Sunday 31st December
I wish you all a Happy New Year. On Xmas Day I went to Mrs Eitzens to dinner. We had cold fowl which was a treat. They are all very well. I visit Kershaw's & Humphreys occasionally and they all seem well. Things are beginning to look very serious. So far as food supplies go everything is now being rationed out every store has been taken over by the Military & tomorrow a new proclamation will be issued stating the amount of meat allowed for each person per day. Meat is getting very scarce, sometimes I have not had any for 2 days together. The proclamation I refer to above is No 12 in the paper & I have got a situation as manager of one of the stores, under the proclamation, under the Military. Mrs Humphreys was kind enough to let me know that a number of these supply stores were going to be opened, so I applied at once and got one. The screw is not very much, only 17/10/- per month, but of course I did not want to be doing nothing so I took this on. I commenced on the 26th Dec. & my store is near the workshops down Transvaal Road. I have an assistant & we start business at 6 o'clock in a morning until 6 at night. These stores have been opened for supplying natives with foodstuffs. You will see notices in the papers that several business places are closing up on account of all their stocks being sold out & all the assistants in the produce stores have been sacked. I hear that Neil Paddons have given most of their young fellows notice. I am truly thankful that you are not here, for you could never have stood the inconvenience of not been [sic - (being)] able to get the proper necessaries & having to go & stand probably for hours trying to get a little meat. The Military take over the control of the meat on the 3rd of Jan'y & it is to be served out at the new market buildings. Barriers are being erected at the side entrances & these will be guarded to prevent crushing. Vegetables are also to be served out in the market buildings. These are very scarce & are brought in from Wesselton (the only place they can be got) by the Military wagons, under armed escort on a/c of the Boers firing on them during the time they are being gathered. This is the 11th week of the siege & we seem no nearer in getting to the end (except to the end of food). Somewhere at the beginning of this epistle I said that at places where the Boers had taken, "that it would not be for long", however they are still occupying them and the majority of people, in fact everybody including Rhodes himself, is surprised & would not have believed that Kimberley would be cut off from the outer world for so long. The British have a tougher job than they anticipated, in fact they underestimated the Boer strength all together. The Relief Column is still at Modder River and are unable to get through, the Boers are so well fortified in the Kopje this side of the River and entrenchments. It is no use Lord Methuen who has command of the Column leaving there until he has completely demolished the Boers, or that he has a complete victory. This is one of the Boers' strongest positions & when this battle is finished, it is generally understood that it practically breaks the back of the war.
|24th December 1899|