- Name: Frank Howard KIRBY
- D.O.B: 12th November, 1871
- D.O.A: 2nd June, 1900
- D.O.D: 8th July, 1956
- Award: Victoria Cross
- Occupation at time of action: Corporal, No 1 Field Troop, 1st Division, Corps of Royal Engineers
Delagoa Bay Railway, Transvaal, South Africa 2 June 1900
2 June 1900
The Second Boer War 1899 - 1902
After the British captured Johannesburg on 31 May 1900, Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal, was only twenty-three miles to the north of them. On 3 June 1900 they began to advance towards it. Roberts was rightly concerned that Kruger and his government would escape along the Delagoa Bay railway which ran east from Pretoria to the Indian Ocean at Lourenço Marques (modern Maputo). To try to prevent this, on 1 June 1900, he sent a 200-strong column under Brevet Major Aylmer Hunter-Weston to cut the line by blowing up the bridge at Bronkhorstspruit, twenty-six miles east of Pretoria. At 9am the following morning this column ran into a much stronger force of Boers and was forced to withdraw. During the action one officer was killed and 13 men were wounded. Fearing precisely such an attack, Kruger left Pretoria the same day and established a temporary capital at Machadodorp over half way along the Delagoa Bay line towards the border with Portuguese territory. Pretoria fell to the British on 5 June 1900.
On the morning of the 2nd June, 1900, a party sent to try to cut the Delagoa Bay Railway were retiring, hotly pressed by very superior numbers. During one of the successive retirements of the rearguard, a man, whose horse had been shot, was seen running after his comrades. He was a long way behind the rest of his troop and was under a brisk fire. From among the retiring troop Corporal Kirby turned and rode back to the man’s assistance. Although by the time he reached him they were under a heavy fire at close range, Corporal Kirby managed to get the dismounted man up behind him and to take him clear off over the next rise held by our rearguard. This is the third occasion on which Corporal Kirby has displayed gallantry in the face of the enemy.