Whilst browsing the newspaper archives, a fairly recent addition to my internet research, I have found them to be a treasure trove of information about deceased men and also a source of some very interesting letters from men at the front.
I came across the following letter from a Welsh soldier that was present at the Siege of Wepener:
From the "Abergavenny Chronicle and Monmouthshire Advertiser," dated; Friday, June 29, 1900:
"Letter from the Front."
"Mr. George Davies, timber merchant,Brecon-road, Abergavenny, has been the recipient of the following letter from his brother:-
Clocolan, May 20th, 1900.
"Dear brother,- I suppose you would like to hear something about what has been happening to our little column lately. No doubt you have seen accounts of our two days fighting at Labuschagne's Nek and the engagement at Aliwal North, so I will pass over that and give you a short account of our doings after leaving Aliwal. We received orders, and accordingly left there on Sunday, April 1st, crossed the Orange River. and by doing so entered and invaded the Free State about four o'clock in the afternoon. I should have informed that we form part of General Brabant's Colonial Division now attached to the 3rd (General Rundle's Division). By a forced march we reached Wepener on Thursday, April 5th, took up a fairly strong position about three miles from the town called Jammesberg Drift, which we were soon engaged in fortifying, and we had to march from camp to the trenches, speaking metaphorically, with rifle in one hand and shovel in the other. We had to man the trenches every morning at four o'clock, and did not leave until about 6, leaving a chain of pickets to guard them. All went well until Monday, April 9th. We were preparing to leave the trenches and return to camp to see about breakfast when our mounted picket rode by us. We jocularly asked them why they had come, and they answered in the same strain that we would know soon enough. Alas, too true, for they had hardly spoken when whizz came a shell passing over us right into camp, and instead of going down to breakfast we had to remain in the trenches for 17 days and nights. Our company, with half-company of Royal Scots defended the west and south-west parts of the position, the former numbering 380 rank and file, and the latter 60. On Tuesday night, about 8 o'clock, the position which we held was attacked by the enemy, who numbered between 4,000 and 5,000, and you will readily understand how determined the attack was when I tell you that we picked up afterwards hundreds of their empty cartridge cases within fifty yards of our trenches, but we beat them off, although out of the 380 all told of the C.M.R., our casualties were 22 killed and 81 wounded.--Yours, &c.,
Biographical details from David's "Wepener Account and Medal Roll," as follows:
"Davies, 3283 Private Joseph Frederick, Cape Mounted Rifles/ QSA (5) CC Wep Tr Witt SA01/ Enlisted 6 November 1897. Discharged physically unfit 10 May 1901/ (supplementary roll) or 19 May 1903 (CMR ref DD7/64). SA01 clasp issued 5 June 1907 and reissued 17 December 1908/Ref: 241p27,241p71."