The Boer War diary of Colour Sgt John Thomas Pegum, 1st Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales Volunteers)

-3- The 1 st Battalion South Lancashire Regiment. The Battalion arrived in CapeTown Harbour 20th.December arrived in Durham 23rd. then went to Escourt arrived 24th. December and camped there. We rose every morning here at 5 a.m. and went on Parade at 5.20 a.m. Done some stiff skirmishes to get us into form. King's Lancaster Regt. Y. I. Lancashire and Lancashire Fusiliers also Warren's Light Horse formed our Brigade. We lost two men at sea coming out Privates Thompson and Cliffe. Private Parker died at Escourt from enteric fever. I met an old C.S Kavanagh knew my father in Limerick (He belongs to Imperial Light Infantry). Several men admitted into hospital with enteric fever. We left Escourt 9th. January 1900 arrived Frere camp same day. The Company went on outpost duty on 8th. inst. for 24 hours 7 p.m. a storm arose and we had only one blanket per man and it soon became wet so we had to standup in the rain all night. The next morning at 3 a.m. 9th. inst. our Division received an order to advance. We were brought in off duty in a hurry and we got one biscuit per man. The tea was thrown away as the Regt. could not keep it for us they having to pack up. It rained in torrents all day and were drenched through to the skin. We stood four hours in the rain this was owing to the transport not be(ing) able to get along the dirty roads and hills. We arrived at Frere as stated before about 7.30 p.m. after a hard march. We pitched our camp but to our disadvantage our blankets were still wet so we had to lay on the wet ground. We struck camp about 12 mid-day and marched off making our way to Pretorius Farm. We were marching till 12 midnight we crossed a river. We were up to our knees, the water getting into our boots. We succeeded in getting all troops across by 2 a.m. We then halted and everyman got down on the side of the road tired and weary. I shall never forget this night the roads were so slippery and dirty that several men fellas they marched along. We soon fell asleep. We arrived in Pretorius Farm next day where the 4th. Division was. The 4th. Div was ordered to advance and we had only just pitched camp when we also received an order togo with them to a place called Springfield. It was avery hot day and many of the men went short of water. When the men saw any sort of water in ditches they fell out to get it. It was reported that 7000 Boers and 6 guns occupied Springfield and hearing of our advance they retired leaving a good bridge untouched. We fully expected to come into action. We arrived at Springfield about 7 p.m. We got some biscuits and meat to eat. We knew that the Boers were not faraway so our artillery was not long before they got into position. As it got dark we changed our position for fear the Boers would send some shells amongst us. Some of our Lancers were the first to sight the enemy. Two of them were shot. So we again lay down on the ground to sleep without great-coats. Next morning we crossed a river to get abetter position. This time we took off our boots and pulled our trousers up to our knees. Then we pitched our camp. We rested here three days waiting for further orders.
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