The 7th Contingent, raised to relieve the 5th, sailed less than a year after the 5th, under Colonel T.W. Porter, a veteran of the land wars. The SS Gulf of Taranto left on the 6 April 1901. The Otago company under Captain Rutherford included John Herbert Templeton Trooper No. 4575, bushman of Clifden and his friend Trooper Alec Scott.
The 7th landed at Durban to replace the 5th and joined the guerrilla war in the south-east Transvaal. The records show the 7th were involved in chasing Jan Smuts in July and Louis Botha in October. When the great Louis Botha sought to attack Natal in December 1901 they drove his commandos into the Zululand bush. That was when Colonel Garrett gave them their accolade of 'the best mounted troops he had seen in the field'.
One of the men who shaped this professional assessment was John Herbert Templeton, a tall, blue-eyed soldier, a crack shot and a wonderful horseman. When the other shied away from a white mount, JH sensed the horse's capacities. He simply taught it, at need, to lie down. Amidst the rocks, its white coat blended into the landscape. With his feel for land and the lie of the ground, he proved an ideal cavalry scout, daring in his search for the enemy and good enough to be mentioned in despatches. One story tells of him out on a long scout, having to live off the land and famished, being fed pancakes by a Boer wife and daughter while he kept a weather eye out for the enemy. At least he charmed those difficult farm women who, in their adversity, often led Imperial soldiers into ambush.
Back from Natal, over the reaching ranges of the Drakensberg in the Orange Free State, the 7th was involved late in February 1902 in one of the sharpest actions of the war. Kitchener's armies had perfected a system of blockhouses used as the focal point of drives to enclose the Boer forces in the Orange Free State. About 120 miles south-east of Johannesburg and 40 miles north of Harrismith, time was running out for the Boer commandos. By 21st February, 3,000 were caught in a net being drawn tight in a major drive by 30,000 British. On the evening of the 22nd, de Wet decided to break through the British line. His scouts assessed that a gap existed at the crest of the Langerwacht Hill.
In fact Colonel Garrett's forces held the steep slope of the Langerwacht, with the New Zealanders of the 7th, under Colonel Porter, entrenched in the seven man posts from the river to the summit.
After sunset under a full moon the cavalcade, led by a picked force of some 800-900 commandos struck at Porter's New Zealanders. At the hinge of the line the 7th bore the brunt of the fighting. The commandos, with heavy superiority, overwhelmed the post on the river and, enfilading the line of posts, destroyed the position to the summit.
The New Zealand losses were heavy with 24 dead and 41 wounded out of a force of 80. This was one of the severest casualty lists proportionately of any action New Zealanders ever fought. John Herbert was shot through the arm but survived. Alec Scott was killed in the fight. John, true to his friend, left his own gear (except for his rifle) so that he could take Alec's personal kit back to his family in Tuatapere. A costly battle for the Templetons, as Alec was engaged to John Herbert’s sister Mary, but one that led to large-scale Boer surrenders.
Reference: The Problematical Journey by Hugh Templeton.
Father was named Andrew Templeton. AWMM