…I have just had the first good feed I have had for the last two months; I went into Mafeking and had it at an hotel. We have been used to 3 or 4 biscuits and a pound of bully beef a day…
‘The Boer War was the first full commitment of troops by all the Australian Colonies to a foreign war and with the formation of the Commonwealth on January 1901 it became the Nation’s first military involvement.’(National Boer War Memorial Association).
The Evelyn Observer Friday, October 12, 1900.
We take the following extracts from a letter received by Wm. Reid, Esq., of ‘Hazel Glen’, from his son, Trooper W.A.V. Reid, of B. Squadron, Victorian Battalion, Australian Imperial Regiment:
Mafeking, Aug. 31.
‘We are back at Mafeking again; we came in as an escort to Carrington. We were at Zeerust―a place about thirty-six miles from here, down in the Transvaal; that is where our regiment fell in with the Boers and had Lieutenant Gilpin and Trooper Woodman of A Company killed.
I was under fire for the first time the other day; three of us were out scouting (King, Wilson and myself) on the flank of the main body when we had a volley fired at us from a kopje; but I think the Boers must be bad shots as they knocked up the dust round my horse and that was all. It is a one-sided affair. You will hardly ever see a Boer. The only place he is any good is behind a rock.
There is a report here that all the first Australians are to go home next month; but you hear all sorts of camp reports, about half of them true.
I have just had the first good feed I have had for the last two months; I went into Mafeking and had it at an hotel. We have been used to 3 or 4 biscuits and a pound of bully beef a day, and a fellow does not get fat on that.
Another trouble has befallen Mafeking which knocked it about nearly as much as the siege. A wind and thunder storm―such as I have never seen in my life or anyone else here―passed over it, and there is now hardly a house with a roof left on it. A captain and two privates were killed. One had his head nearly cut off with a sheet of iron that was blown off a house. Kits and everything moveable were swept into the Motopo River.
We were camped out at Otto’s Hoop with Carrington’s lot, and had just rolled into our bunks (at least I had), laying myself on the ground with a saddle for a pillow, when the storm started. Hail as big as hen’s eggs came down; the horses stampeded and three or four fellows were badly hurt; our blankets, saddles, &c., were swimming about, and I never saw such rain or lightning. We got our horses together, and put a fire on, but had to stand up to it all night; I can tell you we were not sorry to see daylight. You ought to have seen the camp; it was a picture to look at.