This letter below is from an old newspaper clipping from the family archive:
Another letter from the front
The following letter has been received from Pte. A. Buttle (Pocklington), of the Volunteer Company of the East Yorkshire Regiment, now serving at the front :-
May 23rd, 1900.
A few lines to let you know how I am going on. No doubt you would hear of the send-off we had at Beverley. We arrived in London about 6 a.m.on the Saturday, had refreshment at Kings Cross station, then retrained for Southampton. We arrived at Southampton about 2 p.m., and embarked at once on the Pembroke Castle, a splendid boat and sailed out of the harbour at 4 p.m., and very soon the shores of old England began to vanish, the sea being beautiful and calm, and the weather grand. The scenery along the coast line made a splendid picture in the sunset, most of us having a good look before we retired for the night. We were served out with two blankets and hammock, so had to perch ourselves up to the roof, no end of fun going on, some getting in with a good deal of capering, others who had not made their hammock secure, came trundling down, and I happened to be one of the unfortunate. I think it must have been my weight, however, I slept very well, not having much rest the night previous, but, my word, they had us up in good time, 5-30 a.m., and if you were not out there and then, you were in danger of being dropped suddenly. Sunday, we had divine service in the morning, conducted by Capt. Mortimer, there being no Parson on board. The remainder of the day very quiet. Monday, our drill duties began, which consisted of two drills in the morning. If we did not have the second drill, we had lectures on the present system of the war that was going on in South Africa. On the Tuesday, a good many of us got inoculated as a prevention against the fevers that are so prevalent out here. I got over mine quite well, but some fellows had rather a bad time of it. It makes you feel bad for two days. However, as well as I got over, I want no more of it. You get about one inch and a half of the inserting lance into your left side. The weather still continued to be all that could be desired. We stayed at Las Palmas on Thursday to coal. Here the natives came on board with fruit and tobacco. After we left here we sighted Cape DeVere on the Sunday, and were not in sight of the land again until we reached the Cape, the monotony of journeying being broken by sports and concerts. We arrived at Cape town on the ?th after a very pleasant voyage, the food being up to the mark. We disembarked on the 17th, and went into camp at Greenpoint, just outside the town. We were close to the Boer prisoners who were captured at Cronja, and the captured guns were also there. The place we encamped upon was all sand so that when we had our food we got a good mixture of sand with it, the food itself being of very rough nature. It was no use grumbling, we had to put up with it. We stayed at Greenpoint Camp two nights and one day, and then we got orders to move again. We left the camp at one p.m. on Wednesday 16th, and embarked on the Urmston Grange to Port Elizabeth, the Urmston Grange being a tub of a boat compared with the Pembroke Castle, dirty, and overrun with rats. However, we got over that bit of roughing and arrived at Port Elizabeth, and as far as I could see it is a very pretty place with some fine buildings in it. Time we were there one of the large transport steamers broke out on fire and being ladened with forage, was still burning when we left. We entrained about one o'clock p.m. for Bloemfontein. I might mention it was ther that we heard of the relief of Mafeking there being great rejoicing and the next day (Monday) a holiday. Off once more, and all ...???(damaged)???... got a good reception, everybody seemed to be shaking hands with themselves. We arrived at Bloemfontien on the Tuesday night ?? ????, ??? a very tiring journey. We had to turn out of our carriages at Springfontein and mount onto some luggage trucks, and we rode about 90 miles perched upon some waggons that were in the trucks. I saw many dead horses lying about there where some of the battles had been fought. One need not wonder how it is that the Boers take so much shifting from their fortifications, if they could only see the hills they form splendid natural fortifications. After leaving the station, we had about two miles to go to the camp and we got there about two a.m., and so had to lay out in the open. All being very tired we were soon asleep, but when we woke in the morning I never saw such a dirty-looking lot of individuals in all my life. What with smuts from the engine, and the sand we kicked up marching into camp, and having a fornight's whiskers on. I think if Kruger could have seen us he would have "hopped" it. However, we got a good wash and some breakfast and then our tents turned up. We are still camped here at the time of writing. I have had a look into Bloemfontein, I don't care for it a bit. There certainly is a few fine buildings, but when that's said, all's said. The party I went down with, after having a good look round, fell hungry, went into the Temperance hotel for refreshments, and, by the way of a luxury, cups of tea and mutton chops. The tea was alright, but the chops, what chops! about the size of a five-shilling piece each, with plenty of bone in them. Someone had a cup of tea alone, and paid up before the others had finished the chops. His cup of tea being sixpence, we began to wonder how much the rest would be and very soon a feeble voice asked how much? 2/6 please, said the waitress. I really believe if the chairs had not been very strong we should have gone through ! What we got for 2s 6d we could have got at home anywhere for 6d. Then they tell us things have got back to their usual prices ! We are under orders for the front. There is much sickness in the camp.
"How Much ? !!" - I was amused to read that this true Yorkshireman was more concerned about paying too much for his meal, than complaining about his testing times on the war front! - Admin