Natal Field Force

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The Natal Field Force (NFF) was a multi-battalion field force originally formed by Major-General Sir George Pomeroy Colley in Natal for the First Boer War. It was later re-established for the Second Boer War (1899–1902) and commanded by Major-General Sir Redvers Buller VC GCB GCMG (although after the failed attack at Colenso he was replaced as overall commander in South Africa by Lord Roberts).

First Boer War[edit]

Main article: First Boer War

The First Boer War broke out in December 1880 with the Boer Commando's in the Transvaal besieging British garrisons there. The Governor of Natal Sir George Pomeroy Colley raised the Natal Field Force which took part in the actions at Laing's Nek, Schuinshoogte and Majuba Hill.

It was composed of:

After Schuinshoogte the NFF was reinforced by the 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders[2]

Second Boer War[edit]

Main article: Second Boer War

At the outbreak of the Second Boer War General Sir George White was appointed Governor in Chief of Natal, superseding General Sir Penn Symons.[3] Symons had already split his forces chiefly into two garrisons at Ladysmith and Dundee.[4]

Ladysmith garrison[edit]

Dundee garrison[edit]

Other garrisons[edit]

At Pietermaritzburg:

At Escourt:

  • Natal Naval Volunteers
  • Natal Royal Rifles

At Colenso:

After the battles at Talana Hill and Elandslaagte General White recalled the Dundee garrison and concentrated his forces in defence of Ladysmith.

The Relief of Ladysmith[edit]

Main article: Relief of Ladysmith

During the Second Boer War relief operation of the besieged town of Ladysmith, the NFF comprised:

Cleary's Division[edit]

General Cornelius Francis Clery's (2nd & 3rd) Division[6] although temporarily commanded by Lyttelton[7] for a time due to illness. The 3rd division was General Gatacre's command but most was diverted to Natal leaving him with only two and a half Battalions.[8]

2nd Infantry Brigade commanded by General Sir Henry Hildyard

4th Infantry Brigade initially commanded by General The Hon. Neville Lyttelton and later by Colonel Charles Norcott.[9]

5th Infantry Brigade commanded by General Arthur Fitzroy Hart

6th Infantry Brigade commanded by General Geoffrey Barton

Cavalry Division[edit]

The (ad hoc) Cavalry Division commanded by Colonel Douglas Cochrane, 12th Earl of Dundonald

Artillery[edit]

Artillery commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Charles James Long, RA

1st Brigade Royal Artillery commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Henry Vaughan Hunt, RA

  • 7th Field Battery
  • 14th Field Battery
  • 66th Field Battery
  • One Naval Twelve Pounder Battery (10 x 12 pounders) (HMS Terrible)

2nd Brigade Royal Artillery commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Lawrence Worthington Parsons, RA

  • 63rd Field Battery
  • 64th Field Battery

Naval Artillery Brigade commanded by Captain Edward Pitcairn Jones, RN (HMS Forte)

  • One Heavy Battery 2 x 4.7" guns
  • One Section, Twelve Pounder Battery (2 x 12 pounders) (HMS Tartar)

Misc unit's that joined after the battle of Spion Kop[10]

Warren's Division[edit]

General Sir Charles Warren's (5th) Division (later succeeded by Hildyard)[citation needed] joined up with the main body of the force shortly after the Battle of Colenso.

11th[11] Infantry Brigade initially commanded by General Edward Woodgate[12] but he was wounded at Spion Kop and died shortly afterwards. He was succeeded by General Arthur Wynne who was later wounded at the Battle of the Tugela Heights and succeeded by Colonel Walter Kitchener.[13]

10th[14] Infantry Brigade commanded by General John Talbot Coke.

Support troops[edit]

Royal Engineers commanded by Lieutenant-colonel George Hamilton Sim (may not have been present)

  • 17th Field Company
  • "A" Pontoon Troop

References[edit]

  1. ^ britishbattles.com Talana Hill
  2. ^ britishbattles.com Majuba Hill
  3. ^ Pakenham 1979, p.96
  4. ^ Pakenham 1979, p.98
  5. ^ a b c London Gazette issue 27157, Friday 26 January 1900, p.197
  6. ^ Natal Army
  7. ^ Churchill, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, ch. XXI
  8. ^ Churchill, Ian Hamilton's March, ch. II
  9. ^ Churchill, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, ch. XXIV
  10. ^ a b Churchill, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, ch. XIX
  11. ^ Woodgate's 11th Brigade
  12. ^ Kings Own
  13. ^ Churchill, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, ch. XXII
  14. ^ Coke's 10th Brigade
  15. ^ 10th Battalion

Sources[edit]