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SOLDIERS' LETTERS. AT THE FRONT. Trooper H. E. Hoolay. of the W.A. ushmen, writes from Ulakato Pass, near Rustenburg, under date of July , as follows:- "This is the first opportunity I have 'lhad of writing since our "'baptismal fire" on Sunday last. It would take too long to give a full account of the engage ment, so I will simply give a brief one. We started on the evening of the 21st (Saturday), with the Victorians and Queenslanders, and New South Wales men, numbering in all about two hun dred and eighty men, to clear the road between here and Elands River, where there is a convoy. We had travelled about six miles, the night being very dark, when we nad two volleys ured in to us from the front, and for the mo ment everyone expected to have a real good go, but, much to our surprise, we could see nothing oi the enemy, who had evidently sent a small squad ot ten men or so to fire the volley. The only dam age they did was to shoot one of our horses. I forgot to say that the regi ment was under the commend of LieuL. Col. Erey (N.S.W.), Major Vialls being second in command. We halted here for the night, and all hands were on sentry with only their overcoats, and .nothing to eat. It was about the most tmiserable night I ever spent. We made as start early next morning. and saw no thing until we had gone about two miles, when the New South Wales flanking pa trol fired on four Boers The road at this part was surrounded by hills, and lined with light timber, which proved to be rather a fortunate thing for our men, for after travelling on about a quarter of a mile, the enemy opened a scorching rain of fire upon us from a kopje about three hundred yards from the road on one side, and about six hundred on the other side. We immediately got the prder to dismount, and the only thing to do r-as to lie flat on the ground in the timber, which we lost no time in doing I can assure you. The bullets fairly whistled. cracked, and hummed around us, and I cannot realise how it was we were not all massacred. The enemy were all this time doing their best to do for our horses, and, I regret to say, they .succeeded only too well. I had not been off my horse two minutes when he was shot in the leg which broke it badly, and I had to finish the poor little chap off. I was so sorry, he was one of the best hacks we had, and I had taken such a lot of trouble with him. The horse holders \did their best, but could get .no cover for the horses, which were simply slaughtered. The enemy were using 'Dum-Dum,' Martini-Henri. and explosive bullets, not forgetting some 3lausers painted with Paris green to make them poisonous. Our casualties cjumbered about fifty. including Dr In goldby-hadly injured in the arm by an explosive bullet-and Frank Davis. slightle .in the leg. None of the Wes 4tern Austrilian men were killed, but lseveral of the others were.. The officers say that a complete massacre was only averted by the coolness of the men, who, without a doubt, behaved very well. There was not a single case of funk or flurry. I can't now describe my own feelings, but, much to my sunrprise, fear did not for one moment approach me. The enemy's fire lasted for seven hours and a half Men here, who have been in several other engagements, say it was as hot a rifle fire as any experienced during the war. When the relief from here, who had been engaginsg the enemy from the opposite side of the hill, suc ceeded in joining us, the enemy retired. In addition to all of our horses, the ither troops lost nearly all theirs. So you can imagine we were all very keen co have a little revenge, but darkness was setting in, and the Brigadiqr, Sir A Lushington. who was out with the relief, ordered our return to camp, and v n had to walk back the eight miles, weary, hungry, and vowing vengeance against the brutes for shooting our horses and mates. Just before leaving '`ie scene of action, which, I forgot to i mention, is 'Koster River,' Major Vialls said, 'I am always finding fault with you. but I can't help telling you. you all behaved splendidly to-day.' I be lieve during the fight the Major said to the Captain, 'My God! Hurst, the lads are behaving like veterans.' After Sun day. we would all follow Vialls any where. We don't want any other com mander.. The Boers numbered nine hun dred, or thereabouts, and it goes with out sayinmg are very poor fighters. They have -taken up a very strong position abount five miles from here, and have been joined by large numbers from the direction of Pretoria, and I fully ex pect a very big battle to be fought here ere long.. Lord Roberts is expected, as also is Gen'eral Buller, and I think the next time'the enemy will get all they want.?''Even on Sunday we did for a fair number of them. I once thought I should not care to shoot or bayonet a Botr. but after the slaughter of our horses no death is too cruel for them. Sunday's engagement was in every way unsatisfactory. When our reinforce meats arrived, the enemy evacuated thi;nnitinnao andr retirprd andr u-a n

course, could not pursue them for lack of horses. "August 1.-We heard this morning of th- surrender of 5,000 Boers some where south of here, but whether it is a fact or not, it is impossible to say. For my part, I hope it is. We are all getting weary of this life. There are so many false alarms about the enemy attacking that we all have a good deal extra night duty, and the strain is be ginhing to tell somewhat. Our scouts have been putting in some very good work. A fortnight ago three of them were cut, and captured a lieutenant and Boer private at a native village. On their way out they were fired on by 20 of the enemy, who. however, did not pursue them, and they landed their cap tives safely. Yesterday the Adjutant and a trooper were out, the former un armed, anu were chased by six foers, who were all well mounted The troo per's, horse began to tire after goihg a short distance, so he threw himself off near a heap of mud, and shot two Boers and four horses. The remaining Boers gook flight, with the unwounded horses. 'lethuen is somewhere in the vi - rnd I believe the Second Western : tians, are with him. so we may see "'ing of them. I believe a good of our men are to be taken to ang : i shortly. George and I are trying .. but i do not know whether we . ucced In case we do not, I am ii 4 to join the Militia Mounted Po r'orce, which is being raised here. L- e pay is 7s. a day, and rations." Trooper E. J. Hackett, of the W.A. mlcrial Bushmen. writes to his mother as toilows:- "" sroontadt. 'In Camp,' June 25. yrom It abeth we entrained at ace fotar ihere were eight of is in on ge, with sleeners, im we ltour-days' train journey , passed many a .nemonrab on our way here, nl our poor fellows {'illiant strupoles, u m . 6niou Kop. e here the great 4 ' nieces by the w chaos. Every 'u r- o ita t traces of tur bulancy.., ea much to see the last rc.-ti anv a brave fellow on the A: ey iKroonstadt is, or wae. the t, after the enemy was force "io- fontein. I passed Bloemfonte - 'sway here. It is one of thd?p towns in South Africa. asd' e, hitccture is very mnoderh. ).'i: ,?: 'June here to-day. with the Sout . Tasmanians, the Yorkshireis l perial Yeomanry, and P'rine . ards. with Rem inton's rs 'i. for the firing line. ' alarge convoy. en route fo ere the British arrison r provisions, and sur founded p Y. "Juneo ght the enemy was sihted.c outpost duty with mates oa nany. It was a itterl o sleep. When the daw "embved off on the left

flank, supporting the Scouts. We had hardly gone above a mile from where our outpost was, the Scouts being clearly visible ahead, and we were about, to descend a spruint (or deep water course), surrounded by luls, when I heard the rattle of Boer musketry, and the bullets came tlnhick around us. At last the moment I was waiting for came. The bullets were swishing all around me, hut I was cool and cain when the order came, Prepare for dismounted duty; quicue march,' and before one could look around, we were on a kopje blazing away at the enemy at 900 yards. Shortly after we opened fire, the artil lery (four guns) came up, and two opened fire with shell and shrapnel on the enemy. .sy first baptism of fire! How those guns roared, and to see our shells breaking amongst the enemy was in deed a sight never to be forgotten. The fight raged fast and furious for aboit an hour and a half, and then, still under lire, we were ordered to take the enemy's pcsltion at the point of the bayonet. tdow did we scale that hill! We got up to the top only as a West Australian can. We had it, and I was down the other side amongst the dead ann dying Boers in a twinkling. As we descended, I could see the retreating Boers fleeing for their lives, and how did our bullets plough around them! It was a moment of great satisfaction to me to be along side one of the fallen enemy. His horse shot under him, and himself wounded through the shoulders. I was amongst the first to get amongst them, and whilst I was helping myself to a pair of valise straps, of a fallen horse's saddle, a wounded Boer nave me a very cynical look. He was lying wounded. He had a very unpleasant-looking face: and con torted it not a little when I asked him 'Where are you -woundcd?' He replied, 'Shoulder.' You will be pleased to Inow I was amongst the fun. and through the liveliest of it. The fight was ours, with out loss. Our advance still continued. "July 28. 9 p.m.-Again engaged the enemy about two miles from the last kopje. About three to four hundred Boer horsemen made a dash to repulse us from behind a perfectly entrenched position. We were lyine in the grass on the side of a kopje. at a range of six to seven hundred yards. The enemy's fire was a perfect l~ail of lead. cutting the grass all around us, and lead flyrin over us. We again beat them off, witsiout a' single loss on our side. "Lindley, June 29, 9 p.m.-Again en gaged the enemy, who were- posted in strong positions, with many heavy guns. They commenced shelling us at noon. This was my first experience of shell and shrapnel. The enemy soon pick up the range, but I am satisfied that they are not the expert shots that one has been led to believe. The battle waged furiously and stubbornly until nearly '7 -.m:' Our losses were a good few. • Four of the South Australians were taken pri soners. and many of the Yorkshires were wounded and a few killed. Our crowd were again lucky, sustaining no losses. There were. however, heavy losses on the enemy's side. No accurate details are available, as they take their fallen with them. At 8 p,m. we were in Lindley, and relieved the garrison ,who were in sore straits, living on quarter rations. They were very oleased to see us. 'The enemy had been attacking them with heavy guns before' our arrival. Now we are in camp at Lindley, enjoying a well earned rest. This is a nice little town, but it bears only too evident indications of. wreckage. "July 1.-Leaving for Bethlehem, a Beoer town. where the enemy is posted, waitinp for us. in strong force, and sup nosed to be the present Boer capital. We are acting in conjunction with- an Imuerial force, under General ±aget,' while a strong force of infantry, heavy lvddite guns, and cavalry, under General Clements. is sunportin' us. We aredin strong force now. and expect to masle things hum in 'a day or so, feeling very fit and ready for anything. My grand old horse is standing the hardships well, although the gor old fellow has hard work and not Too much to eat. "July 3.-Again the enemy greeted us with well-directed shells outside~ of Lindley. 'Meantime General Clements, with his big guns, made things very willing, his shells bursting amongst the enemy in splendid style. In a bitterly cold wind and rain (a misty, icy, cold rain) we continued our advance 'under heavy shell fire from the Boer guns. Shells have been bursting all around us in great form, and I noticed with great uneasiness that their shells were burst ing very close to our Major. who several times had marvellous escapes. Still we advanced. Then the West Australians were ordered to gallop through the ene my's shell fire and take up a position under the Boer guns and attack their position. I cannot well describe that gallop. As we came on at a gallop the enemy planted a shell right amongst us, but we hardly wavered. On we pressed until we reached our destination. Then we dismounted and attacked the enemy's position, under a murderous shell fire. We advanced at the ruin, and poured volleys into them: Our heavy guns from behind opened with shell and shrapnel on the enemy, covering our advance. The enemy's, rifle bullet's sang round us as we advanced. We could hardly see the enemy; they were concealed behind rocks and entrenchments. Still. our fire was too deadly for therm. We took the

pus'iuon. out not neroro t? s 1na1 re moved the object we desired to seize their big gun. We were complimented, and told that our action that day had been reported before Lord Roberts. The enemy were beaten back. but they still kept up a desultory fire,on us. Of tnis we took not the slightest notice, as it was inaccurate, and many of their shells failed to explode. The day is ours again. We bivouacked feeling very pleased, and satisfied that the enemy is not equal to our men even behind the rocks they love so well. "July 3, 8.30 p.m.-Again engaged the enemy at Do Wet's farm. A heavy battle waged all day. Major Rose was wounded in the back by a shell, and Lie. Barnes, my divisional oficer, was stik with a part of the same shell, b not injured. It tore a hole through his trousers at the knee. Shells were bursting everywhere, and the roar of the musketry was-defeaning. One of the 38th Battery of Field Artillery had a had time. All their officers at the guns were either killed or wounded, and one of the gunners was blown to pieces by a shell. The enemy tried to outflank us, but. they were met with such a deadly hail of lead that they wavered and fled. General Paget, with the sunport of the Middlesex JRegiment, Yorkshires, and Remington 'Tigers.' opened upon the enemy with Maxims and Ivddite, and the Boers retired. leaving about-a hundred of their dead and wounded. It surprises me, owing to the enemy having such ex cellent positions, that our losses were so comparatively slight. One of my com rades fell, shot through the chest. Up to the time of writing little hopes are entertained of his recovery. His name is Ewings. and he comes from Bunbury. "Bethlehem, July 6.-Another great battle took place last night just outside this town. The West Australians, with the South Australians, Remington 'Tigers.' and Imperial Ycomanry, ad vanced on the left flank, but were forced to retire owing to the heavy rifle and shell file of the enemy. We waited the break of dawn to-day, when our lyddite and shrapnel began to break up the enemy's stronghold. A grand display of accurate shooting and the deadly cifect of our lyddite fire upon the enemy ex cited me greatly, and I was all enthu siasm when I heard the order for the whole line to advance. The battle was ours, and we entered the town at 6 p.m. The enemy, under that artful General, De Wet, undoubtedly intended to repulse us here, and no doubt the Boer leader played his trump card: but our lyddite guns paralysed him. He fled. leaving many dead and wounded on the field. Our losses were not so very great. I have not yet heard the number, but the casualties are principally wounded. Whilst auproaching their entrenched position I was on the right side of the advancing body, and Boer bullets were passing under my horse ploughing up the ground in front of me. There is no doubt it was a hot corner for a while: but our artillery got on the job and equalised matters. Bethlehem is a nice little town. clean and well kept. "July 7.-To-day the First West Aus tralian Contingent jon~ here. mte:,

They are a battered looking lot. They have had a bad time of it. After we had relieved Bethlehem'General Hunter, with General Hector McDonald, arrived here with a large force. The enemy is sup posed to be making for Fauviesbnrg, where, it is the general opinion, General De Wet will make his final stand. At present he is almost surrounded, and cannot possibly last much longer. "July 11.-We are still camped here Bethlehem), and likely to remain here, as far as I know, for some time. By the time you get this the war may be over. I have been now in eight encoun ters. Campaigning is not a bad life a little rough, but, of course, it has its fascinations, like most untried things, and I really never felt better in all my life or fitted for any service, as I do at present." FROM THE REV. S. S. RED. The following letter, dated Middle burg, August 22, has been received from the Rev. S. S. Reid, of the West Aus tralian second contingent, by his mother in this city. Mr. IReid, it will be re membered, was at one time reported missing, and this letter gives an account of his experiences during a very anxious time : - "We moved camp to-day four miles out, so I will write a letter before we move, as no means of communication may exist out there. Another general advance is reported for the 15th on to Meshadesdorp. 40 miles from here. Another member of the contingent and myself only returned yesterday, after a sixteen days' absence from our com pany, and a rather exciting time we had. This is how it happened. A gene ral advance was made from Pretoria about three months ago. After two days' march. we arrived at Bronkhurst Spruit, and there were left behind to look after a waggon that had not arrived. In order to catch up, we struck across country, and, as it turned out after wards, got far ahead of our division, and reached Middlebhurg, 30 miles ahead Moreover. our division camped for a week there, so we attached ourselves to French's Scouts for four days, and then, having ascertained the position of our troops, set out to rejoin them. On the way we decided to, reconnoitre some country where there was said to be 800 head of cattle, guarded by several armed Boers. We arrived at the brink of a deep gorge. and. after consultation, de cided to cross it., We. camped that night. and in the morning found that there were Beers in our-rear, so that re treat was cut off., So we dodged along the gullies, or dongas, as they call them here. keening out ofrsight.: When night fell. we decided to, storm. a farm, where the Kaffirs-told us there were two armed Boers. We dashed up : I dismounted. and at that moment Campbell called out. "There's a man running away be hind the house." I whisked round and covered him with my rifle, calling out. ""Hands un!" He wisely did so. It turned out to be a youth, who, I am afraid, would ha"u got a nasty shock had he not obeyed. Here we camped for the niiht. and got what we wanted to eat. Next day we kent on, striking for a pad between high kon:?s, and in the op nosito direction to the way we had come in. On reaching the crest of arise, we noticed a farm about fifty yards down. and. after a few more yards, noticed saddle horses tied to a fence on the op posite side to us, and four or five armed men. We were seen by them, and the only thing to do was to brazen it.out At. that moment three more mounted men with rifles rode up. We were evidently in for it. We got to the farm, and no one attempted to capture us. although there were ten men altogether. After some conversation we found they had met together to consider the advisabil ity of laying down their arms in accord ance with Lord Roberts's proclamation. We, of course, emphasised the leniency of this proclamation, and they decided to lay down their arms. So far so goodl But it. needed an officer's signature to give them passes for their stock, and we could not do that. Finally. however, the, difficulty was overcome by sending to a farm some miles away, where an offi cer was to call that day, so they told us; in about. four hours he arrived, took over their arms, and gave them Jree passes to go where they liked. The officer got all the kudos, while we did the work, and involuntarily incurred danger had they been minded to fight or take us prisoners. We told him of the Boers in our rear, and he said it was a wonder that we were not shot already; he, be ing under the white flag, was safe. Now, if we had gone away with him. it would have led us further and further from our corps so we still decided to try the pad already mentioned, although the disarm ed Boers told us it was aangerous. So on we went, and got among some fear fully rough country in the vicinity of what the-- call "Hell." We struck the pad, and got to within 1,200 yards of a kopje riwet in front, when irve noticed a heliograph flashing. Of course we knew it was Boers, as no British soldier had penetrated so far. . We3 cautiously ad vanced another 200 yards, when flip-flop came the report of MAusers, so we retir ed gracefully. Blocked again, was our thought, and the night was falling. Get ting out of sight, we turned to the left and, having gone about a .mile, heard Mauser shots again, but it-could not be avoided. In a little while we got to the brink of '"Hell'" itself, and found it utter

ly impassable tor man or horse; a deep, fearful looking basin with precipitous sides and huge rocks. This region is called by the Boers the "end of the world." We turned back a little, and, astit was dark, camped near a farm for food, my horse being about done. Early in the morning we made a start, I hav ing to commandeer a horse near at hand, aiid back we rode to see if the vtorge we had -entered by was clear. Happily, we found it so, and got out of a very warm corner, after being hemmed in for three days. When we arrived two days later at a place-where our troops were suppos ed to be found, they had moved on two days previously to Middleburg, so after two days there we returned and rejoined them in the evening of the day before yesterday. Our information seems pret ty valuable, as the British were not able to locate "Hell," although it was well known as the head-quarters of a cpm mando of Boers. During our absence two of our fellows got wounded on the way up, and yet we two got through safely. We are all wishing for the war to end, and surely it cannot be long now, as over 5.000 Boers have capitulated in the Free State. A paper was sent round by the Major for the names of all those who would go home to England after the war. Of course, this may never come off. I really do not enow whether to go or not if I get the chance. A NURSE'S LETTER. Dr. Haynes, of this city, has received the following letter, which was dated Mooi River, Natal, August 5, from one of the Western Australian nurses in South Africa: - "I am sure you would like to know how some of us are getting on, as you have taken so much trouble on our behalf and encountered so much senseless opposi- tion. I believe certain statements have appeared in the West Australian Press implying that all the members of the Nurses' Contingent were greatly dissat- isfied at the way they had to travel over. This is true of some, but certainly not of the majority. I'myself am quite satis- fied that our committee aid the best they could for us under the circum stances. You worked so hard, and dave so much of your time to this matter, that it worries me to think you ma - consider us ungrateful. I will always be thank ful that I was privileged to come and take a small share in nursing "Tommy." He is a splendid fellow; such a good patient. Bears most things so cheerily and uncomplainingly. Nurses Rogers, Armstrong, Brooks, Tchan and Plover are at Howick, about twenty miles from Pietermaritzburg. They were first sent to Ladysmith, but owing to the insani- tary condition of that town the authori- i ties moved the big hospital to Howick. Nurses Emmins, Speers, and Milne are at Estcourt, 15 miles from here (I often see them), and I believe Miss Nicolay is at Ladysmith, and Nurse Taylor at Volk- rust. It is very different nursing the army to nursing in a civil hospital. This one contains 1,200 beds, and is very comfortable and well-equipped. I am the only West Australian nurse here.

There are three New Zealanders and one Victorian. All the others are Netley and Army Reserve sisters. We are 29 in all. At present we are not a scrap busy, as the last two months has seen a great decrease in the number of typhoid cases. We hear very little news from the front on account of the Press censor ship, but the war does not seem to be drawing to a close. There are not many surgical patients here. There is a lovely operating theatre, and a room with all the Rontgen Ray apparatus. The best of stimulants and nourishment are given, and we are able to "et plenty of fresh milk here. Altogether. I think the patients who come to Mooi River are very fortunate. I know many of the other hosnitals are not so well supplied. I often wonder what the bills must be when I see champagne and Brands's Es- sence served out so liberally! I had two days' leave about two months ano, and I went to 'see the battlefields near Lady- smith. When one sees the places Bul- ler's army had to take, it is easily under stood why Ladysmith was so long in be ing relieved. The town itself is very commonplace; I don't think it is as large as York, Western Australia! Most of the large buildings show the marks of the attentions paid to them by "Long Tom" and "Silent Sue." Everybody here has treated me most kindly. The sister superintendent (Miss Cole) is most nice; she holds the Royal Red Cross for ser- vices to the army in Egypt. We all sleep in little bell tents, and we dine in a marquee. The kaffirs do our washing. We are really most comfortable. I be lieve the sisters in the Orange River co- lony are not so well housed as we are in Natal. Since the middle of May the nights have been intensely cold. Often in our tents in the morning there is thick ice on the water, and the canvas will be frozen. There are heavy fogs early in the (night. which saturate everything, and' then in the early mornin" it begins to freeze. The Red Cross Society gave each nurse a large warm khaki coat. They are greatly appreciated. especially by those on night duty. We would all like to be nearer the front, but of course we had to go wherever they wanted us. I have often smiled when I hate remem bered how some of the good people of Perth said we were not wanted here. ... hospital camp, with 500 or 600 sick men, require a good many people to look after them. Nearv two hundred sisters have come from England since we came here. I do not think any more will be required, as'the worst is over now. I have not seen any of the New Zealand or Austra- lian contingents. I would have liked to have gone to them. We have no idea when we will return. I don't think be fore the end of the year."