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The Boer War letters of Subaltern Samuel Richard Normand, RA 1 year 5 months ago #74177

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11 July1901
C.C. Pompoms No. 3 Column (Benson’s)
Transvaal
De Jagers Drift
Steel Port River

My dearest Mother

I last wrote to father on the second inst. (No xxi). since then we've had a most exciting time. We left Machadadorp on the 3rd inst. to surprise a Boer Outpost about 5 miles out and hoping to catch a few of these. The Argyle and Sutherland Hi however Elected to give warning of our early start at 3:30 AM by Discharging sweet music on their pipes at 2:00 AM which no doubt put the bogeyman on alert. However I went on with the Scottish horse about four or five miles North Lee and at a drift when we had quite an exciting little fight all to ourselves about 3:00 PM that afternoon. We caught a few prisoners and accounted for about seven others of which at least three killed and seven wounded. This was at a place called Elands Dorf near Schwarz Koppies on the way to Dullastroom. We stayed there or thereabouts for a day or two to clear up the cattle etc. we then marched to Schwartz Koppies And camped there for the night. This is about 8 miles from Dullerstroom where we were about two months ago and where the South African horse had a three officers wounded . About a mile out from a Dullerstroom- I was with the advanced guard- we suddenly heard some pom pom firing and then saw the shells bursting uncomfortably near the South African horse, who were out on the flank post op this was our old friend Viljoen who had been vegetating a bit in Dullerstroom And was I daresay a bit surprised at our arrival- I've a shield him from 2 successive ridges but was unable to catch up so you returned to camp What dusty and happy. The next day we rested in camp and the morning after that moved off at 3:30 AM to follow him up. When they broke about 6:00 AM we were discussing whether we should have any shooting that day when pick Bach went the Mausers so we got up the Ridge and gave them a taste of it at about 2000 yards. They wouldn't stand it and galloped off- so did we- for about 2 miles- drove him off again, then another Trot and gallop for about four or five miles when we found them holding a Ridge behind Witprost farm. They were about court here and galloped about for 10 minutes or cauldron are in a very excited state. They had a pom pom with them but managed to get away again closely followed by us . Here they split up into three bodies- 1 working about you East towards the TAUTS berg one toward Thoux-Senechal and the other south east toward Middle Kraal. The first named party were followed up too dark when we we're only about four miles behind their convoy but our horses were clearly done up , so we had to stop.

The next dat we marched on toward Thoux Senechal and saw a small column part of Viljoen’s force about 4 miles off trekking south east but with bigger game, viz. Vijoen himself Interview for the moral- it was not worthwhile going after them.

I forgot to mention that our great chase that day was about 37 miles- of which some 21 or 22 miles were done at a good hard pace. It was a real good Sporting run, and I have never had a better day- except perhaps Pieters Hill.

Friday we coloured about 18 waggons and five (?ascconches (unreadable) also 15 saddled horses .This means 15 Bowers hiding in the big Klorf near here And so it is quite likely that they will give themselves up tomorrow I must now really close this scrawl -I have been writing against the time so please excuse bad writing another mistakes as the Mail leaves early tomorrow by convoy. Could Jay send me a flannel lined a double breasted khaki coat you will find in one of the drawers of my chest of drawers in a case in any room- I wanted nothing else. It's please excuse my answering any of your last letters- I'm very fit and hope all at home awww well. Love to Jim and Eleanor. best love to you, mater and all the rest- I hope father is progressing some good shooting- I fear I shall not get home at this year

ever your loving son
Sam
Dr David Biggins

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The Boer War letters of Subaltern Samuel Richard Normand, RA 1 year 5 months ago #74178

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XXV
C.C. pompom
No.3 Benson’s Column
S.A.
Goodehoep)
Carolina) 9/8/01

My dearest Mother

I posted a letter to Jim yesterday which will probably leave by the Mail of the 12th this will not go before the 19th at the earliest. We left Wonderfontein This morning at 6:00 AM and got here about 3:00 PM with a midday halt of about 2 hours. We would have halted longer but were disturbed by a party of some 60 or 70 Boers who began to work toward us but thanks to the energy of the officers in command of our small mounted scout of about 30 Scottish horse we kept them at a respectful distance and got into camp with nothing but two or three shots fired. This place Goodehoep is very strongly defended By barbed wire and trenches also a little gun emplacement into which I have put the Pompom on. The coldest part of the day now is from 6:00 AM to 8 just as the sun is rising. It was quite warm at 5:00 AM and gradually got cold at 6 a thick mist came up and a bitterly cold wind which lasted most of the day. Major Gordon second in command of this battalion of the A & S.H. knows Colonel McKlugie (Ord), also the Howersburn & Kileay people. Major McKerrol Who has come to this fight from India also knows them well and all the district about Ord, Garue etc. He though comes from near Aberdeen a place called Elcotan or some such name and knows Mony Mark Ayd Corrindae. He was very interested to hear that father had been at Ord & Delunadulty and was now at Corrindae.

He was in charge of the convoy that got cut up near Juelenberg in December or thereabouts and in which Farrel in the gunners got his brevit majority.

I do not understand how my letters take so long to reach you. My number X1X posted on 1st of June seemed to have reached you only 3rd of July they can go much quicker the best I have had been 10 days from London to Macheldorp. Your last of July 9th to 12th reached me only six August or 25 days this is about the average.

I'm rather surprised to hear what you say about Jim Dalmahoy . I met him in the R.S near Dalstroom About two months or more ago he was then in Parkes column and the surprise at seeing each other was mutual. We were to have dined together at Belfast , but it never came off. When and where did he get wounded? I never heard of it. I am very sorry indeed to hear about poor aunt Peggy's eyes and hope you have better account of her now. She is too unselfish to think of herself. After writing from Wonderfontein I got a batch of photos or returned to me from the printer so I addressed them to you and hope you have got them safely. The little Kodak I have is rather a success in spite of a penchant my pony” Billy” has for rolling on the camera.

Carolina 13/08/01

We have been here for two days, and Benson’s column marched in about noon today. - a convoy goes into the line tomorrow so this will go with it. The other Pompom will probably escort it in and I will re-join the column I do not know where we are likely to trek to but as an attack is expected on Nelspruit and Alkmaan tonight by Botha and Vijoen We may go down in that direction.

We are all very pleased to hear of Kitchener’s proclamation and that it is well received at home. We also agree that it will err on the side of clemency; but wonder what effect it will have on the war. We can never be sure of these proclamations getting sufficiently widely known- Commandants can easily keep them back from their men. I feel this is rather a dull letter but it is all I can offer you at present I hope all are well having an enjoyable time at Corrindae.

With much love my dearest mother
Your loving son
Sam
Dr David Biggins

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The Boer War letters of Subaltern Samuel Richard Normand, RA 1 year 5 months ago #74179

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XXVII “The lost letter”
C.C. Pompoms
No.3 (Benson’s) Column
Transvaal
Mail 28/8/01

My dearest mother,
26/8/01

We arrived this afternoon at Buetfontein, about 30 miles or so due west of Carolina, which latter place we left on the 22nd.

The convoy of empty waggons had gone off to Monderfontein the day before , and we suddenly got orders to march West to a place south of Middelburg to concentrate with two other columns presumably for a fight of some sort. We were ordered to evacuate Carolina, which was rather unfortunate, as a certain amount of stuff had to be burnt which might have been taken by the empty convoy. So we went off due West about 6 miles to NAUDESBANK then 15 to VAALBANK and yesterday about 17 more to MIDDLEKRAAL.

On this March I was with the rearguard and we had a little “scrap” with rather a good commando of about 40 Boers - Quite above the ordinary class – well dressed , well mounted and most them with almost new saddles; they were a pretty hot lot.

The convoy we expect to meet either tomorrow or the next day, so I will leave this open till then in the expectation of getting some more letters from you. We are at present in the middle of a thunder and rain a storm which started yesterday evening about 7:00 and has continued for over 24 hours.

9/10/01

Last mail No. XXvii was posted on31 ult. In which I said I had missed laid no. 26 or else one not numbered I see number 26 was posted on the 20th ult., Since I wrote last XXvii of August 31st nothing much has occurred except that Benson's column has come in here to Middelburg and I expect we shall go out again tomorrow - the 10th - but I do not suppose it will be for any length of time. Very likely we shall be back again by the 16th the day after that fixed by K’s last proclamation. I got a copy of the S.S.S paper. Bluint is very good at remembering us all. There were two or three other ”J.P “s from S.A.
Columns out here have been doing pretty well in the last month but the crowning capture of course is that commando in Cape colony. The proclamation however, is I fear not having very much effect.

I wonder how you are all enjoying Corsindae. Has Eleanor done much to in the fishing line - you must be close to the Don, which I believe is often very good trout fishing.

Are you taking them all on at Ping-Pong or is croquet still a hot favourite with you?

I suppose Bell is still the champion? I'm awfully so sorry to hear about her hay fever again. I'm afraid Matheson has not done very much good. How did she enjoy Netty bridge?

10/9/01 (date checked)

Last night I got your welcome letter of the 14th including the three bits of Heather including a piece of white - it was awfully nice you to think of it. It is now fixed to the tent pole and is admired by everybody. Although you seem in doubt about letter number 21 I think you have got it alright, you have acknowledged 19 (in yours of July 19 ). father acknowledged XX from Elandsdorp of 2nd June in his of 26. July And a speaks of another written during three weeks and ending about June 23rd; This must be number xx I posted on the 3rd of July you should now have got

XXiii – Father – 25-7-01
XXIV – Father – 7-8-01
XXV – To you – 15-8-01
XXVI – Father – 20-8-01
XXVIII – To you 31.8.01 (the present one)
And another I think anyhow I call this XXVII and will call my next XXix

Many thanks to Sis for writing to Adamson about the coat, unless it comes today I fear I shall miss it, and we are likely to start off again tonight- hope the A and SH won't give us a pibroch If it is to be a night March.

I'm so glad father and Jim are having such good sport among the grass- though now of course the patriarchs must have come in for the usual rude awakening- are there any pheasants?

It is very bad luck uncle Jim having so badly hurt his arm – I am very sorry not to have seen him in Corsindae and hope that is now fully recovered.
I'm afraid this is rather a scrawl, but it is pretty hot- very windy and I am a bit busy so you must excuse more. Hope you got the photos alright

love to all and heaps dear mother to yourself.
Ever your loving son
Sam R Normand
Dr David Biggins

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The Boer War letters of Subaltern Samuel Richard Normand, RA 1 year 5 months ago #74180

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XXX
C.C. Section Pompoms
No. 3 Benson’s Column
Transvaal
Carolina 21st Sept 01

My dearest Mother,

My last was written from Jagtlust, Near here and went in with the convoy on the 17th inst. The next day the 18th we started off for a night march South East . The guiding, as usual, was simply splendid. We marched off about 6:00 PM in the middle of a severe thunderstorm, which blotted out the little moon there was. We were in a thick mist most of the night, which was so dark that one could only see the guns walking close behind them, by the very faint reflection on the tyres of the wheels we should have been at our destination – (BILLYSVLEI) near Middlekraal at dawn - 4:15 AM but when nearly an hour late; however the mist now favoured us, and we got the welcome news that the Boer laager was only about 3 miles on. So off galloped the mounted men a; the guns- 2 15 pounders and my Pompom- racing behind. The mounted infantry opened out into about four bodies and the Scottish horse into two or three more to surround the place. A few got away and galloped off South East but the rest surrendered after a few shots which did no damage the bag was 54 prisoners of war besides a number of women and children, 42 waggons carts etc., A number of horses and mules, 47 rifles and ammunition and about 1560 head of cattle. We had covered about 42 miles in pitch dark in a little over 13 hours. We then marched back about 15 miles to meet the baggage column which was following in our heels , making a total of about 53 miles in all. It was however, well worth the trouble. This is close on 100 prisoners in under a fortnight, but I fear others will require greater efforts still as they are all afraid of Benson and it now know what he can do and does. At first the prisoners would not believe we had come from beyond Carolina ; Is impossible they said for a column to get so far in a night. It was unfortunate that we could not go on after Botha, who was only about 7 miles off; but the men who escaped us rode straight for his laager and we could have done nothing with our tired horses. he is said to have only about 150 men with him. Yesterday we got into Tevreden , But a detached party including self and Pompom branched off towards Lake Chrissie to look for a buried gun. We found the place; but the gun had gone; possibly many months ago, and maybe the one captured at Pietretief by us. Lake Chrissie Is the biggest of a series of pans, about 30 miles or so South of Carolina they are not however connected in anyway by streams; they probably are by underground channels. For the most part the pans are merely big or small expanses of water and are either fed by a number of internal Springs, or in a few cases by little spruits or burns And frequently have no visible outlet . Some are salt, but generally the water is fresh. Chrissie is 7 to 8 miles long and nearly 2 miles wide at its southern end.

Bothwell, the little Township at the North End (where the gun was buried) is the great honey-mooners retreat in these parts. It is a Pretty Little town in its way, but the scenery is nothing; the country mildly undulating without any striking features so it can hardly be called the Lake District of the Transvaal. it is extraordinary the elaborate lies the Boers are fed with ,and it is equally extraordinary how easily they swallow them. Among the prisoners we caught at Bilysvlei There were a couple of German doctors who told us perfectly seriously that the Boers really believed that Kruger was about to land in a short time at Delagoa bay at the head of 30,000 French!

We almost wish it were true- it would be a change from an everlasting trek after a few misguided obstinate burghers and mercenaries, who sole occupation is to worry rearguards, and avoid actual fighting. It is quite true I believe as they themselves confess, that they have more trouble with their own commandant who keep them on commando simply by strict surveillance then from our own columns, to which they would gladly enough surrender if they were sure in their own minds of decent treatment and could escape from their own corps, - and that human devil Kruger at the bottom of all this misery- not original of course, but latterly. The convoy was half expected to meet us here tonight, but it has not turned up but will keep open for any further news. That this I will close as we , so we will have to contain our souls in patience I find I am wasting good paper so I'm harking back on to the old sheets. In your letter about the khaki warm coat- which I expect tomorrow- there is no mention of my flask and a sandwich case. I fully omitted to ask for it but would be very grateful if you would send them out to me . They are a hunting flask and sandwich case both in leather cases to fit on 2 saddle , and you will find them either in the right or the left top drawer of the yellow chest of drawers in my room. Do not however troubled about them till you return from Edinburgh and find time to spare. There is no hurry- but they will be very handy and useful very many thanks for your trouble about the coat. It turned out with the convoy this morning 22nd. Safely.

24th. September
Strathrae

We have just come in- the return convoy- to their place half way to Wanderfontein Where we expect another mail (of the 30th) . Which have a will not tell me the sportsman's bag of the 1st September which I hope was a good one. Yesterday I received fathers of the 21st August and was glad to see the good bag of the 16th and the good results ferreting. Belle’s, long letter of the 23rd also to hand which I am answering by same mail But will keep open for any further news this I will close, as we are as we may be pushed for time on arrival in Wanderfontein.

I hope you are all keeping fit and having a good time and good weather in the country.

Heaps of love to all
Ever your loving son
Sam R.Normand
Dr David Biggins

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The Boer War letters of Subaltern Samuel Richard Normand, RA 1 year 5 months ago #74202

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19.10.01
C.C pompoms
Benson’s Column

My dearest mother how did you manage to fall down those beastly stairs? I do hope you are really alright now, though you say nothing further in your letter of the 20th ult. You must have had a horrible shock- I hope you will mention how you are in your next. I remember the stairs at Ord nasty enough and it was impossible to light them properly. Please excuse a short note as I have got to start at 4:30 tomorrow AM and right to catch the mail of the 24th and am a bit hurry tonight as I had to be away in Pretoria for a few days while we were here.

Now mater do look after yourself
love to all and heaps to yourself
ever your loving son
Sam R Normand
Dr David Biggins

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The Boer War letters of Subaltern Samuel Richard Normand, RA 1 year 5 months ago #74203

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Nov 12th
C.C. Pompoms
No 3 (MacKenzies ) Column

My dearest Mother

you must excuse a very short note as we move out again tomorrow at 5:00 AM. After the engagement at Bakkenlaagte on the 30th ult. I sent a wire as soon as possible saying I was safe. You have no doubt seen all in the papers and have drawn your own conclusions; next opportunity I would try and give you a short account as I was with the guns that were taking all the time and I think the Boers took me for a doctor as I was looking after the wounded as well as I could.

It was a pretty hot thing, but they could get not get our convoy. I was awfully glad to hear of your partial recovery from your fall and to hear that you are beginning to find the use of your arm again. It must have been a very severe wrench and I was very relieved to hear it had been no worse father, I'm glad to see has been having excellent sports with Jim, and that he is keeping fit and well. Now you really must excuse more. I have more time for writing when ‘on trek’ than during our so called ‘rests’ on the line.

Will acknowledge all letters by a future mail which may not be for two or three weeks.

Best love to all
ever your loving son
Sam R Normand
Dr David Biggins

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