SIDELIGHTS ON THE SIEGE OF MAFEKING.
LECTURE IN BRISTOL.
Miss Friend, a sister of the Mayor of Mafeking, and a lady who passed through that historical siege working as a nurse, entertained a large audience in the hall of the Merchant Venturers' Technical College last evening with some thrilling tales of suffering and bravery on the part of the besieged. In her introductory remarks Miss Friend stated that South Africa was offering, and would continue to offer, a vast field of enterprise for agricultural and commercial undertakings of every sort and condition. Already vast numbers of Englishmen and Englishwomen had flocked out there since the war, and more were preparing to go. No up-to-date account could be given without some reference to the war and the present conditions, which were the outcome of the war. Mention was made of Mr Joseph Chamberlain's visit, the lecturer stating that already, from reports she had received from South Africa, the visit was doing much good. Before the war the village of Mafeking was hardly known to many people. It was a little typical up-country village, with about 2,000 white inhabitants and about 7,000 blacks. They could scarcely imagine a more ugly spot—a group of corrugated houses built in a vast stretch of veldt, which for about nine months in the year was brown and ugly, resembling worn-out cocoa-nut matting. The siege of Mafeking would, however, stand for all time as an example of British pluck, British ingenuity, and British endurance. With the lights lowered, pictures were thrown upon the screen illustrative of many phases of life in Mafeking during the early part of the siege, of the defences which were so inadequate, and which subsequently gave place to the wonderful system of earthworks and trenches. A tribute was paid by the lecturer to the good work done by tne town guards. Having stopped to feed the chickens. Miss Friend had a nasty experience of the first shell which fell in Mafeking. and which caused her to take shelter in tbe cellar of an hotel, the dining-room of which was shattered by the second shell, greatly alarming the occupants of the cellar beneath. A circuit of five miles had, she said, to be protected by under a thousand men against some thousands of Boers under Cronje, "the lion of the Transvaal." In the hospital the six nurses worked for 14 hours a day without any interval, and none of them ever complained. She had never nursed a better patient than the ordinary British "Tommy." She at flrst had charge of the enterics, and never lost a patient through enteric fever. A photograph of a collection of shells and bullets fired into the hospital during the flrst three months having been shown, Miss Friend told of the gallant defence of Cannon Kopje, the key to the position, by the British South African Police, 57 strong. That was one of the bitterest days throughout the siege (October 31st, 1899), when many of those they had known so well were killed, including Captain Marsham, who had been the centre of social life in Mafeking. Mafeking soon resembled a rabbit warren, so much did the inhabitants live underground. The splendid work of the Sisters of Mercy was alluded to, and an incident was given of General Baden-Powell's watchfulness, which earned for him from the Matabeles the description "The nightwolf who never sleeps." A picture was shown of the whole of the artillery which Mafeking possessed, including the well-known Wolf and a naval gun, which they named Lord Nelson, as it bore the date 1770. Amusement was caused by the lecturer telling how a mounted bellows and a dummy man led the Boers to waste their shells and bullets upon them. The fire upon the hospital and women's laager was stopped by General Baden-Powell placing the prisoners in front of them. Some touching tales of the unselfishness of dying patients were related, and after a reproduction of the flrst Sunday concert programme, in connection with which General Baden-Powell figured as Paderewski and a reciter (he advocated cheerfulness from the first), a picture was shown of the little English church, where a Bristolian, Mr Weekes, did such excellent work. In conclusion Miss Friend remarked that though the siege happened long ago, the after effects of the war were still to be faced. She had just come back from South Africa, where she had been amongst the people, and wished to point out that the war had not only been fought in the enemies' country, but in their own colony, and while helping the enemy she asked them also to remember the loyalists. They wanted even-handed justice.
On the proposition of Professor Wertheimer, who presided, and who referred to the noble work of the nurses in South Africa, Miss Friend was heartily thanked for her lecture.
The Western Daily Press, Thursday 22nd January 1903