HL Deb 21 May 1900 vol 83 cc675-6

My Lords, I have to state to the House that the War Office has not yet received from Lord Roberts the confirmation of the report that Mafeking has been relieved, but the Colonial Office has received a telegram from Sir Alfred Milner repeating a telegram received from General Barton from a place called Taungs, announcing officially that the relief of Mafeking was accomplished on the 17th. But we have received from Lord Roberts an interesting telegram giving an account of the events which immediately preceded the relief of Mafeking, and which I think will appear to your Lordships to illustrate in a remarkable manner the splendid audacity of the relieving column, and the determination and courage shown by the besieged force even during the last hours of the siege. The telegram runs thus:— Kroonstad, May 21, 8.25 a.m. Mahon reports having joined Plumer at Jammassibi on May 15. He was followed by the Boer commando from Maritsani Siding, and turned westward to avoid it. On 13th he was attacked in thick bush, losing five killed, two missing, twenty -four wounded, including Major Mullens, Imperial Light Horse, dangerously; Captain. Maxwell, Kimberley Mounted Corps, severely; Mr. Hands, Daily Mail correspondent, dangerously. The Boers lost more than Mahon in killed and wounded. Another report has been received from Baden-Powell, date May 13, giving the important news that before dawn on 13th storming party 250 strong, personally led by Eloff, rushed the pickets and got into stadt and Protectorate Camp from westward along Molopo valley, strong musketry demonstration being made at same time along eastern front of our position. The western posts closed in and stopped Boer supports following up, thus cutting off Eleff's retreat, while town defences stopped his further advance. His force got divided in darkness, and a strong party was pushed in between it, completely surrounding it. Fighting went on all day. Soon after nighfall two parties surrendered, and the other was driven out of the stadt under heavy fire. Ten dead and nineteen wounded of the enemy were left behind and 108 prisoners taken, including Eleff' and nine officers. Seventeen Frenchmen and many Germans are-among the prisoners. Our losses were six men killed; wounded, Captain Singleton, slightly; Lieutenant Bridges, slightly; and about nine men.