[Illustration: HOSPITAL IN TOWN HALL AFTER A SHELL]
All day the bombardment was severe, as this siege goes. I did not count the shells thrown at us, but certainly there cannot have been less than 250. They were thrown into all parts of the town and forts. No one felt secure, except the cave-dwellers. Even the cattle were shelled, and I saw three common shell and a shrapnel thrown into one little herd. Yet the casualties were quite insignificant, till the terrible event of the day, about half-past five p.m. During the afternoon “Long Tom” had chiefly been shelling the Imperial Light Horse camp, the balloon, and the district round the Iron Bridge. Then he suddenly sent a shell into the library by the Town Hall. The next fell just beyond the Town Hall itself. The third went right into the roof, burst on contact, flung its bullets and segments far and wide over the sick and wounded below. One poor fellow—a sapper of the balloon section—hearing it coming, sprang up in bed with terror. A fragment hit him full in the chest, cut through his heart, and laid him dead. Nine others were hit, some seriously wounded. About half of them belonged to the medical staff. The shock to the other wounded was horrible. There cannot be the smallest doubt that the Boer gunners deliberately aimed at the Red Cross flag, which flies on the turret of the Town Hall, visible for miles. They have now hit twenty-one people in that hospital alone. This last shell has aroused more hatred and rage against the whole people than all the rest of the war put together. When next the Boers appeal for mercy, as they have often appealed already, it will go hard with them. Overcome with the horror of the thing, many good Scots have refused to take part in the celebration of St. Andrew’s Day, although the Gordons held some sort of festival, and there was a drinking-concert at the Royal. But the dead were in the minds of all.
About midnight we again observed flash-signaling over the star-lit sky. It came from Colenso way, and was the attempt of our General to give us news or instructions. It began by calling “Ladysmith” three times. The message was in cipher, and the night before a very little of it was made out. Both messages ended with the words “Buller, Maritzburg.” It is said one of the Mountain Battery is to be hanged in the night for signalling to the enemy.
FLASHES FROM BULLER
December 1, 1899.
A kaffir came in to-day, bringing the strange story that the old “Long Tom” of Pepworth Hill was hit full in the muzzle by “Lady Anne,” that the charge inside him burst, the gun was shattered, and five gunners killed. The Kaffir swore he himself had been employed to bury them, and that the thing he said was true. If so, our “Lady Anne” has made the great shot of the war. The authorities are inclined to believe the story.