On the 4th of July 1901 Lieut Best and 22 rank and file were returning to Pietersburg; the men’s truck was not armoured.
They left Naboomspruit at 3pm and 15 mins later there was an explosion and the train stopped. About 150 Boers attacked
the train and without armour there were many casualties in the first few minutes and after 20 mins only 5 men were able to
fire a rifle. The officer and 8 men were killed and 8 severely wounded, of the remainder only one was untouched.
After de Villiers who was present and had surrendered he informed the Commander in chief that after the train was
captured and surrounded by Boers the last four continued to fire till 3 were killed and the fourth wounded. On Boers asking
the survivor the reason they hadn’t surrendered, he replied “Why man, we are the Gordon Highlanders”
The regimental evidence shows that DeVilliers overstated the facts but the answer of an unknown soldier expressed the
Spirit of the Regiment and thanks to the captured Boer Commandant it has gone on record.
Jim has a singleton KSA to one of the severely wounded.
It is one of only two KSAs awarded to that brave group.
King’s South Africa Medal with 2 clasps South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 to 6004 Pte. D. Duncan Gord Highrs.
David Simpson Duncan was a native of Falkirk. He enlisted May 25th, 1897.
As a side note, Lieut. Best is remembered in George Witton's Scapegoats of the Empire: The
True Story of Breaker Morant's Bushveldt Carbineers:
"Leaving Nylstroom for Pietersburg, we passed a spot at Naboonspruit which was marked by
nineteen fresh graves. Only a few days before a train had been wrecked there by Boers; an
officer, Lieutenant Best, of the Gordon Highlanders, a personal friend of the late Captain
Hunt and Lieutenant Morant, had been killed, also eighteen men, including the driver, firemen,
and guard of the train. I saw the truck at Warm Baths Station in which these men were shot
down; the iron walls had been about as much protection from Mauser bullets as a sheet of
paper; the truck was riddled like a sieve."