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280   DAYS OF PREPARATION

most critical war in the history of the world. General Alderson was a soldier of wide experience. He was fifty-five years old and had had thirty years active service. He began his military life with the Militia, but joined the Regular Army on December 4th, 1878. He was first posted with the 1st Foot (the Royal Scots) but shortly afterward joined the Royal West Kent Regiment as a second-lieutenant. He was promoted lieutenant on July 1st, 1881, in which year he saw active service with the mounted infantry of the Natal Field Force. Under Sir Evelyn Wood he got his first lesson in actual war in the Transvaal Campaign. In the following year, once more with the mounted infantry, he was in Egypt and fought in the battles of Tel-el-Mahuta, Mahsameh, Kassassin, and Tel-el-Kebir. In 1884-85 he was a member of the Nile Expedition and with the Mounted Infantry Camel Regiment took part in the action of Abu Klea in January, 1885. He was promoted captain, June 12th, 1886, and was adjutant of his regiment from March 6th, 1890, to January 23rd, 1894. On May 27th, 1896, he received his majority. In this year, under Sir Frederick Carrington, he saw service in South Africa as commander of the mounted infantry and troops in Northern Mashonaland. For two years, September 1st, 1897, to October 8th, 1899, he was D.-A.-A.-G. at Aldershot. On the outbreak of the Boer War he was given command of the Mounted Infantry 1st Cavalry Brigade and held rank as A.-A.-G. During the Boer War he did most effective work, taking an important part in the relief of Kimberley, and in the battles of Paardeberg and Poplar Grove, and in numerous other lesser engagements. His worth received speedy recognition and from October 18th, 1900, until July 22nd, 1901, he acted as Brigadier-General, Mounted Infantry Brigade, South Africa, and from July 23rd, 1901, to May 5th, 1903, as inspector-General, Mounted Infantry, South Africa. In 1903 he was appointed Brigadier-General, 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Army Corps, and held this appointment until February 28th,


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