On Commando eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 101 pages of information about On Commando.

After that we were, of course, doubly careful.  We have never been able to discover who failed in their duty on guard.  Cooper and Tossel were suspected and accused.  They were sent to Pretoria under arrest, but the investigation never led to any result.  We have every reason to believe that our burghers were guilty of treachery more than once near Ladysmith.  Government ought from the start to have taken strict measures against traitors and spies.

Some days after the blowing up of the cannon I sprained my left knee, which I had already hurt before the war began.  General Erasmus gave me leave to go home for an unlimited time.  On my way home I passed my brother Willem without being aware of it.  He had come from Holland, where he was studying, to take part in the war.

What a meeting with relatives and friends!  How much there was to tell!  Even then we had not experienced very much, and how much more will our burghers have to tell their dear ones on returning from their exile in strange countries!  There will, alas! be much sorrow, too; for many of our friends and relatives have been killed in this war, and many more will have yet to give their lives for their country!

III

The eight-day battle of the tugela—­talk of intervention—­relief of Ladysmith

Before my knee was quite cured I returned to Ladysmith.  The first thing that caught my eye on my return to the camp was the balloon above Ladysmith.  It looked just like a large crocodile-eye as it followed all my movements.  When I went to look for my horse or to fetch water or wood, there it stood, high up in the sky, and I felt as if it kept its eye specially fixed on me, and as if I might expect a bomb at any moment.

We had never in all our lives seen so many flies as at Ladysmith.  We had to hurry over our meals as they made eating almost an impossibility to us.  Fortunately, I was only a short time there, as towards the end of January, 1900, part of our commando, including my brother and myself, was sent to the Tugela as reinforcement.  We had a distance of four and a half hours to ride, and we had to ride hard, as the enemy were determined to force their way through.  We arrived the same day, just two days after the enemy had tried to force their way through to the right of Spion Kop and had been defeated.  On nearing the high Tugela mountains we heard more and more distinctly the constant rattling of bullets, interrupted by the roar of the cannon and the bom-bom-bom of our saucy bomb-Maxim, that made our hearts expand and those of the enemy shrink.  As we raced on to the foot of the mountains, the bullets that the enemy were sending over the mountains to find the Boers raised the dust around us.

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On Commando from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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