Reference: Hibbard K2, from which the following extract has been taken:
'The 5th Volunteer Battalion saw active service in South Africa and did excellent work in the Cape Colony and the Orange Free State, being chiefly employed in garrison and blockhouse duties. The support system of the British columns operating in the veldt depended entirely on the available railways, and the Boers were not slow in staging ambushes to attack the trains running along these vital arteries. In January 1901, when Lord Kitchener assumed command in South Africa, one of his first tasks was the strengthening of the railways, and blockhouses were developed to protect the lines. The system required enormous numbers of men both for patrol work and for manning these strong points. The early designs provided for two skins of corrugated iron nailed to wooden frames, the space between filled up with earth and gravel. Loopholes were formed by steel plates drilled in the centre and placed either on wooden cases which rested on the gravel or on wooden crosspieces. They were easy to construct and a party of experienced sappers could erect one in about six hours. The garrison for a blockhouse was usually six infantrymen and one N.C.O. together with a few natives for sentry work at night. Life in these strongpoints was deadly dull and the living conditions, with the scorching sun in the day, and the biting cold in the veldt at night, were well nigh intolerable. It fell to the lot of many militia battalions to man these blockhouses (the Warwickshire Militia defended some of the blockhouses at O'okiep) and the 5th Volunteer Battalion Manchester Regiment had a fair share. Medal collectors with more than a passing interest in the Boer War will understand that the railway blockhouses were only the start of a vast system of fortifications that traversed backwards and forwards across the whole of South Africa.'