On the morning of October 2nd Buller’s army reached Lydenburg without further opposition. Lieutenant Cumin was buried in the evening in Lydenburg cemetery.
On Saturday, October 6th, Sir Redvers Buller bade farewell to his army. The troops lined the streets and roads and gave him a hearty send-off. He was immensely popular with the men and they were sorry to see him go.
General W. Kitchener took over command of the Lydenburg district and its garrison, on Sir Redvers Buller’s departure.
On the writer asking Sir Redvers on the eve of the day of his departure which was his best army—the one he commanded into Ladysmith or the one with which he trekked north—he replied, “The army I went north with was the best. I watched the Devons pass me at Burgher’s Nek and it struck me how wonderfully well they looked. I considered they were ready for anything I asked them to do; but,” he added, “they surprised me with the pace they went up the hill at Burgher’s Nek.”
On October 8th, 1900, the battalion moved out of Lydenburg to the Mission Station, three miles north of the town on the Kruger’s Post road. The Mission Station was a collection of Kaffir houses, containing some 500 Christian men, women, and children. The mission-house was taken over as a post and fortified as soon as the German pastor, who was found to be communicating with the Boers, had been sent to Pretoria to be locked up.
[Illustration: Colonel C.W. Park, Mission Camp, Lydenburg]
The site of the camp having been chosen, it was immediately surrounded by company forts consisting of ditches four feet deep and two feet wide for protection against shell fire, which it was considered possible would be brought to bear on the camp. This entrenchment was finished in one afternoon.
Two guns of the 53rd Battery under Lieutenant Higgins, and one 5-inch gun under Second Lieutenant McLellan, were added to the garrison.
The battalion stood to arms daily just before dawn.
On the 9th two companies under Captain Bartlett were moved to Paardeplaats as a permanent garrison, whilst two companies under Captain Travers were sent to Ben Tor.
On the 10th two companies of the Regiment, two guns, and one company mounted infantry proceeded just before daylight to a farm some six miles away, and burnt it. They encountered no opposition. This company of mounted infantry was then added to the garrison for permanent duty.
The two following days were employed in collecting forage from different farm-houses. Very few Boers were seen, and there was little or no opposition.
On the 24th, it having been ordained that all the Boer women in the various towns were to be sent out to their husbands in the laagers, two companies and two guns under Captain Ravenshaw were ordered to escort the ladies of Lydenburg over the Spekboom Bridge on the Kruger’s Post road, and there hand them over to their husbands and friends. Captain Ravenshaw went out with a flag of truce and met the Boers, amongst whom was Erasmus. They were most affable, and shook hands cordially. The women reached Kruger’s Post that evening.