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Sequel to a Rhos-on=Sea Matrimonial…

Letters from the Seat of War.


Letters from the Seat of War. t "De Aar, "Tuesday, Jan. 17th, 1900. "Dearest mother,-It does seem so long since I heard from you. I told you I did not get your usual mail letter last week, and. this week the mail is very late, not expected until Saturday. All news is suppressed in our papers now, and though we know that serious fighting is going on all around us, yet at present we Can learn nothing. I will enclose an. article describing the Boer method of fighting, and I had noticed myself before I read this how the Boers seem to play "hide-and-seek" with 'our men. I en- close other cuttings, one showing how the Suf- folks came to grief. To-day the Worcesters, Buffs, and Oxfords came through. They only stayed to snatch a hasty meal, and were rushed on to the front at Colesberg. We are a bit hurried over the photography. All sorts of soldiers want. their photos taken, and they all want them to catch the mail. That is all very well, if one had nothing else to do. I do my best to help B- get them done, for I know it will please some wife or mother. So many are Reserve men, and when they come to our house I have long gossips with them. They are all so sick of tent life. One said to me yesterday, 'Oh! how glad I shall be to get back again to' my own fireside.' He had only been married 18 months. We have all grades come to our house. I don't care a button for his rank so long as I can make him comfortable for a short time. It's fun, though, when a private rubs shoulders with one above him in rank. The way they eye one another is a treat. This is especially the case, when you happen to have a private of one of the Colonial regiments' paying a visit, and a sergeant-major of a bona-fide British corps drops in. The private is often a well-to-do man, but the sergeant-major does not take kindly to his company. I am enclosing photos of some pontoons that passed through here. "Thursday. "No time to write much to-day. Got the painters in, and it is our day for the usual monthly meeting of the W.C.T.U. Very dis- quieting news about Prieska. The Boers have taken possession. That is coming. a lot closer to us. How differently the soldiers dress now to what they did when father was in the army. What looks so quaint to me is the way their revolvers are fastened to a cord, and goes round the neck, like a sailor's lanyard, and their sword- hilts are painted. Everything looks odd. "Friday. "A lot of our men have had to leave here and march out to Prieska, amongst them being the Cape Artillery, who have been here so long because they had no horses, and they have actu- ally started these men to meet the Boers with only mules to pull their guns; so I shall not be surprised if they come to grief, and the Boers come on us. We continue to get most awful dust storms, and another immense swarm of locusts passed over here yesterday. B- is sending father this week an army blue book showing all regulations for field service here, I had a look at the various articles the Can- adians were allowed to take. We thought per- haps it might interest father. The 14th Hussars I came last night. They are to stop with us a while. "Saturday. "Have just received my mails. Such a budget! It was lovely. Your last mail letter came with this so I have had a glorious read of home news for an hour and a half. I was shocked this morning to read in our paper what happened to a section of the 60th Rifles at the last engagement at Ladysmith. I will quote it in case you don't see it put in this way. A number of the 60th Rifles were in a gun-pit; their officers were unfortunately somewhere else at the time. The Boers surrounded the men, and called to them to throw up their hands and surrender. This the Tommies refused to do, so nearly every man was shot down by the enemy. Poor brave lads." A number of our men are being sent away from the "Rest Camp" here this morning to go again to the front. One of them-quite a ladâ who was wounded in the leg, my neighbour has been very kind to, and he has quite en- deared himself to her youngest child, a girl of three years. Quite early this morning my neighbour found him sitting on a box in her yard with the littl'e girl cuddled up tightly in his arms, and both of them crying; he had taught her to call him Willie. I have just sent D up to see him off from the station, and given her a bag of nuts and prunes to give to the men in his compartment and some litera- ture. I daresay you think my mite was an odd one, but tinned stuffs are no treat to the sol. diers, and I thought the sweet stuff might beguile a few minutes, for you know our Tom- mies are like a lot of brave-hearted children. They are just now shunting a trainload of troops, and I can hear one of them calling to the shunter, 'I say, Jack, how long before we get to Modder River?' I don't think they will get there before this afternoon, and they have already been in the train for two days. They never even got out here for exercise. God bless the men. I call them martyrs. "Just as a curiosity I enclose you a draper's bill I received this morning. The goods are all common. It will give you an idea of the prices we have to pay. This is the cheapest shop I can find, and besides these prices, the carriage on the parcel was 2s 4d. The cotton is exactly double the price you pay. I would send to England for everything; but just at present I feel it's rather risky to purchase much so far away, but when the trouble is over I must get you to buy entirely for me. for it is literally throwing money away to buy the rubbish we get here. I must tell you about the soldiers' pud- dings. Each basin holds exactly a small tea, cupful, for I measured it. Originally I should think the firm intended one pudding per man, but such a lot of troops are here that it has worked out to one pudding between eleven men. Most of the men tossed to see who would get it. -Of course, it wasn't the plum pudding they wanted so badly, but it was because it had been sent out from home. Lots of the people in the camp made puddings and gave the men. I'll tell you about the chocolate when it comes. "Sunday. "Men are now being hurried from here to the front. Some we know, and I hate to see them start, though they are all in good spirits. That gun, of which I sent Daisy a photo, has met with an accident at Modder River;, They were going to fire a shot, and the sergeant in charge forgot to see that the plug was withdrawn. The gun exploded, and the sergeant has gone mad. Fortunately no one was hurt. A poor fellow" in the hospital at Orange River was shot in three places, the worst shot being in the mouth. He was in action for' IA hours, and only moistened t his lips with water from his bottle. He dare not drink it, for there was no more to be had, and when he was wounded and fell down he felt for his bottle to have a drink, but the bottom of it had been shot off and every drop spilled he says the agony of thirst was a deal worse than his wounds. Poor things what they under- go is cruel. An officer spent the evening with us last night, and he said that he had been to look at the scene of the battle at Magersfontein, and it was sheer madness to try and take it, as the place is impregnable. Must cl ose.-Your loving "Monday. "A lot more men hurried from here to-day for Prieska. Rumour in the campâLadysmith re- lieved. Hope it is so. I am afraid even 1hen many of the men will have died of fever. It is a bad place for this disease. P.S..I. am sb sorrv about the Kruper penny. We can get none. The officers are offering ten shillings each for them, and they are not to be had at that price. I daresay T could get some Kruger silver, if that would do, at any rate, I will try.

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