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Archive of General Sir Archibald Hunter GCB GCVO DSO TD LLD
at the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum, Lancaster.

Kitchener - Hunter Letters in the Sudan

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 2nd August 1897
“Headquarters, Egyptian Army
2nd Aug 1897

My Dear Hunter
I am sending this by Spong to replace Hill-Smith.  I am sorry the later has broken down the one man difficult to replace hope he may now be better if he is he may of course go on with you but one should return after Abu Hamed as soon as possible.  Your boy’s information is I think all wrong Abd el [   ]  again will meet you on the fifth at Huella he leaves Murrat on the 1st to do this. 
The steamers will I hope start tomorrow if the Akasha gets in with the gear and Beatty.  Flint and his camels have arrived and after 2 days rest will go on so you ought to have a good deal of stuff.  I have not yet heard of the arrival of the second lot of camels for your but hope they are in at Kassinger by now.  No news of any reinforcements going to Abu Hamed - we have sent off a good many officers with supplies it will  be very interesting to know when they reach you.  Things seem to be quiet again at Gakdul  Muhammad still at [    ] there is a report that forts are being constructed at Shabbuka [Sabaluka] the 6th Cataract.
I hope all may go well with you and that you may have a chance giving their beans at Abu Hamed.

Yours very truly
Herbert Kitchener”

Accession Number: KO2686/088

* Captain C S Spong of the Royal Army Medical Corps (Captain of the Rugby Football Club at Guy’s Hospital 1881-82)
* Captain H E Hill-Smith of the Royal Army Medical Corps
* The Akasha was a steam transport vessel used on the River Nile under the command of Lieutenant D Beatty RN.

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 12th August 1897
Egyptian Army
12th August 1897

My dear Hunter
I am quite delighted at the able way in which you have carried out the expedition and thank you very sincerely for all you have done.
I received your letters yesterday they were quite clean and gave me an excellent idea of what happened.  I am glad the enemy waited for you as it gives them another experience of what they will have to meet.
I will send Hamed Zein when he arrives with other Baggara Prisoners to Halfa.  Mahmoud has not moved from Metemmeh and is according to our news fortifying himself there.  Our next work is to get the steamers over.  This is evidently a much more difficult work than I thought it would be from the accounts we had of the cataracts.  The loss of the Teb was very sad and not entirely free from blame as my instructions were not adhered to.  They left the troops I had sent to pull behind, and trusted to natives and what seems incomprehensible never unloaded the steamers.
I have sent up Keppel, Peake, Bainbridge, Fitton to help and more men.  Keppel now takes direction of the technical work  I suppose in a short time I shall have your opinion as to whether the 4 battalions should remain at Abu Hamed or be reduced.
There appears to be no idea of Mahamoud doing any thing in the nature of offensive operations in this direction.  I hope the camels are taking your supplies all right the C of S will send you details of the convoys despatched from Kassinger and Murat.  The Railway is 124 miles out and going well.  We have all been very grieved at losing Sidney and FitzClarence but they died as soldiers should die.
I have had telegrams from the Khedive which will be sent you as well as the General, Lord Salisbury, Cromer etc.
All very pleased with your success.
I sent you a message from Railhead which I hope you received asking you to express to the troops my congratulations and thanks.  Please tell them how much I appreciate their gallantry and discipline which enabled them to defeat so determinedly a foe in trenches and houses with so little loss.
Please send us any Arabic correspondence captured for the intelligence to collate.  No one here seems to think there is the least likelihood of a force being sent against you but I shall be glad when you have steamers.
Tell MacDonald and the British officers how warmly I appreciate their services both on the trying march and during the fight.

Yours very sincerely
Herbert Kitchener”
Accession Number: KO2686/089-090

* C of S - Chief of Staff to the Sirdar - Major General Leslie Rundle (RA)
* Lieutenant E FitzClarence (Dorset Regiment)
* Major H M Sidney (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry)
* Khedive - Rule of Egypt who at this time was Abbas II
* General, Lord Salisbury, Cromer etc (Lord Salisbury was the Prime Minister during the Sudan Campaign and Boer War; Cromer - The Earl of, formerly Sir Evelyn Baring.  Between 1883 and 1907 British Agent and Counsul General in Egypt; in effect the unofficial ruler of the country.


Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 14th August 1897

14 Aug 1897
My dear Hunter,
The Convoy has come in all right under Maxe - Express to the Xth Battalion my thanks for the banner - I congratulate you on the enclosed which you well deserve for the admirable way you have conducted affairs at Abu Hamed.
The steamers are getting on better now, the Metemma is over the worst place and Tamai will follow.
I do not think it necessary to reduce the garrison at Abu Hamed at present as we are getting supplies in well.
Maxwell is sending you stuff - I have sent you £400 for purchase supplies locally.
All well here.  Muhammad according to last account has not moved and has sent no reinforcements to Berber.
You do not mention Bunbury I suppose he was upset and will do for the 17th CO.
The railway is getting on well 125 miles out.
The Seventh Battn. are with the Steamers and I have telegraph office at Shebabit.
Are there any cataracts near you that may give difficulty.

Yours very truly
Herbert Kitchener.”

Accession Number: KO2686/091

*Maxe - Major F I Maxse (Coldstream Guards)
*Captain V T Bunbury (Leicester Regiment)


Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 16 Aug 1897 

“16th August 1897
My dear Hunter,
Have just received your message through Quilhead.  I am sending out as far as possible to find out what has happened at El Bajara to Adam el Khalil we have no news other than from Gakdul that Muhammad remains quietly at Metemmeh.
Two gunboats, the Tamai and Metemma are through the worst place and one will go on.  I am now sending up the three Zafir class and hope they will get through, the hill is causing me anxiety as it does not rise properly.
Please do not send suggestions for appointments of officers through Chief of Staff unless I ask for them as your messages have to be twice redispatched by junior officers and your suggestions become known and cause heart burning when they do not come off as well as to those you support - should be passed over.
I hope supplies are getting in well when we have reserve food in Abu Hamed we can send up other things you require.
The great thing is to get the steamers up.  Any information about the state of the Nile and Cataracts near Abu Hamed would be valuable.
The desertion of two men of the 9th is a very disagreeable feature could they not be recaptured.
I cannot understand it.  Do you think they joined the enemy or are in some of the villages.
I expect you will have the railway survey party in at Abu Hamed before long am anxious to know the correct distance from Halfa.

Yours very truly
Herbert Kitchener”

Added at front of letter:
“Walter appeared to me and others much upset as he passed here I hope he has sufficient stability of character to command.  HK”

Accession Number: KO2686/092

*‘Tamai’ and ‘Metemma’ - were ‘old armoured stern wheel gunboats’
*‘Zafir Class’ - were armoured screw gunboats.  There were three, the ‘Fateh’, ‘The Naser’ and the ‘Zafir’.  Each carried one quick firing 12 pounder gun, two 6 pounder guns and 4 maxim guns.
*Walter could be a reference to Kitchener’s brother - Lieutenant Colonel  Frederick Walter Kitchener (West Yorkshire Regiment attached as Special Service Officer to Egyptian Army) or Captain W F Walter (Lancashire Fusiliers)


Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 20 Aug 1897

Head Quarters
Egyptian Army
20th August
My Dear Hunter
I am glad to hear things are going on so well at Abu Hamed and that supplies look well.
The extra distance for the railway is very unpleasant both as regards time and expense. I wish you had been able to tell me at what distance from Halfa the railway will strike the Nile and whether the bank is easy or not.
Finance is looking anything but pleasant just now.
As regards the Hamak Arabs I think they ought to be useful. Has Beshan Wad Fadh come in I believe he is their Sheikh and Wad El Gila is a Dervish. Hamak Emir at Berber probably he will escape before long.
I have ordered fifty remmington rifles to be sent you with ammunition from Quilhead but I should not distribute them until we know more what they can do.
The steamers are now going over better and I hope soon we shall be out of the Kab El Abd District and into better water beyond Birti. When they reach you I think Bajeira ?] should be their limit south for patrols should you think it advisable to sent them south at all. While I threaten Muhammad from here I hardly think he will like to reinforce Berber but it is not easy to see the future. Zeki Osman now at Berber is not a fighting man according to Slatin.
Can you send me any information about the cataracts south of your present position - all well here - Jaalin at Gakdul much happier.
Yours very truly
Herbert Kitchener.

Accession Number: KO2686/093

*Halfa - Wadi Halfa
* Jaalin - local tribe whose chief town as Metemmeh or Metemme
* Slatin - Sir Rudolf Slatin - prisoner of the Khalifa 1884-1895. Later Inspector general of the Sudan

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