Letter: 17th June 1900

Context

Army nurses travelled out to South Africa either on a scheduled voyage or on a troop ship. Many were named in the shipping lists published in both British and South African newspapers. The Army Sisters travelled 1st Class on the ships, and in their letters and journals often described the voyages in detail. Many had never travelled on a ship any distance before if at all. This letter was written on headed notepaper from RMS Carisbrook Castle which left the UK 8 June 1900arriving Cape Town 26 June 19002.

The letter was addressed to:

P (brother Edwin Percy Luard)

Fk (brother Frederick Bramston Luard)

T. Chatham (brother Trant Bramston Luard)

Notes

  1. Drew, A. (2007) Between Empire and revolution: A Life of Sidney Bunting 1873-1936
  2. Shipping List (1900) Cape Times Weekly Edition 27.06.1900 p25
  3. Daisy: her sister Margaret Annie Luard
  4. Hoddesdon: likely to be St Catherine & St Paul, Hoddesdon, Herts.
  5. Fitzpatrick, JP. (1900) The Transvaal from within: a private record of public affairs London: W. Heinemann
  6. Trant: her brother Trant Bramston Luard, RMLI who was serving at Chatham (The Annual Army List, Militia List and Yeomanry Cavalry List, for 1900. London: John Murray)
  7. Hymns: Hymn No. 160 in Monk, WH. (1875) Hymns, Ancient & Modern 2nd Ed. London: J Alfred Novello, was "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty"; the 'old 100th' is a hymn tune most often associated with "All People that on Earth do Dwell"; Peace P.P. would have referred to a hymn: "Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin"

Transcribed from D/DLu 55/13/3, Essex Record Office

Home


Dear People,

I suppose it is time for another letter but there seems really nothing to say. We are at 7o N. of the Equator today & just level with Sierra Leone, but I don’t see land anywhere & cross the Line tomorrow. People say this is an unusually cool passage for the time of year, but if this is cool, what must it be like hot! We happen to have had a good head wind the last few days which makes a splendid breeze but without it the heat would be stifling.

All the men wear white linen, & everyone else their coolest cottons. You sleep with either a sheet or nothing & the electric fans go all day. People are very energetic in spite of the heat & peg away at the Games Competitions all day: there are nets all over one part of the deck where cricket was fast & furious. I haven’t played yet: it is too hot. This week the sports are on. Everyone enters for everything whether they can play or not & there is a general Prizegiving at the end. We have had two dances. The first was very stupid, all the men stuck fast in the smoking room. Last night it was the 2nd class people & they invited us. They were very keen & we danced hard all the time. They have hardly any ladies: they are nearly all mining engineers & people connected with the mines & were all going straight back to Johannesburg if Lord Roberts lets them come up yet. The people here seem fearfully anxious about their homes & property there: they nearly all left in a great hurry in November.

There are some very rich home owners on board. Two rather nice boys are going out to join the Yeomanry. (Helen interrupts fearfully: she & her Father & Mother all 3 in white & all adorable, are next to my chair)

Mrs Chapman, the Kimberley lady with the dyed hair, Daisy3, told us all about the siege, it was simply horrible. One man she knew who was killed by a shell had his heart blown clean out of him on to the opposite wall. Do you remember her small boy Jack playing with a boat Daisy? He had a bit of shell thro’ his hat. Another man she knew had his wife & 4 children killed by one shell in the garden. Two or three of us know her rather well. She has given us a most pressing invitation to come and stay with her for as long as we like if ever we come near Kimberley, which is unlikely. Most of the nicest people are leaving the ship at Cape Town. There is an awfully nice man named Hull whose father is parson of the parish next to Pab at Hoddesdon4. He has only been home 3 weeks & was suddenly wired for back to Johannesburg: he is a mining engineer. He & another man called Morris have made up a huge list of the horrors we shall meet in Natal.

If we go near a wood we shall be riddled with snake bites: on the veldt we shall be bitten by poisonous spiders, scorpions or red ants. If we survive these beasts & recover from enteric & smallpox, we shall be killed by lightening or die of starvation or drought. They are going to do all sorts of things with us when we get to Johannesburg, which is also unlikely.

The author of the Transvaal from Within5 is on board. He looks the last man in the world to have written anything, very fat & dull. His wife is tall & good looking & nice: they have 4 kids. They are not a very musical lot except a Mrs Ball who sings very well & a man who plays the fiddle splendidly & also the piano. We’re going to have a concert this week & a Fancy Dress Ball. One would get awfully sick of this sort of moving Hotel life: it is quite amusing for a little while, but you can’t get any exercise & the horizon palls as a view after a bit. The evenings are lovely though, when it is cooler & there is the sunset or the moon to look at. People get to know each other very quickly & there are several violent friendships springing up. The chief romance is between the doctor & a mysterious tall fair lady that no-one knows anything about. She looks like anything between a Duchess, a barmaid or an actress. Neither ever speak to anyone else, & whenever you see her you see also the Doctor’s uniform.

Mrs Chapman & a Col Harris both asked if the Luard at Kimberley on Reuters Agency was my brother. Col Harris saw Trant6 seeing me off at Waterloo & was struck by the likeness between him & the Kimberley Luard.

We had rather a nice service today: read very well by the Captain with the Band to play the Hymns & Chants & some of the passengers as choir. Everybody came, the 2nd classes too. & with so many men singing, the hymns went rather well. We had 160 & the old 100th & Peace P.P.7 Did you have 370? It rained a little today for the first time.

This is writing under difficulties. It is too hot to go indoors & the wind blows the papers about out here: when you don’t have to move your chair out of the rain. We see the Southern + overnight. There was a whale one day but I didn’t see it. This boat is said to be a tremendous roller. She certainly doesn’t keep level for many seconds whether the sea is smooth or rough, but I rather like it now. Everyone has long ago left off being ill. We are told there is bad weather ahead nearer the Cape: but we’ve had a brilliant sun everyday so far.

Which week was the Handel Festival?

26.6.00 Cape Town. We got in early this morning & stay till Sat. when we go on to Durban, arriving about the 5th or 6th. There we shall learn our final destination. 12 Sisters get off here. 8 for Winberg & 4 for 2 other hospitals here: 20 left Winberg for the front yesterday. We are being taken about to see everything by the wretched people who may not go up to Johannesburg yet, & are swearing at having been recalled too soon. They take us out for picnics & then come back & dine with us. There was such a [?] tonight across the harbour. Lighting up Table Mtn & all the peaks, & the shipping. There are a good many khaki people about & the place is full of [?]. The Kaffirs are an amazing sight.

Love all

K.E.L