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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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War Memorials



Alfred and Maria Bawden of North Molton had sons serving in South Africa in the 2nd Boer War.  Their eldest, (known as Jim) was 29 when the war began in 1899 and his younger brother John (known as Jack) had just turned 20.



March 8th 1900

Dear Mother and Father,

I hope you are in the best of health. I am sorry to say I am sick now, but I am better than I have been, thank the Lord. I have had fever*and am very weak, but I shall soon be better. I could not write before as I suppose you have heard about our  being hemmed in by the enemy. We have not been able to get as much as a letter from the outside for four months till now this last week.


We have had terrible hard times; we have been living on horses, killed and cooked up with biscuits and not very much of that. I have had some narrow escapes from being over first and last, but I think the war will not last much longer.


We had a very quiet Christmas but we made a bit of pudding for ourselves - just a taste to remind us of Christmas. We are getting the best of everything to eat now. There has been a lot of sickness out here, but we are improving now we are getting some good food and nourishment.


I have not seen Jim yet. I am rather surprised to hear about Mugford coming out, but he will have enough of it when he has been out here as long as I have. I never want to see another lot like this. I have seen some sickening sights but I am safe up to the present, and we must be where duty calls.


Dear mother, you ought to be proud that you have two boys out fighting for the dear ones at home and the freedom of our country. I am proud to be able to say I have fought for my Queen and country. I have not seen any tobacco** yet, but if she has sent it, I shall be sure to get it. Tell poor old father to cheer up and not trouble about me as I shall soon be all right.

I must conclude with love to you,

From your loving son,




15 March 1900

Dear Mother and Father,

I hope this will find you as well as I am now. I am all right again. I expect to see Jack (i.e. John above) tomorrow as I am going up to the front again tonight. I don't think he has been well lately. He has been sick with dysentery, but I think he is going on all right again now.

I got wounded in the head, but I was very lucky, and I am all right again now. I don't think the war will last much longer now: I hope not. I am longing to see home and friends again. I suppose Jim Smith and Mugford are out here. I may drop across them some day.

The Boers have very near had enough of it, they seem to be getting down-hearted. General Roberts captured 4000 of them and they caught a lot at Ladysmith, but I suppose you can see all that in the newspapers.

I have not received the parcel yet from Miss Treble, but it is very bad to get anything out here, as it lays about for a month or two, before we can get it. I would not worry about sending out any, as perhaps I should never get it.

With best love to you, and hoping to see all soon,

Your loving son, Jim.


*Enteric fever - cause of death of hundreds of British soldiers.

**A Christmas gift from Queen Victoria.


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