From 17 trunks in a Lakeland attic comes this eyewitness account of a soldier's life at a pivotal moment in the history of the British Empire. Allan Marriot Hutchins, handsome, quick-witted and adventurous, was one of thousands of young men from the shires who, in 1900, volunteered to fight determined, well-armed Boers in a war that foreshadowed the later carnage of the twentieth century, fought with maxim guns, heavy artillery and bitter reprisals against guerrillas and civilians.
Allan served as a yeomanry trooper in South Africa and later as a commissioned officer in India where he distinguished himself in the Abor campaign to secure the little-explored frontier between Assam and China. His letters home and the letters he received from home and which still survive, his diaries and thoughts paint a picture of both the man and the wheels of history turning.
`He cannot write' said his schoolmaster but Allan can write and his writing brings to life the hardships and adventures of campaigning in hostile, alien terrain against an often invisible enemy. He describes the same modest aspirations, companionship and numbing routine encountered by today's front-line soldiers.