QSA To The Rifle Bde , KIA
QSA five bars Cape Colony, Tugela Heights , Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal, Laings Nek 3904 PTE J TAYLOR RIFLE BDE
Pte J Taylor 1 Bn Rifle Bde was killed in action at Grootvlei on the 26th of December 1900
The Rifle Brigade at Grootvlei, Boxing Day 1900
After a quiet Christmas based at the Oceana Mine near Grootvlei, Lieutenant-Colonel A. Colville, 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade, proceeded on a farm-clearing expedition, with a small column consisting of six companies of the 1st Battalion, a squadron of the 13th Hussars, four guns of 63 Battery, Royal Field Artillery, as well as one ‘pom-pom’. Colville left ‘F’ Company under the command of Captain Radclyffe, as well as some artillerymen, to guard the baggage wagons based at the mine. The Column moved out in the direction of Roddewal, where after five miles they became involved in a small skirmish at the first of the target farms. During the skirmish a large party of approximately 450 Boers were spotted heading towards the Oceana Mine. A signal was sent to Captain Radclyffe informing him of this development, and he at once set about disposing his small force in an attempt to protect the baggage, with the pom-pom located near a small hollow. After a couple of hours had passed a number of mounted Boers appeared on a ridge a thousand yards away. As Radclyffe’s men opened fire the Boers dismounted, pushed forward, and sent out small parties to the left and right in an encircling movement against the Rifle Brigade position. Under heavy and accurate fire the pompom was moved down towards the hollow and back towards the compound- of the nine men who assisted in moving the pom-pom one was killed and the other eight all wounded.
Seeing that the enemy were now advancing in considerable force, Radclyffe decided to send the baggage back to the Column, whilst attempting to hold the Boers in check for as long as possible. Under cover of heavy Rifle Brigade fire from behind the wagons, the native teams began in spanning the oxen. When they were ready to move the native teams started off the wagons in the direction of Colville’s column and, as they did so, the small Rifle Brigade covering party came under very severe fire and had to retire, as the Boers saw that they were losing their target. During this time, Radclyffe and his sections continued their holding action but suffered a number of casualties, with their ammunition running out fast. With the baggage now well on its way, Radclyffe, who was lying wounded, ordered those in advanced positions who could do so to retire to the compound so as to avoid capture. No.1 section provided covering fire until their ammunition ran out, at which point the Boers advanced rapidly, forcing their surrender, along with the wounded soldiers. Fortunately, at this point, the main column appeared on the horizon, forcing the Boers to withdraw, leaving their wounded prisoners behind. For some time the wounded on the ridge were exposed to fire from both the returning column and the Boers, and a corporal was seen to make a valiant attempt to carry the wounded Radclyffe to safety. Total losses that day were heavy, with 13 Officers and men killed, 44 wounded, and 19 taken prisoner. For his gallantry in defending the position, Captain Radclyffe was awarded the DSO.
Medal with original long length of ribbon and in dark toned NEF condition