The Devonshire Regiment was formed in 1685 under the Duke of Beaufort and eventually called the 11th Foot and subsequently the 11th North Devonshire Regiment of Foot. Although its first battle was fought at the Boyne, the Regiment’s first battle-honour was gained at Dettingen in 1743. The regiment served in the Peninsular War of 1808-14 and distinguished itself at Salamanca in 1812 where due to its heavy casualties, it was nicknamed “The Bloody Eleventh”. It served on both the Indian and Afghanistan Frontiers between 1879 and 1897, after which both battalions were sent to South Africa to fight in the second Anglo Boer War of 1899-1902.
The 1st Battalion arrived at the start of the War and served with the besieged force in Ladysmith under Lieutenant Colonel C.W. Park and Captain H.S.L. Ravenshaw and comprised 28 officers, 828 men, 7 horses, 190 mules and 52 attendants. They were based at Devon’s Post & fought at Elandslaagte and distinguished themselves during the defence of Ladysmith in particular at the battle of Platrand earning the battle-honour Wagon Hill for its courage.
Casualties at the end of the siege were listed as 22 killed, 52 wounded, 6 died of wounds and 20 died of disease.
Lieutenant Masterson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his courage at the battle of Platrand
The 2nd battalion was despatched during October and November 1899 and served with the relief force under General Buller, meeting up with the 1st Battalion on March 1st 1900 when the town was relieved. They arrived at Mooi River on the 20th November 1899 and fought at Mooi River and other battles such as Colenso, Spioenkop, Vaalkranz and the Breakthrough.
The following are some extracts I came across connected to the regiment:
DECEMBER: 6TH: “Shelling commenced at daybreak & one shell pitched near our regiment & killed 2 ILH & wounded 3 including Turner of ‘E’ Company”.
DECEMBER 8th: “Shelling all day. On our hill we had 2 killed, Humphries and Pruit”.
DECEMBER: 11TH: “..Major Mulaney was wounded”.
DECEMBER 18th: “This evening we changed places with the Liverpools and are now nearer town”.
DECEMBER 21st: “A dummy battery was put up last night & it was amusing to see the Boers wasting considerable ammunition trying to put it out of action. Our regiment had 2 killed Brockett and Spiller wounded”.
DECEMBER 23rd: “..several shells came into town one struck in the Devonshire camp about 300 yards from our house wounding about 7 men and another fell into headquarters wounding 7 or 8 officers on the staff”. There is no confirmation from any other source that casualties were incurred by the regiment for this date.
DECEMBER 27th: “Heavy firing into town one shell fell into the Devonshire Officers Mess blowing one officers head off and wounding 5 others. Three shells did great damage among the Liverpools killing several men” Colonel Park’s diary confirms with names-Lieutenant Dalzel killed; Lieutenant Price-Dent w(died 31.12.99); Captain Lafone w(died on Wagon Hill 6.1.00); Twiss w; Lt. Scafe w; 2Lt. Kane w; Lt. Byrne w (Inniskillings attached); Lieutenant Tringham w (W Surreys attached); Private Caffin who died later (Yorkshires attached).
See Sergeant Facer account
See Angloboerwar site for an in depth look at the regiment