New Year's Day, 1901
My dear Mother,
I have just received a letter from you to Bert dated Nov 16th, which I have of course opened & will keep until Bert comes in, which I think will not be very long now, although we do not know anything about the exact whereabouts of the regiment. I went to hospital in Potchefatrom with low fever, and the day after I went in, the regiment left for Bethulie in the north of Cape Colony. I was discharged after 2 days, & started to make my way down to join the regiment, but when I got as far as Johannesburg, I was done up, in fact about that time I was so weak I could scarcely carry my rifle. I paraded to No. 9 General Hospital & was admitted at once, & kept there a fortnight.
From there I was sent to the Convalescent Depot in Johannesburg where I stayed five days, being moved from there to the rest camp at Elandsfontein, which was a fine place, lots of good rations & nothing to do but play at cricket & football. I was there five days, when the Surgeon Major called for all colonials who felt fit to return to their regiments. I slipped out & the next day started down country. I had a nice journey down in the mail train, taking 1 ½ days to reach here.
This is the headquarters of our regiment & there are about 60 of us gathered here from the different hospitals and rest camps. The regiment is chasing DeWet & our men have no baggage with them at all, so they must be having a rough time. I hear that half of what are out there are dismounted & have scarcely any clothes but what they have commandeered, so that they are a motley crew. In fact, it is reported here that one British column trained their guns on them when they were seen approaching, under the impression that they were Boers. Under these circumstances it cannot be very long before they must come in to some base, so we expect to rejoin them shortly, & are in hopes that we will then start on our way home.
There is a report going that we are to sail about the 15th, but we have had so many similar reports & been disappointed each time that we do not take much notice of anything we hear & only believe half of what we see. The last I heard of Bert he was alright, & was in charge of the squadron stores, as Lambert Carson of Yorkton who is acting Q.M. Sergeant was left at Bethulie & has since come in here & gone to hospital. It is a curious thing that Bert has had no return of the rheumatism he was so much trouble with at Cape Town.
Well, I must close now, as I must answer letters I have just received from Jim & Don. Stan, of course, has not written since we left Canada. The news of his wedding has come as a surprise, but it takes a good deal to surprise me nowadays. One gets into a habit of taking things as they come, & letting tomorrow take care of itself. I received letters from you and Vic at Potchefatroom Nov 21st, dated Oct 7th, but somehow I did not care to write when I was in hospital, & have been putting off until I heard some definite news of what our future movements were likely to be. I also received a long letter from Tom Blake about the same date.
We have just received a letter from one of our chums who was wounded & invalided home & is at his home in Devonshire, & his casual mention of strawberries & cream & other little dainties makes my mouth water - no easy thing to do, as we are camped on a sand plain, where the dust is everlastingly on the move.
Remember me to all my friends in your district,