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THE BOER WAR - THE SINGLETON ARGUS - THURSDAY, 5TH APRIL, 1900
A SENSATIONAL EXPERIENCE - HOW A TROOPER ESCAPED FROM THE BOERS -
Trooper Percy Morris of Singleton, who was with the column which captured Cronje and his party, writes from the spot, under date February 27th. ‘You will be surprised to learn that I was, last night, a prisoner in the Boer Camp. I had a remarkable experience. The New South Wales Mounted Infantry went out yesterday morning at 3am in a reconnoitering patrol. My division was sent ahead of the other three divisions at a distance of about seven miles. We were travelling all day and at 4 o’clock in the afternoon we got into a trap. Owing to re-enforcements not keeping within proper range of us, the enemy cut us off.
We did not notice this at first and were travelling on. About a mile distant some men were noticed and four of us were sent on ahead to see who they were. When we got very close up Trooper Brady, of Singleton, and myself started to ride up a big kopje overlooking Maider’s Farm. The other two men of ours went on. When we got to the top of the kopje we saw at once we were in a trap. Before I had time to say a word a Boer jumped up and demanded that I should throw up my arms. I tried to get my rifle levelled at the Boer, but as I did I saw a great swarm of the enemy coming in my direction and I had no alternative but to surrender. Brady, fortunately, was not seen by them and managed to make good his escape.
The Boers then escorted me to the camp. Afterwards they led four more of our men to the camp as prisoners, and later on two men who were wounded. When we were all together they calmly told us to be ready next morning, as they intended to shoot us. They refused to give us any water to drink, although we were parched. When I asked for a drink they replied they liked torturing Australians, and then kill them afterwards. That night, though tired, I never slept. I thought perhaps that I might be able to escape. I waited my chance.
At about 2 o’clock in the morning I noticed that the Boer sentry, who was left to watch us, dozed off to sleep. I crawled cautiously on my knees out of the camp and got clear so far. Then I found I had to get past a patrol. He was asleep on his horse. Stealthily I crept up, and snatching his rifle from him, shot him, as he fell from his horse I jumped on the animal and galloped off.
The horse stumbled with me frequently in the darkness, but fortune favoured me and I got away. During the campaign I have seen many narrow escapes. I have been under fire many times and twice my horse was shot under me. Once a bullet pierced my helmet and took the heel off my boot. I was present when General Cronje surrendered, but I suppose you have heard all about that."