Article Index

5th April

Hear A'Court, who was sent down to Maritzburg, sick a few days ago, has got enteric. Got wire on 2nd thro' G.O.C. R.A., Bloerafontein to Chief of Staff communicating a telegram to me from London, which seems strange.

7th April

10,000 cigarettes arrived, present from Boguslasky my cigarette shop in town.

11th April

Heard firing from direction of Elandslaagte about 8 am. Went out with Gen. and stayed at Modder Spruit about 1| hours waiting news; Hart's Brigade on the move en route for Cape; went on to Elandslaagte to Sir C. Warren's camp close to railway station. His camp had been struck. Gen. Clery's camp at Sunday's River was heavily fired on by Boer guns, the first shot killed 2 naval men and six others were wounded afterwards. Several parties of Boers had been seen moving from N to South. Probably the Boers reconnoitering our position. We came back by train. Mail coming in since the 9th by driblets.

Life very dull here, nothing to do except ride about over very uninteresting country when once seen.

16th April

Rode out with Gen. to Elandslaagte. Lunched with Sir. C.Warren, went on to Gen. Clery's camp and came back by train. I brigade of Gen. Clery's goes to Modder Spruit tomorrow, where also is Brig. Gen. Howard's Brigade

19th April

Sir C. Warren came in today to say goodbye; he goes to the Cape in a semi-civil capacity; Maj. Gen. Hillyard takes his division over. Rumoured here yesterday Kruger shot by a woman, afterwards enlarged into Mrs Joubert!

20th April

Boers fired a little at Elandslaagte.

22nd April

Rode out with Gen. to Dundonald's camp.

25th April

Sent ponies on yesterday to Colenso and went down by train with Lees in the morning. We started by going to the rise on which the Naval guns began bombarding on the morning of the 15th. I spotted the exact place where I first saw some of Hart's brigade retiring under a hot fire and we went straight down to it. Close by, about 300 yds, was a clump of little trees which I saw a party of Boers run into from behind all our men retiring. The river here took a loop-like bend to the North and it was on this ground the Boers had let our men advance and then had them at short range in flank and front, a regular trap. The map of the river just here is incorrect and most misleading and if Hart had nothing else to depend on but his map it was no fault of his. We then rode along the river bank to see where the drift was but could see none and then we went straight across the railway to the "back donga" and sunk road place where the horses and drivers were. We galloped to the exact spot where the guns were, the two on the right that I went for; the horses are all buried now. I paced the distance to the right where the river bends round, with trees sheltering the sight of it from the guns but I had an instinctive feeling a good deal of the fire was coming from there; I found my idea was correct as far as the river went and it was only 450 yards distant. From the guns to the front straight to Fort Wylie was 900 yards to the river bank our side, so I suppose 1200 to the top of Fort Wylie. From the back donga to the guns is about 700 yards. It certainly was a marvel we managed not to get hit and the only way I can account for it is that I happened to go for the guns on the right which were on rather lower ground than the ones on their left and so not so easily seen from the river bank on the right and that when we were in view from there we were galloping. Of course they were just as easily seen from the front except there were a few trees about 50 yards to their front which might have obstructed their view somewhat. I draw a rough sketch of the place and it is in pocket of this book. We went to the top of Fort Wylie from which one gets a beautiful view of the site where guns were and the sunk road, and considering what a long time we were hanging about the back donga it is quite extraordinary how little damage was done amongst the staff. We then went along the railway across the Kopjes (Hart's) thro' Langewacht Spruit and found the ground here strewn with shrapnel bullets; then on to Pieter's Hill which was taken by Barton, and down via Welthorpe and back; a very interesting day.

28th April

Went (riding) with Lees to Dornkloof to the position where the Boers had the 6" gun which annoyed us so much at Swartz Kop and Vaalkrantz. The emplacement was made by simply cutting straight down behind the ridge, the earth being thrown as wings, quite invisible to us, thus

There were at least 150 to 200 shell holes all round and about, 20 very close and I think that shrapnel in a pit like that was about the only thing to touch them as the rectangle for a hit was so very small. This gun had a splendid command of our flank and ought to have done much damage. When we rode back thro' the Laager which the Boers had behind the DornKloof range, apparently a pretty large one.

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