General Sir Redvers Henry Buller, V.C. late Rifle Brigade, 1900
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Height: 25cm (10in)
A standing bronze figure of Sir Redvers Buller in Boer War field service uniform uniform, binoculars clasped in his left hand. The integral bronze bas inscribed ‘Natal 1900’ to the front and signed ‘Sydney March. Sc / London 1900’ as part of his group of portrait figures of British Boer War commanders. Cast by the art founders Elkington & Co., Ltd., and complete with its original wood base.
General Sir Redvers Henry Buller, V.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G, (1839-1908) was Commander-in-Chief of British forces in South Africa during the early months of the Second Boer War and subsequently commanded the army in Natal until his return to England in November 1900. Described by one notable critic as ‘an admirable captain, an adequate major, a barely satisfactory colonel and a disastrous general’, Buller’s personal bravery was beyond doubt, having won the Victoria Cross in 1879 for rescuing three men from certain death at the hands of the Zulus. Educated at Eton and commissioned into the Rifle Brigade in 1858, he was a veteran of the Second Opium War, the Canadian Red River Expedition, the Ashanti Campaign, the First Boer War and the Gordon Relief Expedition.
In 1899, despite expectation to the contrary, he met with a series defeats at Boer hands as commander of the Natal Field Force. These included the battles of Colenso, where he commanded in person, Magersfontein and Stormberg. On the grounds of his poor performance and negative reports from the field, Buller was replaced in overall command in South Africa January 1900 by Lord Roberts. As second-in-command Sir Reverse Buller, as he had become known, suffered two more setbacks in his attempts to relieve Ladysmith at the battles of Spion Kop and Vaal Krantz. On his fourth attempt, Buller was victorious in the Battle of Tugela Heights, raising the siege on 28 February 1900. The N.F.F. was successful in flanking Boer armies out of positions at Biggarsberg, Laing’s Nek and Lydenburg, before defeating the Battle of Bergendal in the war's last set-piece action. In 1909, a French military critic, General Langlois, pointed out that it was Buller, not Roberts, who had the toughest job of the war - and it was Buller who was the innovator in countering Boer tactics. The proper use of cover, of infantry advancing in rushes, co-ordinated in turn with creeping barrages of artillery: these were the tactics of truly modern war, first evolved by Buller in Natal.
Sydney March (1876–1968) was the second of nine children, eight of whom became artists; Edward (1873-1941), Percival (b.1878), Frederick (b.1881), Dudley (1881-1962), Elsie (1884-1974), Walter (b.1889) and Vernon (1891-1930). Originally from Yorkshire the March family moved to London around the turn of the century when Sydney was enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools and where he was awarded the first prize medal for a model of a statue or group. Between 1906 and 1932, he exhibited thirteen times at the R.A., primarily portrait busts, statuettes, and equestrian statues. The March siblings established their own sculpture studio at Goddendene, Kent, in 1901. Sydney’s public works include statues of Colonel Bevington (Tooley Street, London Bridge, 1911) and Lord Kitchener (Calcutta, 1914; Khartoum, 1921, removed to Royal School of Military Engineering, Chatham, 1958). He also executed a number of war memorials including Bromley Parish Church (1921), Lewes, East Sussex, the Diamond War Memorial, Derry (1925), the United Empire Loyalists Memorial (Hamilton, Ontario, 1929). Following the death of Vernon March in 1930, Sydney and his siblings completed the Canadian National War Memorial at Ottawa.