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November 3rd 5 years 2 months ago #49461

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1899 - From the letters writer by Lt Col Park in Ladysmith

We are having rather a hard time of it with our three posts to defend, as the Boers have mounted several long range guns on positions about three miles on our right and right front, and fire shells all day whenever any men show themselves. However, we managed to do a great deal of work all yesterday in spite of them, and no one was hurt, and directly after dark I had all the battalion out, and we worked all night in reliefs, building parapets and walls and making loopholes and sinking pits to store rations, water and ammunition.

I think one more night’s work tonight will make all posts as strong as possible, and they have food for a fortnight in addition to what we issue daily, so they can hold their own well. I don’t know how long this state of things is going to last. There is no rifle shooting, but the guns bang away on both sides at intervals all day at long ranges, and very little actual harm is done. The trains were still running yesterday, but none have come or gone today, so I suppose the line is cut. Yule was sent down to Durban two nights ago, and just got through in time. There is no chance now of my getting a letter from you for perhaps weeks to come, nor can I send any to you, but I shall go on writing on the chance, and as a daily record of events.

We had to move all our officers’ tents yesterday morning, as the beggars put three shells among them in about ten minutes. We are now in a snug little corner under the hill where the ground is very rough and rocky, but we can’t possibly be worried with shells. I am up at four every morning and went to bed (in my clothes) at 1 a.m. last night, and was woke again at three, so that I had rather a long day. I was tramping up and down the hills and about the posts almost all the time on the rocks, and my feet are pretty sore and tired but when everyone is working so hard and so cheerfully, one can’t be behindhand, and it is the same for all. I rather like the hard work than otherwise. The worst part is the having to sit still and do nothing useful for so much of the day, when shells prevent work. I think I should almost prefer the enemy to come and attack so that we might at least have a good chance of hammering them, and perhaps of ending this state of affairs. I am quite fit and well, and believe the hard life in the open air is good for me, but I could do with a bit more sleep. I have never got that field allowance money, and now I couldn’t send it to you if I did, so I hope they will keep it till the line is open again. No more today.
Dr David Biggins

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November 3rd 5 years 2 months ago #49462

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1899 - From the diary of Miss Bella Craw in Ladysmith

This morning's excitement began by Wilfrid having another attack of the ague again. He was fearfully bad for six hours. I don't think he could stand another attack again tomorrow. Restlessness and suffocation was dreadful. As soon as he perspired relief came, but he is very weak. Cannons have been playing continually all day. It is only 2.30 now, and for the last half hour they have been shelling the town and it has been hot, and is. Just within the last few minutes shells have been bursting all round and overhead, but they were too high to hurt us. 

A piece of shell fell in the next garden opposite. Humphry has it. Dr. Rouillard was here this morning and has just come in again. He is in a great state.

A shell burst in his back yard. He has ammunition on both sides of him and they are trying to shell it. Bert has come now, all excitement. He was lunching at the Royal and a shell landed in the passage between the Hotel and house, broke the dining room window, also dishes and glass and chairs and never touched anyone. It is marvellous. It has been a very big battle today (Battle of End Hill in Besters). The rifle firing besides this booming of cannon is going on all round us. At times it is dreadful, and to think I am sitting writing while it is going on.

I couldn't have believed it a month ago. All our Carbineers are out. I do hope Alick and Willie Anderson will be alright. Uncle George did not go. The Gordon Highlanders all passed just now. They are a splendid lot of men. As soon as the firing and shelling has stopped a little I am going up with Bert to see the Royal Hotel. Just before dinner Alick and Willie came in. Poor old Willie had had a very narrow shave. A piece of an exploded shell cut the sleeve of his coat and his arm is bruised.

He just escaped a very nasty jar. Alick was in the thick of the fight. Two men fell by him. Poor Major Taunton was killed, also a Captain Knapp of the Imperial Light Horse.
Dr David Biggins

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November 3rd 5 years 2 months ago #49463

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1899 - From the diary of Trooper A J Crosby, Natal Carbineers

Paraded at 4 o’clock. Dismissed at 6 o’clock. Filed off to stables. At 1 o’clock we were ordered to saddle up immediately and within a few minutes galloped away to support the artillery and ILH at Bester’s. Shells were wizzing all round. Took up position at the gallop on the left flank of the artillery and right of ILH. Firing commenced as soon as we reached the top of the hill where we were under cross fire. Within quarter of an hour four of our men (A Squadron) were wounded, Charlie Miller, Solicitor, Estcourt, Watts, Waugh & Webber, the three last, Maritzburg boys. Shortly after poor Major Taunton was shot dead through right side while taking observation with glasses. On retreating I helped to carry him down, and then went on in advance of our men with horses, when I had a narrow escape from being knocked over with one of our own shells which fell short. The artillery were firing to cover our retreat. Returned to camp under heavy fire the whole way. A Boer shell burst over the house adjoining the Royal Hotel, wrecking it completely, but no one was hurt. Capt. Knapp of the ILH was also killed in the afternoon engagement.
Dr David Biggins

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November 3rd 3 years 11 months ago #57413

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1899 - From the diary of Major George Tatham, Natal Carbineers

Quiet during morning. At noon Carbineers and other volunteers under Col. Royston were called out to End Hill to extricate Imperial Light Horse Squad from hot corner in dongas; result satisfactory though we lost several men, amongst whom was our good Major C. E. Taunton, whose loss we all felt very much as he was our most popular officer. He was shot through the heart and fell dead instantly.
Dr David Biggins

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November 3rd 2 months 2 weeks ago #79594

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Source: Diary of the siege of Mafeking by Edward Ross

Friday, 3 November 1899

Today has been one of the heaviest bombardments we have been under, Creetje alone throwing at us about thirty-six or thirty-seven 94-pounders, besides sundry smaller cannons, and any amount of small arm ammunition [that has] been sent in to us.

For the last two days and nights the enemy have been digging trenches close to the water works and endeavouring to work in closer every night. This work has been going on more extensively at the brickfield, and today Captain Goodyear [who] with his Cape Boys [had] been endeavouring to drive the enemy back, was badly wounded in the leg, his thigh being smashed. He was brought into the hospital and is doing as well as can be expected.

Casualties, two kaffir women killed by shell firing.
Dr David Biggins

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