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Q. If they did extend their front and attack in strength Botha knew that he could not hold them. Surely their lack of tactical sense could not continue? He was equally mystified by the remoteness and immobility of Warren and Buller. He knew that in fighting of this kind the physical presence of the commander was vital. Inextricably linked with his anxiety about the British intentions was his worry about morale. Although his casualties were relatively small, he knew that he must defeat the brave, stubborn British troops on the plateau.

Below the crest, horses were harnessed to the laagered wagons. The pony-mounted commandos joined them for a general withdrawal. Only Opperman's and Prinsloo's commandos stayed below the Kop while the others moved off. " But Botha did not believe this. He was confident that if the British did stay during the night, they would use the same tactics the next day. He estimated that if they sent fresh troops and got their artillery up the hill, they would have no room for. manoeuvre. He did not believe that General Buller would now change his plan and set up a wide, flanking pincer movement.

Instead he remained closer to the flank action when that developed, and spent most of his time in his own command post on a sheltered ledge, some distance from any of the fighting. He was therefore effectively out of touch with everyone and every phase of the battle. Long 37 rocky, boulder-strewn ground. The infantry commanders, and they were supported by Winston Churchill, believed that it could be done with resolution and determination. The Gunners were right. But no excuses can be made for the bad pre-battle planning and reconnaissance.

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