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An unknown writer 4 weeks 1 day ago #78553

  • djb
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Sydney Thomas Hayley was born 20 January 1879 In Galle, Ceylon, son of C P Hayley Esq, also of Galle, Ceylon.
Dr David Biggins

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An unknown writer 4 weeks 1 day ago #78563

  • Rob D
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I really enjoyed the letter! Hatred of his enemies, love of his men and love of battle - all seems completely authentic for a Victorian officer to me, as it is what one reads again and again in contemporary accounts. Though it's not common to mention this outlook nowadays.
And very impressive detective work in narrowing it down to Lt Hayley.
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.

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An unknown writer 4 weeks 1 day ago #78565

  • Gordon21
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Unfortunately I can't seem to make the connection with Lt Hayley or the others. What I have just discovered is that my research subject Clive's cousins went out to fight - Charles Henry Wellesley Wilson with the City of London Imperial Volunteers (though that would be after the date of the letter) and his brother Guy Greville Wilson who was with the 11th Prince Albert's Own Hussars and then Damant's Horse (same as Clive). Guy was MID twice and was awarded the QM with 5 clasps and a DSO for gallantry in the Boer war. I'm trying to dig around to see if the letter could possibly be from Guy - that would mean it was more likely to have been kept within the 'family' box.

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An unknown writer 4 weeks 1 day ago #78566

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Gordon, I no longer know what to suggest, your correspondent, by his own admission, was irrefutably, undeniably and irrevocably not only at Elandslaagte but also wounded there.

Conversely, the City of London Imperial Volunteers, the 11th Prince Albert's Own Hussars and Damant's Horse were, most decidely, not at Elandslaagte. It is beginning to look increasingly likely that those you seek to research have not even a tenuous link to this man.

Regards

Rory

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An unknown writer 4 weeks 1 day ago #78567

  • Gordon21
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I think you may well be right, Rory. I'm going to take a closer look at Sydney Thomas Hayley to see if I can find that connection. My sincere thanks to you and your colleagues who have tried to unravel this mystery! If I can find proof I shall confirm this to the group so that this interesting letter can be archived fully and correctly.

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An unknown writer 4 weeks 9 hours ago #78571

  • Rob D
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Some things that come to mind:
-I suspect the original letter was probably handwritten and signed. It seems unlikely that a wounded man whose arms were sound would balance a typewriter on his lap and type. Hyphenated words at the end of lines are odd for a privately typed letter. Even if a secretary typed it at the bedside, the custom would be to pen "My own darling Mother" at the top and to sign off in pen as well.
- The top line is "Received 18th Nov" and this is typed in the same style as the letter - this indicates it was typed by the person who received it - rather than arriving in the mail.
- I suspect the gap between 24 Oct and 18 Nov is a bit too quick for it to have left Ladysmith for Durban by train, to Cape Town and England by sea. If so, the letter may have been sent by wire from a press office in Durban or Cape Town, e.g. for publication in a newspaper. The Natal Field Force was well-supplied with War Correspondents, but they weren't allowed to use the military telegraph and weren't in action. The papers in England were hungry for eyewitness letters, often appearing some weeks after the action. Berenice on this forum has posted quite a few letters from the front which appeared in the local or national papers, and they have a similar patriotic tone to this one.

My hunch is that this is likely to be a copy, and it may not have a direct connection to the subjects of Gordon's research.
Rob
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.

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