The Boer War – letters from South Africa sent to The Radleian magazine. No. 3

The following, written from Wynberg Hospital, Cape Town, Jun. 14, 1900, gives an account of the writer’s experience at the Battle of Colenso, Dec. 15. He was with the 14th Battery ;-

“We were suddenly surprised by the Boers, who were in a wood 300 yards in front of us, and we did not know it, but were slowly walking along towards. It.  The bullets were something awful, it did not seem like single bullets falling – but like a continuous stream, just as thick as a rainstorm; little clouds of dust kept jumping up all round us, where the bullets kept falling. A shell fell once about four feet from me, making a huge hole in the ground. I got a bullet through my arm a few minutes before we came into action, and soon after I was bowled over by something in my thigh. I lay there for a while trying to encourage my men, as there were only about half of them left, but presently the Major told me to get into a sort of ditch, which was just behind us. I lay in the ditch all day as it was quite early in the morning when I was hit. In about an hour the ammunition ran out and all the men got into the ditch too, and about 4 p.m. the Boers came round us and took us all prisoners, but I was allowed to go. But they bagged my revolver and field glasses.

The Boers were mostly old men, with big beards, something like W. G. Grace. I had a talk to several of them, and they were full of jokes. I told one we should soon be in Pretoria, as thousands of reinforcements were coming, and he laughed like anything. One old man had a large umbrella, which was the only weapon he had. I asked him to lend it me as the sun was hot, and he was delighted to lend it, and let me keep it till I was carted off by our ambulance.”

<<< letter no. 2 >>> <<<letter no. 4 >>>