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South Africa 1900-1902

211 men of the two Hertfordshire Battalions served in South Africa, attached to three companies of the 2nd Battalion The Bedfordshire Regiment. The first company, 116 men of all ranks, assembled in Bedford in January 1900, sailed on 14th February and arrived in Cape Town on 9th March. After a few weeks working on communication lines, they joined the 2nd Battalion near Bloemfontein in May, beginning outpost and convoy escort duties immediately. The Volunteer Company, reinforced by a further twenty two men in June, remained a separate sub-unit within the Battalion.

Much of the Summer was spent quietly in the area Winburg-Senekal-Bethlehem, north east of Bloemfontein, in the Orange River Colony. The Company took part in actions at Naauwpoort Nek on 29th July and at Winberg on 26th August. In September they moved to Thaba’Nchu for seven months of outpost duty after which they were ordered home in April 1901.
A second company, with a mere 86 men of all ranks, had assembled in February 1901, reaching South Africa in April and joining the 2nd Battalion at Thaba’Nchu. After six weeks, they moved east to Sanna’s Post, where they formed a base securing lines of communication over the next eight months.

The third company was even smaller, with just 56 men of all ranks. Having assembled in Bedford in January 1902, they joined the 2nd Battalion on 19th March and were immediately deployed as blockhouse (fortification) garrisons in the Brandford area. That May, some time was spent escorting ox wagon convoys and on outpost duties and on 4th June, peace was proclaimed. The company sailed home to England on the 24th of that month.
The services of the three companies earned each of the parent Volunteer battalions the battle honour of South Africa 1900-1902. A non commissioned officer of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion was mentioned in despatches and eight men of the two Hertfordshire battalions lost their lives in South Africa.

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