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Category: Letters by Smith to his wife Mary Ann, during the Boer War 1899-1900

These letters were written by Smith to his wife, Mary Ann, during the early days of his service in South Africa during the Second Anglo-Boer War. Smith describes his daily life, including details of his living conditions, diet, kit, the manouevres of the British forces, and the loss of human life he witnesses. Key events of the War are described first hand, including the Battle of Colenso, the Battle of Spion Kop, the Battle of Vaal Krantz and the Battle of Johannesburg. Later letters are written whilst Smith is stationed in Kroonstad, the site of British concentration camps to accommodate Boer women and children. Smith describes the destruction of farms and home wrought by both British and Boer forces, and is critical of the decisions made by Generals and leaders of both sides of the conflict.

These letters appear to have been kept as they cover the period of time before Smith started his official war diary. In the letters, Smith requests that Mary Ann keep the letters as historical record. At some point, either Smith or his wife has redacted sections of the text with black ink. It is assumed that these sections included discussion of personal matters, or comment that Smith did not want read after the fact. There are also whole pages, and whole letters missing.

21 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 29 Oct 1900

This is only one page of a letter, of which the rest has been lost. It has sections redacted in black ink, which are assumed to be on personal subjects and not related to Smith’s work in South Africa. The letter is undated, but Smith mentions the death of Prince Christian Victor, which occurred on the 29 October 1900. In this letter Smith writes on the following subjects: the recent death of a fellow officer [Major Hanwell?]; the death and mourning of…

22 – Undated partial letters to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, c. Jul-Aug 1900

These are three folios from separate letters from Smith to his wife. None of them include salutations or valedictions, and it is unclear when they date from. It is possible that they are pages from letters catalogued earlier in this file. Partial letter marked ‘3’ – Smith writes on the following subjects: Smith occupying a house;…