The line of communication station staff is not in working order yet; I have no doubt it will improve. I hope to send you a poem culled from a local paper on Martial Law at De Aar to-morrow, if I can get a copy. I see little chance of my moving from here for some time; it will be rather dull to spend many months at De Aar.

Love to all.

Your affectionate son,

Sydney Earle.

P.S. - I haven't written to a soul except you; you must make my apologies for me. I am very busy. I started 4.15 this morning and did not get a wash till 1 p.m., and have been at it till now, 7 p.m., and shall start again at 8.30.

No. 12

16/ll/'99: De Aar.

Dear Mother - I got a wire early this morning to say I was to go at once to Orange River to join mounted infantry of Methuen's force, in what capacity I do not know. I am glad to get up to the front, but I am sorry that I am going to take up a job of which I know nothing, as it is a bad time to learn. However, one can't tell what luck one may have, but I don't think I am suited for the work. I am too heavy physically. The troops I shall be with will be probably the Northumberland Fusiliers, but I don't know yet. I am leaving almost the whole ofmy kit here incharge ofa man namedMel - , a storekeeper;Idaresayhe will look after it all right. It is possible that I shall be separated from Davison; that will be an awful blow, both for him and for me, but it can't be helped. I expect my letters will get few and far between now, as the opportunities for writing will almost cease.

Your affectionate son,

Sydney Earle.

No. 13

18/ll/'99: Orange River.

Dear Mother, - I have arrived here and joined the Mounted Infantry of the Loyal N. Lancashire Regiment (the 47th Foot), and I now command a section in it. The captain of the company is, I believe, junior to me, but I have to do subaltern's work - i.e., take my turn of orderly officer; it is the very last job in the world that I expected. However, the job seems interesting, and I will do my best to do the thing well; the reason I and some other officers have been taken is that there were so many casualties when poor C - K - F - was killed.

They say we are to start on Monday on our march to Kimberley ; but I have my doubts as to whether we shall go there at all, as it has been so advertised that we are going there, it has been officially announced, and the war correspondents allowed to wire it, that it looks to me as if our real ' point' was to be somewhere else, say Norval's Pont or Bloemfontein. We are to take nothing with us but blankets and a waterproof sheet and one or two things on our horses or in our pockets, I am going to take my groom Gasten on with me, but Davison I must leave behind. We shall live entirely on the ration, tinned meat and biscuit, and I hope some lime-juice. We shall probably have great difficulties about water.I am sitting writing now in W - B - 's tent, which I am sharing. It is very hot; your little thermometer, which I shall have to leave behind, now reads 88 degree. I shall, I am afraid, lose almost all my kit, unless Davison can manage to get it on somewhere. In consequence of my sudden move I have not managed to get hold of my mail letters for this last week - a dreadful deprivation. I have not heard a word of Max ; they have evidently got confused over him and me already.I was put in orders to-day as belonging to the Grenadiers; and Colonel C -told me that he was under the impression that Max was up here, and he wanted to 'commandeer' himto make himserve in his battalion in the place of poor A - T -.Two of Max's letters have just arrived here, re-directed to me ; rather distressing. I am not even taking any writing things with me now, except a notebook and stylo. Much love.Your affectionate son,

Sydney Earle.

No. 14

19/ll/'99: Orange River.

Dear Mother, - I have got the mail that I thought had gone wrong. . . .

I hear Max is in Capetown now, not Natal, as I thought, but I have had no wire from him, though he might have got my address from the bank, even if my wires missed him. They are going to try to get him up here to fill T - 's place. I have been trying to get moved from the mounted infantry to one of the battalions of the Brigade, but without success. We are moving across the river to-morrow, to encamp on the other side, near where the Guards are. What we are going to do then we don't know, though it has been carefully given out that we are going to Kimberley so carefully and so openly that I have my doubts. I should not be surprised myself if we made a sudden turn off to the right and tried to get down to Norval's Pont. This would relieve matters, I think, at Kimberley, and we would effect a junction with troops coming up via Naauwpoort. They are even loading trains for Kimberley, but that may be another blind, as they could send them vid De Aar and Norval's Pont, where the railway is re-opened ; anyhow, we expect exciting times the next few days.

I shall be glad to get away from the discomforts of this camp to the discomforts of the open field. We are taking no baggage at all, and shall probably be unable to wash or even take off our clothes for a fortnight or more. I shall have no stationery with me except a field notebook, so you mustn't expect letters.

Your affectionate son,

Sydney Earle.

No. 15

Tuesday 22nd: Near Belmont,onsort of outpost duty, watching enemy.

Dear Mother, - We marched the day before yesterday across the Orange River, and bivouacked on the north side, not far from the Guards' camp, where I got a wash in Col. S - 's tent, a mug of beer and a little soup and some bread and tinned meat, so I didn't do badly. I had a wire from Max to-day to say he was coming up to join the 3rd Batt.We were ordered to start off at 12.30 a.m., but that was afterwards altered to 2.30 a.m. My section consists of about twenty men, all old soldiers, and dreadful ruffians in private life I should think, but not bad fellows to deal with, though totally without discipline. The non-commissioned officers are also worse than useless ; they do nothing but sleep. We went as portion of the baggage escort, and we marched without incident to Witteput.I saw a good many friends on the road and heard - use some dreadful language on having his eye nearly put out by a native mule driver. The march was short and easy, but the transport seemed quite up to its work. There were a farm and stores at Witteput, and we managed to get a tin of herrings and some bread, so we did well. We took our horses out to graze, and just as we were bringing them in there was an alarm that some oftheenemywere advancing. Wesaddled upand dashed off, then heard thatLord M -was missing.