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Anglo Boere Oorlog/Boer War (1899-1902) - POW ST HELENA - Oorsee/Abroad

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Approximately 5,866 POW were held in the following camps:


  • Deadwood No 1
  • Deadwood No 2
  • Broad Bottom
  • High Knoll
  • Jamestown


  • Knollcambe Cemetry

Those who died on sea on the way to St. Helena were buried at sea.

Boer Prisoners of War

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. 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.

Considering the isolation of St Helena, surrounded by thousands of square miles of ocean, escape was virtually impossible. Yet, on 2 February 1901, four prisoners, including Sarel Eloff, made a determined attempt at Sandy Bay. Having collected a quantity of provisions, the four men seized an old fishing boat in which to make their escape. However, fishermen removed the oars and, despite a struggle, managed to hold on to them. The prisoners climbed into the boat and tore up the bottom boards, intending to use them as paddles. Finding them to be useless, the prisoners then returned to the beach and tried in vain to bribe the fishermen, offering them a good sum in exchange for the boat and oars. In the meantime, a messenger had been sent to report the occurrence and soon after dawn a guard arrived from Deadwood Camp to arrest the escapees.

Another escape was attempted by two Frenchmen amongst the prisoners. Whilst bathing off the beach at Rupert's Bay, they tried to swim to a ship at anchor. Spotted by the guardship, guns were directed against them and they were challenged, whereupon one turned and swam back to Rupert's Bay, whilst the other swam to the landing steps at Jamestown, only to be escorted back to camp.

The most enterprising attempt to escape was by made by Andries Smorenburg who made a crate and "mailed" himself from Saint Helena on the Union Castle Mail Ship SS Goth. In the event he was discovered when the ship was out at sea, landed at Ascension, handed over to the authorities and returned to St. Helena. (See The Boer in The Box, 1902)...

They survived



















They died in this Camp





Buried at Sea



Blue names Geni Profiles

Black names Not on Geni Yet

How to Participate

If you have an ancestor who was in the ABW as POW on ST HELENA:

  1. Get yourself added as a collaborator
  2. Navigate to your ancestor's profile
  3. Under the "More Actions" link choose "Add to Project"
  4. Select the Harrismith Native Concentration " project

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


  • Include in the "About Me" section of each person a brief biographical sketch of their lives. Also include their Settler party and ship name and arrival date if known
  • Include a photograph/painting of your ancestor if one exists.
  • Your ancestor's profiles should be marked as "public" and not "private".
  • All included profiles should include full identifying information including birth and death dates as well as birth and death locations. It would also be very helpful if the immediate family of your pioneer ancestor, (their parents, siblings and children) profiles were public profiles also.
  • Do not make public any profiles of living people.

NOTE: All POW included on this project will have their profiles editable by other collaborators of this project. The object of reproducing the list here is to see if these people can be located on Geni and perhaps develop trees from them. To take part in any project - you do need to first be a collaborator - so join the project. See the discussion Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going!