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Devonshire Rgt.

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Letter from Private John Marks, a Reservist with the 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment to his father, Mr. George Marks of Lympstone. John's brother Harry was serving with the 1st Devons and was wounded at Ladysmith (see the letter from Private Oliver Havill in which this incident is mentioned).  Another brother, George, also of the 1st Devons was still in India this time.

The letter is headed "South Africa Field Force" and dated December 7th 1899.


Dear Father,


I now take the pleasure of writing you a few lines to let you know I am in the best of health, and hope your are the same. We are having a bit of hard times here, but we are expecting to make a big advance shortly towards Ladysmith. We have about  25,000 troops in this Camp under General Buller. In this Camp is where the armoured train met its fate. It is a shocking sight to see the Boers. They have no mercy for our people in this country. They have taken away their homes, broken all their furniture, and stolen all their cattle.

Dear father, I have seen Harry in Durban in the Ship Hospital, and he is getting on alright; expects to join his Regiment again shortly. George has not left India yet, but I expect he will shortly join the Regiment as there are 600 more troops coming from India. We get plenty of rain in this country. We frequently get wet through, and we have to let it dry on us, as we have only got what we stand up in.

I think this is about all this time. Give my respects to all at  home and wishing you "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,"

I remain your affectionate son

J. Marks


John Marks, the writer of this letter, was  born in Woodbury in 1871. His parents were George and Eliza Marks. Their family consisted of John, Emma, Harry, George, Ellen, Sarah, Melina and Edward, William and Agnes. John's mother, Eliza, died giving birth to William in the Autumn of 1895 aged 46. At the time this letter was written, John was 28, Harry 23 and  George 21 and their widowed father had left Woodbury and was living in Lympstone with his youngest children.


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