Under siege at Ladysmith.

Monday, 29 January, 1900

In January 1900, the Boer War in South Africa was going badly for the British.

The 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers had arrived by train at Ladysmith on 13 October 1899. Following an unsuccessful sortie against the Boers at Talana Hill they returned some 60 miles back to Ladysmith, arriving on 26 October. The commander at Ladysmith, Lieutenant General Sir George White, then ordered another operation to attack the Boers on 30 October. The Faughs, less C and D Company, marched out with a force commanded by the Faugh CO, Lt Col Carleton. The Boers surrounded Carleton's force at Nicholson's Nek and those not killed were taken prisoner after being forced to raise a white flag and lay down their arms. The Boers allowed the wounded to return to Ladysmith.

Ladysmith was overlooked and dominated from its surrounding hills and, after the Boer victory at Nicholson's Nek, the garrison was cut off from November. The siege would last for another 118 days. By January their condition was critical. The constant Boer shelling increased the casualties and food stocks were low. The CO of the remnants of the Faughs wrote in his diary:

'Jan 28th: We had the last of the bread tonight for dinner and in future we shall have those dog biscuits'.

'Jan 31st: They are issuing horse rations now, but as a matter of fact there is no appreciable difference between the horse meat and trek-ox, both being as tough as blazes'.