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Lt.-Col. W.D. Otter, CO, 2nd SS Bn. RCRI Second Anglo-Boer War, Official Reports


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Disclosure...The Canadian War Museum, (C.W.M.), online 2nd SS Bn. RCRI, Second South African War..."Maps"... It's my understanding those are not the originals printed, which were in colour. Kindly note the below does not cover Otter's overall 1901, official report.

The below are excerpts, for more....Lt.-Col. William D. Otter, CO, 2nd SS Bn. RCRI, Second South African War, 1899-1900 Official Reports. http://wp.me/p55eja-Ov.

From the Officer commanding the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, to the Chief Staff Officer of Militia, Canada.

Paardeberg Drift, February 26, 1900. —
Sir, — I have the honour to report upon the part taken by the battalion under ray command in the engagement at Paardeberg on the 18th. inst. The battalion arrived near Paardeberg drift with the 19th brigade at 6 a.m. of the 18th inst., having formed the rear guard to the brigade in its march during the night from Klip drift, a distance of 22 miles.

Within half an hour of the arrival of the battalion orders were received to be ready to parade at 7 a.m., and at 7.20 am, the battalion moved out to support the artillery, about a mile away. The men in the meantime had had a biscuit and a cup of tea. Hardly had the battalion reached the place designated than it was ordered to move to the drift and cross the river. This was done, and the crossing began at about 8.30 a.m. The current ran 9 miles an hour, while the water was sufficiently deep to reach up to the men’s armpits. Two crossings were used about, 50 yards apart, over one of which a rope stretched, by which the men passed across by holding on to it, and at the other the men passed over in fours with linked arms...............

Firing began about 9.30 a.m. from the enemy’s left at very long ranges, and continued along their front towards the centre. The advance of the battalion took place over perfectly open ground, somewhat undulating, and with no cover, save the inequalities of the ground and a few ant hills. The firing line attained a position from the enemy, varying from 400 yards on the right to 800 yards on the left, where it remained until late in the afternoon. After the establishment of the firing line, the enemy’s fire was for some time very severe, and Capt. Arnold, who had been doing most excellent service, was mortally wounded, and many others hit.

During this time, three or four men in reserve (‘H’ Company) were wounded at a distance of over sixteen hundred yards (1,600.) At noon ‘D’ Company reinforced the firing line, and shortly afterwards ‘E’ and part of ‘B’ Company also reinforced, the remainder of ‘B’., ‘F’ and ‘G’ Companies becoming supports with ‘H’ still in reserve. Only one Maxim gun could be crossed, and that was soon got into position by -, Capt. Bell on the rising ground to the left at a distance of some 1,000 yards, where it did most excellent service during the day, being in a position to keep down the lire of the enemy, who occupied the dongas on our left. A battery of field artillery occupied the hill on our left rear, and shelled the enemy’s line at intervals during the day. The fire discipline of the several companies engaged was excellent, and perfect coolness as well as accurate shooting was maintained........................

At about 4 p.m., three companies of the Duke of Cornwall’s L.I. under Lt. Col. Aldworth came up, and this officer informed me that ‘he had been sent to finish this business, and proposed doing so with the bayonet. ‘He then asked for information respecting our own position, and that of the enemy, which I gave him. One company of the Cornwalls was at once sent into the firing line, followed in twenty minutes by the other two. These reinforcements being received by a very heavy fire from the whole length of the enemy’s front.


Paardeberg Battle 1st Engagement, Position Of IX Division In Which Was 2nd Royal Canadian Regiment. Feb. 18th 1900.

At 5 p.m., Lt.-Col. Aldworth notified me that a general advance would take place, and at about 5.15 p.m. the whole line, with the exception of part of ‘G’ and ‘H’ Companies, which were held in reserve, went forward with a rush. The fire of the enemy became intense, and after an advance of about 200 yards, effectually stopped our men, and no further progress could be made. The loss to both the corps taking part in the charge was very severe, Lt.-Col. Aldworth and his Adjutant being killed, while Lieut. Mason of ours was wounded severely........................

The position gained was, however, held, and a continuous heavy fire maintained until darkness set in about 7 p.m., when I gave the order to collect the dead and wounded and withdraw to the bivouac at the drift. The enemy also withdrew from their position at the same time to the Boer laager, some two miles up the river, leaving a few men in the dongas on our left, who continued ‘sniping’ our collecting parties until about 10 p.m. Many instances of individual bravery were displayed during the day, as for example the case of No. 8110, Pt. Kennedy, who led one of the ammunition mules right up to the firing line where it was instantly killed. The company stretcher bearers exhibited great pluck, and five of them were among the wounded; three were wounded in carrying Capt. Arnold from the firing line, the stretcher upon which he was, being made a special object of attention by the Boer marksmen. In connection with this incident, I must note the courage displayed by Surg. Capt. Fiset, who when the stretcher upon which Capt. Arnold was being brought to the rear was stopped a short distance from the firing line by the wounding of one of the bearers, went forward and attended to Capt. Arnold, and subsequently assisted as a bearer in bringing him to the rear. .......................

The collection of the dead and wounded of both our own battalion, and those of the Duke of Cornwall’s L. I., was made by parties of the Royal Canadians and continued all night. The duty was a most onerous one, and too much credit cannot be given to those who were engaged in it By 7 a.m. of the 19th inst., all the dead of the Battalion were buried, beside many of those of the D. C. L. I., and the wounded sent to the rear. I must here place on record the great services rendered by the R. C. Chaplain of the Battalion, the Rev. Father O’Leary, who was present in the field all day and towards the end in the firing line, while during the night he was prominent in the search for the wounded, as well as officiating in the burial of the dead. Several of the officers accompanied these parties up to midnight while, No. 685 Q. M. Sergt. E. Reading, No. 7304 Sergt. J. H. Ramage, No. 7302 Sergt. H. Middleton, and No. 7253 Pte R. D. Whigham, were out all night on this duty.............

I have the honour to be, sir.
Your obedient servant,
W. D. OTTER, Lt. Col.
Commanding 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment.


Battle Map of Paardeberg Action Of 20th February 1900 Showing Disposition Of XIX Brigade.

From the Officer Commanding 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, to the Chief Staff Officer of Militia, Ottawa, Canada, Second Report.

— Paardeberg, February 27, 1900. — Sir,—I have the honour to report upon the operations upon which the battalion under my command was engaged on the 20th inst., on which occasion four men of the corps were wounded. Following the retirement of the enemy from the position, which he withdrew from on the evening of the 18th inst., the battalion was at 6 A.M. of the 20th inst. Detached from the outpost line, and advanced to within 1,000 yards of the trenches in front of the Boer laager, the Shropshire Light Infantry being on our right, the Gordon Highlanders on our left.

The ground occupied by the battalion was quite open, and slightly rolling, but fairly covered with ant hills. The men were served with tea and biscuits about 10 A.M.; the cook wagon and water cart being brought up to within 200 yards in rear of reserve.......................................

I have the honour to be, sir.
Your obedient servant,
W. D. OTTER, Lt.-CoL,
Commanding ind. Batt., Royal Canadian Regiment.

From the Officer Commanding 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, to the Chief Staff Officer of Militia, Ottawa, Canada. —

Ossfontein, S. A., March 2, 1900. — Sir, — I have the honour to report on the action of the 27th ult., in which the battalion, under my command, was engaged. In accordance with instructions received from the General Officer Commanding the 19th Brigade, 9th Division, on the previous evening, the following disposition of the battalion was made by 10 p.m. of the 26th inst. In the main trench running north and south from the river, and beginning on the left, were placed “C,” “D,” “E,” “F,” “G,” and “H” Companies, under the following officer., viz.:—Capt. Barker, Capt. Rogers, Capt. Fraser, Lt. LeDuc, Lt. Macdonnell, and Capt. Stairs, respectively ; while on the extreme right was a party of 30 Engineers. This trench was about 350 yards long, the right of it resting within 25 yards of the river, and 550 yards from the nearest Boer trench. The force placed in this trench numbered 500 officers and men of the battalion; “A” Company, under Lieut. Blanchard, remained on the south side of the river, where it had been detailed for special duty on the morning of the 26th and was posted just opposite the line of the main trench continued southwards, while “B” Company, under Lieut. Ross, and a few details formed reserve at the bivouac, some 300 yards to the rear, and the wagons were fully 1000 yds. to the rear again. The continuation of the main trench from where it turned to the north-east was occupied by 200 of the Gordon Highlanders, and about 1500 yds on our left was the Shropshire Light Infantry..........................

The line advanced without interruption for about 450 yards, when it was met by a terrific fire from the enemy. The premature discharge of a couple of shots just before the general fusillade served as a warning to many of our men, who instantly threw themselves on the ground, but the effect of the fire was disastrous to us; ‘H’ company’ being in the wood on the river bank did not suffer, but ‘G’ and ‘F’ companies, being in the open, lost heavily, the former having 4 killed and 12 wounded, the latter 2 killed and 9 wounded. ‘G’ company was within 65 yards (actual measurement) of the advanced trench of the enemy when fire was opened on them. The companies on the left, ‘E,’ ‘D’ and ‘C’ being from 75 to 100 yards distant from a subsidiary trench in prolongation of the enemy’s line...................................


Battle Map of Paardeberg Cronjes Laager, DCRI XIX Bde, Morning of Surrender Feb., 27th 1900.

General Sir Hy. Colville, commanding the division, had come up about 6.15 and directed the disposal of the prisoners, sending forward an officer into the nearest part of the Boer laager to make terms of surrender, the result of which was the unconditional capitulation of General Cronje and his whole force, numbering upwards of 4,000. Capt. Stairs and Lieut. Macdonell, with their companies, deserve the greatest credit for their pertinacity in holding on as they did, the result of which undoubtedly had a material effect in hastening the final result achieved. The supporting companies of the Gordon Highlanders were not engaged, although the trench which protected them was subjected to a fairly heavy fire from the enemy........................

I attach a sketch of the positions occupied, and a list of those killed and wounded in the day’s operations. The night was starlight, with the moon in the last quarter at 4 a.m. The various actions beginning on 18th, and concluding on 27th February have been denominated Paardeberg.

I have the honour to be, sir,
Your obedient servant,
W. D. OTTER, Lt.-Col.
Commanding 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment.

Next page fallows Part II.

Part II as fallows...

The below are extracts...for more...Lt.-Col. William D. Otter, CO, 2nd SS Bn. RCRI, South African War, 1899-1900 Official Reports, Part II. http://wp.me/p55eja-OJ

— The Globe. — How Colonel Otter Received His Wound at Thaba N’Chu. —. . . . On practically every occasion in which he has been under fire in this campaign Colonel Otter has shown himself freely to the enemy. At Paardeberg he remained erect during a considerable portion of the first Sunday’s fight, and on February 20th, when the Pom-Pom disturbed the equanimity of the battalion, he strolled about the field in a very nonchalant manner. Seeing the disorder into which the left of the firing line had fallen, or was in danger of falling, Colonel Otter and Lieutenant Ogilvy, the Adjutant, hastened to the spot, steadied the men, and restored order, the Colonel taking the right of the disordered line, and the Adjutant the left. Colonel Otter was observed, and just as he was settling down he was struck.

It was a curious wound, and a narrow escape. The bullet struck him on the right side of the chin and cut along the side of the neck. The crown which formed part of his rank badge on the right shoulder was detached, the clip which goes under the strap was destroyed, and the “C” of the R. C. R.  on the point of the shoulder was carried away. It was a singular course, and, while the wound was slight, it became painful; while, of course, it was a very narrow escape of a piercing of the jugular.....................

The Gazette, Montreal May 2nd, 1900. — Colonel Otter Reports Lord Roberts Speaks Highly of the Canadians. — Ottawa. May 1. — (Special) — The Militia Department today received from Colonel Otter his official report, dated Bloemfontein, March 18th, of the operations of the First Canadian contingent, after the battle of Paardeberg. Referring to the march to Bloemfontein, Colonel Otter says: — During the march, which began on the 13th of February, and ended on the 13th instant. I cannot speak too highly of the conduct generally of officers and men, of the Royal Canadian Regiment. Taken altogether the march was very trying one; without tents, or change of clothing, for many days engaged more or less with the enemy; for two-thirds of the time upon half rations, subject to a very hot sun, cold nights and several sever rain storms. The endurance, courage and good spirit of the battalion was most fully tried and it is with pleasure I have to record its having proved itself fully equal to the strain.


2nd SS Bn. Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry at Quebec, City before leaving for South African War, 1899.

The battalion is now resting in conjunction with other parts of the army and though still in bivouac is again on full rations to which I have been enabled with the funds at my disposal to procure a few extra comforts in the way of food.................

From the Officer Commanding 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, to Chief Staff Officer, Ottawa, Canada. — Bloemfontein. April, 28, 1900. — Sir,—I have the honour to report upon the action at Israels Poort on Wednesday, April 25, in which the battalion took part, in conjunction with a brigade of mounted infantry and the 19th brigade, under Gen. Smith-Dorrien, the whole force being under the immediate command of Gen. Ian Hamilton.

Leaving Momema Kopje, which is two miles to the east of the Bloemfontein waterworks, on the Modder River, at 9 a.m., of the 25th, the battalion formed the advance guard to the 19th brigade. After moving about six miles the progress of the infantry was stopped for over two hours, while the mounted infantry and artillery reconnoitred and shelled several kopjes on our front and flanks occupied by the enemy. At about 2:30 p.m. instructions were given me for the battalion to move forward, with an extended front of about 1,200 yards, and obtain possession, if possible, of a small kopje and the lower slopes of two others on either side of it, which lay immediately to our front, while the mounted infantry and the remainder of the 19th brigade were to make a detour to our left and threaten the right flank of the enemy, who it was found were occupying all the kopjes in the neighbourhood..............................

In directing the disposition of the first line I was obliged to remain standing for a few seconds, and immediately on sitting down I was struck with a bullet on the right side of my chin, which also passed through the right side of my neck, causing a slight flesh wound, while another passed through the badge on ray right shoulder, but the wound was not sufficiently severe to prevent my remaining in command for the rest of the day. I regret to announce three other casualties, which occurred about the same time, of a more serious nature, viz:—

No. 8,074, Private J. Defoe, H. Co., killed, being shot through the head.
No. 7,835, Private Culver, (enlisted as ‘Raymond,’ as already reported) F. Co., wounded severely in the leg.
No. 7,454, Lance-Corp. Burns, D. Co., wounded slightly in the arm.


2nd SS Bn. Royal Canadian Regiment Inf.  Drill on deck, SS Sardinian, South African War, Nov. 1899.

All of which casualties I reported by cable on my arrival here yesterday. For three quarters of an hour the battalion lay thus, under fire, to which its first line kept up a well controlled response. Finding the enemy’s fire abating, and hearing the remainder of the brigade engaged on our left, I determined to advance, so reinforcing the first line, we moved forward, under a spluttering and weak attempt of the enemy to check us and which soon ceased, until we occupied the ground originally designated, and where the battalion ultimately went into bivouac for the night.......................

I am also glad to report that during the evening Major General Smith-Dorrien came to our bivouac, and expressed his entire approval and great satisfaction with the manner in which his instructions had been carried out; while on the following morning previous to my being sent back here, General Ian Hamilton visited me at the field hospital, and reiterated and confirmed the expressions made by Major General Smith-Dorrien the previous evening.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
W. D. OTTER, Lt.-Col.Commanding 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment.

—Battle of Doorn-Kop 29th May, 1900 — Florida, Johannesburg, May 31, 1900. — Sir, — I have the honour to report upon the action at Doorn-Kop, which took place on the 29th inst., and in which the battalion took part. Leaving the bivouac at Cyferfontein at 7.15 a.m. on the morning of the 29th inst., the 19th Brigade followed the 21st Brigade in the order named, viz.:—

Gordon Highlanders.
Royal Canadians.
Duke of Cornwalls L. I.
King’s Shropshire L. I., Rear Guard.

Moving northward for nearly four hours, and then somewhat to the east, the whole infantry force was halted about noon at Klipriversberg, the enemy being found strongly posted on a line of heights, and holding the cavalry of General French from a further advance on the west side of Johannesburg. At 1.45 p.m. orders were received for the battalion to form a line of attack in conjunction with the Gordon Highlanders, on that part of the ridge occupied by the left flank of the enemy, while the 21st Brigade moved against his right. At 2.30 p.m., the battalion moved forward in four lines, with intervals of 25 paces between men, and 150 yards distance between lines; the Gordon Highlanders being in a similar formation on our left. Our first two lines were placed under charge of Lt.-Col. Buchan, while Major Pelletier had immediate supervision of the third and fourth lines.....................................


Battle Of Doorn Kop Showing Disposition Of XIX Brigade With Royal Canadian Regt. May 29 1900.

At about 2,000 yards the enemy opened upon us with rifle fire, and one of our men in the third line was severely wounded. Continuing the advance, the fire became hotter, particularly as we entered the ‘burnt zone,’ in doing which most of the men were scorched from the blazing grass, but fortunately escaped further injury from bullets, until the foot of the ridge, which gradually ascended for fully 1,000 yards to the summit occupied by the Boers, was reached. A Kattir hut surrounded by a stone wall on the face of the hill, offered good cover for our men, and a rush was made by fully one-third of the battalion for its occupation, which was effected, though, with a loss of three or four men wounded from a heavy frontal, as well as enfilading fire which was concentrated upon them......................

I regret to report the following casualties, although when compared with those of the Gordon Highlanders, sincerely congratulate myself that they were not very much worse.

No. 7038, Private J. E. Davies, Severe.
No. 7235, J. B. Robinson, Severe.
No. 7355, J. Jordan, Severe.
No. 7688, F. Richardson, Severe.
No. 7888, A. Y. Evans, Slight.
No. 7838, E. Hill, Slight.
No.  7938, n A. Haydon, Slight.

The enemy evidently considered the retention of this point as most important, and made every preparation to hold it; while its possession by our forces, no doubt, cleared the way for the peaceful entry of Johannesburg by Lord Roberts on the following day with the main army.

I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of all ranks of the battalion at this engagement, it being most quiet, steady and intelligent. Very little time was occupied, it taking less than three hours from beginning to end, owing to the spirited and Jetermined way in which the attack was carried out.

I have the honour to be, sir,
Your obedient servant,
W. D. OTTER, Lieutenant- Colonel,Commanding Second Royal Canadian Regiment.