By Clement Notcutt

Chief Events of the Siege


Mon 9 Oct

The Transvaal Government sent an ultimatum to the British Agent.


Wed 11 Oct

War declared.


Sat 14 Oct

Telegraphic communication with Cape Town interrupted.


Sun 15 Oct

Beginning of the Siege.  Martial Law proclaimed.


Thu 19 Oct

Sudden rise in prices of necessaries.


Fri 20 Oct

Prices of necessaries fixed by the military authorities.


Tue 24 Oct

Fight at Dronfield.  Our losses, three killed, nineteen wounded.


Sat 4 Nov

Commandant Wessels summoned Kimberley to surrender, under threat of bombardment.


Tue 4 Nov

The First Bombardment began.


Fri 24 Nov

Approach of relief column announced.


Sat 25 Nov

Successful sortie.  Thirty-three prisoners taken.  Our losses, six killed, twenty-nine wounded.


Tue 28 Nov

Unsuccessful sortie.  Our losses twenty-two killed (including Lieut.-Col.  Scott-Turner), twenty-eight wounded.


Mon 11 Dec

Battle of Magersfontein


Thu 28 Dec

Proclamation issued regulating more strictly the supply of foodstuffs.


Wed 3 Jan

Proclamation issued ordering lights to be out by 9.30 p.m.


Mon 8 Jan

Horse-flesh served out for the first time.


Fri 19 Jan

"Long Cecil " tried for the first time.


Wed 24 Jan

Second bombardment began.


Wed 7 Feb

Third bombardment began.


Sat 10 Feb

The D.F.  Advertiser explained "Why Kimberley Cannot Wait." Funeral of Mr.  Labram, the designer of " Long Cecil." Heavy night bombardment.


Mon 12 Feb

The D.F.  Advertiser was not published.


Wed 14 Feb

Our forces occupied Alexandersfontein.


Thu 15 Feb

Arrival of General French's column.  End of the siege

It came upon the good folk of Kimberley rather suddenly and unexpectedly at last.  Not that we were unprepared for war.  The Loyal North Lancashires had been with us for three weeks; the Volunteers had been in camp for the last ten days, and the Town Guard was beginning to feel that a Lee-Metford and a bandolier were an ordinary part of a man's clothing.  There had been some excitement on the Thursday, when news came that Mafeking was cut off, and that the armoured train was wrecked at Kraaipan : but this had simmered down, and on the morning of Sunday, the 15th of October, people went to church as usual, with an underlying feeling that although events were becoming interesting it was not likely that the war would touch Kimberley just yet.

The Coming of the Boers

Then came a rude awakening.  The first intimation that something was wrong was given by the hooters at the mines.  It is by these that the sleepy miners are wont to be called from their beds when the hour for their shift comes round; but when they lifted up their voices soon after the church services had begun, and kept on, alternating between a treble F sharp and the G below it, there could be no doubt that their message was not of mining, but of war.  The churches were soon emptied, and the men of the Town Guard hurried to their posts.  The news spread that communication with Cape Town was cut off, that the line was torn up and the water supply interrupted, and the report was soon confirmed by a notice outside the Post-office to the effect that the train service being suspended no mails would leave that day.  The siege of Kimberley had begun.  In the Market Square and in the streets one came across groups of people eagerly discussing the new state of affairs, while in the houses there was hasty gathering of vessels of all sizes so that they might be filled with water before the supply should be finally stopped.  But though there was plenty of excitement there was a notable absence of panic.  The men went to their posts fully expecting that a desperate attack would be made upon the town that day, for the armoured train had been .fired upon in the early morning while making a reconnaissance to the South, and large parties of Boers could be seen hanging about in different directions.  And one is tempted to feel sorry that they did not come on, for they would assuredly have met with a reception that would have discouraged them from making any similar attempt in the future.  The set look of determination on the faces of the men as they came up to their various stations boded ill for any enemy that should venture within range of their guns.  For it must be understood that although the Town Guard included some raw youths to whom a rifle was a strange and fearsome thing, it also contained a large proportion of men who had seen active service in the Northern wars, or who had at least learned to hit a buck without wasting too many cartridges on it.  But morning passed into afternoon, and afternoon into evening, and still no attack was made.  We had heard some months earlier of how the Boer forces were going to march on Kimberley as soon as war was declared, and take it, and blow up the mines.  They had carried out the first part of the programme; they had done as much as could be done without running any risk; but when it came to making an attack upon men who had guns and could shoot, the Boers concluded to let the rest of their programme wait.  They knew, for their spies had come and gone freely, that the Royal Engineers had thrown up some eight redoubts, and had dug a number of rifle-pits all round the town; they knew also that there were mines, filled with something more dangerous than diamonds; and they preferred not to run the risk of coming into contact with either the one or the other.  So when evening came no shells had fallen into Kimberley, no attack had been made upon its entrenchments.

Martial Law

But there were other things to remind us that we were living in a beleaguered city, for during the day a proclamation was issued by Lieutenant-Colonel Kekewich, the officer in command of the district, declaring a state of siege within the territories of Griqualand West and Bechuanaland.  If the reader has never lived under martial law he is to be pitied, for it is doubtful whether any corner of South Africa has ever been so well governed or kept in such perfect order as Kimberley was after that eventful Sunday.  With a stroke of his pen Colonel Kekewich accomplished more than our Progressive legislators could bring about by a dozen years of hard work in Parliament.  He ordered all bars, canteens, and eating-houses to be closed from nine o'clock at night to six in the morning; and further, during those hours no one was allowed to be out of doors without a permit from the military authorities.  He ordered all those who possessed firearms or ammunition to register them within twenty-four hours (people in the country were allowed seventy-two hours), and made it clear that anyone who gave information to the enemy or in any way assisted them would be liable to severe punishment.  A few days later another proclamation forbade the supplying of any intoxicating liquor to natives, except between the hours of ten a.m.  and four p.m., and then only to be consumed on the premises.  Further that there might be no doubt that these orders were meant to be obeyed, a Court of Summary Jurisdiction was appointed to deal with those who did not take the proclamations seriously, and this Court had power to inflict any penalty, up to and including that of death.  Nor was it only criminals in the ordinary sense who were made to feel the weight of the .  Colonel's hand.  Some of those who happened to possess large stores of foodstuffs and other necessaries thought it was a good opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of their fellow-citizens, and on the Thursday after the beginning of the siege prices ran up to famine rates, although there was an abundant supply in the Town.  A case of paraffine, for instance, had cost sixteen shillings on the Wednesday; on the Thursday about noon three guineas were asked, and a little later five pounds.  On Friday morning a notice appeared intimating that this did not meet with the approval of Robert George Kekewich, and prices were fixed at which tins of meat and fish and milk were to be sold, as well as rice, sugar, candles, and other things which we then regarded as necessaries of life.  Paraffine came down to 17s. 6d.  a case.  At the same time people were not allowed to purchase large quantities of foodstuffs to store up in their houses, but only as much as was needed at the time.

The Colonel as Editor

The Diamond-fields Advertiser which furnishes Kimberley every morning with news of the outside world, had rather a hard time in the early days of the siege.  Its supply of news from both North and South was cut off, and of what was going on inside the town it was allowed to say only as much as the Colonel pleased.  It was made the Official Gazette for the district, and the hard times were tided over by the help of the proclamation, which filled one page every day, and the advertisement of the Christmas number, which ' filled another.  Later proclamations rendered valuable assistance, until some news of the gallant fights at Mafeking and in Natal trickled through, and the paper returned for a time to something like its normal appearance.  It was amusing, though sometimes aggravating, to notice what wings were not referred to.  In the early times the Town had been talking hard for five days about the forces that were supposed to be coming to raise the siege, and it was only on the sixth day that a paragraph appeared intimating that " a rumour reaches us that a considerable concentration of Imperial troops is taking place not a hundred miles from Kimberley"; and though this was the one thing more than all others in which the people were interested, scarcely another word was said on the subject for some weeks.  It certainly reflects great credit on the editor and his staff that under such conditions they kept the paper so far interesting that when it was brought down to the camp in the morning there was quite a rush to secure copies.  It was during these times also that the paper developed a very pretty talent for irony in an unusual direction.  The advertisement columns were the field in which this faculty displayed itself.  Long after the town had been enclosed in a ring-fence so that none could come into or go out of it, we were invited to spend our leisure time at the Crown and Royal Hotel, or the Island Hotel, Modder River.  " Holiday seekers and others in search of a change should go to either of the above well-known hotels," said the advertisement.  It was judiciously worded, for no doubt anyone who had accepted the invitation would have had a considerable change, and a lengthy holiday from his regular avocation.  Another advertisement, headed " Muizenberg," informed the people of the besieged city that " The most comfortable hotel at this the Brighton of South Africa is Hirsch's"; and with a refinement of cruelty went on to say " Fish a speciality." In another column we were invited to send to Cape Town tenders for the construction of a railway from Malmesbury to Grey's Pass, when it was impossible to get a post-card carried further than Beaconsfield; but perhaps the most unkindest cut of all was the information advertised with unsparing regularity, that "the Norman (twin screw) sails on November 1, the Kinfauns Castle on November 8," and so on.  "Free Railway Pass to London or Plymouth."


The water with which Kimberley is supplied is brought from the River Vaal, some seventeen miles away, and as the town stands about five hundred feet above the level of the river the water has to be pumped up to it.  One of the first steps taken by the Boers was to render the pumping machinery at the river useless, thinking perhaps that this would bring about a speedy capitulation.  The resources of the town however proved equal to the occasion.  For immediate needs, the water in the Newton Reservoir, which lies just outside the town, but inside the lines of defence, was sufficient.  When that began to run low a connection was made with the Premier Mine, Wesselton, and from this a supply of something like 300,000 gallons per day was pumped up lo the reservoir by De Beers Company.  Some of the numerous wells, upon which Kimberley at one time was entirely dependant for its water supply, were re-opened, and a few heavy showers of rain made a welcome addition to the resources of those who had tanks and gardens.  For the water pumped from the mine, though sufficient for the necessities of all, did not allow of the ordinary free-handed use; and the Water Company, with the approval of the Colonel, gave notice that the water would he turned on for two hours a day only, from nine to eleven in the morning, and that any one found using it for the garden, " or for any other purpose than the strictest domestic use" would have the supply cut off.

The Town Guard

No small part of the burden of the defence fell upon the Town Guard.  Some two thousand of the citizens, including many of the leading men of the place, enrolled themselves in this force, and several of the business houses were almost denuded of their assistants.  At first there were only occasional drills, but from that notable Sunday they were kept on regular duty.  Some of the redoubts were wholly in their charge; in others they shared the responsibility with the Cape Police or the regulars, and one company was stationed at the Drill-hall, ready to be moved to any point where it might be needed.  The cyclist section numbered about a hundred and had plenty of work in carrying despatches, in escorting the guns, and in patrolling at night.  It was a weird experience riding along the deserted roads in the moonlight; not a human being to be seen, until there came the short, sharp challenge of the sentry, " Halt ! Who goes there ? " "A friend," was the orthodox response.  Then came the answer, "Advance friend, and give the countersign," and this being given we rode on, past other sentries, till we got away on to the open veld, or climbed the debris heaps to look for Boers.  The regular round of duty in the Town Guard varied in some details at different periods of the siege, but speaking generally it was somewhat as follows : At seven p.m.  everyone had to fall in with rifle and bandolier; the roll was called, and a certain amount of drill was gone through, the guard for the night was told off, and the rest were then at liberty to amuse themselves until it was time to turn in.  Some slept in tents, but a good many preferred the open air, and it must be acknowledged that among the benefits of the siege is to be reckoned this constant outdoor life, which brought to many a man a larger measure of health than he had known for years past.  Not a few of us banned for the first "time that the most satisfactory way of obtaining sound, refreshing sleep is to wrap one's self up in a rug, and with another one rolled up for a pillow to lie down on the bare earth.  It is moreover a great nelp to early rising, for somehow we never felt inclined to stay there much after five o'clock.  Early coffee was welcome in those days.  At six o'clock the red flag on the Conning Tower would be lowered for a few minutes, and at that signal some of the men would be released, while others remained on duty, being relieved at intervals during the day until seven o'clock came round again, when everyone went on duty for the night.  When the full history of the siege conies to be written it will probably be found that but for the readiness with which the citizens came forward to guard the town it could not have been held against the large numbers of the enemy that surrounded it.  The military force proper was so small for the area to be protected, that to attempt it with them alone would have been a useless sacrifice of brave lives.

The Mounted Force

But as the Boers did not summon up courage to make a single assault upon the town through the whole course of the siege, the Town Guard had scarcely any actual fighting to do.  It was upon the mounted force that most of the active work fell, and in carrying out the duties entrusted to them they had many a brush with the enemy, besides taking the chief part in the more regular engagements that were fought.  The mounted force comprised the Diamond-fields Horse, a number of the Cape Police, a small mounted detachment of the Lancashires, and a force raised during the siege, known as the Kimberley Light Horse, a goodly proportion of whom were recruited from among the employes [sic] of De Beers.  They had to guard our stock of cattle when they went to graze, and the woodcutting parties that were sent to get in some supply of fuel; and they were also sent out both by day and night as patrols to keep the enemy from coming unpleasantly close.  From behind their entrenchments or from other safe cover the Boers were constantly sniping at these men, and in this way, and still more in the bigger fights, they lost not a few of their number.  The names of those who were killed and wounded during the siege are chiefly taken from the roll of the mounted force.

The Conning Tower

That the Colonel might the better watch over his flock literally as well as metaphorically, a Conning Tower was put up above the hauling gear over one of the shafts of the De Beers Mine.  From it there was a wide outlook over the great plateau on which Kimberley stands, and day and night as long as the siege lasted watchers were posted there to give notice of the approach of enemies or friends.  It was from there that the great red flag, the symbol of war, floated until the middle of January, when it was replaced by the Union Jack; and at another corner of it a blue pennon announced that the Colonel was up in his post of observation.  On some critical occasions he was there for nearly twelve hours at a stretch.

The Fight at Dronfield

One of these occasions was Tuesday, October 24th.  A mounted force had been sent out early to examine the intermediate pumping station.  A few of the enemy soon appeared, and others kept on arriving until there was some danger that our men would be cut off.  The Lancashires came out to their assistance and before long the Boers were driven off the ground, but not until three men had been killed and nineteen wounded on our side, while the Boers left their Commandant, Field-cornet Botha, dead on the veld.  It was little more than a fortnight since he had with evident reluctance requested two English cyclists to leave Boshof, and shaking hands with them had expressed the hope that their next meeting would be on a more friendly footing.  The trains which had taken the troops out to the light brought in the wounded men, and as they were carried through the streets in charge of the red-cross ambulance corps, the townsfolk who stood round in silent groups began to realise that war meant something more than bands of music and white tents.

The First Bombardment

After this the siege became a little monotonous.  There was nothing to do.  The Boers would not attack the town, but devoted themselves chiefly to looting cattle.  The ordinary business life of the place had of course come to an end, and there was hardly any fighting to fill up the time with.  The mounted forces had several little brushes with the enemy, but in the town things were deadly dull, and it was almost with a sigh of relief that the news was received that the Dutch had at last decided to do something.  On the Saturday, November 4th—nearly a fortnight after the affair at Dronfield—Commandant Wessels sent a letter to our Colonel : "Whereas it is necessary for me to take possession of the town of Kimberley, therefore I demand of your honour that upon receipt of this you, as Commanding Officer, shall forthwith hand over to me the town of Kimberley with all its troops and forts." The Colonel was allowed till six o'clock on the following Monday morning to make up his mind, but on the Saturday afternoon his reply was sent out, inviting Commandant Wessels, as he was.  desirous of obtaining possession of the town, to come and take it—if he could; and in the same letter notice was given that as the white flag had been used by the Boers "in a manner not recognised by the usages and customs of war as practised by civilised nations," those who bore it would in future be liable to be fired upon.  On the Tuesday following this interchange of courtesies the Boers began to shell the town, and for about a fortnight they continued to amuse themselves in this way.  The shells were chiefly of the kind known as "ring shell," bursting when they strike an object, but some shrapnel shells, which burst in the air and throw out a shower of bullets, were also used.  They were directed mainly against the town, and only to a slight extent against the forts.  This is proved not only by observation of the places where the shells fell, but also by a despatch dated November lath from General De la Rev, which was afterwards published in the Dutch papers.  In this despatch he says : " Our purpose was more particularly to throw our shells in the centre of the town in order to cause the more damage to the enemy." Two districts in particular—Newton and the West End—were favoured with a good many of these missiles.  The result of the bombardment was one of the wonders of the siege.  In the course of the fortnight more than seven hundred shells were thrown into the town.  One poor old Kafir woman was killed in the street opposite the Kimberley Club, and one man was severely injured.  S. Cyprian's Church was struck, but not much hurt; two of the bars and a few private houses were more or less damaged, but the effect on the town as a whole was almost nil.  That we should come almost unscathed through a fiery furnace of this kind was indeed remarkable; all the more so because the eager desire to possess pieces of the fallen shells led many persons to expose themselves recklessly.  When firing was going on one might often see groups of men and boys waiting for a shell to fall, and making a rush for the fragments as soon as it had burst.  The authorities did what they could to check this rash behaviour, but no skill or carefulness" could lessen the danger in the streets, and the people felt that they had reason for deep thankfulness in their escape from loss and suffering.

The Colonel as Housekeeper

In its early days the siege made little or no impression upon our tables, but in the course of a few weeks provisions became more scarce.  Butter was now a luxury only to be had by some rare chance; tinned milk could seldom be bought; bacon was "off." The Colonel proceeded to take stock of the supply of breadstuffs in the town, and to do this the more effectually he called upon all holders of flour, Boer meal, rice, etc, to forward them to Messrs Hill and Paddon's store on Thursday, November 16th, undertaking of course to pay for what he kept.  Dealers were then allowed to take weekly supplies, and the Colonel informed his family that each individual m future must not have more than a pound of bread and two ounces of sugar per day; the bread was to be made of flour and meal, mixed in the proportion of one-fourth of the former and three-fourths of the latter; and no cakes, biscuits, or fancy breads were allowed to be made.  The amount of meat for each person per day had previously been fixed at half a pound." The proclamation which had limited the hours during which intoxicating liquors might be supplied to natives was now superseded by a new one forbidding the sale of liquor to natives altogether; and one or two disobedient individuals, who tried to-run their heads against the stone wall of the Colonel's determination, had their bars closed till the end of the siege, and were called upon to pay heavy fines as well, with the alternative of going to prison for three months.

Looking for the End

It was not till Friday, November 24th, when the siege had lasted close upon six weeks, that official notice was given of the approaching end of our troubles.  "We are authorised to state that a strong force has left Orange River," said the Advertiser, "and is moving forward to the relief of Kimberley." The next day, in order to prevent the Boers from transferring their attentions to our approaching comrades the mounted forces, together with the Artillery and the Lancashires, made a sortie in the early morning, and carried one of the Boer positions at the point of the bayonet.  Six of our men were killed in the engagement and twenty nine wounded, but the losses on the Boer side were much heavier, and thirty-three of their men were taken prisoners and brought into the town.  Unhappily a similar movement on the following Tuesday (November 28th) was not so successful.  Our men again stormed some of the enemy's entrenchments, but the lines were so skilfully constructed that as soon as they were inside the first redoubts they found themselves exposed to a murderous fire from the main position, and further advance seemed hopeless.  Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Turner, who had led the forces in all the outside engagements from the beginning of the siege, was killed, and twenty-one others with him, while the wounded numbered twenty-eight.  This unfortunate affair caused more depression in the town than anything that had yet occured, for it was felt that valuable lives had been sacrificed and no advantage gained.  Still the people kept bravely to their duties, and endured the various hardships which the siege was beginning to entail, with very little grumbling.  Fuel began to be very scarce, and meat was difficult to get.  It was sold to the white people between six and eight in the morning, and the scene in the shops at that time was one not likely to be forgotten.  The place was filled with a mass of human beings, who tailed off some way out into the street, half of them struggling to get the tickets which authorised them to buy some small portion of meat, and the others pushing their way to the counter to secure whatever they might he able to get.  It was all good-humoured enough, but one could not help wondering what it would be like if the affair lasted much longer, and the supply became more scanty.  What made it all so much harder to bear was the delay, of which no explanation reached us, in the arrival of the relief column.  In the last week of November it was understood that they were close at hand, and might be expected almost at any hour.  The shareholders of De Beers Company were summoned to hold their eleventh annual meeting on the 27th of that month, in the full expectation that communication would be restored by that date, and that the chairman's statement would be telegraphed as usual to London and other financial centres as soon as it was made.  When the meeting found that its expectations were disappointed, and an adjournment for a a week was suggested, Mr.  Rhodes preferred that it should be only for three days, because he wished to get away as soon as possible after Lord Methuen's arrival, as he had important affairs to attend to in Matabeleland.  The weekly edition of the Diamond Fields Advertiser published on Saturday, November 25th, was announced as containing an account of the " Last week of the siege," and shortly afterwards the townspeople were invited by the authorities to register their names at the Town-hall if they were desirous of leaving Kimberley when the railway should be opened again for traffic.

Hope Deferred

But when day after day went by and the prospect of deliverance seemed as far off as ever, a feeling of intense weariness settled down upon the town.  The coming deliverance had been the chief topic of conversation wherever two or three met together in street or club; but now people scarcely cared to mention it, and it was wittily said that the relief column must be classed among those matters not referred to in polite society.  The feeling was accentuated by the almost complete cessation of news from the outside.  For about a month—the last half of November and the first half of December—we heard practically nothing of what was going on elsewhere, and the Advertiser had to resort once more to the friendly help of Peat son's Weekly and the San Francisco Argonaut to fill up its columns.  On Monday, December nth, our hopes were again raised, for we both heard and saw the relief column.  The rumble of their cannon sounded like music in our ears, and the sight of their balloon, which was plainly visible from the crest of the hill leading down to Beaconsfield, was cheering evidence of their nearness.  We had seen them, and they would be in, if not that afternoon, at any rate by the next day.  Alas ! that afternoon and the next day, and other days came and went, but no sign of the relief column, and it was not until a week had gone by that the town learned what had happened at the battle of Magersfontein.  Then it became clear that the time of our deliverance was not yet, and that we should have to spend many more days, or perhaps weeks, in the beleaguered city.  About the same time a great wave of anxiety passed over the place, because of a persistent rumour that the military authorities intended to remove all the inhabitants, except those who were actually engaged in defending the town, as soon as relief arrived.  To many persons who had no friends in other parts of the Colony, and no extensive balance at the bank to draw upon, this would have meant nothing less than ruin, and the town authorities entered a vigorous protest.  But after a while the excitement died away when it became evident that for the present at least it was a purely academic question, as the prospect of leaving the town in any way, by freewill or compulsion, seemed very remote.

In sight of Famine

So Christmas came and went, with a kind of tacit understanding that as little as possible should be said about it, and the dawn of the New Year found us still hemmed in by the enemy.  The question of food supply was becoming more serious.  We had most of us been without luxuries, such as butter and eggs, for some weeks, but the question now arose whether the necessaries would hold out, and the Colonel accordingly tightened his hold on the stock which the town contained.  All who wished to purchase supplies for their households were required first of all to send in a return of what they had in hand in the way of flour, tea, sugar and other foodstuffs, and then permits were issued allowing those who were without these articles to purchase a week's supply at a time for their families, the quantity per head being fixed.  Meat and vegetables were sold in the early morning in the market buildings to those who had applied for permits.  The daily ration of meat was now reduced to a quarter of a pound for adults, and two ounces for children.  The various wards of the town were served on alternate days, and arrangements were made by which those who had to go without on any particular day (and there was seldom enough for all) should have the first chance next time.  There had been some well founded complaints about the want of organisation in the distribution of food when the scarcity first began to be felt, but from the beginning of January the serving out was managed in a more satisfactory manner.  It was still the case however, that the military authorities expended so much energy in preventing the average man from getting more than his share, that they had but little left for seeing that he did get less, or go without altogether.  Young children and invalids were by this time suffering not a little from the scarcity of milk.  All the condensed milk in the stores had some time before been taken over and dealt out with a very sparing hand; and early in January a milk depot was established, where those who could produce a doctor's order might purchase fresh or condensed milk; one tin of the latter had to serve for five days.  The ladies who gave up their time and personal convenience, besides running no little risk from shells, for the sake of carrying on this depot, deserve the thanks of the community.  Besides milk, a long list of articles that at other times are regarded as the commonplace accompaniments of every-day life, such as bacon, oatmeal, cornflour, and cocoa, were now classed as "medical comforts and delicacies," and could only be purchased at a central depot by those who held a doctor's permit.  On January 8th, horseflesh was served out in the market for the first time.  Some people took to it without making faces, but a good many declared that it was quite impossible for them to touch it; they would rather go without meat altogether.  At first a good many did go without, save for the very limited amount of ox-beef still supplied, and the great horse-question was for some days almost the only topic of conversation in the town.  But before long most of the heroic souls gave up their heroics, and ate what was given to them without discussing whether the animal from which it came had horns or not.  Vivid recollections of portions of aged horse neck supplied for breakfast one morning prevent any enthusiasm on the subject, but on the whole it must be said that the greater part of the horse-meat served out was of very good quality, and often more worth eating than the ox-beef.  About a week later a Soup-kitchen was established, the only point to regret about it being that it had not been started earlier.  It was under the direction of Captain Tyson, of the Kimberley Club.  Those who liked to do so were allowed to draw part of their rations in the form of soup, one pint being reckoned as the equivalent of a quarter of a pound of meat.  To reassure the timorous ones, a guarantee was given that none but ox-meat would be used in preparing the soup, and Mr.  Rhodes generously promised a supply of vegetables from the gardens at Kenilworth.  It was sold at threepence a pint, a certain number of free tickets also being issued, and was of the greatest assistance to a number of families who found it very difficult to procure any fuel with which to cook the meat served out to them.

Lights Out

The streets of Kimberley are in ordinary times lit by the electric light, and before the siege began it had been decided to extend the system of lighting to shops and private houses.  A good many of the main cables have been laid during the siege; some of the work being done while the shells were falling into the town; but there has not been time to get the system into working order, and indeed the scarcity of fuel would probably have stopped its use even if it were finished.  A few houses have installations of their own, and acetylene gas is also in use here and there.  But with these exceptions the homes of the people are dependent on more old-fashioned methods for their lighting, and the quantity of paraffine consumed in Kimberley during an ordinary year must be considerable.  Happily there was a good supply in hand when the siege began, but when month after month went by and no relief came, there was some fear of the stock running out.  So at the beginning of January the Colonel told his family that in future they must go to bed early.  All lights were to be out not later than 9.30 p.m., except in houses where there were sick persons, or where the electric light or acetylene gas was laid on.

"Long Cecil"

The help rendered to the town by the De Beers Company throughout the siege was invaluable and deserves grateful recognition; the full extent of it is perhaps known only to the chairman and Mr.  Gardner Williams.  Not only did they pump water from the Premier mine into the reservoir after our ordinary supply had been cut off, without making any charge for it, but by judiciously holding over the Waterworks Company the fear of having to pay for it, they forced them into making a reasonable reduction to the consumers.  The work of the mines was of course seriously interfered with from the beginning of the siege, and after a few weeks came to an end altogether; but the company retained the whole of its army of employes [sic] at the ordinary wages, and thereby saved the town from having to face a most serious problem.  In addition to this, Mr. Rhodes did a great public service by volunteering to provide for the employment of a large number of natives and other refugees on road-making in the Belgravia district.  By this means that portion of the town was gradually improved, and at the same time Satan's opportunities were much restricted.  From the same source came many little additions to the comfort of the men in the redoubts, in the way of better accomodation, or presents of fruit, and, indeed the resources of the company were placed at the disposal of the whole community.  One achievement in particular however illustrates the extent of those resources and the skill with which they were applied, and will help to render the siege of Kimberley famous, even among famous sieges.  Owing to political considerations of different kinds, neither the Colonial nor the Imperial Government saw fit to provide the town with artillery such as was needed for effective defence.  Both Governments will, it is hoped, have to stand a searching trial as to their reasons for this at a later time, and no attempt is made here to anticipate the verdict.  The fact remains that our guns were only capable of throwing a shell of about seven pounds weight, and were not effective beyond about three thousand yards, while the enemy had twelve and fifteen-pounders which would carry a much greater distance.  When it became evident that the siege, was to be prolonged to an unknown length, (he engineers of the company set to work to see whether they could make a gun which would be more suitable to the needs of the occasion.  With some assistance from the officers of the Royal Artillery, a twenty-pounder (4.1 inch) gun was designed by Mr. Labram, the chief engineer of De Beers, who was, to the regret of the whole town, killed by a shell about a week before the end of the siege.  The workshops of De Beers were then put on their mettle, and on January 19th the new gun, which had been christened "Long Cecil," was tried for the first time.  The enemy seemed not a little surprised when they found shells dropping into places hitherto regarded as quite safe.  The difficulties which attended this enterprise can be fully appreciated only by experts, but the man in the street can understand that the workshops of a mining company are not specially adapted for making heavy ordnance, nor are their men trained for this kind of work.  Moreover, the state of siege made it impossible to get outside help in the way of material, and some of the very tools that were needed had to be manufactured on the spot.  But all these obstacles were overcome, and a new and formidable weapon was placed at the disposal of our forces.  Of course the shells had to be manufactured also, but this was in comparison a trifling matter, and had indeed been already carried out for the smaller guns, the shells for which were inscribed " Compliments.—C.J.R."

The Second Bombardment

After the bombardment in the early part of November, of which mention has already been made, the town had a time of comparative immunity, lasting till near the end of January.  Occasionally a few shells were thrown in, and now and again one of the redoubts would receive some attention, but practically no harm was done, and these little incidents attracted no notice.  But as soon as "Long Cecil" got to work there came a change.  The enemy posted nine guns, all of them of heavier calibre than ours (excepting "Long Cecil") at various points round the town, and on January 24th, before four in the morning, began a heavy bombardment which lasted till late at night.  The shells from their guns reached nearly every part of the town, and made things feel less comfortable.  The next day brought a renewal of the firing, but during the afternoon, for some unexplained reason, it ceased, and for a fortnight the town had a fairly quiet time.

The Third Bombardment

From this quiet time, however, we had a rude awakening.  The Boers planted a new gun at Kamfersdam, about four miles in a straight line from the centre of the town, and this threw a shell weighing about a hundred pounds, and measuring six inches across the base and a foot and a half in length.  The noise made when one of these shells burst was terrific; the fragments that flew about were jagged pieces of iron, rather more than an inch thick, and weighing anything from a few ounces up to fifteen or twenty pounds.  With this gun the enemy began shelling the town on Wednesday, February 7th, and for eight days they kept on hurling these missiles broadcast over the streets and houses.  Many men took their wives and families to the redoubts, not so much because of the protection which they afforded against shells as because they were almost the only places against which shells were not directed.  A few stray shots reached them, but in the main the Boers avoided them, as in the earlier bombardment, and confined their efforts to the killing of women and children.  When once this and similar facts are made known in England it is to be hoped that we shall hear less of the "courage" and "piety" of the Boers.  They besieged a town defended by a mere handful of regulars, a few Volunteers, and a number of citizens armed for the occasion, for more than sixteen weeks without venturing a single assault upon it; they made a treacherous use of the white flag on more than one occasion when our men went out to fight them; they fired upon our wounded men and shelled our hospital; and having brought up heavy artillery, instead of trying to batter down our redoubts, which would have been a perfectly fair game to play, they did what the savages in the old Kafir wars never did, tried to murder women.  And when the settlement comes to be made, if this is not taken into the reckoning, it will be a very bad settlement.

But it was the Saturday night's bombardment that upset the town more than anything else had done.  Hitherto, with very rare exceptions, the firing had ceased at sundown but on this evening Mr. Labram was to be buried, as the Boers had no doubt been informed by their friends inside the town.  So they dropped a shell close to the hospital just as the procession left, and then from nine to half-past eleven kept up a constant fire, hurling their hundred-pound shells broadcast over the town.  On the next day we had peace, for while the Boer may do his best to slaughter women and children on the Saturday, he must not neglect to attend service on the Sunday.  The day was utilised in the town for providing splinter-proof shelters, and all through the afternoon and evening people might be seen streaming away to the various places of refuge, which consisted for the most part of tunnels or trenches dug in the heaps of debris taken from the mines.  They carried blankets and rugs and mattresses, and baskets of food, and were prepared to put up with any discomfort in order to get to a place where they might feel some kind of security.  A notice appeared, signed by Mr. Rhodes, recommending the women and children to go down the Kimberley and De Beers mines, and from eight in the evening till four the next morning the lifts were hard at work, till some fourteen hundred persons were safely stowed away in the long tunnels of the De Beers mine, and another large company in the Kimberley mine.  The scene in the mine beggars description.  Those who have never been down one can scarcely form any conception of it; but those who have tramped along the great ten-foot tunnel that stretches right away through the rock from the shaft to the blue-ground, along which trucks laden with the diamond-bearing soil are generally running, may be able to imagine something of the scene.  The whole length of the tunnel was lined, often on both sides, with groups of people, who had come away from their homes with scarcely the bare necessaries of life, resting on rugs and mattresses, and trying to pass the time as comfortably as they could until the upper air was once more safe to live in.  With all this, however, there was no panic.  The people did their moving in a quiet and orderly manner, and only an individual here and there gave way, and showed that the strain was more than the nerve could stand.  But not a little indignation was expressed against the military authorities for having neglected to make earlier provision for the safety of those in the town.  The preparation for the firing of the big gun had been going on for some time; it was commonly believed in the town that those in command knew of its probable arrival ten days before the bombardment began, and it was felt that efforts should have been made sooner to provide shelter for those whose houses afforded them little or no protection.

A Straight Talk

The situation in the town was beginning to look serious.  The siege had now lasted nearly four months, and although the inconvenience suffered at first was comparatively slight, the unexpected lengthening out of our trouble was making it no light burden to bear.  For nearly six weeks many people had been living almost entirely on bread and horseflesh; scurvy and typhoid fever were abroad in the town, and among the younger children a large number had died from want of proper nourishment.  There was also reason for believing that the outside world was being kept in ignorance of the real state of things inside the town, a belief which was confirmed when the military censor refused to allow a cablegram to be sent to one of the London papers telling of the bombardment by the big gun.  So on Saturday February 10th, the Advertiser, which had right through the siege given valuable help to the military authorities, explained in a vigorous article "Why Kimberley Cannot Wait".  It pointed out that there were more than a hundred thousand British troops in South Africa, of whom about forty thousand were in Natal, and asked what was being done with the rest.  "It appears to be supposed in some quarters," the article went on to say, " that all available reinforcements are being employed in the Cape Colony, and that this population of 40,000 loyal British subjects must suffer in silence the terror of a bombardment in order that the whole resources of the British Army may be brought to bear upon the task of removing : a Dutch Landdrost and re-instailing an English one in his place in the notoriously disloyal district of Colesberg.  Military men may make maps at the War Office, and may chatter in Cape Town; they may continue to evolve the most wonderful schemes and plans to take the place of those which one by one have had to be abandoned, but they cannot, save at the risk of jeopardising the whole campaign, evade the task of relieving Kimbcrley".  After this it will not be a matter for surprise that the paper did not appear on the following Monday.  A small slip was issued, on which it was stated that "for reasons which we shall fully explain at some future time it has been decided to suspend publication of the Diamond-fields Advertiser until further notice".  It was not until the following Saturday (February 17th) that Kimberley was once more supplied with its morning paper, and then it appeared only under the condition that the proof should first be submitted to and passed by the military censor.

The Coming of the English

But in the meanwhile stirring events had taken place.  On the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after the Advertiser had uttered its protest the bombardment went on, the streets were deserted, almost all the shops were closed, and most of the people remained in their shelters, or down in the mines.  But there was a little rift in the clouds, for news had got about that at last relief was coming, and was likely to be here in a very few days.  By the Wednesday it became evident that the Boers were feeling outside pressure, for our men were able without much difficulty to capture Alexandersfontein, a place on the south side of Kimberley, valuable to the Boers because of its fine water supply.  About thirty head of cattle, several horses, and some prisoners were taken there, and when these were brought into the town, and were followed by some wagon-loads of fresh vegetables it seemed to the people that this must surely be the turning of the tide.  On Thursday, February 15th, the big gun fired only five or six shells into the town, and these, it may be hoped, were the last that Kimberley will ever have the honour of receiving.  They all fell before noon, and a little later the reason of their ceasing became evident.  A long line of dust was rising on the Free State side, and from some of Rimington's Tigers who rode in early we learned that it was General French with a large force of cavalry, mounted infantry, and artillery.  Between four and five o'clock the men themselves could be plainly seen with the aid of a field-glass, and a little later the General was in the town, and his men were safely encamped around it.  On the 15th October, 1899, we had been cut off from the outside world; on the 15th of February, 1900, the relief column reached the town.  After an unbroken stretch of one hundred and twenty-four days the siege of Kimberley was at an end.

V.  R.

PROCLAMATION by Lieut.-Col. R. G. KEKEWICH, Commanding the Troops at Kimberley.

1.  Whereas a state of grave public danger exists at Kimberley and in the territories of Griqualand West and Bechuanaland.
2.  In virtue of my office as Commander of the Forces in the said territories,
3.  I hereby proclaim that a state of siege exists within the said territories of Griqualaud West and Bechuanaland.
4.  All persons resident within the said District who are not members of
The Imperial Forces.
The Colonial Forces.
The Kimberley and Beaconsfield Town Guard
are hereby ordered to register and to produce for registration to the Commissioner of Police or other duly authorized Officer any rifle, shot gun, revolver, or other firearm, and any ammunition that may be their property or in their keeping in Kimberley and Beaconsfield within 24 hours, and in the Country District within 72 hours, from the time of issuing this Proclamation, and any person failing to do so shall be deemed to have contravened the provisions of this Proclamation and to be liable to such pains and penalties as the Court of Summary Jurisdiction hereinafter mentioned shall award.
5.  All persons residing in Kimberley and Beaconsfield other than Members of the Forces mentioned in paragraph No.  4 of this Proclamation, are prohibited from leaving their houses between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. except with the written permission of an Officer of the above mentioned forces,
6.  All canteens, bars, and eating houses shall be closed between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
7.  In case of the alarm signal sounding, all persons except members of the Defensive Forces are hereby ordered to proceed at once to their own houses and there to remain until orders to the contrary are issued.
8.  Any person or persons suspected of in any way aiding or abetting or supplying or conveying information to or in any way whatsoever assisting the Queen's enemies may be summarily arrested on the order of any officer, and failing to give a satisfactory account of himself, herself, or themselves, shall be dealt with according to the customs and usages of martial law.
9.  Any person who shall in any way interfere with the troops shall be liable to summary punishment on the spot.
10.  Any act of treason shall be punishable by forfeiture of goods and by death.
11.  Any person found guilty of any act which is contrary to the accepted customs and usages of war between civilised nations shall suffer the punishment of death, and to this sentence there is no alternative.
12.  Any person contravening any of the preceding sections or committing any act calculated in any way to be detrimental to the interests of Her Majesty shall be summarily" dealt with according to the provisions of this Proclamation, and shall suffer such pains and penalties as the Court of Summary Jurisdiction or other competent Court shall award.
13.  The following gentlemen are hereby nominated as Members of the Special Court of Summary Jurisdiction and of them any Two shall form a quorum :—

Hon. Mr. Justice LANGE,

Major HENRY SCOTT-TURNER, Royal Highlanders.

E. A. JUDGE, Esq., Civil Commissioner.

Captain W. A. T. O'MEARA, Royal Engineers.

G. C. BAYNF, Esq., Resident Magistrate, Kimberley.

Lieut. DUNCAN MaclNNES, Royal Engineers.

W. MUNGEAM, Esq., Resident Magistrate, Beaconsfield.


Commissioner M. B. ROBINSON, Cape Police.


And such other members as shall from time to time be appointed by the Commandant of the Forces in Griqualand West and Bechuanaland for the time being.
14.  Nothing in this Proclamation shall be deemed to interfere with any other penalties or prosecutions or confiscations of property to which the said persons who shall offend against the provisions of this Proclamation shall be liable by reason of any civil or criminal law enforced in the territories aforesaid.
15.  Nothing in this Proclamation shall be deemed to interfere with the ordinary course of business in the Civil Courts of the Colony,
16.  Given under my hand at Kimberley, at noon, this 15th day of October, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Ninety-nine.


R. G. KEKEWICH, Lieut.-Col.
Commanding the Forces in Griqualand West and Bechuanaland.