Fighting at Blood River Poort, South Africa.

Tuesday, 17 September, 1901
Mounted Infantry The Royal Irish Fusiliers
(Click on ‘Mounted Infantry of The Royal Irish Fusiliers’ to open)

When the framework of fortified block-houses was developed in 1901 to protect British supply lines and dominate occupied Boer territory, the infantry manning them were quick to escape the monotony of static duties by volunteering for more mobile action with, for example, specially formed units of Mounted Infantry.

On 17 September 1901, Major Hubert Gough's* 24th Mounted Infantry, which included officers and men of the 1st and 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers, was involved in a fierce fight against overwhelming odds on the border of Natal between Dundee and Vryheid at Blood River Poort. Gough, searching for a Boer group led by Botha, had observed some 300 dismounted Boers and moved with only part of his own force to engage them. As he did so, he was unaware that Botha was on his flank with the balance of his 1,000 strong force.

Botha launched a mounted attack against Gough's outnumbered force killing, wounding or capturing half of the 24th Mounted Infantry. Gough's men gave a good account of themselves and his Adjutant was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in defending the field artillery. Among the wounded were Major Dick and Lieutenant Furnell of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers. Major Dick died several days later and was buried at Vryheid along with other members of the Regiment.

Major Gough became General Sir Hubert Gough commanding the British Fifth Army on the Western Front from 1916-18 during the First World War.