April 3rd 1900
"We have received orders to be in readiness to proceed to the front tomorrow. We very much hope it will not be cancelled, but fear it will be, as Captain Bolitho* is ill with dysentery.
I have been acting as the Camp "policeman" and have had trouble in keeping Dutchmen and miserable Germans outside the Camp Lanes. When three or four Dutchmen get together and I ask for their passes, they are inclined to be a bit sulky, but then I draw their attention to the sentry with his bayonet fixed and that frightens them out of their lives and they clear off in no time.
We are camped on a sandy plain, and everything we touch or eat, is full of grit. The air here is very dry and bracing but I never felt better in my life.
Many wounded men from the front have told me they do not consider the war will be over for six months. I've met a lot of Devon fellows out here; several came into camp on Sunday to see the Devons, and shook hands heartily with every Devonian they met.
A little boy, about nine years old, came up and asked me if I was "a Devon Soldier". "Yes", I said. So he asked if I would give him some little trifling thing - "if only a button", in remembrance of the Devon Yeomanry coming out to the war! So I gave the little chap a small split ring with a bone label on it, and he was delighted and put it on his watch chain."