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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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War Memorials



William Lucraft, a solicitor's clerk who lived in Heavitree, Exeter in Mont-le-Grand,  received this letter from his brother, Private James Lucraft of the Ordinance Store Corps who had been beleaguered in Ladysmith during the siege. James Lucraft was not a volunteer - he enlisted in the army in 1886 so this is a letter from a more mature soldier ( at the time of writing he was 34) with several years' service. Ladysmith was relieved by General Buller on 1 March 1900.


Ladysmith Town Hall Tower

Ladysmith Town Hall - the damaged clock tower



1st March 1900

"No doubt you have been waiting to hear from me but have been shut up here now for four months and the enemy all round us shelling the town the whole of the time. The shops and buildings have been knocked about terribly, and the Town Hall is a complete wreck.

I must say our stores were very lucky. We had them drop all around us, but never hit the building or any of us working around it. I had one narrow escape. I was getting up to the magazine on duty and a shell dropped in front of me. I fell on the ground but never a splinter struck me. 

If this is war I shall be glad when it is over. There has not been such fighting since the Crimea with the deadly weapons they are using now. England has not got sufficient artillery and our guns are not up-to-date. I suppose the papers are all full of the war. I should like to get hold of a paper. The line will be open in a few days, and I shall get all back papers.

We have been living very rough here, two biscuits and a little horse flesh - this lasted for two months and have not tasted a vegetable for four months exactly, but now we are relieved, we shall get plenty in a week or so. General Buller got into Ladysmith today, the 1st of March, after very hard fighting and is going to give a speech this afternoon outside the Town Hall."


From The Record of a Regiment of the Line

by Colonel M. Jacson. Published 1908.


"On March 3rd General Buller made his public entry into Ladysmith at the head of his army. The march of Buller's army through Ladysmith was a pageant which those who took part in the siege will never forget. 


The garrison of Ladysmith lined the streets. Sir George White with his staff took his stand mounted, under the damaged clock tower of the Town Hall—the Gordons on the one hand, the Devons on the other—the Gordon pipers facing him on the opposite side of the road.

It was a great sight, and those who had been through the siege and had heard the words of their leader at the end, "Thank God we have kept the flag flying," knew it for a great sight.

General Buller rode at the head of his army, and received an immense ovation, as did all his regiments and artillery as they passed through the lines of the weedy, sickly-looking garrison. These with their thin, pale faces cheered to the full bent of their power, but after standing in the sun for some time they became exhausted, and Sir Redvers sent back word for them to sit down, which they gladly did, whilst the relievers, as they passed along, chucked them bits of tobacco, ready cut up, from their small store, small because they themselves were also hard put for luxuries."



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