This letter from Wilford Whitney, a Raunds man serving in South Africa, appeared in the 26th January 1900 edition of the Kettering Leader:
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The following letter has been received from Private C W Whitney, of the 1st Scots Guards, a Reservist from Raunds, who, at the time of writing was lying in the No.1 General Hospital, Wynberg:
December 18th, 1899
My Dear Brother,
Just a few lines to you, hoping that you are well at home. I suppose you heard, by the few lines I sent before, that I was wounded at Modder River on November 28th. I got shot through both legs, but I am glad to say that no bones are broken. I am now at Wynberg Hospital, nine miles from Cape Town.
We left Modder River on 29th November in the hospital train, and were travelling about thirty hours. I am glad to tell you that, although I have to keep to my bed, I am getting on well and shall soon be able to get up again. I don’t think I shall have to go to the front again, as they are sending some home every week, and shall be glad when my turn comes.
I was in three battles: Graspan, Belmont and Modder River. I had to lie for six hours on the battlefield after I was wounded, as the stretcher bearers could not get near us, for the Boers kept firing on them and the ambulance wagon. I think that is a disgrace to any nation. We did have to rough it up at the front, I can tell you, but still, we were all pretty happy.
I had a fine bit of fun after the battle of Belmont. I captured one of the Boer’s horses, and was soon comfortably seated in the saddle, and I rode back to camp on it. A lot of our boys had horses in that way, and it was laughable to see them racing each other.
Since writing the above the doctor has been and allowed me to get up two hours daily, but I am not to walk about – only to sit in an easy chair and smoke my cigarettes. We get cigarettes and tobacco given to us by the ladies who visit us. I can hardly believe that it’s only a week off Christmas, for the weather here is like June and July, and very hot to lie in bed.
I am sorry I can’t be with you at Christmas, but hope you will all enjoy yourselves and have a happy New Year; but by the time you have this you will have forgotten all about them. I should like you to keep the papers for me, as we don’t get much news down here. They don’t put the names of the killed and wounded in the Cape papers.
I have heard that the Militia has been called out, and am wondering if brother Fred is called up. I suppose father and mother are a bit upset, but you must tell them I am getting on well.
I must close now, with love to you and father and mother and all the rest,