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The iouu«ing interesting extracts from Sister Woollcombe's letters have been kindly forwarded to us by Mrs Woollcombe : — September 17. — The war seems to be coming to an end at last. We have just taken 42 of the Boers' engines. Every day they are losing something, bo they cannot hold out much longer. We have had such an interesting journey lately. Colonel Gubbins, the Principal Medical Officer of Pretoria, allowed us to take a load down to Durban. The line is very steep, and the carriages on our train are bo long that it really was not safe, for as well as being steep there are vary sharp curves on that line. One of our coaches had to be taken off, so that we could only carry 76 patients instead of 92. When we got to Charlstown tunnel we found the Boers had blown it up at both ends. Our men were repairing it, and they said tho carriage we live m was too high, we should knock the scaffolding down. Also, they told Ben, our cook, to take down our kitchen chimney. However, he refused, and after a good deal of haggling, they allowed us to move slowly into the tunnel and we just scraped through. We passed Majuba Hill ," then on to Ladyifmith where we had time to rush off and see the Town Hall, which was used as a hospital. There are three great holes m it, made by shells, one m the roof and two m the walls. The sisters fortunately were not m the hall at the time, but several sick men were killed. In Durban I met a nurse who was at Ladysmith all through the siege. She told me they used to be so busy trying to get food for themselves and their patients that they had not time to think of the danger, but they must have had an awful time — the Boers firing down on them from the hills all round. We saw Colenso and Dundee and all the battlefields near, and such numbers and numbers of graves ; but the scenery is beautiful down that line — lovely hills, trees, and flowers, and as we got nearer Durban pineapples growing m rows like cabbages, and all sorts of tropical things. Durban is a nice town, good shops and properly made streets, not ankle-deep m dust as they are m most of the other towns. In Pretoria the dust is dreadful. There are very few cabs or carriages, but plenty of rickshaws pulled by fine Zulus, dressed m white calico junipers with all sorts of rubbish stuck m their woolly heads, feathers, ribbons, beads, anything to make them look fine. You can go a long distance for 3d. The policemen are all big Zulu men. They wear black helmets, black coats, and knickerbockers, with bare legs and feet,

and their legs, faces, and hands, shine like a well polished table. Just below their knees they -near about a dozen bracelets made of brass or copper wire. They are put t>u when they are young and can't be taken off. The Kaffirs make quantities of these bracelets. I have got one that they call a " piccaniii " as it is small. It is beautifully made and just looks like gold. There are lots of Indians m Durban, and m the tearooms you are waited on by little boys m long white garments. Oh, it is a nice place. We were there three days, and 1 would have liked to stay longer, but they sent us back to Pretoria and we have been waiting here for four days m all the dust. Then we are going to Capetown, and are never to go to Durban again ; it is too dangerous with our train.

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Bibliographic details

Timaru Herald, Timaru Herald, Volume LXIV, Issue 3427, 22 November 1900

Word Count

Timaru Herald Timaru Herald, Volume LXIV, Issue 3427, 22 November 1900

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