Anglo-Boer War

Aching With Loneliness

During the Anglo-Boer War, Lt Austin mentioned suffering from intense loneliness: “I am in charge of a blockhouse with twenty men to guard a bridge 200 miles from Cape Town. Our HQ is at Worcester, a long way off, so I am my own master here. I have no troubles, except it is awfully lonely.”  […]

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An accidental death in Laingsburg

Anglo-Boer War researcher Allen Duff recently visited the graves in Laingsburg and was faced with a puzzle. The inscription on the grave of Private F Gardner, of the 5th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, stated: “Accidentally killed in the execution of his duty on 9.01.1902.” Allen wondered just how Private Gardener could have been ‘accidentally’ killed’ then […]

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Captain Hicks’s ghost still patrols a Middelburg farm

During the Anglo-Boer War, a Captain Hicks was placed in charge of a group of fearfully inefficient “poor whites”. It was said they were only in the war for the money and so inefficient that poor Hicks was at a loss as to what to do with them.  The locals jokingly called them DMTs “Delirium […]

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Deelfontein Hospitaal, De Aar, treating the British wounded

During the Anglo-Boer War, Dr J Purvis-Stewart, called the Karoo a “place to see”.   He was one of the doctors sent to South Africa in 1901with the Imperial Yeomanry Bearer Company – the first company of its kind raised ever established by private funding. In his biography, Sands of Time, he wrote: “After three weeks’ tedious […]

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Dust to dust in the Karoo: 1900

“The dust bin of creation” was Author Julian Ralph’s opinion of the Karoo. In Towards Pretoria, his account of the Anglo-Boer War, he describes the intense heat and the air that was “as full of dust as London’s is of smoke”. He said: “Our throats are dry and caked with dust. The ground is loose […]

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Medical staff at Noupoort during the Anglo-Boer War

Many countries and Red Cross type organisations sent equipment and personnel to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Among these was a group of Scots from Edinburgh who collected £12 000 to establish and staff a hospital, writes professor J C (Kay) de Villiers in Healers, Helpers and Hospitals.  Personnel embarked on the SS Briton […]

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Military surgeon’s medals fetch a top price

In March, 2011, a rare group of 22 orders and medals came up for sale at Smiths Newent, a Gloucestershire-based auction house in England.  Said to be the “pick of the lots”, they were valued at £15,000 and there was a healthy interest in these medals as they had belonged one of Britain’s top military […]

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On a troop train in the Karoo, 1900

On February 4, 1900, Dr Howard Tooth, a British doctor serving at a Cape military hospital received orders to travel to Modder River. It was “at the front” and he was apprehensive. He wrote to his wife stating that he was not taking much in the line of civilian clothing because he was to be in […]

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St John Ambulance in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War

Three Johnnies, as the St John Ambulance Brigade men who came to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War were known, are buried in the Karoo. Casualties suffered by the SJAB in South Africa from 1899 to 1902 were discussed by Professor Kay de Villiers and P Beighton in an article in the Military History Journal, […]

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The Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, Deelfontein near De Aar

The stories of several “visiting” doctors are also woven into the chronicles of the Karoo. Several of these great medical men served at the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein, near Richmond, during the Anglo-Boer War. Perhaps the greatest of them was Dr John Hall-Edwards, who headed the X-ray unit. Known as the “father of British […]

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