Boer War Page 92o2
Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
Below are some of the key items the Canadian Boer War Museum has added to its collections
in its ongoing efforts to preserve important Canadian heritage memorabilia from this period.

Ultra Rare Great Boer War Discoveries ( Jan. 2006)

Go to Emily's Autographs Page 1 Page 2

To The Nursing Sisters in South Africa

Yours no “mention in Dispatches?
Yours no gain.
Yours no glorious cross for valour
Yours the pain.

Yours the patient work and plodding
Day by day
Yours the risk and sacrifice
All the way 

Not the fight so sharp and stinging
Grave or Fame,
Then the land with Victory ringing
And your name...

But the fray drawn out and weary
Endless toil
Fighting Death – grim foe and decay.
Yours no spoil 

Sick and wounded – weak and dying
Fever stricken
Atmosphere – infection laden
Do you sicken?

Never while your task unended
Meets your eye
A womanly sweet sympathy
For every cry.

Yours the tender touch and soothing
Yours the speech
Compassionate – yet ever cheering
In its reach

Yours the hand that heals the wounded
Yours the care
Yours the constant faithful watching
Rich and rare 

None so helpless – none as hopeless
But can speak
With voice or eye the thankfulness
You never seek 

Lives you've given – far too many
Cruel fate!
Succoring sick – remembering self
Far too late 

Noble sisterhood of women
Brave and true
May the verdict of the Nation
Give your due 

May the stricken wives and mothers
Bless your name
And monuments of gratitude
Tell your fame 

Joseph Hunter, Wynberg June 3rd 1900

Four pages of heartfelt poetry that summarizes the lot of a Boer War nurse. Some 300 nurses and medics died of working in disease infested hospitals, like famous writer and explorer Mary Kingsley below right, and Sister Saint Antoine de Padoue of Canada. Sister Padoue died at Estcourt, in March 1900, worn out from her exertions for the wounded; she was only 31.

Mary, who had gone to South Africa expressly to look after Boer Prisoners of War, died of enteric fever (typhoid) which she contracted while caring for them, on June 3, 1900. It is very likely that news of her death - which went like a shock wave through South Africa - prompted Joseph Hunter at Wynberg - the very same day - to express in poetry what Boer and Brit alike would have liked to put into words but could not. And a disconsolate Emily Hay offered him her book. Without doubt, Mary Kingsley was in their minds, and hearts, on that day...

Wynberg 1899-1900

There was a young lady of Berwick

Whose doings were highly hysteric

She followed the guns & distributed buns

To the men who were down with enteric.

To The Bitter End
General French signed his autograph, page 1, at Middelburg, on July 17, 1901, only one day after he had received a visit from Lord Kitchener, the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, a consultation which has been described as one of the most pivotal meetings ever held during the Boer War.

The Boers in Cape Colony were clearly gaining the upper hand; the train wrecking and sabotage activities of Boer commandoes made the British Army look like helpless fools and amateurs; Kitchener was in a panic. Never before had he taken such strong personal control of a campaign during the war. He ordered the most stringent measures to be taken. In June he ordered Boers to be permanently banished from South Africa. He also ordered the execution of rebels. In the end 370 death sentences were ordered; 35 were carried out, some by hanging, most by shooting.

Two of the most prized autographs come from this campaign in the final year of the war (1901-02) when the British were trying to catch the most successful Boer guerillas still on the run in the southern Cape, Commandants Gideon Scheepers and Cornelius Lotter.

The man detailed by General French to catch them - and who finally succeeded - was plain old Harry J. Scobell, left, a Colonel of the 5th Lancers, whose signature is above right.

His right hand man and chief scout was Lieut D Hare Bowers, right below, who signed his name as well, at Graaf Reinet, where Scheepers was put on trial for treason.

No doubt Emily Hay, who was posted to the hospital there in 1901, heard tales of the chase from the mouths of the main hunters themselves before they signed their names in her autograph book. She likely was in the crowd that watched in the public square when his death sentence was read out to him. Lotter was condemned at Middelburg.

Lotter and Scheepers, with some of their men, were both executed, the latter at Graaff Reinet after being given a "fair" trial during the most ruthless part of the war.

Left is Commandant Gideon Scheepers, recovering from his wounds in a hospital bed after his capture, and shortly before he was executed. No doubt Scobell was in town for the event. He signed his autograph for Emily Hay only a week before Scheepers was tied to a chair and shot on the outskirts of Graaff Reinet. No doubt they had an animated discussion over it all; one of the many historic conversations the pages of this book have heard.

Postscript: Bowers was Mentioned in Dispatches for his work and Harry Scobell would ultimately become Major-General Sir Henry Jenner Scobell KCVO CB.

(To this day the location of Scheeper's grave is not known.)

Who Killed Oom Paul

Who killed Oom Paul?
I - said Lord Bobs
‘Cause I’m used to such jobs,
I killed Oom Paul 

Who saw him die?
I - said George White
With my search light
I saw him die 

Who caught his blood?
I - said Gen. French
In my little trench
I caught his blood 

Who’ll make his shroud?
I - said Lord Kitchener
I’ll put a stitch in her!
I’ll make his shroud

Who’ll lay him out?
I - said Kelly-Kenny
Cause I’ve laid out many
I’ll lay him out

Who’ll dig his grave?
I - said Baden-Powell
With my spade & trowel
I’ll dig his grave 

Who’ll carry him to the grave?
I - said Cec Rhodes
‘Cause I’m used to loades
I’ll carry him to the grave 

Who’ll be Chief Mourner?
I - said Pres. Steyn
In great grief & pain
I’ll be chief mourner.

Who’ll toll the bell?
I - said Red. Buller
‘Cause I’m a great puller
I’ll toll the bell.

Who’ll sing a psalm?
I - said Methuen
Cause I know a tune
I’ll sing a psalm 

Who’ll take his place?
I - said John Bull
As my map’s not yet full
I’ll take his place 

All the Boers ‘cross the Vaal
'Gan to cry & to squal
When they heard of the death
Of poor Oom Paul.


W Potter, ANS
Wynberg Aug 8 1900

A poem that reflected the times, when Oom "Uncle" Paul (Kruger), the President of the Transvaal Republic, whose capital, Pretoria, had been taken in June, was now on the run down the railway line towards the safety of Portuguese Africa, his Boer republic in tatters.

The "Killing" of Oom Paul is, of course, only symbolic, and lists all the generals who took part in extinguishing his Presidency and his Republic.

By August 1900, there were few, including Boers, who did not believe it was just about all over for the Boer Republics in South Africa.

But there was one dissenter...

The page following the poem appears to be blank! But when one angles the paper obliquely to the light you can see that the surface has been scratched by an anonymous someone with a pin; and an eerie poem emerges.

Right is a digitally enhanced sample:

Oom Paul is not dead, I have seen

Perhaps it is Your Queen

Oom Paul smokes his pipe

And waits until the fruit is ripe

This poem, whether intentionally or not, symbolizes the sinister nature of the Boers, and their commando style of warfare, as they appeared to the British - they couldn't be seen or detected, and lay silently in wait to ambush the unwary or casual observer.

Left Oom Paul, in a photo that was taken at his fleeing government's command post in the mountains, at the same time as Lord Roberts signed his autograph for Emily Hay top. Oom Paul was contemplating the end of 300 years of Boer heritage and history in South Africa.

Watch for more signatures as we decipher them...

It has been an enormous job to try to decipher the scrawl of 150 signatures made 105 years ago and come up with proper identities for them all.

This could never have been done without the wonderful website of Kevin Asplin whose link is below. All of us doing research into Victorian and Edwardian personalities from Britain and her Colonies, owe him our most profound gratitude.

Go to
Joseph Hunter was not merely a poet, but signed himself elsewhere as a CMO, Chief Medical Officer. These were the most senior medical advisers, on matters of public health, to the Government. They were certified medical doctors who did not practice in South Africa but toured the facilities and reported back on how things were going and what improvements could be made to the health delivery system.

His work gave Joseph Hunter the insight to write a powerful poem.

Two other CMOs were William Wright and R. Craske-Leaning.

Surgeons and doctors - as well as nurses - were largely undervalued in a society that prized its fighting men, above all. In Wilson's monumental four volume illustrated history on the Boer War, he has pictures and text on the fighting men who won VCs at Colenso; he has no picture or even mention of Surgeon Major Babtie's VC life-saving performance at the same battle.

One of the very first nurses sent to South Africa was
Ann Garriock, who was a Superintendant in the Army Nursing Service. We presume this is her photo - enlarged from the right - with her signature below.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
British Nursing Superintendant Ann Garriock, right c 1910
Orig. postcard - Size - 3.5" x 5.5"
Found - Eugene, OR
A rare treasure we uncovered recently, is this original photo postcard of two unnamed British nurses taken sometime between the Boer War and World War I. But we are certain that the strong, yet kind face, on the right, belongs to none other than Ann Garriock; the other nurse is still unidentified, so far. They could be in the indoor garden at Netley Military Hospital where Ann was a Superintendant.
Above is a photo taken aboard the ship in that month of the only eight nursing sisters listed as being there (no photo caption names were listed).

Could this be anyone else than Ann, sitting proudly surrounded by seven women she handpicked to accompany her?

One of the others is Helen Neale who also signed the book, on the same page, some months later, when she and Ann were still together at Wynberg hospital. They were probably good friends and Helen is very likely one of the two women sitting beside Ann above. Probably the grumpy one - you only put up with that from friends...

But looks can deceive. Helen Neale was one of only a very select few of British nurses in the Boer War to be Mentioned in Dispatches TWICE, by both Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener! She was obviously a quality human being of the highest order. Ann Garriock chose her friends - and co-workers - well.

Ann was listed on shipping manifests as leaving with seven other named nursing sisters aboard the Braemar Castle on Oct. 6, 1899. (Also Sisters Innes, Neale, Anderson, Nixon, Murphy, Snowdon and Guthrie.)

The Spectacular Autograph Book of British Boer War Nurse Emily Hay - Page 2

Our Autograph Nurses are First at the Front!

Another one who signed Emily's book was Emma Maud McCarthy (1859-1949). She had been hand-picked by Princess Christian to be one of five nurses sent to South Africa with the outbreak of the war.

She is listed as shipping out on Dec. 24, 1899, on the Dunottar Castle with four other nurses whose signatures are also in the autograph book: Chloe McGowan, Elizabeth Kelso Hamilton, Ethel Becher, and Mary Greenham. Several leading generals were also aboard ship including Lord Roberts himself; no doubt the ladies dined with him and his wife quite regularly.

Emma was Australian born and was destined to become the British Empire's most honoured nurse in the 20th century.

She would be Mentioned in Dispatches by Lord Roberts, not only in the Boer War, but four times more for her subsequent work in World War I.

"Once back she became involved in the formation of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS), and was in turn Matron of the military hospitals at Netley, Aldershot and Millbank. In August 1914 she sailed in the first ship to France with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) with direct responsibility to the General Headquarters ... She was a tireless organiser who handles her eventual 6000 staff with tact and rare skill, taking copious notes as she visited everything from field units to hospital trains to general hospitals. After the war she became Matron-in-Chief of the Territorial Army Nursing Service for five years. She died at her London home in 1949 at the age of 90." (quote source unknown)

She eventually became Matron-in-Chief of the British Army in 1914 and by 1918 she was in charge of 6,500 Allied nurses on the Western Front dealing with battle wounds, the threat of infection, and the hitherto unknown effects of gas and shrapnel.

She received the Queen's and King's Medal (1902), the Royal Red Cross (1902) and a Bar (1918c), the Florence Nightingale Medal, the Belgian Medaille de la Reine Elizabeth, the French Légion d'honneur and Medaille des Epidémies and in 1918 was knighted Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, Emma Maud McCarthy.

Those Mysterious Nurses...

Can you help us identify any of these Boer War nurses, named Ann Garriock (b1857), Helen Louisa Neale, R. Innes, Agnes Annie Murphy, SY Snowdon, Alexina Guthrie (b1866), Amy Nixon RRC (d1933), and Sister ACL Anderson.

c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000