Saturday 26 September 1914 – We Lost 210
The King, Queen and Lord Kitchener inspect 140,000 recruits at Aldershot.
The first Indian Army units disembark at Marseilles. Churchill visits ‘Sir’ John French and the British 1st Division which is in action at Chivy.
The 42nd (East Lancashire) Territorial Division lands in Egypt.
The German siege of Antwerp begins.
At 07:25 Lieutenant Colonel R C Grant, after a long night’s ride to Sandfontein, German South West Africa, finds Captain Welby’s force safe, but before his men can dismount, a message arrives from a lookout on the kopje that a German column is advancing from the northeast. At the same time it is discovered that the telephone line to Raman’s Drift has been cut. Grant scampers to the top of the kopje and sees another German column advancing at the gallop from the east while still another is coming from the west. Lieutenant F B Adler, commanding the artillery, opens fire at 08:00 from 4,000 yards. A four-gun German battery replies, and half an hour later a second battery comes into action from 3,000 yards. Casualties mount among the South Africans. The German force is estimated to be ten times that of the South Africans. At 10:30 a direct hit by a German shell destroys one gun and kills the battery sergeant major. All the artillerymen are killed or wounded. Two wounded gunners work the remaining gun. At 11:00 the Germans add two more field pieces; ten guns now pound the South Africans. Lieutenant Adler fights at his last gun until it runs out of ammunition, and then he destroys it, and takes the survivors of his section to join the riflemen on the kopje. At 13:00 there is a lull in the fighting while the Germans eat lunch and improve their positions. An hour later the battle resumes. Lieutenant Colonel Grant is severely wounded and for a time Captain Welby assumes command. The Germans launch an infantry attack, but are thrown back. Still, by 17:00 they have worked within 1,200 yards of the kopje and all of their artillery is focused on the South African Infantry. The exploding shells fling enormous rocks into the air and send great boulders rolling down the hill. Grant, his wounds tended, resumes command, but the situation is hopeless and at 18:00 he raises the white flag. Then a curious thing happens. The firing stops just as the sun is setting, and thirsty men from both sides run for the wells at the foot of the kopje. South Africans and Germans mingle, says one soldier, “as if never a shot had been fired”. The South Africans suffer sixty-seven casualties, 22% of their strength, including sixteen killed or mortally wounded. The German losses are almost as great, sixty total casualties, of who fourteen are killed. Thus the first attempt to establish an Allied force on South West African soil ends in defeat and surrender. Three hundred South Africans surrender along with two guns to 2,000 Germans with 10 guns 24 miles inside the German colony.
Today’s losses include:
- An Irish International hockey player
- Grandson of a man who died at Vitoria, Spain serving in the 7th Foot British Legion during the First Carlist War
- Man whose widow will lose three brothers in the war
- A man whose daughter will be born on New Year’s Eve
- Multiple examples of men who had brothers killed in the South African War
- Multiple examples of families that will lose two sons
- The son of a General
- A member of the Marylebone Cricket Club
Today’s highlighted casualty is
Captain Napier Charles Gordon Cameron (Cameron Highlanders) is killed at age 37. He is the son of General ‘Sir’ William Gordon Cameron GCB and son-in-law of Captain Harry Brooke DL. His brother died in 1908 at age 37 as a result of wounds he received in 1900 during the South African War. His wife is the great granddaughter of ‘Sir’ Arthur Brooke Baronet and his daughter will be born next New Year’s Eve. He is a veteran of the South African War and his wife will lose three brothers in the war including Victoria Cross winner James Anson Otho Brooke.
- Lieutenant William Ormsby Wyndham Ball(Royal Army Medical Corps attached South Staffordshire Regiment) is killed by a shell at Soupir while attending to wounded at age 24. He represented Ireland in six International Hockey matches in 1910 and 1911. His step-brother Captain James Thomson Seeds died on service in the South African War.
- Among the casualties at Sandfontein is Lieutenant Francis Louis Northway (South African Mounted Rifles) who is killed at age 40. His brother was killed serving in the Canadian Mounted Rifles in South Africa on 2nd November 1900.
- Second Lieutenant John Dundas Manley (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 22. He is the great grandson of Major Robert Thomas Dundas 7th Foot British Legion who died of fever the day before Christmas at Vitoria Spain serving in the First Carlist War.
- Second Lieutenant Charles Caldwell Sills (South Wales Borderers) is killed at age 22. He is a member of the MCC.
- Private Frederick James Aylwin (South Wales Borderers) is killed at age 28. His younger brother will die in Salonika three days after the Armistice.
- Private Frederick Ronald Lock (Devonshire Regiment) is killed at age 19. His brother will be killed in the sinking of HMS Monmouth in November.
- Private Edward William Langford (Bedfordshire Regiment) dies of wounds at home at age 23. His brother will die of wounds next June.