1900: "Surprised to be alive!" Captain Sergison writes about front line experiences in the Boer War

Sussex Agricultural Express - Saturday 06 January 1900


CAPTAIN SERGISON AT THE FRONT


Letters have been received from Captain Sergison, of Cuckfield Park, who is in the Scots Guards with General force.


On November 24th, after the battle of Belmont, Capt. Sergison wrote that he got safe back quite surprised to be still alive. He narrates several adventures, and said the man next to him was killed, so he "tucked in close" and fired at the Boer guns. It was impossible to see any Boers, the sun being in his eyes.


They held on until the artillery came up, when the Coldstreams advanced, and took a hill, and the Scots Guards got the final position with a wild "view halloo" from himself. On November 25th, after Captain Sergison wrote that, he was so dead beat that he only just crawled back to camp, and got to a pond for a drink. As soon as he had had a wash they were sent to guard the railway. He slept out again and slept sound.

1st Scots Guards non-commissioned officers. The Battalion fought at Belmont, Graspan, Modder River and Magersfontein in 1899 in the Boer War. Photograph courtesy of britishbattles.com

On Sunday, November 26th, writing from Graspan, Captain Sergison said he was nearly cooked the previous day. He caught 18 chicken for his company—a welcome addition to the commissariat.


On November 29th, from Modder River, Captain Sergison described his experiences in the 28 hours' marching and fighting. The river, he says, was like the Thames at Bray. One bullet hit the stopper of his water bottle, a second broke his rifle bolt, and third struck his field ' glass. The heat was awful all day, and they did not have even a drop of water until two o'clock—when they “had some biscuits." Captain Sergison said they never saw a Boer all day shoot at, which made it hopeless work. The Boers have “nothing to learn in the art of war." and the British “had not got a friend among the Boers," so it was difficult to get information. On Dec 8th Captain Sergison wrote that he had just got over three days' fever from sunstroke.

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