James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Second Anglo-Boer War 1

Gethin and another officer, 2nd Lieutenant Moffat, were in charge of a draft of one hundred men, all but sixteen of them reservists that sailed from East Langton Dock, Liverpool, on 28 April 1900 aboard the ‘Cheshire’. It was scheduled to stop at Queenstown before reaching Port Elizabeth on 21 May. The men then set off to join up with the main contingent of 2nd South Wales Borderers at Johannesburg.

Early in June 1900 the Boers under De Wet had mounted three raids on the railway between the River Vaal and Kroonstad, capturing seven hundred prisoners and great quantities of stores. On the way to join the battalion Gethin’s draft had been sent to rescue a convoy which had been attacked near Heilbron. C.T Atkinson in his The South Wales Borderers 24th Foot 1689-1937 [1937], from which this map was taken, wrote, returning to Vredefort Road it [Gethin’s contingent] had helped to repulse an attack on June 6th, making a successful attack on a kopje from which Lieutenant Morgan-Owen drove the Boers with the loss of three men wounded - something of an initiation of fire for Gethin.

Some companies arrived at Vredefort Road from 2nd Battalion HQ at Vereeniging a few days after this action. Their task was to protect working parties repairing the section of railway line the Boers had attacked and undertake patrols; the outpost duty was described as ‘particularly severe’ and the weather as bad and bitterly cold. So it was that Gethin’s first duties in this conflict were in the Orange Free State.

On 8 August the companies of the battalion congregated at Rhenoster, to where Battalion HQ had moved, anticipating the battalion would rejoin 15th Brigade at Johannesburg. Instead it was hurried off to reinforce the garrison at Krugersdorp, twenty miles west-northwest of Johannesburg; Gethin was to remain in this southwest part of the Transvaal, from August to November 1900. It was a scene of considerable activity as De Wet and his forces had recently moved into the nearby Magaliesberg Range of mountains. On 29 August the battalion joined one of the columns, the Potchefstroom column under Maj.-Gen. Fitzroy Hart, seeking out De Wet and his men. C.T.Atkinson described events: