South Africa 1899-1902
The 1st battalion of the regiment was stationed in South Africa upon the outbreak of the conflict there, and was on active service from the first shots of the war until the signing of peace. It fought at Talana, Ladysmith, Laing’s Nek, Burgendaal and Lydenburg. After Ladysmith, the battalion was joined by The Volunteer Service Company, raised from the 1st Volunteer Battalion in England. In 1902, during the closing months of the conflict, the 3rd (Militia) battalion also arrived in South Africa, and was primarily invloved in the guarding of blockhouse lines.
The Tigers fought a sharp action at Talana Hill on 20 October 1899, as part of a British force which came off worst against superior Boer opposition. Among the casualties were Lieutenant William Hannah killed, and Lieutenant Weldon (below right) wounded. The Leicesters then began the long retreat from Dundee, across the fortunately dry bed of the Sunday River, into Ladysmith, which they reached on ‘Mournful Monday.’
The Leicesters were forced to abandon much equipment during the retreat, including the drum (right) which was salvaged by a Boer fighter, who presented it back to the regiment in the 1930s.
Lieutenant William Hannah
Lieutenant B. De A. Weldon
Looking across Ladysmith during the siege
The siege lasted 118 days, by which time the garrison were wracked by dysentery and enteric fever, and had been forced to eat their horses. However their stubborn defence tied up large numbers of Boer soldiers and enabled reinfocements to arrive.
After Ladysmith the Leicesters carried the war into the Transvaal, clearing the Boers from the Laing’s Nek and Burgendaal (Belfast) positions, before fighting their last major battle at Lydenburg.
Pte W.H.Foxon (above) served throughout the Siege of Ladysmith,
earning the Queen’s & King’s South Africa medals (below)
Issuing rations of horsemeat in Ladysmith