Your affectionate son,

Sydney Earle.

Love to ail. I hope to see Douglas to-night.

No. 9

Sunday, 12/ll/'99 : De Aar. Dear Mother, - Things aremighty quiet to-day, very little doing.Lord M - arrived at about 1.30 a.m.

this morning. I waited up for him, but they were all asleep when the train came in. I saw a clerk, however, and he told me that Douglas had been kept behind, and was to join some irregular force. I am afraid he will be disappointed, but it may turn up trumps for him. Three pieces of baggage of his are here. I have wired to him for instructions, but can get no answer. It was a disappointment not to see him, but everything was forgotten in the joy of getting your letters - you did not say what Max was coming out as, though you say something about police, so I gather that you mean assistant provost marshal to a division. I call the notices in the paper most complimentary - much more intelligent praise than last time; the Leeds paper was not among them, though. Lord M -did not stop long;he went to Church Parade, at which we had 'Child she-bear ' hymn, and then went round the camp and on to Orange River at about 12.30. He seemed in excellent spirits and form; his two A.D.C.s I know. Most of troops now here are moving to-morrow to Orange River, and others go on Tuesday; we shall be left with three guns, which have been mounted on the neighbouring kopjes, half company mounted infantry to act as scouts, and probably two battalions of infantry when they arrive. We are expecting almost at once a portion of the 1st Battalion Highland Light Infantry, who were with me at manoeuvres this year, a very nice lot of fellows. I shall be glad to meet them again. As regards my own future, I really can't make out what I shall do; it would really be very bad luck to stick here all the time, but I don't see how I can hope to get on far for some time. Please tell Lionel that I am most grateful for his letter and for forwarding my things, which have not yet reached, but I have no doubt that they will do so soon. He has acted quite rightly with regard to signing of cheques.

I had a letter from Messrs. H - explaining the matter, but I sha'n't answer them - it is not worth while after such a lapse of time. Major Rimington's Guides are an excellent body of men, half-soldiers, half-detectives ; they ought to get great praise for the work they are doing: hardly a mouse stirs in the country without their knowing all about it. The rather vague rumours of large bodies of Boers moving about in various directions towards Colesberg and Hanover Road, Philipstown and Petrusville, have almost entirely stopped, but we don't know here where the enemy have gone to, as we don't see reports except in our neighbourhood. - I don't like this forward move on Kimberley; it again smacks of politics and playing up to the B.P. Detached forces of this kind are unsound in principle, and as far as the ultimate result of the campaign is concerned, it would be much better to let Kimberley fall than to risk the entanglement of a whole division.M -is theman to make it asuccess, if anyone can. It makes matters much more interesting knowing so much of what is going on as I do. Every wire is brought to the office, and I act, usually, as censor, and very strict we are ; we let none of the usual reporters' bosh through. They meet a man they have never seen before, who tells them of something he thinks has happened 100 miles off, and they wire it off as gospel, or rather they would do so if it wasn't marked '(Stop. S. Earle); which means that the message does not go on except by post to the P.-M.-General. Am going to bed for a bit. Have only had about three hours' sleep the last two nights.Much love.

Your affectionate son,

Sydney Earle.

No. 10

13/ll/'99: De Aar.

Dear Mother, - Just a line before mail goes. Nothing to record except that GeneralW - (who nearly turned Gladstone out for Mid-Lothian) arrived here. Also the 11th Co. R.E., with whom I lived at manoeuvres this year. Quite nice to see old friends. We are expecting 2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards to arrive to-morrow morning. Davison, who has nearly shaved all his hair off except a sort of thatch on the top, quite beamed when I told him. We are worried off our heads about returns, figures, &c.; they are never correct, but we get them somewhere near. The remount officer finds he has got thirty more mules than he bought, though he has lost a lot through straying. We are to have half the Highland Brigade here, including, I think, my friends of the Highland Lt. Inf. who were at manoeuvres. We had good news from Mafeking to-day; they seem to be holding their own well. We tried our Hotchkiss gun to-day on its new mounting; it shot off well, but it only fires an armour-piercing shell for torpedo boats. It would frighten more than hurt. Mail just off. Good-bye; write often. Correspondents here have been 'Times,' 'Morning Post,' 'Daily Mail,' 'sun.' Collect any notes about De Aar.

Your affectionate son,

Sydney Eaele.

Douglas Loch wired to have his luggage sent.

(On a little extra sheet was written.)

In some of our seized correspondence we sometimes come across some amusing yarns. One story told in a letter as a fact is that the British soldiers have had to be tied together, two and two, all the way up from Capetown. They are so terrified of meeting the Boers that without this precaution they would all escape and run away on the way up ! - the absolute unconcern and indifference on the part of the real Mr. T. Atkins is most marked. I don't think he either knows or cares whether there is a Boer in the country. He doesn't like being without a canteen; on the other hand, I think he prefers doing fatigue and outposts to drill and barrack life.

No. 11

15/ll/'99:De Aar.

DearMother, - Things are fairly hummingnow.

Troopsarebeing pushed up as quickly as possible to

Orange River with a view to an advance on Kimberleyrather a wild scheme, in my opinion.I hope they are not under-rating their enemy; they can't have a very good opinionof him, as, of course,therehas been nothing except promenadesand the sieges ofKimberleyand Mafeking - open towns defended almostentirely by irregulars, and yet they have been unable to take them, or at any rate they have stood out for a long time.But to advance against the enemy with such an exposed line of communication as we have got would, in ordinary circumstances, be the height of folly.There is a large force of the enemy only about fifty miles from here, and he could get in and bag us all with stores if he was determined ; but, instead, he remains at Colesberg and sends in the traders of that town to Naauwpoort to ask the railway authorities to hand over any foodstuffs that there might be there; the latter wired for instructions, and were told-'Certainly not; send foodstuff south.' A most amusing way of conducting a raid.Our garrison has been considerably weakened now,but it willbecomestronger again later, and we shall have troops in trains sleeping here every night, though they would hardly be much use, as they would not be prepared for a sudden attack.Of course we have got scouts on the look-out at a considerable distance out. The 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards passed through yesterday, and a portion of them slept in their train here;they were looking very fit and well, and Davison and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing our pals, and a lot of reservists greeted me in one way or another.Unfortunately, their first train took us by surprise.Capetown had not notified their coming, so I had nothing ready for them for breakfast; however, they soon got some coffee, and they were all right.The second half I did ' slap-up,' tea and biscuits, provided by Colonel B - , oranges, bread and a pint of beer on sale; dinner ready for the officers. The Scots Guards arrived to-night, and an ammunition column.The New South Wales Lancers are here. We fairly worried them ; we had no warning of their arrival, and they had orders to get out here from Capetown. As soon as they ' were out,' and had got their camp in order, a wire from Orange River said, 'send them on'; back they bundled, horses, baggage, and everything, into the train. It was then discovered that they had no transport, and were deficient in many equipment things. Of course they were not expected to form part of the force, so we wired for instructions, and now they are finally out here, and very glad we are to have them; from what I saw of them at manoeuvres I should say they will make admirablescouts. They took their worrying too, well, considering how annoying that sort of thing is.' D that Staff!' Things are now working smoothly at Capetown.