zaterdag 9 juni 2012

Robert Erskine Childers -- 10 juni 1900

June 10. -- Sunday. -- I and Williams are stablemen, and the rest have gone to church parade. We have just had an icy wash with far-fetched water in an old ammunition box. The weather has turned very cold again at nights, with considerable frost. I have been sleeping out again though since the first week of our coming here, finding snug lairs under the quartermaster's stores. We have marching order parades most days now, and are pretty hard-worked. Yesterday we were reviewed by General Pretyman, together with another field-battery and a pom-pom battery. We trotted about in various formations, and the guns went into action once; and that was all. Our guns got into action quicker than either of the regular batteries. A message was communicated to us by the General from Lord Roberts, saying we must not be disappointed at not having gone to the front; that there was plenty more work to be done, and that meanwhile we were doing very useful work in helping to guard this place. I am afraid we are not very sanguine, but we never entirely lose hope, and a wild idea that this review and the other day's inspection might be preliminary to an order to go up, cheered us up a lot for the time. Camp rumours, too, are just as prolific and as easily swallowed as before. Latterly there have been all sorts of mysterious reports about the Boers having got behind Roberts, re-taken Kroonstadt and cut the railway, massacring various regiments, whose names change hourly. A camp rumour is a wonderful thing. Generally speaking, there are two varieties, cook-shop rumours and officers' servants' rumours. Both are always false, but there is a slightly more respectable mendacity about the latter than the former. The cooks are always supposed to know if we are changing camp by getting orders about rations in advance. Having this slight advantage, they go out of their way to make rumours on every sort of subject. How many scores of times the cooks have sent us to the front I shouldn't like to say. Officers' servants of course pick up scraps of information from their masters' tents; in the process of transmission to the battery at large the original gets wide variations. We are often just like kitchenmaids and footmen discussing their betters. You will hear heated arguments going on as to the meaning of some overheard remarks, and the odd thing is that it no longer seems strange.

Robert Erskine Childers (1870-1922) was een Ierse schrijver en politiek activist. Hij was soldaat in de Zuid-Afrikaanse Boerenoorlog, en hield in die periode dagboeknotities bij, die later zijn gepubliceerd onder de titel In the Ranks of the C.I.V.

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