Told by themselves in letters and petitions
" They that be slain with the sword are better than they that lie slain with hunger : for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field.”—Lam. iv. 9.
“ All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see, O Lord, and consider; for I am become vile.”—Lam. i. 11.
“ Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward Him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.”—Lam. ii. 19.
“ The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them. They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.”—Lam. iv. 4, 5.
This chapter must be read with the recollection that most of those who write do so under the shadow of the censor and martial law. Very few have dared to write at all, and even then only a little that has been felt dares find expression. In the days to come they will reveal the fulness of what they have experienced in mind and body. At present those who have not mingled with them must be content with the outline presented in these pages.
Letter from a Young Girl to her Former Teacher.
“ Pietermaritzburg Camp, New Year's Day, 1901.
“ How strange to write to you the first evening of the New Year under these circumstances! Every one tries to make the best of everything. I cannot tell how hard life is in a camp. Just imagine eleven people in one tent; it is very crammed. But I think this is just what we need, for if we should be here and have everything comfortable and nice, life would be unbearable; now we scarcely have time to think, for we have no sooner finished carrying water than we have to pull the ropes of the tents, or something is always to be done. We are so many in tent, and yet each has a great deal to do, and when evening comes we are all just tired of the day’s work, and so our days pass. I almost forgot to tell you that last night from n till 12 o’clock we went round the camp singing hymns (gezangen). Just at 12 o’clock we sang the Nieuwjaar’s hymn in the middle of the camp; it was a quiet evening, and we could hold a candle as we went. It was a night never to be forgotten, for amid all our sorrow and trouble we sang ‘ Prys am Heer * and many others. We were quite a multitude together.—Yours lovingly,
Early in the New Year the women of Klerksdorp drew up a petition to the President of the Worcester Congress, and forwarded it to him by the hand of Mr. J. L. Van der Merwe, who has embodied it in General De la Key's recent Report to Mr. Kruger, published in London and Holland. In February the women of Kimberley Camp signed a petition addressed to the Commandant, and in April the women of Johannesburg forwarded one to Lord Kitchener. It will probably be found some day that other camps did the same thing. The Klerksdorp petition differs from the others in that it deals principally with sufferings endured before entering the camp.
“ Klerksdorp, Women’s Laager, Jan. 5, 1901.
“ To the President of the Great Congress, held at Worcester, Cape Colony, on the 6th of December 1900.
“ Honoured Sir and Brother,—In the name of the undersigned sisters and of us all, resident in the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, we beg you and all those who took part in the Congress to accept our heartfelt thanks for all you have done in our most holy cause.
“ It was to us a great joy, comfort, and consolation to hear our brethren express themselves so freely against this unjust war. Be assured that all of us are still animated with undaunted courage, and that we are determined to fight to the bitter end, whatever happens. For ours is a just cause, and we know that the God of our fathers will not allow the triumph of Mammon.
This conviction gives us the strength to bear whatever our enemy thinks fit to make us endure.
“ The sympathy which you have shown us gives us confidence in placing before you the facts which show the cruel and barbarous manner in which defenceless women and children are being treated by British officers and men.
“ Wherever the enemy passed, destruction and misery followed in his steps. At first the enemy thought that this cruel oppression of women and children and the destruction of property would be sufficient to discourage our fighting burghers, and would force them to lay down their arms. But he soon found out his mistake.
“ The enemy commenced by burning down our homesteads and destroying other property. We were questioned by the officers in a rude manner as to our husbands and rifles. Rough soldiers visited our houses. All the necessaries of life were taken from us, and all the things which could not be conveniently carried away, such as flour, corn, etc, were scattered over the veld. All vehicles of every kind which they could not take with them were also burnt. Pictures, furniture, and household utensils were first broken to pieces and then set fire to, together with our homes. We were not even allowed to take some blankets and clothes with us for ourselves and our children. Everything was thrown into the flames. The clothes of our men were taken away for the British troops. In some cases even the children were left naked.
“In this condition we stood under the bare sky, without shelter, without food, exposed to the rain, the cold, or burning heat. This, however, did not yet satisfy the enemy. The crops, which, in the absence of the male population with the commandoes, we had sown ourselves, were to be destroyed or burnt. All the implements of agriculture, such as ploughs, harrows, and others, wherewith we could have again provided for our existence, were carried away or destroyed. All the poultry was killed and the cattle removed. In one word, the whole country was turned into a desert. Ah ! we find no words to describe these horrors!
“ The barbarity of the enemy went further still: they carried the women and children off as prisoners. Even old, grey-haired, and impotent women did not escape from their ill-treatment. We will state a few cases.
“ A certain number of women had been taken prisoners in and around Potchefstroom, and conducted to Welverdiend Station, a distance of about four hours’ ride on horseback. The troops were accompanied on this march by some coloured women. The latter were allowed to sit on the waggons, but the Boer women had to go on foot, and were driven on by the Kaffirs. The consequence was that some fell down dead by the road, and that one woman gave birth to a child. On this occasion Kaffirs were used, and they equalled the English soldiers in cruelty and barbarity.
“ The women knelt before these Kaffirs and begged for mercy, but they were roughly shaken off, and had to endure even more impudent language and rude behaviour. Their clothes were even tom from their bodies. In some cases they had to suffer a harder lot still. The mothers were taken away from their children. The very small children were left behind, because some were ill in bed. The mothers were not even allowed to take leave of their dear treasures. When they begged the soldiers to take pity on their children, the reply was, ‘ Get along; they must all come to an end.* Luckily, some women who were left behind took pity on the infants and nursed them. When the mothers were driven like cattle through the streets of Potchefstroom by the Kaffirs, the cries and lamentations of the children filled the air. The Kaffirs then jeered and cried, ‘Move on: till now you were the masters; but now we will make your women our wives.* In this fearful state were the women obliged to march for four hours.
“ About six miles north of Potchefstroom lived the wife of Thomas Van Graan, who since February 1900 had been in exile with General Cronje. At first she had received permission to remain with her children on the farm. Quite unexpectedly, a British force arrived in the neighbourhood and at the farm. The soldiers kicked open the doors, and broke the furniture to pieces. In a violent thunderstorm, Mrs. Van Graan was placed with her little children in an uncovered waggon. These unwarranted proceedings were taken because it was supposed that Chief-Commandant De Wet had spent a night at the farm.
“ A great number of women along the Mooi River were also victims of the cruelty of the English. A woman whose child was dying was removed by force, notwithstanding her heartrending entreaties. At a farm on the banks of the Vaal a woman refused to follow the soldiers. She was dragged along for a considerable distance over the veld, until at last they were obliged to leave her behind. Two young girls—this was also along the banks of the Vaal River—whose mother had already been carried away, were in danger of being violated, but managed to take shelter with a neighbour. The soldiers followed
in pursuit, but the girls refused to open the door. They were in great danger, but the saving hand of God protected them, and they escaped this ignominy; one of the girls made her escape, and walked a distance of six hours’ ride. The sufferings of these women must have been excruciating: words are failing us to describe them.
“ On the Witwatersrand there was another fearful attempt at violation. In the struggle the woman’s neck was twisted in such a manner that it will never come right again. Her daughter rushed to her assistance, but the ruffian drew his sabre and cut open her breast.
“ We could add many other instances to these, but we think you will now have an idea of the cruel and barbarous manner in which the British officers and soldiers behave towards defenceless women and children.
“We therefore implore your further assistance and your prayers for us to God.
“ Relying upon these, we remain,” etc.,
(Here follow the signatures.)
Petition of Women to Major Wright.
“ Kimberley Camp, Feb. 1901.
“ We, the undersigned, respectfully wish to address you with the following request:—
“ I. As we are separated from our husbands, and thus left without help, it is impossible, in the circumstances in which we are placed, to live.
“ II. On account of carelessness, bad management, and ill-treatment, it is now the second time that we are drenched through and through by rain, which caused our children, already sick with measles, whooping-cough, and fever, to become dangerously ill.
“ III. Being without money, it is impossible for us to provide or obtain soap, candles, or other necessaries. It is now almost three weeks that most of us have been unable to do any washing. It is more than we can stand to be satisfied under all this. These are our griefs. This our humble request is—to look into our case with all reasonableness, and to have compassion on our position, and to give us our liberty by allowing us to return to our respective homes.
“ We hope and trust that you will take our humble request in favourable consideration, and uieet us in this our request as soon as possible.—We are, dear sir, your humble servants,
“Newton Refugee Camp, Kimberley.
“ P.S.—Major-Commandant and others in authority,—With God there is mercy. Is there, then, no mercy with you for us poor innocent women and children ? Our request is to allow us to leave the ioth March 1901.”
Womens Petition to Lord Kitchener.
“ Johannesburg (Racecourse), April 19,1901.
“ The undersigned, all of whom are women and children, who have been deported to and are at present kept in the Racecourse, Johannesburg, respectfully submit—
“ I. That all of them are Afrikander women, whose husbands have either been killed or captured, or are still struggling for their beloved country.
“ II. That they have been forcibly taken from their farms and brought here against their will and desire by H.M.’s military authorities.
“ III. That in many instances the troops of H.M. have in a barbarous manner burnt and devastated their farms, and have stolen and destroyed other properties, so that we are now almost bereft of everything.
“ IV. That since their arrival here they have been forced to live on the Racecourse crowded together, and only in a few cases were they allowed to live in houses in Johannesburg.
“ V. That in all cases without exception they have been deprived of the free, fresh, open air, and the healthy and sufficient nourishment to which they have been accustomed since the days of their birth.
“ VI. That, in consequence of this overcrowding and this change in their surroundings and manner of life, their health has been greatly impaired. In proof hereof they can assure your Lordship that, up to the week ending on Monday, April 15, at 12 noon, fifteen (15) deaths have occurred in that one week, out of 2,789 souls on the Racecourse; whilst on the 16th and 17th of April ten (10) of us were buried.
“ VII. That this rate of mortality exceeds by far that of the whole world or any portion thereof.
“ VIII. That, in short, this condition of things, as we have experienced the same since our arrival here, is indescribable and no longer to be tolerated.
“ Wherefore we request permission to return to our respective dwelling-places at the expense of H.M. Government, and that H.M. Government shall provide for our maintenance for at least the first six (6) months, we being of opinion that we have a right to demand this, because we have been brought hither against our will, and have never asked any one for protection nor for maintenance. We have taken no active part in this war, but in spite of this we have been treated as prisoners of war ever since our banishment from our homes.—We are,” etc.
Early in this year hundreds of families were going through the preliminary experiences which led to the Concentration Camps. Mrs. Uys of Braklaagte, District Bloemhof, says—
“ Colonel Milne came to my place and asked for Mr. Uys. I answered and said, ‘ My husband is on commando.’ ” On hearing this, he ordered his men to put paraffin on the furniture and things indoors, and told her to leave the house. She did not want to leave the house; he pulled her out into the dining-room while her bedroom was in a roaring fire, so she had to leave. When she got outside, she found her children on a waggon by order of the Colonel, and then she was taken to Vryburg. She was kept in Vryburg for a month, and then sent to Kimberley Camp.
The widow, Mrs. Roodt, from Ebenezer District, Schweizer-Reyneke, states—
“ Lord Methuen came to my place on February 19, and took all my cattle and sheep. I told him I am a widow for three years, and asked why he does it. He told me to keep still, and get ready to get on the waggon. I was taken to Vryburg, and sent to Kimberley Camp. What became of my house is unknown to me.”
Mrs. George Kalkenbrand, living at Lanstesta, District Bloemhof, Transvaal, states—
“ Lord Methuen came to our farm and asked me where the men are. I told him, ‘On commando.* So he told me, I give you half an hour’s time to leave the house, for it is to be burned down.* I cried, and could hardly do anything. I ran to the officers and pleaded for mercy; in turning round from them my house was all in a flame. 1 saved nothing but my clothes I had on. My nearest neighbour is Mrs. Dazel—where my children ran to, and where I also went—who gave clothes and food. The next morning the column came and took both Mrs. Dazel’s and my stock, and sent us to Vryburg. What became of Mrs. Dazel’s house, I can’t say. I was sent to Kimberley Camp, and Mrs. Dazel is still in Vryburg.”
Mrs. Abram Coetzee, living at Faurie’s Graf, District Bloemhof, Transvaal, says—
“ My husband was on commando. When I saw the column coming, I got frightened, and fled into the garden with my children. They came to my house, and I saw them breaking the doors and windows, so I went home and pleaded for mercy. I told them that I got frightened, and that the officer must please have mercy on me. He told me to hold my tongue, and so they burned my house in my presence, and what has not been burned or destroyed they took, with live stock, and sent me to Vryburg, kept me there for a month, and then sent me to Kimberley Camp.” Mr. and Mrs. Snyman write—
“We lived in Jagersfontein, Orange Free State, formerly, and left for Bechuanaland in 1894, where we lived on the border of the Kalahari Desert, occupying some farms from a company in the Orange Free State, close to the grounds of which Captain O. R. Styles, Lee, and Gammon were agents and managers for a company in England. Through all the difficulties we struggled, made a home, took out water, and cultivated the ground. In 1899 we were so far on as to have a garden, and got to grow some vegetables. That was the first time, after all the long years of cultivating the ground, that we expected to reap something.
“ In October 1899 the war broke out, and all the Cape Police left, so we were left without protection whatsoever. We remained on our farm, and some seven or nine families also on their farms, being over ioo miles from Vryburg. About a week before Christmas, one of our old boys, Aging, came to us and told us that the chiefs son, Jantje Montchus, has gone to visit Major Baden-Powell in Mafeking, and has returned and given orders to loot the Dutch and take whatsoever they have, and if there is any opposition, to put out their eyes and take the Dutch women as spouses for the chiefs. We were all very frightened, as the natives did just as they pleased ; every time they kept on stealing, and then sent word to the owners to follow them up if they dare. In the beginning of March they stole a lot of stock from Barend Breedenkamp from his place Dulfontein. The man being a haughty spirit, followed them up, when he was attacked by the thieves, who took his rifle and knocked his head full of holes. He walked home all bleeding. His rifle, horse, saddle, and bridle were taken to the chief Montchus.
“ The next morning, on Sunday, my brother-in-law brought us the report that by all appearance the Kaffirs were intent on murder. We fled that day with just our clothes to the nearest neighbour, and left the house only locked, with everything in it. At our neighbour’s farm all the families came together, and we left for safety for Vryburg. About three weeks later we went back with a Boers’ patrol to get the remainder of our goods left behind, but found nothing—everything taken out of the houses and the doors and windows destroyed.
“ In May the relief column came from Kimberley and Mafeking, and on a proclamation from Lord Roberts all the men at home gave up their weapons. In June I was imprisoned till September. During my imprisonment my wife bought some cattle, which the military under Colonel Galway took and sold for the Imperial Government, for which I sent in my claim for compensation, but was told that the rebels do not get any compensation, but they get disfranchisement for five years.
“ Having lost everything, I offered my services to the Municipal Council of Vryburg to deliver them a supply of flowing water, which will pass through a nine-inch pipe, so as to put the whole township under water, which was accepted on my terms : ‘No water — no pay.’ The military allowed me to work only to see the water ciphering a little, when I was stopped and sent as an undesirable to Kimberley Camp; after I defied Colonel Milne with the intelligence in a letter to bring any evidence against me, and why such steps are taken against me. From Vryburg we, with a batch of 120, were packed in cattle, coal, and sheep trucks for Kimberley.”
This narrative, supplied by a clergyman’s wife, was taken down from her lips by an English lady in Cape Town. As my object is to put the case of the sufferings of the women generally before the world, and not to bring trouble or obloquy upon any individual concerned in their treatment, I purpose in this case to suppress names and even substitute false initials in order to avoid identification. By this means the story can be told with perfect freedom, which is desirable, as it presents a good picture of the life-, of the camps at that period, before the voice of public opinion had insisted on their reform, and a better class of persons formed the staff.
“ Mrs. Z. is Colonial bom, and her parents live at a farm'' near Wellington. Her husband was the minister of the little town of X----, in the Orange Free State. Here they lived in great comfort until the occupation of Pretoria. For four months after this the British convoys were coming and going, and during this time Mrs. Z. showed many kindnesses to the British. She would send down loaves of nice white bread to the officers, and never turned away the poor hungry Tommies who came to her door begging for bread. She once sent down some nice tarts she had baked to the officer who had arrived with a convoy, who said he almost went * mad with joy * at the sight of pastry, for he had not seen it for months. Poultry the officers had, turkeys, ducks, and fowls, but white bread and pastry they never got. She often had them at her house and gave them tea. There was one officer who came through the town off and on, whom she particularly liked. He was Colonel R., of some Staffordshire Regiment; he would often drop in for a friendly chat. She told a story to show how you could thoroughly depend upon his word. A doctor had called, attached to one of the British convoys. ‘ I am sorry for you/ he said; * the burghers have had a fine licking to-day. They actually tried to take one of our guns, but we gave them a drubbing, and they left forty dead on the field.* This made their household very sad, and when Colonel R. came in and sat down by the fire for a chat, he noticed it, and said, ‘ What is the matter, Mrs. Z. ? You don’t look as bright as usual to-day.* ‘Well,* she replied, ‘I hear you have been fighting the burghers.* ‘Yes,* he said, ‘plucky fellows! They came on tremendously to-day, and as near as possible got our gun. They inflicted considerable loss, too, and suffered none themselves, except one man wounded. At least, I hear D---------is wounded, and he is a fellow worth removing.* ‘ There you had it,* said Mrs. Z. ‘ Out of one man’s mouth came the truth, and out of another’s a lie. If all the British officers were like Colonel R., this war would have been over long ago.*
“ At last the change came, and the clearing and farm-burning policy began, and reached quiet little X-. At once the whole tone of things changed. A permanent garrison was established in the town, and the old friendly relations ceased between the inhabitants and the troops. There was nothing but suspicion and tyranny. One day an order went forth that before 4 o’clock the people must take everything they wanted out of their gardens. They obeyed, but did not take much, not knowing what the order meant At 4 p.m. exactly the troops were let loose, pulling up and destroying everything in the gardens. Vegetables only just forming were pulled up, peach trees without a peach on them knocked about and shaken, and in a short time the flourishing and pretty gardens were a desert. In future, whenever a convoy came through the town, the soldiers were so rude and overbearing that Mrs. Z. said she was generally ill for days afterwards. On one occasion an officer when going through the house actually made his way into her bedroom. * Excuse me,’ she said, ‘these are my private quarters.’ 'Private quarters?’ he exclaimed; ‘ there are no private quarters now.’ And indeed there was scarcely anything you could call your own. They had a trap which the congregation had given to them, and which they therefore greatly valued. They had the greatest difficulty in keeping the trap. Three times it was commandeered by the military, and three times she had to exert her own personal influence to get it back. During these months of trial a certain Scotch chaplain, the Rev. Mr. McY., was a great help to her. He saved her ducks and fowls from the rapacity of the military, and interfered to prevent her husband from being sent away.
“ At last the blow fell which she had been dreading. Her house was searched by the military. The provost-marshal, Mr, Q., with four rough policemen, came to her house and said they were going over it to search for arms and ammunition.
“She said, ‘I will go round with you and show you everything. You will find nothing, because there is nothing to find.’ So they all tramped into the house, and she opened everything for their inspection, and thereby saved her property in some measure from their rough handling. Mr. Q. seemed satisfied. ‘I see,’ he said, ‘you have no arms or ammunition—you’re much too cool.’ ‘Mr. Q.,’ said Mrs. Z., ‘this time you’ve come as a tyrant; next time I hope you’ll come as a friend.’
“ Far worse than this was the day when the final blow came, and the town of X---was to be destroyed. Major W------carried out the order, and in the roughest, harshest way imaginable.
“This took place early in 1901. The people were told to get ready to be taken away to the camp, and their homes were then overrun by the military. Mr. Z. was made prisoner, and carried off to a tent on the top of a hill outside the town; his books, to the value of £500, were all burnt and destroyed; flooring, window-frames, doors, were all pulled out by the soldiers and burnt for firewood. The comfortable home was a desert.
* Where is your heart to do such things ? * she exclaimed to Major W-----. ‘ Heart!* he cried harshly, ‘heart! we haven’t got such a thing any more.’ He went about the house like the Tommies, seeking for something to pick up for himself; but when she actually saw him opening her private drawer and taking the money which was now the sole barrier between herself and ruin, she snatched it out of his hand, and said, ‘You thief! you shall not have that That money is for me and my children!’ She said he spoke to them all as if they were dirt, and before she left she had one more outburst. ‘ Some day or other,’ she said,
‘ Major W-----, you will see your name written in capital letters for all the world to see!’ ‘I know it,’ he replied savagely, ‘and that is why I’m treating you like this now.’
“The journey to the camp was not so wretched as that which many others had to endure, seeing that they were allowed to take with them a certain amount of clothing and bedding and food for the journey. Still, it was a miserable time for the 140 people thus suddenly tom from their homes. One poor lady was very delicate, and the doctor said she could not stand the journey. He was justified in this opinion, for she died on her arrival in camp. They were travelling from Monday till Thursday, and it rained hard all the way. The sails of the waggon were all old and worn, and the rain came through, making them all sopping wet. Mr. Z. tried to fix up his mackintosh to shelter them, but the holes were too many, and the only result was that he got wet himself without making them any better off. The last day they had no morsel of food after 11 o’clock.
“ On their arrival they found a few small bell-tents, but not half enough for the people to be accommodated. The consequence was that half of the people were thrown out on the bare veld for a fortnight, to fend for themselves as best they could. One lady, own cousin to the Rev. Mr. Steytler of Cape Town, had to do her best with two little babies on the damp ground. One of the forlorn party was an old gentleman of over eighty. These poor people had to make shelters of sticks and leaves, under which they crawled at night. It was wet on the top of them, wet at the bottom, wet all round.
“ After ten or twelve days Mrs. Z.’s husband was taken away from her. Her servants were being bribed to leave her; she herself lay sick, and there she was, left alone with her three little children, one of them an infant in arms. Her husband had no trial, nor was he treated like a gentleman, but abused and reviled. The only charge against him, apparently, was that he refused to take the oath of allegiance, or to ask the burghers to surrender. He had taken the oath of neutrality under Lord Robert’s first proclamation, and had kept to it. But this was not enough, and he was condemned to be sent to India.
“ When Mrs. Z. heard this sentence, ill as she was she determined to protest. She went to the quarters of the Commandant and asked to see him. She was refused admittance, and told to go away. She asked again and yet again, and said that there she meant to stay until she saw the Captain. Still they replied that she could not see him, until in a kind of desperation she cried out loud, * But why then ? Is he a kind of God, that he cannot see a woman asking about her own husband ? ’ At this she heard a voice say, ‘ Let her come in ! ’ and she walked into the officer’s presence.
“ ‘ I want to know,’ she began, ‘ why my husband is being sent away. He is a gentleman, why have you not treated him as such ? What do your proclamations mean ? You have not kept to one of them. No wonder we all laugh at them. My husband obeyed your proclamation. What did he get for it? He was abused, robbed, half starved, and now he is sent away.' It was useless. The Commandant threatened her subsequently with the guard-house if she said such bitter things. Her reply was ready: * I’m not a bit afraid of your guard-house, and I’m any day ready for your gallows.’
“The camp was not enclosed, and they were free to come and go; but this was not altogether an advantage, as it left the women exposed to the rudeness of the soldiers. They had to take care of themselves in every way. The tents were the ordinary bell-tents, and there were no huts or houses. The bell-tent, besides its confined space, has the great drawback that it entails constant stooping, the exact middle being the only place where you can stand upright. No bedsteads or mattresses were provided, and in some cases women expecting confinement from day to day were lying on the bare ground, with but one blanket under them. The change of temperature was severely felt in these small tents. In summer you had to ____ _____ ____ with wet cloths on your head, while the babies ____ ____ ____. In winter it was piercingly cold ; ____ _____ ____ the women sat up all night as they were ____ _____ fear of being frozen to death. When Mrs. Z. first went to the camp she was placed in the line of ‘undesirables.’ The position of this line of tents was bad, and the rations served out to them were on a different scale. They only had mealie-meal to eat, with meal twice a week. This went on till the commotion was raised in England about differentiation of rations, and finally all were served alike. But the quality of the food was never good. The flour was unfit to eat, the meat extremely poor, and the sugar a chocolate colour and very unpleasant to the taste. The military were not altogether to blame for the poor quality of the food, as the contractors were in some cases paid a good price. Some families arrived at the camp in so literally naked a condition that the military were forced to supply them with clothing. The contract was given to Messrs. Y----------- & Y-------, who supplied perfectly useless moth-eaten cloth, and then boasted openly that they had now ‘cleared their store of all their old rubbish.’ The food contractors thought the women would blame the military and not them; but the women took the matter into their own hands. They took a quantity of flour, sifted it, made all the worms and weevils and creeping things into two neat packets, and sent one to ‘ Messrs. Y------& Y-------, contractors, with their compliments,’ and another to the military.
“After this the flour was better. The rations were served out weekly on a Monday; but there was often irregularity, and on one occasion the whole week went by till Friday, and still no rations. Then twelve women went in a body to complain to the General. His answer was, ‘ Well, it’s lucky for you, you have any rations at all; if we had left you on your farms, you would all have been starved to death.’ But after this the rations were given out more regularly. The women in this camp were both outspoken and fearless. On one occasion, when Colonel R----------- (Mrs. Z.’s friendly officer of former days) was passing through the town, he called to see Mrs. Z. in the camp. She gave him a cup of tea, or rather a little tin such as they used in the tents, and put into it a little white sugar which she kept by her for special occasions. The Commandant was passing by, and she also invited him to come in and take a cup of tea. ‘ But,’ she added maliciously, ‘you shall not have any of that nice white sugar, but the same black stuff you give to us.’ And she sweetened his tea with camp sugar.
“ On one occasion the camp was moved to a new site some distance away on the other side of the town. All the tents and goods were heaped on waggons, and such women and children as could not walk were told to clamber up and sit on the top of the piles of goods. The ladies felt themselves in a difficult and undignified position, for they had to hold on for dear life as the oxen rattled through the sloots and dongas. One officer whom they met as they were crossing a sloot sang out, ‘ Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves.’ ‘ But she will never rule the Boers,’ sang back one of the women.
“ As they passed through the town, three or four officers were on the stoep of the club and made fun of them perched upon the waggons. Mrs. Z. could not refrain from trying to make them ashamed of themselves. ‘ Yes, look well at your deeds of heroism,’ she cried as they passed. ‘ You can’t catch De Wet, you can’t catch Steyn, so you catch us helpless women and drive us through the town on waggons. Look well at us, the result of your deeds of heroism! ’ The officers left the stoep and went inside.
“ The women had to defend themselves sometimes in other ways than with their tongues. Sometimes soldiers got into the tents at night and gave them much trouble. One night a Tommy got into the camp, and entered four or five tents in succession, frightening the women. At last some thirty of them joined together and chased him out, pinching him black and blue. On the following night several women felt very nervous, and Mrs. Z. herself thought it better to have her light burning. There was a sort of camp policeman, but he was only a ‘ hands-upper,’ and had never been of much service as far as the women were concerned, and they held him in small regard. That night, going the rounds, he saw her candle alight in the tent, and called out loudly, ‘ Put out that light.’ She made no reply. ‘ Put out that light,’ he called still louder, thumping on the ground. At last she called back, ‘ I shan't put out my light. It isn’t safe here, with soldiers prowling about.’ ‘ Why, I’m here to protect you,’ he said. ‘ You ! what good are you ? ’ she replied. ‘ Where were you last night when the Tommy got in ? ’ ‘ Well, put out your light,’ he said, ‘ or I’ll report you to the Captain.’ ‘ Report if you please; but I shall not put out my light.’ She kept it alight, and the following day the guard reported the case to the Captain. But the military were not much more favourable to the hands-uppers than the women, and the Captain gave the man a snub for his pains. ‘Would not put out her light, and treated you rudely, did she ? Well, considering what happened the night before, I expect Mrs. Z. was nervous, and if I had been in her place I wouldn’t have put out my light.’
“ This camp was much healthier than most, and comparatively few children died. But they all got earache with the damp and cold, and were always ailing more or less, and the women too. Mrs. Z. never felt really well all the time she was there, and at last the doctor said if she remained any longer she would die. It was by no means pleasant to be ill in camp. The first doctor who was there was extremely harsh and cruel to his patients. He would scarcely glance at them as he went his rounds; and then if he did stop to speak to them, overwhelmed them with taunts and abuse. At last the women lodged a regular complaint against him, and asked him plainly, ‘ Do you think we're dirt, that you treat us like this?'
“ A single case will serve to illustrate the methods of doctor and nurses in the camp. An old Mrs. K., from the Free State, a wealthy old lady and much respected, had been tom away from a comfortable and beautiful home to come and live in the camp. The change in her whole manner of living was too sudden, and she was unable to bear up against it. She had been used to every comfort and even luxury, and now had to suffer every hardship. She took to her bed. The nurse was summoned, but would not enter the tent, and would scarcely look at her. ‘Oh, she's grumpy and full of pretence, like all old people,' she said, and walked on. The second and third day she never came near the tent. On the fourth day it was clear that unless something was done the old lady would die, and the nurse was summoned again. Both the nurses were dressed to attend an officers' tea-party, and were extremely angry that they could not go because old Mrs. K. was dying. However, they came to the tent, saw that the old lady was sinking fast, and ordered everybody to leave the tent. Her sister refused flatly to go. ‘ No,' she said; ‘ I've been nursing her all I could these days, when you would not come near her, and I am not going to leave her now.’ That night she died. In the morning the nurse had said, when they asked her to call in the doctor, ‘ I'm not going to bother the doctor; she's just grumpy.'
“ As sometimes happens, the chief nurse, Nurse O., was more intent upon amusing herself abroad than attending to her duties at home. But, in addition to this drawback, her temper was so violent that every one was in terror of her, and few dared ask her help. Even among the officers she was known as ‘ Little Tyrant,' ‘ Little Spitfire.' If you went to ask her for medicine, you must expect to get the door slammed in your face. On one occasion she left a little child of eight years old alone in the hospital tent all day, without food or medicine. Once, when Mrs. Z. herself went in, in the nurse's absence,—a daring thing to do,—all the patients started up in their beds and cried, ‘ Give us food! Give us food!' . . .
“ Mrs. Z. could not speak too highly of the way in which the women bore up under the severe strain put upon them. The military gave them a chance of two months in which to write to their husbands to beg them to surrender. Not a single one wrote, though every one knew what a difference it would make to their position. The hardships of the camp were so great that many times Mrs. Z. exclaimed, with tears in her eyes, ‘ If it had not been for the grace of God we could not have endured it.’ The arrogance and selfishness of the officers were severely commented on by her, and she constantly held up Colonel R. as her idea of a true gentleman, and as being the only one she met. One officer said to her, ‘ This war is not going to end yet; we’re making too much money.’ ”
Here is a little note I received from one of two sisters, who have been nearly two years prisoners of war. They had been several months in a camp, where they lived in great anxiety about their mother—
Feb. 15, 1901.
“ I could not answer your welcome note, which reached me safely, as I have been indisposed the last few days. Fancy, last Monday I sent in an application requesting to return home to my mother, who is so very lonely; and on Tuesday I received a letter from her stating that she too has been sent from home. She only lives half an hour from the village, and had of course to leave all her furniture and property unprotected, with only one native boy to look after it, and now has to live at her own expense in the village; otherwise she had to go to a Refugee Camp too.
“ Oh, what a disappointment the news was to me and my sister! for we both cherished the hope of receiving a favourable answer to our application. Oh, how this breaks my heart! Excuse me for being so forward as to mention home affairs, but this means so much to me that I cannot refrain from saying something about it.
“ A new wash-bath was erected for the women, so that we have our bathing-place free again. Only two deaths occurred since you left.”
One of the two ladies who give the following account of their eviction from their homes is known to me, and herself told me the whole story as it appears here, only with amplified detail. The other, Mrs. Bosman, is a great invalid, and her husband is a prisoner of war—
“ Our farm,” said Mrs. Bosman, " was six miles from S-----. About the middle of last March 1901, British troops arrived, under the command of Colonel Hickman, and took away the greater part of our cattle. For some time previously my daughter and I—she is a child of fourteen—had been deserted by all save one Kaffir boy. As you see, I am rather a helpless person, having lost my right arm, and having sustained an injury to one leg that causes me constant suffering, and leaves me with the power only to move about with difficulty on a crutch. When Colonel Hickman and his men took away our cattle, they also took away our boy to look after them. A few days later he returned to the farm, having escaped from the British. He and we lived in constant apprehension of another body of troops arriving to destroy our home. It was eight o’clock one morning when they came. I had not yet left my bedroom, but little Annie was working in the kitchen. When she saw the soldiers, she ran to the front door and tried to bar their progress, exclaiming that they should not come in. She was crying,—with anger, not fear,—and she said, ‘You needn’t think our men are so mean as to come in here and hide: they fight outside.’ When the troops came into the house, she ran into my room, crying, ‘ Oh, mother, the English are here! *
“ In all, I suppose there must have been two hundred soldiers. They surrounded a lot of our fowls and ducks, threw great pieces of wood into the midst of them to break their legs, and then picked them up and twisted their necks. The pigs they killed by sticking them with their bayonets. They also got together some of the horses, oxen, and sheep that Colonel Hickman’s party had failed to capture. After wrecking everything inside the house, they began to smash up our carts. But two—a little fancy buggy that I used to drive about in, and a Cape cart—they set aside to take away. As a matter of fact I managed to save the cart. Just as they were moving off, the horses they had put in it proved obstinate. So I went up to the officer in command, Captain Robertson, and begged him to leave me the cart, as I was an invalid. He very kmdly consented, so the horses were taken out and the cart was left
“ The boy fled to the hills on catching sight of the soldiers, and I saw no more of him. He was terribly afraid of what the British would do to him, because he had left them before.
“ In about an hour from their arrival the soldiers rode away, Captain Robertson politely saluting to me, and then my little girl and I were left alone in our ruined home.
“ We were obliged to walk over to my friend Miss Wessels’ house. Just fancy! six miles and terribly hot, and I a cripple who can hardly hobble with my crutch, and have to spend most of my time lying down. The journey did not take much more than three hours. My little girl helped me along a good deal We had to rest pretty often. But the worst part of the experience was to see the veld strewn with dead horses, sheep, and other animals. Next day I was driven back to my wrecked farm by one of Miss Wessels’ servants. He put mules in my cart, and I drove it back again. I have learnt to use the reins with my left hand. Before saying a final good-bye to my house, I picked up some photographs and other things that the soldiers had dropped as they marched away.”
Miss Wessels, in whose house the invalid Mrs. Bosman had found shelter, said—
“ Our home was not broken up till some time afterwards. I lived in a house in S---with my father—who is sixty years old and an invalid, and has been a member of the Volksraad for twenty years—and my sister. But passing columns of English soldiers had paid us occasional visits, but on each occasion they did little besides insist on receiving our grain, which they scattered on the road. When they had left, we used to go and sweep it up and sift it, and then it was fit for use. They visited all the houses for this purpose, and often they threw the grain down in places where it was spoilt. In some cases they poured paraffin upon it, to be sure it would be useless. One day they came and took away my beautiful bicycle, that had come all the way from London and had cost me £30. I made a great bother about having a receipt for it, and at last the officer gave me one for £7. A few days afterwards we had notice that we should all have to leave in three hours. By good luck we had ample provisions left in our house, and so we sent a message round to our neighbours, who had also had notice to quit, telling them to come and share our supplies. For two and a half hours we were busy distributing our things among them. Then we asked them to go, and we spent the remaining half-hour in getting together bedding, clothes, a few cooking utensils, and other articles we proposed to take with us. The soldiers had removed all our vehicles except a little American spider, which had been stored away in pieces, and which the English had not known how to put together. We had that and Mrs. Bosnian’s cart, and the commanding, officer consented to our taking them with us, as we had two invalids—Mrs. Bosman and my father. The results were we were very much better off than our neighbours, many of whom started on their journey with next to nothing. We also had a great advantage in that my father had a sum of money to take with him.
“ At the end of the half-hour the soldiers came, our house was locked up, and we went off to the camp just outside the town, where we were to sleep that night At least, we didn’t sleep. We all five lay on the ground under the waggon, and it was the first time I had passed a night in the open. Near us lay a poor old fellow, who kept muttering, being half-demented at what had occurred. At 3 a.m. I was up, and got permission to pay a last visit to my home to fetch something I had forgotten. When I drew near the place I saw three cows standing outside the gate. Those cows had twice been taken away by the English soldiers, but on both occasions they escaped and came back, because their calves had been left behind in our yard. I entered the house and struck a light, only to find that everything was smashed and topsy-turvy, the soldiers having ransacked the place since we left It was a touching last look at home—with the breakfast things still on the table amid the ruins, and the yeast on the stove. My sister came to call me back, as they were inspanning. We led the cows to the camp, and the Commandant very kindly gave us permission to take them with us. The convoy started just at dawn.
“ But I must not forget to tell you about the two old ladies whom the English had decided to leave behind, because the ambulance doctor said they were too old and feeble to be moved.
“ When we heard they were not to be disturbed, we took some of our pictures and other valuables round to their house for safe custody. But what happened was this—just before the convoy started, their house was visited and ransacked, and the old ladies were carried out and put on one of the waggons.
“ Day was dawning when the convoy started from S-------------. There were about 250 carts and waggons, the former filled with English infantry, the latter with our women and children. We five,—my father, my sister, Mrs. Bosman and her daughter and myself,—with two servants, shared a waggon with three other families, making twenty-two persons in all. We were all squeezed together, and of course horribly uncomfortable. We had no covering, and the sun soon became terribly hot Mrs. Bosnian’s cart, with our belongings, was tied behind. The bellowing of the cattle and the crying of the children made a never-ending din. The sufferings of our two invalids became so intense that I made representations to Captain Robertson, who very kindly found us a waggon with a cover, and during the remainder of the journey we had it to ourselves. The Boers were in the neighbouring kopjes, and shots were heard every now and then. They were skirmishing about, and every now and then getting hold of some of the cattle that accompanied the convoy. At the river, that is seven miles from S----, we were delayed a long time by more serious fighting. The Boers were firing from the opposite bank, and the little Tommies took up positions in front of the waggons, so that our people could not fire on them without endangering us. But I saw the dust thrown up by bullets that went into the ground a few yards off. A good few were killed and w'ounded, as we found afterwards when the convoy restarted, and additional ambulance waggons were wanted. One of the waggons selected for the purpose was that which contained the two old ladies I spoke about before. They afterwards told me how they were hoisted out and deposited in the road, where they feared they would be left. But at last some compassionate people came along, who lifted them into another waggon. On the first day we only got about ten miles. The fighting delayed us a lot, and, besides, it was very slow work getting along with a number of waggons going abreast Of course a formation in single file would have made a long line, and one very difficult to guard. I forgot to mention one very exciting moment in the fighting at the river. A burgher on the other bank rode right out into the open, killing several horses. Oh, such a lot of little Tommies fired at him, and I made sure he would be killed; but not one of them hit him, and he got away all right with the horses.
“At night we had a very rough time; the soldiers weren’t kept separate from us. As to food, our ;little party had nothing to complain of. You see, unlike most of the others, we had brought ample supplies in our cart. That night we cooked a fine turkey, and I made some coffee on an oil-stove included among our belongings. It was pitiful to see the sufferings of other people. Water and fuel were terribly difficult to get. We helped as far as we could; but of course, on occasions of that sort, every family has to look after itself, and we had two invalids on our hands. Rations were served out to all every day; but I don’t know what they consisted of, as we never applied for any, having no need to. Yes, we did have one thing—a little pot of jam that Mrs. Bosman managed to get! Seeing an officer with a pot of jam, Mrs. Bosman asked for it, and he said, * All right; you shall have it.’ I think he was sorry for her because she is a cripple. But none of us were allowed to retain our own meal. Officers kept riding along and asking the people in every waggon if they had meal, as it must be given up. One little girl begged very hard to be allowed to keep a cupful, to make her invalid grandmother some soup; but she wasn’t allowed to.
“ After the first night, the camping arrangements were so far improved that the troops were kept apart from us. On the third day it rained in torrents, and you can imagine the sufferings of the poor creatures, huddled together, with no shelter overhead. There was a long halt at Orange River Bridge, where there were a lot of horrid men,—the scum of South Africa,—who jeered at us and said all the insulting things they could think of.
“ We arrived at Aliwal North Camp on the fourth day. Here we had another stroke of good luck, as compared with our poor neighbours. A friend of ours who had been there for some time came to meet us, and gave us useful hints as to which was the healthiest part to pitch our tents, where we could obtain them, and so on. Aliwal, of course, is the best of all the Concentration Camps. But we saw an infinite amount of suffering there. Every night a lot of respectable people had to sleep in the open. It was pitiful to see them shivering in their blankets, which were often saturated with rain, and sometimes stiff with frost. We enjoyed the tremendous advantage of having money. It enabled us to procure a little house made of wood and canvas,—a great improvement as a sleeping apartment on the tents, which let the rain come streaming in upon you. The rations were very poor, and included coffee that made the children ill. Half a tin of condensed milk was supposed to last each person a week. We supplemented our rations by purchasing food at the store, where everything was about twice the usual price. We still had one of our cows to supply us with milk. We paid people to bake our bread and wash our clothes—so that they should have some money to buy food with. There was a great deal of sickness in the camp, and several deaths occurred every day.
Remarks from Ladies’ Commission Report.
“ Recommendation. — Remove the Superintendent, and thoroughly reorganise the camp.”—Cd. 893, p. 56.
See Rations, p. 52.
The thriving and well-stocked shops were also indicative of a fairly well-to-do population.—p. 56.
“ During the six weeks that I was in camp we received coal only twice, and then only enough to cook one meal.
" Fuel.—At the first interview with Mr. Greathead (Superintendent) he was asked what the fuel ration was. He'replied, "As much coal as they can consume, and some wood.* On investigation, this was found to be inaccurate. . . . One loyal English woman said, ‘You get very little coal, and no wood, unless you are cheeky.’”—pp. 53, 54.
“ When we went to the Commandant and asked permission to go, he said we certainly might do so. But he made the condition that we should wire to the Commandant of the place we were bound for and get his permission. We wired to Cape Town, but received no reply. This, we found, was the general experience. An answer was never sent, and so the people had to remain in the camp. But I took the matter energetically in hand, explaining that we wanted to get to Cape Town in order to sail for England; and at last, on the ground that Mrs. Bosman was an invalid, the Commandant gave us a free railway pass to Cape Town—a pass, that is, for Mrs. Bosman, her daughter, and myself. We left little Annie at a school in Cape Town, and took the first ship to Southampton.
" Permission to leave Camp.—No infomation.”-Cd. 893.
“ When we left, my father and sister were trying very hard to get permission to leave, but we have not yet learnt whether they have succeeded. By the by, my father nearly got into trouble with the authorities. He had been to hear the Dutch Reformed minister, and came away disgusted, remarking, ‘Why, he talks nothing but politics.’ This being reported to the officials, next day they sent for my father, who repeated that the minister’s discourse was entirely political. The minister, who was present, said that was not true, whereupon my father replied, * Well, surely I ought to know politics when I hear them, after all the years I have been in the Volksraad.’ ‘ Then it is God’s politics I am preaching,’ the minister said; and they let my father off with a warning.
“Most of our own ministers had been sent away as undesirables early in the war. Some people are led to suppose that the undesirables were bad characters. As a matter of fact they are some of our best and most influential people.”
Miss Cameron’s story of the long journey of her family and herself by convoy to Volksrust and Pietermaritzburg Camps is written in diary form—
“ Amsterdam, New Scotland, Thursday, February 14, 1901.— This morning, about eight o’clock, the cavalry of the enemy entered the town by the Glen Aggie road. They soon spread all over the town, the infantry following. In a short time every garden and tree was stripped of everything; not even a green peach remained. All the live stock was taken; the cattle and horses were collected by natives and driven off, while the poultry, pigs, etc., the soldiers made off with. We locked up all the doors and remained in the house, looking on. At about 11 a.m. two intelligence officers came to search the house; they went through every room searching for arms and ammunition, and took away a revolver and cartridges we had. After some talk they left, saying another officer would come in the afternoon, from whom we would get our instructions. About 3 p.m. General Campbell arrived, with his staff; he was very abrupt, and the reverse of pleasant in his bearing. He said they, the English, had come to give us food and protection. Mother replied that he could not give us what we had not asked for, and that we were quite satisfied with the food and protection our own people afforded us. Then he said we were to be ready to leave the following day (Friday) at io a.m.; and after a deal of talk and argument he left, highly offended.
“ Friday.—Worse than ever. Another column has come through Sweede Poort, has just passed the house, and one can truly see the place is over-ridden. ... At about 11 p.m. the provost-marshal, Captain Daniels, with four others, entered the house and began searching the place again. Mother was absent when they came. It would be impossible to describe how they rummaged and pulled everything about; the mattresses and pillows were felt, doubled up, and patted; every box, great or small, was thoroughly overhauled and searched to the very bottom; the fireplaces, bookshelf, kitchen, pantry, loft, every nook and corner was ransacked, and they took what they wanted —soap, candles, mealies, etc., even to white sewing cotton. When mother came in, an officer turned to her, and said, "Those devils of Boers have been sniping at us again, and your two sons among them, I suppose. If I catch them they will hang"
“ Saturday, 16th.—The place has been in a whirl all day. People never stop coming. A fight is going on out Swaziland way. We hear the cannon and saw the I.L.H. with large guns, and later another lot of troops go out to reinforce, we suppose.
“ Sunday.—At dawn Captain Ballantyne came, and said that a waggon would arrive in a few minutes, and we would be allowed a quarter of an hour to load, and only to take the most necessary things, as fifteen were to go on one waggon, and once in the English camps we would be supplied with everything that we required—food, medical comforts, etc. So we were one of three families in the waggon. The Mullers, from Middelburg district, living in Mrs. Davel’s bam, sixteen in all, including an old woman over eighty years of age and a baby not three months old, were put on to a trolley, with a half tent fixed at the back. There was not even room for them all to sit. We—that is, all the people—were taken across the spruit to the English camp, about half a mile out from the town. The waggons were drawn in rows, and each one thoroughly searched by a party of men, everything taken off, and each box and bag carefully looked through. Not a thing, however small, escaped inspection; even housewives’ needlecases were opened and looked through. What the men considered you did not need was taken. Feather beds, clothing, mattresses, chairs, chests, etc., odds and ends of all kinds, were piled in heaps and burnt. Foodstuff—flour, sugar, tea, etc.—was also taken. In the afternoon at 2 o’clock we went on from there, the oxen never being outspanned, and trekked about twelve miles. There were over 400 waggons. We would trek a few yards, when there would be a block, and one would have to wait for the waggons to straighten out, so that most of the time was spent in waiting for a way to clear. It rained all day, and almost without exception eveiy waggon leaked. Many people had not a dry thread in their waggons by the evening. No halt was made, no food partaken of since 6 a.m. At 9 p.m. we outspanned at the top of a bult in a hard rain; no food to eat, and not even a drink of water to be had. It was pitiful to hear the children crying all night in the wet waggons for water and food and not be able to get a thing for them. The oxen were just tied to the yoke in the mud—no grazing. At dawn the next day the oxen were inspanned as they stood from the yoke, and we trekked past Volve Koppies and outspanned at about 9 a.m. Here we found out that we had to furnish the driver and leader of our waggon with food from what had been left us. We received no rations at all, no food of any kind, no wood or water. The driver had to walk fully a mile to fetch water, and we had some planks that we made fire of. It rained all day. This evening Lieutenant Pratt came and told mother he had had instructions to remove our waggon from the others, and that a guard was to be placed over us to prevent speaking to other people. So we were drawn away from our trek, and four armed soldiers were put by the waggon.
“ Tuesday, 19th.—We reached Piet Retief to-day. The English have a large troop of cattle and horses, which are driven into every mealie field or cultivated ground as we pass,—generally Kaffir lands,—and in a few minutes everything is totally destroyed. Also the cattle, goats, etc., are taken, as they might furnish food for the Boers. At Volve Koppies we saw a Kaffir hut on fire, and the troopers warming their hands in the blaze. This evening we received a leg of mutton, the first food of any kind supplied to us since leaving on Sunday morning. We are, of course, on one side with our guard. The roads are bad beyond description—mud and slush everywhere; one is not able to obtain a clean standing-place. The ruts and holes are awful. I did not think it possible for a waggon to go over such places, but we just bang in and out, over anywhere. If you capsize, stick fast, or come over, it is all right; every waggon must take its chance. The drivers and leaders are natives, many unfaans who have never driven before, with a few white men as conductors. Our guard have pitched their tent beside the waggon; there is always one on guard at night. During the day, while we trek, one is by the waggon, and at the outspan all four.
“ Wednesday.—Arrived at a mission station—Bergen, I think; Johannes the name of the clergyman in charge, a German. It is raining heavily, and has been wet all day. Surrounded by a ring of English camps.
“ Sunday.—We are on a very dirty spot. Heaps of sheep, the only food we get, are killed every day by the people and Kaffirs, and the skins and insides are left all over the place, just t where the sheep are killed. The stench is almost unbearable. We have been here several days, and are in a ring of English camps. No convenience of any kind is put up for the women or children, and it is impossible to go out in the daytime without being seen. This morning there is no rain, so the people are taking the things out of the waggons. I saw a woman wring out her pillows and blankets and the corners of her mattress, all soaking wet, and she is but one of the many.
“ Monday.—We have moved on about two miles to a new camp.
“ Wednesday.—Came through a very bad drift to-day. Are still in Bergen, at Martin’s farm.
“ Thursday.—Trekked all day long. The roads and drifts are something cruel—so bad, and the poor oxen are not allowed time enough to rest during the short outspan. At 7 p.m. we outspanned just by a river. At 11 p.m. came the order we were to go on. It was pitch dark. Our waggon was one of the front ones; so on we went in the dark over very bad roads, slippery with rain, and cut up with traffic. We crossed four dreadful drifts; and if our driver had not been a very good one, I do not know what would have happened. We outspanned at 2 a.m. Only a few waggons were with us. Several accidents happened, which blocked the road; a Mrs. Brodrick was hurt on her chest by a box falling on her when the waggon capsized.
“ Friday.—We have outspanned all day by the Pongola, waiting for the other waggons to come out On Saturday we took the whole day to make a short trek. This afternoon we started again in the pouring rain. At ten p.m. we stuck fast and almost overturned in the mud. As we were near the camp, the guard went for help; and we had 36 oxen on, and tried until 2 a.m. to get out, without success. Next morning we were pulled out.
“ Sunday.—We trekked as far as the Red Paths, where we slept. The Red Paths is one of the worst bits of road on one of the worst roads in the Transvaal. Monday: We went up the Red Paths to-day. The waggon only had bedding and clothes on, and it took three spans to take our waggon up; the trek-tow broke four times; the mud is dreadful; it is all the oxen can do to drag themselves along. Outspanned other side of Bovian’s river. Tuesday : Raining all day. Standing over waiting for the other waggons to come up. The road in front blocked by a convoy. Annie very sick. Must be the food, as we have only meat, and mealies when we can pick them; no bread, not even meal for porridge, and not able to get anything for love or money. Our guard was removed to-day by Captain MacStead, East Yorkshire Regiment. We have had men from the Suffolk Regiment, 5th Lancers, Dublin Fusiliers, East Yorkshire, and Gordon Highlanders. They were always willing to help in any way, and we had nothing at all to complain of from the men ; they were good to us.
“ Wednesday.—Annie been very ill all day. A driving, misty rain. We are about 20 miles from Utrecht, unable to obtain anything in the shape of food, not even meat, as the sheep have been left behind on entering this district. There is a lot of sickness, owing to the wet weather and lack of food. The road is one mud-hole ; waggons stick fast in the mud going downhill j it is worse than any we have yet come over. We have three spans of oxen on, and one ox fell down from exhaustion, and was beaten and dragged out of the road in a dying condition. Oxen with lung sickness are made to pull until they fall down in the yoke to die.
“ Thursday.—Cold, misty rain. Mother and Annie very ill. Nothing whatever to give them. Entered Utrecht to-day. Unable to buy bread, as the people have either given or sold what they had. Ordered to go through the town at 9 p.m.; raining, and very dark. Were kept over an hour at the office, then ordered to cross the river to the camp. Earlier in the evening a waggon capsized in crossing, but this did not prevent them taking all the remaining families over in the dark.
“ Friday.—Had to go at 3 a.m. for rations, the first we have received since leaving, February 17—flour 1 lb., sugar 1 oz., coffee 1 oz., salt i oz., per adult. Made a very long trek until 4 p.m.; outspanned in the pouring rain; no fuel.
“ Saturday.—At the Umbana Camp; received three days* rations—3 lbs. mealie meal, i| oz. sugar, ditto coffee. Came on to Newcastle; sent the boy with money and note to buy bread. The guard refused to allow the boy to pass the bridge. It is raining, and we have no fuel.
“ Sunday.—Refused to allow boy to go over to the town to buy bread,, though mother went down to the bridge and asked the guard to allow boy to get bread for us. Later a soldier volunteered to go and buy bread for us, which he did.
“ Monday.—Left Newcastle yesterday afternoon; arrived here (Volksrust) 9.30, in the rain. The station a sea of mud and slush. No provision of any kind made for the women and children, over 300. We bought what we required at the refreshment-room, but many had no money. The rooms formerly used by the Z.A.R. as customs offices were thrown open, and the women and children herded in until there was scarce standing-place. Those left out, ourselves among them, were loaded on to two trolleys and taken to what was formerly the Volksrust Hotel, where fourteen of us spent the night in a small single bedroom. It contained nothing but a table. One of our party brought two rugs with her, which we spread on the floor and sat down until morning.
“ Monday.—A pitiless downpour. Had to go to the station to see about our few possessions; we had not even a rug with us. The goods in the luggage vans had been off-loaded on to the station in a heap in the rain, and all the women and children in one struggling mass, each trying to separate their belongings from the heap. The trucks containing the bulk of the goods had been left behind at the reversing station at Majuba, or rather Boscobella. Our things were in the trucks, so we had to wait about in the rain and slush until that afternoon, late, when the trucks came in and were off-loaded, not on to the platform, but on to the bank on the other side, into pools of water and soft slush. It would be impossible to describe the confusion of the scene—natives on the trucks off-loading, just pitching off everything pell-mell. I saw a bag of meal burst open from end to end when it reached the ground, and the same with boxes—they stood in the water and mud until loaded on to a trolley. Everybody had to claim their goods as they came off the truck. The bank was lined with women, shouting and gesticulating as their things were tumbled off, so that the uproar was deafening.
“ Sunday, March 17.—A week of rain and misery. We are still at the Volksrust Hotel—eleven of us in a small verandah room; barely room to sleep; we eat and live outside. The camp is quite close to us in the town, among the houses. Many of the tents are standing in mud pools; the only concern of the laager Commandant seems to be that the tents should be put up nicely in rows—where, does not matter; two bell-tents between three families. Mother would not take those shown to her, one single, one lined, standing in mud pools; the rain had washed right through, in one side, out at the other. She told Superintendent Nixon they were not fit for even a dog, and declined to move into them.
“ Monday, 18th.—Went to-day to receive rations. We have to stand in a lump in front of a window and give in the ration-ticket—i lb. flour, i oz. sugar and coffee, J oz. salt per day, and 2 lbs. meat per week for an adult; children under twelve, half-rations. The flour was all right; sugar and coffee very bad; the meat simply vile. The sheep killed are very poor; then the meat is piled up in a tent for the night, and very often, when served out next day, still quite warm and going sour.
“ Friday, April 19th.—At past eight last night, just as mother was going to bed,---came with message that Major-----wanted to see her at once. Mother replied, ‘ Impossible; she would come in the morning.’ The man said he did not dare to take such a message, mother must come; so eventually mother, Annie, and Polly Coltzer went with the policeman, who took them to the Major’s house, where they were shown into his bedroom. As mother passed through, the soldier put his arm across the door to prevent Annie from entering, but she lifted up his arm, saying, ‘ I am her daughter,’ and with Polly entered the room. The Major was in a dreadful rage. ‘ You are Mrs. Cameron ? ’ ‘ Yes.’ * You are a most dangerous woman. It has come to our ears that you have been speaking against the British Government. What do you think your puny personality can do against the mighty British Government? You will not be treated as a woman, but as a man. You are an Englishwoman.’ ‘ All my sympathies are with the Boers.’ ‘ Policeman, make a note of that.’ When mother tried to speak, the Major said, ‘Silence; you are under our thumb, and we will keep you there.’ ‘That remains to be proved.’ ‘ You dare to say that again! You will be taken to prison at once. You understand?’ ‘I understand.’ ‘All the concessions we intended making you, will be withdrawn. You will not be allowed to receive any parcels. You hear ? ’ ‘ Am I not to be allowed to defend myself?’ ‘Policeman, a guard is to be placed over this woman to-night, and she is to come up to the office to-morrow at 10 a.m., under escort.’ ‘ If you wish to see me to-morrow morning, I give you my word to appear. An escort will be unnecessary.’ ‘ Your word! ’ ‘ Yes, my word. I refer you to the whole of Ermelo district and half of Piet Retief as to whether I keep my word or not.’ The Major then repeated his former instructions to the policeman about the escort and guard. Mother bowed and said ‘Thank you,’ and walked out, and was escorted back by the policeman. A guard was posted at the room that night, and next morning mother and my sister were escorted by a policeman through the street to the office. Arrived there they were informed that the Major was too unwell to attend his office, so had to return. Later on a policeman was sent to inform them to appear before the Magistrate; they were again escorted to the office. The sum of what he said was that it had come to their knowledge that mother was stirring up the camp and encouraging the Boers in their resistance by saying that they would win, and if he had occasion to reprimand again, ‘ he would come down on her most severely.’ Some days later the two families in the room with us—Mrs. Strauss and Mrs. Coltzer—were removed to the new camp beyond the railway station, outside of the town. Mother, my sister, and self went to the office and inquired if we might not also go to the camp, as the superintendent told us he had received orders that we were to remain where we were. The Major asked if we meant to live there. Mother said yes. ‘Then,* he said, ‘you will not be allowed to live in the camp. You are fortunate in having a room.’ Mother said the room did not suit; she wished to change, if possible; and he replied she could do so.
“ Thursday, April 25th.—Late this afternoon we received the following:—
“ From Assistant District Commander to Mrs. Cameron.
“‘ Volksrust Hotel, Volksrust, April 25, 1901.
“ ‘ I beg to inform you that you are to proceed to Maritzburg to-morrow, 26th inst., by the 11 p.m. train. A waggon shall convey your luggage to the station.’
“ We did not leave until the following Sunday evening, as no waggon was sent to convey our luggage to the station until then. We arrived here on the 29th April, and are at present still here. B. R. Cameron, Prisoner of War.
“ Green Point, Pietermaritzburg, Natal,
May 31, 1901.”
From a Free State Girl, Daughter of a Colonist of Devonshire Birth.
" April 16, 1901.
“ We were in the camp at Vredefort Road for two months, and we got let out at last at the request of an aunt who is a Jingo. We had suffered much anxiety at our home before we were taken prisoners. Still we did not want, as the Boer commandoes used to give us supplies of meat and meal[This remark is interesting as showing that families were in some cases a drain upon the commandoes.]
“ When the British came to Vredefort, a trooper whom we questioned told us we should have to go as our name was on the list, but that we should be given plenty of time to prepare. We began at once to prepare; it was well we did, for at three o’clock we were told that we must leave in half an hour’s time. Then there was a scene of great confusion. We worked as hard as we could, and some soldiers came in to help us, but as fast as they helped with one hand they stole with the other. The officers grumbled at the amount we got together, and the waggons were piled up high, for most of the inhabitants of Vredefort were turned out at the same time.
“ Our party consisted of my old grandfather, my mother, and a brother—a boy of eighteen. After we had started we soon stopped, and spent the night only about half an hour’s distance from the town, in sight of our own homes. Here we were in the open waggons—no shelter—and many people without food. We had fortunately brought a good supply. The children kept on crying through the night.
“ The camp at the station is only three hours from Vredefort, but we took two days to reach it, because we made zig-zags all the way to guard against surprise. The second night we also slept in the open, and we feared for grandfather’s life in the bitter cold. When we reached the station towards evening, we were ordered to cross to the other side, then to recross, then to cross back again, and it was late into the night when we could settle down, and again the poor, hungry, tired children were crying and fretting.
“ Our camp was a real prison. There were entanglements all round it, and then fences, and sentries were placed at the entrances. The superintendent was nice, but the Commandant was a terrible man, every one, even the Tommies, trembled at the sound of his voice. He had a lock-up or guard-room for women who offended him. I have known women to be dragged from their beds at night to be put into this guard-room. A spirited woman, who hung her washing on the iron fence, was imprisoned . No means ofdis-
because she said to the sentry except ^ ^ *
who ordered her to take it off:
“ ‘ Well, tell the Commandant then that he must make another wire fence for the washing, for we can’t spread it on the bare ground.’
“ Another woman got into trouble because the officer complained to her about the Boers pulling up railway lines. She replied:
“ * Well, it is their own railway j; can they not do what they like with their own ? ’
“ She was ordered out of her bed and put into the guard-room, and asked for her two little children and a mattress. It was so draughty that she lay all night on the flap to keep the wind from the children on the mattress. Both these women were removed as undesirables; no one in the camp knew where they were taken.
“ Every one received sufficient meal, but not meat. Those who had not money to buy food for themselves must have gone very short. The washing had to be done by themselves in a stagnant pool, which became very bad from constant use. The confinement and want of exercise was very much felt, for firewood was very scarce, and it was impossible to keep warm. Every one slept on the floor, and the wind blew in at the sides of the tent.
“The four of us shared a tent, and grandfather was ill all the while, and never got over the first two nights in the veld. One morning I said to him: ‘ Grandpa, you must get up, the sun is shining nice and warm outside.’ He said: ‘I cannot move a limb, I have gone stiff with the cold.’ And it was true, he could not move at all. Then inflammation of the lungs came on, and he said we had better take him to the hospital. He had a bed to lie on at the hospital, but the doctor did not go near him until we asked him to look at him. Then he just glanced at him, and said: ‘ Oh 1 he’s past my help ! ’ and went away. Next day grandpa died. He was a strong man before we were taken from our home. His body was put into a packing-case, and he was buried beside the railway line, where the many others who died were buried. Wood cannot be used to mark the graves, because it would be carried off for firewood. Every day there was one funeral, and sometimes there were as many as six.
“Meat ration is issued daily, and the usual difficulty arising out of the thinness of the meat has been experienced. Bully-beef had on two occasions to be issued instead of fresh meat, when the latter was too bad to eat. No reserve of rations is kept in the camp.”—Cd. 893, p. 101.
“ Washing.—Clothes are washed in shallow dams of dirty stagnant rain-water, half a mile from the camp. The women are only allowed to go out and wash their clothes at 7 a.m. in parties of from seventy to one hundred a day, with a police escort. The washing place is thoroughly unsuitable in every respect, but no other is available.”—p. 100.
“The lack of water makes cleanliness nearly impossible.”—p. 103.
“ Fuel.—At one time the people were dependent on ‘mist,’ which they collected, but owing to military regulations this had to be stopped.”
“ Beds and overcrowding.—There is a peat deal of unhealthy overcrowding. More tents are needed at once to abate serious overcrowding.
More kartels are urgently required. One hundred and twenty-three tents arc without any bed frames.”
“ Cemetery.—Very roughly kept, and unenclosed.”—p. 102.
“ Mortuary.—Very unsatisfactory; near the mule kraal. Very ragged bell - tent without trestles. Corpses wrapped in blankets only lay on stretchers on the ground. No means of keeping animals and idlers out. On the recommendation of the Committee it was removed at once to the hospital enclosure, and trestles provided. The superintendent also indented for calico for shrouds.”— p. 102. Ladies' Report.
See Mrs. Fawcett. Report of meeting and letter to the Times, March 24, 1902, where the need of calico for shrouds is characterised as ‘ foolishly sensational and wickedly misleading.’ See also Bethulie Camp.
“ I never felt well all the time I was in the camp. It was very dull, for no one dared to speak much, as the camp was full of spies who carried the least word to the Commandant. But none of the women wanted their husbands to give in. The Commandant was very rude to us when we went away. When we were standing on the platform, he came up to us and said : ‘ What business have you to be going when your husbands and brothers and sons are still fighting? Why don’t you tell them to give in ?’ Then he turned to me, and poked out his finger and thrust it into my face, and said: * And what are you doing here ? Writing, writing, always writing I What business have you to be complaining, and then leaving the camp ? ’ ’’
This story is told by a widow, who regards herself as an Englishwoman, though born in the Orange Free State—
“ On the 16th April 1901, a British column arrived at our village under General Elliot, on the afternoon of which day a large number of the inhabitants of the place got notice to get ready to proceed with the column to the railway camp, Vredefort Road. The people were allowed to take some clothing and bedding, which were packed in open waggons, on which they had to sit in the boiling heat in daytime.
“ Although the distance to be travelled was only sixteen miles, they had to submit to the torture of two days and nights on the veld A start was made about four o’clock p.m., but the first halt was made within sight of the village. No tents were provided, and no other provision had been made for shelter against the cold nights, and they had to sleep on the open veld. The officers in charge of the convoy never troubled themselves about the people, and the women had to see how best to get on.
“ The second evening’s halt was within sight of the camp and railway, and yet again they had to sleep in the open without shelter, old men and children suffering greatly.
“ The camp is surrounded by two barbed-wire fences, with wire entanglements between the fences, and a fort behind the camp; at each entrance sentries are placed to prevent escape.
“ But for that the women would soon be at large, the more as the Boers, notwithstanding the fort and searchlight, frequently approach the place, writing warnings on the watertanks to the military to treat their women prisoners better and to give them better food. The food, as usual, is poor and scanty, without vegetables or variation.
“There is no fresh milk at all. The Commission found that the new rice ration was much appreciated.”— Cd. 893, p. 101. (Six months later.)
“ Not infrequently the women are brought before the Commandant, for the purpose of trying to extract information from them. A few instances will be given—
“ Mrs. Badenhorst, of the Farm Wit Koppies, Kroonstad District, was brought before the Commandant, and was told to state where ammunition had been buried on her husband’s farm. In reply, she stated that she was not aware that any ammunition had been buried there. Whereupon she was sentenced to twenty-four hours’ solitary confinement in the guard tent, which is situated some distance away from the camp. At nightfall she claimed to have her two youngest children with her, and some bedding. As the tent had no proper fastenings and pegs, she had to lie on the side of the tent’s canvas to shelter her two little ones from cold. The next day the poor woman was once more interrogated and cross-examined by this officer, with no better result, and another sentence of thirty-six hours’ guard tent and solitary confinement. I should have mentioned that the day before the first charge was made, Mrs. Badenhorst committed the heinous crime of hanging her washed clothes on the inner barbed-wire fence to dry, and when told by one of the sentries to remove the same, she replied: ‘You tell the Commandant that if he objects to the washing being hung here to dry, he should provide some wire in the camp whereon we can dry our clothes. Surely he cannot expect the washing to dry on the dusty ground. This was too much for the dignified Major, and hence the persecution that followed. Mrs. Badenhorst and her family were deported from this camp, no one knew where to. Her husband was at the time prisoner of war in Green Point, Cape Town, but now at Bermudas.
“ Mrs. Barend Pretorious, of Rietspruit District, Kroonstad, was similarly charged and sentenced, and deported no one knows where. Mr. Pretorious was confined in another guard-tent for the same offence of not being able to state where ammunition is buried, and when his sentence expired he found his wife and children deported; he is still inquiring in vain what had become of them.
“ Another woman had the audacity to tell the Commandant, on being told by him to let their husbands know that they would be shot for tampering with the line of railway—* That she would not inform her husband not to do so, as the line had been built out of their pockets, and that they were at liberty again to destroy the same if they think fit to do so.' The sentence of guard-tent solitary confinement had no effect on her. When she returned to the camp, she came with a smile on her face, in charge of the guard, and said aloud to her fellow-camp prisoners: "I gladly suffered for the sake of our fighting men and brothers. I have done no wrong for which I need be ashamed. If I had been a man, I would not treat women and children as we are treated. Then I would hang my head and be ashamed. I glory in the suffering I have undergone.’ Her boldness (it is presumed) will contaminate the camp; she was sent away.”
The lady says that she was informed by one of the wounded soldiers that her house and everything in it, and several other houses of camp prisoners, were destroyed by fire after they left the village (that was the latter half of April). Her son is a prisoner of war, and was not there when the removal took place.
Mrs. Christian De Wet, wife of the well-known General, was captured some time after her farm was burnt, and eventually taken with her family to Johannesburg. She was enabled to live without English help, owing to the charity of the German community. Her protest, which has since been followed by another [See Part III.], was addressed to the Daily News, which paper had previously published her portrait.
“ Johannesburg, April 24, 1901.
“ Sir,—Having been informed that besides the appearance of my portrait you also published that I was now living in Johannesburg “under the protection” of H.M. Government, I hereby wish most strongly to protest against the use of such expression.
“ After our farm had been devastated by H.M. troops, and all our other possessions destroyed and taken, I roamed about with our children for some months, in order not to fall into the hands of the enemy of our nation, up to the 20th November 1900, when I was taken a prisoner and conveyed to Johannesburg in a cattle truck, notwithstanding they were well aware of the fact that I was the wife of General De Wet. Seeing that I was captured and conveyed hither against my wish and will, after having been robbed of everything, I demanded from the military authorities here sufficient food, and of good quality.
“ First this was promised me, but a few days later I was informed in writing that I would only be supplied with food in case I signed a document, and therein declared “ that I was without means of subsistence and was entirely dependent on Her Majesty’s Government.” (The Queen of England was then still living.)
“ The authorities further reserved to themselves the right to publish such document. To have done this would have been very humiliating to me, and I could not expose myself to it, especially not to the enemy of our nation.
“ I have asked no favour from the enemy, and I have no intention of ever doing so. It is true I live at Johannesburg, but against my will. From the English I receive nothing, and do not want anything from them. What I require I hope to receive through the intervention of humane friends, not from the English.—I am, etc.,
(Signed) “ C. M. De Wet
(Wife of General De Wet).”
“ I arrived,” writes Mrs. Roux, “ at Winburg on the 3rd of May, and was first sent to the Refugee Camp. Afterwards I was transferred to the Show-yard camp, where the ‘ undesirables ’ were kept, and where I had to remain about a fortnight. In the Show-yard camp the number of men, women, and children varied between 400 and 275. I cannot exactly say how large its area is, but it is certainly under 200 paces by 300. It is surrounded by a fence of galvanised iron, 7 to 8 ft. high, so that no one can look over it. We were not allowed to leave the camp, and were treated as prisoners.
Extracts from Report of Ladies’ Commission.—Cd. 893.
“ A small number, called the undesirables, are living in the town Show-yard.”—p. 83.
“The Show-yard had forty-eight huts. The maximum number in the huts was eight.”
In the camp are huts of galvanised iron, in which the women had to live. A watch was set over us, and there was but one gate, through which we were not allowed to pass. When I entered the camp it contained women and children who had been there for more than four months, without ever having been outside the gate. The doctor of the camp, Dr. Schneehagen, told me that he had drawn up a report about the sanitary condition of the camp, and would have sent it to the Board of Health at Bloemfontein, but he was not allowed to do so. He declared that all the ground was defiled, so that the camp was altogether unfit to live in. The sanitary arrangements are such as do not allow of discussion in public. In a fortnight there were seven deaths. Every one, without any exception, got meat, flour, and condensed milk, also sugar and coffee. We got 1/2 lb. of meat a day. The women, however, told me that before I entered the camp they had not had fresh meat for seventeen days. We got our water in carts, which are sent to the camp, but were not allowed to take as much water as we like.
“ Show-yard Latrines.—There is no special provision for children, and Lhe large women’s latrines should have more partitions.”—p. 84.
" Meat.—The people grumbled more about food and especially about meat than at any other place. The Segregation Camps had refused their meat on one occasion j it was taken back to the contractor and sold at once in the town. The ration-house in the Segregation Camp was very dirty and ill kept.”
“ Coal is issued (I lb. per head per day only) weekly. The people need more fuel.”
We also get firewood, but must make our fires outside, at a place appointed for it. Sometimes it was raining, and though the place was slushy and dirty we still had to make our fires there. The children had nothing to do; as a rule, they would chop wood. They did not go to school, and had to remain inside the camp. Once a day they were allowed to play outside the camp. The play hour—only one hour was allowed them to be outside the camp in the playground, and only children under twelve were permitted to go outside the camp—was at three in the afternoon. This hour, as a great favour, was allowed them, after they had been for four months inside the camp, by the advice of the doctor and Nurse Bakkes. The women in the tents were obliged to sleep on the ground, though some of them who had bedding were allowed to bring it with them. When Nurse Bakkes arrived, twenty-two patients in the hospital got only two bottles of milk a day. The condition in which she found the camp was such that she directly went to the Commissioner, and begged him to go with her to the camp to see the children, who had not had proper food for three days, die with hunger, as the women had not received any firewood with which to prepare food for the children. He accompanied her, and sent three cart-loads of firewood to the camp.
“ Considering everything I have seen and heard, I cannot think but we are prisoners. There were two cases to prove this. One Mrs. Scot and seven children came to the camp. When there, one of her children, a girl, became ill, and was taken to the Show-yard hospital outside the camp, but the mother was not allowed to accompany her. When the child was dying, a permit was refused her to go to the hospital, and the child died without seeing her mother again. Afterwards two more children of hers fell ill, and were also taken to the hospital. In two months’ time she lost four children, who died of fever; the latter she was allowed to visit One Mrs. Esterhuizen, of Brandfort, repeatedly sent in a request to be allowed to stay at the village of Winburg at her own expense, which was refused her. She was taken ill with fever, and died while I was in the camp. The Commissioner at Winburg seems to be too young and inexperienced. When Nurse Bakkes begged him to send more articles to the camp and hospital, he answered that if they were to manage things in that way they would almost make England a bankrupt. The way in which the women are treated is not all that can be desired. They are removed from their farms by Kaffirs and taken to the camp. Sometimes these Kaffirs are most insolent. A watch is set over the camp. Some of the Boers who surrendered— we call them ‘hands uppers’—do the general work of the camps; fetch the water, carry the wood, and remove the dirt. Mr. Koenbrink told me to keep calm and quiet, or they would take me away from my children, and send me to another camp.
“ Opinion of Local Committee.— We would rather have an Englishman at the head of all departments in the camp.”—p. 87.
The women, too, were threatened with smaller rations if they would not keep calm and quiet They were not allowed to buy any food, though some of them had some money. I know Nurse Bakkes personally. She is like a ray of light for the camp, and does some noble work; she is heartily beloved by all the women and children in the camp. The nurses who have been sent to us by Our friends we thank very much, they do the work of angels.”
“ Sister Bakkes matron) knows her work, and is deservedly trusted by the doctors. —Cd. 893, p. S6.
" Refugees can only buy food-stuffs by order of the Magistrate.” - p85.
Another lady, whose husband is too well known for her to give her name at present, writes her account of Winburg Show-yard, which amplifies while it substantiates that of the last writer—
“ My sister and I lived quietly in Senekal Town to the end of April 1901. Up to that date everything had gone on as usual in that district. Women were living unmolested on their farms, and farming operations went on undisturbed though the men were away on commando. At times the British came through and occupied the place, and once a wounded British officer was left in my care. My sister and I nursed him tenderly for two months, and great was our pride and joy when at last he seemed on the mend and could get about a little with the aid of a stick. But the British came in again, and the officers occupied our house, and, greatly to our distress, insisted that the wounded officer must be sent to the military hospital to undergo an operation. We knew well what that would mean, and my sister bravely stood up before the English Commandant, as he sat at table, and protested. It was in vain, the officer was sent away, and in a day or two was dead. Our house was occupied by the military, we ourselves were sent away to Winburg Camp. This is really two camps, the ordinary Concentration Camp, and that for ‘undesirables’ on the racecourse. We were at first placed in the former, where the usual regulations prevailed. We were indeed allowed to walk into Winburg, but we were not allowed to add in any way to the rations, ‘ not by so much as a clove to flavour our soup.’ [It will be remembered that the Commission visited this camp six months later.] After a short time in this camp we were with some other women removed to that for ‘ undesirables.’ It seemed in our case to be a punishment for holding the prayer meetings which are usual among the Dutch people at that particular season. In the racecourse camp there were at that time, during the month of May, about 400 people. These were veritable prisoners, surrounded by a high corrugated iron fence, and guarded night and day by armed sentries. The huts or sheds were packed closely together, and the only view was that of the sky. The sanitary arrangements were very bad, being quite close on the tents, and the smell was horrible. Typhoid of course was rampant. The women were packed into long sheds, each family having a right to a space 8 ft. by 10 ft., but there were no partitions between, save the sheets or blankets that the women themselves might choose to rig up. You might have fever on the one side of you and fever on the other, for the air was common to all.
“ In spite of the terrible sickness, and the great monotony and confinement, the women were calm and cheerful. One poor woman had been brought to the camp with her seven children in an open waggon. It rained heavily, and for a day and a night the party sat huddled in mud and water. The consequence was that they arrived in a state which left them a prey to sickness, though they were strong children when they left home. One sifter another they died of typhoid. But the mother was quite calm; she said that death did not matter if only the country got its independence.
“ The children felt the imprisonment very severely; they moped and looked ‘ like little old men and women.* At last the military said they might go outside the camp to a certain space to play, but were threatened with punishment if they dared go beyond the bounds assigned them. The poor little things, instead of playing, sank down in a huddled heap together on the ground, and remained there till the play hour was over. Of course afterwards they made more use of their liberty, but were still sad-faced and grave. Not so the women, who were all bright and cheerful, and determined not to seem depressed, cowed, or down-trodden, whatever the pressure put upon them. Papers were brought them more than once to sign, in which their men on commando were to be implored to give in. Not one woman would sign, nor have anything to do with the * Peace Commission.* Later on a more subtle temptation was presented to them. They were asked simply to sign their names to a petition to leave that camp for a better place. The paper was apparently blank; merely the names were to be collected of such as wished to leave. The women were puzzled for a time, and wanted to know what to do. Finally, they all refused 4 for fear the burghers should get to know.* One poor woman was sadly tempted by her little children, who clung to her skirts and cried and begged her to take them to a nicer place.
“ I had five minutes,** Mrs. Carstens tells us, “in April to pack up and get into the open waggon; two English farmers I knew were acting as guides to the column, and helped me to collect some bedding, etc., so I was better off than most. When we got to the train, I refused to get into the open trucks, as I had my daughter’s child with me, of three years old, just recovered from pneumonia, and the weather looked threatening. Then they got a carriage for me, in which I sheltered as many as could be crowded into it for the night. I was amongst those who were sent in from Springfontein to Bethulie, where I thought some provision would have been made for us; but when we arrived we remained again for two days in the train. At the end of that time they said the train was needed, and we were all left on the platform, where some of us remained for three weeks waiting till our turn came to be removed to the camp as the tents arrived. We just slept on the open platform, cooking our food as well as we could, gathering sticks and mists. It was a sad night when we arrived there, all wet and cold, the poor children crying because they could not eat the hard biscuit and bully-beef. The doctors with the column were very kind and nice, but when we got to Bethulie, the doctor there, a German, was sent for to see two children who were dying. My little one had a boil on its neck which needed to be lanced, so I took it to the doctor, and there were other mothers also bringing their children to him, but he said very roughly, ‘I was sent for to see two and I won’t see a hundred,’ and went off leaving many of the poor women in tears, most forlorn. The Commandant of the camp, Mr. Deare, was a kind, considerate man, which was a great consolation to us in our trouble."
An anxious mother, with five children, writes pathetically to friends, when the camp life is still new and strange to her—
“ POTCHEFSTROOM CAMP, May 22, 1901.
“ I was very much pleased to receive a letter from you, and thank you heartily for what you do for my dear husband, whom I love so much.
“ I did not receive a letter from my husband since April of last year, when in the month of June they said that he was dead. From other people I learned afterwards that my husband was a prisoner of war, and now, dear madam, they have taken me prisoner on the 12th of May. On Sunday morning, as we were breakfasting, we received notice to be ready to move by four in the afternoon.
“ I spoke to the General, but it was of no use. I said to him : ' Oh, I pray you shoot me dead now, for it is all the same whether I die here or in camp.’ My children cried piteously. The officer came to me. He clasped his hands on seeing my beautiful house and the beautiful furniture, saying that it was a pity that I had to be taken prisoner. He kissed my children, and thought them so nice that he gave them some jam. May God grant me to keep them; so many grown-up people and children die here in the camp; sometimes seven in a day. The doctor says it is because the quantity of food is insufficient, and the quality of what is given is bad. If my husband knew all this he certainly could not live. I trust, and my kind friends, that if you can be of any assistance to me you are willing to give it,
“ Is it possible that if I come to you at the Cape, either that you have got a room for me, or that you took a little house for me ? I have got four bags of com left, and other food to last me for some time.
" The superintendent has been issuing corned beef lately owing to the ordinary meat being so thin and poor" - Cd 893 p129
“ It would be for me and my children, as well as for my husband, a terrible thing to die here. Oh! do take some trouble, please, before it is too late.
“ The parson’s wife is going to the Cape too; it is impossible for her to stay here. I have been allowed to take with me some beds, bedsteads, and clothes. Do write an answer to this letter as soon as you can. I hope God will be with us. He alone can help. There is written in the Bible: ‘ Take a delight in the Lord: He shall give thee what thy heart desires.’ Oh! if we only relied on God at all times, and trusted in Him. I must finish now. I hope you will help me. May God bless you all.—Ever, your friend.
“ P.S.—I had already finished this letter, and we are now going to sleep. In a tent on one side, however, we hear a child coughing; in another, one or two groaning and wailing; then another again vomiting. Oh! I do fear so much for my dear children; they are accustomed to live in a new, well-built house, and now we must sleep in an open tent. Oh! do help me to get the Cape, I beseech you. My husband .will afterwards repay you. Do exert yourselves in my behalf. The tents have been pitched here side by side, and are bad for our health. I will do anything for you if you will help me. Once more, do send me an answer at your earliest convenience whether I can come, for I long so much for it now that I can stay no longer here.
“ Expecting your kind answer very soon.”
“ Dr. Dixon’s report for May shows that the health of the women and children was anything but satisfactory, and the mortality amongst children had been very great—due to a very severe epidemic of measles, accompanied with chest complaints, caused by a very cold wind from the south, together with exposure to cold by tent-living.”
Mrs. G.’s narrative was taken down from her lips in December last, the 16th. Being the wife of a prominent Free Stater, her name cannot be given without special permission, and it is not at present possible to communicate with her.
“ Mrs. G. and her husband lived on a beautiful farm at P. Mr. G. had been staying quietly on his farm as a prisoner on parole from March 1900 to January 1901, but in the latter month he was suddenly taken away and put in gaol, although he had in no way broken his parole, and had surrendered on the express understanding that he should live quietly on his farm. For four months longer Mrs. G. continued to live on the farm unmolested by the various columns which passed through the district, except that of course they took sheep as they wanted them.
“ On the 18th of June 1901, a large sweeping column, under Colonel Williams, was encamped at her sister’s house, twenty minutes away. It was engaged in sweeping or clearing the district. This was about the eighth column that had passed through the district since her husband had been taken away, and the one immediately previous to this, commanded by Colonel Williams, had started the practice of burning grain, forage, stores of food, etc., and had collected as much as it could in the way of cattle. Colonel Williams’ column seemed to be sweeping the country bare in a circular fashion, round the central point of her sister’s farm, where he lay encamped for a little over a week. It was the ninth day after his arrival, being the 1st of June, when the soldiers arrived at Mrs. G.’s farm. The women never minded the regular soldiers so much; it was the patrols of armed natives who were sent to do the worst sort of work, and it was these armed natives who gave the first alarm. It was a bitterly cold morning, the snow falling fast, and about sunrise, or 7 a.m., when they came. She was already up and dressed, had finished breakfast, and had got the dinner on the fire, when she saw armed natives had come, and were collecting stock, and behaving impudently to her servants. They were driving away all the cows and calves, and one little servant boy in distress cried out; ‘Leave me one cow with her calf, just one.’ But the armed natives replied insolently. By this time the whole house was surrounded by armed khakis, and when she went out the verandah was full of them. By the deference paid him Mrs. G. soon discovered which was the Captain of the troop. He had a pleasant face and spoke very politely to her. He said he regretted to say he had instructions to clear the country, and she must therefore get ready to leave home. She replied that she was not fit to travel. Outside there was a whole convoy of waggons, full of other families of the district who had been turned out of their homes, and many of whom she knew. ‘Oh, do make haste and pack,’ cried many of these poor women. * Yes, we know how you feel; we said we could not leave our homes. Look at our faces and see how we have cried. But it was no use; we had to go, and you’ll have to go too. Oh, do begin to pack.’ ‘No,’ said Mrs. G.; ‘you can pack for me if you like, and you, and you; but as for me, I will lie on this sofa, and if they want me they will have to carry me away.’
“ How would you live,’ asked the Captain, ‘when you are all alone, and the country is devastated of food?’ ‘Oh,’ she answered wildly, ‘ there are the doves. I have fifty doves flying about overhead; I can kill them one a day and live on them, and grow vegetables; I shall manage, I shall manage.’ Then, when she saw this was of no avail, she pleaded that her lungs were weak and she had hurt her side; but the army doctor came and examined her, and said that her heart was sound Then she went almost frantic, fell down on her knees before the officer, and took hold of his hands, and cried: ‘ Oh, look at your soldiers carrying out my beautiful furniture. See what they are doing.’ For they had made a big fire, and were heaping on to it her pillows and feather-beds; and out of the house the soldiers came running, carrying her silver candlesticks, and all sorts of things—tables, chairs, clocks, etc. ‘What are you doing?’ she cried out; ‘ What are you doing with my things ? ’ ‘ Oh! we are just taking away with us the things we want,’ was the answer.
“ The officer was very distressed when she knelt before him and pleaded so hard to be allowed to remain in her own house, and said at last: ‘ Well, I’m awfully sorry, and I tell you what you had better do. Go to Colonel Williams, and plead your cause with him. He is on the next farm; just go with the convoy as far as that.’ Mrs. G. again refused, and he said in despair to her little niece, ‘ Do go and speak to your mother and tell her she must come away at once.’ ‘ Auntie,’ said the little girl earnestly, ‘ do come, or the Kaffirs will come and carry you out; don’t let the Kaffirs touch you, do come.’ ‘ For God’s sake,’ replied Mrs. G., ‘ go away and leave me to myself, and leave everything to destruction.’ ‘ Don’t say that,’ said the officer, distressed. ‘ We won’t destroy anything, only come away.’
“ She got up at last, and through the midst of her tears surveyed the waggon which stood ready to take her away. ‘ I can’t get into that stinking thing,’ she said, looking at the illsmelling floor of the vehicle. But they forced her in, heartbroken as she was, and they moved slowly away, leaving the dinner cooking on the stove. They broke up the stove, they broke her husband’s beautiful carpenter’s shop, they smashed his ploughs and machinery brought lately from America, even down to the spades. The light furniture, also from America, the soldiers went on smashing before her very eyes. Before she went away the two old Kaffir servant-girls, who had been with her for years and years, clung to her crying, and said, ‘ Oh, missis, missis, they’ve shot the baas’s beautiful stallion in the stable ! ’ This stallion had cost Mr. G. over £200. He was standing in the stable with an inflamed foot, so, as the soldiers could not take him away, they shot him dead. These two poor Kaffir women did not escape; their huts were burned, and they clung weeping and terrified to their mistress, crying ‘Myn huis is verbrannt, myn huis is verbrannt.’
“ The sad procession moved on. There were dozens of families filling up waggon after waggon. The wind was blowing gustily, cold and piercing, and the dust raised was so great that you could not see the waggons nor how far they extended. They were driven by Kaffirs, some of whom were very rude and insulting. Although her sister’s farm was only twenty minutes distant, it was sundown when they got there. There was nothing but the bare ground to sleep upon. The house had been seized for the use of Colonel Williams and his staff, and there was no room for any one else. They made a sort of camp out on the veld, trying to shelter near the waggons, but the snow was falling, the wind bitter cold, and the children were crying with misery. With Mrs. G. were her husband’s aged parents, his mother of 75 and father of 77. She could bear their piteous looks no longer, and went indoors to find her sister. ‘Look here, sister,’ she said, * old father and mother can’t sleep out in the cold.’ Her sister looked at her in a dazed, frightened way. ‘ What am I to do ?' she said. ‘ I have not a bed in my own house ; for a week I have lain in the pantry.’ Mrs. G. saw she was bewildered and broken, and on her own responsibility she brought in the old father to sit by the kitchen fire; he was starved and pinched with the cold, and every instant was coughing a hard, dry little cough. Colonel Williams appeared, and Mrs. G. obtained from him the concession that the old couple should sleep that night under the roof; but she could give them nothing to eat. The Colonel had commandeered all the provisions in the house, and all that week the mistress of the farm had been rationed, scantily enough, out of her own food.
“ At that moment, looking out of the window, Mrs. G. exclaimed, ‘ Oh, father, they are burning your carriage ! ’ The soldiers outside were breaking it up for firewood. Then she went out to the rest of the party sitting in the snow in the gathering darkness of the veld. Her friends had, happily, packed a few things out of the house before she left, but the blankets and pillows were stored away in the waggons and hard to get at She managed to get out one or two, but the poor little party were almost frozen to death. All night the children’s incessant cry was, ‘Oh, auntie, give us another blanket! Oh, auntie, give us something to eat! ’ until she was almost distracted, for she could do neither, and felt as if she were freezing to death herself. It was joy next morning to see the sun after that endless night of wind and darkness, cold and hunger.
“ The wind had fallen towards morning, and the snow ceased, and they were able to make a fire and cook some breakfast. The order was soon given to move on, but a thought struck Mrs. G. She felt as if she and the old couple could not again stand the jolting of the dirty waggon, and there in the yard stood her own spider. She went to the Colonel and asked permission to tie the spider behind the waggon. This was granted, and the old father and mother sat up in the spider and she sat with them. Thousands and thousands of sheep were driven along with the waggons on either side of the road, and they raised such a dust that there was no seeing the sun. The whole of that day they jolted slowly, slowly in the clouds of dust, their vision bounded on either side by the toiling, frightened sheep, and in front and behind by the waggons full of women and children and household goods. All day long the old mother was murmuring, ‘ Oh, my child, it is the day of judgment, it is the day of judgment! ’
“ Although the station was only one hour distant by ordinary travelling from Mr. G.’s farm, they did not get there till the evening. All the goods were then flung out of the waggons, and the people were left to shelter for the night as best they could. They were just put down along the railway line, with no shelter provided of any sort whatever. The people huddled together behind the waggons, and now the dust was still, one could see hundreds of them. The soldiers made their rough jokes as they passed along the crouching, silent, huddled lines. What a night! The cold was intense, and the icy wind blew round the waggons. As the sun set and the people realised that another winter night without food or fire was to be spent on the bare veld, some of them became terrified. Young girls took knives and began chopping bits of wood from the sides of the waggons to make a fire, but of course they were soon ordered to desist. There was nothing else to make a fire of on all the wide veld, bare of tree or shrub or plant.
“The children cried aloud from hunger, terror, and cold, but the women uttered no sound. They sat huddled up in the dumb patience of despair. What was most pitiful was to see the old people, sitting silent, without a word of complaint, with the tears rolling quietly down their worn cheeks. Mrs. G. looked at her old father with the icy wind blowing about him till she could bear it no longer. She went up to the guard and spoke to him sharply and decidedly: ‘ Guard, see here, you must find us food and you must find us fire. Can’t you hear the children crying ? Can’t you hear the old men moaning ? Are you going to let us die here on your hands ?'
“ The guard was moved by this appeal, and brought her old candle-boxes, and things of that sort, with which the women made three little fires, enough each to boil a kettle and make a little cocoa, though what was that among so many? Still the very effort kept them going. At last the long night wore away, and the sun shone out again. Then the trucks began to come up in relays, and the people were carted off, some to Springfontcin, some to Norval’s Pont, and some elsewhere. Great was the noise and confusion over the luggage. The people crowded round the trucks while the goods were being tossed in, and had to shout, ‘That’s mine, that’s mine,’ or, ‘No, that’s Mrs. So-and-So’s, and she’s on the other truck.’ Mrs. G. got on to a dirty coal-truck with her party, her old father, mother, sister, nieces, nephew, the two old Kaffir girls, and two little orphan Kaffirs, and all their belongings. All along the servants had clung to her with desperate eagerness. ‘Ah, missis, give me a bit of food,’ they would say, as if she still had the household under her command.
“ But at Norval’s Pont the little party was separated. The Kaffirs had to go into one camp and the white people into another. There was a strict rule against keeping any servants in the white camp, but they ventured to keep the two little orphan girls, as they had been brought up in the house and were like their own. However, they did not keep them long, for the police were sent to take away the two little girls, greatly to their distress. Mrs. G. thereupon stated her case to the Commandant, saying, ‘ They are orphans; I have had them ever since they were babies, and I am bringing them up as my own.’ He was very kind, and said he would give her a permit. As Mrs. G. said, he was a gentleman, and had some common sense. The only stipulation he made was that they should go back to the Kaffir camp at night. What became of the two old girls she never knew. At Norval’s Pont there was not the same misery at starting as in many other camps. There seemed plenty of tents for new-comers, and the burghers in the place brought these for the party and helped to put them up. Being a combination of three families, they at once applied for a marquee, which was granted. They then made the floor for themselves, got in their belongings, and settled for the night. It was sundown of the third day since they were tom from their farms.
“ Pitiful were the tales the neighbours told her of the way in which they had been driven into camp. Mrs. G.’s own two nieces, girls of about twenty, had been driven along in front of the soldiers’ horses. They said they did not want to leave their home, and refused to climb into the waggons, for which they were told to run for their lives, and had to run for half an hour, panting and terrified at the coarse jokes of the soldiers, in front of the horses. A Mrs. Marais was marched for three hours in front of the horses. A Mrs. Traichel was driven along by mounted natives for four hours, carrying her child. When at last she arrived at Philippolis with her three children, she was soaked to the skin by the rain and sleet. In this condition she was locked for the night into a room without food or fire. Mrs. G. said it was the use of the natives which all the people felt they could never forgive. She herself, a month or two before her deportation, had escaped to the mountains for four days in sheer dread of the native scouts. She had put the horses into the spider and driven off alone with her little niece; they walked their feet sore in the hills, and wore away her skirt into rags up to her knees among the rough stones, but this was preferable to facing a column with its native scouts, or being driven into a camp. Mrs. G. said she never dreaded the regular troops, it was the irregulars and the blacks who were so terrible.
“ About a fortnight after their arrival in camp, an old neighbour came in who described the present condition of her house. She told Mrs. G.: * There is only one chair left. Your curtains, piano, tables, bedsteads, everything is gone. It is just a desolation.’ This was not the last she heard of the beautiful home.
" Mrs. G. never recovered those two terrible nights in the open. She got a cough and a weakness of the chest which camp life made ever worse and worse. The ground was incessantly damp; everything taken from the floor in the morning was heavy with cold damp. She worked, too, for the even greater sufferers around her, and the consequence was a severe illness and a complete breakdown of her health. Her husband heard of her state of health, and, being a prisoner on parole, he obtained with great difficulty permission to see her in the camp. It was a great shock, for he would scarcely have known her. The doctor was kind and considerate, and made out a certificate to the effect that if she remained longer in camp she would certainly die. By this means, though with great difficulty, Mr. G. got his wife out of the camp after three months' residence there. From Norval’s Pont they went up to Bloemfontein, and here she had her second chance of hearing about the state of her farm. Two young nieces from that neighbourhood had lately been put in the camp, and, knowing that their aunt was passing by, obtained permission from the Commandant to station themselves at a spot where they could have a few minutes’ talk with her. At the sight of their aunt the girls burst into tears, and Betty said, ‘ Oh, auntie, your farm is burnt down to the ground, the trees are all cut down, the dam is blown up with dynamite, the walls are razed to the ground ! ’
“ Mrs. G. said the rations in camp were not sufficient. They could never make them do. If you rolled two days’ rations into one you could just manage to make it do for one day. She found camp an extremely expensive place, for you not only had to supply your own wants but you had to help along your poorer neighbours. For the poor who had no money it was veritable starvation diet. The women were always busy from morning till night, baking, cooking, washing, and keeping their tents clean and tidy. Their spare time went in looking after the sick, of which there were always plenty, making poultices, sitting up at night, and so on. Mrs. G. shuddered at the thought of those dark times; the deathbed scenes in camp, she said, would remain with her to her dying day. The old father died shortly after he was brought in.”
One night in the middle of May a patrol of British soldiers came to Tweefontein, the farm of Mrs. G. Jacobs. Her husband was at the time a prisoner of war in Green Point, and her sons either prisoners or on commando.
“ I myself,’’ she says, “ with five children, the eldest a girl of eighteen, a Miss Rahl, and two other women, were taken by the soldiers to the British camp. I was in very delicate health, but as we had to proceed on foot we could not take anything with us. We started at eight o’clock p.m., and only reached the soldiers’ camp at midnight. On the way we had to wade through a spruit, so that we were wet up to our knees. Owing to fatigue, one of the children was not able to proceed farther, and was taken on horseback by one of the soldiers. Thoroughly knocked up and wet, we arrived at the camp, where we had to sit waiting till the next morning. Then we were put on a waggon and brought to the Refugee Camp at Springfontein.”
Very touching is the translation given below of a letter asking for help. It was written to a lady, an acquaintance of mine, who happened to owe the prisoner some money—
Mrs. Bosman to Mrs. N.
“ Bloemfontein Camp, June 1901.
“ Ah! what shall I say to you ? We are all taken out of our beloved homes, which we now value rightly for the first time, and are placed in round tents in this camp. We came here on the 29th of May with a lot of others, nearly all our neighbours and acquaintance. Oh! it is wonderful to see what we have to endure. We women have to do more than what Basuto girls ever have to do at home with us. And yet we are satisfied and submissive. Each understands well that it is God’s will that we should suffer for our dearly beloved country, and outside of His will can no great thing happen to us; the Lord has promised us in His holy word never to leave us or forsake us.
“ Dear madam, I must now share with you my bitter experience, that the dear Lord has thought well to take my dear—yes, my very dearest son; the 8th of February he was wounded, and on the 10th he died. Although the wound in my heart is deep and the place sore, I will bow and say what God does is well done. Oh, this time of proving has taught us much; dark clouds have gone over our heads, and still the end is not.
“ My son John is in Ceylon; my husband and son Pieter were in Simon’s Town, but now I understand are sent to India. I have now only my three daughters and one son with me.
“ Ah, dear madam, I am compelled to ask you to send me some money, and I trust with certainty that you will grant my request if you understand the suffering we have. I shall be deeply obliged if you can send me £20. We get bare food here, no vegetables — nor anything else, so you can well understand that our need is great—for our very lives.
“ P.S.—It is bitterly cold in the tents, neither have we any proper place to write.”
" Insufficient Food Supply. —I think £ lb. of meat for an adult not sufficient. Fresh milk and vegetables (even though compressed or preserved) should be supplied two or three times a week,” etc.
Dr. Becker’s Report.
Cd. 819, p. 94.
“ Bloemfontein Camp. — It is unhealthy, and very bleak and much exposed to the cold winds.”
Report of Superintendent.
Cd. 819, p. 92.
“ Insufficient housing and covering, absence of warmth. The tents are not giving sufficient warmth to people who have been suddenly removed from houses. Some of the tents are useless as a covering.
Cd. 819, p. 94.
Mrs. Botha, who had applied many times during my stay in Bloemfontein to be released in order to join her relations in Cape Colony, was as often refused. I represented to the authorities that six months in camp had told seriously upon her, and that her strength was failing. If she was not allowed to go she would certainly be ill, and perhaps die.
Permission was refused; a long and serious illness was the result. Three months later she wrote to me—
Mrs. Botha to Myself.
“ July 1901.
“ You will be surprised to receive a letter from me from the Cape. I would have written to you long ere this, but as our letters were censored at the camp one felt no inclination for writing. I daresay you will have heard that I was brought out of the camp last May. I took the fever, and was taken to Bloemfontein, to the Volks Hospital, where I was close upon two months. I had a complication with the fever. . . . The doctor gave a certificate that I was unable to return to the camp with such broken health, and advised me to go to the Cape, where I am once more enjoying home comfort after spending so many months of hardship in the camp, where I have lost my health entirely. . . . You have no idea how many deaths we have had since you visited the camps, so many of the old faces we will not see on earth again. The bathrooms have not been erected as yet, not through the fault of the military though, as they could not get the timber through. We see in the newspapers that they are sending out a Commission from England to the camps. I am trying to go and meet them if I can get a chance, to tell them that I have just recently come from there, and tell them of all the good you have done to our people, and all the improvements, and [ask them] please to visit all the tents as you did and not the marquees alone.
" The camp they have divided into four parts, the iron buildings they have turned into hospitals; removed all the lower tents up on to the opposite rise.
“ Miss F. asked me to ask you please to send more shoe-leather, as it is very much needed in the camp. We highly appreciate your statements and pleading for us women of the camps.
“ Well, the last but not the least that fills my heart and mind is to thank you and all the kind English friends for their great kindness in sending clothes, etc., to our poor women and children in trouble. It has comforted many a sorrowful heart and clothed many a naked body from the cold winter."
Every improvement that alleviated the hard life in camp, and every act of kindness that assuaged its bitterness, was noted and appreciated—
" Bloemfontein, July 18.
“ I am glad to say,” writes Miss Ferreira, “our room-mates are all well still
“ We have so much sickness in camp, over five hundred people have died since December.
“ A new hospital has been erected since you left; it is fitted up well with stoves. All the measles, pneumonia, and bronchitis patients are nursed there. Miss M‘Leod, an American lady, is matron, she is a dear, dear person, she is liked by all patients. I have learned to know her well, as I have been sixteen days in hospital nursing my aunt, Mrs. Van Rooyen. I am sorry to inform you that Mrs. Van Rooyen died 6th inst of pneumonia. She will be missed by many in camp.
“ My time is very occupied in giving out candles, barley, soap, etc., to the sick, and taking up names of the poor for clothing.
“ I must thank you most heartily for what you have done to my fellow-sufferers. I can assure you it was a sweet drop in the bitter cup that we have to empty. Every kind act or word from some one is very much appreciated nowadays.
“ I will always be happy to hear that you are well.”
But sickness and death were the prevailing themes throughout the year, and from every tent-home of which we have a glimpse—
Letter to a Friend in Cape Town.
“ Howick Camp, June 6, 1901.
“ Poor Fanie is ill with fever. I feel so sad and downhearted sometimes, and think why must I have so much trouble ? The Rev. Mr. Rousseau preached for us here this afternoon from the text in Job, ‘Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil ? *
“ It has greatly consoled me, I must say, and I find that amidst all my trouble I have much to be thankful for still The doctor says it is not enteric that Janie and Fanie have, so he has left them in the tent for me to nurse, for which I am thankful. The R.’s have gone into another tent, so I have plenty of room for them here. Isabel has also returned home from the hospital, so you see I have them all together again. She is getting strong already, but Janie remains so weak she can with difficulty walk from her bed to a chair, and she is up almost a week now. Fanie is still very ill, and his fever runs as high as 103*, but he looks strong, and I hope he will soon be over it too.
“ The ‘ hands uppers ’ here in the camp, with the exception of three, have turned British subjects now by promising to take the oath of allegiance; I always bore an ill-feeling towards them, but now I simply loathe them. They all have sons, brothers, and fathers still fighting, and how can they face them after this ? But I believe the women here gave them a good bit of their mind, and the result is that they shun us, and simply stick to their tents. Mr. C. and two other Heidelbergers have also taken the oath, and have returned to Heidelberg. I hear several others at Ladysmith are taking the same oath, and then they are allowed to go home. But one can hardly expect anything better of * hands uppers ’! ”
Another prisoner in Howick, one who has spent her time in helping the poor amongst her people there, says—
“ Howick, Sept. 29.
“ The washhouse, which has till now been our church, is by far too small, and will not seat a quarter of us. . . . Most of the new arrivals are in a very poor condition, some really in rags, and such a lot of sickness amongst them; the little ones so pinched and hungry looking; they are an advertisement for the camps whence they came 1 We have taken up names of those who are most needy, and from to-morrow (D. V.) we intend to commence distributing. The authorities are also making a move to supply clothing. But some of the poor are afraid to go in for this; they are supposed to pay some day, and they say they do not like to accumulate debts.
“With the new arrivals measles and whooping-cough made their appearance. In making the rounds of the tents last week, we came across sad things; in nearly every third tent there is sickness, measles, measles and measles again; in two tents we found all laid up except the mother. . . . they seem to get through the measles better here, I think. A lot depends on the medical treatment.”
Letters from women in Irene Camp have been very scarce. Yet one was received which says—
“ July 1, 1901.
“ There have been as many as eleven sick with measles in one tent in K.’s ward. Two and three have died in one tent within twenty-four hours. Last week the deaths at Irene were forty-six, mostly in two wards. Nearly all measles and debility. And yet new arrivals are added daily to the sick wards—I mean healthy people from other districts are brought in* The consequence is in less than a week they are all down. Whooping-cough has made an appearance also. There will be no chance for the convalescent measles patients. Food they have not to give the poor hungry sick ones.
“The whole camp (Sept. 23) is served with 1 1/2 lbs. of meat per adult, and 1 lb. each child (under twelve years) twice a week. This ration includes bone. The meat was extremely thin (the sheep only weighed 15 and 16 lbs. each) and the ration certainly looked very scanty.”—Cd. 893. P116
The mothers say: ‘My children are getting better, but they are so hungry, and if I give them the only thing I have—bread and black coffee —they will not have it.’ You must remember for many months they have had nothing but bread. Children under eight (it used to be under twelve about three weeks ago) still receive half rations — £ lb. of flour per day, no meat—and you know the Boer children live on meat from infancy, good bread, meat, and milk. The flour is better now, but the meat is unfit to be eaten even by a dog. I have seen it with my own eyes, and was told that the sheep were carried to be slaughtered—they could not walk.”
“ Middblburg Camp, July 7, 1901.
“ It was very pleasant,” writes a lady, “to receive letters from you, and then, too, such a sum of money. I did not think you could in these bad times get so much together. It was a pleasant surprise. The money is in the hands of Mrs. Burger. She knows the needy ones better than I do. Please thank the charitable givers, and tell them the poor in camp thank them too.
“ Candles were very scarce, so that an invalid had frequently to be attended to by the light of a match. Now many a mother will have a bit of calico again in which to wrap the corpse of her little child.
“ In four days* time there were fifty-two burials. Sad, is it not? Now whooping-cough is raging, so that many a child recovered from measles now dies of this terrible cough.
“ Shrouds and coffins had invariably been provided for all corpses.” —Cd. 893, p. 151. [Whether by Government or charity is not indicated. —E.H.]
“ The task of inspection was rendered additionally troublesome and perplexing by the impossibility of obtaining accurate statements as to matters of fact from the superintendent.”—p. 145. See also description of Mortuary requirements at Vrede-fort Road and Bethulie. I can from my own experience confirm the accuracy of the particular need aUuded to in this letter. See also p. 201.
“ Deaths for month of July, 403.” —Cd. 819, p. 253, Medical Report
“Deaths for July, 413.”—Cd. 893, p. 151.
“ Vegetables we seldom see here. For the animals there is nothing in the veld, and with great trouble do we now and again get a bag of mealies for j£j, ^s. The Lord holds His hand over us, otherwise we had long ago perished. When shall there be peace? At night when I sit lonely, then the tears roll down my cheeks.
“ Boys’ suits are scarce, so I make everything myself, and am always busy.”
Much the same account of the sorrow of Middelburg Camp is given in the following short diary written by one or another of a large family to friends in Europe. There was the mother, grandmother, and six children :—
“ 9th of July.—All of us suffer much from a severe cold. The number of deaths is very large. Seventeen or more a day. Oh! the misery suffered is indescribable. We may not write letters, but one day everything will be disclosed. Henry Van-den Berg, his wife, and their last child, are now dead, so are a great many others of our acquaintances and neighbours.
“ It (the camp) is one of the most unsatisfactory we have seen. . . . There is complete want of order, method, and organisation, and there is hardly one department of camp life which can be reported on as being in a satisfactory condition.”— Cd. 893, p. 145.
“ 16th of July (by the same).—There is much news to write, but we dare not to do so. Oh 1 the misery that is suffered in the camps is so great But I am not shaken in my belief that we shall regain our independence. Oh dear! how much there will be then to tell each other. On Sunday I was in a tent. Two of our old people were lying there, the old father, 7 7 years of age, was on the point of death, the old mother of 79 years was so weak that she could turn round no more. They were lying together on the ground on a blanket.
“ The day before yesterday a new cemetery was laid out. Yesterday thirty people were buried there, and this morning there are another twenty people lying in the hospital, and how many more in the camp I do not know. God, however, comes at last when we think He is farthest off, and I believe that relief and deliverance are at hand.
“ 17th of July (by the mother).—Our men who are with their commandoes were put hard to it of late. The English about us say that they have got no clothes left. That some wear trousers made of skins. And are, then, our husbands and sons better than our ancestors, who succeeded though they wore trousers made of skins, had no expensive clothes, but made us free?
“ 24th of July (by the same).—Oh, God be thanked, our men in the field are doing welL They look well. Our Heavenly Father takes care of them. We dare not write everything, but are full of hope.
" 24th of July (by the daughter).—I have just come from the hospital. Five of our burghers who were wounded have been left behind there. One of them is a young burgher of fourteen. He had ridden up against the barbed wire, and was then carried to the hospital.
“ 25th of July (by the mother).—Another batch of women from Utrecht have arrived here, escorted by a strong column of English soldiers. They were in carts on the road during sixteen days.
“ Nurse Jacobs is again here. She has been carried all about the world. To Carolina, Ermelo, Standerton. Back again to Barberton, and then to Middelburg. Ah, who can believe it! The misery we suffer in these camps is so great Yesterday 570 people had died here since March. What will be the end of all these sufferings ?
“ 25th of July (by the grandmother, aged 79).—Dear child, it is a sad thing to see and hear everything. But everything is kept a secret from us, and we dare not write the truth. But the day is near when the curtain will be drawn aside and everything will come to light. My children are dispersed to different parts. Those of Johannes are here, so are Annie and her children. Oh, my dear child, so many people die here, 20, 22, 39, and even more in one day.
“ 30th of July (by the mother).—I am under the necessity of sending you sad news. Brother Stefenus has been brought in here a prisoner. He told us that brother Piet had died of an illness. We have learned that their wives are at Balmoral Great is the distress suffered here by women and children. The mothers themselves are obliged to carry their children to the cemetery if others do not do it for them. Sometimes they themselves draw the cart in which the body had been placed, to the cemetery, which is at an hour’s distance from the camp. There is a hearse, but if they wish to employ it they have to pay ^3 for the use of it. And we have even no money to buy food for our children.
“ Old Mrs. Janson of Suikerboschkop is also with her children in one of those dreadful tents. The youngest boy has already died with misery.
“ This place Middelburg ought to be given another name and be called ‘ Weenen,’ for people weep and shed tears here by day and by night; there is nothing else but weeping and shedding of tears.”
From Norval’s Pont, where comparatively there was much to bring alleviation, a well-born woman writes to ask temporary help from the clergyman of the parish, a stranger known only to her by name—
“ July 1, 1901.
“ You will certainly wonder at receiving a letter from such an unknown person; I must introduce myself. I am the wife of P. Faure who lived once at Stellenbosch. He, my husband, entreated me to write to you to ask you to get for us a little vegetable such as potatoes or onions, and also butter or lard, and to send them here to us; we will make it all right with you after the war. Forgive me for being so presumptuous, but believe me, dear Sir, that it goes hard here in the camp. I am quite sickly with all my children, and I believe you feel for us. Vegetables we never see here. Oh, it is bitter to have had every good thing and now to possess nothing. The tents are so frightfully cold in the nights, and so warm in the day. There is a terrible amount of sickness here, such as inflammation, measles, and also fever; many die also.
“ Ladies’ Report.—The superintendent’s remark was, "They want vegetables badly,’ and scurvy would come unless they got them. He also would like every one to sleep on bedsteads, not as a matter of luxury, but of health.”—Cd. 893, p. 50.
“ Pardon, dear Sir, once more for my presumption, but the need is great.
“ P.S.—Should anything be sent to Norval's Pont Camp, forget me not, even in such things as clothes.
“ We have a worthy minister here in Mr. Van der Merwe of Beaufort West; it is certain that his work will bear much fruit. Pardon my writing, but I write on a packing-case, and the wind blows terribly.”
One of the difficulties experienced by the nurses was how to keep the children patients amused, especially in the convalescent stages. Passing through the wards, I myself used to see one child’s head after another look up from the pillow, and the word “poppie” would echo down the row of beds, when I had only perhaps one doll amongst twenty or thirty applicants. So a kind-hearted woman, Nurse Strachan of Kroonstad Hospital, writes—
“ July 14.
“ Your generosity gives me courage to apply to you for ‘dolls.* You may think my request a strange one, but to me it is heartbreaking to hear a wee dying girlie craving for a doll and not have one to give her. I have girlies of my own and have to keep them at school, or I could myself supply, but under circumstances, and being a war refugee myself, I cannot afford to buy, much as I would like to. I think I will manage to dress, if you can manage to supply the artificial baby. Poor wee girlies! lots of them have lost father and mother too; to me it is hard to bear the cry for a * poppie.*
“ If you can send something to amuse my wee boys, I shall be doubly grateful. You yourself must think of what would be best for them.”
From Mrs. Isaak Meyer to her Mother.
“ Volksrust, July 26.
“ I had no chance of writing before, poor wee Memory (daughter) was so dangerously ill. She has the measles.
“ Measles are raging in this camp.
“ You will be very sorry to hear that Jannie’s little Marthe is so ill from inflammation of the lungs. The doctor has no hope of her recovery. Mrs. B. Lombardo’s youngest sonnie is also ill of inflammation.
“ Yesterday, Mrs. Bothusa died, Mrs. Frans van Deventer’s baby of about two summers died last week. To-day, Mrs. Brijtenbach’s girl of about seventeen died.
“ The camp has been enlarged, and we are (on this comer) very close to the British fortresses. There is hardly a tent here that there is not a sick child or woman in, and goodness alone knows what the end will be.
“Recommendation.—We urge that this camp ought to be reduced in numbers. The jpresent camping ground is not sufficiently large for die numbers congregated upon it.”— Cd. 893, p. 198. Nov. 25.
Letter to her Sister, Mrs. Louis Botha. From Mrs. Meyer.
“ Volksrust, Aug. 1901.
“ I can never describe the life we had in camp, bitter was not the name for it.
“ The most essential was our food, which, though the British supplied us, was so little, that we often and often retired with an empty stomach. Shall I ever forget the death scenes, they are so depicted on my mind; never in all my life have I seen such hardships, heard so much wailing, as in the segregation camp of Volksrust; daily 10, 12, 14, 16 and even 20 children and people died, daily that same number of coffins carried out to be rested for ever in the paupers’ graves; no wonder my head is like that of an old woman of 50, so grey; for who, that had a spark of sympathy, could be otherwise, to see friends carted away on buck-waggons, one day used for bringing rations, the next for bearing the dead to their resting-places.
“ The food we got was bad; flour, coffee, and sugar for the week which only lasted about two days, and the meat was so dreadful because they killed brand-sick sheep and rams for us.
“ The refugees, as a rule, observe clean habits. ... As a general rule, it is not presumed that their life in tents is a very great hardship.”— Cd. 819, Supt. Report, p. 273.
“The smallest meat ration which we have seen in any camp. Recommendation vii. Bring up the meat ration to the level of other camps,”—Cd. 893, Ladies’ Report, p. 195.
In this camp, as in many others, the real numbers of deaths are very hard to obtain. This lady, writing in August, gives 587 as the number that died in 4 months on the word of the superintendent. The Blue Book, Cd. 819, gives 4 months : May, 30; June, 39; July, 49; August, 248—Total, 366. It will be observed that no returns of deaths in the Transvaal are given earlier than May. The Ladies’ Commission elect to omit also the deaths of May and June, and begin with July. Consequently their figures are valueless. The full tale of deaths is never likely to be known.
“ So many of our people have died in camp; during the four months I was in the Volksrust Camp 587 people died. Is that not a terrible number in four months ? This I was told by our superintendent, Mr. Carter.
Letter from Mrs. Klazinga, taken to Mafeking Camp.
" Aug. 1901.
“ . . . I will tell you all from the beginning, but solely what I personally have seen and undergone.
“ On the 1st of August I was made prisoner at Welverdiend, District Wolmaransstad. In the morning of that day the English under Colonel H------ approached my house. The first thing they did was to capture and slaughter all the poultry (about a hundred fowls) and the pigs. They even took a small monkey which had belonged to my little boy who had died a short time before, and to which I therefore told them I was much attached. When they had looted all outside, they went to the house—but I would not let them in, because the head officer was not yet with them. I locked all the doors, and went to the verandah with the children and the servants. There were hundreds of soldiers round the house. Suddenly I heard a great noise inside: they had broken the window of my husband’s surgery, and were there, looting. Well, when the Commanding Officer arrived, they had searched the whole house. The first officer who came was a respectable and polite man, and he said I should be allowed to remain in my house; but the second was stem and rough, and only said: * Pack up your things and get ready to go, the waggon will be here directly.’
“ And so it was, they hardly left me ten minutes to get my things together. Though I cried, and told them my husband was a Hollander arid had remained neutral [Her husband had left a signed document to be shown to every column that passed. It is appended.] and had an appointment as medical helper to the Boers, it availed nothing. I was obliged to go.
“ The chief officer himself promised to give me a cheque for the medicines out of my husband’s well-filled shop, but I have never heard any more about it since, and I never received the cheque. The officers took all my plate and smashed all that was breakable before my eyes, and burned the very valuable, books (mostly medical works, and in costly bindings) belonging to my husband. They also took away more than three hundred sheep and silk-goats, and beat them to death with sticks. They took possession of the shepherd with a couple of mules and a horse, and armed our Kaffir boy.
“ In the evening, as we were encamped at an hour’s distance from my house, this Kaffir came to me, and said: * Oh! my dear missis, now I must shoot my own master, or the English will shoot me down.’ I asked him what he had been told to do. He answered that at night he was to be a spy with the English, and search for and capture Boers.
“ When we left the house they had poured paraffin oil all over it and the other houses in the place, and had set fire to them and burned them with all they contained.
“ They pull down the churches and bum the pastors’ houses.
“ We were transported to Taungs through District Bloemhof, and wherever the convoy passed, the English burned, destroyed, and captured all and everything; they even took the Kaffirs and servants and burned their straw huts. The food on our road to Taungs was scarce. Sometimes we were left without food or drink for twenty-four hours. They halted in the evenings at places where neither wood nor water was to be had, and left before daybreak next morning, to drive on till late in the afternoon. In this way we and the children suffered from privation, and the poor dumb animals died of hunger and fatigue. All along the road we saw them lying about, dead or dying.
“ Wherever the English pass they burn the grass, hoping by so doing to starve the Boer horses ; but the Lord is a righteous God, and suffereth no unrighteousness, for when the grass is burned up, He sends rain, and in a few days the grass is high enough for the horses and the sheep.
“ Altogether the treatment we receive is far from what it should be. Our escorts act in an arbitrary way. They who laugh and joke with them receive their rations, but those who will not, often have to wait three days for a little meal and coffee. Our escort was named Hamilton (a Colonial), a boy of nineteen or twenty, who lorded it over us. When we arrived at Taungs, our luggage, consisting of bedding and a few clothes, was simply thrown out of the waggons on to the dirty soil, and had to be left there till the afternoon, when each had to get their own things on the railway trucks.
“ These were exceedingly foul, some covered with coal-dust, others with manure, none of them had even been swept. But for us poor women they were good enough. The dirtier they make us, the truer their reports about us seem to be. But the fact is that no Boer or Boer woman is naturally dirty; they always are glad to clean themselves if they have the opportunity—and soap! But the Tommies are careful that this should not be the case. We had not even sufficient water for drinking 1
“ In that way we had to spend three nights and two and a half days. On some of the trucks were more than fifty women, children, and old men. There was no space for sleeping; some had stiffened legs when they arrived at Mafeking, and all were ill from the wind, the sun, and the cold. My eldest child was two years, the youngest two months old; you can understand the state I was in. Happily I nursed the baby, or it would have died from privation; the eldest sometimes cried for some hard biscuit, so-called ‘ stomach-bombs,’ saltless things made of coarse meal and as hard as stone. But the English consider them fit for food,
“ As the train left Taungs, we were told not to speak to the Kaffirs along the line; later on we understood why; wherever we came, they called us names and threw dirt at us—which seemed rather to amuse the Khakis.
“ A few of the English pitied us heartily, and gave us as much help as they could, as for instance getting us some boiling water from the engine to make coffee, but most of them enjoyed the sight of us, and laughed all the time. When we reached Mafeking, after eleven at night, and the little children were sound asleep, warmly wrapped up on our knees, we begged to be allowed to remain where we were till morning, to prevent the little ones from getting cold and ill But we were not listened to; our things were again thrown out of the trucks, and we were forced to sit and wait till we should be taken to the camp.
“The superintendent attributed the introduction of the sickness to the arrival of a large number of people on 15th August. They were brought in by the military from Taungs District in the middle of the night, and in consequence were neither examined nor isolated on their arrival; they were temporarily housed in the school and in waggons.” —Cd. 893, p. 175.
At last a donkey-cart came for us, and I was conveyed to the camp at 2 o’clock a.m. The children cried with misery; at home they had been accustomed to soft warm beds—my mother’s heart bleeds to think of such a treatment. When we reached the camp, we were set down in front of the so-called schoolroom without a roof over our heads, and had to wait till the gentlemen were pleased to provide us with a tent. Some have lain out there two whole days in sunshine and rain.
“ All our things were soon too much soiled to touch. Those women in the camp who had been there for some time, and were acquainted with all the horrors, brought us bread and coffee now and again. Some of them had been treated in the same way, and some even more inhumanly.
" As for the camp life, it is, “ It will need a sustained strong in a word, * slow starvation and effort to pull this camp out of the defilement.’ I cannot thank deplorable condition into which it God enough for having been ha* ^en allowed to sink, enabled to leave it so soon, and come out alive with my two children.
“ Medical assistance is to be had in the camp. There is one Dr. Limpert, and another whose name I have forgotten. There also are a couple of nurses; but this is far too little for a population of 6,000 people, and sickness in every tent. Consequently the mortality was very great. It has happened that mothers with small children have had to wait three days before being able to speak to the doctor; and when at last their turn came, simply were told to go away, for ‘Did they not know all children under the age of five must die? [“ Alle kinder onder fyf moet frek.” '* Frek " is used of the death of animals. It is quite probable that the overworked and under-staffed doctor meant by this that he could not, had not, the means to keep them alive, while to people unfamiliar with English it would sound deliberate.] Such a one would return to her tent with tears in her eyes, and an undying and implacable hatred towards the enemy in her heart.
“ A request to headquarters for an assistant doctor, sent 22nd July, had been quickly attended to, and Dr. Limpert arrived on 6th August. He was found to be useless. . . . Medicine is deplorably deficient. Much ancemia among women and children, and no iron. Much diarrhoea, yet no bismuth nor chalk nor catechu with which to cure it. Many deaths and no mortuary. One of the cemeteries only 20 feet from the camp boundary, and graves only 3$ feet deep. We saw little children engaged in filling them in.”—Ladies’ Report, p. 175.
“ The rations are very small. In six weeks I was three times given a pound and a half of almost uneatable meat. The doctor himself said, ‘You can eat, but don’t come to me for medicine then ! ’ Luckily I possessed some money of my own, and was able to buy myself some food; but most of the women either had nothing when they were captured, or were robbed of what they possessed by the troops, and these are obliged to live solely on the scant rations provided.
“ During the last two months, weeks have passed with only a rare ration’ of fresh meat at intervals, and now a sufficiency for the hospital and staff only is obtainable. ‘ Bully-beef’ and bread form a quite unsuitable diet for children, who will certainly die in numbers if so fed.”—Ladies* Report, p. 176.
“The day after I arrived they received meat, but when they wished to go and complain about the quality to the Colonel at Mafeking, and show him that the meat was not fit for food, the camp superintendent, Mac-Cowat, would not grant them a pass. This made the women so furious that they took hold of him and pushed the raw meat into his mouth, saying, ‘Eat that yourself; we are used to better meat.’
“ The Commission are unanimously of opinion that the superintendent and the former medical officer are greatly to blame.”
“I have been in the camp for six weeks. During that time clothes have been distributed once. But just those women whose husbands, sons, or brothers have taken the oath of loyalty were given any; those whose husbands are still fighting receive nothing, and some of them with their children go barefoot.
" Two Boer women said separately that if English ladies sent gifts they ought to distribute them themselves; if left to local committees of the camp people, they gave to their own friends rather than those most in want.”—p. 172.
“ It is not true that the Boer women beg to be taken to the camp—all of them would rather have stayed in their own house and their own place, even though they were not amply provided with stores. I, for instance, need never have gone; my house was filled with com, meal, and clothes, and I have always had plenty to give away to the needy in our village. I was carried off illegally, since my husband is * volunteer * or ‘ dilettant * doctor with the Boers, has a certificate as such, and moreover is neutral, and both of us are Hollanders.
“. . . You must know that in the camp we may not show our tme colours, or our rations are decreased. The wisest is to suffer in silence. . . .”
Paper left by Mr. Klazinga as a Protection for his Wife.
The Hon. Officer in Command of His Majesty’s Forces acting in the District of Wolmaransstad, and visiting this farm Welverdiend.
“ Herewith I take the liberty to bring to your knowledge the following facts and circumstances about me and my family:—
“ 1. That I am an Uitlander, staying in the Transvaal for about two years and a half before the war; no burgher of the South African Republic, but still a subject of a neutral State (Holland).
“ 2. That I am the acting chief of the Wolmaransstad field-ambulance since the beginning of the war, in which position I had already in several cases the pleasure to render important services to the British forces in taking care and giving every help needed to wounded, or on the battlefield follow officers and troops from His Majesty’s army, or otherwise.
“ Considering in this way to be in a quite neutral position, as well by my being a certificated Red Cross officer, as my being a subject of Her Majesty Wilhelmina, Queen of the Netherlands; “ I request humbly, but most determinately,
“ (a) That my wife and children will be left in this house, if there should be any intention on your side to take them away.
“ (b) That my family may be kept safe from any molestation, as well as the few properties I possess here. No guns or cartridges will be found in my house.
“ (c) So that I am treated just as, for example, the neutral Uitlander storekeepers in this and other districts, whose persons, families, and possessions are fully respected in every way.
“ Further, I beg you to assist my wife, if possible, with some corn flour, coffee, etc., and a pair of cows, as I am informed has been granted at other places to women wanting these articles.
“ Giving my hearty thanks for all the kindness and help you will grant to my family, believe me to remain, Honourable Sir, yours most faithfully, A. H. Klazinga,
Acting-Chief, Wolmaransstad Ambulance.
“ Welvkrdiknd, March 190:.’’
A woman who ran away from Mafeking Camp told her story on oath before General Celliers: it agrees with all which comes from other sources—
“ On this day, the 16th of November 1901, appeared before me at Vergenoegd, District Zeerust, South African Republic, Petronella Jehanna Van Staden, who declares on oath [See Report of General De la Rey, p. 17.]—
“ I am the wife of Adriaan Van Staden, a resident of this place. On the nth of June last I was taken prisoner here, together with other women, and conducted to Mafeking. On arrival there we were placed in the women’s camp in tents. We received the following daily rations: meat, rice, flour, and jam; also coffee and sugar. We were satisfied with our food. This lasted for two months. First our meat rations were reduced to 2 lbs. per week. Later on the coffee and sugar; and so it went on until the first of this month, when I escaped, and our rations were then for eight days as follows: a plateful of flour, 2 lbs. of rice, 1/4 lb. of coffee, and 1 lb. of sugar; meat, 2 lbs. per week for every adult. Children under 12 years of age got half rations. The doctors treated us very roughly. Sometimes they assaulted us when we applied for medicines. Many a time we were told: ‘ If all those in camp perished it would not matter.’ As for firewood, they allowed us 30 lbs. of green wood per week. We were obliged to dig for roots in order to enable us to make fires. They did not give us any clothes, unless we were in the direst want of them, viz., when we were almost naked. Clothes that had been collected for us by our minister, Rev. Van der Spuy, in Cape Colony, were not given to us, but to the families of those burghers who had surrendered to the enemy. The same happened with the victuals sent for us. By ‘ us ’ I mean the wives of those burghers who are still in the field. The cases of mortality in the camp were very numerous. Last month we had 580 deaths, mostly children. I have these statistics from my brother, Johannes Smit, who has assisted in making the coffins. The British authorities supply the coffins, and cause the graves to be dug, but we ourselves must attend to the funeral. The cases of mortality varied from 20 to 30 a day. With the exception of the distribution of clothes, no distinction is made between us and the wives of the * hands-uppers.’ Whenever we go to make a complaint, we are roughly treated, and most of the time we are told to go to H-------.
" Going carefully through the camp, we could not but feel that little or nothing had been done by the superintendent to carry out our recommendations. On the contrary, the conditions had in some respects deteriorated since our visit, and it was plain that until the arrival of Dr. Morrow no real effort had been made to prevent or to cope with the sickness. This had steadily increased, until 2,000 cases of disease were registered at one time: 29 deaths had occurred in one day, and over 500 lives had been lost during the ten weeks since we had left.”—Cd. 893, p. 174. Ladies’ Report.
Our complaints were never investigated. We were told that the women that had escaped had been murdered by the Kaffirs, and further that our own officers did not want us any more, and also that General De la Rey had said that he would shoot all women that ever escaped. Before I escaped, several other women had done so, and it was reported that they had been murdered by Kaffirs. However, I decided to run away. Myself and Aletta Smart escaped from the camp on the 7th inst., at night. We arrived here after wandering about for two nights and two days. But for the reports that are being circulated, as to the murdering of escaped women by Kaffirs, many more women would try to escape. All of them are very dissatisfied as to their treatment. We got nothing but tinned meat. At first it was good, but afterwards it was very bad. Once we were warned not to eat the meat, as the animals had died from lung disease. The tinned meat is very unhealthy, and causes diarrhoea. Before I escaped, two women from Lichtenburg ran away, who were, however, arrested and brought back by Kaffirs. They were then punished, with eight days* rice-water. They got no other food, and were moreover put in a separate camp. I had a child when I was taken a prisoner; it died in camp. Most of the children die of measles. The food is supplied and distributed in camp. Many a time we have to wait from early in the morning till late in the afternoon before they give us anything, and many a time they tell us that we are no better than-------. P. J. Van Staden.
“ Sworn before me on the date and at the place aforesaid.
“ J. G. Celliers,
Fighting General for Lichtenburg and Marico.”
Terrible as Mrs. Klazinga’s description is, every word is endorsed by the various official reports relating to Mafeking Camp.
A young girl also wrote from there—
“Your letter and £5 note to hand, for which accept my heartiest thanks. 1 also received the same amount from Miss Monkhouse, so bought thirteen boxes of soap and candles, and distributed it among the needy, for which they were very thankful. Here are over 5,000 people now, and we expect 400 more to-day. Miss Monkhouse and Mellor did not reach here yet. I hope they’ll turn up one of these days. Here were six other ladies [Namely, the Ladies’ Commission.] but I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting them. Nurse Crawfurd was ill for a time, but am glad to say she is enjoying good health again; there are about four nurses besides her now. Two of my sisters are laid up; one has fever, I think. N. Hartman.’’
A member of the Cape Town Committee writes—
"Jan. 28, 1902.
“A girl called to see me who has been let out of one of the camps. She was so ill that they consented to let her go to save her life. She has been a month in bed, and is still very pale and shaky. Her spirit is extraordinary. She is bound by a sort of promise not to detail stories about the camps, on pain of being had up before a court-martial and dealt with like a man, without respect of age or sex.’ She could therefore only speak quite generally, but she is on fire with suppressed fury. She is pretty, slight, and graceful, of the highly-organised, nervous, dark-haired type of Transvaal woman, not like the calm, slow-spoken Cape Dutch.
“ She says, speaking of the Natal camps in 1901, that these have been fairly healthy, but will be so no longer, for they are being crowded with thousands of new-comers from the north, who arrive wretched in the last degree, and bring disease with them. Howick has now a high mortality, though death was infrequent there before. She described the advent of some hundreds of poor people lately from Klerksdorp. They had been travelling for many days, but had no food whatever by the way. They arrived at the camp like wild animals raging with hunger—a pitiful sight—the children and women alike worn down to literal skin and bone.
“ The children were screaming in an appalling way, and when at last hot porridge was put before them, they fell upon it and literally devoured it, though it was scalding hot. A man who saw the sight felt as if years had been added to his life. The poor creatures looked scarcely like human beings at all. They had not been allowed out of the vehicles in which they were conveyed, even for ordinary needs.
“ One baby had died of starvation on the way; the mother had to hand the little body down to be buried. At night they were guarded by bayonetted soldiers, and could not move. Their torments were unspeakable.”
Mrs. Strassheim, likewise a distributor of relief in her camp, writes gratefully from Klerksdorp—
To the Honorary Secretary, Relief Committee, Cape Town.
" Sept, 5,1901.
“ It is with great pleasure that I acknowledge the goods received by us for the relief of women and children in the camp here.
“ I need hardly tell you how welcome your gift is: we have very many needy ones to whom all this will come as a God-send. I shall try and do what I can in connection with the distribution. It is a great pleasure for me to be able to do anything for our poor people, and I hope I shall be worthy of the confidence you have placed in me.
“ What pleases us very much are the boxes with contributions from friends who, it seems, have personally prepared the work. It is touching to notice how lovingly the little garments have been got up. Will you tell the donors how much we appreciate their thoughtfulness and kindness? I want also specially to mention the boots, stockings, and also the leather, which will go a long way in supplying a great need.
“There are 1,733 women over sixty-two years in the camp, and 2,352 children, so you can understand that everything will come in very handy, and that many hearts will be made glad.
“ We have had an epidemic of measles here, which I am sorry to say has carried off many of the children. There is still a good deal of sickness, but much is being done to alleviate the suffering. They are fortunate in having in the superintendent a real friend—one who feels for them, and who has their welfare at heart.
“ The rice, maizena, peas, etc., will be used for soups for the sick. I just want to say that only three out of the eight bags of rice have reached us. . . .”
This lady, whose husband was a chaplain with the Boer forces, was amongst those exiled to Natal, ten days after writing the above. On 15th September 1901, the deportation was described by General De la Rey—
“In virtue of Lord Kitchener’s proclamation, on the evening of 15th September 1901, at Klerksdorp, 500 women and children of burghers still on commando were driven in open cattle trucks; the night was rough and stormy. Among the women was the wife of General Liebenberg with her children, the wife of Mr. Pienaar (Mining Commissioner), the wife of the Rev. Strassheim, and many others of the prominent inhabitants of Klerksdorp and the neighbourhood, with their children. Next morning the train started; the whole company, including the people who had come to bid them good-bye, first sang a psalm, whereupon the eldest daughter of General Liebenberg displayed a Transvaal flag, which she herself had made. An English officer advanced and tore the flag from her hands, amid loud protests of the women. As soon as the train had started, the same young lady brought out another flag, which she waved, while all the women and children in the cattle trucks sang the National Anthem, until the station of Klerksdorp was lost to sight. [See Report of De la Rey and Smuts, p. 30.]"
On the Death of a Brother.
“Winburg Camp, Nov. 16.
“Many thanks," wrote a young teacher, “for your most welcome letter of condolence. I was indeed very pleased to hear from you, for I did not know what had become of you. It is very hard to have parted with such a dear brother. He was indeed so much to us—a dear brother and a father to us. I can’t tell you how terribly I miss him. But we have a very great comfort : he was prepared to meet his God, and what more do we want! We can only submit and say, ‘Thy will be done.’ And how beautiful to know God has done it all out of love to us, for those He loveth He chasteneth.
“ Poor Mary is at Harrismith Camp with Mrs. L. The camp is large now; there are about 3,000 people. There were up to eight corpses a day. Several school friends are here. Sarah, Maria, Maggie, Stinie, and others. We have a school here: I am helping in it. We have about 300 children that attend. I should be glad if you could send me a few nice stories that would do for my Sunday-school class.”
In the same quiet tone writes another to Miss Murray—
“ Bloemfontein Camp, Dec, 10.
“ I was so glad to hear from you again. It is such a comfort to hear from friends in this miserable camp. I do wish you could stand on the randje and watch it for a few minutes. Your thoughts seem to overwhelm you, and you have to turn away. What is God’s will ? For what purpose has He brought us so far? These are thoughts which often puzzle us. Of our treatment we cannot complain, although the heat is sometimes so bad that we cannot endure it, yet God gives us strength even in this. We do miss our comfortable homes, our butter and milk, and vegetables and fruit gardens; we can only sing, ‘Oh wait and murmur not.’ What I have experienced since I saw you last cannot be written on paper. We have gone through deep waters and many trials, and even had shells over our heads. I speak of home, but in reality we have no homes now, only farms. My piano and harmonium are utterly destroyed.
“ The death-angel has also entered our home and taken away our blessed brother* He had no illness, but fell on the battlefield. Particulars are not known to us, for he fell since we are in camp. I know he is safe, for his life showed plainly Whose he was and Whom he served. I am also longing to lead such a life. My aunt also died here in camp, and her little orphans were left to our care. The hospitals are quite crowded with sick people; so many deaths I never heard of in my life.”