Lieutenant L.H. Webber was taken prisoner at Elands River on 6.8.1900 but managed to escape.
He wrote a report on the escape which General Barton sent to Lord Roberts, who included it in his Schedule of Despatches:
'I advanced with Lord Erroll's force from Mafeking to Lichtenburg, about July 31st. Hearing that Klerksdorp had surrendered and that a force was advancing north we proceeded to Zeerust next morning where we were joined on August 2nd, by Sir Frederick Carrington's force from Mafeking, consisting approximately of six guns (12 pounders), 2 Squadrons Imperial Bushmen, and one Squadron of Kimberley Mounted Corps. Lord Erroll's force consisted of 4 Squadrons Paget's Horse, 2 maxims, one Battery Australian Contingent (pom poms) and 3 Squadrons of Imperial Bushmen (approximately).
Advanced from Zeerust to Marico leaving part of the force there, thence to Elands River, 3 miles form Colonel Hore's camp a strong patrol having been sent on ahead. On Sunday August 5th a reconnaissance towards Col. Hore's camp was made to locate the enemy. I went forward in advance with Capt. Campbell, who was in charge of the Imperial Yeomanry Scouts, the enemy at once began to snipe us from Kopjes on our right front. We soon lost 6 horses and one man wounded. We laid out on the Veldt about 11 hours awaiting the guns being brought up, the guns on coming up within 2000 yards of the enemy began to shell them over our heads. The enemy occupied various clumps of trees on our right front. The enemy returned our fire with their 12 pounder. While this was going on the Imperial Bushmen (1 troop) advanced to a Kopje on our left front, from which they commenced volley firing upon a higher Kopje on their left; with what sucess I cannot say; they were evidently visited by Lord Errol as I met him coming down from that Kopje into the valley where my men were lying. He then gave an order to Capt. Campbell that the scouts were to be re-inforced from the rear and that those remaining 5 in number, were to advance at once towards Colonel Hore's camp 1 mile ahead and find out if the houses (which were visible at the foot of the hill below Colonel Hore's camp) were held by the enemy, and send back a report.
I went forward with 5 Scouts galloping as hard as we could encountering a very heavy cross fire which grew hotter as we got nearer the houses, so hot it became that I ordered my men to drop down at once with their horses into a small Spruit, from which we could just see the top of the houses now flying a red cross flag.
I sent back a message to Lord Errol to say that houses were held by the enemy and ask for further orders. While waiting for a reply 5 of the enemy crept down the Spruit from their position 250 yards away and fired 3 shots into us at a range of 10 yards, from a concealed position they sprang up and ordered us to surrender or be killed. We surrendered. They marched up to their Laager which lay W. by S. 3/4 mile from Colonel Hore's camp, they took everything from us. After being in the laager half an hour the trooper who we sent back with the message to Lord Errol, was also brought in a prisoner, his horse having stumbled, threw him on his head leaving him stunned on the veldt, when he was captured.
From the Laager which was under the command of de la Rey we were taken the same night to another laager, bearing about S. by E. and 12 or 13 miles off and we were passed on the way by another commando with 2 guns (12 pounders) going toward Colonel Hore's camp. The laager was in command of De Beer. We remained there 2 days, then we were taken to another laager under command of Fourie. Each of these laagers contained I estimate 100 fighting men, about half these had Mausers, the other half Martini's and old rifles. All had full Bandoliers, those with Mausers having 2 or sometimes 3 Bandoliers full. A great many Burghers were unarmed, but all had good horses.
While at Fourie's laager we were joined by another commando under Boshoff, a Commandant and Lieutenant Thuynson an Artillery Officer, they had 2 12 pounders and one Nordenfelt.
They moved off next day apparently towards Colonel Hore's camp. On August 8th we moved Laager towards Oliphants Nek, near Rustenburg, and on the way met a commando under Steenecamp with 120 prisoners rank and file of the Kimberley Mounted Corps, 20 civilians, Basutos and Zulus of the Klerksdorp police and 4 officers, Lieut. Sandeman, Police Inspector Klerksdorp, Lieut. White, Connaught Rangers, Staff Officer Klerksdorp, Lieuts. Shepherd and Blagden, both of the Kimberley Mounted Corps. These prisoners with Steenekamp's Commando having left Klerksdorp about 2 weeks previously, travelling first of all in a North Easterly direction, then S.W., then to Oliphants Nek. Lieut. White informed me that 2 other officers of the K.M.C. (one Lieut. Pearse) who were with them had escaped 5 days ago, but that he heard that they were recaptured near Rustenburg (which they thought was in our hands) and they were put in jail there; and that Steenecamp had given orders that any other officer who got away, were if recaptured to be shot. I applied to join 4 officers with Steenecamp and permission was granted to me. On August 18th I escaped from Steenecamp's laager at Oliphant Nek at 4 p.m. I lay in the grass near the washing place until dusk and then crept through their picquets and travelled that night through the mountains in a S.E. direction, by the stars - 18 miles. At daybreak I concealed myself in a high kopje above Naauport Village, with a good view of surrounding country and noticed what seemed to be another laager in a N.E. direction at the foot of and S. of the Rustenburg Range of mountains. At 7 a.m. heard independent firing and big guns to the eastward close by, but could not see either our force or the enemy. Shortly afterwards about eight Boers galloped over the hill, into the valley opposite me to the South driving 28 head of cattle and about 60 sheep, immediately taking position on a small kopje, evidently expecting an attack. In about half an hour they divided into three bodies and scouted round on the hills, one party coming within 20 yards of me. At about 4 p.m. I crept down to a Farmhouse below me, to get food and ask direction of Krugersdorp - a farmer Kloper by name, an old man who had remained on his farm was there, he gave me food and directed me to go along the valley to Krugersdorp, but he would not be responsible for my safety and said that I was to leave at once. Instead of going where he directed me I crept up a mountain side and hid in a tree until dusk - then went up the mountain to my old position, followed by a Boer. I managed to evade him by lying in the grass for two hours - then went in a Southern direction because I noticed a Boer laager in the moonlight, down in the Valley where Kloper had advised me to go. Walked all night in a S.E. direction arriving at a Mr. Fargher's farm, Vlakfontein, at daybreak 15 miles from my last halting place, having been informed by a Kaffir that he was an Englishman, here I got food and slept until 5 p.m. then wrote a description of Colonel Hore's position and the various commandos I had met, which he promised to send to General Smith-Dorrien - if possible by a Kaffir or to give it to a passing British patrol. It was placed in an envelope addressed 'to be given to an English Officer'. This was the first time I had heard of General Smith-Dorrien's Force - whose guns I had probably heard the day before. Not knowing exactly where he was, having no horse and being very foot-sore, I thought it best not to look for him myself to deliver this information, but to come as quickly as possible to Krugersdorp.
Left for Krugersdorp at 7 p.m. last night, missed my way when within six miles of Krugersdorp - arriving at de la Rey's farm (about 12 miles from Krugersdorp) at daybreak. De la Rey told me that he had seen 2 scouts yesterday but did not know if they were British or Boer. I left as soon as possible, arriving at Waterval about half a mile outside Krugersdorp quite unable to walk any longer. Hired a horse and arrived at Head Quarters Krugersdorp at about 11 a.m. and reported myself to Major General Barton. I may add that the various Commandos under de la Rey, Fourie, Boshoff, Thuysen, De Bere, Lemmer and Steenecamp were very short of food supplies, the Burghers being served out daily with a little Boer meal and some meat which they were given from cattle commandeered at various places, but which seemed to be very scarce in that neighbourhood. From information I gathered - they seemed to count on supplies arriving from Machadodorp via North of Pretoria and Oliphant's Nek. The courage of the Burgers in the Commandos I met seemed to be kept alive by a succession of the most extraordinary falsehoods and exaggerations by their Commandants concerning the retirement and evacuation of the country by the British.
Lionel H. Webber
Lieut., 73rd Coy I.Y.
(War Office records refer).