Major-General John Edward Boyes, C.B., commanded 17th Brigade of Rundle's "Starving" Eighth Division from its arrival in South Africa in April 1900. Boyes was a solid Brigade Commander who never suffered a disaster or mishap and was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath. and Mentioned in Despatches for his command during the Brandwater Basin and Eastern Free State operations. A vivid account of his operations can be found in E.C. Moffet's With the Eighth Division, published in 1903.
17th Brigade was composed of the 1st Battalion, Worcester Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment, 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment and 2nd, 77th and 79th Batteries Royal Field Artillery. It was continually split up and sent to different parts of the Orange Free State as Roberts continued his clearance operations of July and August 1900. Boyes had his Head Quarters at Ficksburg and Vrede at different times and became immersed in the beginnings of the Guerilla War. The Times relates the increasingly tough position that Lord Roberts adopted against the Districts:
'On September 27, just at the climax of the victorious advance of the main army in the Transvaal, Lord Roberts made a new effort to cope with the strange situation in the Free State. He proposed to form a base of supplies at Heilbron, which had been occupied by Dalgety's Colonial Division on the 26th; he ordered Rundle with Campbell's Brigade to Vrede, Boyes to Reitz and Frankfurt, Bruce Hamilton to Lindley, and MacDonald to Kroonstad, while Hunter was directed to move about with Le Gallais to any point where his presence might be required. "Clear the whole of supplies," Roberts added, "and inform the burghers that if they choose to listen to De Wet and carry on a guerilla warfare against us, they and their families will be starved." It was a brutum fulmen.'
General Boyes' career included Command of the 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders and the Egyptian Campaigns. He was Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 2.11.1882 refers), awarded the Brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel and the Order of Osmanieh following the 1882 Campaign and the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir.