Major George Tatham was the son of Edmund Tatham, Byrne Settler in 1850, who built the Point to Durban Railway in 1860, the first Railway in Southern Africa. Major Tatham was born in Scotland in 1848 and was 2 years old when he arrived in Natal on the "Sovereign" with his parents.
He was admitted as a Sworn Land Surveyor in Natal in 1872, and settled in Ladysmith in September 1874. Two years later he became partner of Mr. J. C. Walton, and they practised as Conveyencers, Law, Land and Estate Agents and Surveyors. He was a Member of the Legislative Assembly from 1897 to 1903, when he had a stroke and retired from business until his death in 1908. He served in the Zulu War in 1879.
He was a Major in the Natal Carbineers and served with them during the Siege of Ladysmith,
when he took part in the actions of Gun Hill and Wagon Hill. He first married in
1877 a daughter of Archdeacon Barker, Dora Emma, who died a year after their marriage.
In 1880 he married Frances Anderson, widow of Robert Anderson, and daughter of Leonard
and Elizabeth Wright, who came to Natal as Byrne Settlers in 1849 on the "Henry Tanner".
They had a family of one son and two daughters. Mrs.,Tatham chose to stay in Ladysmith
during the Siege to be with her husband, and turned her house into a hospital where
she nursed the sick and wounded. Major Tatham always identified himself with local
matters, particiflarly in relation to sport. His obituary states: -
WEDNESDAY 1st NOVEMBER 1899. All native servants dismissed, native girls sent away in charge of foods in view of coming siege.
THURSDAY 2nd Rail stopped. Christopher left for Pietermaritzburg. Many women and
children left, others declined to move unless order was general. Wife and Mrs. Craw
and two girls decided to remain and we laid in a stock of provisions etc. for a few
weeks. This order of wife's I told Messrs. Sparks Bros, to duplicate, feeling sure
that we should be shut in for a month or two. Went out with about 500 volunteers,
a small lot of Lancers and a battery of Artillery round End Hill. At 4 p.m. saw Boer
Commando from 0.F.S. out-
FRIDAY 3rd Quiet during morning. At noon Carbineers and othervolunteers under Col. Royston were called out to End Hill to extricate Imperial Light Horse Squad from hot corner in dongas; result satisfactory though we lost several men, amongst whom was our good Major C. E. Taunton, whose loss we all felt very much as he was our most popular officer. He was shot through the heart and fell dead instantly.
SATURDAY 4th All quiet.
SUNDAY 5th Quiet. Hospital being removed to Indomba's Spruit, now called Intombi Camp. A considerable number of civilians were also allowed to go and camp there on the west of the lines. This part was by some called "Fort Funk?!. The Pretorian prisoners from Dundee and Newcastle were also sent to this place by the Boers.
MONDAY 6th Borrowed a milk cow from Sparks in place of one taken bfrom our flock of milk cows among a lot of town cattle. Went with Signalling Officer to top of Ceasar's Camp to try and find a signalling station.
TUESDAY 7th Shelling from both sides of town commenced at 8 p.m. A few men were sent out but no fighting took place. Native scouts said Boers were holding meeting.
WEDNESDAY 8th All quiet.
THURSDAY 9th Musketry and shelling from three sides commenced nabout 5 a.m. Attempts
made by Boers to enter the towr:~iied though we counted the total shell fire -
FRIDAY 10th Very quiet. Hoping to get signalling sights through to Estcourt. Afternoon heliograph communication established.
SATURDAY 11th Quiet all morning. Visited the outposts with Col. Royston as usual early in the morning. Wet morning. The outposts were fixed almost immediately after we were shut in, various regiments being allotted certain sections of the perimeter in all nearly 17 miles, Our section was from the bend of the River below First Lengthman's cottage below Ladysmith to the slope of Caesart 5 Camp, in all I suppose about two miles. Boers fired a few shells into town after twelve noon..
SUNDAY 12th Quiet all day. Went out to Caesar' 5 Camp and round by Volunteer Post with wife and W.Wright and Bella Craw.
MONDAY 13th Shelling commenced 5,30 a.m. but ceased early in the day..
TUESDAY 14th Shelling commenced 6.30. 96 pounder fell in our garden, fired from Pepwowth's Hill. Our artillery and cavalry had a scrap with Boers on O.V.S. Road, west of town, which brought on some hot fire from the enemy, and a false alarm during the night. No casualtiese One N,N.R. man was killed by a fragment of shell falling in his tent and cutting the poor chap's throat while he was asleep.
WEDNESDAY 15th Rain. All quiet.
THURSDAY 16th Shelling part of.day One white man, railway employee, killed, several wounded.
FRIDAY 17th Very wet night. Again went to Caesars Camp to try and fix a helo station. Few shells from Boers.
SATURDAY 18th Boers fired a few shells into town, also a little rifle fire from various Boer camps without damage. About 7 pwm. shell struck Royal Hotel and cut off Dr. Stark's leg. That night Boers commenced shelling us about 12.30 a.m. (following morning) and one shell from Pepworth's Hill landed within few feet of own conservatory, smashing all glass, etc. Wife and other ladies from house retired to shelter in garden, also come of the patients, others of these remaining in their beds. Firing shortly ceased and all returned to their rooms and I to camp. Took observations with theodolite to fix site near Weenen or Highlands Station for signalling, saw McFie's black wattle plantation near Highlands Station. Some black prisoners came in from Umbulwana.
MONDAY 20th Morning quiet. Shelling and musketry during afternoon and evening, also about 2a.m. following morning when one 96 pounder fell in front of church and one struck the porch damaging that part and shaking the west end very much. I hear of no casualties from this night's shelling.
TUESDAY 21st A quiet day, a little rifle firing about sundown and during night.
WEDNESDAY 22nd Shelling commenced about breakfast time. Afternoon one shell struck Walton and Tatham's office back of building perforating roof and passing through loft. At work for Col, Royston collecting information re owners of houses in occupation of volunteers and others. Rifle firing from enemy during the night.
THURSDAY 23rd Shelling from Umbulwan commenced after daylight and two oxen and one mule (Govt.) were killed in showyard which was a favourite place for this shelling
FRIDAY 24th Shelling at western side of town from Free State guns, also from Grobblars.Kop side, in and about Caesar's Camp. 200 head of Govt. cattle taken by Boers from Mounted Infantry Guards. After this Volunteer Guards were sent out with stock, also men from Imperial Light Horse. Stormy night, heavy rain and wind.
SATURDAY 25th Rain ceased but wind continued all day, as did Boer artillery fire on west of town towards Field's farm. Carbineers had to supply cattle guards.
SUNDAY 26th All quiet.
MONDAY 27th Shelling commenced about 9 a.me, three fell near Fieter's Church, one on the corner of Lines' ground and killed a horse and one struck a tree under which a trooper of ours was sitting, cut the tree down, broke the man's rifle to pieces, but the man escaped with no more than a severe shock. Three Manchesters.wounded on Caesar's Camp.
TUESDAY 28th Shelling continued on and off all day. News brought by native runners that Boers were returning from Estcourt.
WEDNESDAY 29th Yesterday natives reported that Relief Column was at Chieveley and Frere. Shelling from enemy morning and afternoon and a few shots in return from our naval guns 4.7. General order issued to stand to arms at 2 a.m. This order was countermanded in consequence of its having become too generally known. No one knows what was to have been done, all were anxious for action and gladly received order to move and regretted the contrary order.
THURSDAY 30th Rode out with Col. Royston to Tin Camp and round to inspect new bridge over Klip River just below Tin Camp. Shells from Surprise Hill fell about us as we passed over, musketry also firing well on into night. Eastwards towards Bell's Spruit we thought Boers were making an attack on this side of town. A few Long Tom shells from Bulwan about 6 p.m.
FRIDAY 1st DECEMBER Shelling from Bulwan commenced early. Trooper J. R. Crickmore and horse struck while passing Town Hall, poor fellow killed. I was riding past office just behind this poor chap. Rations issued for 450 horses only, all rest had to go to veldt.
SATURDAY 2nd Helo station fixed at Weenen on the Kolombo Mountain visible from Convent and all along that ridge. Volunteers held sports. Late in the afternoon a refugee white man was walking in from Tin and killed by a shell of enemy fired from End Hill. Boers gave themselves up to our picket. Troops called out, Volunteers complimented upon being first at place appointed as rendezvous and all were ordered back to camp.
SUNDAY 3rd Quiet all day. Called up by Major Altham to identify William Wright Mason suspected of signalling to enemy, dismissed.
MONDAY 4th Wet morning. Boers shelling slowly. Native messenger in from P.M.B. News of British successes in 0.R.C, against Cronje and others, Natives report two Boer guns disabled.
TUESDAY 5th Rain continued nearly all day. Firing from Boer guns now and thene In the evening the rain came on again and continued nearly all night.
WEDNESDAY 6th Shelling town continued. Young Miller had an accident in discharging a shell which exploded and damaged his eyes. Lt Simms got up a very nice concert programme of 25 items, very creditable, (open air). Sailors helped very much at this entertainment and were duly appreciated by all.
THURSDAY 7th Shelling pretty hot from Boer guns. General Hunter came to Royston during
afternoon and arranged about Gun Hill attack. He, in.command, took 650 of following:-
The gratifying result was that one Long Tom and one twelve pounder wex~ destroyed and a small Maxim was taken. Boers appear to have fled. This was all well and properly arranged and carried out by General Hunter in the most creditable way. We left town on foot about II p.m. and returned next morning about 6 o'clock. : went as Royston's guide to the right into the Lombard's Kop Nek. Some mounted men or Imperial Troops went along Newcastle Road but were not very successful, in fact no one could make out what they were expected to do. They had very narrow escapes of being shot on their return after daylight. The Gun Hill men were all paraded at 12.30 and thanked by General White and congratulated. He also said he trusted that we should soon be released. The storming took place about 3 a.m.
SATURDAY 9th Usual 3.30 a.m. stand-
SUNDAY 10th DECEMBER I omitted to say enemy fired a few Long Tom shells from Bulwan
after the return from Gun Hill but not till we had got near town, by which time we
observed that Gun hill was covered with Boers and could not account for our people
not shelling them from 4.7 Naval Guns. Sunday fairly quiet. Some musketry firing
from Boers and our men near Observation Hill and Surprise Hill, Hyde's Farm. The
M0NDAY 11th Slept at home until 2.15 a.m. when heard heavy rifle fire at north west
of town. Went over at once to warn staff, Boer search lights were lively. Warned
Chief of Staff, Col, Bru de Wold and Wales. Heard two explosions about 2.30 a.m,,
about twenty minutes apart. Shortly after second explosion musketry fire commenced
again and was very heavy -
TUESDAY 12th Report that Rifle Brigade with 400 men had blown up Boer gun on Surprise Hill in the night but had, owing to delay from inferior fuse, been detained. Boers had thus got warning and a fight took place on the return, in which 36 of ours and a good many Boers were killed and wounded. A small shell from Silent Susan, near Lombard's Kop fell near Dispensary. All mounted forces called to rendezvous at Range Post 9.30 p.m. and report to Gen. Com. at Town Hall when ready. Did so and were ordered to return to camp. This was another test of our readiness. All were at the rallying point in remarkably short time. Very little shelling. A short cessation of hostilities in order that dead might be buried and wounded removed from Surprise Hill.
WEDNESDAY 13th Native runner came in with letters and papers. Shelling from Boers on and off all day, especially at 6 p.rn. Mounted parade, heavy marching order, 8 p.m. Wagons etc. all paraded and dismissed.
THURSDAY 14th Shelling commenced about 4 a.m., also random rifle fire from enemy. Several A.S.C. horses taken by enemy near Bester's Ruins. Heard very heavy artillery fire in the direction of Colenso and observed Boers moving about in various directions more than usual. Went up to General to enquire news, was told that Buller had been defeated at Colenso.
SATURDAY 16th DECEMBER Shelling of enemy rather more rapid than usual, in couples and pairs as it were. Saw a poor artillery man stuck by one near Horsleyts Gate. Poor man only survived till the stretcher was sent for him and succumbed as he was being lifted on to it. Portions of this shell fell on our house and in the garden.
SUNDAY 17th All quiet.
MONDAY 18th A sad day for us. After early morning parade our poor men had just returned to horse lines, about 7.30 when a shell from Long Tom on Bulwan struck and burst in a horse among the thickest of them, killing four men, wounding eight men and killed and wounded 7 horses. Most of the wounded horses had to be shot. The men killed were Troopers 0. Smith,
Buxton, Elliot and Miller. One of these poor men had both his legs cut off at the thigh. Funeral was held at night as shelling was too severe to admit of its taking place during the day. Several other casualties happened at other camps during this unlucky day. Some of our wounded subsequently died.
TUESDAY 19th Shelling on and off all day. No casualties in our camp. Orders given for a warning bugle to be sounded whever Long Tom on Bulwan fired and a trumpeter kept on the alert all day. Besides this, several pits were dug for shelter but after a few days all these precautionary measures were disregarded by the men and all moved about as carelessly as ever. This was particularly noticeable in the townspeople who appeared to become quite callous and rather to run after than away from the shells. Rain came on at 3 p.m. No news of Buller further than that he had retired to Chievely.
We fear Gatacre's and Methuen1s columns will be surrounded and I have little hope of Buller helping us within at least six weeks. There are various opinions about the chances of our being relieved. Some are inclined to give Buller another two months, though others, more sanguine, say a fortnight. Military and civilians all begin to suffer seriously from fever and many deaths are reported from Intombi.
WEDNESDAY 20th Shelling commenced 6.30, continuing all day at intervals. One of the last shots hit Town Hall Tower near Clock which had only been taken down a few days previously.
THURSDAY 21st Shelling this day mostly directed upon Brigade Office, 4.7 replied feebly. Two shells struck building in which Gen. White lived arid which he used as Brigade Office. The shells this day seemed to be directed especially on this point and were well aimed. The General was persuaded to shift up to Christopher's house on the top of the hill and General Hunter removed his office to Francis house, through the poort beyond the ridge. Heard heavy artillery fire at Colenso and towards Monte Christo
FRIDAY 22nd Bulwan opened fire about 6.30 and continued during the day. Several Gloucesters and Lancasters, officers and men, were killed by shell at north end of town. One 96 pounder fell in one of the Carbineer mess tents destroying a little of the Xmas provender, eggs, etc., fortunately no one was in at the time.
SATURDAY 23rd Shelling from Boers all day and some musketry firing during night. Cannonading continued from the. direction of Colenso all day.
24th DECEMBER Heavy musketry and pom-
MONDAY 25th Xmas day. Only a few shots fired by the Boers, One plugged shell picked
up near Kisch's with a note and some pudding jammed into it. The note was as under
TUESDAY 26th Colenso heavy artillery fire continued all day from 5 p.m. Boers commenced shelling us as usual about 6 a.m. Musketry prettyconsiderable out in the direction of Surprise Hill. Heard of no casualties.
WEDNESDAY 27th Helpmakaar Post getting it again with Mausers and Pom-
THURSDAY 28th Our 4.7 fired a few shots early in the morning and Boer guns were silent rest of the day. Sent letters out by native runner. Our 4,7s fired a few shots during the night.
FRIDAY 29th Newspapers of 22nd received. One shot only from Long Tom. Very wet night. Shell fell in Bank (Standard) bedroom destroying almost every bit of furniture. Occupant happened to be out for a minute or he must have been killed. All the front windows of our Walton and Tatham's office and the Bank were shattered to pieces.
SATURDAY 30th Rain fell. Shelling as usual.
SUNDAY 31st Three shells fell from Surprise Hill at very long ranges, one landing near Maiden Castle in the direction of Wagon Hill. Several shots were fired during the night. This put the nervous members of the community into a bad state of mind and many started off for their shelters in the river bank, in the dark, followed by and dragging troops of crying children, others remained at home taking their chance, amongst whom were all our own household as I found next morning when asking them how they had fared.
MONDAY JANUARY 1st 1900 _ Rode around with .Major.Bru de Wold all round our posts. Could see no reasonfor alarm. Cannonading still continuing at Golenso, but one heard very little Boer firing. One shell fired during the afternoon fell in the Parsonage Garden and Mrs. Barker narrowly escaped as it struck the tree under which she was sitting. Message received from Christopher. Children reported ''All well''. Our 4.7s exchanged a few shots with the Boers.
WEDNESDAY 3rd Cannon from both sides firing on and off. Still no news of Buller's movements though firing seemed continuous from big. guns in the Colenso direction.
THURSDAY 4th Nothing happened of any consequence. Heard that Walker was to move to Wagon Hill with his Hotchkiss and that a 4.7 was to be sent there also. Shell from Long Tom, Umbulwana landed in Col. Dartnell's tent destroying everything. Fortunately he was out.
FRIDAY 5th JANUARY No news. All quiet. Miss Carbutt died after dark. About 2 a.m. a great lot of firing on Wagon Hill and Caesar's Camp. Was sleeping at home but being roused by this contest firing decided to go over and warn Commandant Royston, whom I found with the members.of his staff, quite on the alert, and all ready for action, men all being warned on my way to the parade ground. The Mauser bullets were falling about at that hour. These must have been spent bullets from Wagon Hill and Caesar's Camp which were being attacked by Boers, the former by the O.F.S. Commando and the latter by Transvaal Boers from Heidleberg.
SATURDAY 6th JANUARY Own picket sent in to report that they must have support, had
been obliged to retire being hard pressed and likely to be out-
Our gunners very bravely tried to get forward and round the Wagon Hill point but were bound to retire. Col. Royston did good work in keeping enemy from coming round on the flat. Our men at Caesar's Camp top say that Abdie's artillery fire was splendid and effectually kept the Boers from gaining further footing on that hill. Report says 60 of ours killed and 160 wounded. If this is all we may consider ourselves lucky.
SUNDAY 7th Letter from Mr. Christopher full of news gratefully received with enclosures
from children. Carbineers employed all day at carrying down Boer dead off Caesar's
Camp, most disagreeable job. Major Molyneux took these bodies to Intombi's Spruit
and handed them over. Long Tom gave usthe benefit of a few shots during day and a
MONDAY 8th Went round outposts with Major Bru de Wold. Nothing unusual happened.
Wales returned to mess from hospital. About breakfast time a Long Tom shell struck
a cart and horses,, injuring two to such an extent that they had to be shot. Archdeacon
held a thanksgiving service -
TUESDAY 9th Enemy all quiet. Said to be burying dead.
WEDNESDAY 10th Fine morning. Went to Observation Post. Saw bBoer camps moving and fixing positions about Brakfontein and Spion Kop.
THURSDAY 11th Visited outposts with Major B., then to Wagon Hill. Saw 'an exchange of prisoners. We handed back a young man with a wound in the head for a Hussar with a broken arm, men met near Ruins. Poor Gourton died of wounds received at Wagon hill. Sent out coffin.
FRIDAY 12th Few Long Tom shots -
SATURDAY 13th Visited posts with Aru de 14old. After breakfast went to Observation Hill and saw Dutch Camps about Brakfontein evidently nincreasing. Our guns fired first at fluiwan today after which Long Tom gave us a benefit during the afternoon.
SUNDAY 14th Quiet and very hot all day.
MONDAY 15th No news of Buller. Warren said to have crossed Tugela.
TUESDAY 16th Shelling as usual from Long Tom. One fell in Bert Anderson's erf near stable. Our men escaped unhurt though camped all round.
WEDNESDAY 17th fleavy cannonading from Spion Kop way all day.Cloudy morning -
THURSDAY 18th After visiting outposts Bru de Wold and I went to Wagon Hill, and while observing movements of enemy from this point for a short time, a shrapnel shell burst over our heads and the contents peppered us, the poor old man being struck in the face by one bullet which passed down his cheek and lodged in his neck. The blood flowed freely but thanks to my first aid dressing and Dr. Platt coming up just in the nick of time, we managed to get the necessary bandaging done and had him fetched to Ladysmith in an ambulance wagon. A very slight incision in the neck extracted the bullet. The excitment and interest in the probable date of the relief were now increasing and sweeps were got up, various dates from 17th to 1st Feb. being supported, Feb. 1st being supposed to be the extreme limit.
FRIDAY 19th Visited outposts with Col. Royston. Nothing exceptional ntranspired all day. Long Torn gave us his usual few shells. Most favourable reports came in of Buller's successful advances on Brakfontein.
SATURDAY 20th and SUNDAY 21st Same as usual but great artillery fire continuing all day at Tugela, at Potgieter's and Spion Kop.
MONDAY 22nd Shelling as usual. 116 of our fellows reported to have entered hospital sick this day. The fever patients are alarmingly on the increase all through the garrison.
TUESDAY 23rd Purchased some stores for house from Commt. Dept. Biscuits 30 lbs. at
6d. Sugar 20 lbs at 4d. Rice 16 lbs at 4d. Mealie meal 40 lbs at 3d. Tinned Meat
2Olbs. at 1/-
WEDNESDAY 24th Visited outposts with Col. Met three native runners who had come into our lines during the night with letters etc. from Maritzburg. The three men had passed Boer outposts while they were asleep. They said there were few of the enemy between us and Colenso now and those few were not on the alert. Heavy righting all day at Spion Kop and on Tugela. Unofficial wire from Spearman's that all had gone well and hill had been taken by Buller.
THURSDAY 25th Commandant did not visit outposts this morning but we went to Observation hill and saw that all Boers were in full retreat from Spion Kop, wagons etc. moving off hurriedly towards Berg.
FRIDAY 26th Col. visited outposts as usual -
SATURDAY 27th Usual work. General informed me our forces had taken and lost Intaba Myama. Had a message that prisoners in gaol were overcrowded, 75 being in places only sufficient for 50. Saw Gen. Hunter who promised to put things right at once, which he did. Col. Royston indisposed.
SUNDAY 28th Visited posts with Whittaker. They had a very rough rainy night. 1 1/4 inqhes of rain fell. at Spion Kop.
MONDAY 29th Contradictory rumours of success and failure. Royston well enough to visit outposts with me this morning. These men reported seeing beacon light and a rocket or two through the Lombard's Kop Nek at the back of Bulwan. Went to Observation Hill, saw all Boer camps; appeared to be settled again. "Natal Witness" of the 19th inst. has account of killed and a nice letter of Sir H. Hutchinson. Old Munger said he had lost David Munger's wagon. After some search I recovered it for the old man. Various stories about Buller, heavy losses on both sides. Many shots about the town and Convent from Long Tom, also some old fashioned round shot from a new gun placed on Surprise Hill.
TUESDAY 30th Wet. Visited outposts as usual.
WEDNESDAY 31st JANUARY -
THURSDAY 1st ~FEBRUARY No news. Visited outposts with Col.Royston. Few shots from various Boer guns.
FRIDAY 2nd. 93rd day of siege, 96th of bombardment. Still no news of Buller, all
garrison getting down-
SATURDAY 3rd Some musketry firing during night in the direction of Wagon Hill. No
SUNDAY 4th Perfect weather. All quiet. Inspection of outposts etc., also pointed out to Peddie where wood was to be cut. Visited outposts after dark as a special precaution, heard that we were to have an attack from the Boers.
MONDAY 5th Visited as usual, all quiet. Col. was surprised at this after yesterday's rumourse We had usual six and eight shots from Bulwana Long Tom. Sent a messenger off with letters and wires. Bulwan fired on our wood wagons without effect.
TUESDAY 6th Heavy firing at Colenso all day. Some say they heard field artillery near Wagon Hill. Killed a young ox for the people at house.
WEDNESDAY 7th Heavy firing on Tugela -
THURSDAY 8th A little out of sorts, bilious and down hearted. Still no news from Buller.
FRIDAY 9th No news, all same. A few shots from guns all round. Sick slightly improved. Legion laid up with fever, went to Hospital. Got messenger in with Maritzburg letters dated 31st ulto. Rations again reduced.
SATURDAY 10th Quiet. Nothing from Buller though we had more native runners in with letters. Two poor Indian grass cutters were shot by Boers.
SUNDAY 11th All quiet. Still no news or signals from Buller.
MONDAY l2th Mrs. Doveton came in from Maritzburg by per-
TUESDAY 13th Runner in with some letterse Ration scale: Meat potted 1/2 or 1 lb, Fresh or cooked meat (horse flesh) 1 lb. Sausage meat with be issued daily as soon as arrangements can be made, tea or coffee 1/6 of an,ounce, sugar 1 ounce, salt + ounce, pepper 1/64 of an ounce, mustard 1/20 of an ounce, vinegar 1/10 of a gallon, horse food, none. Natives and coolies, mealie meal or damaged biscuits 3/4 lb. fresh meat 1 lb. + Ounce of salt. (N.B. The greater part of the meat is horse flesh and the mealie mealis very bade) Good news of Robert's movements came in. Another Long Tom shell fell in garden.
WEDNESDAY14th Firing very heavy about Golenso and Grobler's Kloof. Eight shells from Long Tom top end of town and two towards afternoon at our end. Poor Major Doveton died today and was buried after dark.
THURSDAY 15th Mrs. Doveton returned. Met by Boer conveyance near Bulwan. Had another sweep draw and Bru de Wold drew the 28th Feb. No one thought it likely he would succeed as we had all begun to lose heart. Artillery and rifle fire was heard all night and in the morning in the direction of Pieters and Colenso.
FRIDAY 16th No news of Buller but we heard of Kimberley release. Long Tom fired a few shots to keep matters alive. teers at 2 a.m. near outposts. Carbineers were called out with other Volunteers. False alarm but all went out to the Nek
SATURDAY l7th Kimberley news confirmed but we were informed that Buller had returned over the Tugela. Rations again reduced by order.
SUNDAY 18th Heavy firing Colenso direction. No news from Buller. Food very scarce, poor fellows glad. to accept presents 0£ whole mealies or Kafir come We hunted a few bass up in back store at office. Very hot, no rain.
MONDAY 19th German walked in and gave himself up. We hear that Buller is gaining a position on Xingolo and Bloy's Hill Monte Christo. This he should have done on the 15th December. Heavy storm came on about 3 p.m. cooled the atmosphere though it gave a wet night for me on duty with picket. Countersign that night was "Long Street". Nothing happened.
TUESDAY 20th Relieved at 6.30 p.m., showers of rain came on just as we were returning.
WEDNESDAY 21st A few shots from Long Tom was about our only change, mostly directed
to Caesar's Camp. Dull day, not wet. Two Germans gave themselves up to our picket.
General at last gives following :-
THURSDAY 22nd Nothing during the night reported. Long Torn paid us his daily compliments. Reports state that our troops are crossing Tugela at Robinson's Drift, Colenso and near the Falls. Yesterday's movements said to be most successful and the General has other good news which he cannot publish. Received letter from Christopher dated 14th, also one from Mrs. Robert Bristow Tatham.
FRIDAY 23rd Long Tom's usual few shots mostly towards Caesar's Camp. Buller's guns going all day, some of his shells bursting on Pieter's Hill. Native boys came in with a small parcel of medical comforts. Naval guns fired a few shots during the night and early in the morning.
SATURDAY 24th Buller's concert still going finely. Wet afternoon. Sent letters out. Rain continued, slight showers all night, our men report Boer wagons moving off westwards.
SUNDAY 25th All quiet on both sides. Native scouts brought in very favourable news of Buller's advance to Tugela Beights, too good to be true we fear.
MONDAY 26th Another sweep arranged up to 10th prox. Long Tom gave us the benefit
of several shells also played upon some of the out-
TUESDAY 27th Buller's guns still going, evidently fighting harde Long Tom fired a
single shot about 6 and in the afternoon at Caesar's Camp. This fire was directed
there because we had a long range twelve-
WEDNESDAY 28th FEBRUARY (119th day) Emily' S birthday. How I wish we could have her home. Head office reports Boers in full retreat and enquire how many mounted men we could put into the field. Wife and I rode out to Observation Post to watch retreat of Boers. About 5 p.m. or a little later were riding down the street and met Bewick who said some of the relief column had already arrived. We hardly believed this and rode quietly down the street meeting at the Court ll~se a great party of people among whom, true enough, we saw some of our own Garbineers, who had with McKenzie, been working so hard to get to us. No words can express the excitement of that moment. People cheered, cried, laughed and went through all sorts of eccentricities.. The old General was quite overpowered and could only speak the now memorable words "Thank God we have kept the flag flying", after which nothing but cheers and applause could be heard, and, darkness coming on, people went off in different directions to their homes, camps, etc. At the Carbineers Mess great were the doings and stories of our good comrade officer McKenzie. All slept quietly that night.and many were the quiet prayers of thanks going' from mothers, sons, fathers, etc. Boer flash lights were going all night, the enemy making a hasty retreat. Long Tom fired his last shot about 12.30 that day, which I believe landed and exploded in Dunton's Stores.
THURSDAY 1st MARCH About 200 of our men with a few from other volunteer regiments mustered at Road Bridge about 6 a.m. all hoping that we were to be sent in pursuit of the enemy which would have given us great pleasure, as we knew in consequence of the heavy roads and fall of rain, they could not get away as quickly as we could go after them, but, much to our annoyance, we were ordered down the river to meet Buller and guide him into town. I was told off with Sangmeister of Maritzburg and 20 men to reconnoitre the Bulwan and then to find crossings for men by Cawvin' s Drift.
|The Growth of the Transvaal|
|The Web Thickens|
|The Zulu War|
|Isandlwana, an hour by hour account|
|Affairs at Home|
|The First Anglo Boer War|
|Between the Wars|
|The Fate of SGT Elliot|
|The Siege of Pretoria|
|The Reform Movement|
|The Critical Moment|
|The Fate of the Raiders|