Die Boere-aanval op Majuba – Deel 10: Verdere waarnemings deur en persepsie van die Britte van bo van Majuba af tot 11:00

Die Boere-aanval op Majuba – Deel 9: Vuursteun vanaf die kruinrant van die eerste terras en ’n breë hindernis word oorgesteek
February 14, 2021
Die Boere-aanval op Majuba – Deel 11: Die aanval teen die noordoostelike helling van Majuba (Fourie en De Wet)
February 14, 2021

Christo HC Geldenhuys

 

Die Boere het ongeorganiseerd en sonder plan by Majuba aangekom, maar het nie toe sommer die berg holderstebolder bestorm nie.

Vandat die eerste Boere by die berg uitgekom het (kort voor 06:00) tot na 13:00 was daar ’n urelange vuurgeveg. Met die uitsondering van die 92nd Highlanders wat op die noord- en noordoostelike deel van die bergkruin ontplooi was, was die Britte oortuig dat die Boere maar net besig was met ’n skynaanval om hulle onttrekking vanaf Laingsnek te dek.

In die Britse bronne, insluitende seine wat gestuur is, is daar baie meer verwysings na die tyd (spesifieke tye word vertrek), as in Boerebronne. Die Britte se belewenis bo-op die berg word hier weergegee, wat ’n raamwerk verskaf waarbinne die aktiwiteite van die Boere tydens hierdie tydgleuf bespreek kan word.

Twee Britse junior offisiere, luitenante Wright en Hamilton, beide van die 92nd Higlanders kon die Boere se aktiwiteite die beste waarneem.

 

Urelange vuurgeveg

Carter skryf:

“But the Boers kept creeping up, after leaving their horses under cover and whenever our men caught sight of a Boer, the temptation was too great to resist pulling trigger. There was, however, no fighting of any consequence until after six a.m. Then the Boers seemed to have got the range and settled down to the work in earnest. From every available point they kept up a steady fire, which our men replied to with equal steadiness. For every shot discharged by our side, the Boers certainly gave us a dozen, but with very little effect.”[1]

John Cameron beskryf die volgende:

“The greater portion of the Boers then began to move forward, with the evident intention of attacking us. About seven o’clock they opened fire, and the bullets whistled thickly over the plateau. Our men were all perfectly cool and confident, and I do not think that the possibility of the position being carried by storm ever occurred to anyone.

“From seven to eleven the Boers, lying all-round the hill, mostly behind rocks, maintained a constant fire. Their shooting was wonderfully accurate. The stones behind which our men in the front line were lying were hit by almost every shot. Exposed to such shooting as this there was no need to tell the men to keep well under cover.

“Twenty of the 92nd, under Lieutenant Hamilton, held the point which was the most threatened by the Boers, and nothing could exceed the steadiness of these Highlanders. They kept well under cover, and although they fired but seldom, they killed eight or ten of the Boers who showed themselves for a moment in the open.

“So far our position appeared quite safe, our casualties were few, but unimportant, and all were perfectly confident of the result.”[2]

“The stones behind which our men in the front line were lying were hit by almost every shot.” Hierdie is van daardie klippe (regs in die voorgrond), links agter (liggroen) is die tweede terras. Laatoggend het die Boere van die kruinrand van dié terras af op die Britte agter hierdie klippe gevuur (Foto: Christo Geldenhuys, Desember 2020).

 

Britse boodskappe vanaf Majubakruin na Mount Prospect gestuur

Verskeie boodskappe was met vlagseine na Mount Prospect gestuur. Dié wat die Boere-aanval tot ’n mate toelig, word hieronder aangehaal:

8 a.m. Summit Majuba. Sir George Colley to Secretary of State for War.
“Occupied Majuba Mountain last night. Immediately overlooking Boer position. Boers firing at us from below.”[3]

9.20 a.m. Mount Prospect. Press Correspondent.
“General Colley, with six companies of soldiers, left here in the middle of the night and took possession of Spitz Kop to the left of the Neck. Firing has been heard at intervals since daybreak, and considerable numbers of Boers have been seen between the Neck and the troops.”[4]

9.30 a.m. Summit of Majuba. Chief of Staff Colonel Stewart to Mount Prospect.
“Send out some rations to post with a troop of 15th Hussars. All very comfortable. Boers wasting ammunition. One man wounded in foot.”[5]

11 a.m. Summit of Majuba. Sir George Colley to Secretary of State for War.
“Boers still firing heavily on hill but have broken up laager and begin to move away. I regret to say Commander Romilly dangerously wounded; other casualties, three men slightly wounded.”[6]

In sy verslag oor die geveg skryf Dr. Mahon, Royal Navy, die volgende:

“The desultory fire continued up to about 11a.m., up to which time five of the 92nd only had been slightly wounded, and were dressed by Landon and myself.”[7]

Nota: Dr. Mahon vertel daarna hoe Kommandeur Rommily gewond is.

Alhoewel sy tyd met omtrent ‘n halfuur uit is, verskaf Carter meer detail oor hoe Kommandeur Rommily geskiet is:

“At 11:30 the fight was going on in the same monotonous way, and only four of our men had been hit, whilst several of the soldiers declared positively that they had killed or wounded four or five Boers. The General and staff, accompanied by Commander Romilly, then went to the edge of the basin nearest to our redoubt on the ridge below. The Highlanders were still busy with their entrenching tools. Standing exposed to view, one of the staff forming the group around the General noticed two Boers in a ravine below, within 600 yards or so, and called attention to them. The words were hardly spoken before Commander Romilly, with a sharp cry of pain, fell at the General’s side, shot in the abdomen. This spread quite a gloom round our circle on the hill.”[8]

Nota: Kommandeur Rommily is by die posisie van die Naval Brigade geskiet. Die kloof waarna verwys word, moet sekerlik “Weskloof” wees. Die skootafstand is ook as 900 treë geskat. (Vergelyk Butler se weergawe van gebeure p. 390.) Behalwe vir hierdie insident, is daar geen aanduiding dat die Boere by Majuba van vuur oor ’n afstand van 500 tree gebruik gemaak het nie (soos deur Hamilton geskat).

Weskloof, gesien vanaf die bergkruin. Regs is MacDonalkoppie en op die horison agter is Langkloof (Foto: Christo Geldenhuys, Desember 2020).

 

Samevatting en evaluering

Die Britse waarnemings, en veral seine gestuur, verskaf ’n tydraamwerk en konteks waarbinne die Boere se optrede beskryf kan word.

Tydens die vuurgeveg van vier tot vyf ure, vanaf “after 6 p.m.” tot ongeveer 11:00, het die Boere net ses skote raakgeskiet. (Ons aanvaar dr. Mahon se weergawe van die aantal gewondes.) Dit beteken egter nie dat hierdie vuur oneffektief was nie. Die Boerevuur het die Britte op die kruinrant in hulle posisies vasgepen, en die Boere die geleentheid gegee om die aanval te beplan, te koördineer, versterkings uit die laers te kry en in posisie te kom vir die aanval. (Meer hieroor later.) Die meeste van hierdie aktiwiteite was in dooie grond – buite sig van die Britte op die berg.

 

Bronne:

Bristish Governement Publication. The London Gazette. TSO (The Stationery Office) under the superintendence of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO), part of The National Archives. (Datum van publikasie soos in die voetnota aangedui.)

Butler, W.F. 1899. The life of Sir George Pomeroy-Colley K.C.S.I C.B. C.M.G. 1835-1881. Including services in Kaffraria, in China, in Ashanti, in India and in Natal. London: John Murray.

Carter, Thomas Fortescue. 1896. A narrative of the Boer War: its causes and results. New edition. London: John Macqueen.

Jordan, Rob. 1980. The Battle of Majuba: Telegrams of 27 February 1881. The South African Military History Journal, December, 5(2). Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging.

Prior, Melton. 1912. Campaings of a war correspondent. London: Edward Arnold.

 

[1] Carter, A narrative of the Boer War, p. 266.

[2] Prior, Campaigns of a war correspondent “… Boers, lying all round the hill, mostly behind rocks, maintained a constant fire” beteken nie dat die Boere van die voet van die berg af gevuur het nie – sien latere opmerkings. Dit is nie moontlik om sulke akkurate vuur te lewer, soos deur Cameron beskryf, van 1 000+ meter nie. Die Britte misgis hulle met die verliese aan die Boere toegeken.

[3] Butler, The life of Sir George Pomeroy-Colley, p. 386.

[4] Times of Natal, 28th February 1881, aangehaal in Jordan, The Battle of Majuba: Telegrams of 27 February 1881, Military History Journal.

[5] Butler, The life of Sir George Pomeroy-Colley, p. 387.

[6] Butler, The life of Sir George Pomeroy-Colley, p. 391-2.

[7] Dr Mahon in The London Gazette, May 3, 1881.

[8] Carter, A narrative of the Boer War, p. 268.