BUCKLEY AT WAR

Boer War (1899 - 1902)

 Britain became involved in a war in South Africa with the Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Fee State, under the Presidency of Kruger. The root of the struggle was possession of rich resources of gold and diamond mines by the Boers and the attempt by Britain to gain control of them. The progress of the war at first went badly for the British who were outmanoeuvred by the guerrilla tactics of the Boers. A feature of the war was the impression it made on British public opinion, evoking hysterical displays of patriotism. This reached its height when British troops, besieged by the Boers in two obscure settlements at Mafeking and Ladysmith, were relieved in February and May 1900.

             

                                                          Royal Welsh on parade 

    Men from Buckley became involved in the war as members of a Volunteer force. In 1852 the Volunteers had replaced the militia. The 1st Flintshire (Buckley) Engineer Volunteers had their headquarters in Mill Lane. Under the terms of the Militia Act 1852, men served for five years, and, on “joining up” received a cash bounty. Members had to attend an annual training camp, local drills parades and church parades. The Buckley Corps were commanded in the 1890s by Major Gibson, a brickworks Manager. The Volunteers were in great demand to parade with their band and enliven public and festive occasions in Buckley and district. In 1900, selected groups of Volunteers, recruited from North Wales counties, were formed into Service Detachments.

                The 1st Flintshire (Buckley) Engineer Volunteers in Mill Lane 1900.

Buckley men served in the 1st Service Detachment and, on arrival in South Africa, they were attached to “A” Pontoon Troop, Royal Engineers, and were engaged in repairing the railway between Ladysmith and Standerton. They returned home in June. Other local men saw service in South Africa with other regiments. Although the war had not ended, four men returned in July 1901, and were given a hero’s welcome and each presented with a silver watch. The 1st Flintshire Volunteers were disbanded in April 1908.

                                  

    Lord Roberts despatch of 28th feb 1900

                   The destruction by the Boers of the iron girder bridge at Frere seriously impeded the advance of    Sir Redvers Buller, and the construction of the substitute was a triumph of skill on the part of the Royal  Engineers.  The wooden bridge they erected alongside that which was wrecked is connected at each ,end with  the railway, and carries the line across the river.

             

       The old bridge had been broken in the middle, and the girder framework, precipitated into the hollow, now forms a broken V. While the building of the new bridge was going forward, immense quantities of stores were collected, and a great camp grew up in the neighbourhood; and across this bridge the troops composing Sir Redvers Buller's force passed in their advance to the Tugela, with a vast train of military stores.  Unfortunately, owing to the inadequacy of road transport, we have been somewhat too closely bound to the railway, and the flank movement of Sir Redvers Buller upon the Upper Tugela was really the first occasion on which any large body of troops had left the line.

 The "A" and "C" Troops of the bridging battalion are taking part in the campaign in South Africa, and the former advanced with Sir Redvers Buller to Frere.  Pontoons had been sent forward early in the course of the relieving operations.  They are seen in this picture upon the waggons ready for Sir Charles Warren's flanking movement upon the Upper Tugela, where he threw his force across the river at Trichardt's or Wagon Drift on January 17 and 18.

             

     With the utmost celerity the Royal Engineers had set to work, and a pontoon bridge, 85 yds long, had been laid across the river.  The stream was in flood at the time, and some of the pontoons were used for ferrying men across.  The headquarters of the bridging battalion are at Aldershot, where work is continually going on, and the experience gained has proved of the very greatest service during the present war.  Probably in few parts of the world could greater demands be made upon the Royal Engineers than in preparing for the crossing of the rapid and fluctuating rivers which intersect many parts of the present seat of war.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men from Buckley became involved in the war as members of a Volunteer force. In 1852 the Volunteers had replaced the militia. The 1st Flintshire (Buckley) Engineer Volunteers had their headquarters in Mill Lane. Under the terms of the Militia Act 1852, men served for five years, and, on “joining up” received a cash bounty. Members had to attend an annual training camp, local drills parades and church parades. The Buckley Corps were commanded in the 1890s by Major Gibson, a brickworks Manager. The Volunteers were in great demand to parade with their band and enliven public and festive occasions in Buckley and district. In 1900, selected groups of Volunteers, recruited from North Wales counties, were formed into Service Detachments. Buckley men served in the 1st Service Detachment and, on arrival in South Africa, they were attached to “A” Pontoon Troop, Royal Engineers, and were engaged in repairing the railway between Ladysmith and Standerton. They returned home in June. Other local men saw service in South Africa with other regiments.
Although the war had not ended, four men returned in July 1901, and were given a hero’s welcome and each presented with a silver watch. The 1st Flintshire Volunteers were disbanded in April 1908.  

 

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