Boer War at the Front

February 1902

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 07 February 1902

Boer War at the Front

Lance-Corporal Frank Hague, 1st York and Lancaster Regiment, writes from Commando Nek, Orange Colony, on Boxing Day, to his father. Mr. James Hague, Denaby Main. His brother, Private Arthur Hague, is with him. His company have been engaged in building the blockhouse line from Botha’s Pass.

The writer says: “We left Gordon Hill. Ingogo, on the 8th of December for building blockhouses on our way to Vrede. We have got 40 blockhouses up from Botha’s Pass to the place where we are at present–Commado Nek. We didn’t start putting blockhouses until we got to Botha’s Pass, two days’ march from Gordon Hill.

I expect you will want to know what sort of a Christmas me and Arthur spent. Well, not as good as we expected to have, as we thought we should have been at Gordon Hill, but instead of that we on the march. We had a half-pound of tea, plum pudding, quarter-pound tobacco, and one pint of beer—that is what we had for Christmas. But our daily ration while we are on the march is biscuits, bully beef, jam and bacon, tea, coffee, and sugar, and they will give you an issue of rum if you have been out in the rain all day.

We have captured a lot of cattle this morning, including goats, bullocks, and young horses and sheep, and twelve prisoners, in all, on our way from Botha’s Pass.

There is Garratt’s column with us; he got the Queensland Imperial Bushmen, New Zealanders the 14th Hussars, and a battery of artillery. Then there is our regiment and Royal Engineers, with General Bullock. The Boers are seen to be knocking about where we are at present, but we keep letting them have a shell to keep them far enough front camp. There was a feller of the Hussars got killed and two men of the Queensland Imperial Bushmen wounded while on patrol in the early morning.

There was another lot cavalry, the 8th Hussars, which came to us the other day to strengthen us a bit more. They had only been with us a day when they went out just in front of us skirmishing, and captured a Boer waggon, but they hadn’t the waggon of mealies before the Boys had it back again, and captured 18 men of the Hussars. Then we went out to try and cut the boys off, but they were far enough when we got there. They let our men go when they had taken their rifles, helmets, money and clothing. There was one of the fellows had £10, that he had to part with , but our fellows had a bit of sense. As soon as they were surrounded they dismounted their horses, and the horses galloped back to camp, or else they would have had their horses and saddles.”