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Lancashire Brigade on “Spion Kop.”
January 24th, 1900

By No. 2349 Private E Boosey, Bandsman, 2nd Battalion, Royal Lancaster Regiment.

Old England’s sons once more have shewn that their bravery never stops;
Come, listen, and I’ll tell about the hill called “Spion Kop.”
On the eve of the 23rd we marched from camp, and all around was dark;
Nothing to break the still of night, but the tramping of the march;
Now and then a dog howled out – it seemed a deathly bark –
A warning of danger it seemed to give, and stirred up many a heart.

We reached the bottom of the hill at the early hour of morn,
And halted for a rest and charged the hill at dawn.
We had not halted very long, when a voice rang through the air –
“Halt! Who goes there?” “Stand, or I shall fire;”
“A friend,” called out one, and rushed into the dark,
He sent his bayonet with all his force straight through the sentry’s heart.

His comrades flew with all their might to give the night alarm,
And warn the Boers of our advance and the hill about to storm.
“Give three cheers,” General Woodgate cried, “and charge up to the crest;
Think of your comrades in Ladysmith, come lads and do your best.”
Three deafening cheers then rent the air, and up the hill we rushed,
But only to find the Boers had fled and all around was hushed.

A thick mist hung around the hill, we waited the sun to rise;
And longing for the fight to start, and whether to live or die.
We had not waited very long, when rifle shots rang out;
The mist had risen, there lay the Boers, and we must drive them out.
The Lancashire Brigade must charge – no man must show a fear;
And up rushed the “Royal Lancasters” and “Lancashire Fusiliers.”

Thorneycroft’s as well with us – the “South Lancs” in the rear.
The Boers stayed there till we came in touch, and then at them we madly rushed;
“No bayonet,” they cried, and upheld hands “have mercy and be just;”
We took no notice of their cowardly cries, for the tricks they served out men;
Some of them ran away like rats to go and join their friends.
Their reinforcements soon arrived, and some around were shot,
What with the sun and rifle fire, the fight was getting hot.

And soon their big guns rang aloud and shells fell down like hail,
The deadly “Pom Pom” soon rang out, and told a deathly tale;
“The General’s wounded” some one cried, “and we shall have to retire,
We cannot stay in a place like this and in such an awful fire.”
Up sprang Colonel Crofton, commanding the old “King’s Own,”
As brave a man as you’ll wish to meet for the bravery he has shown.

“My regiment shall not retire,” he cried; he gave the word advance;
And at the Boers they rushed again, they seemed as in a trance.
The Middlesex then soon came up to reinforce the right.
And fought right well they did that day – it was a splendid sight.
The Lancashire Fusiliers they fought the left with might and main;
They showed themselves as Englishmen, and every nerve they strained.

The day rolled on to the afternoon, and all about the ground
To hear the cries of dying – it was a pitiful sound.
Men stood up in the trenches that ay and prayed to God above
To save them through that awful day and return them to the ones they loved;
Some of them prayed for the coming night and darkness to set in,
To get away from the ghastly sights and stop the battle’s din.

Some lay there with their limbs blown off, and some on the verge of death.
“Give me water” cried the dying ones, with the last of their dying breath,
“I have done my duty as a Briton’s son and soon I’ll be at rest.”
Some of the bravest deeds were done that day by the Lancashire Brigade,
It showed the pluck as in days of old, and that we never were afraid.

Before I close these last few lines, of on regiment I must say
Reinforced us in the nick of time and helped to save the hill that day,
It was the Scottish Rifles, they deserve the best of praise,
The way they fought that afternoon will be remembered many a day.
There is many an unhappy home in Lancashire to-day,
Thinking of the ones they have lost in a land so far away.

Many a mother is weeping, too, for the loss of her only son,
But proud of her boy the way he fought and the duty he had done.
There is many a broken-hearted wife weeping now to-day,
Thinking about the one she loved, but now lies in a soldier’s grave;
But still we hope they are better off up in a home above,
Where there is peace and quietness and sheltered by God’s love.


© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

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