The letter

His last letter home
is now 120 years old
frail, wafer thin paper
copperplate writing in blue ink
words faded and lost at the creases
tear drops have blurred others

His last letter home
was written from Africa
tells of the fury and terror of local thunderstorms
talks of photos and chocolate received
dreams of trips to the seaside
when he gets back
for he will board ship in three weeks

His last letter home
says how he reckons
that the Boers have no fight left
but it seems they did
a few days later they attacked his column
shot him from his horse
killed him

His last letter home
ended with fifteen kisses

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

The letter is in my possession, and was from Charles Stephen Coughtry Wellsted, my Great Grandfather.   Charles was killed on 10th May 1900 at Vredes Verdag in South Africa, three months before his only daughter (my maternal Grandmother) was born. He was 34 years old, a Private in the Royal Scots Greys 2nd Dragoons. The photo is of a Royal Scots Greys  dragoon in Boer War kit.

I do not, as yet, know Charles’ birthday, but he was christened at Snargate Church in Romney Marsh on 17th February 1866.

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