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Off to South Africa


This is a transcription of a newspaper article the original of which, in parts, is in poor condition

Under the auspices of the Waltham Abbey Troop of the Essex Imperial Yeomanry, a farewell dinner was, at the New Inn, on Friday evening, given in honour of Trooper Hughes, who is about to leave this country for South Africa.  Lieutenant Roddick (in command of the Waltham Abbey Troop) was in the chair, and the vice-chair was occupied by Sergeant Weedon.  Among the company were several members of the Cross and Abbey Rifle Club, to which Trooper Hughes had capably acted as secretary.  Trooper Hughes occupied a seat at the head of the table next to the chairman, and those who had assembled to bid the parting guest God-speed included, in addition to those mentioned, Sergeant Riggs, Sergeant-Major Silwood, Sergeant Seager, Corporal Welch, Mr J B Gough, Mr Carter, Mr Burgess, and Mr Crocker.  Trooper Curle successfully superintended the musical arrangements.  A capital dinner was served by Host Bradshaw, the cuisine of whose house is now widely known for its excellence. - After dinner the Chairman, in suitable language, proposed the loyal toasts, which were honoured with true military enthusiasm.- In a neat speech, Mr Burgess submitted “The Imperial Forces,” to which Sergeant Riggs and Sergeant-Major Silwood responded.


The first three words on the first line are obscured but probably read

During the rest of the evening the Chairman said the pleasure which yeomen sic always (received?) obsure from dining together received on that occasion an added zest by the fact that they were met to pay a mark of respect on one of their comrades, who was going to strike out a new line for himself in a far away country.  But their pleasure was tinged with sadness when they remembered that the Waltham Abbey Troop was about to lose one of its best members (“Hear, hear.”)  In saying that he was expressing the unanimous feeling of the Troop; it was certainly the feeling of the officers whose pleasure it had been to have Trooper Hughes under their command (applause.)  Any man when leaving this country (to serve?) words obscure out a new career must do so with a certain (amount?) obscure of sadness and doubt as to what his future (would?) obscure be.  He was sure, so far as their friend Hughes was concerned, that the character he had built up for himself in this country, would go a long way to support him in the country to which he was going, (Applause.)  In a country like Africa energy and straightforwardness must come to the front, and those qualities were possessed by Trooper Hughes in an unusual degree.  (Applause.)  There was no doubt that he would help to form a link in the chain which was binding together the huge Imperial Empire of Great Britain.  During the time that Trooper Hughes had been in the Yeomanry he had attended all drills except one.  (Applause.)  That showed that his heart had been in his work, and unless a man’s heart was in his work he could never expect to excel.  What was more, Trooper Hughes had won the respect of his comrades, which was one of the greatest honours that any man could achieve.  (Applause.)  He hoped that when in South Africa Trooper Hughes would be protected from all those personal dangers and, if he might say so, those moral dangers by which he would be beset and which were apt to spoil and even ruin the finest character.  (“Hear, hear.”)  He (the chairman) had “been through a little bit of both” and whilst he did not like to preach, he would earnestly caution their departing comrade against the dangers to which he had referred.  (“Hear, hear.”)  On behalf of the Waltham Abbey Troop, he had been asked to present to Trooper Hughes a small memento, in the shape of a testimonial and a fountain pen, of his comrades’ respect and goodwill.  (Applause.)  He hoped the pen would be an inducement to Trooper Hughes to keep up communication with his old friends in Waltham Abbey, who he was sure, would always be delighted to keep up communications with him.  (Applause.)  In the name of the Troop, he had the greatest of pleasure in making the presentation to Trooper Hughes and wishing him God-speed on the voyage upon which he was about to enter.  (Cheers.)

In response, Trooper Hughes, who met with an enthusiastic reception, said it was with mixed feelings that he had to thank his comrades for the most kind and hearty reception they had accorded him.  He was grateful to them both for their reception and for the handsome testimonial and present which had come from them.  It was with feelings of the deepest regret that he severed his connection with the Waltham Abbey Troop of the Essex Imperial Yeomanry.  On the other hand it was gratifying to him to know that he had, at least to some extent, won the respect and goodwill of his comrades.  (Applause.)  The pleasant times he had spent with the Yeomanry, especially in camp, would remain ever green in his memory.  He would never look back upon his past associations with the Waltham Abbey without thinking of the men whom he had learned so much to admire.  He would treasure the testimonial that had been given to him as his most precious possession, and whenever he used the pen his thoughts would revert to those whose gift it was.  (Applause.)  As to the Rifle Club, he must say candidly that he first joined it from the perhaps selfish motive of making himself proficient in shooting.  He soon found, however, that it was not a first principle with Riflemen, any more than it was with Yeomen, to look after themselves only.  On the contrary, they did all that they could to help others.  (Applause.)  If ever he returned to this country again, and he found that the Riflemen or the Yeomanry were in need of recruits, he would be only too pleased to offer himself for membership.  (Applause.)  He hoped that his ardour for the Yeomanry would not die with his departure from the old country.  When he had settled down in the country to which he was going he hoped to be able to join a Colonial contingent. (Applause.)  Again he asked them to accept his thanks for the most pleasant and hearty farewell which had been given to him.  (Loud applause.)

The “Health of the Visitors” was fittingly proposed by Sergt. Seager, and acknowledged by Mr Gough and Mr Carter.

The concluding toast “The Chairman” was given by Sergeant Weedon, who, the heartiest applause, remarked that Lieutenant Roddick was the best and most popular troop commander in the regiment.

In reply, the Chairman said he did not merit half the kind things that had been said about him.  He claimed for the Waltham Abbey Troop that it comprised of the best fellows in the Regiment, and said that if regular attendance was maintained at the drills, the troop would be second to none in efficiency.  (Applause.)

A pleasant evening was brought to a close with the singing of the National Anthem and “Auld Lang Syne.”

During the evening, capital songs and renditions were rendered by various members of the company.


The above article was possibly published on Friday 2 April 1903 as there is a reference on the reverse side to a letter dated 1 April 1903.  Looking at a calendar the Friday referred to in the article is likely to be Friday 27 March 1903  Trooper George Hughes died in Blomfontein on 8 February 1905.  There are also two letters written to his sister Charlotte Bavister (Great Grandmother), one on 4 July 1904 and possibly his last letter on 5 December 1904.

Many thanks to David Bavister for providing this transcription

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