A HAMILTON VOLUNTEER’S LETTER.
Captain W. Dykes Loudon, Commandant B (Hamilton) Company, 2nd V.B. Scottish Rifles, had just received a very interesting letter from two brothers, Private John and Thomas McEwan, former members of his Company. When the war broke out, they applied, through the local depot, to join the Regulars in order to go to the front, but found the regulations were against them.
Nothing daunted, they paid their passage to Cape Town, and their letter, which is as follows, tells its own tale as to their subsequent movements: “Victoria West Camp, Cape Colony 12th Dec., 1899.—Sir—My brother and I arrived in Cape Town on 25th November, and joined the South African Light Horse, a regiment of cavalry raised by the Imperial Government for service against the Boers. We are presently stationed behind the base at Dr Aar to guard the lines of communication and to check any attempt by the local Dutch to assist the enemy.
My squadron (F) patrols a large district, while my brother, who belongs to E, is stationed about 30 miles up country. I was promoted ambulance sergeant a week ago. We get good pay—food, however is scarce—5s a day for a trooper, with 2s 6d extra for rations. The regiment is a very mixed lot, the only qualification being ability to ride and shoot. We have English, Irish, Scotch, Canadians, American cowboys, Australians, New Zealanders, Swedes, French and Swiss in our squadron, many of whom have seen active service in different parts of the world. Our commander is a retired Major of the Blues.
This camp from which I write is a miserable hole—the sandstorms nearly blind us, and we shall be very glad when we advance further up country.” Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 6/1/1900 page 3.
Wilma Bolton 2012.