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Elandslaagte

Elandslaagte

On the 19th October the Boers cut phone lines between Dundee and Ladysmith. They captured a train carrying flour for the Dundee Garrison. Reports followed of fierce fighting and it was understood that a large force of Boers had now crossed Van Reenan's Pass and were advancing on Ladysmith.

A column of troops, including the 1st Devons, were sent to Modder Station on the 19th but then withdrawn to Ladysmith. At the same time, the Dundee Garrison had fought off a Boer assault, but General Penn-Symons had been killed. Major General Yule, (a former Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion The Devonshire Regiment) has assumed command. On 20th October a force of approximately 650 Boers advanced on Modder Station and had taken up positions at Elandslaagte. The Battle for Elandslaagte itself took place over 21-22 October. The 1st Devons were originally placed on reserve for the Manchester Regiment, but the line of the Boers advance changed and the Devons were ordered to form for attack and advance. They were faced with open ground, bare of anything but anthills. The Battalion was under fire for 3 hours but

"the battalion kept line ... and fired steadily as if on parade. It is to the perfect steadiness of the men and the absence of crowding that the very small losses from the enemy's fire…at all times heavy, can be attributed." (General Jacson)

33 members of the Battalion were injured. Two of these men later died from their wounds. Lafone "got a whack on the arm but not enough to stop me". After a freezing night in the Boer positions, with Boer prisoners (during which time they shared both their supplies of alcoholic spirits and their dry clothing with the Boers), they returned to Ladysmith to a rousing reception.