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More important Canadian antique memorabilia the Museum has preserved.

7 Fake Great Canadian Heritage War Photos - 1900 - 5

Intro 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Fake 8 Fake 9 Fake 10
A Famous Fake in Colour

A nice colourized image of the Canada's most famous war photograph - which we outed as a fake - was used in a Gambia stamp marking the centenary of the end of the Boer War in 1902.

We exposed it as also featuring the most faked badge in world history, with multiple publications over the last 100 years showing the same - we say it's a reenactment fake - albeit stirring combat scenic, but deliberately altering, in different ways, the prominent badge of the nearest soldier.

We have now unearthed the earliest known publication of this image, from 1900, which purports to show "Englishmen stalking up Spion Kop." So it doesn't claim to show a Canadian badge at all, let alone Canadians.

But it clearly shows that the earliest darkroom manipulation of this "fake Canadian" badge could date as early as January 1900, when Spion Kop was fought. And done, not to appeal to Canadians at all, but to "bulk up" a badge that looked strange in the earliest photos.

So the "Canadian badge" resulted from darkroom manipulation of another badge which, in the first publications of the scenic, was an extremely narrow waisted design, in fact, often split into top and bottoms.

At one point - sometime in 1900 - a darkroom tech just filled in the waist to bulk it up to look more like a one-piece badge.

Then Canadian patriots jumped in and made the "darkroom badge," into a "Hey, ma! Look it's a Canadian maple leaf! Whaddya say? Eh!" And the experts at the Canadian War Museum have been saying Yay! for a hundred years ever since.

Hey! Not so fast. The Canadian Boer War maple leaf badge had no such narrow indentations at all. In fact the real Canadian badge - like most Canadians in 2013 - had a fat gut, and was wide and bulging, in exactly where ALL the fake badges shown had narrow, indented waists. You know like humans are supposed to have. (Obesity in 2013 is a pandemic problem across Canada.)

JD McKerihen's badge shows it is widest at the waist, not narrow at all, and that any prominent lower lobes on the leaf point strongly up, not down as all the fake badges strongly do.

The most prominent use of the fake Canadian badge are by the UK's Pat Hodgson in 1974, and Canada's Carman Miller in 1998.

The Hodgson-Miller Fakes, AKA the Canadian badge, though supposedly showing the same period Canadian badge, clearly show two dissimilar ones. Hodgson left; Miller right.

Shown together it makes it clear they are darkroom manipulations that vary significantly, not only from each other, but from other badges on earlier photos, and absolutely from a genuine Canadian RCR badge as issued to the Canadian troops supposed to be involved in the hill climbing picture.

Clearly the Canadian War Museum artists, when they looked at the Hodgson book photo left, said this won't do as a Canadian badge. And before they sent this photo to Carman Miller to use on the cover of Canada's first modern book on the Boer War, told Archives Canada to "see what you can do to make this counterfeit badge to look more Canadian."

They clearly obliged but did - by any standard - a lousy job. But in doing so they helped establish the fact that many generations of fraud artists have worked to undermine historical truth for base patriotic purposes. And that today, the artifice of historical manipulation is alive and well among the retouch artists at the National Archives of Canada.

To improve on the Hodgson fake, hey tried to remove the waist on the left, to make it more straight down, clearly with an eye on the McKerihen badge. And further, to reduce the awful right side indentation which is not at all there in McKerihen. But inexplicably they left the bottom right lobe pointing down instead up angling up.

Shame on you Archives Canada and the Canadian War Museum for basely manipulating a historical image, for narrow nationalistic political flag waving. And for publishing the result as somehow ennobling of Canada and Canadians and institutions which Canadian tax payers fund to preserve Canadian heritage.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Probably the most famous fake combat photo of the Boer War, which has been variously held by different experts as: Canadians at Sunnyside, Dec 31, 1899 (Canadian Carman Miller, 1998), or at Paardeberg, Feb. 18, 1900 (Briton Pat Hodgson, 1974.)

We believe it is neither, just a fake reenactment, perhaps done at Belmont.

Which explains why, when it is not a photo of a "real" historic event at a definite time and place, but only a staged reenactment as we contend, then it's bound to surface, in various guises, to serve many purposes.

Here is a newly discovered, and first time publication, of a third application for the same photo, which was used in a German postcard from 1900, printed in Strasbourg, then a German city, and which was posted in the Netherlands in 1901.

This printer claims this photo is of "Spion Kop: Englishmen Stalking." So making the soldiers English, not Canadians at all, at the famous battle where no Canadian troops were present (Jan. 22-24, 1900.)

Sunnyside, Paardeberg, and Belmont are far apart from each other. Spion Kop is extremely distant from them all.

So which is the fake? Carman Miller's identical pic on his 1998 book cover, or this 1900 postcard of the Englishmen Stalking?

We think both probably are...

Anyone who has been to Spion Kop knows this is not the terrain in this photo.

And just in case you forgot your history, the British indeed did stalk up Spion Kop, but it was in total darkness and fog - not in broad daylight, like the men in the photo - and when dawn broke, and the fog lifted, they were already entrenched - in their graves - on top.

It just goes to prove that when fakery is about it is extremely difficult to keep the story straight. Three completely different times and places for the same photo is extremely good circumstantial evidence that it is in fact none of the above, but just a reenactment done by some British troops with time on their hands, and then used by book, magazine, and postcard publishers as they wanted, in Canada, the UK, and Germany.

For some real battlefield photos of Spion Kop, where the highest concentration of men ever killed on a single spot on a battlefield.

Go to An Acre of Massacre
Fake #56 - Spion Kop: Englishmen Stalking - Weiss-Reinschmidt, Strassburg - 1900

Orig. postcard - Image Size - 23 cm
Found - Guernsey, UK

This photo is interesting in that it is, by far, the earliest use of the so called "Canadian badge" in a publication.

This was not the badge shown in Canada's first published use of this photo in 1900. In fact the "Canadian" badge did not appear until 1974, in Pat Hodgson's book see below. Then in Carman Miller's book in 1998.

We now have a German publication, featuring the badge, dating to 1900.

British historian Thomas Pakenham wrote the best book on the Boer War ever written. "A consummate masterpiece" is not an overstatement.

This was the cover on the paperback version published in 2003.

It features a famous combat photograph of the Canadians storming a kopje (rocky South African hill) at the battle at Sunnyside on Jan. 1, 1900.

What a fabulous image of men cowering from a hail of rifle fire as they swarm up and over a hill to rout the Boer defenders in the first military action of Canadian troops during the South African War.

It was indeed their "Baptism of Fire." And best of all none of them were killed.

Go to Alexander Muir

The Canadians marched in triumph into Douglas, hoisting children on their shoulders, and singing "The Maple Leaf Forever."

The same photo had earlier been selected to grace the cover of Canada's best book on the Boer War, written by Professor Carman Miller.

And why not? It's a great battle photo in a war which seemed to produce very few combat images. In fact, though the camera had been documenting the military and war, for some 60 years, no one had ever taken a combat photograph before. It was too dangerous.

No wonder this photo stuck out for both the British and the Canadian publishers, enough that both used it on their premiere Boer War books.

Trouble is, it's a total fake... It's a reenactment... And it isn't even Canadians...

We expose the myth that has endured 100 years, and thereby uncover a whole slew of phony combat photographs produced by commercial photographers who staged fake pictures to sell to a public ravenous for war memorabilia and who would never be able to catch on.

Go to 95 Fake Combat Photos

In fact we expose over 95 phony Boer War combat photos that most people still regard as the real thing, instead of transparently, easily detectable fakes that they are.

One of the most celebrated photos of Canadians at war in history... going all the way back to the Boer War and January of 1900...

Fabulous... look at those "eager beaver" Canucks scrambling up to grapple with those dastardly Boers... Not a single slacker among any of them...

It's from the front cover of The Graphic, the leading British pictorial news publication of the day, and dated Feb. 14, 1900, a full seven weeks since the event it celebrates occurred.

Which gives you a good idea of how fast "news" travelled in those days.

Significantly - remember this - it's now the earliest copy of this photo we've ever found, superceding the image below published by Canadian Professor Marquis in his book Canada's Sons on Kopje and Veldt later that year - and closest to the original one taken by the photographer. Keep a close eye on the nearest helmet badge...

It still makes the Canuck heart beat patriotic, even after 110 years...

As a result it has graced countless articles and publications, as recently as 1998, on the cover, no less, of a landmark book by Canada's top Boer War expert, Carman Miller. And in the 21st century it adorns military websites of passionate history buffs who love the "battlefield action" it portrays.

The Hodgson-Miller Fake - Trouble is, we believe, this photo is a multi-level fake, especially the copy which Professor Miller used - which we call the Hodgson-Miller fake (see below).

Total fabrications, for a whole lot of reasons, not the least of which is that the cap badge on the near soldier, bears no comparison, in this world, or the next, with a genuine Canadian RCR cap badge, as worn at the time by Canadian infantrymen such as James McKerihen below.

There is also, we believe a discrepancy about just who took the photograph. The Army Museum in Britain says it was Captain Holson, while the Graphic attributes it solely as "From a Photograph by our Special Photographer Reinhold Thiele."

Thiele owned a big 10 x 12 inch format, tripod mounted studio camera, much used during the Boer War to take quality camp pictures behind the lines, for stereoscope views. But it was also the culprit that was commandeered extensively to "fake" action pictures that bulky cameras just could not take under real battle conditions.

The newer small format "pocket Kodaks" that officers were using for the first time in a war, could not produce image detail good enough for high quality publications.

Besides, no one was paying staff and commercial photographers enough to risk their lives to take a real combat photo.

None had, in the 70 years since the camera had been invented. And Thiele was not going to start now.

Hurry Up & Wait - Shouldn't it have been called "the camera in camp?" This is the kind of unwieldy studio camera that Thiele - and many commercial photographers - used to make "war photographs" and numerous "combat action" fakes. This is what Thiele looked like, as he was - supposedly - in the midst of the Canadian charge at Sunnyside...

(In fact this is exactly the reason "war photographers" in the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Boer War, gave for producing not a single combat photo from the front line at all - though it was the most photographed war in history... They said the camera technology was too cumbersome and unsuitable to allow it to be done. The action moved too quickly away from them while they were preparing to shoot. In fact some hoped to be able to get action shots by using new telephoto lenses to get closer to the "front." We suspect it was to allow the photographers to stay further back from the danger, as they had been doing for some 50 years.)

Note how the men stand still, and wait patiently while the photographer scrambles to set up his shot. You can be sure of one thing; they wouldn't be hanging about to pose for pictures if there were any Boers about, taking potshots...

Go to a Real Combat Camera

Furthermore, these "Canadians" look wonderfully - let's make that suspiciously - well posed across the entire frame. As accomplished photographers ourselves, we see, and smell, a rat...

Now how is that possible, with the Boers shooting at you, the photographer, more scared out of his tree than anyone, struggling with his cumbersome camera, and with the men keeping down, afraid for their lives?

And wouldn't they all have disappeared over the brow of the hill - see side bar - by the time Thiele had his unwieldy camera unpacked from his wagon, mounted on his tripod, loaded with glass plates, set up in the best place, and then set the exposure, focus, etc.?

And note how, while they are all cowering and ducking from the hot Boer rifle fire, the photographer and his camera stand up tall, towering over everybody, hopelessly exposed amidst the withering rifle fire...

Seriously, how can it be...?

The answer, is easy, and inevitable: Hollywood...

A total fake construction from start to finish, on the location...

After the Boers had fled, or surrendered, and the men buoyed by the victory, eager to stage for the camera, exactly how it was all done... Troops were routinely seconded to leading photographers to reenact "action" or "combat" scenics. The Army was eager to get good publicity back home.

Cunning Canuck - Then a Canadian, who got hold of a copy of this photograph got a bright idea...

That badge... Hmmmh...

And the rest, they say is, Canada's most famous combat photograph, that Archives Canada has sold for generations as a Great Canadian Heritage Moment, and the Canadian War Museum foisted off on Carman Miller, that is now unmasked as a total fake, from start to finish.

(Not at all that much different from the media coverage and officialdom's pronouncements and rationalizations about Canada's combat participation in Afghanistan...)

And no one ever knew, till our historical expert blew the whistle...

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Here is a very rare photo of Canadian officers training their men at Belmont and taken by James Mason DSO, within days of the Canadian Sunnyside "Baptism of Fire."

Of special interest is how two Canadian helmet badges appear in an untouched photograph of the time. No darkroom magic was done on this photo, which is an original.

Compare these badges to those in the Thiele photo.

In fact we're willing to bet there are no badges being worn. Everyone was removing anything shiny or metallic from their uniforms or covering it with khaki stain, so the sun wouldn't glint on it, giving a Boer sniper a fine target.

Hmmmh... not very satisfactory, now, is it...!

"Hey Joe, can't we do something to make that maple leaf show up? it would look better in the paper for the home folks."

"Yeah, you're right boss. I'll get the girls to come up with something you can see better. How about a badge for all seasons?"

For more photos from this period:

Go to Belmont

Incidentally, we believe this is perhaps the last photo taken of Captain Arnold (bearded) who was killed on Bloody Sunday at Paardeberg.

Below, another photo of Arnold as reproduced with a wrong caption - more slipshod work by the Archives Canada staff - in Carman Miller's book, Painting the Map Red.

Canadian Officers on a Training March, Belmont, South Africa, Dec. 1900 - Lt. James Cooper Mason DSO
Orig. Mason photo - Image Size - 8.5 x 8.5 cm
Found - Cambridge, ON

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure
In Camp at Belmont, Resting after Drill - Lt. James Cooper Mason DSO, c Dec. 1899
Orig. Mason photo - Image Size - 8.5 x 8.5 cm
Found - Cambridge, ON
A commonly reproduced James Mason image of Captain Arnold - bearded in the middle - sitting among brother officers.

The Public Archives repeatedly lists this image - erroneously - as "On their way to Paardeberg."

This is clearly another archiving mistake by a sleepy or inventive civil servant. Which is then passed off to tarnish the work of competent historians like Carman Miller.

Here, in James' own hand, is his description of where and when the picture was taken.

You figure it out - The captioning is slipshod too. It clearly says, "..., and Lieutenant J.M. Ross in foreground." You decide how you arrange the others to fit since there are four main subjects, and only three names. From other photos we figured it out; Arnold wears a beard.

You figure it out...

Another picture proudly furnished for Carman Miller's book, by the National Archives of Canada, which demands that you prominently flag its ownership and authorship of the copy of the work it provides. So we will...

Which one is FW Borden, who was Minister of Militia at the time, the main Canadian booster of sending Canadian boys to fight in South Africa, and for which his only son became Canada's most prominent sacrifice...?

There are one-and-a-third faces on the extreme right...

One face is, whoops, badly cut off. Picky, picky, you say. Well... in fact Borden is the one who is less than half here... less than a third, in fact.

Half-faced because of half-assed work by the staff at the Archives.

Why bother furnishing such a shoddy piece of work which is already sloppily cut off from the original, and then keep re-issuing it for publication, over and over again...?

This is the result of multi-level slovenliness: the slack Archivist who copied this so sloppily from the litho below; there is the sloppiness of the Archivists who catalogued this shoddy picture and keep issuing it; there is sloppiness of the Archives management which allows this to go on on their watch.

If FW Borden is key in this story - and he assuredly is - why not provide the public, and Carman Miller, a half-decent picture? Whoops... sorry...

It's a problem, when the people do work which is only a job to them - instead of a passion...

Is there anyone who is awake at the National Archives? Or who cares?


flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Below we provide a proper picture of FW Borden which was available, but not provided to Carman Miller for his book.


Go to Harold Borden
Liberal Cabinet of Sir Wilfrid Laurier - 1900
Orig. litho - Image Size - 41 x 51 cm
Found - Creemore, ON

This photo was provided to Carman Miller's book by the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. (You can probably get a copy from Archives Canada too.)

Though the Archives staff caption allows that it is an "unspecified mounted rifles unit" this marvelous action picture was specifically picked because, with the hats, it might be Canadian boys in the photo. So a natural choice for a Canadian Boer War book.

Better yet they are "under attack" by those dastardly Boers out there. You can hear the bullets buzzing...

Stop beating dear heart...

It would make any Christian Canuck heart palpitate seeing our boys out there on the frontiers of civilization, fighting the good fight, at considerable danger to themselves...

Did we say Afghanistan?

No, no, no! This is the war against the Boers of 1900, not the war against the Muslims of 2011. Same story; different folks...

Would it were true...

We say fake...

True enough, the men are in a sangar, stone enclosures, built by Boer farmers as livestock pens for sheep and goats, and which were used as fortified strongholds by both sides in the war.

And certainly the men are all feverishly aiming rifles out the loopholes.

But we're absolutely sure one of the boys, who had a camera, put them up to it, during downtime, when he wanted to fake a bit of action.

Just like in Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, soldier boys love to gather photos of dangerous situations, and trophies like bodies and prisoners etc. to show the folks back home.

And maybe stage a scene or two, when you can't get the real thing...

Trouble is when you do that and try and concoct a real fight, you've got to have everyone on board...

Look at the guy crouching at the left.

He's leisurely smoking a pipe...

Would he really do this if the Boers were launching a deadly attack on these few, hopelessly outnumbered boys, trapped inside their little fort?

The squatter looks up at the cameraman as if to say, "What the hell you doin' Joe?"

And look closer.

He's actually scraping the beans off his mess tin, back into the cooking pot. Yes, they were that bad...

Or is he back for seconds...? Or making tea? Or getting ready to feed the Boers?

You can make out the ashes of the fire that he's squatting beside... still smouldering away...

So do you really believe this is his Last Supper?

Now about those Boers just outside, and the bullets buzzing like bees overhead...

Why is this guy eating, instead of shooting, to save his life...? Armageddon is at hand...

And finally... Do you really believe a photographer would stick himself and his camera above the protective wall of stone, for all the time it takes to compose this fine photo, in the midst of a firefight?

Firing Squad - Look at the five guys shooting above right. All have total identical body positions; all hold the rifle the same way, with one hand supporting the barrel, the other on the trigger.

You would never, ever, in a John Wayne firefight at the Alamo, or with settlers holding off the Indians attacking a wagon train, be able to see five men, side by side with identical poses.

Sorry but the word just slipped out...

One might be firing, another stepping back shouting, another grabbing at ammo, another ejecting a shell, another ramming another one in, etc. Heads, arms, legs, rifles angled ever whichaway...

Not one of these real combat actions is going on with these five guys. They are behaving, not as if they're in a frenzy, really fending off a Boer - or Indian - attack, but responding to a cameraman who says, "make like you're firing at attacking Boers." And they're each dutifully doing exactly that. Not realizing they look damn silly doing it. But not being actors, they're poor at it...

In fact their body posture, alone, betrays the fakery of this photo.

There is only one place where five guys have identical body, and left and right hand on rifle positions, and that is a firing squad, just before they fire one volley at a condemned man.

Or take part in a poorly directed "under attack" fakery...

Can't you just hear one complaining: "Hurry up Joe, take your damn picture. I can't hold this pose forever?"

Go to A Real Combat Photo

(In fact William Knisley below and some of his mates were killed in 1902, in exactly this kind of a sangar, when they were attacked and overrun by a commando of Boers.)

Do you think Bill, or one of his mates, was making tea during the assault?

Go to Bill Knisley

Clearly the cameraman who set this up has no future in Hollywood.

And yet this photo has been issued by Archival staff while only possibly Canadians, as definitely "Under Attack."


And they've been publishing and circulating it as a genuine battle picture, for generations, without looking, without thinking...



But then the Canadian War Museum is no more accurate, thoughtful, or caring, about the information it choses to publish on its major pages.

Its archivists put up a picture with a caption that claims the Boer positions are "down-river to the east (or right - out of range of the picture.)"


Anyone, even marginally informed about the Battle of Paardeberg, knows that a key part of the story happened because the Boers were, in fact, "up-river" of the Canadians. They threw hundreds of dead horses into the water, creating "Chateau Modder" the deadly brew of fetid horse flesh, mixed in with the drinking water which Canadians imbibed, down-stream, and got mightily sick from.

But what the hell do the staff at the Canadian War Museum know about the history?

Blind as well - And they are no more up on common sense than their history.

Anyone who studies the picture - see for yourself below - can instantly tell, from the swirling water, below the crossing men, that "right is, in fact, "up-river," not down-river as the Canadian War Museum experts would have you believe. Alas, it's not something you learn in bars, or meetings, or history conferences in New York, London, or Paris...

And this on the front page of the War Museum's major Online Exhibition...

As of 2012, the error's been there for years, since their page was created on Sept. 2, 2005 (and last updated on Oct. 22, 2009.) Clearly its historians don't read their own stuff, certainly don't proof it, or don't know.

Go to You Guys Sure Made Me Laugh 43 Times...
Here are more examples of work by the experts at the Canadian War Museum: exhibits you wouldn't believe, pictures that boggle the mind, and captions that are out of this world...

Total lack of Due Diligence among: Publishers, Museum Curators, Academics, Writers, Photographers

Faked Out - You may well ask, how can historians be taken in by such obvious fakes? (Canada's top Boer War historian used a completely faked copy of the Canadian badge image on the cover of Canada's definitive book on the Boer War.)

The answer is simple.

Historians are wordsmiths. They grope around in dingy basements, and libraries, leafing through dusty diaries, letters, books, and papers, to write their stuff. (Don't knock it; that's better than politicians who grope around for bad girls, or bags of cash, in bars.)

The vast majority of profs have no clue about the memorabilia, or the equipment, badges, uniforms, pistols, swords, guns, etc. used by soldiers, or the dates on which these were manufactured, introduced, retrofitted, used, or retired.

That is another huge, and quite separate, area of research that requires a totally different set of skills and interests, that are the special purview of the memorabilia or militaria collector. In fact the top experts in military collectibles are not university professors at all but passionate amateur collectors who can tell you authoritatively when a certain bayonet pattern was amended, or a regimental cap badge altered. Which all helps, enormously, to properly identify who and what is in an archival photograph.

In fact, after trying our best, in the UK and elsewhere, we have found no militaria collector who can identify the cap badge shown on the Thiele photo.

So historians routinely rely on other experts - like the Canadian War Museum - to provide them with the proper pictures to illustrate their books. (Though Carman Miller has done this twice, now, with disastrous results.)

Go to 43 Great Canadian
Heritage Howlers
from the Canadian War Museum

Canadian historians like Carman Miller cannot be blamed for deferring, about pictures and uniforms, to self-appointed top Canadian government experts who should know better... but often don't.

"Wow! Did I ever get payed well for this gig...! It was a gas... lol..... jana"
(Ottawa high society photog Jana Chytilova)
Clearly Jana spends more time on doing personal make-overs than researching militaria history.
How, you may rightly ask, can the experts at the Canadian War Museum, be so totally incompetent as to do such shoddy work for a major publication on a hugely tax payer funded book on Canadian heritage?

The answer is simple.

Two women did it...

Every woman we've ever met - and we've met lots - say they never watch military shows on TV. Or buy, or read, military books. Or collect militaria. Wives routinely say, "The beer gut guy does that, not me..." Nothing new here; everyone knows that already.

Yet the two point people in charge of the Heritage Howlers produced by James Lorimer were two women, Jana Chytilova, a female Ottawa high society photographer and Lori McLellan, the picture editor from Lorimers, who collaborated on the photos and captions. The results are devastatingly self-evident; these gals were way in over their heads on every level, starting with basic common sense...

When they didn't know something - which was more often, than not - why they just made it up... Desecrating, in the process, the work of a fine Canadian historian.

It is, bar none, the worst case of publishing incompetence in Canadian history. And it was, of course, entirely predictable from the start...

The museum's male experts - go to any militaria show; you won't find a single woman who is not the "wife of military nut" - presumably, were off in their suits doing more important things like meetings, and lunches. You know, what Government bureaucrats do best...

If there are male experts at the Canadian War Museum, beyond lunches and bureaucrapese, they were AWOL on this landmark Canadian heritage project, lazily shuffling off the responsibility - "Let the girls do it" - to two people who were clearly unsuitable and totally lacking on any number of levels.

They all collaborated to produce classical bureaucrap... And squandered thousands of tax payer dollars to create a shameful monument to civil service sloth that will last for the Ages.

Location; Location: Location - Finally, history professors are also not experts on the locations about which they write. Carman Miller had not visited any of the African Boer War sites before he wrote his definitive book on Canadians in the Boer War.

Canada's top historian on the Rebellions of 1837 confessed that he had never been to any of the major sites connected with those troubled events, over 40 of which we had explored... He had been to none... Like many professors his preferred haunts are the "stacks."

The egregious errors in Canada's top two Boer War books shows that deferring to others, when you have lapses in knowledge, can have devastating consequences to the quality of your scholarship, and the value of the publications you produce.

Not having visited the locations also hugely undermined the credibility of Pat Hodgson's work when she wrote "Early War Photographs: 50 Years of War Photographs from the 19th Century." She had clearly never visited the battlefield of Paardeberg, of which she chose to write, authoritatively - but totally incorrectly - below.

"Baptism of Fire! Eh?" - In 1974, Pat Hodgson, a BBC researcher, gathered the best war photographs she could find from the beginnings of military photography in the Crimean War, to 1900, a span of 50 years.

It is no surprise she also published this photo - which most closely matches the one Carman Miller used; hence the Hodgson-Miller fake - as one of the best of thousands she looked at, for inclusion in her book "Early War Photographs."

She claims Reinhold Thiele merely copied Captain Holson's photo. Did he lie about it to his Graphic bosses who gave him sole authorship when they published top?

Still she is demonstrably out of her depth on this photo, for certain.

Putting the picture into - completely erroneous - context, she makes it sound as if this photo was taken during Kitchener's assault on Feb. 18th, at Paardeberg, against General Cronje. She says Kitchener cornered Cronje and then:

"The Canadians and the 82nd RFA were in action together on Gun Hill, and Captain Holson's photograph shows C Company of the Royal Canadian Regiment under Captain Barker storming a kopje. The picture clearly shows the rough ground, where the advancing troops had to get what shelter they could behind the boulders."

All wrong of course; the picture was taken not at the end of February, as she implies, but January 1st or 2nd, a full seven weeks earlier.

It wasn't taken at Paardeberg, but a long way away, at Sunnyside.

(In fact both original publications of this photo - the Graphic and Marquis - clearly state the photo was taken at Sunnyside which Hodgson missed entirely. The word Sunnyside doesn't appear on her page whatsoever. She says it's Paardeberg. Apparently, with her background in photography - and not as a historian - she just looked at pictures and didn't read the captions or text...)

Historically then, this is considered a "Sunnyside" photo, which complicates things for Hodgson's narrative since neither Kitchener nor Cronje were anywhere in the neighbourhood, or involved at Sunnyside.

And how about that terrain - the steep hill, and all those boulders...?

Sorry Pat, but had you gone to look you would have seen there were no boulders to hide behind at Paardeberg...

Which is exactly why this was to remain the bloodiest battle in the entire Boer War. There was no cover for the men on the ground whatsoever, as James Mason's battlefield diary left make clear, with the wounded, lying flat on the ground, being killed by other bullets during the fight.

And Gun Hill is indeed at Paardeberg, but had you gone and looked this is not a picture of it, as it is not steep like the hill in your picture is.

Besides, there was no fighting on Gun Hill; at Paardeberg, which is well off to the side of where the battle was, and is why it was used as a safe machine gun position for the Canadians... Capt. Barker and his boys were nowhere near it...

Just how wrong can you be...?

The Hodgson-Miller Fake - Not to mention the white colour, and significantly "waisted" design of the supposed "Canadian" cap badge, which someone has "messed with" for unknown reasons, from the earliest version of this photograph as it appeared in the Graphic on Feb. 14, above.

In fact when Hodgson's photo was first published, on Feb. 14, the action she tries to tie this photo to, at Paardeberg, on Feb. 18, had not even happened...
Captain Barker and his boys were miles and miles away...


Canadian historian John Goldi stands in the middle of the battlefield at Paardeberg where the battle Hodgson writes about, took place, on Feb. 18, 1900.

Not a rock in sight. (No fighting took place on Paardeberg Hill in the background.)

"The picture clearly shows the rough ground where the advancing troops had to get what shelter they could behind the boulders."

Captain Barker stormed no kopje here; all the fighting over ten days, was on the flats.

Clearly Hodgson could not distinguish between the Sunnyside battle and Kitchener's Paardeberg battle, mixing the two indiscriminately together.

Just making it up as she went...

Below is the slope of "Gun Hill," at Paardeberg, which shows up only as a slight rise in the plain beside the field where the fighting actually took place.

It reminds us of Karl Marx's acid description of British philosopher John Stuart Mill, that "he was eminent only because of the flatness of the terrain."

We're willing to bet Captain Barker never even set foot on "Gun Hill" which is well off to the side of the battlefield. The Canadian machine gunners sat right here because they were fairly safe from Boer rifles.

Had Hodgson visited these sites she would not have produced the hopeless muddle of fact and fiction, people, and places on this page of her book. It's actually quite a suitable textual addendum to the fake photograph she tries to put into its proper historical context as a real photo.

As a military historian, she proves every bit as inventive as her two Canadian gal counterparts, who where let loose in the Canadian War Museum on another Boer War picture project, all having a go at military history for the first time, and proving like them, that being able to sift through lots of photos of soldiers does not make you an expert in who is doing what, to whom, where, when, and why?

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure
Plate, Bloody Sunday at Paardeberg, Feb. 18, 1900
Orig. plate - Size - 23 cm
Found - Cambridge, ON
Go to James Mason & Bloody Sunday

A grounding in photographic knowledge is no substitute for suitable academic credentials, a solid background in historical scholarship, historical research, historical analysis, or an expertise in military history. Hodgson's bio, in what purports to be a scholarly book, strangely, lists no academic credentials beyond Cheltenham Ladies College.

Presumably she knows where to put the dessert fork, even if she misplaced Captain Barker and his Canadian boys...

Still she was no more wrong than the inventive artist who created this, the only plate ever produced on a Boer War Battle - Bloody Sunday at Paardeberg.

The Tommies and Canadians are storming the rocky heights to get at the Boers. Of course it never happened, any more than Hodgson's equally highly inventive pictorial account...

In the end we are no wiser.

Are those really Canadians? Is it really Sunnyside, or was it taken at Belmont, where the Canadians were quartered for months doing exactly this kind of training to get them ready for real combat? Are the men really in action, ducking real bullets, or faking it in a reenactment? Why is the photographer so super exposed, while everyone else is ducking? What's the story on all those different badges, none of them Canadian...?

Seizing a Kopje? Certainly Not! - To us Hodgson's photo has all the earmarks of a typical Boer War photographic fakery, capturing an impossible wonderfully arranged cast of actors artfully displayed across the entire frame, which the photo shares with all the other posed and faked "action photos" of the Boer War, and with none of the candid grab shots of real men in action.

Note the "fat" look of the RCR Canadian badge below instead of the "waisted" and deeply indented badge in the photos.

Now add that to the worrisome irregularities we raised earlier, about the subject presentation, and Thiele and his big box camera.

Reinhold took many famous "camp photographs" at the time. This is the only supposed "battlefield action" photo he took...

What a fabulous discovery is a one of a kind Great Canadian Treasure from the Boer War - the personal helmet of Pvt. James McKerihen, C Co. Royal Canadian Regiment.

Genuine Canadian Boer War pith helmets, in any condition, are extremely rare to find, especially named ones, which this one, with two signatures, is.

This one is especially important because it is in fine shape and complete in all respects:

- it is named to Pvt. James Reid Dill McKerihen of C Co. RCR

- it comes with its original khaki cover, provided to camouflage its original white material, and signed chin strap.

- its original CANADA badge

It is the helmet that James wore on the March to Pretoria, and during the Battles of Zand River and Doordrecht.

It is also the helmet he wore to the RCR Farewell Service, in Westminster Abbey, and waved in the air when Queen Victoria came to bid the RCRs farewell at Windsor Castle, one of her last public appearances before she died a few weeks later.

This helmet gazed on Queen Victoria.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Canadian Boer War Helmet - Pvt. James McKerihen, RCR, 1900
Orig. helmet - Size - 21 x 37 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Prov - The McKerihen Coll

Does this helmet have clues to uncover one of Canada's most famous
Boer War photograph fakeries?

Those Faking Canadians...

Tradition holds that those are Canadians climbing the rocks at Sunnyside in January, 1900. Professor Carman Miller put them on the cover of Canada's definitive book on the Boer War, precisely because the Canadian Maple Leaf badge shows so clearly.

But it's a fake...
















Think about it...

Look how beautifully the men are spread across the hill - they seem to be responding, exactly, to how a photographer would direct them before his camera, not the way they would hide from Boer sharpshooters.

The only other similarly posed, so-called "battle photos," were all faked in front of cameras on tripods, and far from Boers.

We think - in spite of a 100 years of publishing tradition - that "acting" not "combat" is what's going on here. And the Boers are miles away, or the photographer and his fancy camera would certainly not be...

Furthermore, note how the near helmet on the LIFE archival photo right, which is totally identical with the one on the Miller cover, has a completely different badge.

Carman left, has used a suitably patriotic Canadian maple leaf badge, of the kind the Canadians wore at the time. Well, sort of...

It's clear there is no reason for LIFE to have doctored its photo. But there are plenty of reasons why someone would put a Canadian badge over top of the other.

Who did this, and when, no one can say. Except that faking was done. And done by Canadians... And badly... Perhaps Carman had the wife do it at home, to save money. Authors in Canada are not well paid... The publishers keep most of the government grant money for themselves.

So a faked war photo adorns the cover of Canada's most important Boer War book.






We have not been able to trace the age of the LIFE photo, which comes from a much better master - and so closer to the camera original - than the one used on the book cover, or what badge it shows. To what unit does this soldier belong?

Once faking is detected in a picture, it undermines the credibility of the entire photo.

Now, look again!

The original helmet has a pronounced brim, like several others in the big picture. But in the book cover photo the area over the brim has been filled in with helmet white to get rid of the brim. It's a sloppy raggedy job, with noticeably fuzzy edges.

Canadian helmets had no brim. Fake badge, fake helmet... Will the fakery on this (supposed) Canadian war photo never end?

Go to See a Real Canadian Helmet and Badge

The very first time we've seen this picture used - and so, hopefully, before subsequent faking was done with the camera negative - was in TG Marquis' Canada's Sons on Kopje and Veldt published in 1900 right.

Like Rosie diManno, who fancies herself a war correspondent - read propagandist - at the Toronto Star, and who would follow in his wake when penning on Afghanistan, he could hardly hold back the gush in boostering anything about Canadians who like to make war. And is just as accurate.

Contrary to his patriotic hype, the Canadians were only a part of Col. Pilcher's infantry, which also included other British and Australian units.

And Marquis doesn't know his cap badges either.

That is, by no stretch, an RCR Canada maple leaf on those helmets. He probably took the advice of the Canadian War Museum.

But it now appears that the LIFE archival has been doctored as well.

It looks like someone did careless Photoshop clone stamping on the back of the helmet - where the seam has jumped - and did not fix it.

He was probably flying in part of another helmet.

Other helmets show more brim fakery.

Chronological publishing appearance of the fake badges
on the "Canadians Baptism of Fire..."
The Graphic - Feb. 14, 1900
weird badge in Br. publication
Marquis - late 1900
weird badge in Canadian publication
Weiss-Reinschmidt (Spion Kop pc) - 1901
fake Canadian badge in German pub
Life Magazine - c 1940
cut down fake badge in US pub
Hodgson - 1974 (British pub)
fake Canadian badge in degraded copy
Miller - 1998 (Canada pub)
fake Canadian badge in degraded copy
Any student of photography will note that the Graphic-Marquis photos of 1900 come from the sharpest master - and so are closer to the original photo - than the Hodgson-Miller fakes, which come from a multi-generational, down the line, degraded dupe. The image has lost all sharpness, the edges are gone, the detail washed out, the shadows blocked up, and the highlights burned out. Which is what happens when successive prints are made from copy, after copy, after copy. With image manipulations done in between.

A cautious editor would not publish photos so obviously far removed from the original historic scene as captured by the camera. But would look for sharper photo, closer and more faithful to the original. Since they obviously exist...

Just what did the photo of the original badge really look like?

We can find no badge expert who can identify the badge on the earliest photos - the Graphic/Marquis/Life versions.

It may remain a Great Canadian Unsolved Mystery for the Ages...

The earliest copy of the photo of the "Canadians charging'' we've now found, the one published by the Graphic, Feb. 14, 1900, is near right.

Which means its badge must be considered original and definitive.

So now the Graphic-Marquis photos are the earliest copies of this celebrated Canadian military heritage photo known; no one can pretend that either shows a Canadian badge of any sort...

The most widely publicized copies of this photo - published in 1974 by Hodgson, and its closest match, by Miller in 1998, hence the Hodgson-Miller fakes - have a badge that bears no resemblance at all to the genuine original image used by the Graphic in Feb. 1900, and which Marquis also used in his Canadian book, late in 1900.

There are also clear differences between the Hodgson and Miller badge fakes; they come from different masters, different "darkroom technicians."

The Hodgson badge, coming from the nearest source in the UK, to where the original resides, is the closer match to the Graphics' weird "hooks ups" badge. Still it's a rather dramatic departure from it.

The Miller badge fake is from an Archives Canada master, with a badge a patriotic Canuck has "filled in" more to make it approximate better a supposed Canadian RCR badge of the period. It's not as narrow "waisted" as the Hodgson fake and its points hook down instead of up.

Right the main faked helmets and badges: the Marquis from late 1900, is very much the predecessor of the LIFE photo from c 1940, though the latter shows fakery in the brim, the badge, and the jumping seam. Still an obvious match to the Marquis original, and its predecessor, the Graphic original.

The photos used on Miller's book - and Hodgson's - are really horrid fakes and have no resemblance to the Marquis original anymore since they've been so badly doctored by a patriotic darkroom tech.

We had earlier surmised that Carman Miller's wife had done the patriotic doctoring to help her husband have a better looking photo for the cover of his landmark book. We must now apologize because the Hodgson book shows the doctoring had already been done a generation before. Still, however honestly Carman came by the photo, it still remains a fake on many levels especially because so many versions have doctored badges...

We've now added a new photo of the celebrated fake, this one from the German publisher Weiss-Reinschmidt who used it in a postcard, but claimed it shows English soldiers at the Battle of Spion Kop on Jan. 23, 1900.

It was postally used in 1901, in the Netherlands, so it may have been published in late 1900.

Amazingly it shows a so-called "Canadian" version of the helmet badge... the earliest published use of this version of the badge - by far - that we've found. But attributed to Spion Kop, and English troops. No Canadian connection claimed.

Which raises an interesting question: who would fake this "Canadian" badge in late 1900, early 1901?

And why wasn't it used by those claiming to show Canadians in action: the Graphic (UK) in February, and Marquis (Canada) later in 1900?

These badges are all fakes when you compare them with the genuine Canadian James McKerihen badge right that he wore in South Africa as a member of the RCRs.

And left we offer a very rare picture of a Canadian badge on an RCR, just after getting off the Sardinian in Cape Town. Compare that to the fake badges above. Exactly one month later, wearing these helmets and badges, they went on the Sunnyside expedition from Belmont.

Still think those are Canadians charging up the kopje?

The Professor & the Journalists - Professor Marquis, who started this all, in 1900. How could you abandon your reasoning and analytical faculties so?

You remind us so much of modern day media scribes Rosie and Christie... What a trio of uncritical patriots... Willing to say or publish anything that will advance your jingoistic agendas. Shame on you all.

Carman should have ignored the advice from the Canadian War Museum too. Clearly the experts there provided him with a God awfully doctored archival copy that makes it appear a Canadian Black man wore that fake smudge pretending to be an RCR cap badge.

Most soldiers wore no cap badges; others khakied them dark, not white...

The LIFE badge shows only the top part of the whole seen in the original.

We still have not found anyone who knows what this badge is...

This earliest badge looks more like the Russian imperial eagle, than a Canadian maple leaf.

Could this actually be a previously unknown image of the Russians on the heights of Alma?

Or the Israelites on the Mountain?

Why are none of these supposed Great Canadian Heritage PHOTOGRAPHS - so it's not an artist's mistake - NOT showing the only helmet badge that C Company of the Royal Canadian Regiment was wearing on its helmets at Sunnyside, on Jan. 1, 1900?

Who's doing all the fakery and why?

Just like all of Rosie diManno's articles on Afghanistan, this picture has lost just about any credibility it ever had...

So now, are those really Canadians at Sunnyside, or Americans storming San Juan Hill, or circus actors in a Buffalo Bill reenactment, that are on the cover of Canada's most famous Boer War book???

And the Canadian War Museum underwrote this book and its experts vetted it!!!

Carman, who's a fine historian, is ill served by publishers who don't give a hoot about quality production in pictorials to illustrate the great information that he provides.

Will those faking Canadians never stop?

Here are three long pages of 43 - count 'em - Great Canadian Heritage Howlers from another Boer War book, produced by James Lorimer and the experts at the Canadian War Museum...

Go to You Guys Sure Made Me Laugh 43 Times...

More Fake History About the Canadians on the Hill

Lots of fake battle pictures (all the ones here) were posed by photographers manning big cameras, and troops willing to pretend they were charging Boers on a hill.

Fake photos are usually easy to pick out because the pictures are very sharp, well composed, the men photogenically distributed across the frame, all eagerly fighting the enemy in their part of the photograph, and the corpses are well displayed up front.

Is the picture above often called "The Charge of the Canadians at Sunnyside" in this same category of fake attacks?

The picture seems to share a lot with the other images here, all produced by commercial photographers making stereoscope photos for sale.

Below is a direct quote about the "Sunnyside" picture on a British web site dedicated to the history of war photography.



"Toronto Company's Baptism of Fire
- Second Boer War - Captain Holson, 1900

This is a picture of the Royal Canadian Regiment in action on Gun Hill on 18 February 1900 and according to an album owned by the Army Museum (United Kingdom) it was taken by a Captain Holson.

It shows the troops advancing uphill with fixed bayonets, taking advantage of what little cover is available as they move forward. It makes us think of what it might be like to go into action in these circumstances and wonder what awaits these men as they move on up the hill."

What haven't people claimed about this picture? The author of this is so wrong on key points, that right out the gate one wonders, are the Army Museum's records, with regard to the provenance on this photo, so poor that people are fudging information all over the place about it? How else could someone, who quotes Museum information, be so wrong?

He has the location different from every other writer we've seen, most of whom claim it is Sunnyside, where there is no Gun Hill...

The closest Gun Hill to Sunnyside, is Belmont, where the regiment was actually quartered and came from, to go to Sunnyside. But the Belmont Gun Hill is not steep like the one in the picture, the Canadians never fought at Belmont, and never anywhere in the vicinity, and certainly not on Feb. 18.

Again at variance with every other authority is that the Canadian infantry, as depicted in the photo, fought an action charging up Gun Hill on 18 February. It did not.

On Feb. 18, they fought at Paardeberg, not Sunnyside, and they didn't climb the Gun Hill that is there. Paardeberg's Gun Hill is not steep like the one shown in the picture. The low profile Gun Hill at Paardeberg was occupied by a Canadian gun team only. The infantry was fighting across the flat plain below.

Will anyone ever know where and when that photo was taken and of whom?

Why don't we just have done with it and dismiss it as another of the many Boer War faked "troops advancing" photos.

The quality of the photo is such that it was taken with a big plate camera - probably Thiele's unwieldy 10" x 12". So someone had time to set it up, probably on a tripod, arrange the men across the hill and tell them to pretend they were stalking the Boers up top.

Everyone is ducking, to keep from getting shot, except the photographer and his big camera... Shouldn't that be a give away?

It's all so highly suspicious, critical people will dismiss this as any kind of men in action other than play acting for a directing photographer.

Note in the stereoscope photo below how the Boers were careful to shoot all the downed soldiers close to the front of the camera, and nicely distributed across the frame...

Now are the "Canadians" charging real Boers, or auditioning for a job in Hollywood when they get back home...?

Show Me More Fake Combat Photos

These are all a testament to how impossible it was to take photos of real men in combat on the front lines.

It makes the photographic achievement of Lt. James Cooper Mason all the more remarkable...

Go to The World's First Combat Photograph