While being a patient in Pietermaritzburg Hospital, Mr. Roberts, who is well- known in connection with the Exeter Swimming Club, used to visit me weekly and bring me some city papers to read. While reading one of your papers I was surprised to see that I was reported dead. I must now thank you for publishing the contradiction, but while reading another of your issues I was surprised to see it stated that the first draft of Devon Militia Reserves were called to the Colours on the 11th of December last, and sent to Devonport the next day to join some details of the 2nd Devon and reserves from the 3rd Devon and a few second class Army Reserves who had volunteered.
We all left Devonport on the morning of the 16th, between five and six o'clock. We had a good send-off, not withstanding the early hour, and we sailed from Southampton the same day on the S. S. Avoca. I think it is only fair for me to contradict that statement, seeing what our draft had to go through before the others left England. I don't know how this mistake arose, seeing that most of our draft were men living in the city or suburbs. Perhaps the public did not know anything about it, as there was no fuss made over our departure and no band to play us to the Station.
I am sorry to say that we have lost two of our first draft of 4th Devons. I do not mean any disrespect to our brother reservists, because if they had been sent the same time as we were, they would have done the same as we did. A good many of them came to see me in hospital at Maritzburg before they went to the front. They were in such good spirits when they left. I told them they would not have such a hard time as our draft had before Ladysmith was relieved.
I am, Sir
One of the December Draft,
Private S. Marshall