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|Subject: Lieutenant-Colonel R.F. Cantwell, Cape Mounted Rifles Sun Jan 03, 2010 7:27 pm|| |
Lieutenant-Colonel R.F. Cantwell, Cape Mounted Rifles, Late Sergeant Frontier Armed and Mounted Rifles,Late Sergeant Frontier Armed and Mounted Police, A Veteran of the Siege and Capture of Morosi’s Mountain Stronghold, 1879, And Later Mentioned in Lord Roberts’ Despatches For Wepener, Where He Stoically Commanded the Cape Mounted Rifles Under Appalling Conditions and Heavy Fire. South Africa 1877-79, one clasp, 1877-8-9 (Sergt. R.Cantwell. F.A.M. Police.); Cape of Good Hope General Service 1880-97, one clasp, Basutoland (Regt. Sgt. Maj. R.F. Cantwell.. C.M. Rifn.), engraved in upright serif capitals Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, four clasps, Cape Colony Wepener, Transvaal, Wittebergen (Lt: Col: R.F. Cantwell Cape.M.R.); King’s South Africa 1901-02, two clasps (Lieut:-Col: R.F. Cantwell. Cape M.R.),Lieutenant-Colonel R.F. Cantwell served in South Africa 1877-79 in the Gaika and the Galeka Campaigns and in the attacks on and subsequent capture of Morosi’s mountain stronghold 16.3.1879-19.11.1879. During the latter siege there were several bloody and unsuccessful assaults on the strongly fortified position including on the 25th of March, when two Cape Mounted Riflemen won the Victoria Cross. Morosi’s stronghold was eventually carried by a night assault on the 19th November, leaving 70 tribesman lying dead Cantwell saw service with the Cape Mounted Rifles during the Boer War including at Wepener, where his regiment suffered heavy casualties during the defence. Forces at Wepener, under Colonel Dalgety, comprised of: one company of Royal Scots Mounted Infantry; 427 men of the Cape Mounted Rifles; 804 men of the 1st and 2nd Brabant’s Horse; 393 men of the Kaffrarian Rifles; 58 men of Driscoll’s Scouts; a small number of Royal Engineers and an Artillery Detachment consisting of two 15 pounders, two Navalguns, two 2.5 guns and one Hotchkiss.‘A position, about six miles in circumference, was taken up. On the6th [April 1901] it was seen Wepener was to be isolated, and defensive works were pushed on. On the morning of the 9th the enemy opened with artillery. In his report Colonel Dalgety said “The weakest part of the position was on the extreme left rear,which was held by the Cape Mounted Rifles, and it was here that the heaviest casualties took place, the C.M.R. had 21 killed and 75 wounded, out of a total of 33 killed and 133 wounded it was found to be impossible to contact our lines or to give up anyportion of the position held, so that I had no reserve available for relief, and consequently for 16 days and nights the whole force was constantly in the trenches, and in the case of the Royal Scots, C.M.R., and Scouts, they had nothing but cold food and water during the whole 16 days, while for three days the trenches were flooded by rain. I cannot speak too highly of the behaviour of the whole force during all of this time; all did their work cheerfully and well, although the continued strain was telling on all ranks.” (The Colonials in South Africa 1899-1902 , J. Stirling, refers).Wepener was relieved on the 24th April, with Cantwell mentioned in Lieutenant-Colonel Dalgety’s Report, 29.4.1900, ‘Captain Cantwell, after Major Sprenger was killed and Major Waring wounded, on the 9th and 11th respectively commanded in advanced schanzen’. He received a further Mention in Lord Roberts’ Despatches,London Gazette 2.4.1901.Cantwell also proved popular with his men as can be seen from an address given upon his retirement from the post of Adjutant, ‘’It was a painful duty because the occasion of the presenting of the address was his (Captain Cantwell’s) retirement from the post of Adjutant, a position which he had held for the last fifteen years,and that in losing him, the N.C.O.’s felt that they were losing a sincere and trusted friend, a friend who was always ready to hear,and when possible, adjust, grievances no matter how trivial. An officer who thoroughly understood his men and took no superficial interest in their welfare; and a man who encouraged by both precept and example all branches of sport and attributes of manliness.’ (The Qakamba , relevant pages from issue included in lot refers).Listed on the published transcription of South Africa 1877-79 roll as ‘Cantrell’, however correct name of Cantwell is given on the other relevant.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]