1900 - Hunter reaches Vryburg.
1904 - Boer Congress opened at Pretoria.
1905 - Lord Selborne sworn in as Governor of the Transvaal.
We started rather later than usual owing to the heavy rain, and half way to Vryburg we crossed the fresh spoor of men, wagons, cattle, &c, going towards the Transvaal. It afterwards transpired it was the rebel Van Zyl and his following, bolting from Kuruman to the Transvaal. Let off number two. We couldn't have been more than an hour or two behind them, and they would certainly have scooped us had we met them, so the rain was lucky. Well, we got into Vryburg from one side as the troops got in from the other. An old acquaintance rushed me off to the Club, and I then strolled up to see the Scotch Yeomanry and found Charley Burn, I found also Kidd and several others l knew—then onto see Reade, who had been Intelligence Officer at Mafeking before the war, and was D.A.A.G. to General Barton, and arranged about getting on in the first train. This was my first chance of seeing the infantry Tommy on the war path to any great extent. He is no more beautiful or clean, in fact, if anything less so than his cavalry brother, but by heaven he looks a useful one! However, what matter the man as long as the flag is clean. Met North of the Royal Fusiliers and dined with him, they all asked after Fitzclarence, Godley, and the others. They and the Scots Fusiliers had done quite an extraordinary march of forty-four miles in thirty-four hours, and now our infantry were within striking distance of Mafeking. The line should soon be repaired as they had begun from Mafeking and the line as far as Maribogo was practically untouched, in fact next morning, Thursday, they ran twelve miles north. Thursday we began our preparations for departure. The garrison were preparing to celebrate the Queen's Birthday, and the populace to display great enthusiasm, and the women began to come into town. It was not a highly polished parade, so far as I could see. Still, it was rather good to have it there just then, where the Dutchmen had been in occupation within ten days. Rifles were now coming in by the hundred, and the rebel of a fortnight before became a British patriot. We drove to the station, and there met the Scots Fusiliers. I was accosted by a warrior in large blue goggles, who said I didn't remember him. I naturally didn't in the goggles, but it turned out to be Scudamore. They did the best they could for us, and then Dick of the Royal Irish Fusiliers turned up, who had once been my sergeant-major. I was glad to see him—the old regiment and squadron seems fairly dotted all over Africa. Barnes was at Mafeking, three of us had been through the siege, and I met one Lambart at Taungs, who had been a corporal with us, and was a captain in the Kimberley Mounted Corps, curiously enough all belonging to two squadrons, B and D. Well, we left Vryburg with a light engine and a truck full of niggers. We were all sitting on the tank, in charge of young Gregg, R.E., who is a good train master. He ran us down, after dropping the niggers to repair a bridge, to Dry Hartz, where we had to pull out for an up-coming train, and as we had half an hour to wait, and it was just mid-day at twelve, we formed up and gave three cheers for the Queen and drank her health. It was the smallest and dirtiest Queen's Birthday parade I have ever attended; nine all told, but "mony a little makes a muckle." We ran down to Taungs, where one way and another we were detained some twelve hours. I didn't mind. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers were there, and I found several old friends and acquaintances—Gough Radcliffe, R.H., Cooper (Royal Fusiliers), Broke Wright, R.E., the former railway staff officer. So into a cattle truck we jumped with one of the Welsh Fusiliers and some men and arrived at Kimberley 7 o'clock next morning, where I called on Sir C. Parsons, and had fish for breakfast at the hotel. Thus my journey was practically ended. It transpired that Vryburg was held by some half dozen of our forces, and that the remainder of the garrison was only sixty loyalists from the town population. It did not seem a large garrison, but apparently it was good enough. There was rather a curious coincidence at dinner at Orange River. I saw a man whose face I thought I knew, but I was mistaken; it was his likeness to his brother which misled me. He turned out to be Tom Greenfield's brother, who was down here sick, and to whom I had wired to meet me at Fourteen Streams, so that I could give him news of Tom. However, I struck him on the next river or so, so it didn't much matter.
It was sad to pass the Modder River and see our cemeteries—all English; so we passed on to Cape Town. And how jolly it was to see old friends; besides, we were able to tell our Mafeking people, womenfolk, good news of their husbands.
Three pleasant days there, and then everybody came to see us off by the Norman, which we nearly missed. The voyage passed without much incident. Everybody on board was more or less personally interested in the war, and there were a good many Boers and pro-Boers on board. On Saturday, short of Madeira, the Briton signalled the news of the fall of Pretoria. Tremendous rejoicings on board on the part of the British, while the Dutch were correspondingly depressed and seemed rather sad; some of them wept into the sea.
The further I got from the seat of war the less animus I felt. So to Madeira, where we arrived about midnight, and the news was confirmed with particulars. We got many newspapers. On to Southampton—more victories; many valuable officers killed. It is really sad to take up a newspaper; one sees friends killed in every fight. Thus we arrived in London at 9.15 on the 15th June, having left Mafeking 11 a.m. the 20th May.
Thank you Mark! There's no shortage of material to add to the site but its the time I usually lack. The forum has been a great way to expand the material on the site in ways I never imagined and with information and pictures I don't have access to. It is thanks to you and the other contributors for this.