C.B. London Gazette 1.1.1916.
D.S.O. London Gazette 26.6.1902.
Major-General John MacNeill Walter, C.B., [C.S.I.], D.S.O., was taken prisoner by the Boers at the Battle of Colenso along with his Commanding Officer, Colonel Bullock.
The Devons had entered Colenso village after the guns got into trouble and held their positions until the order to withdraw was given. Colonel Bullock and a small party went to the aid of the wounded Gunners in the donga where they had taken cover. However, 'Amongst those who had never received the order to retire was Lieutenant-Colonel George Bullock, commanding the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, who with three other officers [it was actually Walter and one other] and 33 men were ensconced in a small donga not far from Long's guns. When Emmet and his burghers appeared, Bullock and his Devons opened fire. Instead of answering fire with fire, Emmet commandeered a British ambulance orderly and under the protection of the red cross walked up to Bullock's position and told him the battle was over and that he should surrender. Bullock refused. He demanded that Emmet and his men go back and fight it out. Burgers and soldiers stood about watching and listening while their officers argued. It ended when one exasperated burgher, shouting, "Surrender, you brave idiot!" clubbed Bullock on the head with his rifle (Farwell refers). The defence of the donga earned the praise of General Buller: 'Colonel Bullock, 2nd Devons, behaved with great gallantry. He did not receive the orders to retire, and his party defended themselves and the wounded of the two batteries till nightfall, inflicting considerable loss on the enemy, and it was only when surrounded that he consented to surrender, because the enemy said they would shoot the wounded if he did not' (Buller's Despatch of 17.12.1900 refers).
Walter was interned in the Officer's Prisoner of War Camp in the State Model Schools in Pretoria and released on the British occupation in June 1900. He had been Mentioned in Despatches by General Buller (London Gazette 8.2.1901 refers) and on his release became the Commandant at Irene. He subsequently served on the Staff, including services as the Chief Censor at Cape Town, was further Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 10.9.1901 refers) and created a Companion of Distinguished Service Order
Walter had a distinguished record in the Devonshire Regiment which, apart from the Boer War, included a Mention in Despatches for the Punjab Frontier (London Gazette 11.2.1898 refers) and Command of the 1st Battalion from 1906 to 1910. During the Great War he served in a series of high ranking appointments in India, including as Adjutant-General, was promoted Major-General in 1918, created a Companion of the Order of the Bath and of the Star of India, and again Mentioned in Despatches.