Letter 9


Nov. 5. 1900.

My dearest Mother.

Your dear letters to hand up to the one you wrote when just past Aden. Of course long ‘ere this you have arrived home & are most likely settled down. I hope your anxiety about me has long ago subsided. I was never better in my life and am now over 10 ½ stone in weight. My face is as red as Baby’s ever was and I am as happy as the day is long. Lord Roberts inspected us at Springs and told us we were a fine corps etc but said there was no hope of our disbandment for months yet. We have just marched in here from Machadodorp after being 17 days on the road. We went through Carolina, Bethel, Heidelberg & Springs. It was the hardest march we have ever undergone. We got up at 2.30 every morning and started at 3.30, and did not camp again till 6 & 7 in the evening. It rained almost the whole time with occasional days of sunshine and we were alternately wet and dry the whole time. We had a fight with the Boers every day up to Heidelberg and on one occasion eighteen of us drove thirty & more of the enemy from three positions killing three of them and putting seven bullets in to a white horse belonging to the Commandant Hans Botha. I enjoyed this little skirmish which lasted about an hour or so, more than anything we have had on the campaign as there were no officers there and each man acted “on his own”. The bullets were whistling over our heads like so much hail but not a soul of us was hit. We were forty hours wet through to the skin and our blankets all wet also and nine of us (myself among them) had to go on a kopje and do picquet. Strange to say none of us are any the worse for it although during the whole of that time we had no cooked food to eat as no fires could be lighted in the rain.

I am writing this in the “Soldiers House” hence the ink and decent paper.

I have just had a lovely hot bath and swim and put on clean clothes from head to foot and after writing this am going to a restaurant for a jolly good tiffin; total cost 5/6, four days pay. I am writing to My Henry this mail and have told him all about myself and my readiness to go and see him in Johannesburg directly he sends for me. The Colonel says he will recommend me for a Commission as 2nd Lieut in the Police. I may get it but as there are numerous applications and many of them have a good deal of interest I may not, so don’t be too sanguine about it. In any case I am sure of an Engineering billet but I prefer the Police at present I think. In any case I am working my very hardest to get something which will prevent my going with the Corps on their next march, as I have had quite enough roughing it in wet weather, besides which I think I have done my share as I have been with the Corps right through from the beginning on every march which can only be said by about 50 men all told out of the 250 who came out from India. The rest have been left behind in hospitals, or obtained commissions or loafed somewhere down country. Besides which not a man in the Corps can say he has had fewer horses than myself, 4 altogether and the fourth which has been marching now for two months is still the fittest in the Corps.

I do hope you and the girls are all keeping well and blooming. Good bye for the present. Send that letter of introduction as soon as you possibly can, in fact you ought to have sent it long ago. I will wire you if I obtain Commission in the Police.

Good bye Love for all.

Your loving son


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