1899 - Kimberley siege day 39 (31%). Ladysmith siege day 21 (17%). Mafeking siege day 41 (18%). Buller leaves Cape Town for Natal. Boers shell Mooi River.
1900 - Kruger lands at Marseilles.
1901 - Commandant Naude crosses the Orange at Sand Drift and joins Smuts in west Cape Colony.
1904 - Transvaal Progressive Association issue their political manifesto.
1906 - Natal Ministry (Smythe) resigns. Mr. F. R. Moor forms new Ministry.
The enemy fired 9 shells this morning from Spitzkof in the direction of the Race Course; it s difficult to understand with what motive, except that perhaps some of our natives were attempting to drive off some of their cattle.
The enemy is making new works at many places round the town mostly at about 6000 yards off.
I have arranged with De Beers Co to start making another armoured train. I think there can be no doubt that least 2 armoured trains will be required hereafter in connection with the opening up of Railway communications. The cost of arming an engine is £400; the cost of arming a truck £200.
I attended a meeting to-day of those who have special knowledge of the cattle and grazing question, and I much hope at any rate for a week to be able to arrange to graze the cattle in a safer place than at present.
I am trying to arrange to obtain weed from Detoits Pan, and Cactus of the leafy kind from Hull’s and Fenn’s Farms, both of which I am informed, cattle will thrive on, and I hope with these additions, to be able to prevent the cattle going off so much in condition as they have been lately.
In the meantime De Beers Co is making a cols storage room; I much hope it will be a success, and they expect to have it ready in little over a week; if the grazing difficulty then seriously presses we shall be able to kill cattle and store meat.
Really it would appear the De Beers Co is capable of doing anything, except obtaining information of the enemy’s dispositions and movements, as to this it seems quite powerless.
I much regret that this cold storage room was not attempted sooner, but when I brought the question up over a month ago, the company’s officials represented it was quite impossible, and I therefore gave up the idea. It will be an expensive job, but I consider it absolutely necessary to do all possible to minimize the risk of the meat supply failing. I may mention here that all agree that salting would not work out satisfactorily at this season of the year.
Enemy fired 9 shells from a 12 pounder from Spitz Kof this morning in the direction of the Race Course. I cannot think what at as we have nobody there. It may possibly have been at natives looting the enemy’s cattle for us.
At present 75% of the Town Guard are always in the defence works from 6 am to 6 pm, and all are in there from 6 pm to 6 am. I have to-day extended the time by which all must be in the works in the evening up to 6.30 pm.
In addition to the cattle Guards 4 squadrons were employed this morning in making a reconnaissance of Kenilworth to ascertain the enemy’s strength in and about Webster’s farm. Lt Col Scott Turner was in command and reports that only 150 of the enemy were seen. They have a gun in the work at Felstead, and it makes very good practice.
We had 2 wounded by the fire in this reconnaissance.
Enemy fired a shell at about 8.30 pm from Felstead at No 2 Machine De Beers. It was a good shot, and fell only about 12 yards from the map hut.
A day only relieved by the wildest rumours and a few shells more dangerous than usual. Buller was reported as being at Hellbrouw; General French was at Dundee; and France had declared war upon England. Shells whiffled into the town quite indiscriminately. One pitched into the Town Hall, now the main hospital. In the evening "Long Tom" threw five in succession down the main street. But only one man was killed. A Natal policeman was cooking his dinner in a cellar when "Silent Susan's" shot fell upon him and he died. For myself, I spent most of the day on Waggon Hill west of the town, where the 1st K.R. Rifles have three companies and a strong sangar, very close to the enemy. I found that, as became Britons, their chief interest lay in sport. They had shot two little antelopes or rehbuck, and hung them up to be ready for a feast. Their one thought was to shoot more. From the hill I looked down upon one of Bester's farms. The owner-a Boer traitor-was now in safe keeping. A few days ago his family drove off in a waggon for the Free State. White were their parasols and in front they waved a Red Cross flag. On a gooseberry bush in the midst of the farm they also left a white flag, where it still flew to protect a few fat pigs, turkeys, and other fowl. The white flag is becoming a kind of fetish. To-day all our white tents were smeared with reddish mud to make them less visible. Beyond Range Post the enemy set up a new gun commanding the Maritzburg road as it crossed that point of hill. The Irish Fusiliers who held that position were shelled heavily, but without loss.
20th to 23rd. Daily shelling and sniping. Captain Sandford moved the Boers and the seven-pounders from the western entrenchments. One of these guns they now abandoned with the exception of a picquet.
1899 - From the diary of Miss Bella Craw in Ladysmith
Only the fourth week of our Siege and it seems like months. Uncle George came in before breakfast this morning and says he hears that General Buller is in possession of Bloemfontein, been very heavy fighting, our losses killed and wounded two thousand. This is good news if true, but we hear so many rumours of every kind and description that we believe nothing.
We heard yesterday as being perfectly true that General Joubert had sent to our General to say that he was willing to make terms of peace on condition that he kept all the land to Ladysmith and annexed it to the Transvaal and Free State. I think this is more likely to be a yarn made up by some of our Volunteers.
We had a very bad night again - no shelling. This time we heard a lot of musketry firing though, which seemed to be very near the town. This wakened us at about 12 o'clock. We had only just gone to sleep again, or must have been only dozing, when we heard someone distinctly trying the door. Three times we heard this. Mama looked out but the offender took good care to hide, it was a bright moonlight night. This, of course, disturbed us all to such an extent that we could not sleep again for ever so long.
The Boers did not begin firing until after breakfast. Every now and again a shell whizzes overhead but there are intervals of ten and fifteen minutes between each so we don't think it worth retiring to the hole. It was just the same yesterday, perhaps a little heavier at times. The Artillery was out all day yesterday. Mr. Gill told Bert this morning that the Boers have erected ever so many more guns, so perhaps they are working at this every day. It will be a sad day for us when they turn all these on us at once in earnest. They give us too many and many a bad half hour. A Policeman was killed today, and a shell went through one of the rooms of the Town Hall, the Mayor's Room, breaking every pane of glass in it and doing a good deal of damage to one wall. One also went through the roof of Walton and Tatham's Hall, not much damage.
1899 - From the diary of Trooper A J Crosby, Natal Carbineers
Roused at 2.30 exercising horses. On fatigue cleaning up sick horse lines. Little doing in afternoon, heat again tremendous. At 8.30 were sent out to support piquet. Thunder and dust storm, rain commenced between 9 and 10 and continued several hours making it disagreeable for our bivouac.
1899 - From the diary of Major George Tatham, Natal Carbineers.
Shelling commenced about breakfast time. Afternoon one shell struck Walton and Tatham's office back of building perforating roof and passing through loft. At work for Col. Royston collecting information re owners of houses in occupation of volunteers and others. Rifle firing from enemy during the night.
1899 - Diary of the siege of Mafeking by Edward Ross
Wednesday, 22 November
Nothing of any consequence today, except having to lay low for the usual shelling and volleys.
The town received, after mathematical calculations, about seven hundredweight of scrap iron; consequences: four and a half sheets of galvanized iron damaged, and a poor little dog hit in the leg.
An attempt was made last night by some of our fellows to get into the brickfields and blow up the kilns of bricks with dynamite, which had already been previously buried there as a mine. It was understood that the enemy vacated these places at night and returned in the morning, but when our men got near enough they found these kilns were strongly held by the enemy, they therefore retired without doing any good.