Queen’s South Africa Medal, 5 bars, Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal, Laing’s Nek, 4110 Private J. McNeill, wounded at Allemans Nek on 11th June 1900 and died shortly afterwards at Charlestown on 14th June 1900.
Officially engraved: “4110. Pte. J. McNeill, 2/Dorset. Rgt.” A slight and very neat official correction to “Neill”
Private McNeill had previously fought with the 1st Battalion in India, earning the India General Service Medal 1895, with 2 bars for Punjab Frontier 1897-98 and Tirah 1897-98.
He joined the 2nd Battalion Dorsets to fight in the Boer War. The 2nd Battalion had arrived for service in late 1899, and joined General Clery’s 2nd Division.
Private McNeill had a long 6 months ahead of him, where he would earn 5 bars to his medal for service.
The regiment fought in the Battles of Colenso, Spion Kop, fought on the Tugela River, earning the bar with actions at Cingolo Hills and the Assault of Monte Christo.
During March he took part in the Relief of Ladysmith.
Then by June came the Battle at Alleman Nek, where a magnificent dash by Bayonet from the 2nd Dorsets led to them taking up a majority of the casualties on the British Side.
An account of the Battle at Allemans Nek:
11 JUNE 1900 ALLEMAN NEK
“On 11 June Maj-Gen Lord Dundonald’s 3rd Mounted Brigade discovers Gen Joachim Fourie’s burghers preparing trenches on both sides of the Vrede-Volksrust road where it passes through Alleman Nek and initiates a preliminary skirmish, but they are stopped by shelling from four Boer guns and pom-poms. Gen Hildyard postpones his attack until the Infantry Brigades are in position. At 14h30 the British frontal assault starts, but the men of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, forming the front ranks, are pinned down in a dry gulley by Boer crossfire from the heights. However, the burghers in their half-completed trenches are subjected to a heavy barrage from more than 30 guns and when Maj-Gen Coke’s 10th Infantry Brigade joins the action, Fourie’s men start falling back. At 17h00 the infantrymen charge the heights commanding the pass, but skilful rear-guard actions by the Boers prevent the cavalry from overtaking them. British losses were 26 killed and died of wounds with 126 wounded. Boer losses are not known accurately but are believed to be less than 10 men killed.”
The brave contribution of the 2nd Dorsets, from the book “With the Flag to Pretoria” Vol II, Pages 684-5:
“The Boer guns limbered up and the Boer marksmen could be seen bolting for their lives. At this moment the Dorsets, with magnificent dash, rushed across the nek and struck the crest of the ridge. The Boers facing them saw their glinting bayonets and did not wait. British casualties in this battle were not heavy, total 26 killed and 126 wounded except with the Dorsets who lost 9 killed and 55 wounded out of approximately 600 men: a big percentage of the total.”