The Relief of Ladysmith
On February 28th a call came out for volunteers capable of not only marching 7 miles, but fighting at the end of it. These were starving men, and the Battalion could only gather 100 men and 5 Officers deemed fit enough. However they were spared the ordeal - the siege was lifted by nightfall and Ladysmith was free again.
On 1st March, the Battalion was sent into action, in a flying column to cut off the retreating Boers. On the 3rd, Buller's entire force marched into town. The 1st Battalion The Devonshire Regiment were amongst those lining the streets and they greeted the 2nd Battalion The Devonshire Regiment with great enthusiasm. The 2nd Devons had been part of General Clery's 2nd Division and had taken part in some of the main actions against the Boers between the Tugela River and Ladysmith. There had been 10,500 admissions to hosp during siege. In the Garrison, 38 had been killed by shellfire and 430 had died of sickness.
Private H Davis of the 2nd Battalion The Devonshire Regiment was one of those men who marched into Ladysmith on the 3rd March:
"All the Brigade troops had lined the streets, their faces were as white as snow and they were so weak that instead of standing up they were obliged to sit. Sometimes we could see an old chum who had previously belonged to our Battalion in England. This came to us very hard to have known them at home when they were enjoying good health and strength and now to meet them almost at death's door from hunger. There could be plainly seen also a difference in the appearance of the two forces. There was the white faced starved heroes of Ladysmith, with their buttons shining and clothing spotless to match their faces watching the relief force coming in with our dirty, ragged and tired appearance with scarcely a pair of trousers to be seen, and there they came, clothes or not. They were real British Soldiers and had succeeded in relieving our comrades."