The South Staffordshire Regiment was based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa from 1913 to 1914, in the prelude to the Great War. Charles Wilmot Evans, a young lieutenant seems to have had a very enjoyable time, with little hint of the horrors of the war to come, that was to take his life at the age of 25.

Officers of Ist Batallion South Staffordshires in PieterMaritzburg 1913/14

In the photo above Wilmot is in the row one from the back in the middle. We have about forty other photos in and around Durban and Pietermaritzburg in 1913/14, many presumably taken during extensive leave that a serving officer was able to enjoy. Wilmot seems to have developed a strong friendship with the Davis, Tatham and Hathorn families and they continued to send him correspondence whilst on service in the trenches in 1915. We can suspect that one of these was a school friend (??) from Shrewsbury School, with whom he refound his acquaintance when posted to South Africa.

Below is a catalogue of identifiable photos and artifacts in the collection:-

Photographs of and around Morningside - a large house in Pietermaritsburg home of Mr and  Mrs Peter Davis (MED) - this is the old house c1913Mrs Peter Davis and daighters at Morningside. PieterMaritzburg

Card from Mary Elizabeth Davis (nee Ingram) probably written to Mrs Florence Evans after Wilmot's death. Mary Davis was a prominent business woman in Natal and famed for her patriotic role especially in the Boer War and the Womens Patriotic movement.

Newspaper pages from the 'Natal Witness', of which Mrs Davis was the proprietor, detailing her death and obituary in 1929.

There are many photos of swimming at or around Umkomaas (near to Durban) - Wilmot clearly sent many photos home to his mother with detailed descriptions on the back. Most are a group of friends who are staying in a cottage overlooking the sea. He talks of the regular bathing at midday. The date is probably January or February 1914. It is not clear which of the families owned the cottage.  Umkomaas 1914

Errol Tatham (killed a few days after Wilmot in July 1916) - youngest son of Justice FS Tatham - appears in five or six photos.

The Hathorn brothers - Roy Hathorn, Jim Hathorn and Howard Hathorn all feature prominently. They too come from a prominent family of South African lawyers. They are a little older and two of them are married. The wives are always described as Mrs Roy and Mrs Jim. Amy Hathorn the sister also features.

Sybil Davis appears to have been the person who took most the photos along with her brother Phil.  Sharkie appears in about eight of the photos but it is not clear exactly who she is as it is presumably a nickname. Also prominent are Jaynie and Alistair. Alistair was another of the Davis children again a young man enjoying one last summer day at the beach before the war. Finally there is a  Claude, and who is Aunt Mannie?

Umkomaas 1914