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War Memorials

LETTER FROM LIEUTENANT CHARLES ADAMS - 9 JANUARY 1901

 

Men in the ranks may have seen their officers as having a better time of it than they did under war conditions - but did they take into consideration the most terrible task that faced all officers ?- the task of composing the hardest letters they would ever be called upon to write - letters to mothers and fathers whose beloved sons had been killed on the battlefield and would never return home. Dozens of these letters survived - cherished over the years and read over and over again. Some consisted of just a few lines - others, like the one below, are full of compassion with the kind of detail that any grieving parent would want to know.

Frederick Chudley was killed 21 December 1900 at the age of 23.

 

"Rensburg Kop,

Orange River Colony.

9 January 1901.

Your son Frederick was one of my troop in the Volunteer Composite Regiment, with the motto "All that was left of them." He was in No. 2 Troop, No. 4 Squadron.

 

In October, No. 4 Squadron, while escorting a convoy of 30 wagons, from De Jaeger's Drift to the Blood River, on the way to Vryheid, had a reverse. About 300 Boers attacked us, and after about two hours' hard fighting we had to surrender and were taken prisoners, but were released the same day. After being re-equipped, we continued escorting convoys until the beginning of December, when the Regiment was split up and sent to nine different places. I was sent to a farm called Bughtie, about 15 miles from Albertin, in the Orange River Colony.

 

At 8.30 on the morning of the 21st December, Frederick and a friend of his were sent on patrol to Hammers or Windmill Store, Oliver's Hoek. When they were about 300 yards of the store, a party of about 16 Boers appeared from behind a forest of trees, and at the same time a friendly native warned them that the enemy were in numbers about this place. They turned their horses for camp, and put spurs to them, but they had not galloped far before they rode right into another party of the enemy who had either ridden round behind a kopje or had hidden and let them pass. The enemy acted in a most inhuman way, firing on the patrol at a distance of five yards.

 

Frederick was shot through the head, body and thigh, and his horse was also killed, having four bullets through it. Frederick's death must have been instantaneous, as his skull was fractured.

 

The first I heard of the sad news was from his friend, J. Cox, who accompanied him on patrol and was shot through the arm and chest. He was let go after the Boers had questioned him, so I immediately sent a cart with a white flag to Oliver's Hoek and found that the Boers before retiring had ordered some natives to bury the body, which they did, but I had it removed, and held a military funeral at Bughtie. I also had a rough stone engraved with the words: "In memory of Trooper F. Chudley, VCR, killed 21st December 1900."

 

The grave is under a willow tree, and before we had to retire from Bughtie, we placed stones around and over it, and the owner of the farm has promised to place a fence around and keep it clean and in order. When the enemy are not so troublesome about here I am going to have a photo taken of the grave to send to you."

 

C. Adams, Lieutenant VCR.

 

 
 
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