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1st May, Tuesday. We expect a mail today, and this dashing fellow Eloff promised us another attack. He has made it. It was the usual sort of performance, and they blazed away for two or three hours and didn't hit anybody. I got up and looked on, because I felt I ought to, but I was rather cross and very bored. If the fools want to fight, why don't they do it? They are doing themselves no good, and not attaining any object whatsoever. Colonel Baden-Powell told them some months ago they would not take Mafeking " by sitting and looking at the place," but even now, if they would sacrifice two or three thousand men, they might get in, but I am afraid they will never try. They make me quite angry, they are so stupid. Here they are, daily losing one or two men, and the greatest success they can show is a few stolen cows, whereas if they would come on and fight properly they wouldn't lose very many more men than they have already, and we should have a chance of a show. Seriously speaking though, it is their duty to take this place, and it is very disheartening waiting for them to try to. We got our pigeon mails to-day; unfortunately, no news whatsoever. We have not received any decisive news or had any optimistic rumour confirmed for weeks, and in fact our last good news is Cronje's mop up. Isn't there an old figure in some square dance or other called the chassez croissee? It seems to be fashionable out here. I don't like square dances or slow generals. As I telegraphed to you this morning my general sensation is that of an aching void. The only satisfaction I can derive therefrom is the certainty that most of my friends and acquaintances will be much amused at my being kept quiet an}'where on short commons. Tom Greenfield is looking terribly hungry, but then with his length he naturally takes more filling up than ordinary mortals. Godley, too, looks as if he could do with a bit more, but he always is thin. We have got a very tall lot of men here, Cecil, Tom Greenfield, Godley, Fitzclarence, Bentinck, all make an ordinary six-foot individual feel small, and McKenna isn't exactly short. If we have length represented we also have breadth, which even our present rations are unable to reduce. I am certainly not going to quote a nominal roll of these individuals, as they are fine strong men and I can't get away.
2nd, Wednesday. This morning firing is going on. I suppose another attack. I will go out and see. One rather funny incident in connection with the Boer attack took place yesterday. As a rule they knock off for breakfast, but yesterday they kept it up till some time past 8 o'clock, so at 8 o'clock punctually the natives left their trenches with their tins to draw their porridge, absolutely disregarding the Boer fire which was renewed at intervals all day. It is perfectly incredible how we have pushed them back, for within the area where our advanced trenches now are I recollect seeing a horse-battery of theirs in action during the first few days of the siege. They take particular care not to play those games now. I only wish they would. This sort of drivel relieves one's feelings, even if one can't see relief.
3rd, Thursday. Firing yesterday and today was not of any value; they kept it up off and on all day. I sat on the roof with the officers of the Bechuanaland Rifles, and looked on till we got bored. The operation of getting on to and off the roof again was far more dangerous than the ordinary Boer battle. This evening I rode round the guards with Major Panzera. It would take a more enterprising Boer than we have run up against to get in. Major Panzera has a theory that he can't be hit; I haven't, however. Both our theories are good enough viewed from the light of experience.
The Germans participating in the defence of the town are going to be photographed. I feel sorry for the German Emperor not being here. He would enjoy this war thoroughly.
I heard from Weston-Jarvis this morning. He wrote a very cheery letter. At last they appear to be making some effort to relieve us. Why on earth they didn't try before, Heaven only knows ! It seems a perfectly simple operation for any man of any ordinary sense, but really it doesn't much matter in the long run whether it is a month or two sooner or later. I also see the " Baron" is coming down to relieve us. I hope lie won't fall on his head and get stretched out as he usually persists in doing. We are always meeting each other in some old ship or other, or in some out of the way continent, but certainly I never expected to be relieved by the "Baron" in the middle of Africa; however, the more pals that roll up the better.
4th, Friday. Absolute quiet. My last letters have fallen into the Dutchmen's hands. They will be nice light reading for them, as they were barely complimentary. I do not expect to be popular after this war. When one is tired and bored out here, it is very refreshing to be able to abuse all and sundry, and think that one need not settle up for another two or three months.
5th, Saturday. Life is short, but temper is shorter. Runners in but no news. This morning a funeral party of the Bechuanaland Rifles marched from the hospital to the cemetery to bury the remains, I say advisedly remains, of Lance-Corporal Ironside, who, after having been wounded some two months ago, had recently had his leg amputated, and had at last died from sheer weakness. He bore his extreme sufferings with remarkable fortitude, pluck, and cheeriness. He was a Scotchman, from Aberdeen, and one of the best shots in the garrison. It is satisfactory to think that he had already avenged his death before he was wounded.
6th, Sunday. To-day the Boers most deliberately violated the tacit Sunday truce which, at their own instigation and request, we have always observed. The whole proceedings were very peculiar. It was a fine morning, and the Sabbath calm pervading the town and the surrounding forts was manifest in the way we were all strolling about the market square. As regards myself, I had just purchased some bases of shells at Platnauer's auction mart, where the weekly auction was proceeding. The firing began, and nobody paid much attention except the officers and men belonging to the quarter at which it was apparently directed. They, on foot, horseback, and bicycle, dispersed headlong to their various posts. One, Mr. McKenzie, on a bicycle, striking the railway line, reached his post in four minutes and fifteen seconds, fifteen seconds too quick for the Boer he was enabled to bag. The Boers, who on previous Sundays had displayed an inclination to loot our cattle, had crept up to the dead ground east of Cannon Kopje, and hastily shot one of our cattle guard and stolen the horses and mules under his charge. It was the more annoying that they should have been successful as we were well prepared for them, and had rather anticipated this attack, having a Maxim in ambush within one hundred and fifty yards, which unfortunately jammed, and failed to polish off the lot, as it certainly ought to have clone. If we had had any luck it would have been a very different story. Directly the Maxim began the Boers nipped off their horses and running alongside of them for protection reached the cover in the fold of the ground. Unfortunately they killed poor Francis of the B. S. A. P. (the second brother who has fallen here since the fighting began) and took all the horses. It was very annoying, but a smart bit -of work and I congratulate the Dutchmen, whoever they may be, who conducted it. Still it was a breach of our Sunday truce, and if .all is fair in love and war the many irate .spectators will have their pound of flesh to .ask for later on. It really was a curious sight: lines of men impotently watching the raid and behind them the shouts of the unmoved auctioneer of " Going at fifteen bob." "Last time." "Going." "Going." "Gone," and gone they were undoubtedly, but they were our horses and he was referring to some scrap iron. To cover this nefarious procedure they opened a heavy fire on various outlying forts. We were lucky enough in the interchange of courtesies to secure a Dutchman on the railway line, and as they had practically violated the white flag our advanced posts had great shooting all the afternoon at his friends who came to try to pick him up. We buried Francis this evening. The concert was put off. A certain amount of endurance has been shown by the inhabitants and a certain amount of pluck by the defenders of the town, but prior to the Boers starting fooling (successful fooling and neatly carried out), I and several more were standing in the market square gossiping about things we did know, and things we didn't, when we happened to notice a very weak-looking child, apparently as near death as any living creature could be. It transpired on inquiry that this infant was a Dutch one, Graaf by name. His father, a refugee, died of fever; his brother was in hospital, and he had been offered admission, which he refused, because he said that he must look after his mother. Even then, though scarcely able to cross the road, the kid was going to draw his rations. He was taken to hospital, but I think that this is about the pluckiest individual that has come under my notice, and nobody can take exception to the child, though his mother is probably one of those amiable ladies who cat our rations, betray our plans, and are always expressing a wholehearted wish for our extermination.
15th, Tuesday. News has arrived that our troops are within striking distance; "Sister Ann" performance has begun again. We are now beginning to recover from our exciting Saturday. As I wired home, it was the best day that I ever saw, and I must now try and describe it.
Just before four o'clock in the morning we were roused by heavy firing. The garrison turned out and manned the various works. We all turned up, and I went to the headquarters. Everybody got their horses ready, armed themselves as best they could, and awaited the real attack. Colonel Baden-Powell said at once the real attack would be on the stadt. We have had a good many attacks and don't attach much importance to them, but we did not any one of us anticipate the day's work that was in store for us. When I say anticipate, every possible preparation had been made. Well, we hung about in the cold. After about an hour and a half the firing on the eastern front began to slacken. Trooper Waterson of the Blues, as usual, had coffee and cocoa ready at once, and we felt we could last a bit. Jokes were freely bandied, and we kept saying, " When are they going to begin? " Suddenly on the west a conflagration was seen, and betting began as to how far out it was. I got on to the roof of a house, and with Mr. Arnold, of Dixon's Hotel, saw a very magnificent sight. Apparently the whole stadt was on fire, and with the sunrise behind us and the stadt in flames in front, the combination of effects was truly magnificent, if not exactly reassuring. However, nobody seemed to mind much. Our guns, followed by the Bechuanaland Rifles, hurried across the square, men laughing and joking and saying, " we were going to have a good fight." Then came the news that the B.S.A.P. fort, garrisoned by the Protectorate Regiment, had fallen into the enemy's hands. Personally I did not believe it to be true, and started with a carbine to assure myself of the fact. I got close up to the fort, met a squadron running obliquely across its front, and though the bullets were coming from that direction could not believe but that they were our own men who were strolling about outside it. That is the worst of being educated under black powder. I saw poor Hazelrigg, who was a personal friend of mine and whom I knew at home, shot, but did not realise who he was. Both sides were inextricably mixed, but having ridden about, and got the hang of things, I am certain that within twenty minutes, order and confidence were absolutely restored on our side. You saw bodies of men, individuals, everybody armed with what they could get, guns of any sort, running towards the firing. A smile on every man's face, and the usual remark was, "Now we've got the beggars." The "beggars" in question were under the impression that they had got us and no doubt had a certain amount of ground for their belief. The fight then began. At least we began to fight, for up till then no return had been made to the very heavy fusillade to which we had been subjected. I have soldiered for some years and I have never seen anything smarter or better than the way the Bechuanaland Rifles, our Artillery and the Protectorate Regiment ran down and got between the Boers and their final objective. The Boers then sent a message through the telephone to say they had got Colonel Hore and his force prisoners and that we could not touch them. Campbell, our operator, returned a few remarks of his own not perhaps wholly complimentary and the telephone was disconnected and re-connected with Major Godley. Our main telephone wire runs through the B. S. A. P. fort. McLeod, the man in charge of the wires, commenced careering about armed with a stick and a rifle, and followed by his staff of black men with the idea of directly connecting Major Godley's fort and the headquarters. I may mention McLeod is a sailor and conducts his horse on the principle of a ship. He is perhaps the worst horseman I have ever seen and it says much for the honour of the horse flesh of Mafeking that he is still alive. However, be that as it may, his pawky humour and absolute disregard of danger has made him one of the most amusing features of the siege. You always hear him in broad Scotch and remarkable places, but he is always where he is wanted. By this time we were settling down a bit, so were they. They looted everything they possibly could. A Frenchman got on to the roof of the fort with a bottle of Burgundy belonging to the officers' mess to drink to "Fashoda." He got hit in the stomach and his pals drank the bottle. Our men were very funny. When the Frenchmen yelled "Fashoda," they said " silly beggars, their geography is wrong." I was very pleased with the whole day. I have never heard more or worse jokes made, and, no doubt, had I been umpiring, I should have put some of us out of action or at any rate given them a slight advantage. Every townsman otherwise unoccupied, who had possibly never contemplated the prospect of a fight to the finish, now turned out. Mr. Weil (and too much cannot be said for his resource through every feature of the siege) broke open his boxes, served out every species of firearms he could to every person who wanted them.
A very deaf old soldier, late of the 24th Regiment, Masters by name, asked where they were, and then proceeded to investigate in a most practical fashion. I went down to the jail which more or less commands the B.S.A.P. fort and buildings, and had a look, and as we saw that no attack was imminent or at any rate likely to prove successful, we knocked off by parties and had our breakfast. We were beginning to kill them very nicely. Jail prisoners had all been released. Murchison, who shot Parslow, Lonie, the greatest criminal of the town, were both armed and doing their duty. We were all shooting with the greatest deliberation and effect whenever they showed themselves, and perhaps I was better pleased with being an Englishman from a sightseer's point of view than on any day since the Jubilee. The quaint part of the whole thing was that we were shooting at our own people unwittingly. I had a cousin there, and we laughed consumedly in the evening when we exchanged notes and found that we had been shooting close to him amongst others, I don't think that any man who was in that light will ever think ill of his neighbour from the highest to the lowest; from our General—or, at least, he ought to be a General—to the ordinary civilian, everbody was cheerful and confident of victory. We had had a long seven months' wait, and at last we were having our decisive fight. After breakfast (like giants refreshed) we began shooting again. I cannot tell you who did well, but I can assure you that no man did badly. Besides the men there were ladies. Mrs. Buchan and Miss Crawford worked most calmly and bravely under fire. All the other ladies did their duty too. Whilst the fight was developing, Mrs. Winter was running about getting us coffee. Her small son, aged six, was extremely wroth with me because I ordered him under shelter. Then commenced what you may call the next phase of the fight. Captain Fitzciarence and his squadron, with Mr. Swinburne and Mr. Bridges, came down through the town to join hands with Captain Marsh's squadron, and then with Lord Charles Bentinck's squadron and the Baralongs, the whole under Major Godley, were now going to commence to capture the Boers. I must endeavour to describe the situation. El off s attack was clever and determined. He had seven hundred men and had advanced up the bed of the Molopo. Into Mafeking he had got, but like many previous attacks had proved—it was easy to get in, but quite another matter to get out. The Baralongs and our outlying forts had allowed some three hundred men to enter, and had then commenced a heavy fire upon their supports. This discomfited the supports, and they incontinently fled. Silas Moleno and Lekoko, the Baralong leaders, had decided that it was better to kraal them up like cattle. One Dutchman was overheard to shout, "Mafeking is ours," when suddenly his friends yelled, "My God, we are surrounded." This species of fighting particularly appeals to the Baralong. He is better than the Boer at the Boer's own game, and never will I hear a word against the Baralong. However, Silas was then engaged in conjunction with our own men in collecting them. He collected them where they had no water, and then the question resolved itself into the Boer showing himself and getting shot or gradually starving. If the Baralongs had been fighting the fight and time had been no particular object, they would probably still be shooting odd Boers, but it is obvious that those dilatory measures could not be pursued by ourselves, and that we had to finish the fight by nightfall. Our men were accordingly sent down to round them up; there were thus in all three parties of Boers in the town, one, nearly three hundred strong, in the B. S. A. P. fort, sundry in a kraal by Mr. Minchin's house, others again in the kopje. The kraal was captured in an exceedingly clever manner. Captain Fitzclarence and Captain Marsh worked up to the walls, but knowing the pleasant nature of the Boer, instead of storming the place or showing themselves, they bored loopholes with their bayonets. The artillery under Lieutenant Daniels also had come up to within forty yards. There was a slight hesitation on the part of the Boers to surrender. The order was given to the gun to commence fire. The lanyard broke, but before a fresh start could be made the Boers hastily surrendered. Captain Marsh, known and respected by the Baralongs, had great difficulty in restraining them from finishing the fight their own way, and small blame to them for their desire. They had had their stadt burned. Odd Boers had been bolting at intervals, and had mostly been accounted for. The question next to be settled was as to the possession of the B. S. A. P. fort. Our men who were captive therein, and indeed the Boers and foreigners to whom I have since talked describe our fire as extraordinarily accurate. Eloff had great difficulty in keeping his men together, and as one man at least was a deserter of ours, it can't altogether be wondered that they did not wish to remain. Our firing, as we had more men to spare, became more and more deadly, and at last now they decided to surrender. Some hundred broke away and escaped from the fort, in spite of Eloff firing on them, but their bodies have been coming in ever since and many will never be accounted for, because the bodies of men with rifles may be possibly put away by the Baralongs, who are always begging rifles we have been unable to give them. Eloff accordingly surrendered to Colonel Hore. The other party in the kopje had made several unsuccessful attempts to break out, Bentinck and his squadron always successfully heading them, but as it got dark, and our men had been fighting from before four, it was decided to let them break out and just shoot what we could. The Baralongs had some more shooting too. As each successive hatch of prisoners was marched into the town absolute silence was maintained by the Britishers, except saluting brave men who had tried and failed. They were brave men and I like them better now than I ever did; the Kaffirs, however, hooted. As each batch marched up, their arms, of which they had naturally been deprived, were handed over to the Cadets, who had been under fire all clay. These warriors range from nine to fifteen years of age. They are the only smartly clad portion of the garrison, for our victorious troops were the dirtiest and most vilely robed lot of scarecrows I have ever seen, still it did one good to see the escort to the prisoners, they were simply swelling like turkey cocks and all round our long lines of defences we would hear cheers and "Rule Britannia" and the "Anthem" being sung with the wildest enthusiasm. It is impossible as I said before, to say who behaved best, but none behaved badly. There was only one thing said afterwards, when all sorts and conditions of men were shaking each other by the hand, and that was, "This is a great day for England." Mafeking is still rather mad with the Relief Column within shouting distance and it is likely to remain so.
We lost few men in our great success but I take it that no man particularly wants to be lost. I really have seen brave men here, but the man who says he wants to get shot is simply a liar. We know the story of the Roman sentinel and the Highlander who fought in Athlone (or was it Mullingar) against Hoche and many men that have died for their country obstinately. Captain Singleton's servant, Trooper Muttershek, may be added to their roll. He absolutely declined to surrender and fought on till killed. It wasn't a case of dashing in and dashing out and having your fun and a fight, it was a case of resolution to die sooner than throw down your arms, the wisdom may be questionable, the heroism undoubted. He wasn't taking any surrender. As far as I am concerned, I have seen the British assert their superiority over foreigners before now, but this man in my opinion, though I didn't see him die, was the bravest man who fought on either side that day. It is a good thing to be an Englishman. These foreigners start too quick and finish quicker. They are good men, but we are better, and have proved so for several hundred years. I had always wanted to see the Englishman fight in a tight hole, and I know what he is worth now. He can outstay the other chap. Well, you must be getting rather bored by the fighting, and I will write more anon when I have collected some further particulars. The Rev. W. H. Weekes, our parson, organized a thanksgiving service on Sunday night. We were still rather mad, and it gave us a pleasant feeling to sing nice fighting psalms and hymns, because which ever way you look at it we are perfectly convinced out here that it is a righteous war. He had rather a mixed congregation, which probably in times of peace would be, half the size, but he understands his congregation and the congregation understand him.
Poor Hazelrigg died that night.
I went over and saw the prisoners this afternoon. They were very civil, and so were we. I like a Frenchman, and was chaffing them more or less at having left "La Patrie." They didn't seem to mind being prisoners; they apparently enjoyed their fight, but they objected to their food. I did what I could for them, and I couldn't help feeling that they were absolutely uninvited guests. It wasn't their quarrel, and why they wanted to shove their nose into it we all fail to understand. There is really a very charming man amongst them, who asked me to procure him a grammar as he wished to improve his mind by learning Dutch and English. Of course, I got him a grammar, while I couldn’t help suggesting that it might have been as well to remain in comfort in France without travelling all this way to learn the language, also remarking Dutch seemed rather out of date. He rather agreed with me, and asked me for a collection of siege stamps as he said he thought his girl would like them. The funny part of these fellows is that they seem to think that we haven't got homes or girls or anything else, but are a sort of automatic "Aunt Sally," put up here for irresponsible foreigners to have a shy at.
Nobody bears any malice about the fight, but the Frenchman calls the Boer " canaille," the Boer doesn't seem to like the Frenchman or, indeed, any other foreigner, regarding him as an impetuous fool who would probably lead him (the Boer) into some nasty dangerous place, and the Englishman laughs at the lot; however, as I said before, the poor devils can't help being foreigners. I always like a Frenchman, a good many have been kind to me and they are invariably amusing. Their stomachs, however, are at present proud, and they cannot swallow "sowen," or horse flesh, or any local luxuries. However, as we pointed out, it was rather their fault that we had not any rations in here. Some of these men had only been in the country a week. It seems a long way to come to get put in "quod," and live on horse flesh and "sowens." One told me he passed a battery of our relieving column in harbour at Beira. I suppose he thought he had put in a smart day's work when he got ahead of it. He has, but he isn't working now. I never liked Eloff much, not that I knew him personally, but now I like him better for his performances. He very nearly did a big thing, but both sides have apparently an ineradicable mutual contempt for each other, which has led to some very pretty fighting through the whole war. There is no mistake about it, he did insult the Queen, and I am glad we have had the wiping out of that score, but he is a gallant fellow all the same. When we look back on our discomfiture of Cronje, and the mopping up of Eloff, it gives a pleasant finish to the siege. It wanted just a finishing touch to make it satisfactory. There should be another fight within a few hours, but I reckon that it will be the Relief Column's turn, and though everything is ready for us to assist them I honestly don't think we could go far and do much. The men were dog tired on Saturday, absolutely dog tired. I always thought the Boer was a bad bird to get up to the gun, but he came up that day. I don't think he will again.
On Monday we saw the tail end of some Boer force arriving. We had hoped it might be our own people, but they appear to be a few miles further off. However, we know they are there or thereabouts now. Nobody minds now, we know we are winning.
To return again to my story of the fighting, the foreigners did try their best to stop the Boers looting, but loot they did most thoroughly. They stole everything they could lay their hands on. Not one officer, whose kit happened to be in the fort has recovered anything. One “clumpy" of Boers galloped forth laden with food and drink. The food belonged to themselves, the drink belonged to us. They happened to fall in with the galloping Maxim, a piece of bad luck because they all died and our people took the food and drink. One fellow had taken a pair of brown boots and a horse, he had a few bullets through the boots, the horse was killed and so was he.
Life had been very dull here, but that morning put everything all right. We had never before seen a dead or wounded Boer or a prisoner, and it is weary work to see your friends and neighbours shot and not see your own bag too, but personally, except in the way of business, I hope I haven't killed a Boer. In the fight in the morning, though everything had been prepared for as far as we could tell, we had had to take up positions which were absolutely enfiladed by the fresh development of affairs. The trench occupied by the Bechuanaland Rifles, Protectorate Regiment, and others on the spur of the moment, was directly enfiladed by the enemy's quick-firer. Why we were not wiped out on that line I never shall quite make out. They shot the jailor, Heale, who has done very good work all through the siege, who I am afraid leaves a wife and family. Then the prisoners took charge of themselves. Our gunner prisoners ran down to the guns, one was shot, the others served the gun all day. The others, armed with Martinis, commenced a heavy fire on the enemy, or cautioned the Dutch prisoners, the suspects, as to their behaviour, and put them down a hole. It was an exhilarating sight and struck me as exceedingly quaint to see men who had committed every crime, and were undergoing penal servitude, dismissing their past, oblivious of anything except the fact that we were all of the same crowd, and had got to keep the Dutchmen out.
I hope Her Majesty will exercise her clemency; they certainly deserve to regain their rights as citizens.
We have had rather a dull day for some reason or other. A general idea pervaded the town that relief was at hand, and when towards evening a cloud of dust and troops were seen to the south-west, we most of us got on the roofs and looked at them with some interest. It transpired subsequently, however, that they were the enemy retiring before Mahon. They passed round the south of the town, and opposed him later.
16th, Wednesday. A dull day, but towards evening our relief was really seen. Everybody got on the roofs, and looked on at the Boers being shelled; most refreshing, but as they were not apparently coming in, people went to feed, and enthusiasm rather died away again, so much so that when Major Karri Davis, and some eight men of the I. L. I. marched in, he told one passer-by he was the advance guard relief force, the other only murmured "Oh, yes, I heard you were knocking about," and went to draw his rations, or whatever he was busily engaged in. However, when it became generally known the crowd assembled and began to cheer, and go mad again—so to bed.
17th, Thursday. Roused out this morning at some ungodly hour to be told they had arrived, and strolled down to the I. L. I. to see Captain Barnes of my old regiment. It appeared that Mahon and Plumer had effected a masterly junction the day before, and that the former, following the only true policy of South African warfare had, as usual, said he was going to do one thing, and done something else, viz., camped out, and then suddenly inspanned and marched into the town. I can't quite convey the feelings of the townspeople, they were wild with delight, and pleased as they were their bonne Louche was to come later. Edwardes and Barnes breakfasted with me and then went back (personally I borrowed a horse from the I. L. I.). About 9 o'clock the guns moved out to the waterworks, and then the fun really began. The Boers had been going to intercept Mahon's entry, but he was a bit too previous. All the morning their silly old five-pounder (locally known as "Gentle Annie") had been popping away, when suddenly the R. H. A. Canadian Artillery and pom-poms began, ably led by our old popguns, who had the honour of beginning the ball. I rode well out, as I wanted to see the other people have a treat, but literally in half an hour all there was left of the laager, which has vexed our eyes and souls so much for long months, was a cloud of dust on the horizon, except food-stuffs, &c, which we looted. I got a Dutch Bible, and from its tidiness I was pleased to see its late owner was a proficient in the Sunday school. So, quietly back to the town, and after the march past of the relief column the relieved troops began. And now, I suppose, after being bottled up for some eight lunar months, I may effervesce. As I have said before, I have seen many tributes to her Majesty and joined in them all, but dirty men in shirt sleeves, and dirtier men in rags on scarecrows of horses touched me up most of all. We were dirty, we were ragged, but we were most unmistakably loyal, and we came from all parts of the world—Canadians, South Africans, Australians, Englishmen, Indians, and our Cape Boys and various other Africans, and there was not one of us who did not respect the other, and know we were for one job, the Queen and Empire, not one.
I wonder how the prisoners felt, poor devils; they must have wished they were not against us. The Boers had certainly executed the smartest movement I had seen for some time; I had not believed it possible that a laager could break up and disperse so rapidly. We all went back to lunch, having recovered Captain McLaren, who, I am glad to say, is doing very well. Then after lunch an alarm was raised that we had rounded up old Snyman, and everybody started off to help - in the operation; but, alas, Snyman knows too much. They said that he and four hundred Boers were surrounded and refused to surrender, and we all wanted as much surrender as we could get—or the other thing. I am glad to say he was hit on the head in the morning with a bit of shrapnel, but not dangerously wounded, unfortunately, at least so they report. He seems equally execrated by Dutch and English — Psalm - singing, sanctimonious murderer of women and children and his son takes after him. I may contradict my previous statements, but his actions have also varied frequently. Well, we had a great dinner; old friends from all parts of the world foregathered, and at our head was Smitheman. Many dinners then combined, and more old friends were met—so to bed, still pleased with England. Men of all sorts and conditions, trades, professions and ranks, relievers and relieved, slept that night in and about Mafeking, with a restless sleep, thinking of what England would think, and we knew and were sorry we couldn't hear what they said.
The garrison in Mafeking hope to get some recognition or decoration, but what they attach particular importance to is receiving the Queen's chocolate.
Immediately after the relief column marched in our Baralongs under Montsoia Wessels, Silas and Sekoko and Josiah, marched off on their own to settle up Abraham Ralinti at Rietfontein, and bring in our trusty ally, Saani. He had been utterly looted, and taken away from his own stadt, and kept a prisoner at Rietfontein, his great notion being that we should have a conference with the Boers, and then lay down what he called "plenty polomite," and blow them up when they came to confer. You cannot get very far ahead of a Baralong. I suppose this is the first occasion on which one black man surrendered under a white flag to another. These Rietfontein rebels have always been against the remainder of the Baralongs, and have invariably fought for the Boers since the disturbed relations between Briton and Boer have existed. I hope they will shoot Abraham, as his people's invariable cunning in stopping our runners has caused us great inconvenience, not to mention the numbers they have killed.
18th, Friday. Did very little. Went round and helped our pals to shop, get stamps, money, &c, &c.
19th, Saturday. The garrison held its solemn Thanksgiving Service at the cemetery, at the termination of which three volleys were fired over our dead. We had been unable to do this before owing to the certainty of drawing fire, not that that really much mattered, as they usually fired on all our funeral parties, though there could be no mistaking them. Still they had this excuse that the cemetery is fortified. After the last post had sounded we reformed and sang the National Anthem. Then, after Colonel Baden-Powell had spoken personally to each detachment, we cheered him, and then with heartfelt cheers for Her Majesty, the siege of Mafeking closed.
God Save the Queen.
And now for sheer personalities. Mr. Stuart had arrived, and as I considered he was much better qualified to represent the paper with the force than myself, I determined to come south. Mr. B. Weil, whom as I have previously said, I consider to be one of the principal factors in the successful defence, certainly as regards the food supply, said he was going south. I accordingly resolved to accompany him, and while returning from the ceremony suggested it. Anyhow, to make a long story short, I arrived as he was starting, and with a small bag, having relinquished all my Mafeking impedimenta, climbed into his cart. He had to turn out one of his boys, but I didn't mind that, and being the most good-natured of men, he tried to look as if he didn't. So our caravan started—Major Anderson, Major Davis (Surg. I. L. I.), Mr. Weil, and myself, together with his servant Mitchell, a prototype of "Binjamin," but absolutely reliable and hardworking, also Bradley, of Bradley's Hotel, Inspector Marsh, the Rev. — Peart, and Ronny Moncrieffe (who had secured a horse belonging to a Protectorate regiment, and proposed to accompany us). He had done a lot of good work in the siege, and was about as tired and unfit as a man could be. However, he was determined to get through, and so he did. It was a quaint pilgrimage, as the column, though it had swept the country, had not particularly cleared it, and the Boer is here to-day. gone to-morrow, and back the next day. Well, our commissariat was excellent. I contributed some eight biscuits and three tins of bully, and that is all I have done except live on the fat of the land—Lord, how fat it seemed after Mafeking—a land flowing with fresh milk, butter and eggs, mutton and white bread, and above all, the sense of freedom, I never knew what it felt like to he properly free before, and I have been more or less of a wanderer most of my life. No more sieges for me, except perhaps from the outside. Yet I was sorry to leave Mafeking, and I may truly say as far as I know I didn't leave a bad friend behind me, only all my kit. Towards dark, after an outspan that was like a picnic, we reached Mr. "Wright's farm, where the wounded were—one had died the night before —and we found Mr. Hands, Daily Mail, badly wounded in the thigh, but doing well; Captain Maxwell, I. S. C, and others. Mr. Wright acts up to his name. Two of his sons were in "tronk" at Zeerust for refusing to join the Boers, and what he had was at our disposal. I wonder if people at home realize in what a position our loyalists in Bechuanaland have been placed. If they didn't come in their own countrymen regarded them as rebels,—if they did they lost all they had. But by doing as they have done, that is b}' carrying on their business while exposed to all the contumely and insult the Boers could heap on them, with the possible loss of life as well as property, they have served their country as well as those who have taken up arms; because their houses have always been a safe place for runners to go to, and news about the doings of the Boers could be obtained from them. Besides, they know which of the Boers fought, and which didn't, and this fact now terrifies the rebels and keeps many quiet, who might not otherwise be so. Mr. Weil on arrival bought two hundred bags of mealies and despatched them to his friends the Baralongs. Such a pretty place his farm is, with plenty of water and lots of game. We slept under the cart, and miserably cold it was. Mr. Weil (who is rather like myself in that respect), could not sleep, and was determined nobody else should do so. So we got up, and sat round the fire till sunrise. Our cocoa that morning was indeed acceptable. The caravan, which was as I say, quaint, marched as follows, preceded by mounted Kaffir Scouts:—First came Keeley and his boy in a Cape cart drawn by mules, followed by Weil, his servant, driver and myself in another Cape cart with six mules, Bradley driving a pair of horses in another, then Ronny, the Rev. — Peart and Inspector Marsh riding, the latter riding B. P.'s brother's pony. "We inspanned at sunrise on Monday and started for Setloguli. Halted half way and had the pleasing intelligence that a commando was raiding within six miles of us. I personally felt very unhappy. I had always looked upon it as a two-to-one chance, and as Ave had no weapons Ave could make no light of it. Apart from the bore of being a prisoner I knew I should be so awfully laughed at. However, there we were—it was no use grumbling, but I did, as hard as ever I could. Then Ave inspanned and drove to Setloguli, where our spirits were considerably raised by an excellent lunch provided by Mrs. Fraser, who is the best hostess I have ever met. The Frasers had a terrible rough time of it, and now "the Queen had got her own again " were naturally correspondingly cheerful. Later Ave were also further relieved to hear that " the commando " was merely a small patrol of Boers, and that it had withdrawn across the border. During the afternoon I went up and saw the old fort—quite interesting, and anybody who wants to spend a quiet time might do worse than to go to Setloguli. The worst of it is it takes some time to get there. Lady Sarah "Wilson's maid was there. She had been there since Lady Sarah was brought in by the Boers to Mafeking. Mr. "Weil was showing various curios of the siege to Mrs. Fraser, including a copy of Her Majesty's Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands, which he had looted from the Boer laager. This excited the good lady's unqualified wrath, " What sacrilege for them to have it in their hands. Why it smells Boery," she said. On Tuesday Keeley was returning to Mafeking with Lady Sarah's maid and his scouts, so Weil engaged two scouts to accompany us to Jan Modebi, where we were next going to stop. They didn't seem particularly pushing sort of scouts, as they persistently rode in rear of the Cape cart. The road too, was infamous, but it was impossible to lose the way as the column had left an unmistakable track behind them, and this was fortunate, because when we had been going about an hour and a half our intelligent guide stated he didn't know the way. I wonder how Keeley felt all that Tuesday. If he could have heard half we said he would have torn his two days' beard out and wept. The other scout lost us altogether. Keeley and Weil were arranging a series of despatch riders, so as long as we got one of them to Jan Modebi's, it didn't much matter. We outspanned first at a rebel's farm, and had an excellent lunch. I was still rather fretful. The prospect of captivity made me so, and I only believe in dead Dutchmen, till peace is proclaimed.
One Sonnenberg, a brother of some Bond member or other, was there trading, I suppose, like most Bondsmen, running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. He looked well on it, and was very civil. We inspanned and then came a long trek to Jan Modebi's. About half-way there, we saw two horsemen with guns cruising about. One obviously was not a soldier. I reckoned Pretoria was the ticket, however, they came up and Weil went to interview them. They turned out to be one of the Kimberley Light Horse and a civilian who was showing him the way, and he said he had got a convoy of cattle. It felt like being near home again then. We afterwards met the convoy—total, four white men and five black. I still marvel at their colossal impudence, marching through a rebel country within five miles of the enemy's border, escorting cattle for which any Boer will peril his skin. He calmly assured me they were going to pick up all they saw on the way; to use his own words, " All is fish that comes to our net." I hope they got through all right. So to Mr. Menson's, where we put up for the night, and he, like everyone else, did all he could. He, too, had had a bad time. He didn't grumble, but when the relief column had come through they had cut all his barbed wire fences. Having a constitutional antipathy to barbed wire I sympathized with the relief column, but naturally did not say so. I was amused to see three prints of Sir Alfred Milner, Lord Roberts, and Oom Paul, the inscription under the latter being, "The end is better than the beginning, 14.10.99," also to hear his account of how when driving his cattle to Vryburg at the outbreak of the war he had met a Dutchman who told him that they had driven the English into the sea. His reply was, "Oh, that's too far to go," and so he turned and drove his cattle back again to his farm. Weil, as usual, bought up cattle, &c, also butter and other luxuries, and despatched them to the hospital at Mafeking on his own account.
Wednesday. We started rather later than usual owing to the heavy rain, and half way to Vryburg we crossed the fresh spoor of men, wagons, cattle, &c, going towards the Transvaal. It afterwards transpired it wras the rebel Van Zyl and his following, bolting from Kuruman to the Transvaal. Let off number two. We couldn't have been more than an hour or two behind them, and they would certainly have scooped us had we met them, so the rain wras lucky. Well, we got into Vryburg from one side as the troops got in from the other. An old acquaintance rushed me off to the Club, and I then strolled up to see the Scotch Yeomanry and found Charley Burn, I found also Kidd and several others l knew—then onto see Reade, who had been Intelligence Officer at Mafeking before the war, and was D. A. A. G. to General Barton, and arranged about getting on in the first train. This was my first chance of seeing the infantry Tommy on the war path to any great extent. He is no more beautiful or clean, in fact, if anything less so than his cavalry brother, but by heaven he looks a useful one! However, what matter the man as long as the flag is clean. Met North of the Royal Fusiliers and dined with him, they all asked after Fitzclarence, Godley, and the others. They and the Scots Fusiliers had done quite an extraordinary march of forty-four miles in thirty-four hours, and now our infantry were within striking distance of Mafeking. The line should soon be repaired as they had begun from Mafeking and the line as far as Maribogo was practically untouched, in fact next morning, Thursday, they ran twelve miles north. Thursday we began our preparations for departure. The garrison were preparing to celebrate the Queen's Birthday, and the populace to display great enthusiasm, and the women began to come into town. It was not a highly polished parade, so far as I could see. Still, it was rather good to have it there just then, where the Dutchmen had been in occupation within ten days. Rifles were now coming in by the hundred, and the rebel of a fortnight before became a British patriot. We drove to the station, and there met the Scots Fusiliers. I was accosted by a warrior in large blue goggles, who said I didn't remember him. I naturally didn't in the goggles, but it turned out to be Scudamore. They did the best they could for us, and then Dick of the Royal Irish Fusiliers turned up, who had once been my sergeant-major. I was glad to see him—the old regiment and squadron seems fairly dotted all over Africa. Barnes was at Mafeking, three of us had been through the siege, and I met one Lambart at Taungs, who had been a corporal with us, and was a captain in the Kimberley Mounted Corps, curiously enough all belonging to two squadrons, B and D. Well, we left Vryburg with a light engine and a truck full of niggers. We were all sitting on the tank, in charge of young Gregg, R.E., who is a good train master. He ran us down, after dropping the niggers to repair a bridge, to Dry Hartz, where we had to pull out for an up-coming train, and as we had half an hour to wait, and it was just mid-day at twelve, we formed up and gave three cheers for the Queen and drank her health. It was the smallest and dirtiest Queen's Birthday parade I have ever attended; nine all told, but "mony a little makes a muckle." We ran down to Taungs, where one way and another we were detained some twelve hours. I didn't mind. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers were there, and I found several old friends and acquaintances—Gough Radcliffe, R.H., Cooper (Royal Fusiliers), Broke Wright, R.E., the former railway staff officer. So into a cattle truck we jumped with one of the Welsh Fusiliers and some men and arrived at Kimberley 7 o'clock next morning, where I called on Sir C. Parsons, and had fish for breakfast at the hotel. Thus my journey was practically ended. It transpired that Vryburg was held by some half dozen of our forces, and that the remainder of the garrison was only sixty loyalists from the town population. It did not seem a large garrison, but apparently it was good enough. There was rather a curious coincidence at dinner at Orange River. I saw a man whose face I thought I knew, but I was mistaken; it was his likeness to his brother which misled me. He turned out to be Tom Greenfield's brother, who was down here sick, and to whom I had wired to meet me at Fourteen Streams, so that I could give him news of Tom. However, I struck him on the next river or so, so it didn't much matter.
It was sad to pass the Modder River and see our cemeteries—all English; so we passed on to Cape Town. And how jolly it was to see old friends; besides, we were able to tell our Mafeking people, womenfolk, good news of their husbands.
Three pleasant days there, and then everybody came to see us off by the Norman, which we nearly missed. The voyage passed without much incident. Everybody on board was more or less personally interested in the war, and there were a good many Boers and pro-Boers on board. On Saturday, short of Madeira, the Briton signalled the news of the fall of Pretoria. Tremendous rejoicings on board on the part of the British, while the Dutch were correspondingly depressed and seemed rather sad; some of them wept into the sea.
The further I got from the seat of war the less animus I felt. So to Madeira, where we arrived about midnight, and the news was confirmed with particulars. We got many newspapers. On to Southampton—more victories; many valuable officers killed. It is really sad to take up a newspaper; one sees friends killed in every fight. Thus we arrived in London at 9.15 on the 15th June, having left Mafeking 11 a.m. the 20th May.