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NZ Artillery in the South African War

1st NZ Battery, Rhodesian Field Force Artillery

Although the Regiment of NZ Artillery did not exist until 1905, a New Zealand artillery unit took part in the South African War of 1899-1902. The Fifth Contingent of New Zealanders arrived in Beira, Portuguese East Africa, in April 1900 and, after three weeks in camp transferred to Marandellas, Rhodesia, by rail.

There, General Carrington called for volunteers to man a battery of six 15-pounder guns and Captain CT Major offered his whole company. These were joined by others of the Fifth Contingent as well as Lt GF Johnston and twenty men of the Fourth Contingent. Thus was formed the 1st New Zealand Battery in the Rhodesian Field Force Artillery, under the command of Maj EWM Powell. The battery served as a separate unit, divided into left, centre and right sections.

By August, the battery was serving with the 2nd Brigade, Rhodesian Field Force, near Mafeking. It had accompanied Carrington on his abortive attempt to relieve Hore, and was first in action early in August 1900. Then the left section of the battery left Mafeking with Lord Methuen on 29 October for Lichtenburg where it remained part of the garrison until it was sent to Worcester in May.

When de la Rey attacked Lichtenburg early in March 1901 the New Zealanders fought their two 15-pounders well. The other two sections of the battery took part with the 2nd Brigade of the Rhodesian Field Force in the movement through Ottoshoop, Lichtenburg, and Rustenburg to Zeerust, where the right section was detached and remained as part of the garrison. The centre section remained with the brigade until it reached Klerksdorp and was afterwards stationed at Koekoemoer.

The Fifth Contingent sailed for New Zealand on 12 June and was disbanded on 21 July 1901.

From The New Zealanders in South Africa, Hall (Official History)