On Thursday morning Newtown was early astir to give hearty and enthusiastic send-off to the gallant members of the 5th V.B.S.W.B. who have volunteered for active service in South Africa.
The day was a memorable one. The section numbering 23 mobilised at Newtown on Saturday and went through a course of training during the week and Thursday was fixed for their departure for Brecon for their final examination and preparation.
The programme for the morning was as follows: Parade, 8.30; Divine service at 9; departure of train, 9.45, and long before the appointed time the men could be seen wending their way to the Armoury and there was a fair muster of the memebrs of “A” and “B” Companies to give their brave comrades a magnificent send-off.
A procession was formed outside the Armouny and headed by the band and burglers the men marched down Broad Street in the following order: – Colonel E. Pryce Jones, M.P., Commanding Officer, section for South Africa, Captain Walker, and members of “A” and “B” Companies. Captain A.W. Pryce-Jones, Lieut.-Surgeon Raywood, Quartermaster W.F. Richards and Sir Lennox Napier, Bart, were also in attendance, and the procession presented a brilliant spectatcle as it proceeded through the densely crowded streets to the Parish Church to the stirring strains of “Tommy Atkins” and other patriotic airs. At the Church the service was conducted by the Rev. G. Roberts, whilst Captain Walker read the lessons.
The Rev. J.S. Lewis delivered a stirring address on the words “Be strong and of good courage.” In the course of his remarks he said that they were soliders of our noble Queen who were going forth from our midst that day, and were going to perform duties which were theirs at home as well as their own. He need not tell them that they had the best wishes and deppest sympathies of all, and he ommended them to the care and blessing of God, and while they at home fercently prayed for all soliders they should specially bear them in mind in the prayers which would be offered until the war was over. They did not come under the Psalmist’s ban “against tnose who delight in war.”
They delighted in bravery and skill, and it was only under the sternest sense of duty that they declared war against any peope. In the present case it was not we who had began the war but
it was due to a state of misrule which had long been intolerale in South Africa. They were not desirous of making their Empire greater than it was. The present burden was as much as we could bear. Whatever our neoughbours might affect to think, that was a case of necessity, and all that Empire had been forced upon us.
He did not doubt that they (the soliders) would shew themselves brave, but he earnestly implored them to act as soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. They must not forget to as God to protect them in the labour before them, and preserve them from all evil, and, if it be His will, bring them safely through it all. At any rate, may none of them be found missing at the Last Day.
After the organist, Mr. Macrone, had played “God Save the Queen,” the vast audience left the church, and the procession was re-formed, being now augmented by a contihent of the Imperial Yeomanry, who joined en route for the station. Here the crowd was frantic, and cheer after cheer went up as the brave fellows were escorted to the station to meet the train.
On reaching the station the road became almost impassable, crowds of people occupying every available space to witness the proceedings, and as the men neared the entrance they were again accorded rounds and rounds of vociferous cheering.
The men were formed into position on the down platform, and here they were besieged by a crowd of well-wishers who desired to give their friends a parting handshake, and the platform was soon a mass of humanity despite the strenuous efforts of the police, under Sergt. Morgan, to keep the way clear.
The excitement and enthusiasm at this period of the proceedings was intense, and those who could get near or touch the uniform of the brave fellows seemed satisfied. At last the train steamed into the station, and every one turned to get near the “gallant 23” to have a parting word. Sergt. Astley was hoisted shoulder high by some enthusiastic members of the Imperial Yeomanry, and Bugler W. Clayton and Private Dick Morris were also each hauled up and carried a few yards to the train.
That part of the crowd who could not get near the contended themselves with singing snatches of “Marching to Pretoria,” “Tommy Atkins,” “The Girl I left behind me,” “Auld Lang Syne,” and other patriotic and rousing airs.
Col. Pryce Jones, M.P., was in the midst of his men through all the turmoil of the populace and endeavoured to give them a parting word. The noise and cheering was however such that he could not possibly get a hearing, but not to be denied the gallant colonel jumped into the train as it went out of the station amidst the most enthusiastic, and in one or two cases, pathetic scenes, and at Moat Lane, where the train had a short hault, he delived to the men a parting message.
At Moat Lane, Llandiloes, and intermediate stations the men were accorded hearty cheers as the train passed through and their send-off was equal in enthusiasm to any that could be accorded under any circumstances, and the outburst of feeling was also quite spontaneous.
Copyright - Montgomery County Times and Shropshire and Mid-Wales Advertiser, 27-01-1900 - - Transcribed by Kjell Hanssen