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November 27th 10 years 6 months ago #1534

  • djb
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1899 - Kimberley siege day 44 (35%). Ladysmith siege day 26 (21%). Mafeking siege day 46 (21%). Gatacre moves to Putter's Kraal. Boers complete their retirement on Colenso.
1901 - Committee appointed to inquire into the working of the Gold Law.

In Kimberley:

Enemy commenced shelling at about 5 am from the position to the West of the Lazaretto (which we took on the 25th inst). He fired 5 shell, and they fell at or near the Reservoir. He has got the range well.

I am arranging to commence if possible repairing the railway culverts to North I am afraid great damage has been done to railway by the enemy.

I sent out the armoured train this afternoon to North, and ascertained that the damage to the 1st culvert can probably be repaired in a few hours.

The enemy sent out a cordite gun and about 60 men towards the train from the intermediate pumping station, and fired 4 shells at it long range. I am glad to be able to locate this gun, as I thought it had been moved to near Beaconsfield at which place a few shells were fired this evening from a cordite gun. Enemy fired 4 shells at the town this afternoon from the Lazaretto position. I think they must be short of water in that Laager, as when they open fire many horsemen are seen entering Carter’s farm, where there is water. I hope therefore to counteract this by throwing an occasional shell into the farm.

A searchlight has been put up at the Conning tower, and the following search lights are nightly thrown up into the sky, and across the country through which the relief column is probably marching. I think these will be seen for great distances.
(1) Premier Mine
(2) Rinderpest Redoubt
(3) No 1 Kimberley
(4) Conning Tower

At about 10 pm following messages were received at the search light at the conning Tower; unluckily no message could subsequently be received from the relief column, and I sent a message (which I repeated 3 times) to which I got no acknowledgement, giving information as to the probably positions the enemy has taken up to oppose the advance of the relief column.

Enemy commenced shelling the town and reservoir at about 3.30 am and fired 10 shells.

In Ladysmith

The great event of the day was the firing of the new "Long Tom." The Boers placed it yesterday on the hill beyond Waggon Hill, where the 60th hold our extreme post towards the west. The point is called Middle Hill. It commands all the west of the town and camp, the Maritzburg road from Range Post on, and the greater part of Cæsar's Camp, where the Manchesters are. The gun is the same kind as "Long Tom" and "Puffing Billy"—a 6 in. Creusot, throwing a shell of about 96lbs. The Boers have sixteen of them; some say twenty-three. The name is "Gentleman Joe." He did about £5 damage at the cost of £200. From about 8 to 9 a.m. the general bombardment was rather severe. There are thirty-three guns "playing" on us to-day, and though they do not concentrate their fire, they keep one on the alert. This morning a Kaffir was working for the Army Service Corps (being at that moment engaged in kneading a pancake), when a small shell hit him full in the mouth, passed clean through his head, and burst on the ground beyond. I believe he was the only man actually killed to-day.

A Frenchman who came in yesterday from the Boer lines was examined by General Hunter. He is a roundabout little man, who says he came from Madagascar into the Transvaal by Delagoa Bay, and was commandeered to join the Boer army. He came with a lot of German officers, who drank champagne hard. On his arrival it was found he could not ride or shoot, or live on biltong. He could do nothing but talk French, a useless accomplishment in South Africa. And so they sent him into our camp to help eat our rations. The information he gave was small. Joubert believes he can starve us out in a fortnight. He little knows. We could still hold out for over a month without eating a single horse, to say nothing of rats. It is true we have to drop our luxuries. Butter has gone long ago, and whisky has followed. Tinned meats, biscuits, jams—all are gone. "I wish to Heaven the relief column would hurry up," sighed a young officer to me. "Poor fellow," I thought, "he longs for the letters from his own true love." "You see, we can't get any more Quaker oats," he added in explanation.

In the afternoon I took copies of the Ladysmith Lyre to some of the outlying troops. It is but a single page of four short columns, and with a cartoon by Mr. Maud. But the pathetic gratitude with which it was received, proved that to appreciate literature of the highest order, you have only to be shut up for a month under shell fire.

In Mafeking

An advanced trench had been constructed in the river bed, six hundred yards from the Boer trench, and fourteen hundred yards from the big gun: Lord Charles Bentinck occupied it after dark.
Dr David Biggins

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November 27th 5 years 6 months ago #50161

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

This is the twenty-eighth day of the siege and there is no news of our relief, though everyone thinks that this state of things can’t go on much longer. I expect the Boers are almost as sick of sitting round us, afraid to attack, as we are being bottled up, and there is a shave that many of them are leaving and trekking back to their homes, but there is no way of knowing the truth.

Yesterday being Sunday and everything quite peaceful, I actually went for a ride up to the top of Caesar’s Camp, a big flat-topped hill at the opposite end of our horseshoe line of defence, and about four or five miles off by road.

I got a splendid view over the whole country and felt much refreshed by the change of air and exercise. We had various visitors to tea in the afternoon, and I took a few of them up to look at our posts, which are always a popular show. Our chief worry at present is flies, which are in countless thousands, and are the most pertinacious and offensive I have ever seen. We have covered the mess shelter with strong disinfectants now to see if that will drive them away, as it is impossible to put a scrap of food into one’s mouth without two or three going in too, and everything on the table is just a black, buzzing mass of them. Our food is not so very appetising to begin with, and the flies make it hard to choke down anything at all. Some of the war correspondents have brought out and printed a little siege newspaper, called the Ladysmith Lyre, the first number of which came out last night and is very clever and amusing. I am trying to get a copy to keep as a memento of the siege; but they are hard to get, as only one hundred were printed and paper is scarce. There is a clever picture-cartoon thing of two generals starting out on a round of inspection, and one says," I say old chappie, hadn’t we better take umbrellas? I think it’s going to shell”, and there is a sort of shrapnel shower coming down over their heads. Oh, dear me! if only they would get the railway open, so that I could get your letters and send mine to you, I feel as if I could be content to stay here another month if necessary, but so long as there is no chance of either, each day is a weary drag to be got through somehow, and wiped out as quickly as possible. I hope and pray that when mails do come through there will be a good budget for me. If they go wrong, as they did before, and there are none, I shall feel inclined to go straight and get in front of the first shell and get my wretched head knocked off. I won’t think of anything dreadful, and I do try very hard to be patient and trust that all is well; but it is very hard, and must be so much worse for you. I am afraid there is no longer anv chance of our being back for Christmas; in fact, I doubt if this letter will reach you by then, but I still have hopes of getting to you before the end of January, as, if Buller is working up with his force through Bloemfontein to Pretoria while we are left to hold the Boers here, as soon as he reaches Pretoria the Boers must cave in and the show will be over, and then I think the Indian contingent will be sent back as soon as possible to save food and expense, as there will be heaps of English troops for police and garrison work. However, as I don’t know anything of Buller’s movements this is rather talking in the dark. I am steadily hoping and trying to believe that we shall get news before the end of this week. I should like to know if I am a colonel or not, and what has become of Yule.
Dr David Biggins

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November 27th 5 years 6 months ago #50162

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

Roused at 5 o’clock, stables, cleaning arms etc. By an insane order spare and pack horses which had been on lines some weeks without exercise were let loose and driven across the river to graze. As everyone thought such a number would draw fire, as they did, when they stampeded back to camp, shells came thick about us. One struck on the path just outside our front line of tents, smashing a rifle in two that was standing against the wall and wounded a horse which had to be killed. The guns were silenced by ours. During the shelling most of our men took refuge in the river, but I remained in camp. Again very hot. Got portion of shell and also slugs from same.
Dr David Biggins

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November 27th 5 years 6 months ago #50163

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1899 - From the diary of Miss Bella Craw in Ladysmith

We had a lively few minutes, while at breakfast this morning. About six or eight shells fell all in our direction, three in Bert's erf next to us, three or four into or near the Artillery Camp opposite us, and one in the camp behind us, killing a horse and almost bending a man's rifle double leaning against a tree. Wilfrid very bad all day. No news. Nothing but wild rumours. I have just heard that General Buller is at Elands River coming through Harrismith. That General French is marching to Dundee and another General with a large force is at Estcourt, and that we may expect relief very soon now.
Dr David Biggins

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November 27th 5 years 6 months ago #50166

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Well, her optimistic outlook was apt, but, quite frankly, it must have been truly appalling at times to be stuck in Ladysmith, thank God George White managed to keep his head, without wavering too much.

djb wrote: 1899 - From the diary of Miss Bella Craw in Ladysmith

We had a lively few minutes, while at breakfast this morning. About six or eight shells fell all in our direction, three in Bert's erf next to us, three or four into or near the Artillery Camp opposite us, and one in the camp behind us, killing a horse and almost bending a man's rifle double leaning against a tree. Wilfrid very bad all day. No news. Nothing but wild rumours. I have just heard that General Buller is at Elands River coming through Harrismith. That General French is marching to Dundee and another General with a large force is at Estcourt, and that we may expect relief very soon now.

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November 27th 4 years 3 months ago #57440

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

Shelling commenced about 9 a.m., three fell near Pieter's Church, one on the corner of Lines' ground and killed a horse and one struck a tree under which a trooper of ours was sitting, cut the tree down, broke the man's rifle to pieces, but the man escaped with no more than a severe shock. Three Manchesters wounded on Caesar's Camp.
Dr David Biggins

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