A perusal of the following “Introduction” by the Author, and of his true and touching “Diary,” will assuredly carry the conviction into your own soul, if you still require conviction, that our South African women were the heroines of the late deplorable war.
May this pathetic relation bring us all nearer to one another in sympathy and love; and serve to awaken in every woman’s breast the desire to emulate and perpetuate the pure faith and noble devotion which these Sisters of ours have handed down to us and to all posterity as their priceless legacy.
In undertaking the responsibility for the publication of this “Diary,” I may simply state that the proceeds will be given towards the support of the Orphanage at Bethulie.
Yours, etc., D. De Villiers, Secretary, Boer Relief Committee. Cape Town.
This Journal was written in the Bethulie Concentration Camp just two years ago.
A few days after my return from Europe (whither I had gone for six months on the completion of a Theological course at Stellenbosch), a telegram came from the Deputy Administrator of the Orange River Colony, through the Rev. Wm. Robertson, inviting me to work as Chaplain in one of the Concentration Camps.
The Rev. Mr. Pienaar, who had received a similar invitation, and I therefore journeyed down to Bloemfontein a few days later. We received great courtesy at the hands of Sir Hamilton Gould-Adams, the Deputy Administrator, and every kindness from Mr. Robertson.
In a few days it was finally decided that Mr. Pienaar should go to Irene, in the Transvaal, and I to the Concentration Camp at Bethulie. Thither I forthwith travelled, arriving at my destination on the 21st August.
The thought suggested itself the very first day that I might desire, in after years, to recall my experiences in Camp, and so I decided to keep a diary. This thought, and this alone, prompted me in the matter. Of an evening, therefore, just before retiring, I noted down the doings of the day, consulting at such times always my pocket note-book.
What was written was done hurriedly, on the impulse of the moment—in fact, simply scribbled down without, of course, any regard to style, language, or form. Stress of circumstances must be held responsible for the many undignified expressions in which the Diary abounds. It should not be forgotten, moreover, that I was usually tired out after the day’s work, when these entries were made.