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Hitchin at War - Boer War Casualty

William SCOTT

Private in the Rifle Brigade.

He was killed on the 6th January 1900.

He was probably a regular soldier in the Rifle Brigade and his Regimental Number was 4717. The Memorial in St. Mary's Church at Hitchin states that he was in the 1st Battalion. If so, he would have sailed to take part in the South African (Boer) War on the 'German' on the 28th October 1899, landing at Durban on the 10th November 1899 where the Battalion became part of the 4th Brigade under General Lyttleton.

However, as he was killed during the siege of Ladysmith it seems more probable that he was in the 2nd Battalion at the time of his death. He may therefore have sailed from Crete with the 2nd Battalion on the 'Jelunga' arriving at Durban on the 26th October 1899. Another possibility is that he was transferred from the 1st to the 2nd Battalion on arrival at Durban.

At 3.00am on the 30th November 1899 the 2nd Battalion arrived in Ladysmith by rail. The siege of Ladysmith commenced early in November and in the ensuing weeks the Boer Commandos made a number of attacks and constantly shelled the town causing considerable damage. Numerous casualties ensued aggravated by outbreaks of typhoid and dysentery.

On the 6th January the Boers launched a massive attack and the 2,000 strong Heidelberg Commando gained the summit of a feature called Caesar's Camp. Six Companies of the Rifle Brigade were brought forward to help deal with them When they arrived they found no one in charge, received no orders, joined in the general affray and suffered a number of casualties including the death of William Scott and ten of his comrades. This was the result of poor disposition and confusion which was the direct responsibility of Ian Hamilton who 25 years later was responsible for similar poor disposition and confusion at Gallipoli costing an even greater number of lives.

William and his comrades were interred near where they died at Caesar's Camp. He has no grave marker but is remembered on the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade Memorial at Caesars' Camp, Ladysmith, Natal. The memorial is in the shape of a pyramid of stone blocks cemented together and commemorates 18 men and the plaque states "who fell during the repulse of the Boer attack on Caesars' Camp Jan 6th 1900".

There is a further memorial to him in All Saints Church, Ladysmith, where panels of names are attached to the wall in the transept. The main panel reads "To the glory of God and in memory of officers, non-com officers and men who fell in action or died of disease between 21st October 1899 and 30th April 1900 during the successful".

His parents were Mr and Mrs William Scott of Hitchin. His younger brother, Pte George Scott, was in the Post Office Rifles and was killed in action in the Great War on the 20th September 1917. Another brother, Arthur, was licensee of the Sir John Barleycorn public house in Hitchin. Their aunt, Mrs Logsdon, wife of ex Colour Sergeant Tom Logsdon, brought up the children after the death of their mother.

Extra Information / Special Notices:


A Second Boer War Casualty

More information may be available at www.hertsatwar.co.uk/hitchin

Memorial on which he appears: