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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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(Battalion and Regiment are not confirmed in this letter)

Letter from Private Arthur Gosling whose parents who lived in Union Street, Exmouth. He was the son of Charles and Bertha Gosling who kept a general shop there. The family consisted of Florence, Arthur, Thomas, William  and Charles.

The letter is dated  December 3rd 1899 and was written from a military hospital at De Aar Junction - an important railway junction where supplies were  held by the British.


Dear Mother and Father,


Just a few lines, hoping it will find you all in the best of  health, as I am pleased to say it leaves me fairly well at present. Dear Mother, no doubt you have learned from the papers of our three great battles before reaching Kimberley. The three were the Battles of Belmont, Graspan and Modder River. I must tell you that I managed to get through this first engagement all clear but was shot down in the early part of the second engagement. Was shot through the back of the left hand and breaking three of the finger bones.

I have been sent back down to temporary hospital here for a few days. I suppose they will send me to Simon's Town in the course of the next few days, as I think it will be a few weeks before I shall  be able to use my hand again. I do not think I shall lose the use of my hand or any of the fingers. The doctor has just dressed it and he says it is getting on nicely.

I must tell you that the Naval Brigade suffered great loss - about 20 killed and 93 wounded - and it is a  great wonder that anyone of them was left to tell the tale. The charge down was a splendid thing. We had 5 officers killled and 2 wounded out of 8  The Captain of my Company was shot right through the heart while he was standing by the side of me; I can tell you it made me pretty wide awake to see the bullets coming down like hailstones. When I was shot, I shook hands with myself and said I was a very lucky man.

Our troops suffered a great deal through hunger and thirst while on the march. No one knows what the horror of war is; only those that have to go through it. It was sickening to see the dead, dying and wounded lying all around on all sides of you. We had a little Marine drummer, barely 18 years old, and he sat down and cried like a little child when he saw our men shot down around him.

I do not think you need worry about me going up to the front again, as I think by the time my hand is better, the war will be drawing to a close; but if it is to be that I have to go up again, I shall be a lot better off than most of our troops up at the front. And now, dear mother, I think I   have told you about all particulars this time and will bring my letter to a close with kind love to one and all, and kindly accept the same yourself, and believe me to remain your loving son, 



P.S Dates of the battles fought : Belmont November 23rd 1899; Graspan November 25th 1899; Modder River November 27th 1899. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

(Then follows a  later addition)

The three fingers have since been amputated.


Arthur Edwin Charles Gosling was born in Littleham (Exmouth) in the December Quarter of 1876. At the time this letter was written he was 23.


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