Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me
  • Page:
  • 1

TOPIC:

November 12th 10 years 2 months ago #1412

  • djb
  • djb's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Posts: 27152
  • Thank you received: 2696
1899 - Lord Methuen takes over command at Orange River.

In Kimberley:

This is active service under most peculiar and trying circumstances for the men in some ways. The Colonial forces are receiving a high rate of pay and notwithstanding every precaution it seems almost impossible to prevent British troops getting too much drink given to them. There is course no beer left in the Canteens, and the men get spirits given to them in the town; they are not accustomed to spirits and this has led to much drunkenness. In consequence I regret to say there have been many court martials. It is sad men being in prison whilst the town is being shelled, and we have so few British t troops here.

I am trying to arrange for Barley Water, and other drinks of this kind to always be available in camp.

We have had a quiet day to-day; I expect the enemy is massing his guns and will give us a lively time to-morrow. I hope to be able to persuade the women and children to move during the day to the safer parts of the town.

I have been trying to divide up our supplies better so as to avoid losing mush should any unfortunately catch fire from shells.

The collecting of fire arms has I think been a success. There are large quantities now in store that might have been used in some irregular manner.

In Ladysmith:

Amid all the estimable qualities of the Boer race there is none more laudable than their respect for the Sabbath day. It has been a calm and sunny day. Not a shot was fired—no sniping even. We feel like grouse on a pious Highland moor when Sunday comes, and even the laird dares not shoot. The cave dwellers left their holes and flaunted in the light of day. In the main street I saw a perambulator, stuffed with human young. Pickets and outposts stretched their limbs in the sun. Soldiers off duty scraped the clods off their boots and polished up their bayonets. Officers shaved and gloried over a leisurely breakfast. For myself, I washed my shirt and hung it on the line of fire to dry.

In the morning one of the Irish Brigade rode in through the Liverpools' picket. He was "fed up" with the business, as the soldiers say. He reported that only about seventy of the Brigade were left. He also said the Boer commandants were holding a great meeting to-day—whether for psalms or strategy I don't know; probably both. We heard the usual rumours that the Boers were going or had gone. Climbing to the Manchesters' post for the view, I could see three Boer trains waiting at Modder's Spruit station, about six miles up the Newcastle line. Did they bring reinforcements, or were they waiting to take "Long Tom" home by return ticket? We shall know to-morrow. Over the valley where we repulsed Thursday's attack, the vultures flew as thick as swifts upon the Severn at twilight. Those were the only signs of war—those and the little forts which hid the guns. Otherwise the enormous landscape lay at peace. I have never seen it so clear—the precipitous barrier of the Basuto mountains, lined with cloud, and still touched with snow: the great sculptured mountains that mark the Free State border: and then the scenes which have become so familiar to us all—Elands Laagte, Tinta Inyoni, Pepworth Hill, Lombard's Kop, and the great Bulwan. Turning to the south we looked across to the nearer hills, beyond which lie Colenso, Estcourt, and the road to Maritzburg and the sea. It is from beyond those hills that our help is coming.

The Boers have many estimable qualities. They are one of the few admirable races still surviving, and they conduct this siege with real consideration and gentlemanly feeling. They observe the Sabbath. They give us quiet nights. After a violent bombardment they generally give us at least one day to calm down. Their hours for slaughter are six to six, and they seldom overstep them. They knock off for meals—unfashionably early, it is true, but it would be petty to complain. Like good employers, they seldom expose our lives to danger for more than eight hours a day. They are a little capricious, perhaps, in the use of the white flag. At the beginning of the siege our "Lady Anne" killed or wounded some of "Long Tom's" gunners and damaged the gun. Whereupon the Boers hoisted the white flag over him till the place was cleared and he was put to rights again. Then they drew it down and went on firing. It was the sort of thing schoolboys might do. Captain Lambton complained that by the laws of war the gun was permanently out of action. But "Long Tom" goes on as before.

I think the best story of the siege comes from a Kaffir who walked in a few days ago. In the Boer camp behind Pepworth Hill he had seen the men being taught bayonet exercise with our Lee-Metfords, captured at Dundee. The Boer has no bayonet or steel of his own, and for an assault on the town he will need it. Instruction was being given by a prisoner—a sergeant of the Royal Irish Fusiliers—with a rope round his neck!
Dr David Biggins

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

November 12th 5 years 2 months ago #49784

  • djb
  • djb's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Posts: 27152
  • Thank you received: 2696
1899 - From the diary of Trooper A J Crosby, Natal Carbineers

Turned out again at 2, returning to stables at 4.30. Church parade at 10. On guard.
Dr David Biggins

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

November 12th 5 years 2 months ago #49785

  • djb
  • djb's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Posts: 27152
  • Thank you received: 2696
1899 - From the letters writer by Lt Col Park in Ladysmith

All going on well, and no shelling as yet today. We only had about a dozen yesterday, as the weather was so thick that no one could see to fire. There was a perfect deluge of rain on Friday evening, which flooded out everything and made it very cold and uncomfortable all night. It drizzled most of the night and a good deal yesterday, very like November weather in England; but the thick mist did us good service as there was no firing, and we took the opportunity of sallying forth and blowing up some farm buildings about three-quarters of a mile in front of my flank post, which had been used by the Boers as cover for sharpshooters.

Two companies went out and seized the farm and loopholed it, and held on while a party of sappers laid gun-cotton and fuses all round the walls, and when all was ready the companies retired under the river bank, the sappers lit the fuses and scuttled too, and in another minute the whole farm was whirling in the air. The Boers had never realised that anything was going on till the explosions came, and then they must have been too astonished to do anything, as the companies got back to camp without a shot being fired. The remains of the farm blazed like a bonfire nearly all night and were still smoking this morning. The latest shave is that General Clery and not Methuen is coming up with the division from Durban, and that Sir G. White is reported to have said positively that the siege would be raised on Tuesday, 14th; but these are only the usual camp yarns, and as far as I know there is no real news of the Durban column. The 2nd battalion must be in this country by now, as I got a wire from them at the Cape de Verde about three weeks ago. I expect they have gone up the other side with Buller and are somewhere near Kimberley. It will be very funny if we meet. Thank goodness the weather is clearing and we shall get the place and the mens’ blankets and kits dry again. They have had a rough and chilling time the last two nights, poor fellows; but they keep as jolly as possible, and are always singing and joking.
Dr David Biggins

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

November 12th 5 years 2 months ago #49786

  • djb
  • djb's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Posts: 27152
  • Thank you received: 2696
1899 - From the diary of Miss Bella Craw in Ladysmith

All quiet today. It is hard to believe we are besieged. We went to Church this morning, had Natalia's Prayer again, it is sung at every service. Colonel Royston, Major Brudewold and Tom Turner had dinner with us. Later in the afternoon Uncle George, Aunt Fanny and I went for a ride, up the new zig-zag road to Caesar's Hill. Men are camped all over it. Wherever they were sitting they always Jumped up and saluted us. When we got to the top Uncle George said he would take us to a hill overlooking the Hospital Camp and then to another overlooking Bester's where the last battle was fought. We were riding comfortably along, when we saw a man following us. We saw he was a Staff Officer by the red on his collar. It turned out to be Captain Vallentine, who told us Colonel Hamilton did not wish us to go any further as he did not think it safe. He also said the very ground we were riding over last Thursday was covered with Boers and bullets were as thick as bees.

Colonel Hamilton then rode up and said he hoped we did not think him a perfect brute, but the Boers may be respecting the Sabbath, but they might be tempted to fire. They have a big gun Just opposite to where we were. He then told us we could go and look at the Camp, lower down, but we were not to keep together but at a distance of 50 yards or so between each. You get a magnificent view of the town and all the surrounding country from that hill. We saw some Dutch camps and where their guns are placed. They are all round us and only about 2 miles off. They all went to Church this evening. I remained at home. They say the Church was crowded, even the choir was full of soldiers and many could not get in. Colonel Rhodes was there and they say, a most restless man in Church. Mr. Fred Tatham, Mr. Nourse Varty and Mr. Rodwell came to supper. There was a Church Parade in Uncle George's vacant erf of ground this morning. We heard them singing so went down, all Volunteers.
Dr David Biggins

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

November 12th 3 years 11 months ago #57427

  • djb
  • djb's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Posts: 27152
  • Thank you received: 2696
1899 - From the diary of Major George Tatham, Natal Carbineers

Quiet all day. Went out to Caesar's Camp and round by Volunteer Post with wife and W. Wright and Bella Craw.
Dr David Biggins

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

November 12th 2 months 1 week ago #79709

  • djb
  • djb's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Posts: 27152
  • Thank you received: 2696
Source: Diary of the siege of Mafeking by Edward Ross

Sunday, 12 November 1899

The sabbath was duly respected by the enemy and ourselves as far as fighting was concerned.

Today being our holiday and all my ammunition nicely stored, I am going to give a little time to my diary.

A cricket match was played today on the Market Square commencing at 10 o’clock between a crew of the armoured train and one of our Town Guard redoubt squads. The latter won easily, perhaps that was because I umpired. B.P. and Lord Cecil both looking on and enjoying the fun. 

We had a very pleasant surprise this morning by seeing Sergeant Matthews and five of the Cape Police ride into the town. They had come from the north, and had managed to break through the cordon of enemy surrounding us. It was a plucky bit of work on their part, and as they are all very good men they are a very welcome addition.

Matthews says Llewellyn with his armoured train from the north is now at Mochudi, but cannot get far on the line as it is all broken up and destroyed. He also reports that all the villages and stores between here and Mochudi are entirely looted by the enemy. He cannot give us any further news of Plumer’s column except that they have been fighting somewhere north of the Crocodile River, no other outside news.

All the war correspondents in the town, and they are a funny crowd, seem to have nothing else to do but kick their heels and row with one another. First it is, "Who is the boss?” And then they have rows together as to the policy of their papers. The following is a list of them.

Mr. Vere Stent who represents Reuters, tries to boss the whole show, and says that he is the only war correspondent of the crowd, and as for drink, well, he could drown the whole of our seven-pounders,

Mr. Neilly who represents the Pall Mall and Daily Graphic (photos); he is a bit of a toff with a glass in his eye sort of individual, and always lies low if there are any shells flying about. He is not at all liked by the rest of the war correspondents.

Mr. Hamilton of the Times and Black and White (photos); this is a most plucky individual with a double-breasted halt in his speech. At the commencement of the siege, this man called on B.P. and told him who he was, but there being something wrong with his credentials B.P. would not at first recognise him or grant him a licence. However, this was afterwards put right and he was allowed those certain liberties which are necessary' for representatives of papers.

Major Baillie of the Morning Post, another whisky drinker, don’t care a damn for anybody sort of individual. It was he who took the necessary despatches for the Colonel to the armoured train in front of the Boer firing line on our first day’s fight. He passes his time mostly by going out into the outpost trenches with his native servant and sniping at the wily Boers. By the time he takes to write his despatches I should think they are about three and a half words per message. He is a very good sort and is liked all round.

Mr. Hellawell of the Cape Times is the most hard-working correspondent of the whole crowd, he is always in the front when anything is going on, and always seems to get the best of the first information. He is a plucky little chap, drinks whisky (moderately) and is a good all-round sort. Then of course there was poor Parslow who was shot, a very kind and goodnatured fellow, who represented the South African News and the Daily Chronicle but who was too good for such papers as these, and perhaps it is as well that they have got no correspondent here.

Last, but not least by any means, is Lady Sarah Wilson w’ho represents the Daily Mail. Her husband Captain Gordon Wilson is on B.P.’s staff, so we presume she is in the very best position to give full information.

Our armoured train is doing very useful work. It consists of three armoured trucks, named The Wasp, The Fire-fly, The Gnat, with a well-protected armoured engine. They patrol up and down, north and south, of course only for short distances, and also along the temporary line which is constructed from the railway station past the hospital, towards the water works. This temporary line is about a mile and half long and is very useful in many ways. Part of it is through a little bush, where the armoured trucks, when not in use, can lay hidden from the enemy; they are manned, one truck by the B.S.A.P., the others in charge of the Railway Division. The one in front is fitted so that they can telephone signals so that [the] officer in command can always signal to the driver his instruction.

A good tall look-out has also been fixed on one of the trucks, where a look-out man is stationed all day, and with a good pair of glasses can see a considerable distance.

A native woman who came through the Boer lines this evening reports that she saw what she describes as a big sack in the air. Either she has been told by the Boers to tell us this, or else she has seen one of the military balloons. If this is true there must be troops between here and Vryburg, suppose about 35 miles off. But we are afraid the news is too good to be true.

The enemy’s quietness is not at ail liked by the Town Guard: all sorts of ideas as to the cause, some say that the enemy are endeavouring to tunnel under the town and lay dynamite; others, that tire enemy are proceeding south and digging trenches each side of the railway to oppose the relief troops; while others, that the Boers are simply covering the surrounding districts looting cattle and anything they can lay their hands upon.
Dr David Biggins

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Page:
  • 1
Moderators: djb
Time to create page: 0.407 seconds
Powered by Kunena Forum