Frederick Addison came from a family with a strong military tradition, and it is not surprising that he, his two brothers, and two cousins all joined the Royal Natal Carbineers on the same day in 1914, soon after war was declared. They served together through the German South-West African campaign, and again in France with the Second South African Infantry Brigade. Two of them were killed, one was taken prisoner, and all were wounded.
While the core of the book is a grim account of his experiences during World War I, and there is no doubt that the traumatic events described in the war diaries had a powerful influence on the rest of his life, Frederick Addison’s memoirs cover his entire lifetime. His detailed description of a wild childhood in Estcourt, where his father served as the magistrate during and after the Boer War, his record of spartan school-days at Hilton College, and his accounts of life as a pioneer sugar farmer on the Natal North coast are all told with vigour, humour and a rugged compassion.
His chronicle includes a brief history of the Thukela River basin, description of early post-cart journeys in pre-world war Zululand and recollections of farming, farmers and farmworkers in and around Fort Pearson in the years 1919 – 1954. A history of the Addison family, written originally for his many relatives in South Africa and abroad, is included as an appendix to the narrative. It is full of anecdotes which shed an intimate light on the early days of settler life in Natal. In all, a graphic record of the life and times of Frederick Addison – shared, no doubt, by many of his generation.