This diary is reproduced here by kind permission of John Meyers and Frank Reid.
It is the diary of H V Mays, transcribed by Bob Stemp in Cairns in 1989. The preface says 'H.V. Mays Boer War Diary came into the possession of my mother Doris Stemp in the mid 1980's among some effects of recently deceased cousins. Her attempts to locate any relatives of H.V. Mays have so far proven unsuccessful. she commenced work on writing the diary in a more easily read form .By late 1988, her health had reached a level that she was unable to continue unaided at which time I was asked to take over and complete the task. The notes were prepared in this form in 1989 and 1990.'
Feb 15th Left Melbourne for S.A on board S.S Orient good send off.
Feb 16th Passed Heads at 7 am. People waving off Queenscliff: plenty getting sick.
Feb 17th Good weather but sick today.
Feb 18th Sick but recovering. Had tea.
Feb 19th On guard and all right in health
Feb 20th Nearing Albany. crossed Australian Bight.
Feb 21st Albany. Anchored in Albany shipped 3,000 tons coal, nobody allowed on shore. Albany people disappointed had Town Hall decorated for us and Banquet.
Feb 22nd At sea, Indian Ocean.
Feb 23, 24, 25, 26th Usual Guards etc on board plenty of chaps still sick.
Feb 27, 28th Foggy
March 2, 3, 4. Nothing of note odd fights on Board.
March 5th 6th Nearing the Sth. African coast sighted Port Elizabeth Lighthouse at 8pm on 6th.
March 7th In sight of land passed 4 steamers today 1 White Star Liner.
March 8th In Table Bay anchored. Beautiful morning.
Lovely view from deck of Table Mountain; Devils peak and Lions Head and Cape Town at the bottom of the mountain. Plenty of fish in the Bay, see them quite plain.
March 9th On guard at Wharf. Landed V.M.R. marched to Maitland in rain arrived at camp. 5 mile march. First issue of S.A. Army Rations; biscuits and Bully Beef.
March 10 Revallie 6 am. Visit Cape Town tonight. Seen prisoners at Green Point 5,000 Boers in camp there for Ceylon or St. Helena. Lights out at 10pm. very sandy here.
March 1 1 Pte. Risanell of A Company killed by train at Observatory Road Station. Sad affair also N.S.W.
March 12 Issue of kit and rifle etc.
March 13 Bubonic plague in Maitland Camp and Cape Town.
March 14 Cape Town for horses from S.S. Argus took horses to Maitland Camp.
March 15 G. Company on Bubonic plague Guard over Kaffers at Vitrulugt Camp. 5000 Kaffers enclosed. Orders to fire on any trying to escape from Camp without pass.
March 16 Finished 24 hours guard at Plague Camp. Horses from Argus reshipped to Durban, very dusty day.
March 17 Nothing of note, usual Camp Rules.
March 18 Marched to Cape Town, on board S.S. Orient once more bound for Port Eliz. at 1 pm with 600 K's on board
also seen plenty of porpoises etc. at sea.
March 19 At Sea.
March 20 Plenty of men again sick, fairly rough on Guard.
March 21 Arr. Port Elizabeth at 9am off in Tugs for Wharf.
In trains for Pretoria, very pretty town, very busy Good R. Station; in open trucks. Rain at night. Cook-house at 11 pm first meal since 8am.
March 22 Still in trucks pretty scenery very rough country. 45 men in one truck. Arr. at Cradock had breakfast biscuits and bully beef.
March 23 Arr Navals Port Border of O.F.S. Railway well fortified. Blockhouses all along the line every few hundred yards. Arr Bloemfontein at 7 pm. Capitol of O.F. State, now O.River Colony. seen 2,000 Boer prisoners from train. Left Bloemfontein at 8 pm.
March 24 Arrived at Narupoort. Passed Veljoens Drift, crossed
Vaal river at 9 am Elandifontein at 4 pm left at 6pm .arr at Pretoria at 10 pm in raining.
March 25 Reveille at 5 PM. Marched to Sunnyside Camp passed Lord Kitchener residence also Kruger etc.arr. Camp 10am. 6 New Zealanders here gave their War Cry on our arrival.
March 26 Being equipped for the Trek. March 27 Ditto.
March 28 Horses arr at Pretoria in very bad condition lost a lot died on way up from Durban in trains.
March 29 Heavy rain Camp swamped. Mch got a cold from riding in heavy rain yesterday.
March 30 Supposed to start off tomorrow for Pienaars River. March 31 Proposed start postponed for 8 days water very bad here also Camp.
April 1 Remounts from Pretoria Depot arr in Camp in place of horses died on voyage.
April 2 Lord Kitchener
Inspects camp with Staff.
April 3 On leave to Pretoria seen Kruger House Church
Justice Palace Parliment Houses Groot Hotel
Staffs Artillery Barracks.
April 4,5, 6 Nothing of note only plenty rain. My cold better know Dr. Palmer gave me nobbler of W.
April 7 Mounted inspections by General Blumer and other officers. We pleased him very much on our appearances.
April 8 Getting ready to move off any moment everything to be packed.
April 9 To move tomorrow; thanks very much to get out of this camp.
April 1 0 Left Pretoria for Middlebury at 1 0 pm Arr camp at 1 1 PM.
April 11, 12 In train going very slow.
April 13 Arrived at Middlebury at 1 0 pm Arr Camp at 1 1 pm April 14 Halted at Middlebury today.
April 15 Left Middlebury on trek.
April 16 First day firing G. Company.
Advance Guard under fire. Looked farms plenty of fowls, pigs, oranges here.
April 17 Shelled farm houses and burnt. Boxshall missing, reported killed.
April 18 Naval gun shelled Donga.
April 19 Reached Roodipoort Burt Farm. Capture lot of Wagons and capture ponies and cattle.
Arr Roodipoort 4 pm.
April 20 Lieut. Beattie wounded, plenty of fruit and fowls pigs etc, good water.
April 21 Camped Roodipoort.
April 22 In camp Lieufontein, Lieut Coulter out all night. Capture lot of stock and waggons today. Blew up mill.
April 23 Gill sentenced to 12 months for refusing an order.
April 24 Colonel Ottes out with right A.
April 25 Shifted to Krigs River G. Corp Captured 17 rifles 3,000 S.A.A. and waggons.
April 26 Back again to Roodipoort. Marched to Waggons Drift.
April 27 Halted at Waggons Drift.
April 28 Camp attacked 5 horses killed and 1 Kaffir driver
killed Sergeant wounded, vigorous shelling from
Camp 2 Boers killed, 1 wounded. Mail from Australia.
April 29 Halted at Waggons Drift.
April 30 Camp water bad. Followed tracks of Joes to Reiffontein Nitrals Nek, had cut in with Joes.
Harry Lamb shot through chest Buried near Waggons Drift, hard luck for Harry.
May 1 Arr. Rienfontein, Imperial Light Horse shelled General Beatson by mistake.
May 2 Halted Reinfontein.
May 3 Went to farm. Plenty butter and eggs and oranges and Limes.
May 4 Stripped saddles, burnt waggons. 28 Women, 3 Joes and 20 waggons, back to camp at night.
May 5 Stripped saddles 7 waggons plenty of fruit.
May 6th 7th Shifted camp to Wataval near Rhenaster Kaf.
May 8 C. Company good go with Joes, Captain Kelly and Lieut. Johnson killed and 4 wounded, searching the Gorges out Lorting Farm. Albert Silver mine at Hapfontein. Capt. Kelly buried near Railway Line Brugs Spruit Hospital. Led into a trap
Rhensiter followed few Boers.
May 9 Arr. Bronkerspruit.
May 1 0 Camped Bronkerspruit.
May 1 1 On patrol 20 men with Pom Pom out at 5 am on West of Camp
May 12, 13 Usual Patrol Big Search light at Whitbank 20 miles from here. Boers try to take cattle but driven off, cold, frosty and rain.
May 14 Patrol in Nth of Camp, very foggy waiting for Remounts from Middleburg.
May 15 Horses arr. from Middleburg. Patrol as usual.
May 16th 17th Comet in view this week very pretty sight.
May 17th Expect to shift camp tomorrow.
May 18 Trek to Balmoral left Camp at 6.30 am. Arr Balmoral at 6 pm. Camped near Station Fort at Station Gun Burst 1801b shell while firing at Boers trying to cross lines 5 miles away, killing 2 Gunners and wounding 4 others, 2 of our horses were hit in the lines by pieces of the Gun.
May 19 Left Camp at 6 am. Were at it with the Boers 2 hours after but they soon cleared, they don't stop for much fight, here we captured their cattle and ponies, got plenty of oranges fowls and limes here.
May 20 Seen few Boers, had skirmish stripped saddles after arriving in camp. Arr Camp 9pm. Horse holder today.
May 21 Left Camp 6.30 had engagement with the Joes chasing them from Koppe to Koppe by they got away. Cold and frosty night.
May 22 Arr, Wattle Tree Camp seen few Boers sniping at us, nothing of note, no scrap.
May 23 Returning to the Line from Rhenastis Kop lost in the Bush with Tom, George Bearswick 3 others. George rode up to Boers narrow squeak for us with 500 sheep out with Lieut Murphy left us on observation also McMahon with us. Arr. camp with sheep 9pm Murphy lost also with 70 men. Arr. camp 1 hour later, nice muddle.
May 24 Arr. Brugs Spruit. Paid 2 first pay in Country. Canteen very clean.
May 25 Left Brus Spruit. Trek towards Ermelo cross Railway line left Camp 7.30. Lieut Hedd and 2 Ptes wounded, Hume and I chased down Kopjep by 10 Joes firing at us had cut in with 50 odd seen one Boer horse fall only 15 of us under Lieut Hennessy on ridge Boers 1700 yards away. A. Company mistaking us for Joes gave us a very lively time for a few minutes, luckily hitting no one, exciting day.
May 26 Plenty of scraps, captured 45 prisoners 4 waggons near Kornfontein, no one hurt on our side.
May 27 Left camp 7.30 am. Captured 4 Boers, 1 1 waggons 20 ponies. Pom Pom heavy firing also 15 pounder and rifles. 1 Boer killed Pom Pom and 3 wounded. Seen 150 Boers in distance under Viijkoense Muller and Trichard camped on high ground at Koornfontien.
May 28 First day on Trichards Farm. Had a few shots at Boers on Skyline only sniping Boers here today. Captured cattle ponies waggons and sheep, seen plenty Springbok around here. Arr camp 8 pm, had to go back to Trichard Farm again for Ambulance. Arr camp at 10pm bed at 12 pm very tired.
May 29th 30 Men
G. Company walked into trap big go in with Joes
Left camp at 6 am, 3 men killed and 3 wounded
Lieut. Murphy, Corp. Robertson, Pte. White,
Pte. Hewitt all killed of G. Company. We killed 3 Boers and wounded 1 left on field by Boers.
Right Harf to the rescue G. Company and Pom Pom shelled Boers who made no more stand, 4 hours waiting for relief to help us back to Camp. Arr. Camp at 10 pm, marched through Veldt. Fire lit by Boers. Bad day. Helped to dress Boer wounded in right thigh, in Trichard farm girls heartless there, brought in Trichard Family to Camp.
May 30 Middlehead. Buried Lieut Murphy and men in Union Jack with full Military honours. I was one of the firing party at 3 pm. Same day saddled up in great haste and had a chase after 150 Boers, 1 Corbesser killed, sad affair, trying to get to Allanby Column, 20 of them Great Gallop with Pom Pom. H Wallace lost all night and afterwards captured next morning at our old Camp while following us up. Buried Corbesser next to Lieut. Murphy.