19th March 1900
I did not post my letter at Durban as I discovered the weekly mail had already left for Cape Town and as our orders arrived ordering us to Cape Town I thought it would be better to add a little more to the letter & post it there. They did not want us at Durban now that Ladysmith is relieved and I expect we shall have to go up either to Mafeking or join the force advancing on Pretoria. We are now fully prepared; all the hundred & one little things have been told us and we are as eager for the fray as we can be. It has been blowing jolly hard the last two days and consequently we have made a fast passage. We expect to reach Cape Town to-morrow afternoon.
I am going through a course of signalling as I shall require it in my capacity as scout. I feel awfully fit now as that affair of mine has given me absolutely no trouble the whole voyage and my throat is nearly well – in fact I have not felt better for years. It is awfully cold here; we all have sweaters cardigan jackets, comforters etc on the whole day long & overcoats morning and night – I have found Miss Jewett’s Balaclava Cap awfully nice & comfortable. I sleep in it. How are you all keeping? I hope well. And the children? It must be very hot in India now and I quite pity you all; we are having such lovely weather here. Dr. Holmes is now a Captain and extremely popular; he is considered a very smart officer in fact the smartest of the Volunteers. He is very nice with me. I am writing to Walter from Cape Town and I will also drop Mr. Barker a line. How are all the Asansol people? Give my kindest regards to Mrs Jordan & May especially. And Scrivener & the Lordons – how are they? I think after the experiences we have had on board this ship we are fit for any roughing in the world. At first it was extremely tiring and wearisome and I used to wish every day we were at the end of our journey but now I have got used to it and I should not mind if it were to last another week instead of another day as it is going to. We are not far from land in fact we are keeping just in sight of it during the day and just a little further out at night. We saw the American Ladies hospital ship “Maine” in Durban harbour and also H.M.S. Terrible. We passed close to each of them and they both cheered us as we did them. We passed a gunboat this morning. We disembark early Wednesday morning day after to-morrow.
My address is
Pte. J.D.W. Holmes
Indian Volunteer Contingent
We have everything packed up and are ready for disembarking. We have lost 5 horses and 2 transport ponies. My horse is quite well and has only been off his feed once. He seems quite well although rather subdued as indeed they all are, the most vicious having hardly a kick in them. Goodbye dear ones. Love,
Your loving son
Tell Dear Rachel and Grace to write. W.