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Hannah Rooke

Part of a letter to Hannah Rooke from son Bert (no date)

…lost 3 in our little Majuba. Whatever any of us get is put into the general fund. Being so much out on patrol, we get quite a few chickens from the farmhouses & cook them ourselves. We also cook quite a lot of mealie porridge & as we get issued with jam, it goes good. We get pretty short rations sometimes when we are away from the railroad, but all we get is good. We also get fresh meat whenever we halt for a day & the butchers get time to kill it. Our clothes are pretty shabby, but we were issued with a warm short coat & some underclothes the other day, so we are not badly off.

It is wonderful to see the way a big army like this is run & how everything has its place. I don't know how many men we have with us here, but there must be 10 or 12,000 in the column. To give you an idea of the size of an army, on our march from Zandsprint to Standerton, the transport alone was over 12 miles long, besides the regiments themselves.

As far as we can make out just now, we are playing a kind of checker game with DeWet, who is on the other side of the railroad with 2 or 3000 men, & is trying to get across to join the other Boer generals in the east & we are doing our best to prevent him. Gens. Hunter, Brabant & Rundle are making things pretty warm for him on the other side, so if we can prevent him crossing, it is likely to be U.P. for him.

We are getting well used to bullets whistling around our heads now & as long as none of them happen to hit me, they can shoot away all they like. We used to hear a great deal about the Boers being crack shots, but in my opinion, & it is formed from experience, I should say they are the rottenest shots I have ever come across. It is curious to see the armoured trains around here; there is one joining me as I write, as I am out on picket close by the railroad. The engine is just like a steel box & in addition they have a thick rope net over the steel. The Boers have been very busy blowing up bridges & knocking the line to pieces around here, but they can't stop the traffic much as the R.E. repair it as fast as they can harm it. It is wonderful the work the engineers do. When we are on the march away from the railroad they [?] telegraph line just as fast as the columns can march.

We are camped at Greylingstadt this afternoon, having got here at noon. I don't know where we are going to move to next, but we are likely to have some scrapping pretty soon, I think. I must close now as I am about out of news, but I will have lots of experiences [?] Remember me to all the people & thank them for their kind enquiries for me.

With love to you and the boys.

Your affec. son,


P.S. Tell the boys to be sure and write.