1st LOYAL NORTH LANCASHIRES
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David Removed • 6 June 2008 03:461st LOYAL NORTH LANCASHIRES
at THE DEFENCE OF KIMBERLEY 1899-1901 The town of Kimberley lies between its two principal diamond mines, the "Kimberley" and the "De Beers", in what was in 1899 the Cape Colony of South Africa, almost on the frontier of the Orange Free State. When the Boer War threatened to break out in the autumn of 1899, the border town of Kimberley was reinforced by Headquarters and 4 companies of the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (strength 9 officers and 413 men). These were the only regular troops in the town, the remainder of the garrison consisting of the "Kimberley" volunteers (540 all ranks). Later the "Town Guard" was raised from among the inhabitants. The total number of people in Kimberley itself when the town was first invested by the Boers was about 48,000 including 12,000 women and 10,000 children. As soon as the war broke out on 11th October, 1899, the Boers crossed the frontier into Cape Colony and threatened Kimberley. Colonel Kekewich of The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment thereupon assumed supreme control of the town and the civil population, a command he held throughout the siege, despite the sometimes meddlesome interference of the towns principal resident, Cecil Rhodes. The siege of Kimberley lasted for over four months, and the food stocks of the defenders soon began to fall. Vegetables, meat and milk became very scarce. On 12th December, 1899, all food stocks were taken over by a supply committee and everyone was put on a fixed scale of rations. On 2nd January, 1900, the meat ration was reduced to ¼ lb, and by the middle of the month the issue of horse flesh had commenced; soup kitchens were established and some 8,000 pints were distributed daily. On 17th December, 1899, the garrison received the depressing news that the relieving force under Lord Methuen had been defeated at the battle of Magersfontein on 10th December, and that all hope of early relief for the besieged town was gone. Finally, on 15th February, 1900, General Frenchs Cavalry Division reached Kimberley and raised the siege. In 1904 the 1st Battalion of The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was awarded the Battle Honour "Defence of Kimberley", an honour held by no other Regiment in the British Army. The South African War Memorial to commemorate the siege and to honour the officers and men of the Regiment who fell during the Boer War was later erected in Avenham Park, Preston. Each year on the Sunday nearest to the 15 February the Regimental Association of The Queen's Lancashire Regiment, successors to the Loyal North Lancashires, holds a commemorative parade at the Memorial. The "Kimberley Volunteers" became in due course The Kimberley Regiment, now part of the South African Armed Forces. The Regiment, the only other military unit in the World to carry the Battle Honour "Defence of Kimberley," is allied to The Queen's Lancashire Regiment.
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