KASLO'S WAR HEROES
Another Letter From Private Moodie in Hospital
Was Eager to Join His Regiment
Ice Water From Hail Storms.
When Private Walter II. Moodie and Private Wilkins come back from South Africa to Kaslo they will two bars on their on their tunics at any rate, one for Paarberg and the other for the relief of Kimberley. They may have more than that. Moodie writes the Lieut. W.J. Twiss dated Orange River, March 18th. from which the following are extracts.
"Good old Wilkins was as cool as a cucumber under fire. He was near a man who could not fire his Bandolier and having emptied his own Wilkins got the other one and fired a double share. The boys all love Hodgins through they call him Hotch-Potch. He got a great move on him when we were at the front and he was our only officer on the way of seeing that we got a fair deal regarding rations and blankets. I hear the regiment is to stay at Bloomfontein for a time so I am making desperate efforts to rejoin as soon as possible. I want another crack at the beggars before I turn back."
Moodie was in the hospital when he wrote the above suffering from an abcess in the knee. He hoped that the Kaslo Rifle Company was in good condition again this spring and adds: "I do hope we will get the fawn uniform they spoke of at first. The day of dark and red and white uniforms is gone. The dark kilts of the Highlanders are responsible I believe for 75 per cent. of their losses."
In another letter, written in hospital, Moodie says:
"Four weeks ago today we lay all day under the fire at the commencement of the battle of Paarberg. The week following our first fight was taken up for the most part by simply keeping a close watch on the enemy imprisoned in his own laager and making sure that no supplies reach-him from the outside. These monotonous duties were relieved by watching the occasional lyddite and shrapnel shells dropped into his camp. The impression given by the former is that their devastating power has been vastly over-rated regarding them is one of supreme contempt. Sunday, the 25th, they were treated to a fairly generous supply of shells which work was kept up all night to enable the infantry digging trenches within a thousand yards of their position to do so in comparative safety. Monday, the 27th, the Royal Canadians were ordered to relieve the Cornwalls in the trenches and carry on the work during the night. Tuesday being the anniversary of Majuba it was thought the Boers might make a hard attempt to escape and in view of this fact elaborate preparations had been formed to celebrate the anniversary in our favor. The work was to begin by the Royal Canadians rushing one of the Boer trenches at 2 a.m. and carried on by a general closing in of the forces surrounding the laager at day light. The brunt of the work was laid on the left half company. The company from the wild and wooly west having suffered most severely on the 18th was detailed to occupy a trench on the opposite side of the river to check any attempt at escape in that direction. Having the misfortune to be laid up with an abscess on the knee your correspondent was unable to be with his company but enjoyed an equal amount of the bullets whizzing over head, from his post at A Company's cook house about 1000 yards from our firing line. At 2 a.m. on the 28th we were aroused by a roar of rifle fire. From the sound it was evident that owing to the darkness the Boers were using Martini Henrys, the smoke not being visible then. The roar, listened to with tingling nerves by the few sick men at the rear, lated about forty minutes and ceased as suddenly as it had begun. What the result had been we could only surmise, but that it had been unfavorable to our arms we dreaded as we were expecting a general engagement. Our relief was great when as soon as day broke and we were able to crawl up the river bank and look towards the laager we saw the Boers moving about freely in the open a truce having apparently been proclaimed for a time. Our relief was turned to most unmeasured satisfaction when a few minutes later our brigade major came down from the direction of the laager and announced. ‘You will be glad to learn that the Boers have surrendered. The Seaforths can return to their camp. The Canadians took a position where they could [?] the whole Boers position and they have surrendered. For volunteers of a few months service in Canada it was rather thrilling to hear a sergeant of the famous Seaforth Highlanders say in a most genuine way: ‘Ay, the Canadians have made a name for themselves in the whole army, we're proud to be with them today.' And a thrilling sight it was to see daring the course of the morning some four thousand prisoners winding their way from the laager to Lord Roberts headquarters, and to know that the famous Cronje was among the lot. This is all I saw of them. They were escorted by the Guards to Modder river where they entrained for the Cape. My attention was now entirely taken up with finding our how our boys had fared and I soon learned that in short sight our casualties were 12 killed and 37 wounded. I witnessed here the burial of Stretcher Bearer Page of C Company, killed doing his duty, attempting to remove his wounded comrades from the field. Alone under a flowering mimosa tree his grave lies, a simple little wooden cross at the head marking the fall of one more of Britains heroes.
I hope soon to give you an account of Bloomfontein and possibly of our advance north from there as I hope to be permitted to rejoin to regiment this week. While in the hospital at Modder river some of the patients had the pleasure of a drink of iced water made from hail stones which fell in an afternoon shower, in size from a small marble to a pigeons egg, and lay on the ground for quite a time where they had accumulated in hears. This fortunately is a rare occurence.