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Anglo-Boere Oorlog/Boer War (1899-1902) - Prisoners Of War

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  • Barend Johannes Kruger (1869 - 1954)
    ABO – Prisoners of War Number: 14559 Surname: KRUGER Name: BAREND JOHANNES Age: 32 Address: SPITZKOP District: PRETORIA Captured Where: SPITZKOP Captured When: 19...
  • Joseph Johannes Kruger (1869 - 1928)
    ABO Prisoners Of War Number: 15997 Surname: KRUGER Name: JOSEPH JOHANNES Age: 31 Address: DRIEKRAAL District: BLOEMFONTEIN Captured Where: DEELKRAAL Captured When: 1900/...
  • Casper Jan Hendrik Kruger (1876 - 1926)
    ABO Prisoners of War Number: 18829 Surname: KRUGER Name: CASPAR JAN HENDRIK Age: 25 Address: SPITZKOP District: SMITHFIELD Captured Where: SPITZKOP Captured When: 1901/...
  • Ernst Francois Louis Karel Moltzer (1871 - 1958)
    Prisoner of War Between 1899 and 1903, Ceylon EGGSA Grafsteen / Gravestone

The Anglo Boer War (1899-1902) - Prisoners of War

This project is an extension of the The Anglo Boer War (1899-1902). The object of the project is to add information about both British/Colonial and Boer Prisoners of War, to gather profiles of these men who are on Geni and to share interesting tales and anecdotes about individuals.

The first sizable batch of Boer prisoners of war taken by the British consisted of those captured at the battle of Elandslaagte on 21 October 1899, which resulted in the capture of 188 Boer prisoners. No camps had been prepared and by arrangement with the Naval authorities these prisoners (approximately 200 men) were temporarily housed on the naval guard ship HMS Penelope in Simon's Bay. Several ships were used as floating prisoner of war camps until permanent camps were established at Greenpoint, Cape Town and Bellevue, Simonstown. The first prisoners were accommodated in Bellevue on 28 February 1900. Wounded prisoners were sent to the old Cape Garrison Artillery Barracks at Simonstown which had been converted into the Palace hospital. The first wounded arrived on 2 November 1899.

Towards the end of 1900 with the first invasion of the Cape Colony the prisoners at Cape Town and Simonstown were placed on board ships. At the end of December 1900 some 2550 men were placed on board the Kildonan Castle where they remained for six weeks before they were removed to two other transports at Simons' bay.

The camp at Ladysmith, Natal was in use from 20 December 1900 until January 1902. It was mainly used as a staging camp although it had some 120 prisoners of war. Another staging camp was also established at Umbilo in Natal.

As the number of prisoners grew, for example at Paardeberg, the decision was taken to hold the prisoners away from South Africa. Why overseas? There was nowhere that was suitable in South Africa. There was the problems of transport, the possibility that prisoners might be freed by their comrades and the burden of feeding the men. Of the 28,000 Boer men captured as prisoners of war, 25,630 were sent overseas. The approximate numbers of prisoners by camp was:


  • St Helena - 5,000 (The first camp to be set up)
  • Ceylon - 5,000 (Second location to be used for camps)
  • Bermuda (The third location for camps)
  • India
  • Portugal - 1,443

  • The total number of prisoners - 56,457
  • Transvaal prisoners of war - 12,954
  • Surrendered during the war - 13,780
  • OFS prisoners of war - 12,358
  • Surrendered during the war - 8,318
  • Rebels convicted, awaiting trial and disposed of - 7,587
  • Left Transvaal via Delagoa Bay - 400
  • Left for German South West Africa - 200
  • Made prisoners of war in error - 700
  • Foreigners - prisoners of war - 160

When prisoners were taken, the British recorded full details under the following headings

  • Prisoner Number
  • Surname
  • Christian names
  • Nationality
  • Age
  • Home address
  • Town or district
  • Field Cornetcy or Commando
  • Where captured
  • Date of capture
  • Date of receipt

Some of this information was published after the war.

The approximately 27,000 Boer prisoners and exiles in the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) were distributed far and wide throughout the world. They can be divided into three categories: prisoners of war, ‘undesirables’ and internees. Prisoners of war consisted exclusively of burghers captured while under arms. ‘Undesirables’ were men and women of the Cape Colony who sympathised with the Orange Free State and Transvaal Republics at war with Britain and who were therefore considered undesirable by the British. The internees were burghers and their families who had withdrawn across the frontier to Lourenço Marques at Komatipoort before the advancing British forces and had finally arrived in Portugal, where they were interned.

Prisoners of war were detained in South Africa in camps in Cape Town (Green Point) and at Simonstown (Bellevue), and some in prisons in the Cape Colony and Natal; in the Bermudas on Darrell’s, Tucker’s, Morgan’s, Burtt’s and Hawkins’ Islands; on St. Helena in the Broadbottom and Deadwood camps, and the recalcitrants in Fort Knoll; in India at Umballa, Amritsar, Sialkot, Bellary, Trichinopoly, Shahjahanpur, Ahmednagar, Kaity-Nilgris, Kakool and Bhim-Tal; and on Ceylon in Camp Diyatalawa and a few smaller camps at Ragama, Hambatota, Urugasmanhandiya and Mt. Lavinia (the hospital camp). The internees were kept in Portugal at Caldas da Rainha, Peniche and Alcobaqa. The ‘undesirables’, most of them from the Cape districts of Cradock, Middelburg, Graaf Reinet, Somerset East, Bedford and Aberdeen, were exiled to Port Alfred on the coast near Grahamstown.


How to Participate

To participate in a project you do need to first be a collaborator - so join the project! Look at the discussion Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going! Further help can be found at Geni Wikitext, Unicode and images.

To join the project use the drop down menu at the top left of the screen and click Join the Project. If this option is not available to you then contact a collaborator and ask to be added to the project. As a collaborator you will be able to edit this page.

  • Please add the relevant profiles of prisoners (not their entire descendants - only those who were actually imprisoned). This is easily done from the profile page using the Add to project link. Only profile profiles can be added to projects.
  • If you have interesting stories or anecdotes about someone who was a POW please add him to the relevant section below with a brief description, adding full details to the "About" section on the profile.
  • If you have any related queries please start a discussion linked to this project. (See the menu top right).
  • Please add related projects to the menu on the right.
  • If you have links to related web pages that would be of interest to others please add them in the relevant section at the bottom of the page.
  • Add any documents of interest using the menu at the top right of the page, and then add a link to the document in the text. If you do not know how to do this please contact one of the other collaborators to assist you.

How to add a link is explained in the attached document - Adding links to Geni profiles in projects.

//photos.geni.com/p13/7e/3f/20/e8/5344483a111cf247/abo_pow_sa_t.jpg

Boer Prisoners of War

In British Captivity

Blue names already on Geni

Black names not on Geni yet.

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

J

K

M

  • Wife and children in Bethulie Camp.
  • Son Jan Johannes died at age 6 of fever.

P

  • His wife and children were captured and taken to the Middelburg Concentration Camp.

R

  • Cause of death – Typhoid

S

  • Smit Jeremia August
  • Wife and 4 children were in the Baberton Concentration camp. 1 Child died.

T

V

  • His wife and children were captured and taken to the Orange River Concentration Camp. She died there at the age of 33.

W

Z

The Wives and families of Boer Prisoners were sent to Concentration Camps - details of which can be found at British Concentration Camps of the South African War 1900-1902.

Burghers or Boers who surrendered voluntarily were known as hendsoppers. They usually signed an oath of neutrality and were housed in the same camps as the women and children, usually worked for the british in one way or another.

Those who surrendered and fought alongside the British were known as joiners.

Albert Grundlingh has written a book called "The dynamics of TREASON" which explores Boer collaboration in the war.

The first sizable batch of Boer prisoners of war taken by the British were captured at the battle of Elandslaagte on 21 October 1899. No camps had been prepared and by arrangement with the Naval authorities these prisoners (approximately 200 men) were temporarily housed on the naval guard ship HMS Penelope in Simon's Bay. Several ships were used as floating prisoner of war camps until permanent camps were established at Greenpoint, Cape Town and Bellevue, Simonstown. The first prisoners were accommodated in Bellevue on 28 February 1900. Wounded prisoners were sent to the old Cape Garrison Artillery Barracks at Simonstown which had been converted into the Palace hospital. The first wounded arrived on 2 November 1899.

Towards the end of 1900 with the first invasion of the Cape Colony the prisoners at Cape Town and Simonstown were placed on board ships. At the end of December 1900 some 2550 men were placed on board the Kildonan Castle where they remained for six weeks before they were removed to two other transports at Simons' bay.

The camp at Ladysmith, Natal was in use from 20 December 1900 until January 1902. It was mainly used as a staging camp although it had some 120 prisoners of war. Another staging camp was also established at Umbilo in Natal.

Prisoners of war repatriated to South Africa after the cessations of hostilities were sent on arrival to Simonstown or Umbilo. Here they were provided with blankets and clothes before being sent of by train to their final destinations. As the war developed the number of prisoners increased and the provision of accommodation raised some serious problems for the British authorities. This was particularly so after the surrender of General P A Cronje and approximately 4000 burghers at Paardeberg. To keep large camps supplied while conducting a war over large areas would only have imposed intolerable strains on already overburdened supply lines. Not only this, but there was the very real danger of insurrections in the neighbourhood of the camps and the risk of the release of the captives. The solution to the problem was found in the shipment of the prisoners overseas.

The first overseas camps were opened in St Helena.The SS Milwaukee arrived off St Helena on 11 April 1900 with 514 prisoners on board. This was the first batch of 5000 prisoners housed in the two camps on the island - Broadbottom and Deadwood. Six loads of prisoners of war from South Africa were landed in the Bermudas during the period 28 June 1901 to 16th January 1902. The camps were situated on islands in the Great Sound:

  • Burts (400 men)
  • Darrell's, (1100 men)
  • Hawkins (1300 men)
  • Hinson's (120 men)
  • Morgans (850 men)
  • vi Tuckers (800 men)

The first batch of prisoners arrived in Ceylon on 9 August 1900 and subsequently others followed until some 5 000 prisoners had landed. Diyatalawa was the main camp. Mt Lavinia was the convalescent camp while dissidents and irreconcilables were housed at Ragama. A camp for prisoners on parole was also opened at Urugasmanhandiya in September 1901. Hambantota was also a parole camp. Camps were established in India at -

  • Abottabad
  • Ahmednagar
  • Bellary
  • Bhim Tal
  • Dagshai and Solon
  • Fort Govindgarh
  • Kaity-Nilgiris
  • Satara
  • Shahjahanpur
  • Sialkot
  • Trichinopoly
  • Umballa
  • Upper Topa

There is a searchable data-base at The Anglo-Boer war Museum

Individuals of Interest

//photos.geni.com/p13/93/53/36/ed/5344483a111cf248/abo_pow_gb_t.jpg

British and Colonial Prisoners of War

in Boer Captivity

A total of 383 officers and 9,170 NCOs and men were taken prisoner in the course of the war. 97 men died in captivity.

From South Africa’s Boer Fighters In The Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902

Generally no prisoners could be taken, as the Boers had no means to keep them prisoner nor anywhere to hold and feed them – and Boer mounted Kommandos could not risk being slowed down with dismounted POWs. British prisoners were therefore relieved of their boots (going barefoot on the veld was a real immobilizer), rifles, ammunition and frequently pants (the one item of British uniforms that Boers could wear without being mistaken at a distance for the enemy and thereby risking getting a “friendly-fire” bullet through the head). Freeing British prisoners also had a negative effect on British forces’ performance in battle as it encouraged quick surrenders after British soldiers discovered that the Boers would immediately release them if captured – the choice between having to endure a blizzard of deadly Boer Mauser fire or quickly and safely surrendering was usually a “no-brainer.”

General Maritz once complained that he captured the same British soldier 3 times in one day and had to let him go each time. However, Maritz noted that his Kommandos profited from each capture since the British soldier was fully outfitted every time they caught him.

The first crop of prisoners were taken at Kraaipan in the first few days of the war. Officers were held at the State Model School in Pretoria. Their most famous captive was Sir Winston Churchill who was captured at Frere. Incarcerated in the State Model School, he reportedly climbed the fence, boarded a train and hid in a coal mine near Middelburg. He then took another train to Portuguese territory. In March 1900, Captain Haldane, Lieutenant le Mesurier and Sergeant Brockie escaped from the school. They hid beneath the floor. During the removal of prisoners to Waterval, they stayed hidden and were able to stroll out of the emptied prison.

The hospital at the Racecourse was used for wounded and sick prisoners until the fall of Pretoria. The officers remained at the Staats Model School until 16 March 1900 when they were moved to their new quarters known as the Birdcage at Daspoort.

The welfare of the prisoners was controlled by a board of management consisting of four persons. They were Louis da Souza, Commandant Opperman, directly responsible for the safe custody of the prisoners, Dr Gunning, who was Opperman's assistant and Hans Malan. Opperman was replaced by a Mr Westerink in March 1900.

The 129 officers and 36 soldiers detained at the Staats Model School were released on the 5th of June 1900. [Information at AngloBoerWar.com claims that when the British troops entered Pretoria on 5 June 1900, 129 officers and 36 other ranks overpowered their guards just prior to the arrival of the troops.] On the 6th of June Colonel T C Porter's Brigade was ordered to affect the release of the men confined at Waterval. A squadron of Greys under Captain Maude finally released 3187 men.

It was found that 900 prisoners had been removed by the Boers from Waterval on the 4th of June. These men were then detained at Nooitgedacht. They were eventually released by the Earl of Dundonald on the 30th of August 1900.

When General French entered Barberton in September 1900, he released the final group of prisoners - twenty-three officers and fifty-nine soldiers who had been removed by the Boers from Nooitgedacht. Most of them had been confined in a barbed wire enclosure while some were housed in the local goal.

Individuals of Interest

Links to Useful Webpages and Resources