Die Boere-aanval op Majuba – Deel 13: Aanval op die bergkruinrant (Roos, Ferreira en De Wet)

Die Boere-aanval op Majuba – Deel 12: Gordonkoppie word deur die Boere beset
February 14, 2021
Die Boere-aanval op Majuba – Deel 14: Geveg teen die Britse reserwe
February 15, 2021

Christo HC Geldenhuys

 

Die verhaal gaan voort waar Gordonkoppie reeds deur die Boere beset was.

Stephanus Roos vertel:

“Ek gé toen weer diselfde order, dat party van myn mankop agter di middelste rand (tweede terras se kruinrant) moet bly om di Engelse terug te skiit agter di bo’enste rant, wat ek nou moes perbeer om te neem. En ek het gesiin dat ons daar hard sou moes veg, want daar sou ons bors an bors met di Engelse kom, en daar moes ons win of verloor.

“En so was dit oek. Toen ons agter di middelste rant uitkom skiit di Engelse net hard op ons. Mar gelukkig kom Ferreira en syn manskap toen net uit op di koppi, en so kon hulle weer ver ons los skiit, net soos ons ver hulle los geskiit het. So skiit ons skuins o’er en weer makaar los. Ek siin toen dat onse God sal ver ons help, en sê dit ver myn manskap wat by ons was, en ons vat nuwe moed.

Benoude oomblikke: direk voor die rotse waaragter Hamilton en sy manne voorhellingstellings ingeneem het. Die Bergskotte was agter hierdie rotse! (Christo Geldenhuys, Desember 2020)

“Mar glo my van toen af het dit hard gegaan. Ons moes op ons buik di berg op kruip agter di hoge polle gras, en van di een klip en kliprantji na di ander. Mar ons kruip al nader en nader, en di geveg word al harder hoe nader ons kom. Mar ons agterste kerels van di middelste rant af (kruinrant, tweede terras) en Ferreira syn manskap hou di Engelse so warm, dat hulle ni durf uitkom om behoorlik korl te vat op ons ni.”[1]

Nota: Die opkruip vanaf die kruinrant van die tweede terras na die bergkruinrant moes tyd geneem het. Dit moes dus gelyktydig met ander gebeure plaasgevind het.

Hierdie foto is vanaf Gordonkoppie geneem. Hamilton-koppie links, Noordwes-koppie regs. Hierdie was die skootsvak wat Ferreira-hulle gehad het en waarbinne hulle vuursteun vanaf Gordonkoppie gelewer het.

Die Britte het hierdie gebeure beskryf, soos wat hulle dit beleef het.

Hamilton beskryf hoe die Boere naderbeweeg:

“Suddenly, quite close, darting forward here and there among the rocks and bushes of the donga – Boers! Fire on them, then. The Gordons’ rifles spluttered accordingly, and back came the answer hot and sharp – a close and accurate musketry fire pinning the little party of Regulars to the earth behind their flimsy shelters. No one could show his head to fire. Soldiers would hold a helmet up above the sheltering stone and bring it down with two and three bullets through it. Could half a company fight a battle by itself? What were others doing? Hamilton felt bound to send another report. He left the half company in charge of the sergeant, got up, ran up the slope, and dropped into safety the other side of the saucer-shaped rim. The distance was scarcely forty yards, yet two bullets passed through his kilt in crossing it. Where was the General? A staff officer, ignorant and therefore undisturbed, said that the General was sleeping. ‘He knew,’ said the staff officer, ‘what was going on. No need for a subaltern of Highlanders to concern himself.’ Hamilton returned, running the gauntlet again, to his men. The fire grew hotter. The Boers began to creep gradually nearer. Their front attack widened and drew around the contours of the hill. Was all the force asleep? One more warning at any rate they should have. Again he darted across the open space with the swish of bullets around him. Again he found the staff. But this time they were annoyed. It is such a bore when young officers are jumpy and alarmist. ‘It’s all right,’ they said: and so it was within the saucer. The bullets piped overhead as the wind howls outside the well-warmed house. But a sudden change impended.”[2]

Cameron vertel:

“… Shortly after one o’clock a terrify fire broke forth from the right lower slopes of the hill. … A tremendous rush was simultaneously made by the enemy. Our advanced line was nearly all shot or driven in upon our main position.”[3]

Hamilton verklaar waar die skielike hewige geweervuur vandaan gekom het:

“Detached from the main hill and some seventy yards from it was a knoll, the top of which was only a very little lower than the main crest. Suddenly a tremendous fire was opened from this knoll upon the left of Hamilton’s picquet. Those who were not killed fell back and a gap of about sixty yards was made on his left.”[4]

Hamilton verwys hier duidelik na Gordonkoppie. Die hewige geweervuur is vanaf Gordonkoppie na links van Hamilton se stellings. ’n Gaping van 60 m ontstaan links van Hamilton se stellings – op Noordwes-koppie.

Hierdie foto is vanaf Hamilton-koppie geneem. Links in die middelgrond is Noordwes-koppie en net regs daarvan Gordonkoppie – waarna Hamilton verwys. (Christo Geldenhuys, Desember 2020)


Verloop van gebeure: 1) Ferreira lewer hewige vuursteun vanaf Gordonkoppie. 2) Die 92nd Highlanders ontruim Noordwes-koppie. ’n Gaping van 60 m ontstaan links van Hamilton se stellings. 3) Roos se vuursteungroep lewer oorhoofse vuursteun vanaf die kruinrant van die tweede terras. 4) Roos se stormgroep is terselfdertyd besig om teen die laaste helling tot by die bergkruin op te kruip. 5) Nabygevegte by die kruinrant tussen Roos en Hamilton. Hamilton se “picket” feitlik uitgewis, ses oorlewendes vlug na die Britse HK. 6) Die Britse reserwes wat gestuur word om die gaping op Noordwes-koppie te vul, word deur Boerevuur vanaf Gordonkoppie gestuit.

 

Nabygeveg op die kruinrant

Killian, wat saam met Christiaan de Wet veg, vertel:

“Toe ons so 25 treë van die vyand se stellings kom, raak die Skotte se koppe weg agter die skans. Maar dadelik is hulle weer daar en hulle en ons kruitroke slaan inmekaar. Weer verdwyn hulle en ons beur tot by die skans. Hulle en ons geweerlope is nou bymekaar.

“Een van ons kamerade, Samuel Muller, word gewond, en die Skotte wat nie dood lê nie, spring op en vlug oor die heuweltjie die pannetjie in. My Wesley-Richard, wat nou defektief begin skiet, sit ek by die gewonde Muller neer, spring oor die skansmuur en vat daar tussen die dooies vir my ’n splinternuwe Martini-Henry met ’n blink bajonet vooraan sy bek. Ek ruk die bajonet uit en rol so ’n paar dooie Skotte om om ammunisie in die hande te kry.

“‘Oudste,’ sé Andrie Beytel vir my, ‘as jy nog nie genoeg patrone het nie, haal hier uit my bladsak’.”[5]

Roos vertel:

“Eindelik bereik ons di borant; want di kop is bo plat, met ‘n rant van klippers random. toen veg ons amper bors an bors met di Engelse, mar sonder dat ons amper makaar siin. Party keer is hulle eenkant van ‘n klip en van ons mense anderkant. Partyker kan ons di trompe van makaar syn gewere siin; en ek weet nog ni hoe dit is dat daar ni van ons mense geval is ni. Ons liwe Hére moet ver ons bewaar hê.”[6]

Luitenant Hamilton se reaksie was die volgende:

“Hamilton rejoined his men just as the Boers attacked at all points. The little picket of Highlanders, utterly unable to withstand the weight of the enemy’s advance, ran back to the rim of the saucer intermingled with the Boers, who fired their rifles furiously at them, even putting the muzzles to the men’s heads and so destroying them. In Sir William Butler’s book, written almost entirely with the view of exonerating Sir George Colley, it is suggested that his advanced picket fell back in a panic. The truth is that they were swept backward by overwhelming force after they had three times reported to the General the development of a heavy attack. Of the seventeen men under Ian Hamilton in this advanced position twelve were shot dead.”[7]

Gebaseer op o.a. ’n vertelling van luitenant Hamilton, word die nabygeveg so beskryf:

“On his return after his own third attempt to awaken the rest to the danger of the situation, he found it no longer possible for his little picket to withstand the advancing and surrounding Boers. He therefore ordered them back to the top of the hill, hoping they might reach the protection of its high ridge before all were killed, but it was too late, the Boers were amongst them, and men’s brains were blown to pieces at close quarters. Out of the seventeen man with Mr. Hamilton defending the slope of that hill twelve were shot dead before reaching the top; the rest, Boers and Highlanders were mixed up together, made for the top of the hill still fighting, and dropped together into the middle of the “all right” staff and troops.”[8]

 

Samevatting en evaluering

Die Boere se vuursteun vanaf Gordonkoppie en vanaf die kruinrant van die tweede terras het die Britte op Noordwes-koppie uit hulle stellings gedryf. Die vuursteun het dit ook vir Roos se stormgroep moontlik gemaak om die bergkruinrant te “storm”. Dit was egter nie ’n regop gestorm nie, maar eerder ’n opkruip en ’n stadige vorm van vuur-en-beweging. Dekking was maksimaal gebruik. Nabygevegte het by die kruinrant plaasgevind. Hamilton se mag was amper uitgewis en die oorlewendes het na die Britse hoofkwartier gevlug.

Die Boere se vuur het die deurslag gegee. Selfs in die nabygevegte was die Boerevuur die deurslaggewende aspek en nie die handgemeengevegte soos veg met bajonette of slaan met geweerkolwe nie. Selfs tydens die “storm”-deel van die aanval het die Boere steeds dekking optimaal benut. Die beginsel van “een-voet-op-die-grond” was toegepas deurdat die twee vuursteungroepe die “voet-op-die-grond” was en deurlopend vuursteun gegee het. “Wen eers die vuurgeveg en storm dan”, is deur die Boere toegepas. Die vuursteungroep vanaf Gordonkoppie het amper ’n 90°-hoek met Roos se stormgroep gevorm, maar daar was wel veiligheidsrisiko’s, veral die oorhoofse vuursteun wat van die kruinrant van die tweede terras gelewer is.

 

Bronne:

Churchill, Winston Spencer. 1900. Ian Hamilton’s march. London and Bombay: Longmans, Green and Co.

Hamilton, Ian B.M. 1960. The happy warrior. A life of General Sir Ian Hamilton, GCB, GCMG, DSO. London.

Kilian, J.D. 1975. Laat ons veg. Johannesburg: Perskor Uitgewery.

Menzies, A.C.B. n.d. A woman of no importance (Amy Charlotte Bewicke Menzies, also known as Mrs Stuart Menzies). Memories discreet and indiscreet. New York: E.P. Dutton & Company.

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

“S” (Skrywer onbekend). 1896. Die Slag van Amajuba, Ons Klyntji, Deel 1, No. 1. Maart. Paarl: D.F. du Toit en Co. Beperk, Drukkers en Uitgewers.

 

 

[1] Stephanus Roos in Ons Klyntji, p. 12.

[2] Hamilton se vertelling in Churchill, Ian Hamilton’s march, p. O.

[3] Cameron aangehaal in Prior, Campaigns of a war correspondent, p. 130.

[4] Hamilton, The happy warrior, p. 43.

[5] Killian, Laat ons veg, p. 28.

[6] Stephanus Roos in Ons Klyntji, p. 12.

[7] Churchill, Ian Hamilton’s march, p. l.

[8] Menzies, Memories discreet and indiscreet, p. 92.