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May 6th 9 years 8 months ago #3041

  • djb
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1900 - Mafeking siege day 206 (94%).

In Mafeking:

To-day the Boers most deliberately violated the tacit Sunday truce which, at their own instigation and request, we have always observed. The whole proceedings were very peculiar. It was a fine morning, and the Sabbath calm pervading the town and the surrounding forts was manifest in the way we were all strolling about the market square. As regards myself, I had just purchased some bases of shells at Platnauer's auction mart, where the weekly auction was proceeding. The firing began, and nobody paid much attention except the officers and men belonging to the quarter at which it was apparently directed. They, on foot, horseback, and bicycle, dispersed headlong to their various posts. One, Mr. McKenzie, on a bicycle, striking the railway line, reached his post in four minutes and fifteen seconds, fifteen seconds too quick for the Boer he was enabled to bag. The Boers, who on previous Sundays had displayed an inclination to loot our cattle, had crept up to the dead ground east of Cannon Kopje, and hastily shot one of our cattle guard and stolen the horses and mules under his charge. It was the more annoying that they should have been successful as we were well prepared for them, and had rather anticipated this attack, having a Maxim in ambush within one hundred and fifty yards, which unfortunately jammed, and failed to polish off the lot, as it certainly ought to have clone. If we had had any luck it would have been a very different story. Directly the Maxim began the Boers nipped off their horses and running alongside of them for protection reached the cover in the fold of the ground. Unfortunately they killed poor Francis of the B. S. A. P. (the second brother who has fallen here since the fighting began) and took all the horses. It was very annoying, but a smart bit of work and I congratulate the Dutchmen, whoever they may be, who conducted it. Still it was a breach of our Sunday truce, and if all is fair in love and war the many irate spectators will have their pound of flesh to ask for later on. It really was a curious sight: lines of men impotently watching the raid and behind them the shouts of the unmoved auctioneer of "Going at fifteen bob." "Last time." "Going." "Going." "Gone," and gone they were undoubtedly, but they were our horses and he was referring to some scrap iron. To cover this nefarious procedure they opened a heavy fire on various outlying forts. We were lucky enough in the interchange of courtesies to secure a Dutchman on the railway line, and as they had practically violated the white flag our advanced posts had great shooting all the afternoon at his friends who came to try to pick him up. We buried Francis this evening. The concert was put off. A certain amount of endurance has been shown by the inhabitants and a certain amount of pluck by the defenders of the town, but prior to the Boers starting fooling (successful fooling and neatly carried out), I and several more were standing in the market square gossiping about things we did know, and things we didn't, when we happened to notice a very weak-looking child, apparently as near death as any living creature could be. It transpired on inquiry that this infant was a Dutch one, Graaf by name. His father, a refugee, died of fever; his brother was in hospital, and he had been offered admission, which he refused, because he said that he must look after his mother. Even then, though scarcely able to cross the road, the kid was going to draw his rations. He was taken to hospital, but I think that this is about the pluckiest individual that has come under my notice, and nobody can take exception to the child, though his mother is probably one of those amiable ladies who cat our rations, betray our plans, and are always expressing a wholehearted wish for our extermination.

Dr David Biggins

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