After the outbreak of the Second Boer War in October 1899, volunteer corps were established in most counties of the United Kingdom to provide officers and men for service in South Africa. A corps of Imperial volunteers to be raised and equipped by the City of London was authorized by Royal Warrant dated 24 December 1899 with the name City of London Imperial Volunteers. The corps included an infantry division, a mounted infantry division, and a field battery (artillery) division. The infantry and mounted infantry divisions were composed of about 1,400 men recruited mainly from existing volunteer regiments in London and Middlesex, while the artillery division was composed of about 150 men recruited from the Honourable Artillery Company and the City of London Artillery forming a battery of four quick-firing Vickers-Maxim guns. All the officers and men received the Freedom of the City of London before departure. Most of the men proceeded to South Africa in January and February 1900, returned in October the same year, and the corps was disbanded on 1 December 1900. The January 1900 contingent sailed aboard the SS Garth Castle of Castle Line (later to merge with the Union Line to become the Union-Castle Line). The later contingent, comprising the HAC battery of four guns, sailed (with other territorial units from Oxford and Ireland) in the SS Montfort of Canadian Pacific Line on 3 February 1900.
Colonel William Mackinnon served as colonel commandant of the corps, with Major Gilbert McMicking in charge of the field battery, Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Cecil Cholmondeley in charge of mounted infantry, and Arnold Keppel, Earl of Albemarle in charge of infantry.
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