A super victorian forage cap of pill box pattern, named to Captain later Major Charles Hyde Villiers one of the Senior Staff Officers involved in the ill fated Jameson Raid 1895-96
Together with Villiers personal dispatch box.
This ill-fated expedition, led by Dr Jameson, was conceived by Cecil Rhodes, Premier of the Cape and his co-conspirator and business associate, Alfred Beit. Its purpose was two-fold, to deliver the riches of the Transvaal by precipitating the overthrow of the legitimate Kruger government and ensuring the annexation of the republic to the British Empire. The means were the huge resources and discontent within the disenfranchised British community living and working within its borders and who produced much of its vast wealth
The force that rode out from Pitsani camp on the 29 December 1895 numbered close to 600 and consisted of almost 400 Rhodesian Police who were employed by the Charter Company, 120 men recruited at Mafeking and some Cape ‘Boys’. They had six Maxims, two 7 pound mountain and one 12 and half pound guns. The plan was a three day hard ride to Johannesburg where the majority, the disenchanted Uitlanders, the mainly British expatriate community, would rise up on this catalyst against the Transvaal authorities and tip the republic neatly into the welcoming and grateful arms of the Empire. To the participants they were embarked upon a great adventure and one which they were led to believe had ‘official’ sanction.
It was an enormous political and military gamble, the stakes were exceedingly high and success would undoubtedly have changed the course of history in Southern Africa. It is left to speculation quite how much of the plan the Colonial Secretary in London, Joseph Chamberlain, knew in advance, but the overthrown of a sovereign government was the ultimate goal of this exploit.
On the 2 January 1896, the force stopped at day break at a farm called Doornkop in the Transvaal. They were much in need of rest and had ridden the 170 miles without sleep and under constant harassing fire. They were just two hours’ ride from Johannesburg and before them lay the alluring sight of their prize and yet it was not to be; for here they would receive the bitter news that the city had not risen to support them, they were surrounded, outnumbered and cut off.
Jameson’s force had never enjoyed the element of surprise and had been monitored by Transvaal commandos from the moment they crossed the border and for two days continuously they had fought a running rear-guard action, sustaining losses in both dead and wounded.
At Doornkop the fighting intensified and the number of casualties rose to 65 killed and wounded. Unaided Jameson’s position was untenable and his small force was doomed against such determined and overwhelming opposition. Surrender became their only option and this took place at 8 pm when following the burial of the 16 British dead, the remainder were led away to prison in Pretoria. Their great gamble had failed.
Composition of Jameson's force
In general charge : Dr Leander Starr Jameson, CB
In military command: Lieutenant Colonel Sir John Christopher Willoughby, Baronet (Major, Royal Horse Guards).
Major Honourable Robert White (Captain, Royal Welch Fusiliers), Senior Staff Officer.
Major Charles Hyde Villiers (Captain, Royal Horse Guards).
Captain Kenneth J. Kincaid-Smith (Lieutenant, Royal Artillery), Artillery Staff Officer.
Captain Charles Frederick Lindsell (late Royal Scots Fusiliers), i/c Scouts.
Captain James Hutchinson Kennedy (BSA Company's Civil Service), Quartermaster.
Captain E Holden (Derbyshire Yeomanry), Assistant Quartermaster.
Surgeon Captain W Farmer (BSA Company's Civil Service).
Surgeon Captain Seaton Hamilton (late 1st Life Guards).
Lieutenant Harold M Grenfell (1st Life Guards), Remount Officer.
Lieutenant James Charles Jesser-Coope (Rhodesia Horse Volunteers), Transport Officer.
Veterinary Surgeon Lieutenant A H C Masters (Mashonaland Mounted Police).