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mole349

battle of Magersfontein

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mole349

just going through some personal letters i have from sergeant F.J.Mullins of thr 12th lancers dated 1899 and some of you might like to read part of this letter that was sent to his brother ref the Boer war:

When I wrote to you last we were then going to Naanwpoort.We were there for about 10 days,and then were suddenly sent for to join Lord Methuen's force for the relief of Kimberley,as they had only one cavalry regiment with them--the 9th lancers.We got here after a few days journey,first by rail , and then our squadron was untrained at Orange River,and had to march the remainder by road for the purpose of reconnoitring the country in the vicinity of the railway,which was supposed to be occupied by Boers.We did not see any, however,but learnt afterwards that our movements were being watched by a party of them all along. They are the most mysterious enemy,frank;very clever and very cute.In fact,we have more than we bargained for here.We passed over the battlefields of Belmont and Graspan,and hideous sights there were to be seen,to.A great many of the Boer dead still lay about,some with their heads and arms and legs separated from their bodies.Others who were supposed to be buried had their hands sticking up out of the ground;In fact,the scene was most revolting.Well,we got here two days after the remainder of the regiment,and found this a great camp.It is on the banks of the River Modder,where the fight took place on the 28th November and lasted for 13 hours.The Boers had completely destroyed the railway bridge over the river by blowing it up in two places,but in a few days after our Engineers had made another one across which acts just the same purpose.After being here two days we were suddenly turned out one morning to go to the relief of a small body of infantry who were left in charge of a small station 19 miles away.We got there after a hard ride,and found them fairly surrounded by Boers.There were only 130 of them all told,and at least 1,000 Boers.They were for all the world in the same situation as the 24th were years ego.We quickly dispersed them after killing and wounding some and making others prisoner.It was my first experience of being under fire,and I can tell you I felt a bit funny.The next man but one to my had his horse shot dead;in fact,the fire was rather hot all around until we moved them out of it.We only had one officer and a few men wounded,and returned to camp the next day.On the following Sunday all the troops in the camp made a general advance on the enemy's position at Magersfontein.Of course, you have read the account of this fight before,but I am going to tell you what I saw and what did actually happen to me.

We left camp at 12 mid-night,and marched out about four miles until just within sight of the enemy's position.There we halted,and it commenced to rain,and kept it up religiously for two long hours until we all got nicely wet through.When day broke we advanced further on,and at 4a.m our first gun was fired by the Naval Brigade,and 36 guns followed then incessantly until 8p.m.There was enough artillery there to blow up half Africa,but as they kept under cover their losses were very few indeed.Lord Methuen gave General Wauchope an order to take his (the highland ) Brigade and drive the enemy from the trenches.He advanced (much against his wish ) and was on top of the trenches long before he expected to be.You may guess the blunder that was made.They thought the enemy were at least a mile further on,or they would have been in skirmishing order;as it was,they in quarter column.The Boers allowed them to get within about 100 yards,and then opened a most murderous fire on our people.It came so sudden and unexpected that it caused a panic.The General was killed instantly,and as every corps lost its Colonel no one knew who was really in command.The effect was awful.The whole of the much-vaunted Highland Brigade turned and fled.If this is not known at home don't say anything about it.But all the same I can vouch that every word I say is true.Upon hearing this Lord Methuen sent to our Colonel and told him to dismount as many men as possible and take us to check the Boer advance on our artillery.So up he went in face of terrible fire.Our men were falling wounded on every side,but still our colonel pressed on until he got too far in front.When he found out he had gone too far he ordered us to lie down.And there we lay for 10 hours in a blazing sun,a shower of bullets whistling around us,and not a drop of water to drink.Somehow or other 32 of us,with the Colonel,got cut off from the others ( who retired after two hours firing ), and had to stay there until the ambulance came for the wounded.Then the Boers stopped firing,and we collected our wounded and buried the dead, the enemy doing likewise,and afterwards retired slowly.The remainder of the regiment gave us up,and were greatly delighted to see us return.I could tell you of at least 30 narrow escapes which I had that day.I gave up all hopes of ever coming down that hill alive.But,thank God,I came out without a scratch.We eventually retired when darkness came on,and renewed the business next day,but had to give up again on account of the force of ours being too small.The Boers position here is simply impregnable,and the most marvellous part of it is that our people never saw one of them all the time,yet they could see us.There are at least 30,000 of then here.The reason of our great losses are that they will not come out in the open and fight,and we have to do all the attacking.

hope you got a much out of reading this as i did

ady

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Ozzie

Thanks for this Ady, interesting reading.

Cheers Kim

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Dolphin

Ady

Thanks for posting the fascinating letter; it's a preview of what was to come in the Great War when men in trenches, armed with breech-loading rifles, and behind barbed wire defended a position.

Do you know what happened to Sgt Mullins?

Gareth

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mole349

no problems ,glade you liked it .

dolphin , yes ive found out alot about him ,he retired in 1919 ..

ive got loads of photo's of when he was in the war ,his medals etc, and also alot of letters that he sent home to his wife and sons etc.

once i finish with him , i will start to look into his 3 sons that were also in the war and i also have even more photo's to go through .

i will post anything good that i find

ady

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