Mid Ocean Mar.19th 1900
Soon after starting the captain told us we may have a chance to post some letters in case we met a mail vessel, so he gathered the letters written. I wrote you one, but now I'll write you another one instead.
In three more days we expect to land, and everything now is bustle is getting ready. We have had a splendid voyage, but now everybody is ready to go ashore, as we are very anxious to hear the news, we have been a month without hearing a whisper from the outside world, and I don't suppose there is any body of men on the face of the globe today,, more anxious to hear the war news than we are if this morning Toronto Globe could mysteriously fall down on this ship it would bring one hundred times its value, but the time of waiting will now soon be over, and we will know all about the war.
I am burnt completely brown, and taking us all through we are sunburnt lot of men. Going through the tropics. The heat has been intense, but now we are getting so far south it is beginning so far south it is beginning to get cooler again. The first Sunday out we had to spread awnings all over the vessel to protect us from the sun, and ever since that day a shady place has been at a premium.
I am very sorry we didn't call at Cape Verde Islands so that the folks at home would know we were all right, but we passed 5-6 miles to the west of them, so could not signal. A week later however we passed close to Ascension Island, and I expect we would be cabled from there. That would be the only news you would get of us until we land at Cape Town.
Geordie, I wish you were along with us, you and I would have had a pretty good time together. We could have been together through the whole war, and many a time since we started I have wished you were along. We'll have it ten times as rough and hard as we ever had it in the north west, but then we could stand that all right.
We had a rather bad scare one day, and it almost looked as though it was all up with us. The hold is packed full of hay, and it commenced wheat-, and so far that it was within one degree of taking fire and you might imagine we couldn't get that hay out of there quick enough. If it had even taken fire we would never have seen land again, because there is two hundred tons of ammunition right beside it, and that would have exploded before we would have had time to get to the boats. The captain was trembling like a leaf, I suppose because he knew the danger more than we did, but happily we got the hay out and air circulating down there and then everything was all right.
We had one pretty bad storm a day or two after starting and from there right up until now we now had splendid weather , but today we are running into another and even now the waves are washing up over the bow of the vessel. The horses are suffering a great deal more than we are, and so far we have lost 37 since leaving Halifax.
We have on board with us the Methodist Chaplain Rev Mr Lane, and he is a splendid fellow. He has been through our campaign himself, and has been wounded in action, so he thoroughly understands soldiers and a soldier's life. Mr. Best, the representative of the Y.M. C.A. is also with us, and he is also well liked by everybody.
You would scarcely believe the amount of gambling going on board unless you were here to see. Lots of young fellows whom I believe never gambled before are losing all their money every day, because they can never hope to win against old hands at the game it shows how very easily some young fellows are led astray.
After we land I am going to write a good long letter to the Young Peoples society, so you be there the night it is read I can then write to all at once.
Well Geordie, how have things been going on around home since I left? Be sure to write after and keep me well posted in the news. I often think of home and wonder how you are all doing, and you don't know how much letters from home are appreciated by me.
I have no idea how long I will be away, because I have not heard the news for so long, and don't know how things are going in South Africa, but I think possibly all the Canadians will come home together when they do come.
Oh say, did you take home my hat that I left at your place the day I came away?
Kindly remember me to many and all the rest, and don't forget to write often. Ever your true friend, Will
This is my address W.J. Macdonald Capetown South Africa "C" Field Baqttery. Royal Canadian Artillery