Historian Alan Stennett publishes sixth book Lincolnshire Lads on the Veldt
A POPULAR author, Lincolnshire historian and farming journalist has released his latest book which features letters from two of his relatives.
Alan Stennett from Woodahll Spa has published his sixth book called Lincolnshire Lads on the Veldt which is based on letters from his grandfather and his grandfather's brother, who went out as part of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment to fight in the Boer War, the last Imperial war of the Victorian age.
The brothers, Herbert and Arthur Stennett were from a farm in Lincolnshire and were among a group of volunteers who set out from Lincolnshire to fight in South Africa.
They were part of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment, on their way to join the 'full-time' Regiment in the Boer War of 1899-1903.
While transcribing the letters for the benefit of the family, Alan realised that there was on opportunity to make something more of them when he found reports in the Target's sister newspaper the Lincolnshire Echo from another soldier, Private David Wilkie, in the same group of volunteers.
Alan said: ""I had known of 'the boy's' letters for some time but when I found the newspaper reports, written by a man in the same small unit, I realised they could be put together to show what it was like to take part in one of the last Imperial wars."
In their letters and reports they wrote about the state of their boots, the bad food, the big rivers they had to cross and the reception they got from the locals in unfriendly areas.
They caught up with the Regiment north of Bloemfontein, the capital of the Boer Orange Free State, after 'the coldest and most uncomfortable journey' they had ever had, on top of some railway goods wagons.
All three men were at the fall of Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal republic. With Pretoria captured, everyone expected the war to be over quickly.
However, the Boer 'commandos' did not give up, but took to guerrilla warfare.
Herbert was among a group of Lincolns ambushed at a pass called Silkaatsnek.
One officer and sixteen men of the Lincolns were killed, with many others taken prisoner.
Alan and his wife, Sue, recently followed their route across South Africa.
He said he found it strange to stand in a place where a stray bullet over a century ago might have meant that he would never have been born, but he added that it gave him a new view of his grandfather.
He said: "He did talk about his time in South Africa, but it didn't seem real until I went to those same places – I just wish that I had asked him more about it when I had the chance."
Lincolnshire Lads on the Veldt is available in local bookshops priced £11.99 or from Alan, plus £1.50 p&p, at Woodhall Junction, Kirkstead Bridge, Woodhall Spa, LN10 6QX.