"Thurs., 31st.-Went up to commandant and asked if I could draw pay. Had previously had to pawn camera with a Jewish optician in town for 5s. Said I could be attached for pay to 43rd I.Y. Went and talked to B." ( the young gentleman who appeared to be in command at this time, all the other officers except one having gone home). " Result, Capt. G. comes up to me this evening, 'Very sorry to lose you, G., but you are to go back to the Yeomanry.' 'Tonight ?' I ask. 'Yes, to-night.' So I had to pack up and 'git,' and here I am. Same thing happened as before. They are not a hospitable crowd. Was carted about from one tent to another, no one of course wanting another man in their tent, 'but there's another tent further up, with only four men in it.' 'Oh, right, thanks,' I respond feebly. On arriving there, ' I hear I am to be in your tent. Can you find room for me?' 'Oh, there are ten in here already,' etc., etc. Same with rations; 'None drawn for you, as you are not on the strength till to-morrow.'
"I’ll raise heaven and earth to get away from this place at the earliest opportunity. Hear there is a column expected soon.
“Friday, Feb. 1.—Got £2 pay. Potted meat, 4s.; treacle, 1s.; matches, 3d.; baccy, 5s.; redeemed camera, 5s.; gave Piccanini 1s.; tea at Mill’s, is. 6d.; entrance fee for Soldiers’ Club, 1s.; dinner there, 1s.; cigs., 1s.; library, 3d. Club a great idea. A large tent between camp and Signal Kopje. Reading, games, piano, refreshments. In morning had to appear as witness to one of three men refusing to go on twenty-four hours’ guard. From what I heard of it, it seemed to me that they were quite in the right, and that, as usual, it was the case of a sergeant who had got mixed with his roster, and was believed by the officers rather than the men concerned. Horse got away from others out grazing, and went back to Com. Office stable. Copied six Govt, vouchers for G. Brought up remainder of kit from C. Office in sack. Changed ‘Channings ’ for ‘Christian.’
“Sat., Feb. 2.—Went out to A post at 9 a.m.” A post was a low, wide kopje lying about half a mile from the town, on the south, or church, side. At this time it was still covered with the usual small South African trees and bushes, and had only a few trenches on its flat summit, which were occupied always. Before the attack on Jan. 7 it was held at night by some nigger police, but after that date the Yeomanry had a post on it day and night, for the good reason that the niggers could not be trusted. The story of that morning, as I now heard it from the men concerned, was as follows:—A party of six, with a corporal, rode out from the camp in the early morning, as usual, to relieve the niggers on the kopje. Three of them rode in front of the others in widely extended intervals. They were Pond, Long, and one other. When they reached the bottom of the kopje they met the niggers walking down to meet them. They asked. them why they had not remained on top till they were relieved. The niggers, who carried their rifles, replied that it was all right, or gave some other evasive answer, and went on. The three started up the hill, the horses picking their way amongst the rocks and boulders. When they got within 30 or 40 yards of the top, a dozen Boers, who had been lying behind a sconce, shoved their rifles over the edge, and yelled the usual ‘hands up! ’ Pond immediately shouted out ‘Go to h—l!’ and turned round, and was just galloping back when he was shot through the body and fell from his horse. Long, being outside man, walked quietly on as if he was going to surrender, but, keeping a little to the right, he managed to get a large bush between himself and the Boers, and then turned his horse sharp round, and rode for his life down the rocky kopje., The men all blazed at him through the bush, and a bullet grazed his ribs, and a man lying behind a rock half-way down the hill, whom he rode right over, discharged his rifle at him, wounding him in the fleshy part of the thigh. However, he got away, and went tearing past the other four behind, leaning forward on his horse’s neck and crying, ‘I’m hit!’ He rode straight into hospital. Pond, however, fared worse. He was badly shot through the lung. The Boers put him on a blanket under a tree, and, by way of cheering a desperately wounded man, told him he would soon die, that he had only about an hour to live, etc., etc. However, a doctor came up from the hospital, and he was got safely there. Though very ill, he eventually recovered. The third man got away scot free. Long, who was not severely injured, also did all right.
“Went out to A post at 9 a.m. Twenty-four hours’ job. On sentry from 8—10 at night, and 2—4 in the morning. Bright moonlight night Nasty place to be attacked in. There are only two trenches and lots of sconces.
“Sunday, Feb. 3.—Came back to camp at 10.30. Rest of day in. Dinner at club, is. Went down town and saw S. Gave me loaf of bread, soap, and nosebag.
“Mon., Feb. 4.—Was to have gone to Mill post, but N. Z. took it for us. In camp. Hot. Wrote home.”
Mill post was also called E. post, and has been mentioned as a broken-up farmstead at the extreme east of the town, surrounded by fruit trees and fields. It was close to a spruit, and the road ran through the water at a drift about 100 yards from the house. There was a pile of red bricks, of which we had made a sort of rampart, which the sentry on duty would mount and gaze thence along the wooded Marico valley, stretching away to the east of Zeerust. The reports of Mausers could often be heard far off among the trees, where brother B. was presumably snooting his supper. Off duty one would read, play solo whist, cook cocoa, etc., gather apricots, roast the young and tender mealie cob, and sleep. It was far the most comfortable post to be on, but it was the most dangerous, as hundreds of Boers could be hiding in the trees beyond the river, in the river bed itself, and in the fields below the farm, and it would be impossible to see them. It was also a ticklish job approaching the post in the early morning, as one had to send out two men in advance to see that all was clear. These men usually crept along in the ditches on either side of the narrow, high-hedged lane that approached the building, and then walked into the doorway. Niggers were there all night, and were thus relieved in the morning; but after the A post episode, one could not put much faith in them, though, to do them justice, I believe that Jim, the sergeant, and his men, who always took Mill post, were first-rate men.
“Feb. 4, 1901.—Just a line, as I hear a mail is going this afternoon. … This camp abounds in white ants. If you leave anything edible, as leather, etc., on the ground for twenty- four hours, on taking it up you find a nest of white ants on the ground underneath it, and the bottom side eaten away. They attacked my camera case and ate the strap clean off it, and some got inside, but 1 had them out and slew them before they could begin their second course.
“I suppose you are having either bitterly cold or sloppy weather. Here it is mid-summer, but, strange to say, unless one has been doing fatigue work of any kind, one isn’t thirsty during the day, and wants to drink nothing except at meals. It was different last year in Queenstown camp. One was always slopping and sponging up bad lemonade, water—anything to quench one’s everlasting thirst It is al a matter of habit. I see it is true about the 5s. a day. . . .
“Tues., 5th.—On C post.” C post was a three-men-with-no-corporal post on the left of the road as you go up to A post. It was at the top of a slight rise in the ground, and there were three or four small trees where the horses were tethered, and the men made their fire. The man on duty sat about 80 yards away behind some boulders, and looked out over a large tract of country. Away to the left he saw A post among trees, and the river valley; below him wound the river, whose course he could trace by the thick vegetation on its banks. To the right stretched the valley towards Botha’s farm and Ottoshoop.
“‘Revally ’ at 3 a.m. Return to camp 6 p.m. At 6 a.m. the sentry (Beck) opened fire from his post, and let off tnree or four rounds. Ran up and saw two saddled horses standing about 700 yards away, on far side of spruit down at bottom, without their riders, who had run for cover behind the trees on river bank. Turned out to be two of our own M.I. who had been getting pumpkins and should, of course, have warned us that they were going beyond outposts. Sergeant came up in great rage. No harm done. B.’s sniped Greite’s niggers (Greite was the Intelligence officer). Changed ‘Christian ’ for ‘Kith and Kin ’ (Fothergill).
“Wednesday, 6th.—In camp. No duty.
“Thursday, 7th.—Ditto. N.Z. and M.I. took posts. Poured with rain. Got wet on grazing guard.
“Friday, 8th.—On A post. Some rain. Eighteen of Greite’s niggers came up and lay in bushes by spruit all night. Toothache came on again with wet weather, so went down town and had one out at hospital; same one that worried me at Buffelshoek and Ottoshoop. One shot fired by Mill post 4 a.m., and man on sentry woke us all up, but nothing happened. I was on 2—4, and was sitting behind sconce looking at watch, which was placed on stone opposite me, when suddenly heard great rustling in bushes on left, coming nearer and nearer. Whatever it was, came right up to post, crashed through bushes in front of me, and sped away down hill to right. Thought about 50 Boers were on me; could see nothing. Then a few seconds later and there came a smaller noise, obviously a dog panting, and a small white terrier flashed by in patch of moonlight. I suppose he was chasing a buck of some sort, but why in middle of night ?
“Read whole of ‘Two Women and a Fool,’ written by one I should think, too.
“Sat., 9th. — In camp. Mail in, but no letters for me. Changed ‘Kith and Kin ’ for Griffiths’ ‘Angel of Revolution.’
“10th. — Anniversary of departure from Southampton. Shifted camp 100 yards nearer Signal Kopje. Put up tents and dug trenches. At 2 saddled up and went out to Mill post. Got many peaches. Heard baboons barking quite close. On line guard at night. All in one relief, 3 hours 40 min. From 10 to 2.
“11th.—All available men had to saddle up and take picks and shovels and oxen up on to A. Dug holes for barbed-wire posts. Cut down trees, etc., till 3.30. Grub brought up.
“12th.—On Mill. Saddled up at 3 a.m. Was advance guard with another man through the bushes. Ate peaches all day. Made tea, coffee, cocoa, and Quaker oats. Post was Purkis (Corporal), Smee, Lister, Trafford, Huxley, Sherman, and self. On coming in, no food to be got, so went and had dinner at Institute. Only about 4s. left now.
“13th.—Went up to A. in afternoon in charge of niggers (convicts) building walls, etc. While demolishing old sangar discovered wooden box hidden in thickness of wall. Niggers would not touch it. Thought it was a bomb or something. I thought it was a tin of ammunition. Very heavy. Turned out to be full of cakes of Government tobacco (‘Fair Maid ’). Evidently stolen by some one, and put there for safety. We divided it up, and it came to seven cakes each.
“Feb., 18, 1901.—No news of any one coming or of anything else. Boers seem to have faded away, except for occasional sniping. I hear that their horses are dying off with this horse-sickness. Ours are too, worse luck. Four good horses have died in the last two days. It is something to do with the grazing at this time of the year, I believe, so the orders are now that they are not to graze at all, but to be fed entirely on corn with a little dried cut grass. You never saw such a place for fruit as this is. At one of the posts we go to, Mill post (where we go six at a time and stop all day), we are surrounded on all sides by fruit trees, simply weighed down to the ground with apricots and peaches. They fall off and lie rotting on the ground in all directions, so you can imagine the outposts have a good time. You gorge them when off duty. There are baboons on the hills round too, and amongst the bushes; ‘bamboons ’ as I heard a man call them the other day. They are big and powerful looking brutes, and go about in small droves. You can see them on the hillside, and occasionally they come up within 50 yards of us on the road. You can hear them squawking and barking about the place all day. I once had a shot at one capering about by himself on the other side of the river and missed him, but we don’t fire at them as a rule, because they are harmless unless wounded or with young. I bathe here nearly every day. There is a nice deep place in the spruit on the other side of the town, close by Signal Kopje, set apart for bathing, with ladders and diving boards. By the way, I should very much like another pair of breeches sent out, same as before; tell O. a little tighter above the knee. Bedford cord is the stuff. Two buttons at the knee, and below them, laces ...
“Thurs., 14th.—Day in camp, absolutely normal.
“Friday, 15th.—Saddled up 8.30 a.m. to go on A post twenty-four hours. Blockhouse to hold six men now built there, and all trees cut down. No tent. Some rain at night. Only one horse taken up there. On from 2—4 in the morning. Lay down on wet grass on face, so as could see better any one coming up, and caught a cold. Relieved by M.I. in morning.
“Sat, 16th.—Came in at 11. Swopped four cakes of beastly cake tobacco for box chocolate (Purkis). Spent last is. on dinner of pork and ’taties at Institute.' Asked B. if I could rejoin 38th by the convoy (hospital) going out to-morrow morning. ‘Certainly not,’ ‘unheard of,’ etc., etc. Changed ‘Probation’ for ‘Doctor’s Double.’
“Sunday, 17th.—In camp. No church, as Parson B. gone to Mafeking with convoy. Finished ‘Doctor’s D.’ same afternoon and began ‘ Nikola.’ Rumour of attack to-morrow. On Mill post, so perhaps get it hot. Went to English church in evening.
“Monday, Feb. 18.—No attack, but very nasty going up to Mill. Got many peaches. On 3rd relief. Ambulance went out with sick and wounded to go to Mafeking, but was stopped and sent back by B.’s at Botha’s farm. They said they could take Z. whenever they wanted to (!), but it was an empty egg, and no use to them. In their present condition I shouldn’t have thought they could afford to look down on a couple of guns and six months’ stores, but still—. Got stung palm left hand getting peaches.
“Tuesday, 19th.—In camp all day. Began ‘My Lady Rotha,’ and having to give that up, read ‘An Old-Fashioned Girl ’ (L. M. Allcott). Mean to finish ‘Nikola ’ in a day or two. Rum.
“Wed., 20th.—On A twenty-four hours. 3rd relief. No meat. General supposition seems to be that we shall be on the water about June. While we were on A post, camp was shifted. Tents were left standing, but we moved everything down to town, and were installed in a huge kind of double barn at the east end of the town. May have been used as a cowhouse; would hold 200 or 300 cattle. The horses, what there are left, are stabled in a long, open shed against the wall in a big yard behind. The reason for this change is the horse-sickness. Here they can get no grass, and it is supposed that the damp grass at this time of the year is the cause of it.
“Friday, 22nd.—Mill at 3 a.m. Was 1st relief and posted down at spruit, as niggers are supposed to have been escaping up it to give information to the Boers. Ate peaches, but brought none away. Finished ‘ Nikola,’ and read whole of ‘Mighty Atom ’ (Corelli) during afternoon and evening. Caught a chameleon and put bricks round it, and watched it change to brick-colour. Got stung getting peaches, left hand again. Hardly ever see both my hands their natural size together now. One or other of them is always swelled up like a pudding from sting or bite. This time last year we were off coast of Africa. Horse taken ill, and ate no corn all day.
“Sat., 23rd.—Had the last of my Quaker oats for breakfast this morning. Have also only about two inches of candle left. Not another penny in the world, and no prospect of getting one. Swopped tin of ‘Capstan ’ med. for mild. Hear plague has broken out at Cape Town, and no troops will land there. For the last three weeks our horses have been dying off rapidly with horse-sickness. I should think they average two a day. They seem to be taken bad and die in three or four hours, and there is absolutely nothing to stop it Changed ‘Dr’s D.’ for 'Pickwick.’ Remember how we used to roar over it when F. read it out at Park House. Bit I specially remembered was where they all go to the Review, and Snodgrass goes into raptures over the soldiers. Place is chapter iv., from ‘Mr. P. had been fully occupied’ down to ‘any expression whatever.’ When F. read that I got a fit of laughter on and couldn’t stop, and this made him laugh so that he had to stop reading, and we all howled for about five minutes. So thought I’d enjoy it all over again, ‘vich I am now a doin’ of.’
“On line guard, 1st relief at night. Watched football match, 43rd v. Town Guard, in afternoon. Soccer. We won by two goals to nil. I am down to play three-quarter in the Rugby match (N. Lancs and 43rd v. New Zealanders) next week. Four or five horses died in night.
“Sunday, 24th.—In camp. Warned for A. to-morrrow. It is to be on a new plan, and we are the first to do it. We are to stop there a week instead of twenty-four hours. Yesterday added mine to a long list of signatures under a protest carried up to B. against this order. B. obdurate, and we have got to go. What ho for A kopje! Half a mile from water. No shade except in stuffy blockhouse, which lets in the rain. On guard every night
Monday, 25th.—Started off for A. Scotch cart took our luggage and we trudged it Nigger, a piccannini, with us to cook and wash up, etc. Aldous brought dog, called ‘ ’ (because it runs away). A brute, rushes about and barks. Bit one man’s leg. Convicts dug us a circular trench with raised bit in centre for table. My idea. On sentry 8—10 p.m. Heard rattle of stones as of a man coming up kopje, and on looking saw black object like a man. Challenged. No reply. More rattling. Challenged again. Went out and found it was black stump of tree! Can’t explain rattling though. Later in night another man called us all up, having heard same noise, so there must have been some animal.
“Tuesday, 26th.—Good sleep all night, and on from 8—10 a.m. Not so bad here after all. Two hours on and ten off. Reading ‘Pickwick ’ hard. Rations came up in Scotch cart. Maconochie, bread, jam, sugar, what ho!
“Wednesday, 27th. — Anniversary of our landing at Cape Town. Attack rumoured here. Double guard at night Quiet day. Very hot. Corned beef. Two tins bad.
“Thursday, 28th.—Strong rumour of attack. There are three mines explodable by wires connected to blockhouse every night, so have to be careful where we are walking. There is a ring of barbed-wire fencing impossible to get through all round blockhouse at radius of 50 yards. This is hung with empty jam tins, each' of which contains a small stone, which rattles on slightest movement of wire. Is a bombproof behind the thick, low wall surrounding the blockhouse.
“Rained all day, and all night too. On sentry at night. Pitchy black, and kept thinking heard something coming up kopje. I think the rattling of tins we often hear at night is caused by lizards, etc., licking out the tins.
“March 1.—Sun at intervals. B. came up and said they had heard that 100 Boers had been in the farm-houses (not 1000 yards from us) all night Great news of French and Methuen. Much fighting and many Boer prisoners and casualties. 2000 waggons, 191,000 cattle, etc., etc. 43rd had a mail. I had hoped to get a letter from home addressed here by this time. Hear Xth been doing good work. Nearly finished ‘Pickwick.’ Rugby match to-morrow.
“Sat., Mar. 2.—Played for Garrison v. N.Z Battery 5—6 p.m. Badly beaten. Averaged about 1 1/2 stone per man heavier than us. Their scrum got ball every time and let it out, ours never. The Tommies have no more idea of Rugby football than flying. Only about three of us knew even the rules. No scrum formation. No passing. Played on right wing. Took their kick and messed it. Never got a pass all through game, except once, when there were four N.Z. on me at once and no one to back up. Fearfully hot, and ground like iron. Played in blue jersey, borrowed khaki knickers, putties, and ammunition boots. Result 35 points to nil! They had good combination, scrum working well together, and team had played together before. At end of game they gave Maori war-cry. Came back to get towel, and went straight down and had a swim. Then went to quarters, got our rum, it being rum night, and went up to A kopje again, being challenged twice on the way. Countersign, ‘Torts’(!)
“Sunday, 3rd.—Agonisingly stiff. Lay on back all day literally unable to move. Just got up to go on guard and get grub. Finished ‘Pickwick.’
“Monday, 4th.—At ten were relieved by another lot of men. Packed up and came back to town. In evening were paraded with ‘any headgear bar hats.’ Some wore Balaclava helmets (wool), others folding caps. We were then each supplied with a broad linen band to tie over shoulder and under opposite arm, and at this point in the game I discovered that we were going to make a night attack somewhere. Was given a new, big, strong, glossy, and fractious horse. Started at 9, and hardly able to sit in saddle for stiffness. Horse commenced proceedings by bucking vigorously about the yard in the dark before I had feet in stirrups or rifle in bucket. Held at last by somebody, but very ready to go off at any moment all the way. Pulled abominably. Bright moon. Came to farm. Fired on it. Got pigs, cattle, goats, etc. Went on another 3 miles.” Here we came to another farmhouse where it was supposed some Boers were sleeping. We rode cautiously up and surrounded it, I and two others being posted at a small drift over a stream a few yards from the front door. B. and some men advanced up to the wicket gate and “Old Boer fired at five yards range from doorway, both barrels buck-shot at B. and first men. Heard shot in branches over my head. B. replied with revolver and one or two men with rifles. Boer ran back into dark room, and they followed and lit candle. Found him shot in stomach and a woman in leg, three or four girls and women in night-dresses in room. Most awful row then kicked up I ever heard. Women shrieking, B. shouting, men talking, dogs barking, cocks crowing, perfectly deafening. Went up to wicket gate where small boy was standing and asked if any one hurt. He quite composed, and replied that he did not think so. Then on pressing him, he smiled, and said he believed his father was hit! They are a funny lot. Nasty hole-and-corner midnight business. Then went straight home across country; wet long grass and thick bamboo plantations; could hardly force horses through them. No casualties.
“Tuesday.—Still stiff. In quarters.
“Wed., Mar. 6th. — Ditto, but not so bad. Saddlery and rifle inspection at short notice. No money to pay nigger to do bit and stirrups. Bit is a mule’s, old, black, and uncleanable; no time to do it properly. Consequence, B. turned it. Inspect again to-morrow. Old man died.
“Thursday, 7th.—On Mill. Walked, no horses. No more peaches. Rained all day. Meeting in town about the ‘Kirstein murder,’ as it is called, since the Dutchman was shot the other night It now seems undoubted that he fired, thinking that Kaffirs were looting his place. Can hardly imagine he would have unless he thought so.
“Mar. 8th. — In quarters. Mail in. No letters for H. S. G. On reading over old ones, found that my last is dated 4th October, ‘00. Wrote home.
“Sat. 9th.—In quarters. Played soccer v. B. Co. North Lancs. Beaten five goals to nil. The Tommies are as good at soccer as they are bad at Rugby. Played full back. Could hardly walk, as sprained thigh soon after beginning of game.
“Sunday, 10th. — On C post For a wonder, rain held off. To church in evening.
“Monday,11th.—In quarters. Raining hard day and night. 500 B.’s captured by M. at Lichtenberg. We had about 50 casualties. B.’s got into town, and were driven out by Northumberland Fusiliers.
“Tues., 12th.—Mill post (Van der Spuy’s house). In the house all day, but when on guard went up into a barn and looked out through sort of window with no glass. Kitchen stove. Baked quinces and mealies. By handing over ration of meat and some fruit to old woman in town and paying is., can get meat or fruit pie made. I can’t yet, as no money.
“Wed., 13th.—In quarters. Last night were paid on arrival from outpost. £4.Hoooray!
List of requirements
1 pr. slacks.
Hairbrush and comb. Pay library.
Get washing done.
Get wooden box for table. Tobacco.
In quarters. Pies galore.
“Thurs., 14th. — In quarters. Ditto. In evening went to dinner at Central Hotel with Hunter. 3s., six courses. Not one escaped. Tablecloth, napkins, etc. Nice smoke afterwards.
"Friday, 15th.—At Van de S. All spent day in loft Share in fruit pie. Nigger engaged last night, began work to-day. Name Abraham.
"Sat., 16th.—In quarters. Changed ‘Heavenly Twins’ for ‘Micah Clark.’ ‘H.T.’ without exception the stupidest, dullest, most objectionable, unnatural, and bigoted book I have ever read. Sort that inspires one with dislike and contempt of author by reason of opinions expressed therein. At 3 went out with Hastings to call on the Grants, a Scotch family living here. Afterwards went to tennis ground and played a set. Badly beaten. Court is hard and sandy. Only about four old balls, as can’t get any through from Mafeking. All blundered about court in ammunition boots. Bought a blue shirt with cuffs and collar, turndown. Double-breasted merino ditto. One pr. slippers. Two red and white silk hankies. Envelopes. Saucepan. Bowl. Two pipes. Hairbrush. Nail ditto. Abraham a great success. Understands English. I have bread and milk every morning (3d.) and pie for dinner.
“Sunday, 17th.—Mail in. No letters. In quarters. Saw nigger, one of the police, sjambokked for being found asleep at his post Hands and feet tied to trees, and interval of two or three minutes between two separate floggings. Howled like wild beast. Went to church.
“Mon., 18th.—On V. de S.’s house. I was 1st relief, and having finished it came back to quarters to draw our meat and take it to old woman to make into three pies for the six of us.
“19th.—In quarters. Wrote home. Got invitation to go and see Mrs. Someone-or-other to whom I was introduced among others on tennis court at the clergyman’s house, Mr. What’s-his-name.
“Changed ‘Two Years Ago’ for ‘Tower of London ’ (third time of reading). Mrs. Truscott, of Central Hotel, lent me ‘Night and Morning,’ by Lytton. Good.
“20th.—In quarters. On line guard. Squadron went out on foot at night to capture Boer laager, as most of Boers were supposed to have gone, leaving only 10 or 12. But they only just got outside town when boys brought information that the commando had all come back, so our men came back.
“Thurs., 21st—In quarters. Normal.
“Friday, 22nd.—C post A post saw three Boers. Paid Abraham 2s.
“23rd.—In quarters. Went to library. Normal. Went to tea at Mills’. Poor Flowerdew died of sunstroke.
“Sunday, 24th.—Parade at 6.45 a.m. for burial. Was one of the firing party. Church in evening.
“Monday, 25th.—Mill post At 5 p.m. heard gun firing from A kopje. Sent seven or eight shells into some Boers about 4000 or 5000 yards off. Nearly all who were on A last week were bad. Flowerdew died, and three more went to hospital.
“Tuesday, 26th.—Wrote home. Only 5s. left
“It is autumn here now, and all the fruit over except the quinces. There are regular young forests of them all about near the town. I and another man went out (out of bounds) with our nosebags the other day, and made great havoc, coming back laden with spoil. They are not bad, peeled and cut up and stewed like apples.
They are shaped like apples, with the same peel. Very tough, and taste something like apples, with a bit of pineapple and a dash of lemon. ... One of the things I shall want for the cold weather will be a thick, strong pair of gloves, with leather on the under side. No news. My pile of letters and papers must be ever growing.
“Wed., Mar. 27.—Hooray! fourteen letters got through for me! Had grand time reading them. Boers fired on niggers.
“Eureka! Odsbodikins! Marry, come up! My letters are coming through at last. I had my first instalment to the number of fourteen today. They were marked all over in red and blue:—’Kimberley Hospital’ (scratched out), then ‘Hospital, Deelfontein,’ and ‘Not Deelfontein,’ etc., etc., then finally ‘Zeerust’ I expect the papers and parcels will not be far behind. . . . Fancy S. being at Hoopstad, of all the poky little hamlets. There is a store or two here and an attempt at a street, but Hoopstad is merely a collection of houses. It was the first place we got to after leaving Boshof. ... A real bad time seems to have set in for the Boers, and though it is said that Kitchener intends to keep us all out here till the show is over, I think he can hardly do otherwise, and will end it all the sooner. I am not looking forward to the cold weather, certainly.
Continuation of above letter—
“We heard to-day that Delarey had had a nasty knock from some one lately, and that K. had rejected Botha’s terms. ... There is any amount of football played here between the different companies. I played twice, but shan’t any more till the cold weather. Football, especially Rugby, is too much of a good thing when the thermometer is somewhere over 100 in the shade. ... No news to tell you. I am looking forward to Pearson's and the plum pudding! It has been very rainy lately, but I have not had toothache, because I went and had the chief delinquent out . . . Very funny letter from P. Wants to know how many Boers I have killed, and whether it gives me a ‘creepy feeling’ when I run any one through with a bayonet! ” ...
“Sat., 30th.—In quarters.
“Sunday, 31st—C post Dined at Mills’ in evening.
“Mon., Apl. 1.—April fools galore. Dined at Central and tossed for four, who should pay. I had to—12s.
“Tues., 2nd.—Changed ‘T. of L.’ for ‘Sylvester Sound, the Somnambulist.’ Very funny. Also read ‘Uncle Bemac’ (C. D.). Good.
“Wed., 3rd.—In quarters.
“Thurs., 4th.—Mill post. On arriving in found there was an official notice up to effect that new I.Y.’s were being drafted into our regiments, and that we should probably be on the way home by end of May! Don’t believe it. Still stick to August. Dined at Mills’ with Hunter. Little B. wanted me to get autographs of all the I.Y. here, and gave me little book for that purpose.
“Letter arrived from R., ‘the diarist,’ dated Mar. 23rd, from Fourteen Streams, saying that the 3rd, 5th, and 10th had also had the official news. They have had a lot of scrapping, a lot of killed and wounded in 10th. Very funny letter.
“Apl. 5th.—Good Friday. Anniversary of fight of Boshof, where we got de Villebois. Last Good Friday I was burying a dead horse on Swartzkopje.
“Apl. 6th.—Saturday. Wrote home yesterday.
“Apl. 5th, ’01.—We have not had another mail in, bar a few parcels, and I have not had another letter since I wrote last ... I have just had a letter from a man I know in the Bucks. When they left me here in November they went to Lichtenberg, which they garrisoned for a fortnight. Then to Mafeking, where they all thought they were going home, but were entrained for Vryburg instead. Arriving there they had a lot of fighting all round Taungs, Swarze-Reneke, Ventersdorp, Klerksdorp, Schoon Spruit, Kuruman, and all over the place. He ends up, ‘Awfully jolly time; you know the sort of thing. Early starts, long marches, burning sun, no water.’ Well do I know it. Lawson gave them champagne, cake, and pudding for ’Xmas. They are all well and have had slight casualties in the 38th. The 3rd, 5th, and 10th I.Y. are now all together (as they always have been) at Fourteen Streams, near Kimberley, and this is where he addressed the last part of his letter from. Lots of our men, he says, are taking commissions in the new I.Y. and leaving them.
“I played in another game of rugger two days ago. It was a dull, cool day ana raining, and so more like football weather, and sploshy with mud. As a game it was rotten. I played for the Loyal N. Lancs v. the New Zealanders, and there were only about three on our side who had played Rugby before. They wanted to have a man in ‘goal ’ and to kick off from goal! There were never more than three or four in the scrum, and they never by any chance could be persuaded to mark their men in touch, and hit and threw the ball (a soccer one) forward on every possible opportunity. Still, as a rough and tumble in the mud I enjoyed it immensely. There are going to be sports soon (date not stated for fear of Boers getting to hear of it and giving us a visit during the performance). I am going in for the 100 and 220 yards. There are to be numerous events, including a band race, in which the bandsmen run, tootling their instruments the while. Poor big bassoon man! Also a Kaffir race, a bicycle race. (N.B.—There are only two bikes in going order in the town!) The people here don't like to hear of us going at ail The N.Z. have orders as well.”
“Went to Mills’ for dinner last night. Very poor 2s. worth. ‘Central ’ to-night. Got ‘Kitty Alone.’
“Thurs., Apl. 7th.—Mill post Dined at Mills’. ‘K. Alone ’ awful. Mail in. . No letters for me.
“Monday, 8th.—In quarters.
“10th.—Sports to-day. I was second in heat for 100 yards. Final to be run on Friday. Also final tug-of-war.
“Thurs., 11th.—In quarters. Ran ioo several times for practice in early morning.
“Friday, 12th.—On A, but came down to run in 100. Came in 4th. Ran in consolation race, 220 yards, directly afterwards, and got second. Pumped by 100.
“Sat., Apl. 13th.—Came down from A. Found a prize awaiting me, in shape of card- case, for being second in consolation race.
“Sunday, 14th.—In quarters.
“Monday, 15th.—Mill. Went to Central Mail in. Got several letters, last year’s, and one up to date
“Tuesday, 16th. — In quarters. Crozier bad. All books taken back to library, no more issued.
“Wednesday, 17th.—In quarters. Went to Central Played B. Co. soccer and beat them. Crozier bad with enteric.
“Thursday, 18th.—On A. Got several old letters. Parson goes to-day. No more library. Books all given in.
“Fri., 19th.—Came down from A. At 1.30 p.m. 18 of us paraded, mounted, to go out and find little Beynham, the parson, who was said to have been shot the day before trying to get through with the mail runners to Lobatsi, and thence to Mafeking. Got out about 6 miles when Boers came round. Bush country to left and kopjes to right going out Got on our flank among the bushes and had the range well. Christie and I left as rearguard among bushes, with orders not to leave till everybody had made good their retreat Nearly cut off. When last man had gone down road, galloped on, or rather cantered, as hard as could back along road. Pony beat Boers all among bushes, about 200 yards off road. Bullets closer than ever had them before. Walking up to de Wet’s rearguard a fool to it. Had gone a short distance when suddenly heavy firing opened above our heads from kopjes to our left Jammed in one remaining spur and thought was done for, but heard loud shouting immediately after, and saw B. and one or two men waving. Had been firing at Boers over our heads. Scrambled and panted up kopje, dragging horse, which hung back brutally, in full view of Boers, who made bad shooting. After heavy firing they retired. Infantry came out and volleyed them from another kopje. On leaving kopje they fired into us till we got to the next. Continued so till dusk, and we arrived home at dark, about 7.30. No one hurt. Six men lost their tats. Lucky not to lose their heads as well. Saw nothing of Beynham’s party but rolled greatcoat lying on ground just before place where we were attacked. Mails must have been captured. Dined at Mills’, and went to concert afterwards. Very good. Ladies and civvies in evening dress, and all mode. The N. Lancs comedian, Bitton, especially good. Sang ‘'Anging ’em out to dry! ’ Crozier about the same.”