RACA Journal Shamus Rennie 60years - Page 6

LESSON a chest measurement of 35.5 inches, with hazel eyes and brown hair. He stated that his religion was Church of England (Protestant). He had a scar and birthmark on his left elbow and scars on both knees. A few days later, on Thursday 8 March 1900, James was appointed Private to the 46th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry, which formed part of the 13th Company sent to South Africa. He volunteered to fight, provided his own horse and he or his family paid the £170 required to purchase his equipment. James Rennie arrived in South Africa five weeks behind the rest of his 13th Company, who had moved on into Cape Colony by the time he arrived in South Africa. Over the next few weeks, the 13th Company Imperial Yeomanry, under the command of Lieutenant- Colonel B Spragge, had been ordered to join the 9th Infantry Division under General Sir H Colville near Kroonstad in the Orange Free State and by late May 1900, had almost reached their destination. Early on the morning of Sunday, 27 May, the 13th, having spent the night in Kroonstad, Orange Free State, were amongst a force sent out to join Colville at Lindley, where they arrived in the afternoon. It was here that Spragge arrived to meet Colville and found he had already left. It was decided to rest there for the day and then follow Colville to Heilbron. Within a few hours of entering the town, they were fiercely attacked and Spragge found himself surrounded by a much larger force of Boers commanded by Commandant Piet De Wet and General Prinsloo, including artillery. The 13th fell back on the transport wagons, which had been left on the Kroonstad road in a sheltered valley. The 13th held their ground for three days until artillery was brought up to fire upon them. Shortly afterwards, their position became untenable and the 13th were left with no option, but to surrender. Eighty men were killed or wounded out of a force of 470, and the remainder were taken prisoner. James Rennie was not taken prisoner at Lindley. His name does not appear in the official Casualty Rolls, nor in the list of prisoners released from Watervaal, Barberton or Nooitgedacht. This is further corroborated by the fact that there is no period of internment recorded on his Service papers. James Rennie’s service papers do note two areas of action in South Africa, Bethlehem and Zand River and exclude Lindley, which also suggests that he was not present at that action. The action at Bethlehem refers to the action there in July of 1900, the escape of the Boer General Christian Rudolph De Wet and the surrender of the Boer General Martinus Prinsloo and a number of Boer Commandoes trapped in the Brandwater Basin area by a large British and Colonial force, of which there were a huge number of Imperial Yeomanry. The action at Zand River refers to what some call The Battle of Zand River, which occurred earlier, on Thursday, 10 May 1900, 17days 4 • SHAMUS RENNIE • 60 YEARS • A THIRD GENERATION FAMILY BUSINESS  The marriage certificate of James Rennie and Ida Brewster in 1908. before the action at Lindley and also included the same units of Imperial Yeomanry. It is impossible to pinpoint his exact movements during that period, except for being present at the actions at Bethlehem and Zand River. DEPARTURE FROM SOUTH AFRICA James Rennie left South Africa at the end of February or early March 1901 as he arrived in England on Thursday 28 March 1901. It has not been possible to identify the troopship which carried him home. His service papers record that he served for another month and on 28 April 1901, his discharge was recorded by the 1st Provost Battalion (Now known as The Royal Military Police): “Discharged at his own request from further service connected with the War in South Africa. He was paid a standard War Gratuity under Army Order Number 5 of 1901, as the rank of Private.” RETURN TO SOUTH AFRICA After experiencing the War and the vastness of South Africa, it is hardly a surprise that his experiences had a profound effect on him and made him want to return. He was obviously a good horseman and good with a rifle, qualities that made him suitable for the Cape Mounted Police in which he was a Lance Corporal when he married Ida Brewster, from Port Elizabeth, on 3 August 1908. *The Industrial Archeology of Northern Ireland; WA McCutcheon, 1980 0860 SHAMUS • www.shamusrennie.co.za