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AT THE PFRONT. WITH THE SIXTH CONTINGENT. LETTER FROM LIEUT, BARDWELL. Lieut. B. E. Bardwell, of the Sixth Contingent, has written the following letter to his father in Perth: "Somewhere in South Africa, June 16, 1901.--Since writing last we have travel led over an immense amount of country, always the same, except for a week when we were in some very hilly country, part of the Koomati Valley. The scenery was simply grand, huge mountains on either side *ithout a tree on them, but covered with large boulders and some small shrubs. This is the sort. of, ground we had to get our waggons over. It seemed almost impossible to us who were in ad vance, but sure enough when we got back to camp the'waggons were already there. The warfare we have to carry on seems very cruel, and one has to seem to be very hard-hearted. We have to take all the women and children from their homes and pack them in waggons with what few blohgings they can carry, and take them about with us until we can find a chance to send them to a refugee camp, where the authorities provide them with tents, food, and clothing, etc. This is not all. All the furniture and houses have to be destroyed as well. The reason for this is the women keep the men sup plied with food, clothes. etc., and other wise help them. Only the other day we came across a farm of a brother of Lucas Meyers. The house was furnished beau tifully. The family were taken away and everything was destroyed. At one farm we discovered 60 women and children who were living in every possible place, stables, lofts. under waggon covers, or where even there was shelter. We have taken a good few Boers prisoners lately. Last Tuesday we caph tirEd seven with their rifles and bandoliers. The week we were in Koomati Valley the Imperial Light Horse and ourselves started out one night about 10 o'clock. Our destina tion was a valley 20 miles distant, where some Boers were hiding. After riding 14 miles, we halted for an hour, and started off up the mountains. We had a terrible climb over huge boulders. across streams, and other difficulties, all in the dark. Not a word was allowed or any matches to be struck. It seemed Quite ghostlike when we saw some big Swazis bounding alone b,.our sile wits
out a sound. They were in full war paint, i with shields and assagais. Some were S acting as our guides, but I think niost of them came to take part in whatever was going on, as they have brought in several r prisoners lately.. We reached our desti nation shortly before daybreak, and took up our positions in the cliffs round a big valley a quarter of a mile long by about 200 yards wide. The cliffs were full of caves in the most unexpected places, and the Boers were either in hiding or hadgone.Anyway,we could not find them, and only found some of their belongings, which were destroyed. While I was wait ing in my position a Boar rode up and was quickly covered with our rifles, and he at once surrendered. On our way to camp I had to shoot my horse, which was knocked up and could not move. This meant -a walk of seven miles across the mountains. On the 14th We started with the Imperial Light Horse anid the Fifth West Australians on a five days' recon naissance, under Colonel MacKenzie, the best man we have been under yet. We left camp at half-past 1 a.m., pitch dark, and travelled till half-past 8 the next night. All the time I never had any thing to eat or a drop to drink. At day break we captured five Boers as they were leaving a, kraal. Five miles further on one of our men stopped at a lake to shoot some geese, when a Boer and a nigger, who had bedn acting as a spy, galloped out of a farm 1 nijles away. When they were 1,500 yards off our man fired and killed the nigger. The Boer afterwards gave himself up. Shortly afterwards we came in touch with several parties of Boers. We did a lot of gallop ing and firing at intervals for two hours. and only had two horses shot, and one man ?ot abulletin his boot without touch ing him.Wegotfive waggons,loading them with the families from the neighbouring farms. During the day we passed through Ermelo, a town about,the size of Guildford. The big guns did a lot of firing, the Boers being too far off for our rifles. From Ermelo up till now (29th June) we have done a lot of fighting, the Boers being all round us, principally in our rear, where they make'it very warm for us sometimes. Two days out of ' Ermelo, we found that 400 Beers had been sent out to intercept us, close to Spitskop, but they arrived an hour too late. The following morning we went out to try and engage them. Lieut. Reid. and his division were sent ahead to take up a position in a kraal, while we took up a similar position. While he was at this Ikrnal he saw six Boers. So he left four men behind and gave chase with the're mainder. As he reached the crest of a hill, he dismounted and advanced on foot, when all of a sudden 150 Boers opened fire on them at about 50 paces. He only had 11 men.with him, and out of these, two were killed.. He. his sergeant, and one man were wounded, the remain der being taken prisoners. Stanley Reid was shot in the stomach again. One of the Boers who was present when he was shot at Breakpan remarked to the doctor after he had been sent for, 'Well. we have got your brother again.' Sergeant 'Mills, whb was wounded in three places, in the neck, shoulder, and foot, said, as he was being moved off the field, 'They got two centres and one outer, but they haven't got a bull's eye yet.' As soon as we heard the firing we galloped up as far as Major Bridges would allow us and opened fire on the enemy., The range was rather long, but a wounded Boer we got two days afterwards told ris they had 14 casualties. The next day before we had left camp the Boers were on our rear, and as my company was rear guard we saw a good deal of fighting. The Boers try all sorts of dodges to lead us into a trap. ' The same day. about 80 of thema rode up along a hill in our rear in com pany column (four men abreast). Their object was to make us believe it was some of our own men and to wipe us out when we. least expected it. We went through the same thing the next .day without fny casualties. Poor Stanley Reid died this morning. We buried him alongside of some of the Victorians who were killed when the 300 of them were captured, which I suppose, you heard all about. His brother, the doctor, was almost mad with.grief. It will take a strong hand to pull him together again, as he is utterly.broken down, poor fel low. I had a very close shave this morn ing. We are in a fixed camp at present, and accordingly have to have outposts in the hills all round the camp, It being my turn for, orderly officer. I had to go out past these men, and having done so I was riding from one post to'another to visit them, when I was fired upon by an out post of the Fifth. Contingent 600 yards away. I still kept my horse at a walk. thinking they would see their mistake. But as they still kept firing. I turned and galloped towards them, the bullets all the time whistling past my head and kicking up the dust close to the horse. The- did not cease fire until I was almost within ecalking distance. You can de vend upon it I gave them "what for" when I got up to them. This is written at iight by a big fire or sometimes candle light, so you see we do not get much time. I never felt better in my lifeo.than I1 do now, and I am putting weight on." WITH THE FIlFTH CONTINGENT. LETTER FROM PRIVATE LEAKE. Private R. M. Leake, of the Fifth Westesn Australian Contingent, writes to one of his brothers at Mooranoppin as follows:
?.Lcu?ners eulp, June 'o, liSul.- I intended to write to you before, but we do not have much time for writing, and for the last month we have been tra velling every day.. When we were in Carolina I gob you some stamps, which I am sending. The house from which I got them belonged to Dr. Buokes, a lawyer, who had run away and left his house full of furniture. There were two pianos, and such a number of books, bedsteads, sideboards, and all sorts of nice things. He had a glass house full of flowers. The soldiers were allowed to take all the things, and what they did not take they smashed. I saw one man take a stick and smash every window in the house 'ust for amusement. There are no trees growing in this country, ex cept what are planted, so that there is not much firewood, and when we go to a farmhouse we pull down the ceilings, take up the floors, and if there are any chairs or washingstands we burn them, and then the house is set alight. Perhaps you will wonder why we are allowed to burn the houses. The reason is this: Last year General Buller went through this country where we are fighting now, and upon the people surrendering to him all the houses were protected, and no sol dier was allowed to touch anything. Directly General Buller went away, the people started fighting again, so that where we go we burn the houses, and take all the women and children with us. The sheep and cattle are also taken with us, and any good waggons. The useless ones we burn. Sometimes if the sheep cannot travel quickly enough they are all killed. The day before yesterday the Kaffirs killed about 500. They knocked most of thu.,, on the head with a stick. About six weeks ago the Devons killed 2,000 because they could not travel fast enough to keep up with the column. We also get a lot of goats. Most of them are white Angora, with long wool on them like those at the Zoological Gar dens in P'erth. We get plenty of meat to eat, for we can kill a sheep whenever we like, and sometimes we get fowls, and now and agai npigs. . All the lestnamed are very fat, for they live on the mealies which the Boers have planted, but have not had time to gather. The poor horses have a hard time on this job, and a horse only lasts about a month, when you have to get a fresh one. All ours are poor, and many of them are hardly fit to ride. They do not get enough to eat; only about 8lb. of oats a day. The grass is all dry now. The frosts have killed it, so that there is not much nourishment in it for the horses. It may seem funny to you, but all the grass burns in the win 1 ter time, and everywhere w.e po there ar.. t grass fires. They are sometimes lit by the Boers, and sometimes by ourselves through dropping a match. Nearly all the country is burnt, and there are only I patches of grass hern and there. There 1 are frosts almost every night, and when we wake up in the morning the top blan i het is often stiff, and always very wet, I Still we do not suffer from the cold, for I we have three blankets and an oilhkln to sloop on, In addition many of the fel - n^ms have tanned sheepskins which they
have taken from Boer houses. Where we are now there is a farm and a nice garden. We have pulled down the shed in' order to get the wood that the roof is nailed on to. and we are cutting down the frait trees for firewood. We intend staying here four days. Every day some of us have to go out and take what is called observation post. This means that on the hills around the camp men are posted, four on each hill. 'One man holds the horses, and the rest look out for Boers. We have had a good deal of fighting Iately, and last" Sunday two men of the Sixth Continoent were sh:t., and three wounded. Eleven men who were eaptured were let go, and got back to camp that night. The Boers took their coats. leggings, rifles, and cart ridges. They said they were sorry to have to do so. but it was war, and could not, he helped."