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A letter written to his mother, Ellen Drake,  on Christmas Day 1899 by Lance Corporal Edward Drake. His father kept a grocery and wines and spirits business in Magdalen Road, Exeter.


"Chieveley Camp

Christmas Day 1899

I am glad to say I am going on quite well at present. Our Brigade seem to  be in excellent spirits. We are having some sports today but I have not entered for any.  I came off guard on the 24th, and we had an open Church Parade, after which our General spoke a few words to us.  He said he was proud to have us under his command, and commented on the bravery and courage shown by us in the recent battle. He also wished us all a very happy Christmas.


We are going to move in a day or so and I trust it will be to wipe out the reverse we so recently received from the Boers. I suppose when the news reached England it was a great shock to all the country, and no doubt the papers had criticised the Government about it. Of course Buller will win, but if those at home who find fault were here they would tell a very different tale; to be under such a murderous fire as we were subjected to while the Boers were in the hills under cover. They never come into the open to fight and we have to climb the hills to drive them out of their position although the position they were in was a credit to any nation. Of course they have a lot of men from other nations helping them and our work is harder than most people think, but if I am spared to see you again, I shall be able to explain better than I can write now.


Each man of my regiment has had a pair of pants given him - a present from England - an we are having a pint of beer for dinner, and other things are coming out, so you we see we are not doing so very bad. The Queen's present I shall always value as a great treasure, more than anything I possess. In wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy  New Year, I hope you will be spared to see many more.


I know you miss me from your table, and I can assure you I miss you all (especially on this day). You must  not worry about me, as I am quite well and contented, but remember, I am fighting for my dear country. I want you to send me a few  handkerchiefs and do not forget Saturday's Evening Express as I am anxious to know how football is progressing in the dear old county."



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