill.

British losses were high. 168 men were killed, out of a total of 417 casualties. Five Victoria Crosses were won (two posthumous). Boer losses were probably just has high. Officially they were reported at 64 dead and 119 wounded, but the Rifle Brigade counted 99 Boer dead on their part of the hill. Amongst the Boer dead was De Villiers, shot dead in a close encounter with Hamilton. The failure of the attack on the Platrand demoralised the Boers. It was their last attempt to capture Ladysmith.

Timberman

Thanks for your helpful reply.What an awful sad day.
Do you know if there is a memorial with the names of the dead of 'A' company1st battalion who died Ceasars camp,either in s Africa,or around manchester?



timberman

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Re: waggon hill ceasars camp
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2009, 10:07:56 PM »
Hi Sue

Manchester Regiment Memorials

The Anglo Boer War 1899/1902

Go to this link, it lists the memorials.
I've reproduced the bit about St Ann's Square from the web site.

There are 27 memorials listed.

http://www.tameside.gov.uk/museumsgalleries/mom/memorials/boerwar


St Ann's Square, Manchester

Regimental South African War Memorial. The work of William Hamo Thorneycroft (1850 - 1925), it represents a soldier of the Manchester Regiment standing with bayonet fixed at the "ready" while a wounded comrade at his feet hands him a cartridge to continue the fight. The plinth represents a large rough rock, on the front face is a wreath of bay leaves. There are bronze plaques on all sides of the pedestal, three of which record the names of those who gave their lives in the War: 8 officers and 309 non-commissioned officers and men.Photograph of Boer War Memorial St Annes Square

The inscription which runs around the four sides of the of the pedestal at the top reads:

To the memory of the following officers non-commisd officers and men who fell in the war in South Africa 1899-1902 gallantly serving their sovereign & country.

On the front at base is inscribed:

This monument is erected by public subscription.

A Memorial Committee was formed in the City of Manchester during 1902 to raise the necessary funds. On 26 October 1908 the memorial was dedicated by the Bishop of Manchester and unveiled by General Sir Ian Hamilton. The 2nd Battalion provided a Guard of Honour.

The memorial raised to the men of the Manchester Regiment, both regular army soldiers and volunteers from the Volunteer Battalions who died in the South African War was Manchester's first major outdoor war memorial. Calls for a memorial were made during the war itself following reports of the heroic actions of the Manchester Regiment, but it was felt that such an act would be premature. Towards the end of 1902 the regiment began to consider schemes to memorialise their fallen comrades. Proposals included an outdoor war memorial, a tablet in Manchester Cathedral and, more ambitiously, a soldiers' club.

The idea of the outdoor war memorial and a smaller memorial in the Cathedral was accepted. The initial proceedings of Manchester's Soldiers' War Memorial Fund were uncontroversial as the committee set about raising £2,000, the sum that had been set as necessary to realise the project. By January 1904 over £1,900 had been subscribed and discussions turned to the question of selecting the sculptor. A limited competition appeared to be the way forward and the Executive Committee recommended that six sculptors - Frampton, William Hamo Thornycroft, Henry Pegram, Alfred Drury, Frederick Pomeroy and John Cassidy should be invited to submit designs. This recommendation was not accepted by the General Committee, which decided to appoint Thornycroft.

The decision upset many subscribers who felt that there should have been an open competition: 'the narrowest and worst form of Protection, unworthy of a broad-minded, progressive, Free Trade city like Manchester.' More particularly, there was a group of subscribers keen that the memorial should be awarded to the Manchester sculptor, John Cassidy. They used the press to draw attention to the committee's decision, clearly unhappy at what they regarded as the dishonourable behaviour of Thornycroft supporters on the committee.

A special private meeting of the committee was called by the Lord Mayor to examine the case but in the end the decision stood. Thornycroft was to be the sculptor though in what was to be another area of dissatisfaction among committee members, it was announced that because of his other commissions, he would not be able to complete the memorial for two and a half years. His supporters, however, did not forget Cassidy, and he was commissioned privately to produce a war memorial.

When Thornycroft eventually began work on the memorial he produced a composition based on an incident during one of the regiment's most celebrated engagements, the fighting at Caesar’s Camp, Ladysmith. Entitled 'Comrades', it depicted two life-size figures, one soldier standing over a wounded colleague who is offering a cartridge to continue the fight. Two soldiers from the regiment were used as the models; one of whom was Captain Edmund Nelson Fisher, whose family was later presented with a bust based on the statue.

The location of the memorial was still undecided in 1907 when the memorial committee approached the Corporation's Town Hall Committee to discuss the possibility of siting it in Albert Square, particularly as the removal of the jubilee fountain was being contemplated. It was suggested that either the war memorial might be placed on the site of the fountain or, if that was not suitable, then the Bishop Fraser statue could be moved there, allowing the war memorial to be located on the edge of the square. However the Town Hall Committee ruled out Albert Square.

Further discussions followed before the council and the committee agreed on St Ann's Square. Local shopkeepers campaigning to improve the square welcomed the idea of the memorial. Thornycroft had been right to make it clear that the memorial could not be completed quickly. The memorial was not to be finally completed until 1908. It was cast at Singer's foundry at Frome. As the long awaited inauguration was finally being arranged - Salford's memorial had been unveiled three years before - a further appeal for funds to reduce the outstanding deficit of £350. Manchester's principal South African War memorial was unveiled in October 1908, almost six years since the start of the discussions to raise a memorial. General Sir Ian Hamilton recalled the heroic deeds of the Manchester Regiment in South Africa including their battle at Elandslaagte before he removed the Union Jack covering the memorial.

Thornycroft's depiction of the dramatic episode in the war found widespread approval, a sculpture that could be regarded as an important addition to the city's collection of public monuments. In the words of the Manchester Guardian, it was a work that was 'dignified, impressive and rich with virile beauty.’ But had journalists made a closer study of the sculpture particularly the names identified on the list they would have discovered that not all those in the war were recorded.

The war memorial became a place of remembrance for the regiment on Elandslaagte Day (October 21) and later on Remembrance Day. Throughout the more recent changes made to the layout of St Ann's Square, the memorial has remained in its original position, the granite protectors at the corners of the pedestal a reminder of a time when wheeled traffic filled the square.

Timberman :)

fleabag

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Re: waggon hill ceasars camp
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2009, 06:20:39 PM »
Thanks for the link and info,I shall take a close look next time I am in Manchester   

ladysmith

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Re: waggon hill ceasars camp
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2009, 08:59:44 AM »
There is also a monument to 1st battalion casualties on Caesar's Camp. This was renovated and re-dedicated several years ago after the original panels had been vandalised.

David

Offline harribobs

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Re: waggon hill ceasars camp
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2009, 09:56:45 AM »
St Anns Square





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