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Letter from Private Henry Cavill of the 1st Battalion, the Devon Regiment to  his parents who lived in the Wonford District of  Exeter. He was the son of James Cavill, a gardener, and his wife Martha. The family consisted of Charles, Arthur, Henry, William, Bythya, Martha, Albert, Fred and Walter.

The letter is dated "Ladysmith 26th October 1899"


Dear Mother and Father,


I suppose that you have heard about out big fight with the Boers. It was a tough one and we were in the thick of it, but we boys did not think anything of the shells after the first two or three had been fired upon us, for our men had got their fighting blood up, and we went for the enemy with our bayonets and made them run down the hill like a lot of wild sheep. When we got on the top, we took about twelve men of the enemy and a boy who was shot through the leg. We also took two guns from them so you see we did not do so bad after all.

It was all over at 6.30, and we had to stop where we were for the night. The rain came down in torrents, and we were much relieved when morning came. When we got back there were hundreds of people there to cheer us.

Two of my Company were shot in the first battle one in the arm and the other poor fellow in the head. We did not care for the shells coming so close to us at first but we soon got used to them and did not take any notice of them. The little bullets fell down upon us like hail, but our men went through it like bricks and won the day.

Dear mother and father, we had another big battle of the 24th, but it was not like the other one. We could not get at the enemy, for they were in the hills while we were on the plain but we gave them what they wanted, and left hundreds of them on the field, dead and wounded. One man in my Company was wounded, and one was shot through the heart. Altogether about forty in the regiment were wounded, and one killed. So you see we had our share of it.

I must stop for we are expecting to go out at any moment.

So now, goodbye to all.

From your loving son Harry.


Henry Cavill was born in 1875 in Heavitree, then a village outside Exeter. He was 24 when this letter was written.


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