In 2015 we were very pleased to accept the donation of objects which had belonged to Edgar Henry Redway of the Queen’s Own Rifles including a diary he kept for the early part of his deployment to South Africa in October 1899 as part of the Royal Canadian Regiment’s Special Service Battalion. These objects were donated by his nephew Alan Redway, MP, QC, former Mayor of East York and Member of Parliament.
Thanks to Corporal Michael McLean, an Electronics-Optronics Tech based at CFB Petawawa for his assistance in transcribing the diary!
Please note that these have been transcribed as is, so may contain spelling mistakes and abbreviations made by the author. Text which we were unable to decipher is shown as [?]. The original text can be seen here in pdf format.
WARNING: The text also includes some terms that are considered racist today but are included as written for historical accuracy.
Wednesday Oct 25/99
This is the most exciting day of my life so far. I leave Toronto for the purpose of engaging in the Honorable Campaign. Toronto gave her soldier boys a most magnificent send off. A public half holiday. Thousands of citizens out on the line of march. A splendid outburst of enthusiasm greeted the boys in the armories. Each man received £5 from the City Council also interesting souvenirs from many of their friends. My three brothers march alongside of me to the station. A wild & excited crowd awaited us at the station where good bye was said to our friends. The train pulled out at 5:30 amid the wild cheering of the crowd.
All along the line crowds & bands were out to bid “Bon Voyage” to the departing soldiers. Peterboro was the first important stopping place. I got off the train & was immediately recognized by an old comrade of A Co 269 (Sturgeon) who was so very excited he threw his arms around my neck for joy. Also met on the platform another aquaintance (Maher) who had received a letter from a mutual friend to look out for me.
Arrived at Montreal about 5 A.M. pitch dark. Marched to a shed under depot for breakfast. Marched to another station & met the London Boys waited about two hours then started for Quebec. Arrived there about 2.30 P.M & marched to the immigration sheds for dinner & to await the time for embarkation on the Sardinian. After tea sent a wire home.
Not allowed out all day loafed around smoking & reading received & replied to several letters. Also detailed to receive all telegrams. Very cold.
Another cold and raining. Sent to the city by the Col Sergt in the morning on a message. After dinner marched to the citadel in a heavy rain to receive rifles and side arms. Some of the men went out after tea I receved several papers by the evening mail and stayed at headquarters to read the same & assist the Sergts in the issue of outfits, “Lights out” sounded at 10.15 P.M.
Oct 29. – Paraded for divine service at the English Cathedral 11. A.M The Gov General, Lady Minto & their staff were present, also Maj General Hutton & several prominent Quebec people with members of Parliament etc took part in the service. The service was very affecting indeed The church beautifully decorated for the purpose.
The Gov Genl several officers & a large number of men including myself partook of the Sacrement. I noticed tears in the eyes of many strong men around me, no doubt thinking of home, perhaps some may never see again. Unfortunately the rain was still coming down in torrents. I wrote some letters in the afternoon. Did not go out at night, But arranged everything for leaving in the morning.
Spendid day greets us upon being awakened at Reveille 5 AM Breakfast at 6 o clock. Everyman in a hurry & great excitement the last day in Quebec before sailing for South Africa. 7 all ‘in’ sounded at 9.30 for the review. The different companies being quartered all over Some in the citadel and other places all must report at the parade ground by 10:30 A.M.
The Regt is thoroughly inspected by the GGC [Governor General of Canada] first being received by a general salute. The Gov Genl arrives at 11.30 A.M. accompanied by a large party & his staff including the Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier & is received with a Royal Salute. He carefully inspects the Regt & also addressed the men after followed by Sir Wilfrid Laurier & several other prominent members of Parliament & the Govt. The Regt then marched past going through the chief streets of the city on the way to the boat through dense crowds.
The Sardinian was reached about 2.30 P.M. The Embarkation immediately commenced. The boys were not sorry the work for the day was practically over. having been nearly 6 hours under arm in heavy marching order. A rather severe test to begin with. Such is the life of a soldier. At 4.30 the ship pulled out from the wharf & proceeded down the river accompanied by a large number of excursion & private yachts on her long & distant voyage to South Africa, far away from home & those we love. One could not fail be impressed at the hearty send off given by the multitudes who lined the shores and fueled the numerous craft following down the river.
The Citadel sent out her stern & not to be mistaken farewell in
loud salvos of artillery & dipping of the grand old flag. These warlike sounds reminded me very much of a possible reception we may some-day receive from our old friend AM Paul, when no doubt the last scenes witnessed in our final farewell to Canada will be brought most vividly to mind.
Tea of bread & butter was served at 5.30 the first since morn- After tea berths were told off, & I went to roost in my top berth thoroughly tired & I must own a little sad too.
Slowly steaming down the St Lawrence. The pilot left early in the morning taking with him the last mail from the ship containing some letters by myself. The scenery is magnificent, the air sharp & crisp, all together I have spent a rather pleasant day. Things of course are not yet in working order consequently not quite so comfortable as we expect to be in a few days. Now that home & its ties are far away every one appears to be anxiously looking forward to arrival at the scene of operations.
Nov 1st. Wednesday
Can hardly see the ship’s length for fog. The whistle has been blowing every few minutes all night I have been feeling a little sick and stuck to my berth most all day. Putting in the time reading, could not eat anything.
Nov 2nd Thursday – I am still slightly under the weather & cannot eat anything The weather is very bright & rough, a strong wind blowing. Most of the men are feeling the effects usual on a sea voyage. Nothing of importance has transpired All drill etc is not to be taken up until men are recovered from their sickness.
Nov 3. Friday
I feel a little better today am able to go on deck but cannot eat anything yet. This afternoon I was sick once & am getting better all the time now.
A rather sad & gloomy event occured early this morning. A man from Ottawa who occupied a berth opposite mine, died* from stoppage of the heart, caused by not being able to secure drink after being accustomed to it all his life. His body was deposited in the sea this afternoon, and seemed to depress everyone for a short time.
An example of too much strong drink. I hope some of the boys will take the solemn warning. I did not care to see the funeral myself. Sighted a Steamer a long way off. Sea now almost calm. I am still feeling better & slight by regaining my lost appetite. Retired early and had a good nights rest.
Nov 4 Saturday
Glorious weather favoured us during the day. Lounge around until 3 P.M. Parade for drill at that hour. A few of the best men are immediately dismissed myself included. Strike the Gulf Stream about 3 P.M.
A large number of us singing on the fore-deck after Tea at the same time partake of a comfortable fire. I feel all right now, the sea air beginning to have an invigorating effect upon all hands.
Sunday Nov 5./99
The different denominations parade for divine service at the hours set apart for the rome. C. of E. men fall in 11.30 A.M. The service was short but very impressive to me. It was particularly interesting. Never having before been at a service under such peculiar circumstances. My thoughts naturally wandered to those at home. The service concluded by singing the National Anthem. I spent the rest of the day reading, smoking & chatting until after tea some of us sang a few hymns directed by the Y.M.C.A representative Then below to bed.
Monday Nov 6/99
Weather is now getting very warm. Most of the men are quite recovered from sickness. Begin the day by having a most delightful sea bath, one man takes the hose while the rest receive the full benefit of its refreshing contents.
I have never enjoyed anything of the kind for years, this is to be continued every morning for the balance of the voyage. This lively scene would certainly offer a splendid “Snap” for a camera fiend. Necessary now to leave off some clothing Things are gradually getting into shape, naturally all feel a little more comfortable for the same regular parades are now started to be kept up during the voyage. Also strict discipline to be thoroughly enforced. After tea “A” Co. treated their comrades on the quarter deck to a smoking concert, each Co to have the some privilege, one every other night.
Suffered from heat very much during the night.
Tuesday Nov 7/99
Armed drill in the morning. Passed two sail vessels. Issued with a tin of smoking tobacco, present from Toronto. Regular routine of duties performed. Not much of great interest transpired today. Enjoying the voyage very much, although only a Pte on a troopship.
Wednesday Nov 8/99
Regular drill & duties performed. Sighted a huge whale & a shool of porpoises. “C” Co gave their concert in the evening & was very much enjoyed by all hands. Asst Steward brought up before the C.O. for stealing articles presented by the Contgt & selling the same. I paraded for real duty at 8 P.M. to continue until 8 A.M. the following morn Spent a very interesting (nil) night washing decks & general fatigue work. One third 1/3 of the men have to be on day & night. The men from each Co this duty being awarded boats to look after in case of fire or other accident. The remainder of the ship complement to proceeded to their mess tables & await orders from an officer. One can readily appreciate an arrangement of this kind.
Thursday Nov 9/99
General Inspection of the Bath at 10.30 by the C.O. I was excused from this parade on account of being up all night. Not much new today. I slept a little in the afternoon. Weather is so hot a number of men have to go to hospital. I am very tired & intend to retire early, up all last night. A most beautiful sunset. I have decided to try & elude the [w???] by trying to sleep on deck *Hot*
Friday Nov 10/99
One is continually reminded of the service engaged upon from early morning until late at night. Bugles are continually sounding from Rev to wake everyone up until lights out. When there is perfect quietness on the ship, except every half hour a voice from the forward “watch” saying “All’s Well”, lights are brightly burning Sir”
We have spent another fine & unimportant day. Are anxiously waiting for the dawn when a sight of land is expected Cape de Verde Islands. I hope to be able to post some letters
Saturday Nov 11/99
Rifle practice this morn for “C” Co, the weather was rather rough. and of course influenced the shooting slightly. I managed to make 28 out of a possible 40. The heat has been very trying all day. We see a great many flying fish during the day. I am feeling in good shape & perfectly fit so far.
Capt Forrester R.C.N is very nice to me and always speaks when passing. He says this trip will do me a great deal of good, although the fact of course is a little rough for those not used to the same. Evening Prayers are held daily at 6 P.M.at which all are expected to attend. Did not reach the Islands as expected. (disappointed)
Sunday Nov 12/99
On being awakened by the bugle this morning a splendid sight met my eye Cape de Verde Ids A continual cry of “Land Ho” was ringing through the ship. Men were scrambling up on deck from every hatch like a swarm of bees all eager to get a glance at Terra Firma once more.
It was truly a grand sight, a large dark mass of something looming up on the Starboard side of the ship striving to make its appearance accompanied by the dawn. Soon both the welcome arrival appeared distinctly to our admiring eyes each arrayed in all their natures glory. One trying to out do the other in grandeur & solemn splendour. About 9 A.M. on the Port bow appears the harbour. A somewhat barren spot containing several large steamers reported troopships & also two large British Battle ships looking indeed well worthy to be “Monarchs of the Sea”.
Signals were exchanged with the block-house at the entrance of the harbour, the nature of course which I did not understand. Today fell to my lot to be Co orderly having to parade at the cook house, for all rations etc for my mess.
I felt somewhat amused at the change of affairs. Of course I had to wash the dishes before church sweep up and every thing in that line. Expect to make a first class house maid on completion of this service. Being Sunday, favoured with plum pudding minus the brandy. The extra dishes for the Sergt. Attended divine service in the morning at 11.30
So hot today, an awning was created on the foreward deck were I spent a pleasant afternoon A number of us assembled on the same place in the evening and spent the time before going to Bed singing.
I still continue to sleep on deck without Serge one blanket to cover me a pillow for my head and the canopy of heaven for a roof. One can and has to put up with many changes on a troopship. This is a prepatory course for what is to follow in the near future.
Monday Nov 13/99
Another hot day. Everything is going on like clock work. Usual number of parades and duties attended to. Reading The Black Douglas, Men are all to go in bare feet with trousers rolled up until further orders, for the purpose making the feet hard and fit for marching. Serges are also discontinued & sleeves to be turned up. These are welcome changes.
Tuesday Nov 14/99
One of the seamen put in irons today for being impudent to the chief steward, who is an old soldier and wears two medals for active service. He has engaged for this service as Sergt Cook and to have full charge of the same.
A large school of porpoises pass quite close to the ship and furnish amusement to some of the boys for a short time. Still enjoy ten minutes physical drill in the morning with towels around the waist, followed immediately by a delightfully cool salt water bathe.
Wednesday Nov 15/99
Three weeks today we left home, memories of which will naturally occur to a great many. A very refreshing extra issued to the men every day and to be continued for the balance of the voyage is a bottle of lime juice between messes.
We were also indulged in plum pudding again today. I had a long talk with Mr Almond the English Church clergyman this evening, he seems to be a very pleasant man and spent his summer holidays at [Robersal???] Lake St. John. That old spot of many pleasant memories a few years ago. I have met many strange and adventurous fellows on this boat. Some of them appear to have been almost everywhere and engaged in almost everything [??] Nearly every day some new ability turns up.
Thursday Nov 16/99
This morning on being aroused a large Steamer could be clearly seen in the distance. Signals were at once exchanged between our ships and the stranger with the result that both ships have too. Word was passed around for every man who had mail ready to at once parade on the quarter deck with the same Every man for a short time was hurring too & fro to try and send off some letters. A boat was lowered from the Sardinian to carry the letters to the stranger, a boat from Southampton and hear the latest news from the front If possible. I sent one letter to England and another to England. On our boat returning back ships resumed their original courses.
I paraded for Watch after breakfast from 8 A.M. until 8 P.M. two hours on duty & four hours off, cleaning decks and performing other fatigue duties which fall to the lot of a soldier on a troopship. Upon being dismissed I sought my blanket on the forecastle deck.
Friday Nov 17/99
Today C Co did not have to parade for drill until 3.30 P.M. so had most of the fore part of the day to amuse myself.
Had to parade before the Adjt Major MacDougall in reference to an electric light which was broken, as a witness, the light being next to my berth. I had no evidence to give. At 10.30 A.M. Sardinian crossed the line fire rockets sent off blowing of the whistle and loud cheering of the men. The usual ceremony observed on such a time was strictly carried out amidst great enthusiasm. In spite of all the difficulties that arise, we manage to get a little fun. at 4.30 P.M. the fire alarm was sounded for practice every man except those on watch made his way at once to his allotted place at the mess table, the former took up positions alongside of their respective boats to prevent any confusion, and see that every man, on receiving the order goes to the boat formerly told off for him.
The discipline was considered fairly good for the first time.
Saturday Nov 18/99
Comparatively an uneventful day. Spent sometime looking at the armourer Sergt sharpening bayonets and officers swords. Helmets were issued again after being dyed coffee colour by the Quarter Master’s dept.
The weather is slightly cooler much to the satisfaction of all concerned. Issued another allowance of tobacco a present to the Regt.
Sunday Nov 19/99
The usual number of church parades. The English Church paraded at 11.30 A very solemn & nice service the service being very appropriate all seem to enter heartly into the service. At conclusion of the same the Maple Leaf and national anthem were sung/accompanied by the band which is now in full swing.
It has been decided that the Maple Leaf shall be our regimental all are requested to learn the same copies being issued. Spent the afternoon reading and the evening chatting.
Monday Nov 20/99
Still take a salt water sprinkle after
My turn again to-day for Mess Orderly. Joe Jordan carved my pipe with the Regt Badge etc. The band played while the Officers dined and gave a concert after on the quarter deck which I enjoyed very much, a little music seems to put new life in one entirely
The different branches of the Regt are now being rapidly formed. Selecting the required number of men from each Co. Such as Pioneers, Ambulance, Signal Transport, Maxim Gun Men, Cooks etc. Arrangements are also being made for the issue of the khaki uniforms and the balance of articles necessary for field service in anticipation of an early embarkation the first of next week. The men are all anxious to land as soon as possible & to be in time to take part in the game we left our dear homes for.
Tuesday Nov 21/99
Preparations for landing still going on. Helmets are nearly all dyed (coffee color) and the puggarees [a light scarf wrapped around a sun helmet or used as a hatband] being sewn on.
The fire alarm was sounded at 4.30 P.M, the result quite satisfactory. During this time the police visited the quarters of the crew looking for missing articles belonging to the troops, the result – quite a large haul. To-day is an easy day for all no drill except the “awkward squad” The Boys all appreciate the holiday, and amuse themselves in various ways the weather just right for that purpose.
Wednesday Nov 22/99
To-day at 8 A.M I paraded for co until 8 P.M. I had a very easy time practically nothing to do being exempt from all drills and other duties. The weather is quite cool I notice so many are not sleeping on the deck this week as the first two weeks! I still continue to do so myself. The health generally of the Regt is very satisfactory.
Thursday Nov 23/99
To-day the Regt paraded for kit inspection “C” Co at 10.30 rather a difficult undertaking in such crowded circumstances. Several men were minus a great many articles.
C Co was issued this afternoon with Khaki uniforms, unfortunately there are not enough uniforms on board to equip the Regt. Consequently we shall not be able to land in them. Others are expected from Canada immediately. I shot again at ranges this afternoon making 30 out of 40 It is not a favourable day for shooting the ship rolling heavily. This evening there was another Band Concert on the quarter deck. The Band is improving rapidly.
At 8.15 P.M. “C” Co received another welcome issue of grog supplied by some of our very generous Canadian friends. One can easily imagine that defaulters of this parade were scarce.
Friday Nov 24/99
This morning I was mounted on my first guard from 9 A.M. to the same hour next morning 24 hours guard. This is simply an introduction of what is to come in the field.
The Regt received pay this morning from the Canadian Govt up to the end of the month in full. after that date the Imperial Govt becomes responsible for everything. I drew $16.80 at the rate of 40¢ per day. This seems a grand reward for a months work.
Saturday Nov 25/99
I am not likely to forget this day, particularly as this is my birthday. I naturally found my thoughts turning to those at home at home, as I am quite sure they will all be thinking of me. I was relieved from Guard about 9 30 A.M feeling rather tired.
This afternoon the officers paraded in their full Khaki uniforms to und[?] an inspection by the C. G. I must say they certainly presented a very imposing sight and looked quite fit for any work that may come in their way. Several had their photos taken in Groups after. I have just learned of 4 stowaways found on the ship 4 days out from port.
This is another example of many to prove that the Canadian Militia and people generally are quite prepared to bear their share of the Imperial defence. Two of these men belonged to the permanent force and left their head quarters for this war. There is a possibility of them being sent home as desserters after arrival in South Africa.
Still a heavy wind which causes great discomfort to about a dozen horses on board.
Sunday Nov 26/99
I attended the Communion service at 8 o’clock this morning a large number partook of the Sacrement. I was also present at the regular morning service 11.30 A.M. Major Drummond Chief Staff Officer to the Regt was on my left. He wears three war medals & the Jubilee medal & is ADC [Aide de Camp] to the Gov General. We sang hymn 235 A.M which recalled my school days at Toplow. This hymn was always a favourite with the boys at our Sunday afternoon singing. The four nurses with us evidently belong to the Church of England and are the only females on the boat.
I have been Mess Orderly again to-day a job I am not much in love with. “Experience teaches” one is never too late to mind. This afternoon I was given a small testament by the Y.M.C.A.
We all received two more cigars yesterday at the rate will soon have enough tobacco to start a store thanks to our good Canadian Friends. This evening a large number of men are gathering around in groups singing hymns. I am still in good health and spirits enjoying the trip very much, especially the morning salt shower Bath.
Monday Nov 24/99
Last night the boys were having a general good time before leaving the ship, the boat police were sent down to stop the noise and succeeded in making two arrests. The men manage to get a considerable amount of fun at the expense of the latter.
“C” Co. had a short parade at 3.30 P.M. & received a curtain lecture from the Capt Re embarkation & general conduct on shore etc. We also received our field kits immediately after dismissal & proceeded to get things in order for landing.
It is custom for passenger boats to give a concert in aid of the Seamans Widows & Orphans Fund headquarters at Glasgow. So in the evening we had a very good concert in which several officers took part. Col Buchan Major Arnold, Capt Basker & others. Judging from the plate, a respectable sum was secured.
On account of a shortage of Khaki uniforms the right-half batt only will land in the above dress. The balance will be secure in Cape Town. To-day every man received a bandolier presented by an American firm.
Tuesday Dec 24 [Nov 28]/99
No Parades, preparing to leave to-day [Sardin] Can, & the aristocratic neighbours of Hogan’s alley & Pearl St. Regrets will not be very great. Early to bed.
Wednesday Dec 28 [Nov 29]/99
Sighted Table Mountain at 5 A.M Dropped anchor about noon. Await P.M.O & to receive orders from the Commandant of the troops in Cape Town. About 5 P.M the ship make her way to the dock This was a regular triumphal procession, about 40 transports in the harbour all blowing their whistles in welcome to the Canadian boys. On the wharf the scene of enthusiasm was simply indescribable. We were allowed off the boat for about one half hour. Canadians appear to be objects of curiosity. The boys are simply delighted at the sight of land & females. Lots of fun with the niggers throwing charm coins.
National anthem & Maple Leaf
Nov 29/99 Thursday
Reveille was sounded at 4.30 A.M. Paraded at our Mess tables for disembarkation at 8. AM. Marched through the main streets of Cape Town on the way to Camp about 4 miles to Camp Green Point situated on the shore This is an ideal camp ground with proper water arrangements etc. There are large numbers of troops of all arms here on the way to the front.
We immediately pitched tents & make ourselves comfortable for the night I went down town about 7 P.M. to get my first square meal for over a month & a good drink of beer never enjoyed anything so much before Came back to camp at 9.30 P.M. & got ready for bed but did not sleep much. I appreciate being on land once more.
Cape Town is rather a quaint place full of kaffirs etc who seem to be very much more numerous than white people
The Regt was very much pleased with the reception tendered by the good people of Cape Town.
Friday Nov 30/99
Paraded early in the morning to break camp preparatory to marching off immediately after dinner. Marched through the streets receiving a splendid sendoff & retrained at 3 P.M. in two battalions, one train per battalion We are much impressed by the enthusiasm of the kaffirs all along the line Many [asming???] scenes are presented by these half civilized good natured people.
Stopped to get our tea at Wellington & started off again as quickly as possible The line is carefully guarded all the way along Many train of sick & wounded pass us on their way from the front also several Boer prisoners The land all along appears to be very barren & thinly populated it is almost destitute of even bees. No rain falling in one place since April.
Dec 1/99 Saturday
Still Jogging along in the train. Stopped at Prince Albert for breakfast hard tack & coffee. I feel the hot day heat very much. Water appears to be at a premium all the rivers are quite dry We are longing to reach a fertile country. Train stopped at Beaufort W for dinner & a wash the latter much appreciated. We spend our time on the train smoking cigarettes supplied by the Cape people & taking in the scenery.
Arrived at Prince Albert about 9 P.M. where tea was served out. Several British Troops are here also waiting orders for the front. Started off again about 10 P.M expecting to detrain early in the morning. All hands slept with boots on.
Sunday Dec 3/99
Arrived at Camp De Aar about 5 AM. This is the base of operations for Lord Metheun’s Brigade. There are about 8000 troops here. After embarkation set to work arranging the camp raising tents etc on completion of this breakfast was served. I must admit this has been one of the most miserable days I have ever spent. The county round about is nothing but a huge desert not a patch of grass to be seen. To make matters worse there is a strong wind blowing & you cannot see two tents ahead There is nothing can be done the boys have to stay in their tents and suffer covered with grime. The heat is fearful & water short to make matters worse. We will all be glad to get out of this All the boys look so tough Mr Marshall took a photo of our tent.
Monday Dec 4/99
I am quite impressed with the strength of Camp De Aar It is a natural fortification surrounded on all sides by hills & could offer a good resistance. Reveille sounded at 5.30 for one hour. I am much impressed by the quietness & also the apparent determination of the troops both Canadian & British. Strict discipline is most rigidly enforced.
The heat & desert is still very discomforting. Many train loads of troops of all arms are continually passing through to the front. Pte Gricia was courtmartialed for stealing a comrade’s revolver & received 42 days hard labour.
Tuesday Dec 5/99
Parades same as yesterday with one extra 10.30 About 5 P.M the Essex Regt marched into Camp & immediately pitched their tents a sturdy lot of looking men. I did some washing under great difficulties.
After lights out, an order was issued from head quarters for everyman to be ready to fall in after the Alarm Signal, a large body of Boers, about 20 miles from here. The health of all ranks still good. The heat intense & water very scarc. Men all in good spirits.
Major Drummond using his influence with Genl Lord Methuene to send the R.C.Q.I to the front.
Parades to-day as usual. About 10 A.M. orders were sent through our Camp for Canadians to be ready for the front in 15 minutes. Great enthusiasm spread through the camp & prolonged cheering. Later orders came not to move until 5 A.M in the morning.
I received a very nice letter from my dear mother which made me think of all the folks at home, and gave me great pleasure. Also received kind & congratulatory letters from Uncle Warwick & Cousin Reggie. I was disappointed at not hearing from Toronto. I wandered through the lines after tea, finding my way into the Y.M.C.A. & was much impressed at the fervour & devoutness of some of the British troops, returning to my tent about 8.30. Turned in about 9 P.M. Wrote a reply to my mother. Received 100 rounds ammunition.
Thursday Dec 7/99
Reveille sounded at 3 A.M Cold & dark on turning out. Camp immediately struck. Marched off to the station. Receiving a cup of coffee. Train pulled out for the Orange River at 6.10 Most of the men had to go on open trucks. I was fortunate enough to secure a seat in first class car Pass Osterich farm 9.30 at [Karunkuil???] made a few stoppages arriving at Orange River soon after 11. wait around all day without rations Got a pint of beer S.L.I & pitched tents at 4.30 in a blinding rain & wind storm getting wet through after laying in the sand & heat all day. This camp is flanked on two sides by hills & one side by Orange River. The camp occupied S.L.I B. Battery R.H.A & 2nd Batt Gordon Hylanders, latter leaving for the front at 5.30 P.M Surrounding rushed in 15 minutes by the Coldstream Guards 2 Officers & 14 men killed, their graves in front of the camp We are all impressed by a magnificent sundown. Many Boer prisoners in Camp. Outposts in front of Camp. Artillery & Flag stations occupy the hills. Heat still very severe men bearing up bravely. A large number of Boer prisoners in Camp.
Friday Dec 8/99
Reveille at 5 P.M Soon after solemn sounds of the Dead March floated across the plain. Then the sad sights of a funeral procession came into view. Pte Wilke A&S Battery effects of being shot in the head. Presently were heard 3 volleys being fired over his grave by comrades The latter returning to quarters to the strains of lively time. C Co finished a fatigue of 55 men to remove & pile bundles of hay & straw myself elected for the duty it lasting until now.
Stayed in tent all the afternoon out of the sun. To C Co. felt the honor of furnishing the first picket of our Regt. For outpost duty, I volunteered for the work. Out post was a strong redoubt on top of hill. From whence a considerable distance was patrolled in front of the Camp. Nothing of interest transpired during the night. Password for night “Chamberlain”
Saturday Dec 9/99
Returned from Picket 6.30 Nothing of consequence during night Camp struck after Reveille. Marched to station entrained 8 A.M proceeded in open trucks Crossed Orange River about 9.30 on the way to Belmont, scene of a fierce fight about 68 British killed, 170 wounded large number of enemy killed. Passed Ostrich farm & Remington Scouts. Detrained 11.15. marched 2 miles to camp ground under a glaring sun & most terrific heat. Arrived at Camp ground about 12.30 found it a regular parade in the wilderness. Green grass & plenty of pure water. Had a delicious bathe in canvas bath erected by Lewis Marshall. Also washed all my clothes. Had our breakfast about 4 P.M.
Sunday Dec 10/99
Reveille at 5 o’clock struck camp at 6. after good breakfast marched back to Belmont in 40 minutes, to relieve the Australians & Gordon Hylanders. Wandered around the battle field forenoon pitched camp about 4 P.M. with R.T.A.A. Rained in afternoon. C Co detailed as guard to R.H.A camp with the same. Cooler to-day.
Col. Otter Commandant of the camp Flocks of Goats & Ostrichs around Property of Boer take prisoner at Belmont. Had goat’s milk for tea. Seager milked a goat.
Monday Dec 11/99
Terrific storm of rain, thunder & lightning during the night. Two inches of water in our tent. Had to stand up for a couple of hours inside with bare feet to keep from being wet through. Reveille sounded at 3.15 A.M Possibility of attack from Boers. Breakfast at 6.30 after I was detailed as one of an armed guard of four to secure water. Went to a farm about 3 miles with two kaffir drivers, ten mules & large regular heavy size Army transport waggon. The farm is the most beautiful spot I visited since leaving Cape Town. It was used as a hospital for Belmont fight. Very much interested by the large & strong positions of stone erected & created by Boers – to appearance almost impossible to capture Heaps of empty cartridges etc around. Here I secured some delicious milk, first since leaving home, also bread, syrup & sardines.
Afternoon kept in tent from the heat of the sun. At 5.30 paraded to practice new attack drill for special use against Boers. Officers and N.C.O take places in the ranks dress & carry rifle & side arm same as the men Front & rear Ranks of Cos advance 20 paces from one another & 5 paces between men. The distance between ranks to lessen until within close range when all get into the fire line using independent firing, bayonets are fixed & the charge ordered.
Tuesday Dec 12/99
Reveille at 3.15 At 4 A.M. Mounted scouts brought in word Boers are in sight. C. Co & the R.H.A immediately ordered out to investigate the remainder of the Regt under arms in readiness. The boys presented a fine sight silently making their way in intended order accompanied by the guns through the brush just as dawn was appearing. No shots were fired the enemy evidently wishing to destroy the line of communication rather than fight as they quickly retired out of sight Returned to Camp 7 A.M to breakfast.
After a meal started to throw up entrenchments for the further protection of our camp. Rested until 5.30 when new attack was again practiced on the battle ground of Belmont At 8 o’clock I was on guard for the night Password “Kingston” In one spot I found 26 empty cartridges, one man evidently making a strg fight About
7, 30 mounted scouts returned with 4 Boers, 2 on horseback & 2 in a cart, also a herd of cattle. Received several letters.
Pte Chapel died of tonsilitis
Pte Jos C Chappelle died [written along edge of page]
Wednesday Dec 13/99
I am mess orderly to-day, consequently will be free from other duties. Several trains of wounded pass down the line from Spyfontein. We hear many reports of the battle but nothing reliable.
Practically an uneventful day Soon after lights out volunteers from C Co to form part of a mounted patrol with the M I were asked for. I was disappointed at not being able to ride. Soon after 22 men to support former were required. I volunteered We marked out some distance from the camp & lay down extended 5 paces Silently waiting in the dark while the mounted men proceeded further to examine the hills & kaffir kraals. Nothing suspicious was found, all returned again to camp about 4 A.M. All disappointed as interesting developments were expected. Each man taking his 100 rounds. Pte Chapel G. Co died early in the morning, buried at noon. Wrote several letters
Thursday Dec 14/99
Everything quiet to-day too hot for much work. Cleaned up our lines & lay around the tents until 6.30 P.M. when drill was ordered for one hour. Answered several letters. The boys rather tired after their midnight ride
Friday Dec 15/99
To day C Co returned to to Regt lines, Relieved from escort duty to the R.H.A. A Co taking our place. Cleaned up our new lines & got the tents in good order. After dinner on fatigue duty until 4.30 loading cars of corn for the front. At 6 P.M. C Co paraded to furnish guards outposts etc for the camp.
No 1 Section patrols the Railway track for about 3 miles Countersign Toronto. Several patrols of M.I going & returning allnight. About 100 men of Co C on duty tonight
Saturday Dec 16/99
Returned from outpost 6 A.M. A large mail for the Regt I received welcome letters from Toronto & England Also some photos. Remained in the tent till 3 P.M. writing letters then had tea. After tea, C Co paraded for bathing & washing marched to Van Hicks Farm out pt camp ground in [assine???] here 3 miles from Belmont a most delightful spot. How I did enjoy that dip getting a thorough cool off after the heat of the day. Fatigue parties are working strengthening our position all day
Sunday Dec 17/99
Paraded at 3.15 A.M. Marched a considerable distance from the trench in extended order. Arriving there lay down & wait for dawn. ready for any possible attack from enemy.
At 5.30 Church parade solemn & impressive sight, so many armed men returning thanks to Almighty God. 5 men from our tent on [examin/br????ing] duty, plenty room allday. No duty on account of being Sunday. Wrote to Toronto. enjoyed a sleep in the afternoon & a pleasant form outside tent at night in the cool.
Monday Dec 18/99
Reveille as usual take up our position again in front of trenches. After breakfast get ready to strike camp so as to make room for an Imperial Regt. About 3.45 strike camp & move to the other side of station. Heavy sandstorm, heat intense Several trains laden with munitions of war pass on the way to modder river. Roll up in my blanket outside tent early. Dined sumptuously off boiled chicken broth spoil taken by some of the boys from our tent.
Tuesday Dec 19/99
Parade at 3.15 A.M. C Co march to Scots ridge named after the heroic capture of the same by Scots Guards a difficult position to attack, affording a magnificent view of the surrounding country. The boys find many interesting articles left after the fight. I am told off for the second position. Will be here about 24 hours. Sun very hot & no cover. Food & water sent to the men from Camp. Many bodies of dead Boers & horses exposed to view. Wrote a letter to Walker.
Wednesday Dec 20/99
Returned to Camp from Scots Ridge 6 A.M. Remained in tent until 4.30. Returned to Scots Ridge to construct [roof/road?] a little below the summit. Arrived in camp again at 7 P.M. & had a first class tea. Turned in early. Heat still very great.
Thursday Dec 21/99
Roused at 3.15 took a position in trenches this morning. Remington Scots left Camp after breakfast for the Orange River, to act as guides to other troops. At 10 A.M. fell in for fatigue to construct rifle pits etc. Returned to Camp 12 A.M. for dinner.
Our Co supplied Guard of 12 men under Sergt Beattie & 1 Corpl. I was no 4 of the 1st Relief. A capable train of supplies for the front passed through during the night. 6 return from 1st relief received 7 more litters. Head the Co. very pleased.
Friday Dec 22/99
On Guard all day until 6 P.M. In the Guard house were two Hottentots & two Britishers. Received one letter & one paper. Heat very intense. Guard turned out on the approach of every train. To the delight of all, British water bottles arrived for distribution. Guard relieved about 6.15 arrived in Camp 6.30 after 24 hours duty to great satisfaction of all concerned. Had Tea & a pipe in front of tent. Then glad to roll up in my blanket for the night
Saturday Dec 23/99
Rouse at 3 A.M. C Co marched out of camp for Scots & ajoining copye in field marching order for 24 hours duty. The right half Co render N Marshall at 6 P.M. left Scots Ridge & occupied Belmont Ridge. We had breakfast at 8 o’clock. Immediately set to work erecting shelters from the heat of blankets, great coats etc. Sweltered in the heat all the day until 6 PM when we moved again to Scots Ridge. Took my turn on Sentry during the night.
Sunday Dec 24/99
Returned to Camp from Scots Ridge 6 A.M. Remained in tents until 4.30 P.M. Paraded for general fatigue at that hour to dig rifle pits on western side of camp. Returned again at 6.30 & had tea in the cool of the evening. The boys are looking forward to a pleasant day tomorrow.
Monday Dec 25/99
Reveille at 5 AM. At 5.30 paraded for divine service. I took the Sacrement Immediately after C Co marched to Van Wicks farm for a bathe & washed some clothes. We all very much enjoyed it. First washing ourselves with soap, then every man was allowed to plunge into the large stone tank for a swim. I remained in for about half hour. Marched into camp for breakfast about 9 A.M. The boys were very much disappointed at the way Xmas passed off. We were all given to understand there would be an abundance of everything for all. This is how all was carried out:
1 Chicken to be divide between the occupants of each tent containing 14 men, 1 small pine apple, 1 orange, 2 mangos & 1/2 pint of beer. A very liberal & generous supply for such a day. I must also mention 2 spoons full of plum pudding which was really very good. There has been a large amount of money subscribed by the Toronto people for extras to the boys, who naturally expected to see some of the same to day. Expressions of great indignation are heard on every hand.
The Xmas dinner was served at 4 P.M. except C Co we all preferred to wait until about 5.30 P.M. Fortunately No 2 tent was smart enough to secure a case of delicacies from the Cape at their own expense.
Col Buchan addressed the Regt during the afternoon wishing all a Merry Xmas etc. The Boys called for cheers for the gallant Col & officers. After tea, the officers gave a concert in which officers of the R.M Fusiliers took part. Col Buchan & Capt Barker also sang. Some of the men serenaded the officers about dusk dressed in all sorts of costumes & playing many kinds of instruments from tin cans to fog horns. The affair was a great success.
About 8 P.M. all the officers of the camp sat down to a grand spread including champagne etc. for which they payed £1 each. One could not fail to notice the difference between the privileges of officers & men. At 8.30, I rolled myself up in my blanket out side the tent, hoping & praying the dear folks at home all spent a more sumptuous Xmas day than I did. Of course, being a soldier on active service makes a great difference in one’s circumstances. I forgot to mention we were all promised an issue of rum but did not get it. Today is the second time we were unabled to get beer since leaving Toronto except while in Cape Town. British Regt are issued with the same every day. The boys are highly indignant.
Thursday Dec 26/99
Reveille at 5 A.M. Nothing to do all day. Some of the boys say we are given a day off to recover from the efforts of our big Xmas dinner (Oil) I lay in the tent all day. Sun very strong In the afternoon heavy sand storm. Two Companies of Cornwalls arrive thoroughly adding much to the strength of our Comp. C Co was issued with regular British water bottles to the joy of us all. Ours having been proved to be of no use.
Wednesday Dec 27/99
Rouse at 3 A.M. C Co turned out. Delightful shower of rain. Nothing to do in the morning At 4 P.M. C Co was issued with putties much to the satisfaction of the boys At 5 P.M. a general alarm sent throughout the camp Camp Commandant very much pleased with the smart turn out of the men. At 6 P.M. paraded for Railway patrol under Col Sergt Campbell, one Corpl & ten men. A very hot day with several sand storms. Countersign – Ostrich
Thursday Dec 28/99
Returned from patrol 6 A.M. Lay around tent all day. Seager of our tent arrested for answering Warrant Officer in charge of mule teams.
Friday Dec 29/99
Reveille at 5 A.M. Q.M. I. [Queensland Mounted Infantry] arrive in camp from Orange River Five body of men & horses. C Co turned out to pitch their tents.
I am Mess orderly to day. Terrific sand & wind storm all the afternoon great discomfort to all. Commanding officers parade for inspection at 5.30 P.M. I am very much interested in appearance of Canadians Received two letters from Ma & one from R.G Byers. Affairs generally quiet in Camp today.
Saturday Dec 30/99
No duties to day wrote to Ma. After dinner received orders from Capt Barker to be in readiness to move at half an hours notice towards Douglas. 400 to 500 Boers reported to be in Laager there. C Co R.C.Q 2 Coys of Cornwalls [Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry Regiment] part of Q.M.I, 1 gun R.H.A [Royal Horse Artillery] 1 Maxim gun & part of M.F to compose the party. Waited all day, expecting to be ordered to move off. Dinky Dink of B Co sent back to Cape Boys
playing cricket & baseball, tugs of war
Sunday Dec 31/99
Church parade at 5.15 AM Spent the morning getting ready for trip. had dinner Pulled out 2.30 P.M. in transport waggons. Australians extended on the right scouting. Munsters [Royal Munster Fusiliers] & Suffolks [The Suffolk Regiment] on the left leading the way, followed by 2 12 Pounders of R.H.A C Co following in 9 transport waggons.
Also had one water & one scotch cart with a couple of R.E. The force numbered about 500 men. We traveled until eve, riding when roads were good & walking when bad, walked most of the time arriving at Cook’s Farm about 18 miles first and it was getting dark to bivouac for the night, all tired out. Boiled water & made tea. Some of the boys cooking chickens rustled on the way out. One of the Q.M.I thrown from his horse sustaining a broken collar bone. Lay down to sleep at 10 P.M with arms by our side.
Monday Jan 1/00
New Years Day. A most unusual & adventurous day to us all. Up at 4 A.M. had a snack of hard tack & coffee, in the waggons at 5.30 A.M. Ride for about a mile had to walk rest of the way weather hot roads heavy & sandy & shortage of water. Every body was game in anticipation of some meeting the enemy reported at Sunnyside about 18 miles from Cook’s Farm.
We hurried on until within about 3 miles of the Boers position & then formed for attack. As luck would have, I & 3 Sect formed the firing line, 1&4 supports We advanced hungry & thirsty under horribly hot sun over the roads to Sunnyside. The Boys struggled bravely along nearly tired out. Suddenly upon arriving at the top of a Ridge the Boer camp was sighted at the base of a high Ridge looking quite peaceful & quiet in the distance The occupants evidently not being aware of our sudden approach, the Australians capturing their [???] who were asleep.
Quickly advanced on them, the Australians & R.H.A. leading, prepd for attack at 9.25. Q.M.I in advance Munsters our right R.H.A on our left. Objection point Sunnyside Engagement opened at 11.05 By a shell from the R.H.A which was aimed beautifully & burst right into the middle of their camp. Boers immediately leaving their tents & making for the koffer, the artillery range was about 2000 yds. The maxims opened at 11.20 on the left our fire line at 11.15. Firing continued for about two hours, no 1 Sec being brought into the Fire Line on the right, R.H.A doing splendid work. Shell after shell finding its way into the enemy position. Our men keeping up the fire at 1150 yds range. The maxims on the left doing splendid work easily finding the range sending the bullets among the enemy who scampered right & left. No 4 Sect Now acted as escort to R.H.A. No 1 Support [???] Firing line.
At 1 P.M. R.H.A changed position & opened a heavy fire upon the enemy. The Q.M.I & No 3 Sec doing splendid work on the left fixed bayonets at sight of this Boer hoisted flag of truce Our men were soon upon them & captured about 40 of the enemy. About 2.30 C Co reformed for advance on the Boer position. No 1 Sec in fire line [s???ded] to 10 paces bat of Co in support. We marched carefully into their camp expecting to receive a [m???] fire. Much surprised to find the enemy had vacated their position entirely, leaving us everything. Ammunition waggons tents mules horses oxen Rifles etc. The boys fairly fagged out for water & food.
Our loss 2 killed, 3 wounded (Q.M.I). Boer loss estimated 6 killed, 14 wounded & between 40 & 50 prisoners. Our first duty to confine prisoners in kaffir kraal full of goods which was first thoroughly looted. I was placed on Guard for short time. The boys soon broke ranks to hunt for loot & water. Many securing interesting relics [???] Rifles, revolvers, saddles, etc. Unfortunately water was practically mud. About 5.30 a cup of soup per man was served, made from meat the Boers left behind.
At dusk, the sad rite of burying our late comrade took place (Q.M.I) No 1 Sec. C Co supplied 12 men for firing party corpse followed by many of his late comrades. Major Bayley conducted the service. Bugler Williams sounding “Guards Salute”.
At 10 P.M. C Co sat around the camp fire to a scrumptuous repast of roast lamb & hard tack. After this all lay down to a well earned rest without any covering.
Tuesday Jan 2/00
Reveille at 4.30 A hasty breakfast of canned meat, hard tack & coffee. Before leaving camp, waggons, ammunition, tents & articles not able to be carried made into a huge bonfire. At 4 A.M fell in & marched to Dover about 5 miles (Q.M.I) guard over prisoners. Here joined by the Cornwalls, & received congratulations from Genl at Orange River (Woods) Left for Douglas at 9.50 after 3 miles rode all the way splendid roads built by the British. Stopped at 12.45 to lunch & walk horses.
Sighted Douglas at 1.30 lying in a valley about 4 miles away. Formed for attack at 2.30 marched on the town, surprised to find Boers gone & Union Jack flying Received a hearty welcome from inhabitants at 3 P.M. Marched to Vaal River in search of Boers. Did not see any returned shortly after. All hands had wine & something to eat, then many of us marched to Vaal River again for bathing parade. At dusk, C Co marched to Ridge south of Douglas, furnished a picquet & bivouaced for night completely exhausted. I being drought-sick from heat & poisoned by bad water at Sunnyside.
Wednesday Jan 3rd/00
Reveille at 4.30 A.M. breakfast at 5. No 1 Sec paraded for special duty at 5.30 A.M. No particular duty to perform. I was too sick to go. So after looting hotel the sec rejoined Co 7.15 During this time not able to eat anything. I went to a house & secured a cup of milk, not satisfied went to another, a large house belonging to chief magistrate (Boer) beautifully furnished. Found the house in possession of one of our men busily engaged looting. Contented myself with taking 2 glasses of port wine found in decanter. I also went to the general store full of officers & men helping themselves. I took 1 dry handkerchief 1 shirt & 5 cans of soup. Column left Douglas at 4.45 with a great crowd of refugees. Arrived at Dover at 1.30 P.M suffering much from heat & want of water. Stopped there for dinner, left again at 3 P.M for Cook’s Farm arriving there at 7 bivouaced for the night, leaving refugees at School house.
Thursday Jan 4/00
All the troops paraded to attend Courtmartial. Someone accused of stealing apples & killing a sheep. Cornwalls & Q.M.I blamed for their offence & severely censured no one coming forward to take the blame. Prisoners marched into the sgt & 4 convicted of treason 2 of them said to draw 10 & one 5 per day from British Govt 4 leaders were then handcuffed.
Immediately after 2 & 3 Secs & half of Mounted troops started for Belmont in charge of refugees. I being advised to go along with them being sick. Jack Seager also came along having severely damaged his leg in a waggon wheel.
Bat of troops left to come on later with prisoners. About noon halted near farm to rest & water the animals for for about 3/4 hour. Started on again for Belmont troops & refugees suffering alike from heat etc. Between [???] & Belmont I managed to get 4 glasses of milk & one apple which revived me very much having had an empty stomach for 48 hours & continual vomiting. Reached Belmont just before 4 P.M. to the delight of all. After a light tea I helped put away the contents of a bottle of whisky [7 S???] which went to the right place. I lay down & slept like a log. Seager & myself only in our tent. Traveled 112 miles.
Friday Jan 5/00
Bal of our column arrived in camp this morning with prisoners 8.30 objects of great curiosity to all. A & [??] Co having gone out. quite satisfied to rest the remainder of the day. Received pay 1.18:9 Seager moved to Hospital. Congratulations from Genl Wood (cable)
Saturday Jan 6/00
Another day of rest for our Co which the men are well in need of. Mail arrived at night received 3 letters Everything quiet here to day. Helmet covers issued
Sunday Jan 7/00
Reveille at 5.30. Church parade at 6. Did nothing all morning except write home. At 12 Canteen opened waited for one hour but did not get any beer. [D???] out of our beer again in the afternoon much to my disgust. After tea, got ready for Scotts Ridge in the morning. I am feeling stronger to day, eating a little.
Campbell & Dickson go to Cape Town to identify prisoners taken at Sunnyside
Jan 8/00 Monday
Rouse at 3 AM Marched to Scotts Ridge easy time all day. All night placed on No 1 Picquet & No 2 Group. Password Alpha Rained during the night not much sleep Telegram of congratulation read by Col Palcher from Lord Minto & others re Sunnyside. Also lectured strongly against looting.
Tuesday Jan 9/00
Returned from Scots Ridge at 5 A.M. A & B Cos left camp in company with 2 Guns R.H.A & Q.M.I, Col Palcher in command. Marching several miles into Orange Free State return having [mi?? d?y ????] about 16 miles, a day off for C Co.
Wednesday Jan 10/00
Rouse at 3 A.M. remained under arms in lines until 4.30 then dismissed to tents 12 Men of C Co under Sergt Beattie sent out on examining Guard at 4 A.M. for 24 hours. I am Mess Orderly Howitzer Battery Artillery passed through camp at 11 A.M. marching I go on main Guard at 6 P.M., Sergt McGregor Password “Gama”. (farm) Q.M.I [???] 40 men & 40 horses pastured
Thursday Jan 11/00
Remain on Guard until 6 P.M. Auction sale by Leut Ryan Q.M.I assisted by Pte Magovern C Co R.C.R articles taken from Stovers Farm by the Q.M.I [B???] road for [4£ worth 4???] Large number of troops pass up, also several heavy large guns Batt paraded 4 P.M. Route march to Van Wilks Farm C Co bathed, marched back in 38 min 3 1/8 miles. Did not get tea until 4.30 P.M.
Col. Pelcher leaves for the front command M.I Seager moved to Orange River hospital.
Friday Jan 12/00
C Co Drill from 6 to 7 A.M. Route march triangular course from 4.30 to 7.30 about 9 miles. Train load of long field or naval guns pass through to the front.
Saturday Jan 13/00
Reveille at 5 A.M Co drill from 6 to 7 A.M. very hot day & sand storms. Route march at 4.30 PM Returning 7.45 PM. Mail
Kaffir prisoner captured during Route march. arrived got one letter. Col Otter in command 2 maxim guns.
Sunday Jan 14/00
Church parade 6.30. Several Toronto papers distributed Heavy sand storm. Col Boyd R.E arrived takes command of camp from Col Otter. Tents moved in morning to allow ground to air moved back 5.30 P.M.
Monday Jan 15/00
Rouse at 3 A.M. C Co marched to Scotts Ridge for outpost duty. I am placed in charge of No 2 Group, No 1 Picquet At 4 P.M. placed on Kings Bastion for the night. Countersign Adershot I am questioned in the morn by new Commandant re Pay, Prices of goods in the camp etc. His first visit to this post. Held his horse during inspection of the same by himself & staff. Capt Parker did not come up until 4 P.M. He attended courtmartial on Corpl Ramsay.
Tuesday Jan 16/00
Returned from Scots Ridge 6 AM 4 P.M. Cos not on duty paraded for swimming at Van Wilks Farm under Col Buchan. Heavy storm came up while away. 15 tents blown down in Camp. Kit inspection.
Wednesday Jan 17/00
Revelle at 5 A.M. Holiday for athletic sports. C Co won tent pitching against Cornwalls tent 6 men. All kinds of sports Q.M.I won most of the games. Longest Run & Jump is 16 ft 4 in Sgt R.C.R but lost on a foul. Q.M.I won making a jump of 16 ft.
100 yds dash won by Q.M.I time 11 secs. Pte Warren 2 Sec won obstacle race. C Co won tug of war from A Co but lost to B. Q.M.I won final tug of war Long distance run won by Pte [G??] Smith C Co. The sports were conducted by one officers in a very impartial manner. A camp concert was held about 8 o’clock in our lines. The prizes were presented during the intermission. A to R.C.R singing a quartette (The Land of the Maple) Some selections by Cornwalls Q.M.I & R.H.A & a quartette by officers R.C.R. After singing The Maple Leaf & National Anthem brought the programme to a conclusion. Lights out sounded at 10 PM bringing a pleasant but very hot day to a conclusion.
Jan 18/00 Thursday
Reveille at 5 A.M. 19 of us parade for fatigue at 9 o’clock to 12 unloading two cars of hay. Lay around all afternoon. About 5 PM paraded for batt drill under Col Otter returning about 6.30 hungry & tired. Ambulance train & sick pass through.
Friday Jan 19/00
Reveille 5 A.M. do nothing all day. dry, warm & heavy sand storm. take supplies the dirties. I go on camp guard at 6 PM Corpl Hoskins in charge, very dark night Password Salisbury
Jan 19/00 Friday
Reveille at 5 A.M. breakfast at 5.30. Parade for rooute march under Major Peltier at 6 which we all enjoyed very much in the cool of the morning. Lay in our tents all day suffering from the heat & sandstorms.
Jan 20/00 Saturday
Rouse at 3 AM C Co turns out & remain under arms in the camp until 5 A.M. C Co supplies duties for the 24 hours, a portion of No 1 Sec going on examining post about 4.30. I remain in the tent nearly all day & am Mess orderly. I guard on camp guard at 6 PM under Corpl Hoskins Password “Salisbury” A very dark night About 20 Q.M.I arrive in camp this eve
Jan 21/00 Sunday
I remain on guard all day One man arrested for stealing from one of the countries & placed in the guard tent.
A Co Cornwalls, 2 Cos of V M, some R.H.A & 1 maxim gun start out under Col Boyd to locate some Boers, taking the necessary transport waggons etc [???? da?? some Q.M.I in front] Genl Wood passed through the camp. C Co furnished the guard under Sergt Middleton receiving congratulations on the same I am relieved from guard about 6 AM. very tired & hungry. I was glad to receive letter from home on returning to tent.
Revelle at 3 A.M. (Monday Jan 22)
Regimental courtmartial Corpl Power reprimanded for fighting a private & Corpl [ad????] to the ranks. Breakfast at 5.30. Regiment paraded & march out to practice attack on some distant Ridge. Fix bayonets & charge at 300 yds. I am in charge of left plank party. Maj Peltier in command. Return to camp about 9.30 AM, Col Sergt Campbell & Sergt Hixon return from the Cape C Co had a volunteer balking parade in the evening. I did no go. Served [???? ????] about 6 o’clock
Tuesday Jan 23/00
At 4.30 A.M. No 1 Sec C Co march to Kidney Ridge to supply the Examining guard for 24 hours under Lewis Marshall. We get eggs & milk from a farm, also have some porridge, [???? f???ty] rich
I am sent back to camp to look after things belonging to our tent. The regimental camp is moved to the this side of Railway track. I write a letter to RYM. In the Eve detailed to the Ropje No 2 Group. Passive Discomfort. Did not get tea until dark. Transport waggon late in coming out. Myself & 3 others go to camp for water. Received letter from Sam Sommkie. Chris Marshall took photo of No 1 Sec
in front of tent ostrich included.
Wednesday Jan 24/00
Returned from Kidney Ridge 7 A.M. [R????? ???] tent all the morning. During the morning some M.I Cos from the following Regts arrived in camp presumably for the road to [J??? ????] for [????] Column R of L.I – L.N.L.R & Northumberland 4 [????] All appear to be a fine body of men & their horses in fairly good condition. At 4.30 PM Regt paraded for batt drill under Col Otter After arrival on the [???? ?????] sand wind & rain storm necessitating the regiments return to camp. On arrival there, many tents had been completely blown to the ground including our own & the rainfalling heavily. After erecting tent, tea was partaken of. Also our regular allowance of beer. Preparations were now made our evenings justification an extra quantity of beer being secured. Some men of the above Regts joined the members of our tent in a jolly good time. Also [Me??s] Brown & Hamilton Toronto correspondents.
Songs etc were indulged an accompanied by a string instrument by Pte Kidner of [????] This instrument was a Sunnyside relic. Brown & Kidner sang most of the songs. A pleasant evening was brought to a close on lights out being sounded by singing Auld Lang Syne.
Friday Jan 26/00
Reveille at 5 A.M. At 6 o’clock regimental parade under Col Buchan force route march. Proceeded to Thompson’s Farm halting there for half an hour, delightful spot. Started again around the Kopjes, returning to camp, a pleasant march. About 11.30 chocolate presented by the queen issued. Immediately after strains of the national anthem heard down the lines, one tent after another.
Jordan & Kidner under Serg Beattie in transport waggon livered to Richmond with 40 000 rounds of ammunition for Col Boyd’s column returning 7.30 PM waggon drawn by 16 heavy oxen.
Spent afternoon in tent reading & smoking & sleeping.
— This was also entered as an entry for Friday Jan 26/00 —
Friday Jan 26/00
Reveille at 5 A.M. At 6 o’clock regimental parade under Col Buchan force route march. Proceeded to Thompson’s Farm halting there for half an hour, delightful spot. Started again around the Kopjes, returning to camp, a pleasant march. About 11.30 chocolate presented by the queen issued. No defaulters to-day. At 2 o’clock No 1 Section under Corp Stewart went on fatigue until 6 PM to destroy [?????] near tents for the purpose of securing railway ties used in the construction of the same. The Batt paraded for drill at 4.30 under Col Otter until about 7 P.M. Mail arrived this evening I received a letter mother from New York, dated Nov 25/99
Saturday Jan 27/00
Remained around camp all day not much doing At 4.30 parade for batt drill under Col Buchan. C Co for target practice under Capt Barker. Satisfactory results 45 hits ranges from 1600 to 300 yds. 10 rounds per man fired. Returned to camp about 7.15 ready for tea. C Co blankets fumigated.
Sunday Jan 28/00
C Co furnishes duty to-day Roused at 3 AM remained in the lines under arms until 5 A.M. easy time until after tea. At 6.30 PM No 1 Sec C Co parades for Southern Patrol under Sergt Beattie spent a pleasant night Password “Freshwater” A Roast for dinner with onion sauce. Did some washing & had a sponge bath
Monday Jan 29/00
Returned to camp 6 A.M. Nothing doing all morning. Parade ordered for afternoon canceled on account of terrific storm, most we have had [Let???]. Several tents blown to the ground. Had hard work to hang on to ours. After tea, I went down to the station. A number of troops went up the line on board train.
Tuesday Jan 30/00
Reveille 5 A.M. At 9 o’clock reported for fatigue, not much to do, off at 12 A.M. Parade ordered for 4.30 PM but called off. About 5 PM issued our month’s pay £1 18.9 During afternoon several train loads of troops passed up 16th Lancers “Death or Glory Boys”, 2 Battery R.H.A & Cheshire Regt. Boys cheering heartily. Day cooler than usual. I am tent orderly.
Wednesday Jan 31/00
Rouse at 3 A.M. C Co for Scott’s Ridge. I am during the day on the top of Ridge Sentry All night, Sentry on No 2 Post of No 1 Pickett. Password water. Not much excitement. A large fire burning alnight to the left of Ridge. Pte Martin accidently shot his hand. Large number of troops pass up the line evidently something in the wind. Night rather cold Seager returned from Orange River.
Thursday Feby 1/00
Returned from Scot’s Ridge soon after 5 A.M. D&F Cos start further up the line said to dig wells (E??tion) The R.H.A stationed here to Modder River. Several train loads of troops still going up the line Essex Regt from Colenso passed up. This Regt arrived at D Aar while we were there. See Ashmead Bartlett on the station today. Col Boyd Majors Bayly & [D?Bell???] arrived in camp to night. Their column said to have encountered a large number of Boers. had to retire to
Richmond. Storekeeper Parey arrested insolence to Col Otter while intoxicated. His store is closed up.
Friday Feby 2/00
At 6.30 PM No 2 tent C Co goes on main guard. I am on No 1 Post. Password Torbay. Sergt Beattie in command, our Co being to duty. During night, 4 train loads of troops etc pass up including 1st Life Guards.
Saturday Feby 3/00
Remain on Guard until 1 PM Returned at that time by the Cornwalls prepatory to moving to Grasspan Lots of troops pass up the line including R.H.A Guards Blue Some Scots Greys arrive in camp Capt Forester with them. About 3 PM tents struck & lines cleared up ready to move off. At 4.15 P.M. C Co marched off under Col
Buchan en route to Grasspan. The march tedious on account of heat & sand. We make two halts along the way, arriving in camp about 8 P.M. being met by several Gordons with a piper. After partaking our tea [????] for the night tired out
Sunday Feby 4/00
After breakfast I partook of a delightfully cool bathe & filled myself up with the best water we have had since leaving Cape Town. During the day the [Hanlo???] Norfolk’s 16th Field Battery & Scots [???gs] pass up. Gordons kindly pitch our tents. First time I hear reveille on pipes.
Monday Feby 5/00
After breakfast [???] our tent in good shape. Not much doing. After dinner, I write home. In the eve do my washing. At night a concert in camp. RCR Gordons & [Ma???ters] all take part. pleasant time spent. While in the act of making my bed outside camp, terrific storm suddenly arose blowing down several tents.
About 4.30 P.M. I take another bath. More troops going up the line including R Welsh Regt & artillery. Hot day.
Feby 6/00 Tuesday
Rev at 5 A.M. About 10.30 A.M. 4 Cos of Gordons pass through camp en route to Maple Leaf Camp (So called by Canadians 4 Cos to dig Wells) They had a good band & pipes coming from Enslin. Surprised at noon to receive orders to be ready to start for Belmont. The Cheshire Reg releiving us fine body of men. Leave Grasspan about 6.30 PM to foot it to Belmont. Delightful march in the cool of
the evening. Pass Staffordshire Regt on the road. Arrived at Belmont about 9 PM hungry & ready for bed. Packs carried by transport. Made a good supper of canned fish & biscuits. Bivouaced for the night. Several sharp rain showers.
Feby 7/00 Wednesday
Breakfast of hard tack & coffee. Pitch tents after grub. Small fatigues all day. General fatigue at 4 PM. Troops constantly passing up the line. General French said to have passed up. I take a delightful bathe in the evening water from new well dug while we were at [????]. Tobasco issued. Brigaded under [Sh???] Gordons, Cornwalls R.C.R Col Smith [Ho???]
Feby 8/00 Thursday
Rouse for C Co 3 A.M. No 1 Sec for Scots Ridge No 2 Central Hill. No 3 Patrol I am orderly for the day. Have to make 3 trips with grub for men of No 2 tent. I feel the heat very much to day Write to Col Roberts.
Feby 9/00 Friday
C Co returned from Scots Ridge 5 A.M. Not much excitement to day. Mail arrives always welcome. Spend an hour on the station to see the night train go up.
Feby 10/00 Saturday
Rev at 5 A.M. Day of fatigues Fatigue at 6 to 8 A.M. for half of C Co. General fatigue at 10 A.M. cleaning up lines General Parade ordered for Regt about 4 PM. C Co parade for fatigue loading grain on transport waggons right after dinner until 6.30 PM Heavy shower this afternoon C Co excused Regt parade. Regt late returning to camp.
Feby 11/00 Sunday
Church parade at 6.30 A.M. Presbyterian Minister presiding. Regt parade at 3.30 PM for inspection & practice the attack under new Brigadier in marching order. Genl expressed himself pleased with appearance & work performed by the Regt. Returned
to camp soon after 5 oclock for tea. Men feel heat very much. I take a good bathe after tea.
Awakened during night by large train of transport waggons passing through Belmont. Terrific yells of Kaffir drivers.
Feby 12/00 Monday
Cos from Cook’s farm return to Belmont. Receive orders to parade in marching order on a 3 or 4 wks march. Move tents from ranks, strike tents & store baggage away ready to move off. March to station about 7 PM Train moves off about 7.15 for Grasspan. Great enthusiasm Arriving about 8. disentrain & bivouac for the night.
Feby 13/00 Tuesday
Rouse at 3 A.M. Breakfast of hard tack & coffee. Had the last bread for some time alas. Left Grasspan soon after 3 en route for Ram Dam. About 3 500 men & the necessary transports. We all found the march very trying the first day. On account of heat scarcity of water & having to carry our great coats etc. The rest of our brigade marched without coats. Arrived at Ram Dam about [???] very tired & played out parched with thirst. After tea I had a swim & felt very much better. Going around to see the big Naval Guns Mortars Howitzers etc The former drawn by 32 oxen. Covered about 15 miles.
Feby 14/00 Wednesday
Marched from Ram Dam about 5.30 A.M. with the big Naval Guns. R.C.R. rear guard. A few miles from [Reel???] River, the brigade halted. C Co ordered to support [?] Co which occupied a kopje on the left flank. Saw several flocks of wild buck. Arrived at the [Reel???] River very tired & thirsty about [?] P.M. Brigade halted on river bank to allow transports etc to cross. Men partake of hard tack for luncheon. We go down to river to wash & take a long drink. R.C.R supplies a fatigue of 100 men to assist in taking big guns across river. The Brigade immediately starts to follow. While marching to our bivouac on opposite side pass Lord Roberts & Staff. He sizes us up & returns the company salutes. About dusk soup is served to the hungry men. Diffiently in securing overcoats. Did not get mine Rained during the night. Men glad to sleep early. Col Otter visits the
different Cos to find out how the men feel after the march Distance marched
Feby 15/00 Thursday.
[The date was entered in to the diary but nothing further.]