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Major-General Sir William Penn Symons
( Isandula Collection)
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 Letters Home

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John

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PostSubject: Letters Home    Mon May 12, 2014 9:55 am

How long would it have taken for a letter from Zululand to reach England in 1879.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Letters Home    Mon May 12, 2014 10:27 am

John
Pretty slow, by boat to Cape Town then by boat to the UK, weeks rather than days. Judging by the time it takes for me to get books from the UK and The States not very different from today really  Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy 

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Kenny



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PostSubject: Re: Letters Home    Mon May 12, 2014 7:15 pm

John

Cape Town to Portsmouth in 1879 - about 28 days; then you add the land journeys at each end.
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PostSubject: Re: Letters Home    Mon May 12, 2014 8:05 pm

The news of the defeat at Isandhlwana
arrived on the 11th of February.
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Kenny



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PostSubject: Re: Letters Home    Tue May 13, 2014 12:04 am

But the bad news had the advantage of the telegraph from Madeira. I was answering the original question - how long a letter would take!
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PostSubject: Re: Letters Home    Tue May 13, 2014 12:08 am

yeah i know  Salute 
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Letters Home    Tue May 13, 2014 6:54 am

Telegraph from either PMB or Landmans Drift to Cape town, by sea to Madeira then by telegraph to England.
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barry

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PostSubject: Comms delays with home   Tue May 13, 2014 7:30 am

Hi All,
Correct , there was a land station or terminal telegraph point  in Madeira where SA-UK bound ships  called as a matter of procedure, so as  to speed the news on. from Natal by telegraph, via undersea cable, to England.
However, in answer to the  question about door to door letter transit time, it is safe to assume 4-5 weeks. In this the time elements were of the order of  24-28 days at sea , the balance  being land terminal  transit times at either node.
In the annals it is recorded that passing ships wanting to pass urgent news on to each other would sail past each other close enough to read  messages written on large blackboards fitted to their superstructures and visible to each other.  This method was faster than the use of signaling flags.

regards

barry
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