1 June 1900
On board S.S. Maplemore, Durban Harbour
We have moved a little nearer the front, after a long delay in Cape Town & I think it is going to be something the same, so I think your wish will be fulfilled & the war will be over before we get up there. We have been lying here outside the mouth of the harbour for 4 days, it being a week since we left Table Bay. The harbour here can only accommodate 2 or 3 ships at a time, & there were a lot lying waiting to get in & unload when we arrived, besides which, there is a bad bar across the mouth of the harbour. There has been a very heavy swell for the last few days, which has raised the bar several feet & consequently it is dangerous for large vessels going in rough weather. The news we got from the tug last night was that Roberts had entered Johannesburg, so it looks as if the end was near.
We have had about as bad luck as it was possible for us to have, ever since we started in the way of checks and delays of various kinds, that it looks as if we were never meant to get to the front. We came up here in three different ships, 430 horses and about 300 men on the S.S. Maplemore; 1 troop and a large number of natives & pack mules, machine guns etc. on the S. S. Mohawk & 1 troop with niggers [?] mules on the S.S. Chicago. One squadron of about 200 men with horses we left in Cape Town & as far as sound information, I think they are going up country by train to join us up there.
I was on the mounted patrol escorting a large number of Boer prisoners from the Green Point prison ground to the train, about two weeks ago & I tell you they are a rough looking lot for soldiers. They are just like a lot of German farmers you would see in some of the small towns in the Northwest, except that they nearly all wore the well-known slouch hat. They carried all their camping material along with them, bedding, bottles, mugs, etc.
I am beginning to get anxious about getting word of some sort from you or some of the rest as neither of us have had any letters from you since we left Ottawa which is a long time. I have had one letter from a friend in Ottawa & that is the only letter I have had from Canada. While I write, some of the ships in the harbour are decorating with flags and flying rockets so I will not close till we hear if there is any fresh news.
The rumour that was brought in tonight is that Roberts is in Pretoria & Kruger has skipped so I guess that was what the hubbub was about this afternoon. It has likely no foundation however. I hope not, anyway, for our sakes. I must close now, hoping you will hear good news of us right along. I hope you are all keeping well & getting along good. Tell the boys to write me & give them my love. Remember me to all the people & with love & best wishes to yourself.
Your affectionate son,