1899 - Boers attack Kuruman and occupy Aliwal North.
1901 - De Wet meets Steyn at Blijdschap, near Reitz.
About 60 cattle were brought in to-day by natives; I have offered a reward for each beast, and natives will I hope be able to drive off a few of the enemy’s occasionally.
In the early morning a reconnaissance was arranged by Lt Col Scott Turner of all the Mounted Troops. They started at 3 am in the direction of Carter’s Farm and the Lazaretto; very few Boers were seen, and some of their guns may have been moved; none could be seen although the advanced patrols got within 800 yards of the works the enemy kept well out of sight, but immediately on our men returning, they sent men forward into the position we had just left; there was no firing.
About 70 shells were fired by the enemy to-day from the positions near Lazaretto and Wesselton – very little damage done. A cab driver received a compound comminuted fracture of the arm, and his horses killed.
Notwithstanding the many cautions I have issued in the newspapers and by other means to the inhabitants they are still very careless indeed about shell fire; they could easily go to places quite out of danger but they seem to enjoy seeing the shells burst and natives at once run and dig them out, and sell them for good prices in town. There is quite a brisk trade going on in shells and fuses.
I have to-day completed arrangements for the better protection of the large numbers of natives in the compounds in case of shells falling on them; they will be taken down the mines (if they will go there) or to other places of shelter which have been erected behind old debris heaps; at night they will be taken back to the compounds.
I am trying to distribute the Government ammunition more evenly in the different sections of the defence – the strengths of many sections have been altered much since the commencement of the siege, and the matter must now be carefully gone into.
No despatch riders have reached here for some days – I much hope no more have been captured, as just now they might be bringing me very important information.
The return of the British troops in hospital to-day, including 2 wounded officers is as follows-:
In Civil Hospital; 2 officers, 4 men
In Hospital Marquee in Camp; no officers, 10 men
This is very satisfactory.
Several fire balloons were seen during the night evidently enemy’s signals. They have several heliographs, and often try to get into communication with us. We read their messages, but of course don’t acknowledge them in any way.
The Boer method of siege is quite inexplicable. Perhaps it comes of inexperience. Perhaps they have been studying the sieges of ancient history and think they are doing quite the proper thing in sitting down round a garrison, putting in a few shells and waiting. But they forget that, though the sieges of ancient history lasted ten years, nowadays we really can't afford the time. The Boers, we hope, have scarcely ten days, yet they loiter along as though eternity was theirs.
To-day they began soon after five with the usual cannonade from "Long Tom," "Puffing Billy," and three or four smaller guns, commanding the Naval batteries. The answers of our "Lady Anne" and "Bloody Mary" shook me awake, and, seated on the hill, I watched the big guns pounding at each other for about three hours, when there came an interval for breakfast. As far as I could make out, neither side did the other the least harm. It was simply an unlucrative exchange of so much broken iron between two sensible and prudent nations. The moment "Tom" or "Billy" flashed, "Anne" or "Mary" flashed too. Our shells do the distance about two and a-half seconds quicker than theirs, so that we can see the result of our shot just before one has to duck behind the stones for the crash and whiz of the enormous shells which started first. To-day most of "Tom's" shells passed over the batteries, and plunged down the hill into the town beyond. It is supposed that he must be wearing out. He has been firing here pretty steadily for over a fortnight, to say nothing of his work at Dundee. But I think his fire upon the town is quite deliberate. He might pound away at "Lady Anne" for ever, but there is always a chance that 96lbs. of iron exploding in a town may, at all events, kill a mule.
So the bombardment went on cheerily through the early morning, till about 10.30 it slackened down in the inexplicable Boer fashion, and hardly one shot an hour was fired afterwards. The surmise goes that Joubert cannot get his men up to the attacking point. Their loss last Saturday was certainly heavy.
Yesterday the Boers, with fine simplicity, sent to our ambulance camp for some chlorodyne because they had run short of it, and were troubled with dysentery like ourselves. Being at heart a kindly people, we gave them what they wanted and a little brandy besides. The British soldier thereupon invents the satire that Joubert asked for some forage because his horses were hungry, and Sir George White replied: "I would very gladly accede to your request, but have only enough forage myself to last three years."
The day passed, and we did not lose a single man. Yet the enemy must have enjoyed one incident. I was riding up to spend an hour in the afternoon with Major Churcher and the 200 Royal Irish Fusiliers left at Range Post, when on an open space between me and their little camp I saw a squadron of the 18th Hussars circling and doubling about as though they were practising for the military tournament. Almost before I had time to think, bang came a huge shell from "Puffing Billy" just over my head, and pitched between me and them. Happily, it fell short, but it gave the Dutch gunners a wonderful display of our cavalry's excellence. Even before I could come up men and horses had vanished into air.
All day strange rumours have been afloat about the Division supposed to be coming to our relief. It was expected to-morrow. Now it is put off till Thursday. It is even whispered it will sit quiet at Estcourt, and not come to our relief at all. To-night is bitterly cold, and the men are chilled to the stomach on the bare hillsides.
1899 - From the diary of Trooper A J Crosby, Natal Carbineers
Saddled up at 3.30, filing off to town at daybreak. This early morning parade is telling upon us. It would be far more sensible to let us move about and exercise the horses. Fairly easy day, cold towards evening, expect rain. 90 of our men told off for 24 hours piquet, the same number for support of same to return at daybreak. Cold damp night, so got very little sleep.
1899 - From the diary of Miss Bella Craw in Ladysmith
Awaked again this morning by the boom of old "Long Tom". Two or three shells fell very near here. After breakfast we adjourned to our hole and stoned a lot of raisins. By nine o'clock the firing had stopped, for what reason we don't know. Uncle George came in before lunch and said that the Boers had put up a new gun on Potgieter's Hill. They fired one shot from it this morning. We were watching and as soon as it fired, twelve of our guns fired at once on to it. Men and gun and everything went smash. But why have all the other guns stopped? I wish we could silence "Long Tom" and his brother in the same way, but they are out of range of our smaller guns.
Yesterday Colonel Royston was very much disgusted at a rumour, or some paper he had seen. It seems after the Battle of Elandslaagte, old General Kock was brought in a wounded prisoner. His nephew asked to be allowed to come and nurse him. The old man died the other day and this nephew, who seemed so grateful and expressed his thanks for the kind treatment and attention they had received, since his return to the Boers has told them, and made an affidavit to the effect that his uncle was practically murdered and had no attention. That is a Boer trick all over. How will our poor prisoners fare after this? It is all on a par with their firing on our Ambulance wagon coming in from Tintwa Inyoni. Another of their tricks is to hoist a White Flag over a gun if it is disabled.
Another to fly the Red Cross over an Ambulance wagon, which has been previously filled with ammunition. Their tricks are too numerous to mention.
This afternoon we had such a lot of visitors, Colonel Royston, Major General Brocklehurst, Captain Fred Tatham, Captain Shepstone, Mr. Nourse Varty, Mr. Normand, our old friend. His arm is alright again. He has been out for two or three days and looks very much burnt. Mr. Bede Crompton and Captain Arnot of the B.M.R. also came, but to stay. They are both invalids, the latter only just recovering from a wound in the engagement last Friday week just out of the Town. A bullet went through both legs. He is lame and looks ill, but it is wonderful how soon he has recovered.
Source: Diary of the siege of Mafeking by Edward Ross
Monday, 13 November 1899
At 5 a.m. our two seven-pounders opened fire on the Boers’ trenches at the brickfields from behind the Dutch church, giving them about 10 shells; this was only responded to by the enemy’s rifle-fire.
Another very quiet day.
Our seven-pounders fired a few shots this afternoon, the enemy only replying with one 12-pounder at about 5 o’clock.
Sorry to hear that Lord Cecil has gone into the hospital, attack of lumbago we believe, but nothing serious.
I am sorry to say that sickness seems to be rife in the laager amongst the children. Two poor little youngsters are already dead. One of the causes, it seems, is that they are kept day and night down the dugouts owing to the Boers’ shelling. It is to be hoped that a severe retribution will be served out to these Boers for their uncivilized mode of warfare, for instance: continuing firing on the Red Cross flag; firing on the white flag of truce; sending no less than twenty-six 94-pounders into the women’s laager, which is placed some considerable distance out of the town, and which was promised to be recognised and respected by the enemy; firing on the hospital with their big gun, one shell killing a native. It was pointed out to their doctor, and had been previously promised by Cronje to be respected. It stands away from the town some distance and flying a big Red Cross flag can be seen for miles round from outside the town.