C.B. London Gazette 27.9.1901.
C.M.G. London Gazette 1.1.1918.
Colonel Thomas James Atherton, C.B., C.M.G., commanded the 12th Lancers after the death of Lieutenant-Colonel The Earl of Airlie and a Column during the sweeps against Kritzinger and Scheepers in Cape Colony in 1901.
The 12th Lancers were heavily engaged at the Battle of Magersfontein where, with the 9th Lancers, they fought dismounted on the right flank. After partaking in the relief of Kimberley they fought conspicuously at the Battle of Diamond Hill and charged to save the guns of Q Battery Royal Horse Artillery. It was during this charge that the Earl of Airlie was killed and Atherton was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel and assumed command. Atherton led them in the sweeps around Rustenburg and Magliesberg that took place in the remaining months of 1900, including the action at Eland's River (4-16 August) and Wittebergen (1-29 July). He was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath and mentioned in Lord Roberts' Despatch dated 29.11.1900 (London Gazette 10.9.1901 refers).
Handing over command at the end of November 1900, he was given command of a Column in July 1901, newly formed by General French to combat the menace of Kritzinger. The latter had re-invaded Cape Colony in May 1901 and it was a primary objective of Kitchener's to put a stop to the infectious affect of Kritzinger's presence in the Cape, and that of his 1000 men, was having on the Boer farmers. General French was appointed to command in Cape Colony and he split his 5000 mounted troops over nine Columns. After the first drive, three more Cavalry Columns were created, including Atherton's, which was composed of 480 12th Lancers and two guns of Q Battery Royal Horse Artillery. The sweep by the eleven Columns along a line of 150 miles was reasonably successful and once they had turned round and gone back on themselves, even more so. By the end of August 80 Boers had been killed and on 12 August Kritzinger was driven out of Cape Colony.
Over ten weeks from August to October 1901, Atherton's was one of the five Columns that ceaselessly chased and harried Gideon Scheepers over Cape Colony. Scheepers was eventually captured, condemned and executed as a rebel. The remnants of Scheepers' men headed west to join up with Smuts and Atherton's Column was broken up in November 1901.
Atherton had entered the 12th Lancers in 1880 and commanded them again from 1902 to 1904 when he was awarded the rank of Brevet-Colonel and retired. During the Great War he served in the rank of Colonel with the Reserve Regiment of Cavalry and the Labour Corps in France. For these services he was created a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George and Mentioned in Despatches twice.