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Staff travelling from London with Sir Redvers Buller

  • Colonel Stopsford Colonel Douglas A.A.G. Captain Sackville-West Lieutenant Trotter and self.
  • Colonel Lord Gerard, extra a.d.c. joined on the ship.
  • Lady Audrey Buller, Lady St.Levan, Miss Buller and Iris Howards travelled down in train to Southampton.

The Zibenghla arrived with battery and a half the day before we did having left 10 days before.

9th Lancers arrived from India; had a whole squadron of horses either washed overboard or killed in a storm.

October 14th, Saturday

Left London by special for Southampton. A great crowd including Prince of Wales at station; all the way to Southampton people collected and cheered. Train took us alongside the Dunottar Castle and General was met by General Sir B. Russell and Admiral Sir Guliver Seymour. Crowd at Southampton enormous and most enthusiastic, the whole length of the docks covered with people, a wonderful sight from the ships when we moved off. Arrived Madiera after rough passage early morning on 18th. Very warm and oppressive at Madiera and then warmer day by day 'till near the Equator, where it got cool, in fact quite cold about the 27th when I caught very violent cold. We passed a ship going home on the 29th, quite close, and she put a large blackboard up for us to see with "Boers defeated three battles, Penn Symons killed"; we arrived Cape Town after fine passage all the way from Madiera. News came on board of the fights; much greater losses than had been expected, evidently our troops had got the best of it in three fights, Glencoe, Elandslaagte and Rietfontein Farm; we heard this news the night of our arrival on the 30th October (arrived 9,30pm 30.10.99). Went ashore about 9.30 am. on the 31st and all staff drove to Government House; Sir R.B., Sir G. Forestier-Walker, Col. Hanbury Williams and self in first carriage.

A tremendous crowd in Adderley Street (the main street) and one deafening cheer from end to end. At Government House Sir R. had a long conversation with Sir A. Milner and as far as I could judge afterwards His Excellency took dismal view of situation of Sir G. White in Natal, the troops at Dundee etc. having had to fall back on Ladysmith being outnumbered. Valuable communication was just received that a detached force under Col. Carleton, consisting of Gloucester Regt. (6 Companies) and Royal Irish Fusiliers (4 Companies) and half a mountain battery, had got into difficulties and taken prisoners; the mules of the half battery had stampeded, and the reserve South African mules of infantry also, which left Regiments short of ammunition. We then went to Mount Nelson Hotel to stay; a very good hotel indeed, nicely furnished, clean and good food, but very full.

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