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Durban Club Natal 1915Henry’s leave is up and he’s waiting for a ship to take him back. What do you think he’s feeling after two-and-a-half years of war?

Durban Club, Natal – 12th March 1918

Back in Durban waiting for a ship to take us to East Africa. I had an enjoyable three weeks in Johannesburg, whence I wrote you but the weather there could hardly have been worse. Rain and thunderstorms every other day. I got in a little golf and tennis and had a few motor runs round the country with some friends, to whom I had an introduction.

I went down a gold mine and got half drowned for my pains, owing to the rains almost flooding out the workings. We went down the Crown Mine, another lad and I, escorted by the manager. 2000 feet by hoist and we performed the journey to the next level on something like a water shute. There we saw them working at the “face” of the reef, drilling and blasting, and I took away a specimen of the quartz as a souvenir. There is no gold visible in it and it is quite a complicated process extracting it. There is only about 4% worth of gold in a ton of quartz. I saw it in various stages and finally in the form of gold bricks, each weighing 600 ounces and worth about £2500 when the bank takes possession of it. I was glad to get on terra firma again, pretty much the same feeling after I had been up in an aeroplane!

I am looking forward to finding a pile of letters from you when I get back to the battalion, as of course i have had nothing for months, likewise from Andy from whom I have not heard at all. I have resumed acquaintance with my fellow voyagers on the “Walmer Castle” [the ship that took him to Africa] who have a fine place up in the Berea [a ridge above Durban], and who have been very kind and hospitable.

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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.