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The Boer War letters of Subaltern Samuel Richard Normand, RA 1 year 5 months ago #74235

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10-2-02
C.C. pompom
MacKenzies Column
Transvaal

My dearest Mother,

Just a line to acknowledge yours of 17th Jan also a Spanish one from Br. of the same date. The socks came to for which very Many thanks indeed. They have come very opportunely.

I'm putting the stamps on the envelope for this. Sis should keep them as it is not unlikely that they may be the first Kings stamps used in this country and may become valuable as currency or from a philatetic Point of view.

I leave here tomorrow early, and you must excuse more now. I do not expect to write for at least a fortnight.

Heaps of love to all
every 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 #74236

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XLIX
1st April
CC Pompoms
Col MacKenzies Column
S. Africa

My dearest mother I seem to have been making a terrible mix up of the numbers on my letters. I see the following on my last .

XLiii – mother 9th Feb
? “ 10th Feb
XLIV ? 14 Feb
XLV father ?
XLIII (again) mother 3rd March
XLIV father 17th MarchThe latter should be XLViii, anyhow I shall call it XLIX and hope your brain will stand it.

You mentioned a fellow Tullis whom Uncle Hill knows in the R.S.Fs (Royal Scottish Fusiliers).

They have now left the column in fact they left somewhere about January, as we have nothing but mounted troops in the column, but I'll remember to look him up if we come across them again. I got the father's letter and the newspaper and cutting about the “Freedom of Dysart” function.I sent a letter to Livingstone thanking for the great honour but have said nothing about the annoying mistake in the report . I hope father has been able to have this expunged. If not I will write myself. I'm sorry to hear of Maimie Barclay’s fall and hope she is alright now ; I suppose it happened in frosty weather of which you seem to be having had a big share at home. I'm glad to hear you have much better news of Uncle Hill. I note what father quotes from a letter of his about Harvey. Adjutant general in Pretoria is I think a big thing. How did he get it? I hope you got away to Clifton and joined Sis after your cold. Edinburgh is no place to be at in winter and spring except for those who benefit by “bracing” weather. We will soon be having “bracing” weather here. I have very vivid recollections of Belfast in May last year- altitude 6000 feet add - water in the bucket and sponge and towel frozen hard every morning! But one can stand it a good deal more on the highveld than at home- in fact one seldom suffers from a thorough drenching! We are all agog with excitement as to the ultimate result of the Schalk Burgess visit Lord Kitchener- we also hear that Botha and Britz were there, and that Schalk Burger have now gone off to talk to Steyn. If he gets round the latter , we would have peace. It will be a curious sensation to be in South Africa without searching the skyline for specs and never moving without keeping a short look out for suspicious objects 6 miles off.

(unsigned)
Dr David Biggins

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The Boer War letters of Subaltern Samuel Richard Normand, RA 1 year 5 months ago #74272

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April 24th 02
L
CC Pompoms
MacKenzies Column
S.A.

My dearest Mother,

I last wrote to father on 17.4.02 from Jonkersdam. We left the next day and another day following that we started on a “drive” again, But it was rather unsuccessful. I fear one column lost its way and so left a big gap. This was of course absolutely inexcusable, and the column commander will probably get into pretty hot water over it. However, I believe we start off again tomorrow to try again, and hope things will go right. There is a great deal of “peace rumour” in the air. It is said that the Boer delegates have accepted our terms and are now going around the country interviewing their commanders to make them come in. If this really is the case peace should be de facto assured , for it is the commanders and not the Burghers who have been so obstinate about surrender. Consequently if peace is not declared by the 15th of May, we may consider that the good endeavours of the delegates are all “bunkum”, and either they have no real authority to speak for their people, or that they are merely ”spies in the land” and have got up this pretence of peace negotiations for the purpose of gaining valuable time and information. However, four weeks will show their authority and sincerity. If they do not give in there shall be wiped out as a nation. As it is they are almost to a man absolutely untrustworthy and the truth is not in them. Can you imagine the balance of mind of a man who surrendered voluntarily - fights voluntarily against his own people; breaks his parole , and after giving his parole goes back to fight with his own people again; and men like Breitenback I wrote of who pratted off “death rather than dishonour” and then when captured whined to be allowed to act as intelligence against even his own commander in order that he might be spared the punishment of banishment!

The Nation is absolutely rotten to the core- cunning, selfish and unprincipled and although they will I feel sure behave well under English rule, it will be for many years impossible to give them any position of trust or responsibility.
We still have a little rain, and an occasional frost, But the real cold weather will not make itself felt for another fortnight also. I must again delay answering and acknowledging in detail all your letters as I am and have been pretty pressed for time. A small command without trained assistance in clerical an organisational work is worse far than a large command and plenty of NCO’s and hangers on to help.

Hope all are well
Please excuse a very poor letter
With heaps of love, dear mother
I am your affectionate 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 #74273

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7th. June 02
16 Gen Hospital
Elandsfontein

My dearest mother,

You must be content with a short letter as I cannot use my eyes yet much. Only one ( the right) was affected - but it has been a slow process getting well. I expect to be here in hospital at least a fortnight or three weeks and I'm going to do my best to get home, but cannot say yet if I shall manage it. (H. Richardson(of No.1 LTsr) is the doctor in charge of this hospital!.

So, we’ve got peace at last, and the Boers do not seem to have gained much from their protracted bargaining! Still we all think we will get on very well together. So you have taken Auchandolly. I suppose Bert is now home . I got his letter from the mines last month but could not answer it. I have also had letters from father Belle and Sis - also Gerry. Please tell the latter I have got what she asked for. I must really close now- heaps of love to all hope you found Bert well .

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 #74274

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Convalescent Home
Johannesburg
June 21st 1902

My dearest Mother

I have stopped numbering my letters now- I can't count beyond 50 in Roman numerals! So you will have to be satisfied with the date alone. My eye Is getting on splendidly now, and I am allowed to use it indoors but must still keep a patch over it when I go out. The last letter I have got for yours of the 2nd 9th and 16th of May , father’s of 16th of May and one from Gerry same date.

I'm very sorry to hear she has been suffering again so much from rheumatism The Turks must enjoy their carpentry - or rather Gerald, as I do not suppose Witchie does much in that line.

You and Sis must have had a most enjoyable time in England, and particularly all of the drives you personally were able to do from Ulverston . You seem to meet Mrs Schneider everywhere you go. I should like to see her again. I was very sorry indeed to hear about Mrs Ford's illness; It is very sad. She was always so kind and cheerful. I hope you have had better news of her. I suppose you do not go to Auchendally till August. I knew the two Humes at Mr Blunts. They afterwards went or one of them did to Mr Patterson’s school in Saint Andrews ; What are they doing now?

Auchendally sounds very nice from the sportsman's point of view; especially as regards the wood pigeons.

I was asked to volunteer to stay here in command of a section ( 2 guns ) of Pompoms But have refused it is not a Garrison Gunners job, and besides I wish to try and get home . This place, as I dare say you know is Barney Barnado’s house and lies about 2 miles north of the town.

It is a big rather handsome square house with verandas on three sides supported on imitation marble pillars ; but it is very cold and draughty. The only place to keep warm is one’s bedroom- (mine gets all the morning sun) . All the other rooms on nothing but windows and doors and a big fireplace- very nice in the hot weather but a bit bracing in the cold weather at an altitude of over 6000 feet! The grounds are nicely laid out but badly kept, and there are two circular ponds with some dilapidated canoes stranded on the islands in the centre. Several bandstands at summer houses, and the park itself chiefly fir trees and eucalyptus is planted with lamposts for electric light but the lamps have not yet been put on. The establishment consists of an RAMC major, and two army nursing sisters - One a regular character. An elderly Scots woman with a voice like an auctioneer's; and she does not mind the least what she says she had seen a great deal of service and has a row of metal ribbons that would outvie many of our leading generals. She reminds me not a little of Nana at White Hill (17 stone if she is a pound).

We all have to be back by dinner at 7:00 PM and the gates are locked at 8:00 PM and lights out at 10:30.

“K” came and inspected the I.L.H. , 2nd Scot and J.M.R. here the other day, but it was a slow show. The J.M.R. (Jo’burg Mounted Rifles) were nick named “Jews Mostly Russian”. I am told is singularly appropriate; they look a pretty or rough crowd.

I hope you are all well and that Sis had a pleasant time in Kinsale .

Love to all
Ever your loving son
Sam R Normand

I send some more photos by the same mail
Dr David Biggins

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The Boer War letters of Subaltern Samuel Richard Normand, RA 1 year 5 months ago #74275

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15th August 1902
Transvaal Hotel
Pretoria

My dearest Mother

The mail leaves tomorrow; Or rather Monday the 18th, but as I shall be pretty busy tomorrow , and leave tomorrow night for Cape Town, this may be my only chance of getting a letter off. I do not yet know when may sail but if luck favours me I should catch a boat about the 30th of the month. I am delayed only by the paymaster whom I can't get to audit pay list, and until that is done I can't get leave; so I'm going down to Cape Town to pull his wig for him. I've hope father has got mine of last mail asking him to send my gun, hat box and Gladstone bag to the Hotel Metropole where all letters should be sent to .
How do you like Auchendally? I hope it has proved successful and that you have had good weather and found some neighbours. It is almost as dusty here as at Standerton and I won't be sorry to get away. How is old Bert? Going strong I hope and all the rest of you. I must really close - I'm afraid I haven't an atom of news.

Heaps of love to all,
ever your loving son
Sam R Normand
Dr David Biggins

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