Under the Union Jack, No. 31, Vol. 2, June 9th 1900

June 9,1900.] UNDER. THE UNION JACK. 741 POINTS ON THE WAR NEWS. B Any U itla n r.OW,ed Colonel,” said a Reuter’s correspondent recently, “just one last thing. There has been a good deal said about yourself by the news­papers and the English public. They have sent you more than one message. We pressmen are the plenipotentiaries of the people. Can you not give me a message to send to the people of England ?”Colonel Baden-Powell looked embar­rassed. “Well,” he replied, “you see these chaps have got an exaggerated idea of the importance of my personality, whereas I look upon myself as the figurehead of the good ship Mafeking. It has been her stout canvas and the shape of her brave hull that has really shoved the ship along, and brought her safely through her stormy cruise so whenever I read nice things people say about me, I take it that they said them inasmuch as I am the head, or the representative of the garrison. Anything more?”“No, thank you, sir ?”Some idea of the miseries of the poor people who have been shut up in Mafeking can be gleaned from an extract of •a letter j.ust received, dated January 22nd. It was written by the mother of four little girls. “When shall we be relieved ?Surely England cannot have deserted us. Hettie and Nellie lie in the cemetery, baby lies in her cot a little skeleton, and •as I.write my tears fall on the pallid face of Winnie. She is dying." Could anything be more unutterably sad ?Military men in Germany are lavish in their praises of Baden-Powell, and those who have held out under him. The Cologne Gazette says that the siege will ever remain a glorious page in the history of the English people. The Rhenish organ asks :“What was it that enabled the little band to maintain their position for such a length of time ?”and gives the following explanation. “There there was one thing, and one thing only, to be defended—the honour of the English name. The glory of the British soldier is that he •does his duty in the most difficult circumstances, and can holdout to the very last until his physical strength deserts him. The Mafeking garrison represents the spirit of the English people, which is convinced of its own thorough soundness. Its victory is for the English people anew proof that their confidence in themselves and their own strength is not a mistaken one. The dispassionate observer must admit ¦that these feelings are justified in the present instance.” Day by day the news that arrives from South Africa is very gratifying, and points to an early conclusion of the war. The strategy of Lord Roberts has met with brilliant success— a success that goes on increasing. Outflanked is the one word which explains each Boer collapse, and it appears as if the operation were likely to become common each day. Now, too, that Roberts is across the Vaal, the devastating progress •of his army will press upon the Transvaalers themselves— quite a different thing in impressing those gentry with the horrors of war from sufferings of the kind endured by the people of the Free State. We hope that the question, “Shall I be killed myself?” will have a much weightier influence upon Kruger’s burghers than the question, “Shall my brother Free Stater be killed?” had on him. And then let there be only half a chance of the Boer losing his farm and cattle, and he will throw up the sponge. Colonel Mahon, who commanded the Mafeking relief force, is one of the men who have made a reputation u uler Lord Kitchener in the Soudan. Mahon, though only a j mior major in the 8th Hussars, has the rank of full colonel in the Army, a rank won step by instep Egypt, and the Chief of the Staff in South Africa has a great belief in his ability and resourcefulness. A proof of the endurance and pluck of Mahon is that when Lord Roberts’s summons to South Africa reached him in the Soudan he "was absolutely crippled by a fall from his horse. He accepted the call gladly, and recovered his strength on the voyage out. He has certainly justified the confidence reposed in him, and his wonderful march will belong remembered by a grateful country. Some narrow escapes from bullets in search of a human billet have been recorded in the current campaign. Of course we have the ancient chestnut of a Tommy’s life having been saved by the copy of the Bible which he carried in his “pooch,” but what is not less remarkable is the statement that Major Baden-Powell—a brother of the new Major- General— had a watch smashed in his pocket, but escaped without injury and a trooper, carrying a pack of cards, trumped the tricks of a Boer sniper on the edge of the ace of spades. Bennet Burleigh tells the following story from Bloem­fontein:“ A well-known general was inspecting the quarters of one of the regiments of his brigade. He is mighty par­ticular about smells. Inspection was over, and the general was visiting the mess tent to partake of the regimental hospitalit}-. Suddenly he sniffed most audibly, and added,“ You’ve got a dead mule hereabout why don’t you go and bury it ?”He was assured that there was no such thing buried within a mile of the camp. “Nonsense men, I’ll show you you’re mistaken. It’s horrible !you must have it removed, or your men will all get ill.” Then he snuffed around, and pointed triumphantly to a big grave of freshly overturned earth. “There, I knew it,” he cried. “It is buried in that grave. This will never do, sir,” he said to the colonel. “The matter is too serious to be overlooked, and the case shall be noticed. Have the carcase removed and reburied orie mile out from all camps upon the veldt.” He was preparing to walkaway in high dudgeon, without his luncheon and whisky, when the colonel took it upon himself to explain that some too generous donor had sent the regiment ioolbs. of cheese, and it was that odorous present the officers and men had by consent buried, and were sorry that they were unable to get it planted deeper than six feet owing to having reached bedrock. From the Telegraph's special correspondent we have an interesting communication giving details of the operations in Northern Natal, where Dutchmen are surrendering inconsiderable numbers with their arms. Laing’s Nek tunnel was destroyed in a most unique manner. A truck loaded with dynamite was placed in the centre of the tunnel, and then two trains from opposite ends were started off. They collided against the dynamite truck, which exploded. The action of the explosive does not cover avery wide area, and the damage done is not so great as was expected. Buller’s engineers will soon repair it, thus opening the railway, avery important consideration to his advance. A soldier with Roberts's main force has sent home a peculiar memoriam card, which reads on the one :“Inside remembrance of Cronje, who succumbed to an attack of *Bobs’ on Majuba day, February 27,1900. ‘Not lost, but gone before ’—to St. Helena ”—and on the other side: “Though taken away from a world of strife, he leaves a ‘ Steyn ’behind him.” THE BACK NUMBERS OF “UNDER THE UNION JACK” CAN BE HAD OF GEORGE NEWNES, LTD.
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