James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Second Anglo-Boer War 5

(General map and detailed map, for reference)

In May 1901, D Company was transferred to the 15th Mounted Infantry Battalion, which was actively involved in the Orange River Colony (the annexed Orange Free State), first around Kroonstad, Rhenoster and Lindley, then to the west of the railway and then around Winburg and Senekal. Fortunately for Gethin he was one of three officers selected to transfer to D company, thus escaping his tedious duties. He spent most of the last year of the war in the MI. His records indicate he fought in the Orange River Colony from June 1901 and so this was probably when he was posted.

C.T.Atkinson in his The South Wales Borderers 24th Foot 1689-1937 [1937] wrote of the MI:

One of its chief achievements was its capture in October 1901 of the noted Commandant Marais at Bronkhorstvallei in the Kroonstad area, where the 15th M. I. were carrying out a series of raids. On the evening of October 11th the S.W.B. were ordered out to raid two farms, one of which was surrounded in the early hours of the 12th by Lieutenants Stevens and Morgan-Owen who secured nine prisoners and meanwhile Lieutenant Gross with another party made his way to the second farm where Commandant Marais himself was taken with another four Boers.
In the later stages of the war D Company was active mainly in the northeast of the Free State, employed in repeated drives in the Bethlehem-Lindley and Heilbron-Frankfort districts. It tested the fitness of men and mounts and supplies were often scarce. Gethin was promoted Lieutenant on 22 March 1902. The last significant action in which his company was involved occurred on 1 May that year, by which time De Wet was seeking a negotiated peace. There were still pockets of resistance; one band of 'irreconcilables' was led by Commandant Manie Botha who was known to be lying injured at a farmhouse on the Wilge River, about thirty miles south of Frankfort. There were large bodies of Boers in the area so the MI depended on surprise to secure his capture. A long night march culminating in a five-mile gallop in the early hours of the morning (they covered eighty miles in twenty-four hours) was almost wasted when the leading troops lost their way but Botha was seized with no British casualties. His protests and demands for the protection of the Red Cross were silenced when he was shown the order for his capture, signed by Lord Kitchener and countersigned by De Wet. Boer resistance crumbled and the Peace of Vereeniging was signed on 31 May 1902.