A number of letters from local soldiers serving in South Africa during the Second Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902, were published in newspapers. These letters have been transcribed below.
Although both civilian and military letters were subject to censorship during this period the regulations were complicated and the correspondence from soldiers published in the papers seem to give details of places, casualties and other information that were certainly not allowed in later conflicts.
PLEASE NOTE: SOME OF THE CORRESPONDENCE BELOW CONTAINS GRAPHIC DETAILS OF BATTLES, CASUALTITES AND WOUNDED SOLDIERS. THEY WERE ALSO WRITTEN WHEN CERTAIN WORDS OR PHRASES MAY HAVE BEEN COMMONPLACE BUT ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE TODAY. WHERE NECESSARY, SOME OF THESE WORDS OR PHRASES HAVE BEEN REDACTED.
1. LETTERS FROM DRIVER THOMAS MUSGROVE, 7th BATTERY, ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
Published in the Alfreton Journal, 5th January 1900:
LETTER FROM A SOMERCOTES SOLDIER. The following letter from Driver T. Musgrove, of the 7th Battery of the Royal Field Artillery, has been received by his parents residing at Lower Somercotes:
Battle Field, Colenso, South Africa, December 6th, 1899,
My dear Mother and Father, Just a few lines to let you know I am going on all right; you must excuse black lead at these times. I expect you know as much about the War as we do out here. We can get no papers. Just now the enemy blew up a fine railway bridge here, the same day as we got here. I expect you have read in the paper of the great fight at Modder River. It lasted ten hours and & half; the troops were without bread or water all the time. It is the greatest battle in the annals of history. General Buller says our Army lost 69 killed and 360 wounded. The Boers lost thousands. I see Walter and Charlie Battison were in it. I came out of an engagement here at Estcourt on Nov. 26th. We are going to relieve the ten thousand troops at Ladysmith. I am on General Buller’s column. We are 25,000 strong. We have lost no men up to now. We have captured thousands of all sorts, I sold a Boer horse for £1. The infantry have got a lot of horses. It is awful how the Boers have raided farm houses and smashed all the furniture, and pianos up. Before we came all the houses were empty and the people gone away. We expect to be back by the middle of your next summer. We got a paper this morning to say the 63rd Battery on its way out to Africa has gone down at sea and lost nearly all her horses and six big guns, but no men. I am in the best of heath. This is all the news this time. So I conclude with fond love to all at home. I remain, your affectionate, loving son.—T. MUSGROVE.
Published in the Alfreton Journal, 16th February 1900
LETTER FROM THE SOMERCOTES RECIPIENT OF THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL - BOTH HIS HORSES SHOT UNDER HIM. The following letter from Driver Thomas Musgrove (a recipient of the distinguished service medal for valour at Colenso) of the 7th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, has been received by his parents residing at Lower Somercotes:
Chieveley Camp, South Africa, Jan. 5th 1900
Dear Mother and Father, Just a few lines to say I am in the best of health, hoping to find you all the same. It is very hot out here just now, but cool at nights. We had a good Christmas and New Year as could be expected at the Front. We are just outside Colenso where we fought the great battle on the 15th December. Our column under General Buller has had to retire seven miles. We are here just out of reach of Boer guns. I was right on the front line and never got hit. We lost 1,147 killed and wounded all told, and ten big guns. The Boers have thrown them in the Tugela river- more guns than England ever lost before. It was a great surprise to us I can tell you. We are waiting for more men before we can get near Ladysmith. Our large naval guns fire every morning to keep the enemy from crossing the river. We care living very well at present. We are building railway bridges, which the Boers blew up, as we go up country, to keep the railway open. I had both my horses shot under me, but I have got some more. I think this is all the news at this time. Remember me to enquiring friends. I conclude with fondest love to all. From your affectionate loving son, Thomas Musgrove.
Published in the Alfreton Journal, 12th April 1900
LETTER FROM A SOMERCOTES SOLDIER. The following letter has been received from Driver Thomas Musgrove, of Somercotes:
Elandslaagte, South Africa, 11th March, 1900.
Dear Mother and Father, Just a few lines in answer to your kind and ever welcome letter I received to-day (Sunday). We are at rest in camp just now. We are staying here a few weeks so they say. I was sorry to hear of Battison’s sons being wounded and Davis being killed. It is nothing fresh to me to see rows of graves. I saw 47 in one grave all in a row; they were all our soldiers. I expect you have heard of the relief of Ladysmith. We stayed in Ladysmith only a few days, because there has been 2,000 die of dysentery and enteric fever. The poor fellows have been on one biscuit and ¼lb. of horseflesh per day. We have been trying to get to Ladysmith since the 15th of December till the 1st of March. They would never have held out much longer. They could not get out; the enemy was all round them. There were 10,000 of our men in Ladysmith starving till we relieved them, and the enemy firing at them day and night; it must have been awful. The men looked as thin as rails. We gave them all we had. They said they could hear our guns weeks before, and they used to say, ‘‘they are coming to relieve us’’; but we have got there at last. We are now fifteen miles from Dundee. We are waiting for Roberts to come up. The Boers seem to think our fighting is nearly over; they are getting tired of it. They have lost thousands as well as us. It is quite correct about me getting the Distinguished Service Medal at Colenso on the 15th of December. I am certain of that one. 0ur major told us the other day he hoped we would live long to wear it. We get £5 the day we get the medal.... I don’t think the war will last much longer … I never felt in better health in my life. We are getting a fine camp here just now; a nice river to bathe in, and wash our clothes. Remember me to all inquiring friends round Somercotes. From your affectionate and loving son, T. MUSGROVE.
2. LETTER FROM PRIVATE SAMUEL RILEY, LANCASHIRE REGIMENT
Published in the Long Eaton Advertiser, 10th March 1900
WITH BULLER AT COLENSO. ELEVEN DAYS' HARD FIGHTING. From Private S. Riley, Lancashire Regiment, 5th Division, 11th Brigade, Field Force, Colenso, South Africa:
My own dear Mother and Father, I am pleased to say that I have got spared to write you a few lines to let you know that I am quite safe. But I have been very lucky, for we have had eleven days hard fighting. I have not had my boots or clothes off, or even had a wash for two weeks. We stick very close together when we sleep on the rocks at night. Of course when it rains we get drenched, and we have to dry ourselves in the day time, for we have only one suit of clothes - that is about as much as we can carry besides our rifles and 150 rounds of ammunition. The sun rises at six o'clock, and it is scorching hot at mid-day. We have been in one trench nine days, and directly we show ourselves we get a shower of bullets. Three of my comrades got their heads blown off. and many others wounded. The sight of dead and wounded is sometime awful to look upon; but I am glad we have got out of that trench. After the battle the roll was called, and we had 15 killed and 54 wounded in my regiment. In all four regiments 1,500 killed, wounded and missing. It took us a long lime to carry our wounded to the hospital. I don't know when the moment may come for me to fall, for bullets and shells whiz and burst all around us. Besides, there are many of our fellows dying of fever, which is caused by impure water. We are on our way now to relieve Ladysmith. We have about smashed them up at Colenso, and have had to go at them to-day and blow their bridge up, which they use for taking supplies across. We will starve them out. When we crossed Tugela river it just took me up to the neck, and then we had to march with all our wet clothes on. I cannot say any more now, as we are under fire, so good night and God bless you all. From one of the soldiers of the Queen, your loving son, SAM RILEY.
Received by Mr. S. Riley, Birchwood Farm, Leabrooks.
3. LETTERS FROM CORPORAL THOMAS JAQUES, NATAL CARBINEERS
Published in the Alfreton Journal, 12th April 1900:
NATIVE OF PYE BRIDGE AT LADYSMITH. THE STORY OF THE SIEGE. IN NINE ENGAGEMENTS. Mr. Thomas Jaques, of Fletcher's Row, lronville has forwarded to us copies of three letters which he has received from his brother, John F. Jaques, who was in Ladysmith during the siege. The writer of the letters is a native of Pye Bridge. He served for eight years in the 11th Hussars, and was in South Africa three years of the time. On the completion of his eight years service under the colours he got permission to reside in South Africa and took up a position at Charlestown Station, Natal, as receiving clerk. The following are the letters :
Ladysmith, 11th December, 1899
Dear Tom, It is a long time since I wrote to you, but I have been so upset with the war. I must tell you I am a Corporal in the Natal Carbineers (Volunteers), and was in the following engagements: — Besters, Elands-Laagte, Linta Ingona, Lombard’s Kop, and five engagements all around Ladysmith, and was on Lombard's Kop under General Hunter when we blew the Boers’ gun up, and we were thanked on parade by General White, but, of course, you will see by the papers a better account than I can give. We have now been besieged by the Boers for six weeks. There is no doubt the Boers fight well. They are on all the best positions around us, and shell us day and night, in fact, we have got so used to them we take very little notice. They have thrown thousands and thousands of shells into us, and if they were at all experienced, there would not be a man left to tell the tale. There is talk of General Buller coming to relieve us, but we can get no reliable information. I trust it will be soon as we are on half rations, and the water we drink is filthy. Sugar is 3s. per Ib., a tin of milk 6s., bread 4s. a loaf. Cheese and jam cannot be got. They would fetch their weight in gold. Our rations per man daily is ½lb. beef, salt or fresh; ½lb of bread; ½oz. coffee; two pints of water. The Boers dare not come down in the open. We have plenty of ammunition, thank God, and shoot straight. Their gun carries about ten miles, while our big gun only carries 5000 yards. They have all the modern guns. We are years behind the time. I can tell you they have surprised us, but they tell us Buller has all the modern articles of war. I wish to God he were here. We have to be on the watch night and day, every inch of ground around the town is carefully guarded and we get little sleep. I shall write you a full account of the events if I get through. Of course, you would see we had to clear out of Charlestown. I was in the last train leaving there. I have such a lot to tell you but have not time. The Boers have taken all my things in Charlestown, but we are to be recompensed afterwards. I shall come home for a few months when the war is over. I do not know when this will leave here, as we have had no post or news for six weeks now. I have plenty of keepsakes from old Paul Kruger, shells and bullets, quite a collection, but anyone getting out of this place alive can thank God. Put your address on back of your letter, in case it does not find me, as God knows when we shall be relieved.
Ladysmith, January 19th, 1900.
Dear Tom,—l am just going to add a little to my letter of December 11th. We are still in Ladysmith, and all we can hear of Buller is the guns in the distance. Since I last wrote I cannot describe the horrors and sufferings of our poor chaps, my comrades killed and dying. Out of 84 in my troop 21 only are left for duty, and l am one, thank God. On Saturday, January 6th the Boers made a desperate attack on us in Ladysmith. We were attacked at every point from 3 a.m. till 8.30 p.m. It was simply slaughter. The Boers got into our lines in two places, Caesar’s camp, held by the Manchester Regiment, and Wagon Hill, held by Imperial Light Horse, Gordon Highlanders and Engineers. They fought like brave men, but thank God we were able to drive them back with terrible loss on both sides. It was the grandest yet most terrible scene I have ever seen or wish to see again, and thank God I came through safely, although one of my greatest friends, Peg Tucker, was killed. Well, by about 4 p.m. we had retaken all our positions when one of the most terrible thunderstorms I ever witnessed broke out, and we were up to our knees in water for some time. But being a hilly district it soon drained off, but the trenches were filled up, and dead bodies floated about in them. During the storm the Boers came on again, and nearly retook Waggon Hill, but by half-past eight we had driven them off, and up-to-date they have not attempted to attack us again, only the usual shelling all day and sniping at our outposts. Of course, daylight next morning was such a sight I shall never forget to my dying day, dead and wounded all in heaps, the wounded asking you to kill them out of their misery. It is going to be a hard struggle, but we shall win in the end, please God. P.S. - I can hear the guns booming in the distance, I shall post this as soon as the column arrives. Oh, let it be soon. P.S. - Rumour in camp is Buller is advancing. I hope to God it is true. We have been waiting oh, so long. We are eating horse flesh now, and hundreds dying of fever.
Ladysmith, 1st March 1900
Thank God we are relieved at last after 119 days siege. No one can tell the sufferings we have undergone. I am surprised there is anyone left to tell the tale. We have eaten nearly all our horses and what we have not eaten most of them have died and we were too weak to bury them. We dragged them out on the veldt and left them for vultures. There is not a blade of grass to be seen anywhere within our outposts, as all our rations for horses have been used for weeks. Poor things, it was pitiful to see them. My horse, a beauty, could jump like a deer. They came and shot him and made Cheveril and jelly out of him. I fairly cried when they took him, as he had saved my life on more than one occasion when we had to fly away from the shell and Boer fire. I had fed him so well and many times gave him my biscuit and gone hungry to bed. It’s a cruel shame. I shall only get £39 for it. He was honestly worth £50. We have been on quarter rations for months, and a desperate time we have had to live. We have tried all kind of things, starch, weeds, anything to keep down the pangs of hunger. I was 12st 7lbs when the war commenced; I am about 8st now. I am looking forward to a good feed tomorrow all being well. Then we are being sent to Mooi River to recruit our health a little before having another go at Old Paul. The Boer loss has been dreadful. There are hundreds of dead lying all over the place. They simply cleared and left everything; camps, ammunition and cattle. We are going to have some prime beef tomorrow, and bread which I have never tasted for months. I will write fuller details later. I suppose this letter will be surcharged as we cannot possibly obtain stamps.
4. LETTER FROM PRIVATE JACK SEAL, 13th HUSSARS
Published in the Alfreton Journal 28th September 1900:
An Alfreton Soldier - LETTER FROM THE FRONT. The following letter has been received by Mr Thomas Seal, Nuttall Street, Alfreton, from his brother, S. S. J. Seal, 13th Hussars, now serving in South Africa:
Newcastle, South Africa, August 28th, 1900.
Dear brother and sister—Just a few lines to let you know I am quite well, and hope you and the family are the same. I know you will think me very unkind for not writing to you before, but we have had it very rough here lately, for we have been ï¬ghting nearly every day. We left Ladysmith and went through Van Reenan’s Pass, and we chased the Boers out of there. Then we went up to Harrismith, in the Orange Free State, and cleared that place. Then we got a sudden order to come back to Ladysmith, and from there they sent us up to Newcastle, as there were about 1,000 Boers reported about there. We soon found them I can tell you. We gave them a good doing up all last week, and now they have retired to a place they call Utrecht. I expect we shall have to go up there and clear them out of it. I can tell you I never had so many bullets flying round me since I have been out here. I heard last week they killed one man of ours, and wounded six, and killed 14 horses so it was a bit rough, but they lost a lot of men. We were fighting in the Transvaal most of the time, but I hope it is about all over now. I will now draw to a close, with love to all brothers and sisters, I remain, your ever loving brother, JACK SEAL.
5. LETTER FROM PRIVATE LUTHER TARLTON – St. JOHN’S AMBULANCE BRIGADE
Published in the Alfreton Journal , 23rd February 1900:
LETTER FROM A SOMERCOTES AMBULANCE MAN. The following letter has been received from Private L. Tarlton, of the Birchwood Corps of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, who volunteered for service in South Africa :—
St. John Ambulance Brigade, No. 3 Hospital, De Aar, South Africa, Jan. 26th. 1900.
You will see by the above where I have got to. I told you when I last wrote we were going along with an ammunition column, but when we got to Capetown we got fresh orders. We had to come here because they had too many patients. We are not going to stop here, but you can write here and they will forward your letter to where I am. The hospital is really a schoolroom, and we are staying in tents outside. We are in proper campaign order now. I would that every Englishman could come and see what there is to be seen here. If they did “Tommy Atkins " would be valued more than he is, some with arms off, some legs &c. In fact I could not possibly find words that would describe what I have seen. One poor old chap got hit with a piece of shell, and it took a part of his chest off, and all his face. It would be a blessing if he were to drop off, but the doctor thinks he will live. Another got a bullet in the chest and made him fall, but as he was falling one of his spurs caught in the stirrup, he was dragged three quarters of a mile, so you can imagine what kind of a head he has. I am in the enteric fever ward. We have 20 patients at the time of writing and two of us to look after them (that is two at night and two day), and we who are in bed or rather on the floor, are very often called out, either to go on the hospital train, or to carry in the wounded when it comes in. It took us forty hours to come up country, and a jolly time we had. At every station we stopped at, the loyal people were waiting for us with bread, fruit, &c. When we got to a place called Beaufort, some lady gave all the fellows belonging to St. John Ambulance Brigade a right down good hot dinner and didn’t we just shift it. This country is just splendid, hills and dales, &c. English scenery is not in it. De Aar is considered a big town, but it is not quarter the size of Somercotes. It is surrounded with kopjes, and all along the top are British guns, so you may guess how safe it is. The Boers are about on the outside and the outposts keep bringing in prisoners, and an uglier set of brutes you never saw. There are about 2,000 troops in the De Aar camp. I hope by the time you get this I shall be where the bullets are cheap. I really want to see what war is like. I have been where we could see it at a distance you know (two miles), but that is not enough for me. I would like to get up to Kimberley for there is an extra medal from Cecil Rhodes. We had a military funeral yesterday. It was Captain MacKenzie. He died with fever, and I am told his wife is on her way out to nurse him. It will be rather hard when she hears, but it cannot be helped. We have a graveyard here, and the part that is used is much bigger than that at home. We have a good show for food here. We get fresh meat every day. It is driven into camp in the morning, and we eat it at one o’clock. Fancy me downing an ox! You would laugh if you were to see me now. I don one of these big felt hats, and my face is tawny. I have never shaved since I left England. The inhabitants are alright here. I went out the other night and got talking to a native. He asked me to go into the hut (they don’t call them houses). I went in and they gave me a hot supper and as many peaches as I could carry. They grow here almost as common as hawthorn does there. I'll make another start now. We have to write letters here by bits. We can get plenty of good old beer at this show. It’s awfully hot here in the day, snd quite the opposite at night. We get sand storms nearly every day. They last two hours or thereabouts, and it is thicker than any fog I have ever seen in England, but the rainy season is coming on, so I suppose they will be a thing of the past. With kindest regard to yourself and all the rest of the chums at Somercotes. Tell them I should be very pleased to get a letter from any of them.
6. DIARY FROM CORPORAL J. FORD, 2nd HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
THIS DIARY, WRITTEN BY CORPORAL FORD, RELATES TO HIS JOURNEY ON THE HM TROOPSHIP ASSAYE FROM ENGLAND TO HIS DISEMBARKATION IN CAPE TOWN, JANUARY 1900.
Published in the Alfreton Journal, 2nd March 1900:
A SOMERCOTES SOLDIERS DIARY. The following are extracts from a diary kept by Corporal J. Ford, of the 2nd Hants Regiment, 7th Division, sent to his sister, Mrs. J. W. Smith, Quarry Road, Somercotes:
Jan 4th 1900 - SS Assaye. By rail from Aldershot to Southampton Embarked about 1.30 p.m. About ten thousand at this docks to give us a send-off - weeping. wailing, snd gnashing of teeth. We set sail about 6.30 pm. Rather rough at first, not the weather, but all other things in general; got our hammocks out about 11.30 pm. and turned in.
Jan. 5th - Slept soundly all night; up this morning at 8.0 am, had breakfast. I feel ail right up to now. I don’t know where we are at present. I only know we can see nothing but water all round. Weather fine; water calm. Roll call at 10.30 am. It’s surprising how it's done; 2,200 on parade on one ship, but there we are.
Jan. 6th - Saturday - Same old routine; nothing but water. Passed several steamers, but to far away to recognise anything. Getting settled down to it, but we are like herrings in a box. Plenty to eat as yet.
Jan. 7th - Sunday - Nothing very important. Had a rather rough night (so they say), I slept throuch it. Voluntary Church on board, but I didn’t go. Getting warmer.
Jan. 8th - Monday - Same as ever; all in good spirits. Expect to call at Las Palmas for coal to-morrow. Nothing but water all round.
Jan. 9th - Tuesday - Terribly warm during the night; couldn’t bear anything on; sighted land at 7 30 am. Arrived at Las Palmas about 9.30 am. A very pretty little town, one of the Canary Islands. Faces getting darker (not ours, but the natives ol the place). What an unintelligible jabber and what excitement! Swarms of small boats were there when we arrived, selling oranges, bananas, &c. Fruit rather cheap. Little boys ready there undressed, to dive for money thrown in; they never lost it. What beautiful weather! Just what one reads about, but seldom sees. Coaling is a very dirty job. Even though you do not partake in the work, your face gets black with coal dust (puts me in mind of working in the pit!) Had a shave this morning; feel quite a new chap. Went down to Jack’s mess and had tea. We expect to start away again some time to-night. H.M.S. Furious, in the harbour, gave three cheers for us, and we responded.
Jan. 10th - Wednesday - Weighed anchor at 12.30 in the morning. It was rather warm below, so I turned in on the fore-castle (fo’c’s’le), but they woke me weighing the anchor, and when the boat started on her journey again, the wind blew so hard (a warm wind, but I don’t like draughts of any kind) that I went below again. Wind dropped about 6 am. Sn came out and almost roasted us all day. Nothing very important; getting monotonous. Turned in on deck.
Jan. 11th - Thursday - Had to get up at 4.0 am. ([offensive word deleted] wanted to swab decks). Went down below, and had another hour. A clear sky again to-day, but a rough wind and choppy sea. We are getting close to Father Neptune now. It would no doubt be scorching, only for the wind; hope it keeps up. Overheard the captain say “We will probably get to Capetown next Monday week.” (Roll on).
Jan. 12th - Friday - Same old routine; inoculation optional: a process similar to vaccination, only in the side; lays the person operated on sick and stiff for three days. ’'Tis said to keep off enteric fever, &c. I don't believe in it (my adage is, “What is to be, will be.”). Heat almost unbearable. Getting quite close to the Equator now. Would like to go about without clothes. You perspire doing nothing. Had a sing-song on deck at night.
Jan. 13th - Saturday - Nothing important. Getting hotter; sea all round like a sheet of glass. To tell anyone so who had never been they would not credit it, but it’s a fact. A rather novel washing day, simple, but effective. A long piece of rope, clothes to be washed tied to one end, the other end fastened inside porthole, and clothes thrown out. About two hours’ time. Well, as white and clean as ever I had seen them. I had my shirt out first, but when I looked out after awhile to see how things were progressing - saw string minus shirt. Sharks abound in these waters, so I must blame one of them -a tasty meal! I noticed when I put the remainder out nothing happened to them. A drop of Mild and Bitter wouldn’t be amiss just now.
Jan. 14th - Sunday - Nothing of importance; fine day; sea calm.
Jan. 15th - Monday - Same old routine; same as Sunday.
Jan. 16th - Tuesday - One man of ours is very bad with pneumonia: not expected to live; sea choppy, weather fine.
Jan. 17th - Wednesday - Choppy sea, weather fine. Poor old Oliver died at 2 pm. to-day. Buried at sea. A funeral at sea is a very sad sight; body sewn up in canvas; burial service read & body dropped overboard. A strange thing, but true. A shark has been following the boat for three or four days - a sure sign, so they say - of death. Everyone seems gloomy.
Jan. 18th - Thursday. -Sea a bit rough; getting cooler. Had half-a-pound of tobacco, two pairs socks and Balaclava cap (a woollen arrangement to cover head, ears, and neck, for use at nights on outpost duty). I have had 1½lbs of tobacco as yet, and have more to come, so they say. Troops more cheerful. (The chap who died was called up from reserve. He had only been married eight months.)
Jan. 19th - Friday. - Same as Monday.
Jan. 20th - Saturday.- Same as Monday. Sea rough. Making preparations for dis-embarkation.
Jan. 21st - Sunday. - An unfortunate day for me. Deck slippery. Fell down and sprained my left knee. It is now the size of two. Doctor says I shall have to stay in hospital at Capetown till it is well. Fine day; nothing important.
Jan. 22nd - Monday.- Fine day; still a rough sea. My knee is still very painful. I hope it will soon be better again. Arrive at Capetown tomorrow. Land at last! All bustle and excitement. I was fast asleep, but something seemed funny. No rolling and rocking. ‘Tis now 12.30 Tuesday morning. The boat has stopped and cast anchor in Capetown Harbour. I expect we shall stay here till daybreak. What a treat to be still once more. My knee seems to get worse. I hope it doesn’t stop me going to the front. Of course, l am in hospital on board ship. I have slept in a decent bed these last two nights. Well! I suppose I must go to sleep again; will write more at daylight.
Jan. 23rd - Tuesday. - Daylight. A very pretty place, viewed from the boat still anchored. Don’t know what time we disembark. Table Mountain close to the water, flat-topped. A cloud hung over it; that is called the table-cloth. Beautiful weather; rather warm. Norfolk Regiment disembarked first at 12.30. Our Regiment has to stay on the boat till to-morrow. I have to go to Wynberg to-day, to the camp hospital there. Arrived at Wynberg by train; a beautiful little place. Got to hospital about 4.30 pm.; this place is crowded with wounded. They seem to be getting on all right. Some of them are going home by the next boat. What delightful weather; rather hot at mid-day, but splendid after sunset. Of course there is no twilight here. As soon as the sun goes down night sets in, and it begins to get dark.
Jan. 24th - Wednesday. - Fine day, warm. I wish I had an artist’s talent, for the scenery is beautiful. Doctor came about 10 am. My knee seems better to-day; nothing of importance. In the Cape Times this morning I saw that one of our regiment fell overboard and was drowned on Tuesday night.
Jan. 25th - Thursday. - Rain in the night and part of the morning. Delightfully cool. The nursing sisters are very good; they never seem weary, looking after the wounded Chaps. The people of Cape-town supply all sorts of luxuries for the wounded. The regiment have gone to De Aar to join Lord Methuen’s Kimberley’s relief force. I hope to join the regiment before they start on the job. This is a fine place. They say it is the healthiest in the world. People come here who suffer from consumption. I wouldn’t mind living here myself. In this hospital there are about 300 wounded. It is sad to see some who are merely boys with a leg or arm off. Honour, glory and wooden legs. There is a yarn going about here of a chap who, when he was at the Battle of Be!mont, passed the remark, “I love my country and will die for it, but when this war is over, and if I come out all right, I’ll love no more blooming countries.” I read a piece in the Cape paper saying that if they were to give the Victoria Cross for every valorous action, half the men would get it. There is one chap here who was in four engagements and wasn't scratched, but in the fourth he fell over some of the Boer entanglements and broke his leg. He can show where six bullets went through his clothing. So you see he was not meant to be shot. I hope this will be interesting to those who read it.