Before commencing my account of the services of the Company to which I had the honour to belong, I should like to recall to mind the raison d'etre of the acceptance of the Volunteers by the War Office, to assist in the military operations in South Africa.
          No one can forget the audacious ultimatum issued by Presidents Kruger and Steyn, which brought matters between Great Britain and the Republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State to a climax. Forces were dispatched in all haste from England and India, and we were quickly threatening the Republics from East, West, and South. For a time all went well, but fortune turned, and the British armies met with reverses on all sides - General Buller at Colenso, Lord Methuen at Modder River, and General Gatacre at Stormberg.
          At home this news was received with some consternation. It was immediately recognised that we had no mere farmer hordes to deal with, but an enemy who employed European leaders skilled in all the science of warfare, and who possessed the latest innovations in arms.
          The Ministry acted promptly, and for some weeks thousands on thousands of troops were embarked at Southampton and elsewhere for the seat of war, the forces in the field meanwhile holding the enemy in check.
          Sir Howard Vincent and other active and enthusiastic Volunteer officers, seized the opportunity of proving to the English public and the world at large that the "Saturday-night Warriors" could do more than play at soldiers, by offering men to go to the front. The Government decided to accept this offer, amongst them being Territorial Companies to serve with the Regular battalions in the field.
          The East Surrey Volunteer Service Company was one of these, and as such became for a time part of the 2nd East Surrey Regiment; it was known throughout the operations as "I" Company. With this short explanation I will now commence my account.


© Copyright Christopher John Garrish. All rights reserved.